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 sho 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.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Book Review: Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator

Charlie and the Great glass Elevator, by Roald Dahl, illustrated by Quentin Blake, Alfred A. Knopf, New York, 1972.
This is the continue sage of Charlie and the Chocolate factory.  Where do our eight persons go after being picked up by the elevator, Charlie's parents, grandparents, Charlie and Mr. Wonka.  They of course travel to space to the new U.S. Space Hotel.  However at the hotel the meet pernicious knids.  The barely escape with their lives.
This is a cute story.  It gets really exciting when Mr. Wonka is battling against the knids.  This is a strange being that likes to eat others.  They are lucky the elevator is knid proof, otherwise they had been goners.  In all this fuss, Wonka and the elevator have to rescue a ship traveling to the hotel with guests.  It seems pretty dicey for a moment.
A cute theme is, can Willy Wonka get the three grandparents out of bed so they can help Charlie in the Chocolate factory.  They don't want to.
There is a part of this book that paints Dahl in a negative light.  This is when he is making fun of Chinese in the voice of the U.S. president.  He makes a couple jokes at the expense of the Chinese.

Dr. Seuss's ABC

Dr. Seuss's ABC, Beginner Books, Random House, New York, 1963.
A Dr. Seuss ABC book is fun, because you get the Seuss illustrations.  The book has a rhyme on each page, but the highlight is Z where we see the Zizzer-Zazzer-Zuzz.

Movie Review: ****Mrs Miniver (1942)

This is an excellent WWII film.  It shows the Battle of Britain, from the view point of a community which is close to and airstrip, and consequently subject to fighting over head and bombing.  Mrs. Miniver (Greer Carson) is the matriarch of a British family.  Their oldest (Richard Vey) son joins the Royal Air Force and flies a fighter.  The film depicts his brief romance and marriage to Carol Beldon (Teresa Wright).  Mr Miniver (Walter Pidgeon) takes part in the boat rescue of the men from Dunkirk.   When he returns he is proud of himself, while he figures his wife has had it easy.  however for her part, she was able to capture a German pilot who had parachuted from a plane.  the interaction between Mrs. Miniver and the pilot is very telling.  The germans had lots of pride in their Luftwaffe.
William Wyler directed this film.  It was his effort to bolster the war effort and to show the results of the war to the American public, by portraying a family hunkered down against the air attack.  Six Oscars including for best picture, best director, best actress and best supporting actress.
 

Picture Book Review: The Night Before Mother's Day

The Night Before Mother's Day by Natasha Wing, art by Amy Wummer, Grosset and Dunlap, Penguin Group, New York, 2010.
This rhyming book takes the rhythm of the popular poem "The Night Before Christmas."  In doing this, I can sing it as in high school we sang a version of this song.  That makes this work even more fun for me.  And this Mother's Day was special.  It included spa and manicure given by her daughters.  The artwork is also very well done.  I especially like the last picture, a crown and mother's head, father in a cooking apron with a silly grin, and the daughters on mother's lap.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

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

The Slippery Slope: A Series of Unfortunate Events, Book the Tenth by Lemony Snicket, illustrated by Brett Helquist, Scholastic, New York 2005, Harper Collins, New York 2003.
The tenth installment of the Unfortunate Events keeps the same general flavor, with new perils, and meeting a new friend.  The Baudelaire Orphans continue pursuing the mystery of what VFD might stand for, and what does the organization mean to them.  The make a new friend, the third member of the Quagmire triplets.  And together the find the headquarters for VFD; but only after it has been burned to the ground by cohorts of Count Olaf.  The two who burned the headquarter are so evil even Count Olaf is scared of them.  They are going to take Olaf's gang to new levels of despicability.  The Baudelaires, Violet and Klaus at the headquarters sifting through the remains, and Sunny with Count Olaf's men serving as cook, and being a spy, both discover that there is still hope.  The followers of VFD are going to meat for a meeting.  However, the destiny of our heroes is imperiled at the end, as the toboggan away from Olaf and his evil cohorts, but end up in a river, and separated from the Quagmire Triplet.  I am enjoying these books, and appreciate the dry humor of Snicket.  He is always advising his readers go away, so as to avoid a sad story, and I just keep coming back for more.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Musical Movie Review; Anastasia

