Sunday, September 17, 2017

Movie Review: ****^Star Wars: A New Hope

This movie introduced a new universe.  It is the first of the Star Wars movies made.  It was exciting and full of new creatures and worlds and lots of fun.  I know it has been redone, to add more special effects, but the original version is good enough for me.  What is better than a group of young people saving the rebellion.  Lots of fun.
We were also introduced for the most part to a series of new actors:

Mark Hamill...
Harrison Ford...
Carrie Fisher...
Peter Cushing...
Alec Guinness...
Anthony Daniels...
Kenny Baker...
Peter Mayhew...
David Prowse...

My Poetry: Ode to Sheri

Ode to Sheri

I have felt the fire of you inner flame,
Burning me, as I snuggle close to you in bed.

And I have heard the rumbling of you inner core, 
The cavernous echoing of each snore.

I have touched the satin of your skin
It's texture a playground for my fingers.

My hand has brushed your sating hair,
Played with it, curled it, twirled in upon my fingers.

I have looked into your eyes,
And there, seen a spark of heaven.

I am yours.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Picture Book Review: Madeline

Madeline, Ludwig Bemelmans, The Viking Press, New York, 1939
This is a cute story about a little girl who lives at a convent school, and ends up at the hospital to get her appendix out.  I love the "two strait lines, and the youngest was Madeline."  This is a book for reading aloud.

Book Review: Mitch and Amy by Beverly Cleary

Mitch and Amy by Beverly Cleary, illustrated by Tracy Dockray, Harper Collins Publishers, New York, 1967.
I love this book.  The characters in Beverly Clery books are very interesting.  This book is no exception..  In this book, Mitch and Amy are twins.  As twins will, they do not see everything the same.  In fact, they often butt heads.  Amy struggles with math, and Mitch with reading.  At the same time, a local bully, Alan torments them both.  Bernadette, is new in town, and she has a crush on Mitch.  These characters make for some interesting reading as they struggle with school, bullies and getting along. 

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Picture Book Review: Miss Rumphius by Barbara Cooney

The Viking Press, New York, 1982.
Barbara Cooney is known more as an illustrator, but she wrote and illustrated this book for which she won the National Book Award for picture books.  This book has delightful pictures of the sea and the Northeast.  The girl in the story has three goals, to travel, to live by the sea, and to make the world more beautiful.  Miss Rumphius travels, but eventually her body gets tired; So she settles in a home by the sea.  She loves the Lupine flowers, and takes it upon herself to plant their seeds everywhere.  In this way she completes her third goal.  As she grew old, she would tell her great nieces and nephews that they should have the same goals.  This book reminds me that we all have parenting roles, whether as a father or mother or aunt or uncle.  We all play a part in rearing children.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Movie Review: ****^Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017)

I really enjoyed this movie, and in my opinion it is one of the better movies of the summer.  The interaction between Spider-Man (Tom Holland) and Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) really makes this film go.  Then there is the bad guy, Vulture (Michael Keaton) who just happens to be the father of Peter Parker's date to the prom, Liz (Laura Harrier).  Keaton is into dealing arms which were left behind by the aliens when they were defeated by the Avengers.  However, as the government controls a larger and larger share of these items, Vulture and his mean have to resort to stealing.  Spider-man comes upon their plot defending New York.  In the meantime Stark Enterprises downplays the reports from Spider-Man and his ability to help as a teen.  However he is the only person who can save the world from Vulture.
There was a time when Spider-Man was in the good graces of Stark Enterprises, who provided him with a fancy outfit with computer enhancement.  However after a bungle they take this away, and Spider-Man is left to his homemade suit.
Side-kick  Ned is played by Jacob Batalon and Spider-Man's aunt is played by Marisa Tomei.
I love Michael Keaton in the movies.  In this case he makes an excellent villain.  Combine that with the Stark/Avengers angle this movie is very good.

Booklet: Fun Around the Campfire, Boy Scouts of America

Fun Around the Campfire, Boy Scouts of America, New Brunswick, NJ, 1952.
This is a very old booklet, but has lots of relevant ideas for having fun around the campfire.  It is written from the perspective of a campfire program for a scouting event.  I starts with the attitude of the master of ceremonies and the song leader.  It has ideas for songs, ideas for skits, how to make a fire, including a fancy fire-starter.  There is even an idea of what to add to the fire to make different colors of flame.  It has ideas about seating, and where to place the fire or fires, and all that fun stuff.  It says the program should follow the fire, rousing stuff when the fire is flaming hot, but then calming with the fire to more spiritual and meditative items towards the end of the program.

Picture Book Review: Go, Dog. Go!

by P.D. Eastman, Beginner Books a division of Random House, New York, 1961.
This is one of my favorite books ever.  I love the pictures of the dogs.  I especially like two bits.  There are a couple of dogs, "Do you like my hat."  "I do not like it"  And then finally, I do. What a hat. I like it!  I like that party hat!"  And then there is the Ferris wheel, and the dog that says, "Go around again."  These two statements are part of my vernacular, and I often come back to them.