This is one of my favorite animated musicals.   This film boasts an all star cast.  Meg Ryan portrays Anastasia, and Kirsten Dunst plays the girl Anastasia.  However they do not provide the singing parts.  Liz Callaway sings for Anastasia.  John Cusack and Kelsey Grammer plan the two who discover her.  Christopher Lloyd plays the evil Rasputin.  Bernadette Peters plays the grandmother's cohort, and Angela Lansbury the Queen mother, or Anastasia's grand mother.  I love the song "Once Upon a December."  "Journey to the Past" is also wonderful.  And the story of finding yourself, and then maybe that is not the thing you really want to do.  I think the Rasputin character may be over done.  He is always falling apart and putting himself back together, and it gets old after a time.


Sunday, May 14, 2017

Movie review: ****Sully (2016)

This is an excellent movie, which leaves you feeling good int he end.  Sometimes, heroes are hard to define and understand.  This movie shows us a hero.  Chelsey Sullenberg (Tom Hanks) is the pilot of the plane which landed in the Hudson River, with all passengers being accounted for.  Jeff Skiles (Aaron Eckhart) plays the first mate.  This movie shows the scrutiny they were put through by the National Transportation Safety Board.  It was looking like Captain Sullenberg was being condemned because he landed in the river.  However, by the end he was proclaimed a true hero, and the difference in this case.  They ask the first made if he would have done anything differently.  His response, I would have done it in July (rather than January when the incident did take place.)
Tis is a great feel good movie; because that is how I felt at the end.

Book Review: The Carnivorous Carnival by Lemony Snicket

The Carnivorous Carnival: A Series of Unfortunate Event Book the Ninth by Lemony Snicket, illustrated by Brett Helquist, Harper Collins, New York 2002, Scholastic 2003, New York, 2003.
The adventure takes us now to a carnival, with a fortune teller, and three new coworkers who should be friends, but things don't turn out that way.  There is also Count Olaf with a pack of lions, and he wants to improve attendance at the carnival by giving people a live show of a lion eating someone.  It does bring the crowds, and the lions get there way, but not with the intended victims.  This is again a story of betrayal, and outright abuse as Count Olaf and Esme, his girlfriend, continue to seek the Baudelaire fortune.

Movie Review: **^Interstellar (2014)

I found Interstellar to be confusing and in the end a bunch of mumble jumble.  It is about an astronaut, who leaves his family, but somehow by twisting universes, he is able to visit them as a ghost.  He finally returns to his family, his daughter's death bed, while he has not aged much because everything is relative.  It uses ideas about gravity and time and jumbles this all together.
Move stars Matthew McConaughey as the astronaut, John Lithgow as his father, Mackenzie Foy as his youth daughter, and Ellen Burstyn as his adult daughter.  Anne hathaway stars as a fellow astronaut.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Movie Review: ****Guardians of the Galaxy Volumn 2 (2017)

Again our heroes team up to save the galaxy, this time from the father of Peter (Chris Pratt), Ego (Kurt Russell).  This movie has all our old beloved characters, Gamora (Zoe Saldana) the blue humanoid, Drax (Dave Bautista), the tattooed guardian, Rocket (voiced by Bradley Cooper)  the raccoon looking creature and Groot (voiced by Van Diesel).  In addition to Ego, we have two other new characters, an empath named Mantis (Pom Klementieff), and Gamora's sister, Nebula (Karen Gillan).  First our heroes are saved by Ego, and then betrayed by him, as he is hoping to use Peter to help him reshape the universe, destroying all life except himself and his son.  Seems pretty demented.  However, since Ego is an immortal, it makes his defeat pretty complicated.  Yondu (Michael Rooker) the individual who kidnapped Peter when he was young, and emotional abused him,  also plays an important part, that enables Peter to come to terms with his past, and understand what happened.  The two sisters finally come to an understanding, after trying to kill each other most of their lives.  Some of the funniest moments happen when the empath interprets the emotions of the others.
The think that makes this movie is the relationships between the characters.  there is platonic love, admiration, friendship and camaraderie.   In theaters now and good for a fun adventure.

Book Review: The Hostile Hospital by Lemony Snicket

The Hostile Hospital: A Series of Unfortunate Events Book the Eighth by Lemony Snicket, illustrated by Brett Helquist, Harper Collins, New York 2001, Scholastic, New York, 2002.
I keep coming back to the Series of Unfortunate Events.  Each book the author says the reader should go elsewhere because of the depressing events which happen to the Baudelaire orphans, but I keep coming back.  I think it is because I like the characters, Violet the inventor who ties her hair in a ribbon when she wants to think, Klaus the scholar, who loves books, and then Sunny, the baby who likes to chew things.  These three character make for an interesting read.
In this book, the orphans are escaping from an accusation that they are murderers, which was promoted by the real murderer, Count Olaf.  They seek refuge in a hospital, sleeping in the unfinished side.  They are looking for the "Snicket File" which hopefully will shed more light on their circumstances.  They only find one page, and this page gives them hope on of their parents may still be alive.  However, they are again caught in a web created by Count Olaf.  In stealing the keys to the hospital library, looking for the file, they violated the trust of the caretaker.  However when Olaf burns the library, and the hospital, they are blamed for much more.  Mixed in her is the almost cerebral decapitation of Violet, as part of an operation in the hospital.
Our orphans stay in a miserable circumstance, which only gets worse.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Picture Book Review: The Tale of Tom Kitten, Beatrix Potter

The tale of Tom Kitten by Beatrix Potter, Frederick Warne and Company, London, 1907.
This is a delightful tale.  However it is not only about Tom Kitten, but also his two sisters, Mittens and Moppet.  But most importantly it is about their mother, who cleans them up, and dresses them smartly, but then leaves them in the garden so they are out of the way so mother can finishing preparing for her tea.  Of course her goal is a show of the kittens.  However, kittens in a garden are not going to stay put, and they don't.  The soil their clothes, and in fact the ruin them, and they are picked up by the Drake Paddle Duck family, who instead of retuning them put them on as best the could.  When mother finds the kittens, she smacks them, and sends them to their room.  I think the mother kitten may need some help.  The ducks do as well, when they went swimming the clothes all fell off as they had no buttons.  The ducks are always putting their heads under water looking for the clothes.
I like that last cute tid-bit as an explanation for duck behavior.  Very enjoyable story.

Movie Review: Baby's Day Out

In this movie Baby Bink is played by twins, Adam and Jacob Worton, and is so cute his smile carries the show.  Three kidnappers, pretend photographers, run off with the baby, Eddie, Norby and Veeko (Joe Mantegna, Joe Pantoliano and Brian Haley).  This is a baby vs three bumbling crooks movie, with the baby being one step ahead throughout.  The kidnapping goes well, but then the baby crawls out the window, and is on his way to many adventures.  His parents (Laura Flynn Boyle and Mathew Glave) are of course heart broken and worried, and do all in the power to get him back.  Fred Thompson plays the head of the FBI.  The nanny (Cynthia Nixon) has been reading the same book to the baby every day for 100s of times, Baby's Day Out.  The baby goes on many adventures, visiting pages from the book, including a taxi ride, a bus ride, to the zoo (where a gorilla befriends him) to the park, to a construction site, and finally to the old soldier's home.  It is when the nanny hears where she has been, that she realizes he is reenacting the book, and knows where he will be next.  Baby comes home safe, and when the baby sees where his book is, the kidnappers had taken it to calm him down, the police are turned on to the location, and they are caught as well.
This book is fun.  It puts the baby in horrifying situations, but all comes out right in the end.  The charm of the movie is how baby escapes so many close calls, while the kidnapper, trying to recapture him, always fail and get beat up as a result.  Written by John Hughes.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Book Review: The Vile Village: Series of Unfortunate Events: Book the Seventh