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Movie Review: ****I Will Fight No More Forever (1975)

This is a made for TV movie telling the story of the forced removal of the Nez Perce from their lands in the Walla Walla Valley.  The Nez Perce and Chief Joseph (Ned Romero) resisted the removal.  The had previously been promised this area.  The man in charge of bringing him in was General Oliver O. Howard (James Whitmore) of Civil War fame.  Captain Wood (Sam Elliot) supported him throughout.  There were times when the press, and politicians and the community at large were all murmuring about Howard's efforts, as a band of only 100 seemed to be too difficult for him.  Plenty of opportunity for Elliot to theorize on how it was wrong to chase the Nez Perce.  this concludes with Chief Joseph's famous speech in which he delineates all those who are dead, and then announces he will not fight no more.

Play Review: The Crucible

A play in four Acts by Arthur Miller, Bantam Books, New York, 1959.
This is the classic play about the Salem witch trials.  It was a really bad time, as after the local officials gave the investigation over to the courts, they lost all control over what was going on.  You add to that a teenage girl who has lots of power based on what she says, and she has girls mimicking anything she does, adding strength to her testimony.  Those who want to correct the situation, are only accused themselves, as the teen, Abigail, is able to fake attacks by the spirit of others in an uncanny fashion.  She is able to convince the court authorities and that is what counts.  then those accused are in a precarious situation.  Admit your guilt, and you are not hung.  Refuse to confess and the devil still has you and you are hung.  Over 100 people confess.  Something like 12 were hung.  What a bind.    I was hanging on every word there at the end.  This is a classic.  I actually saw this with my dad at Utah State when I was high school age.

DR. SEUSS (THEO LESIEG): Ten Apples Up On Top

by Dr. Seuss writing as Theo. LeSieg, illustrated by Roy McKie, random House, New York, 1961.  This is a simple book of three animals balancing apples on top of their heads, a lion, a tiger and a dog.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Movie Review: ***^Hope Floats (1998)

This is a very good character study, which starts with the premise, what if your best friend, and your husband, expose that they are having an affair on national television in some kind of talk show.  Can it get any worse than that?  This movie shows that it can, but then hope floats and things start turning around.  I must admit this is not my favorite Sandra Bullock film.  It is a bit too slow.  Birdee (Sandra Bullock) and Matisse (Harry Connick Jr.) have something going, but it really develops slowly, and by the end of the movie is still just in its starting stages.  The relationship that needs to resolve is that between Birdee and her daughter (Mae Whitman).  She is always waiting for father to pick her up, and blames the relationship mess on her mother.  The finally begin to crawl out of a hole, but it is interesting how this is done.  Grandma (Ramona Calvert) has a very big roll in keeping everything going.

Saturday, September 2, 2017

The Big Brag by Dr. Seuss

The Big Brag tells us who we are when in our pride we brag and boast of our own greatness.  The rabbit says he is best because he can hear so far, and the bear because he can smell so far.  It takes a worm to set them both strait and provide some humility.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Gertrude McFuzz by Dr. Seuss

Here is a fascinating story.  Gertrud McFuzz is a bird, who envies the pretty tail feathers of other birds, as she does not have enough feathers.  Consequently, she overdoes on the feather growing pill, and gets so many feathers she can't fly, or even really walk.  Sometimes we need to be content with what we have, and not worry about what we don't have.  Gertrude learned that it is painful to have all those extra feathers pulled.

Picture Book Review: Just Me and My Mom by Mercer Mayer

This is a delightful book about what happens when you take your little critter for a day in the city.  Visiting art museums, natural history museums and the aquarium can be difficult for a little critter  Visiting the clothing boutique is also hard.  However spending the day together can be worth it.

He Touched Me: The Gospel Music of Elvis Music

This link to Youtube only has the end of the program.   However I saw the entire program on PBS and then also on Bing.  It is amazing the love Elvis had for gospel music, and in turn the Lord in general.  This movie documents how he was influenced by this music growing up in Nashville, both gospel and Black gospel were part of his growing up years.
It goes on to talk about how he would insist on making gospel recordings, sang a gospel song on the Ed Sullivan Show, and was a true devotee.  Quite often he would do two shows.  However then he would retire to his room where the musicians in his group, and himself, would entertain until dawn, singing mostly gospel songs.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Book Review: Five Kingdoms (2) Rogue Knight

Brandon Mull has created a fascinated universe, outside the realm of other universes, an in between spot where people go after they die, but it has been shaped for population.  And this kingdom is divided into five kingdoms, each with its own properties.  As such what is magical in one kingdom, is not magical in another.  In this book Cole, our abducted young man from Earth, finds himself in the Kingdom of Ellower.  Here things have run amok, as there are a couple of demons tearing up the country.  There is the Rogue Knight, but an even greater threat is the creature a shape changer has made using a young boy's power.  She has to be confronted, and they recruit an assortment of people to do this, including an earth friend of Cole's.
I really like these books and the characters, and the worlds.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Movie Review: ****^War Horse (2011)