The Vile Village: Series of Unfortunate Events: Book the Seventh by Lemony Snicket, illustrated by Brett Helquist, Harper Collins, New York, 2001.
This is the continuing sage of the Baudelaire children.  The big the Vile Village because it is called V.F.D.  In this case the initials refer to Village of Foul Devotees.  The town is infested with crows, and the village members almost worship them.  There is one thing worse than crows every place, and that is Count Olaf and his henchmen, who also show up.  However, they keep getting messages from Quagmire triplets.  Klaus has to put the messages together, to discover where they triplets are, so they can be rescued.  At the same time they must rescue themselves.  The Village is their guardian, but actually it is just Hector who cares for them.  Hector is afraid of the town council, so goes along with the purpose of the Baudelaires is to clean after everyone.
In this  book, the children do better at rescuing than saving themselves.  The are accused of a murder, of Count Olaf no less, who actually murdered Jaques Snicket, who had information for the children.  However he isn't allowed to deliver his message before he is murdered, and the Baudelaire children are framed.
The Baudelaires and the Quagmires, and Hector attempt to make their escape in the invention of Harold which Violet improved.  A self sustaining floating vehicle.  In the end, the Quagmires escape, and the Baudelaires get away on foot in the end, and just miss the Quagmire notes which have more information on VFD.
Each book the kids are frustrated in finding information abut their parents, the fire, and who is this Jaques Snicket that had a message for them.
There is plenty to keep you coming back for more of this, even though the author sends you away at the beginning of each book.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Book Review: The Ersatz Elevator: A Series of Unfortunate Events Book the Sixth

The Ersatz Elevator: A series of Unfortunate Events: Book the Sixth, by Lemony Snicket, illustrated by Brett Helquist, Harper Collins Publishers, New York, 2001.
I keep coming back to these books, and the reason I think is because of the characters, the three orphans, and the evil Olaf.  However in this book we are introduced to a new villain, the Count's girlfriend, Esme.  She is evil as he, and very devious besides.  In this case, the orphans must climb down and elevator shaft (a fake elevator, to rescue their friends the Quagmire Triplets.  However in this they don't succeed, and they almost end up falling to the bottom.
Strange thing the discover, a tunnel leading from the apartment complex of Esme, their guardian, to the ruins of their home that was burned.
Again lots of fun, with peril and problem solving, which things make for a good book.  The illustrations are unique in that the give a different angle to look at things.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Movie Review: the Zoo Keeper's Wife

This is a movie that makes you think.  I really enjoyed it.  I am totally engrossed with movies about nazi atrocities, and the Holocaust.  In this case the movie deals with the Warsaw ghetto.  Antonina (Jessica Chastain) and Jan Zabinski (Johan Elderbergh) run the Warsaw Zoo.  The zoo was bombed with the initial Nazi incursion into Warsaw.  More were killed by both sides as the animals were dangerous, and many had escaped.  Some were rescued and returned to their pens.
After the Nazi take over, Lutz Heck (Daniel Bruhl) (of the Berlin Zoo) takes many animals for safe keeping to Berlin.  However he returns.  He has a thing for Antonina.  Being a Nazi he controls them in a way.
The Zabinskis see what is happening to their friends in the ghetto.  They at first bring a friend to stay in their cellar.  However they become more involved, bringing many to their home, using a garbage collection.  they need the scraps for feeding pigs, to feed the Nazis.  Something they can do with the zoo pens.  However it also acts as cover for the escape of many Jews from the ghetto.
The would eventually help hundreds, and lose only two who were murdered.
Jan eventually joins the Polish resistance.  He is shot, and Antonina has no idea what has come of him.  In this atmosphere, the Russians are coming and the Nazis are about to fall.  Lutz discovers the operation, and also controls the family.  With that power over the family, it is amazing they escape unscathed.
Disclaimer: this film is rated PG 13.  It does have war violence against people and animals.  It also has brief nudity.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Children's LIterature: The Magic Finger by Roald Dahl

The Magic finger by Roald Dahl, illustrated by Quentin Blake, Puffin Books (Penguin Books), London, 1964.

This is a cute short story with the theme of putting ourselves in someone else's shoes.  In this case, a family is turned into duck, while the ducks take over their home, after they get carried away with their hunting.  This could be considered an anti-hunting book, but I interpret it to be not getting over ambitious, but to do things in moderation.  I probably have it wrong, but I think people should be able to hunt in its proper place.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Movie: ****The Bridge Over the River Kwai (1957)

This is one o those stories where sometimes the means don't justify the end.  In order to build morale of their men, the officers at a prisoner of war camp run by the Japanese with Allied prisoners, determine that they should participate in the forced labor required by the Japanese, but not only participate but do a good job.
At the same time, the Allies send a team to blow up the bridge being built by the prisoners.  In the end, these decisions pit Colonel Nicholson (Alec Guinness) against Shears (William Holden) one of the Allies who has come to blow up the bridge.  When Nicholson discovers the plot, he informs the Japanese, but then realizes his mistake.  "What have I done?  What have I done? he exclaims, as he depresses the plunger to blow up the bridge.  Classic scene.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Picture Book: Marvin K. Mooney Will You Please Go Now! Dr. Seuss

Marvin K. Mooney Will You Please Go Now! by Dr. Seuss, A Bright and Early Reader, Random House, New York, 1972.
This book is delightful, but most delightful because of the Dr. Seuss pictures.  He is using simple words, and sometimes a picture can carry the story better than words.  Such is the case here, us you look and wonder at some of the things Marvin could use to leave.  So just to see these pictures, this book is tremendous.

Movie Review: ***^The Teacher's Pet (1958)

This is a romantic comedy featuring Doris Day and Clark gable.  Gable plays James Gannon ,the newspaper man, who has come up through the business and is now editor of a large newspaper.  Day plays Erica Stone, a professor of journalism, who has asked Gannon to be a guest lecture for her class.  At at first declined, in a nasty letter.  However his boss insists he go, and after Stone reads the letter, he is too embarrassed to admit he wrote it, but is intrigued by Stone, and stays for the class, and even enrolls.  He becomes her best student.
As far as the romance goes, Gannon feels he has a competitor in Dr.  Pine (Gig Young) but in fact they are collaborating on a book.  There is some fancy competition between the two in terms of who can hold their liquor.
The romance goes well, until, as it always does, Stone discovers the deception.  Now these two people who like each other, must figure out how to get past this indiscretion.
This play is a bit short on comedy, but I enjoyed it, having been a journalism student for a time.
Another tid-bit, Day had first intended to be a dancer.  She does do some dancing in this movie with Dr. Pine.  

Friday, April 21, 2017

Picture Book: The Story of a Fierce Bad Rabbit, Beatrix Potter

The Story of a Fierce Bad Rabbit, by Beatrix Potter, F. Warne & CO., London, 1906.
This is how a rabbit, proud and haughty and selfish gets his high sailing tail blown off.  It always pays to be nice.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Picture Book: Appley Dappley's Nursery Rhymes, Beatrix Potter

Appley Dappley's Nursery Rhymes by Beatrix Potter, illustrated by Frederick Warne, Penguin Books, London, 1917.
This is a short and sweet rhyming story of a mouse.  However it also shows several other creatures, including a mole, guinea pig, rabbits and pig and sedge hog.  I think the line I like best is that the woman who lived in a shoe with such a large family must have been a mouse, or they would not have fit.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Picture Book Review: The Story of Miss Moppet, Beatrix Potter

The Story of Miss Moppet by Beatrix Potter, illustrated by Frederick Warne, Penguin Books, London, 1906.
This is the story of a kitten, and his interactions with a mouse.  The mouse learns that you should not get too close to the kitten; and the kitten learns that if you play with a mouse, it is likely to get away.

Movie Review: Curious George 2: Follow that Monkey (2009)

This is a cute story about Curious George, but it lacks the peppy music of the original movie.  The music is written by Heitor Pereira, who actually wrote music for the first.  Pereira and Carbon Leaf provide the vocals.
The story centers around George determining that the performing elephant for a magic show is not happy.  He wants to see his siblings, who live in California.  George and the elephant are in new York.  that doesn't keep George from leading the elephant to freedom, and onto the California Express.  The man in the Yellow Hat follows.  There is a crazy security guard who wants to capture them all for kidnapping.  However, in the end, the magician turns out to be an OK type, and he even buys the other elephants so they can all be together.
Frank Welker provides voice for George, with no real words this would be hard.  Ted, the man in the Yellow Hat is voiced by Jeff Bennett.  In this version Nickie Bryar takes over the roll of Maggie, Ted's girlfriend.  Jamie Kennedy plays the crazy security guard, and Tim Curry portrays the magician, Piccadilly.  Of course this is based on the characters of H.A. Rey and Margret Rey.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Book Review: The Austere Academy: A Series of Unfortunate Events 5