This is a fascinating movie, with fascinating scenes.  A farmer is finally able to purchase a horse, and though over priced it is able to help with plowing the fields.  The farmer's son (Jeremy Irvine) loves the horse, but a war intervenes.  The military takes the horse, and it is purchased by an officer.  In the meantime the son is also at war, in the infantry, at the front during WWI.  When the horse is separated from the calvary (they were ambushed) then it is put to use in different ways.  At one point, a kindly local family adopted the horse, and it was again working on a farm, and a farmer's daughter's pride and joy.  However it is confiscated by the military, and put to use pulling heavy loads.  This horse befriends a horse, and attempts to take the other horse's heavy loads.  In the end, the other horse dies.  There are a few fascinating scenes where the war horse is scared by a tank.  It bolts, heading for the front, where there is row upon row of barbed wire.  Barbed wire and a running horse do not mix.  There is a tragic result.  However two soldiers, one German and the other British go into no-man's land to rescue the horse.  The British soldier wins the right to take the horse back in a game of chance.  However the wounds are too severe to worry about saving the horse.  However, a wounded soldier recognizes the horse's whinnies, and calls the horse.  They are restored.  But the horse still is put up to bid in the end.  The country farmer purchases the horse, to honor his daughter who has died.  However when he discovers the soldiers love he gives the horse to the original soldier.  They are able to return home together.
Too much plot, but the scenes of the horse bolting were eerie and beautiful.  This movie is fascinating just watching the horse in this environment.

Movie Review: **^A Kid in King Arthur's Court

Calvin Fuller (Thomas Ian Nicholas) plays baseball (poorly) for the Knights.  Merlin needs a champion to save the kingdom, and mistakingly pick this ball player.  So this film is about the funny things that happen when  someone from the modern world, with no medieval skills, is thrust back in time.  Calvin falls for the younger princess (Paloma Baeza) while her older sister (Kate Winslet) is to marry the champion of a tournament.  However she already has a love, just not a royal.  This movie has the made-for-TV feel.  In loses itself in the middle, with a rescue scene which is too far fetched.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Movie Review: **The Adventures Sherlock Holmes' Smarter Brother

Gene Wilder portrays Sigerson Holmes, Sherlock's younger, smarter, but sometimes bumbling brother.  The humor misses sometimes, but actually works other times.  The funniest part is where Sigerson visits a Lord's home, and can't help himself but snitch some food on a table, and then he snitches more, and more, and knocks the dish on the floor.  He is covered with sauce when the Lord finally comes to talk to him.  too much boob grabbing, especially for Sheri.  This is rated PG but this was a bit much, and happens several places in the movie, outside of clothing of course.  Dom Deluise has a part as a bad guy blackmailing Jenny Hill (Madeline Kahn) who is the fiance of the Lord, but also Sigerson's love interest.  Marty Feldman portrays the police sergeant helping Sigerson.
Gene Wilder also wrote this movie based on Conan Doyle's characters.  Wilder also directed.

Movie Review: ****Swiss Family Robinson (1960)

This is a classic Disney with a shipwrecked family and pirates.  It lead to a creation of a tree house at Disneyland.  It featured adult actors as well as child stars.  Father (John Mills) and Mother (Dorothy McGuire) with there three sons, Fritz (James MacArthur), Ernst (Tommy Kirk) and Francis (Kevin Corcoran) make life as best as they can on a deserted island.   They find all they need, and a wide assortment of wild animals from several different continents.  They also rescue a girl from pirates, Roberta (Janet Munro).  This creates jealousy between Fritz and Ernst as they both vie for her attention.  Then there is the issue of
those pesky pirates, so the family prepares for them, but almost find themselves unprepared, as they had let their guard down for a day of recreation.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Movie Review: ***^Muppets Most Wanted (2014)

Muppets Most Wanted:
I found this a delightful movie.  Again we have a frog who is unwilling to commit to Miss Piggy, but then another from; an evil frog, who is able to disguise himself as Kermit, while Kermit takes his place on the most wanted list.  The evil frog is able to travel with the Muppets, while Kermit is in the Gulag, and work in a life of crime as he works his way up to steal the crown jewels.  Kermit thinks he is forgotten, because the rest of the troupe do not realize he is missing, until they decide Kermit is acting strange.  In the end, only Kermit can save the day.
This movie is cute, especially if you like Muppet humor.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Movie review: ***^Lemony Snicket's Series of Unfortunate Events (2004)

This movie of Lemony Snicket's Unfortunate Events takes scenes from the first three books.  It also adds a few scenes.  It comes back to the end of the first book for its ending.  Not being true to the story, this movie is true to the characters.  The three Baudelaire children are wonderful.  Jim Carry makes an excellent villain as Count Olaf.  And the relatives are wonderful, Meryl Streep as Aunt Josephine and Bill Connolly as Uncle Monty.  The scenes with Uncle Monty are my favorite.  I really enjoyed the most deadly viper.  I still do not like the forced wedding.  Catharine O'Hara plays Justice Strauss.  In the movie the wedding is foiled differently than in the book.  In this case Klaus comes to the rescue rather than a left handed signing.  I have fun with this story.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Movie Review: ***^Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets (2017)

This is a movie based on a French Comic, which is why I had never heard of the characters.  However the plot is very interesting.  It involves a welcoming station some 400 years into the future.  This center has people form all over the universe.  However it has an area which has been sealed off form review of the administrators.  This film has federal agents, Valerian and his partner (Dane DeHaan and Cara Delevingne) who must uncover what is going on before everything goes to pot.
This is an incredible special effects show, and has some incredible action.  In the middle they put in a pole dancing scene which really doesn't need to be there.  There are many interesting creatures which always fascinate me.  Overall this film is passable.  I read someplace it is not doing well domestically despite a big budget.  It hopes to make up for this in the foreign market.  The director also directed Fifth Element, Luc Besson.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Picture Book: Yertle the Turtle by Dr. Seuss

This story is included with three others in a Dr. Seuss Book.  This is the story of a turtle who decides he is ruler of all he sees.  The higher he gets the farther he sees, and so uses other turtles as stepping stones, and caring about the inconvenience he is causing for others; until one of the turtles at the bottom burps.  Sometimes if you use others, all you have influence over is the mud.  Dr. Seuss has great insight in this story, and it is well told, drawn and rhymed.