The Austere Academy: A Series of Unfortunate Events: Book the Fifth by Lemony Snicket, illustrated by Brett Helquist, Harper Collins Publisher, New York, 2000.
Thins become even more unfortunate for our orphans, however in this book they make some friends; only for them to be snatched away.  The austere academy is Prufrock Preparatory, and a good environment for children it is not.  The vice principle, Mr. Nero should not be anywhere near children.  And belittling of orphans seems to be encouraged, and in fact is promoted and conducted by the vice-principle who forces the Baudelaires to live in a shack, with mold and toe pinching crabs.  When the school gets a new gym teacher things go from bad to dreadful; and we can all guess who that teacher is.  The gym teacher requires the children to run laps all night, so there is no way they can do their school work during the day--they are just too tired.  So they can't figure out what the plan of Count Olaf might be.

Movie Review: **^Lilo and Stitch 2: Stitch Has a Glitch (2005)

This movie covers the theme of what happens if more of the egg pods, which hatched Stitch, start hatching.  How will they keep from causing terrible damage.  It also pits the evil people  from the empire trying to get revenge on Stitch and the others, and regain them for their own evil designs.  In this movie again relationships are tested.  Stitch is hard to live with at times, and Lilo seems to get blamed for some of his troubles.  However by the end, they are an official finding of alien creatures team.
Dakota Fanning takes over the role of Lilo, Stitch is voiced by Chris Sanders, David Ogden Stiers plays the misguided professor.

Picture Book Review: The Tale of Little Pig Robinson, Beatrix Potter

The Tale of Little Pig Robinson by Beatrix Potter, illustrated by Frederick Warne, Penguin Group, London, 1930.
Here is the tale of a pig, living with his two aunts.  When the cart to market is not working, the aunts are forced to send Robinson to market to sell their eggs and buy needed supplies.  Robinson does well with the marketing, but then falls in with a cook, who wants to show him his boat.  That is how he is waylaid and taken to sea.  However they treat him well, and give him every good thing to eat.  It is only when he hears the Captain and cook talking about the upcoming birthday party for the captain, with a menu of pork and applesauce, that the pig realizes he is in trouble.  However the cat, who has been trying to give the pig hints throughout, finally goes into action, gets the pig on a row boat, while putting holes in the other boats, and sends the pig on his way to a chain of islands which doesn't have enough draft for the main ship.  The little pig makes it to shore, and takes up residence on an island that supplies ample food and water, and decides not to return to hi home country, but  stay on the island and live like Robinson Crusoe.  This is a book with less pictures and more writing than most her books, but still I enjoyed the story.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Book review: The Miserable Mill: A Series of Unfortunate Evens Book the Fourth

The Miserable Mill: A Series of Unfortunate Evens Book the Fourth by Lemony Snicket, illustrated by Brett Helquist, Harper Collins Publishers, New York, 2000.

this is the most disturbing of the Unfortunate Book to this point, because this book uses hypnotism, and manipulating of one of the siblings to do evil work.  In this book the caretaker for the children is indifferent and aloof, and abusive.  He requires the children to work in bad conditions, does not feed them properly, and never even divulges his name, nor his face at it is always surrounded by cigar smoke.
However it is the optometrist and her secretary that are the big problem in this book.  Their office is shaped like the tattoo of an eye on the Count's ankle.  Even though their caretaker promises to keep Count Olaf away, he is their disguised as a secretary spying on the children.
Klaus is hypnotized, and violet must find a way to save hime by reading.  For his part, Klaus has to invent something to save the day from a terrible accident.  Sunny uses his teeth as a sword in a vicious sword fight.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Picture Book Review: Mike Mulligan and his Steam Shovel