Music Review: Taylor Swift: Speak Now

This is taylor Swifts third album released by Big Machine Records in 2010.  Taylor Swift writes all of her own music.  She has a skill for telling a story and a clear voice.  My favorite song in this album is "Mean."  She talks about someone who uses words to put others now, and all he is is mean.  "Why you gotta be so mean."  This album is 4x platinum, over four million copies sold.  It was number one on U.S. Billboard and country charts.  "Revenge" is for a song the girl that steals your boyfriend.  "I always get the last laugh."  "Haunted" also has a very nice tune.  This explores how you feel when you are left.  The titular song, "Speak Now" is very nice with a good story as she barges in to tell a boy he has picked the wrong bride.
This album is vintage Taylor Swift, and if you like her you will like this.  However it does not include her most popular songs.

Book Review: The Twits by Roald Dahl

The Twits by Roald Dahl, illustrated by Quentin Blake, Puffin Books, New York, 1980.

The Twits is a terrific character study of two very ugly people.  These people are not only ugly in their appearance, but in their personality, which surely effected their physical looks.  They are especially ean to birds and monkeys.  However, in the end, they are outsmarted by the monkeys and the birds they have abused for many years.

Movie Review: ****^Pollyanna (1960)

This is one of those great positive feeling movies, with Pollyanna (Hayley Mills, who looks for the good, and the preacher (Karl Malden) who is converted to this thinking.  It makes a big difference in the town, as it becomes known as the glad town.
This movies comes from Disney and also features:
Jane Wyman as Aunt Polly
Richard Egan as her love interest Dr. Chilton
Agnes Moorehead as crotchety old Mrs. Snow, who Pollyanna also converts
As well as Mr. Pendergast, played by Adolphe Menjou
And Kevin Corcoran portrays Pollyanna's young friend from the orphanage.
The town is moving to raise money to build a new orphanage.  they feel it is a civic responsibility.  The current orphanage is in Herrington Hall, and Aunt Polly wants to give money to remodel the kitchen.  She has money, and willing to do her civic duty.  However that is the point, Aunt Polly attends to her duty, but doesn't love people.  Pollyanna brings that love into her life.

Once On This Island Jr. Full Version

This is a summer theater project, performed by most likely Middle School students.  It is a Jr version of this musical, and cuts out the song my son sang, "Some girls" when they did the musical in high school.  It does have the fiance sing one line from the song.  I think the parent really stand out in this musical.  They seem to make the whole thing work.
I was into this musical because of the song, We tell the story."  I have been thinking a lot lately about how it is important to tell the story.
Music by Steven Flaherty and lyrics by Lynn Ahrens.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Picture Book review: Lemony Snicket's A series of Unfortunate Events Behind the Scenes with Count Olaf

Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events: Behind the Scenes with Count Olaf, Harper Entertainment, New York, 2004.
This is a pictorial behind the scenes at the making of the movie, from the viewpoint of Count Olaf.  Count Olaf has a very interesting perspective on life, and this book provides a look into that character/  Of course the movie Count Olaf was portrayed by Jim Carrey.  We get costuming pictures, sets and other interesting aspects.

Movie Review: ***^Hope Floats (1998)

This movie excites me as it is a Sandra Bullock movie.  However, in this movie the worst possible thing that could happen does.  Birdee (Bullock) is at a talk show, where her best friend reveals to her that she and Birdee's husband are having an affair, and he now wants to be with her.  Birdee goes home, and confronts her humiliation.  Birdee's mother (Gena Rowlands) is determined to get her daughter up off the floor by reintroducing her to an old friend Justin Matisse (Harry Connick Jr.).  The focus of the film is the change in the family relationship.  One of the most touching aspects is when Birdee explains to her mother what she liked about her husband.
The movie ends with not everything resolved, but with Hope beginning to float after a long winter.  I like Bullock, and Connick is also very good.  A movie like this is built on relationships.  It makes you want to scream to see a family destroyed due to some selfishness.  However, family lives own.

Movie Review: ****The Age of Adaline (2015)

By some fluke, involving drowning and lightening, Adaline (Blake Lively) does not age.  She has a daughter (Ellen Burstyn), and this movie centers around many years later, when her daughter is an old lady, and Adaline is still a young beautiful woman.  Adaline has always been wary of giving herself to anyone, because she knows they will grow old, and she will not, and her secret will come back to haunt her.  However, she finally falls for philanthropist Ellis Jones (Michiel Huisman).  In meeting his parents a predicament arises.  She is recognized by Ellis' father (Harrison Ford) and she quickly claims to be her grandmother.  Father buys this, but eventually realizes his son is in love with the same woman he loved some forty years before.  She immediately runs, but then waivers.  How can this ever be put right?
I always enjoy Harrison Ford, and the two lead characters truly sparkle and do a great job.  However Harrison's wife (Kathy Baker), who confronts her husband's past relationship, after 40 years of marriage, is the one who really has to act.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Book Review: Ultimate Survival Guide

Ultimate Survival guide for Kids by Rob Colson, Marshall Editions, Irvine, California, 2014.
Some kind of survival guide should be in every reference collection.  This book is Tony's.  It gives ideas for surviving many emergencies.  These include animal emergencies, natural disasters and human hazards.  It also has a section on basic survival skills.

Movie Review: ****Parent Trap (1961)

My kids grew up with Hayley Mills, and this as one of their favorites.  Hayley Mills plays two roles, as twin sisters, Susan and Sharon; daughters of parents who split when they were young, and each took one of the children.  I say that was a lousy resolution, and they were lucky this had any good ending at all.  Father (Brian Keith) is caught in a new romance, and mother (Maureen O'Hara) is coming to save the day.  The girls have a belief that their parents will some how get back together.  However, when new fiance, father and the girls end up on a back country camping trip together, the way is paved for the girls to sabotage everything.
This movie is fun.  Hayley Mills delves into music.  Of course who knows if she is really playing.  However she was also good; and I must admit, I like to see Maureen O'Hara.  She is one of my favorite.

Movie Review: Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory

This is one of those classic musical movies.  Gene Wilder stars as Willy Wonka, and from the moment we are introduced to him, and he does the somersault before jumping up; we know this is a special character.  The music is superb.  The candy vendor (Aubrey Woods) sings the most popular song, "Candy Man."  Gene Wilder sings "Pure Imagination" which is beautiful.  And then Charlie (Peter Ostrum) and Grandpa Joe (Jack Albertson) sing "I've Got a Golden Ticket."  Then there are the Oompa Loompa songs.
The story goes that Wonka Chocolates advertises a golden ticket, inviting five lucky children to visit his factory.  It is Charlie's dream to see the factory.  He lives close, but he lives in poverty, and money to buy candy is rare.  As people are selected, Charlie's hopes go down.  The other winners are spoiled Veruca, Gum chewing Violet, TV watcher Mike Teevee, and lastly Augustus Gloop who eats everything.  What the contestants don't know is that Willy Wonka is really testing the children.  One by one the children drop out.  Augustus falls in the chocolate river and gets stuck, Violet eats a gum based meal, and turns into a violet, Mike Teevee turns into a miniature size when he transmits himself over TV, and lastly Veruca is a bad egg.  Even Charlie falters.  He and his grandfather drink a fizzy drink which makes them fly.  They discover burping helps them descend when they are close to the vent fan.  Willy Wonka holds this against them, but in the end Charlie's honesty wins the day.
I enjoy this movie, and I enjoy Gene Wilder.  This is the only movie in which appears Peter Ostrum. He was offered more movies, but chose to become a veterinarian instead.
Roald Dahl wrote the book.  He also wrote the first screenplay.  However he dropped out when a subsequent screenplay was written by David Seltzer.  They also added songs against Dahl's wishes.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Movie Review: ***Dunkirk (2017)

This is a big movie, but in the end, trying to tell too many stories made for a jumbled mess.  Their were air force shots, Navy stories and Army stories.  However at times it was night and then day and then night, and it seems the stories didn't go in sequence, and it was confusing.  However, the point that came across is that at Dunkirk there were people helping people in a desperate situation, and in many instances they sacrificed their own lives.  The story starts a week into the surrounding of Dunkirk, and the Allied forces being hemmed in.  The stories are very compelling, that a a French Soldier trying to get out of Dunkirk, a family and their smaller vessel helping rescue soldiers, and a pilot who uses all his fuel shooting down that last plane, before he is captured by the Germans.  That the British were able to rescue so many, proved to be a turning point.  However this movie shows that many did not make it.  It seems ship after ship was being sunk.  The small boats were really the turning point.

Musical Movie Review: ****My Fair Lady (1964)

This is a musical triumph of major degree.  It also has costuming, form the poor to the wealthy which is fantastic.  Rex Harrison stars as Professor Higgins, the linguist who is determined he can teach anyone to speak proper English, and Audrey Hepburn as Eliza Doolittle, his subject.  Higgins' best friend is Colonel Pickering (Wilfred Hyde-White) and the father of Eliza is Alfred P. Doolittle (Stanley Holloway).  This movie has many catchy numbers including, "Wouldn't It Be Loverly?," "With a Little Bit of Luck," "Just You Wait [Henry Higgins]," "I Could have Danced All Night." "On the Street Where You Live," and "I'm getting Married in the Morning."  There is great fun here, and there is a romance included free of charge.  This musical is a Lerner and Lowe (Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe.

Movie Review: ***^The Truman Show (1998)

This movie has a very interesting theme, which is carried off by Jim Carrey, who portrays Truman, the subject of a reality television program.  Everyone he meets is an actor, and the producers have a hit show with watching truman's interaction with this false world.  They have been watching him since he was born.  But how will he react if he discovers everyone's secret; that his world is not real.
 This movie hits on finding that spirit that makes us human, the desire to live our own lives.