Mike Mulligan and his Steam Shovel by Virginia Lee Burton, Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston, 1939.
This is one of the good old classic books which children continue to love.  Even though steam shovels are outdated; this story is not.  Mike Mulligan are an inseparable team.  Mike feels he and his steam shovel can do as much work in a day, as a hundred men with shovels in a week.  As it turns out, he ends up having to prove it.
The part I like about this story is that Mike and his steam shovel find a way to retire together.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Picture Book Review: Fox in Socks

Fox in Socks by Dr. Seuss, random House Beginner Books, New York, 1965.
This book come with a warning which should be headed, "Take it slowly; This book is dangerous!"  It is one tongue twister after another.  This makes it almost impossible to read.  It leaves your head spinning after every page as you try to imagine in your brain what you just read and make sense of it all.  I am sure it makes perfect sense, but it is the comprehension that comes slowly.  great fun if you take it stead and keep from getting frustrated.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Music Review: No Fences: Garth Brooks

This is good old country music.  Some of it is beer drinking music, which I was never into.  Included in this set is "I Got Friends in Low Places" which was a very successful song.  The song I like the most is one about prayer, Unanswered Prayer."  This song really touches a cord.  It also teaches a valuable lesson, that the master of all sometimes knows best:



"Unanswered Prayers"


Just the other night at a hometown football game
My wife and I ran into my old high school flame
And as I introduced them the past came back to me
And I couldn't help but think of the way things used to be


She was the one that I'd wanted for all times
And each night I'd spend prayin' that God would make her mine
And if he'd only grant me this wish I wished back then
I'd never ask for anything again



Sometimes I thank God for unanswered prayers
Remember when you're talkin' to the man upstairs
That just because he doesn't answer doesn't mean he don't care
Some of God's greatest gifts are unanswered prayers



She wasn't quite the angel that I remembered in my dreams
And I could tell that time had changed me
In her eyes too it seemed
We tried to talk about the old days
There wasn't much we could recall
I guess the Lord knows what he's doin' after all



And as she walked away and I looked at my wife
And then and there I thanked the good Lord
For the gifts in my life



Sometimes I thank God for unanswered prayers
Remember when you're talkin' to the man upstairs
That just because he may not answer doesn't mean he don't care
Some of God's greatest gifts are unanswered



Some of God's greatest gifts are all too often unanswered...
Some of God's greatest gifts are unanswered prayers

Picture Book Review: The Tale of the Flopsy Bunnies

The tale of the Flopsy Bunnies by Beatrix Potter, illustrated by Frederick Warne, Penguin group, London, 1909.
This is the story of the family of Benjamin Bunny, who married his cousin Flopsy Bunnie.  Their children where known collectively as the Flopsy Bunnies.  Benjamin took the children scavenging, and found some over large lettuce leaves in the trash heap of Farmer McGregor.  It is wondrous the effect a leaf of lettuce can have on bunnies.  Soon the bunnies, as well as Benjamin were all sleeping in the grass clippings, only Benjamin thought to cover himself with and old sack.  When farmer McGregor dumped additional grass clippings on the heap, he spied the little bunnies and thought to have a good feast.  He bagged them up, six little bunnies.  He then returned to put the mower away before heading home.  Mrs. Tittlemouse, Benjamin Bunny, and his wife who had come looking for him, were frantic to save the children.  But the know was too tight.  However Mrs. Tittlemouse thought to gnaw the bag with her teeth.  The replaced the children with items from the trash heap and the farmer went home with ta bag of old vegetable than rabbit meat and fur.  Mrs. Tittlemouse would be rewarded by the bunnies, but the farmer would be chastised by his wife for such a cruel trick.

I like both these short simple stories as well as the pictures which add to the story.

Picture Book: The Eensy Weensy Spider

This is the common children's song, with pictures.  Included are the hand signals for the song in a corner.  The illustrations are unique as they are made with cutouts, with one animal from each scene carrying over to the next pictures.  It is very clever.
 
Eensy Weensy Spider, illustrations by Lauren Attinello, A Golden Book, Racine, Wisconsin 1995.