Movie Review: ****How to Steal a Million (1966)

Not that I like stealing shows, but in this case the motivation is different; they are stealing to cover father's habit of forging artwork.  Bonnet (Hugh Griffith) is the forger, Nicole (Audrey Hepburn) is his daughter who wants him to quit the forging business.  However Bonnet is obsessed with fooling people, and creating replicas of the masters.  The art expert, Simon, set to expose everything, is he who falls in love with Nicole (Peter O'Toole).  Finally there is lover of art, Davis Leland (Eli Wallach) who will even become engaged to Nicole, in an effort to convince her father to let him purchase the statue created by his grandfather.
This is really a delightful romantic comedy.  The characters work together and it is a fun show.  I especially like the hiding in a small closet thing.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Picture Book Review: Horton Hatches the Egg, Dr. Seuss

This is classic Seuss.  In this story we see Horton the elephant again.  He is hatching an egg because the lazy bird Mayzie doesn't not want to sit her egg.  Horton's statement is classic, and can teach us all a lesson.  "I meant what I said, And I said what I meant....An elephant's faithful One hundred per cent!  So Horton endures.  He endures rain storms, snow storms, friends who tease him, hunters who capture him, being shipped across the ocean, being in a circus and on display all over the world, boredom, and being uncomfortable; yet he sits the egg, which hatches as an elephant bird.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Movie Review: Les Miserables (1998)

This is a fascinating version of Les Miserables starring Liam Neeson as Jean Valjean.  This version is not a musical.  Geoffrey Rush portrays Javert, and makes an interesting contrast; strength against finesse.  However Valjean proves he is a changed man, when he exposes himself to save a man he didn't know.  Cosette is also well done as played by Claire Danes.  It is interesting the way Valjean confesses his past to her.  Fantine is portrayed by Uma Thurman, and the scenes where she is hallucinating of her daughter, and passing away are very nice.  Peter Vaughn portrays the bishop who sets Valjean on a righteous path.  This story is very poignant, and this version does it justice.

Book Review: Disney: Beauty and the Beast: Lost in a Book

Disney Beauty and the Beast: Los in a Book by Jennifer Donnelly, Disney Press, Los Angeles, 2017.

Here is a book that takes a more detailed look at Belle's love for books, and much like a Jane Austen book, explores how a love for books; when it becomes fanatical, can have negative consequences.  In this case, death is vying for Belle, and does this with the help of a book.  In this book, the characters are alive; however they are not what they seem to be.  However, Belle discovers this too late, but how can she ever get back to the Beast.  This story takes place after the wolf attack and before the ballroom dance.  
The new movie, and the old, are so magical, there is not much that could live up to that.  This book does not quite have the same magic but is enjoyable.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Book Review: Roald Dahl's George's Marvelous Medicine

George’s Marvelous Medicine by Roald Dahl, illustrated by Quentin Blake, Puffin Books, New York, 1981.
This book should come with some warnings.  You usually don't play with chemicals such as these, and get away with any kind of a positive result.  Even if you want to get even with your cantankerous grandmother.  This book is about a medicine which makes things grow, but cannot be duplicated.  

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Book Review: Five Kingdoms: Sky Raiders

Five Kingdoms: Sky Raiders  by Brandon Mull, Alladin, New York, 2014.
This is the first in a five part series.  Many of Cole's school friends are kidnapped.  Cole doesn't really understand what is happening, but he follows them, in an effort to rescue them, and becomes a prisoner, kidnapped like the rest.  They are in a new kingdom, where slavery is condoned.  Before he knows what is happening, he ends up at a place on the edge, where life expectancy is not very long, working as a sky raider, salvaging things from cloud castles in the sky.  This is dangerous work; but his life only gets more dangerous when he runs away with Mira, a princess in disguise, who is wanted by the king.
Mull pulls it off again.  There are likable characters in this world, and the imaginative components are incredible.  We have magical ropes and flying swords, and building things with your mind.  Great stuff.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Picture Book: The Berenstains' B Book

The Berenstains' B Book, A bright and Early Book, Stanley and Janice Berenstain, Random House, New York, 1971.  This is a progressive story told with B words.  It is quite ingenious and has a surprise ending.  I rather enjoy this  book.  I had a co-worker who had each page made into a poster size picture, and he enjoyed displaying it in his office.  It is no wonder.  This book is good, and the artwork matches the Berenstain's feeling.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Book Review: The End: A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket

A Series of Unfortunate Events: The End by Lemony Snicket, illustrated by Brett Helquist, Harper Collins, New York, 2006.
I finished this series a few weeks back, but always have a hard time with finishing a series when I have enjoyed the characters so much.  In this case the characters are the Baudelaire orphans Violet, Klaus and Sunny; and also Count Olaf.  These four go to the end of the book.  Olaf releases the deadly spores of the Medusoid Mycelium, and refuses to take the antidote apple until it is too late.  He succumbs.  The orphans only discovered the antidote by reading the history their parents had written.  The orphans try of also save Kit Snicket who is in labor.  Again the deadly spores over come her, but not before they are able to help her deliver a healthy baby.  In this way, the story marks the end of one adventure, and the beginning of another.  The orphans are thrust into the parenting role rather quickly.
I have enjoyed the characters immensely, but was disappointed with so many questions still being left unanswered, particularly with regards to the Quagmire triplets.  We find out the went to confront some strange beast, but that is the last we know of them.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Movie Review: ****^Wonder Woman (2017)

This is one of the best movies I have seen in some time.  It is a DC Comic inspired movie.  Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) is after the god of War.  She had no knowledge of the war until an American Pilot(Chris Pine) crashed near their island, and he rescues him.  Their island is one of women who spend their time practicing to make war, while being sheltered from the rest of the world.  The pilot, Steve, is actually a spy, with important information and has to get back to London.  His information is about the development of a deadly toxin.  Wonder Woman has a sword which she feels is a god killer.  This is in the middle of WWI, and war is all around her.  There is one man, Sir Patrick (David Thewlis) suing for peace, while plans are made by the Germans to make a new strain of chemical poison, which will kill thousands.  In this way instead of being pressured for peace, they will be able to win the war.
The spy presents his information, and is ordered to not pursue his lead because of the impending armistice.  He develops his own team to gala at German high command, where he hopes to stop the delivery of the weapon.  The team includes Charlie (Ewen Bremner) a sharp shooting Scot whose PTSD has gotten in the way of his shooting, Chief (Eugene Brave Rock) and Sameer (Said Taghmaoui).  This is a pretty formidable teem.  Wonder Woman mistakes a German general over development of the weapon as the god of war.  She figures that killing him, will stop the conflict.  She is wrong.  However the British minister suing for peace Sir Patrick, reveals himself as the god of war.   He whispers things to people, like the formula for the deadly gas, to people, but he says people act on their own.   A tremendous battle takes place between the two gods, turns our  Wonder Woman is the daughter of Zeus.  Although the sword failed, Wonder Woman is in fact the god killer.  While the two gods battle, Steve and his team are set to the destroy the gas weapon.  They blow up the stocks, except for that loading on a dirigible and set to hit London.  Steve takes over the plane, and flies high enough so the  gas will not harm anyone.  He then detonates explosives, and perishes with the gas.
Wonder Woman seeing his sacrifice, although sad because she loves Steve, now has new strength to battle the god of war.
Gadot makes this film go.  She is a strong female character with looks as well.  The final pose is classic.  (This movie is after the Batman Vs Superman, but Wonder Woman is recalling her story after receiving a picture from Bruce Wayne.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Book Review: The Penultimate Peril by Lemony Snicket

The Penultimate Peril: A Series of Unfortunate Events Book the Twelfth by Lemony Snicket, illustrated by Brett Helquist, Harper Collins Publishers, New York, 2005.
Here is the continuing sage,  and penultimate means the next to last peril.  In this book, our orphans seem a bit different than who they have been.  They make it to the last resting place, the Hotel Denouement.  Her they are set up as Concierges and spies.  They watch, but when there is so much to see, it is hard to figure out what is happening.  The are blamed for another murder, as the harpoon gun goes off as they are taking it from Count Olaf.  They see an ally struck dead as a result.  They at the same time determine to take things in their own hands, and help Olaf put fire to the hotel.  Who knows who escapes, but it does serve as a signal to their friends that things are not safe.  The help Count Olaf make his escape, leaving with him.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Movie Review: ***^Batman vs Superman (2016)

This movie is a bit confusing.  It seems like they are trying to spend most of the movie explaining why Batman (Ben Affleck) and Superman (Henry Cavill)  have it for each other.  In the end it is blackmail by the part of Lex Luthor (Jessie Eisenberg) that gets them to fight.  It was Luthor manipulating things all along.  Lois Lane (Amy Adams) and Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) also play significant parts.  Senator Finch (Holly Hunter), along with a committee gets blown up by Luthor.  Luthor is a really bad man through this entire movie.  He summons a terrible monster using technology from Krypton.  He also develops a weapon to kill Superman.  Big fight at the end, first between Batman and Superman, and then against the monster.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Movie Review: *****Princess Bride (1987)

Sometimes somethings works, and this is a movie that works for me.  I have watched it countless times, and it is still fresh.  Some of the movie I can quote.  My favorite is "Anybody want a peanut."  This movie (told as a story by grandfather Peter Falk to his grandson, Fred Savage, who is home sick.  The story features Andre the Giant as Fezzik, Cary Elwes as Westley, Robin Wright as the princess, Mandy Patinkin as Inigo, Wallace Shawn as Vizzini, Billy Crystal as Miracle Max and Chris Sarandon as Prince Humperdinck.  The story is such that you just have to see it.  Bottom line is Prince Humperdinck wants to start a ware by killing his pride, and blaming it on others.  However his bride is the true love of Westley, who previously was taken captive by pirates.  The Prince's plan involves the kidnapping of the Princess by Vizzini, Fessik and Inigo--brains, muscle and sword.  However they are bested by Westley, now the Dread Pirate Roberts.  This movie includes torture, kissing, true love, marriage, miracles, sword play, wrestling and boulder throwing, eels, a castle, and any number of fun adventures.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Just a Little Luck by Mercer Mayer

Just a Little Luck by Mercer Mayer, Harper Festival, New York, 2011.
Mercer Mayer books are great because of the illustrations, and the emotion Mayer puts in the face of Little Critter.  In this case, bad luck starts when the ice cream falls off the cone.  It is Grandpa who helps little critter turn things around.  A day at the carnival is like that.

Friday, June 2, 2017

Movie Review: ***Ella Enchanted (2004)

This fantasy asks the questions, what would life be like if you were compelled to always obey whatever others told you to do.  That is the situation Ella (Anne Hathaway) finds herself in.   What was meant to be a gift from a fairy, is more a curse.  However, even with this blessing she meets the prince (Hugh Dancy) and they fall in love.  She is talks about equal representation among races, elves, giants and ogres and humans and convinces him to look at things when he is king, taking over for his uncle (Cary Elwes).  The Prince's father died.  However the uncle has other things in mind.  He likes being king.  This film has a snake, much like hiss in the Disney Robin Hood.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Musical Music review: A Funny thing Happened on the Way to the Forum

This movie does not exactly hit in the way of great memorable tunes, but it does make its point as a comedy.  "Comedy Tonight" is a person favorite.  There are a couple attempts at love songs which are always nice.  And in the case of "The Dirty Old Man" hit a funny cord.  We see Zero Mostel in a very different light, but enjoyable all the same.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Picture Book Review: Where the Wild Things Are

Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak, Scholastic, New York, 1963.
Here is a Caldecott Medal winner for best picture book of the year.  This book has some truly marvelous pictures.  In the middle of the book are six pages, three pictures back to back with no words of the wild thing rumpus.  The pictures are imaginative, fantastical and very well done.

Book Review: The Grim Grotto by Lemony Snicket

The Grim Grotto: A series of Unfortunate Events Book the Eleventh by Lemony Snicket, illustrated by Brett Helquist, Harper Collins, New York, 2004.
These books increase in intensity as the go along.  This on we almost lose Sunny, who ingests a poisonous fungus, and only when Violet, Sunny and Klaus working together are they able to come up with an antidote.  Again our heroes orphans are in trouble through out, this time in a submarine.  And again they are betrayed by people the think should be on their side, and stand up to the evil Count Olaf.

Movie Review: ***^The Circle (2017)

This is a movie with an all str cast in my mind, but didn't quite hit the mark.  It stars Tome Hanks as Bailey, CEO of a mega giant computer company, and Emma Watson, as Mary, new employee.  Annie (Karen Gillan) helps recruit her, and over the course of the movie sees Mary move up while she moves down. This company is a bit different, in that the philosophy is that the company sort of owns you, and they are able to actually do this through their cameras, and computer soft ware.  They know everything there is to know.  When this goes wrong, and Bailey's boyfriend (Ellar Coltrane) ends of driving off a bridge as a result, the tide turns.  Ty (John Boyega) is an important character.  He developed the soft ware, but is not pleased with how it is being applied.  Mary and Ty decide to do something about it.
Sheri and I went to this movie.  Sheri thought it was great, except for the ending as it didn't really end.  It has that eerie feel to it which is popular.  Sheri thought the company it was portraying may have been Apple.  It was in the Bay area, with a large circular campus.  Apple is finishing their circular building in Cupertino, and is also in the Bay area.  I was not so enthusiastic about the film.  I think these stars could have done more.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Children's Picture Book: Me First

Me First by Helen Lester, illustrated by Lynn Munsinger, Scholastic, New York, 1992.  This is a delightful story about a little pig who always insists on being first.  He is also insisting on being first for everything, including getting on and off the bus, in the meal line and going down the slide.  However he gets in trouble when he says he will be first to care of a sand witch (he had heard sandwich) and got himself into trouble caring for the little witch all  day until he learns his lesson.
This reminds me of a time I volunteered at school, just as someone  was vomiting.  Guess who got to help clean up the vomit.  The pictures of the pushy little pig are very well done.

Musical Review: ****^Newsies

No I did not see this live, but I came home and was told to watch it via Amazon.  Man was this a fun ride.  The Disney musical adds some characters which really adds to the story.  It also turns the story from being about just the Newsies, to a children's crusade in general.  And the sparks were there between Jack Kelley (Jeremy Jordan) and Katherine (Kara Lindsay.)  I was waiting for the love song, and it didn't disappoint.  My son and his wife sang this a couple years ago in a Broadway Review.   (They weren't yet engaged.)  Music by Alan Menken and lyrics by Jack Feldman. This is a show my kids have loved since it appeared on television so many years ago.  The girls have taken their turns dressing up as Newsies.  I know Natalia, Ty and Miranda have seen a live performance in Seattle.
This is a great show and I have really enjoyed it.  It leaves you feeling good.

Picture Book: The Tale of Jemima Puddle-Duck by Beatrix Potter

This is a delightful little story about a duck who insists on sitting her own eggs.  The duck's pride almost gets the duck eaten by the sly fox who offers his back shed for the sitting on the eggs.  However, Jemima had told a dog what she was about, which sparked an investigation and in the end saved Jemima, although they were the worse for wear for their efforts.  Jemima was allowed to sit some eggs, but proved to not be a very good sitter as only a few eggs hatched.