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.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Picture Book Review: The Tale of Benjamin Bunny

The Tale of Benjamin Bunny by Beatrix Potter, color reproduction by Frederick Warne, Frederick Warne and Company, London, 1904.
Tis is the tale of Benjamin, who is the cousin of Peter and his siblings.  This takes place shortly after the "Tale of Peter Rabbit" and Benjamin finds Peter without clothes, because he lost them to the gardner who made of them a scarecrow.  However Benjamin had seen the farmer and his wife headed to town, so new they would be gone for some time.  He and Peter go to fetch the clothes.  Peter is wary the entire time, but they get to the clothes in easy fashion.  Its getting home that is difficult.  The cat comes upon them, and they hide in a basket.  When the cat takes a nap on top of the basket they are trapped.  Only the coming of Benjamin's father proved their salvation.
The color reproductions really are nice, and they are throughout the book rather than just on the cover.  They add something to the presentation and help tell the story.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

"Ashes" by Subject to Change

This is an early Mark song, which he sang with his band Subject to Change.  Andrew Loc and Chris Chavez and Mark stayed together and changed their name to As December Leaves.  This song is about my father.

Chains of Addiction, "You're Still Here" As December Leaves

Picture Book Review: Put Me in the Zoo

Put Me in the Zoo, by Robert Lopshire, Random House, New York, 1960.
Some animals just aren't fit for the zoo.  In this case we have a large cat, that can do many things with its spots.  But is it appropriate for the zoo?  It is not.  It is terrific the way the illustrator puts those spots all over everything.  And as often happens, this large cat finally found his place to shine.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Book Review: The Wide Window: A Series of Unfortunate Events: Book the Third

The Wide Window: A Series of Unfortunate Events: Book the Third, by Lemony Snicket, illustrations by Brett Helquist, Scholastic Inc, New York, 2000.
This is the continuing sage of the Baudelaire children and their nemesis Count Olaf.  In this story, the children are placed with a well meaning guardian, but who is so overwhelmed by her own fears she is unable to provide a good home.  They always eat cold food because she is afraid of the stove.  She is also afraid of the phone and just about everything else.  This is since her husband was eaten by leaches which live in the lake lake next to their home.  In the end, she runs away and hides, leaving everyone thinking she had committed suicide.  They important lesson the children are learning is that as a team they are pretty formidable.  However they each have their own part to play, even Sunny the baby.  Violet figures things out, Klaus knows about books, and maps, and Sunny is good as just doing what needs to be done.  The banker continues to be a fool, and often makes decisions which are harmful to the children.  And the Count keeps coming back, this time as a sea Captain.
I am still having fun with this series of books.
I have been looking more closely at the illustrations in light of the illustrator being a graduate of BYU.  The front cover has a color picture and the rest is sketches.  However I am intrigued how with lines, a person can make ruffled clothing, or waves of an angry ocean.  very well done.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Movie Review: ***Cocoon: The Return (1988)

The original Cocoon movie was new and fresh, while this movie seems like a rerun of the original.  Not very fresh nor novel, but just replayed.  Most of the original characters are here again.  the Maritime Institute actually finds one of the cocoons.  Fortunately Sara (Courteney Cox) is sympathetic, and they are able to steal the alien back,  after the cocoon had been opened.  Actors playing the older people home for visit include Don Ameche, Wilford Brimley, Maureen Stapleton, Jessica Tandy, Hume Cronyn and Gwen Verdon.  The four old guys playing basketball against a young crowd was a bit of a stretch.  Jack Gilford plays the friend they left behind, and Elaine Stritch his new girlfriend of sorts; however he has difficulty leaving his wife'e memory out of things.  Kitty (Tahnee Welch) the beautiful alien and Jack (Steve Guttenberg) rekindle their love relationship.  In the end, only one couple, the pregnant couple, decide to return.  they need the benefit of no health issues to assure the baby will be OK.  All the others decide to stay.

Movie Review: Beauty and the Beast

This is a classic made even more so by this version.  Emma Watson as Belle does well, and Dan Stevens as the beast, with his booming bass voice is stupendous.  I don't like that they cut the songs of Gaston (Luke Evans) for the most part.  Josh Gad played LeFou, and Kevin Kline plays Belle's father Maurice.  Of the animated characters Ewan McGregor plays Lumiere, Ian McKellan portrays Cogsworth and Emma Thompson, Mrs. Potts.  the part of the film that had me in tears was as Mrs. Potts sang the classic song "Beauty and the Beast."  As the couple danced and Emma Thompson sang, it is one of those Disney moments to cherish.  It seems there is at least one such moment in all the Disney musicals.  Also of note is Audra McDonald as Madame Garderobe.  At the beginning of the movie, she intones a beautiful song.  She is turned into the wardrobe.  there are four original songs in the movie.  Consequently the additional songs from the musical were left out.  Alan Menken returned to write the additional music.
This is a must see.  It seems they left out some of the Gaston stuff I would have liked to have seen.  I think they didn't want his character to be lovable at all.  In fact when he fell at the end of the movie, a child said "Ha ha" and people laughed.  And yes, Emma Watson was beautiful as Belle.  She had the touch of pizazz that this character needs.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Movie Review: The Yearling

This movie has a double meaning, is the yearling the deer, or is the yearling the boy.  Here we have a family living on the frontier.  They have had hardship, with two babies passing away.  They have one son remaining.  Mother (Jane Wyman) is embittered by the deaths, while father (Gregory Peck) does what he can to bring her out of her depression.  Their son, Jody (Claude Jarmon Jr.), is caught in the middle.  During this film, Jody grows up considerable.  Part of that growing, he takes over more and more of the farming work as his father is laid up.  His father allows him to adopt a fawn.  This does great wonders for his esteem; however when the deer starts eating everything they plant, their lives are at stake.  The deer just won't learn different.  The inevitable has to happen, but even so Jody runs off.  He intends to make it to the river, but in the end he can't leave things this way and returns.

Israel Kamakawiwo'ole IZ in Concert Full Live Album YouTube

Much of this concert is in Hawaiian, so I didn't understand much.  However Israel made beautiful music with both his ukulele and his voice.  Israel "Iz" Kaʻanoʻi Kamakawiwoʻole was a large man with a large heart.  This concert was presented in Las Vegas.  This concert does not include "Over the rainbow" or "What a Wonderful World."

Friday, March 31, 2017

Louis Armstrong - What a wonderful world ( 1967 )

This is beautiful.  Song is written by Bob Thiele and George David Weiss and recorded originally by Louis Armstrong.  It had been offered to Tony Bennet who turned it down.  It was actually initially more popular in England than the United States.  However it has since been added to the Grammy Hall of Fame.  Other artists have also performed this song, but the original version is considered the best.  I so love the trombone playing in this.  It is incredible.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Book Review: The Reptile Room: Series of Unfortunate Event 2

The Reptile Room: A Series of Unfortunate Events, Book the Second by Lemony Snicket, illustration by Brett Helquist, Harper Collins Publisher, New York, 1999.
This book continue the tragic story of our three orphans.  In this case, they are taken in by a kind guardian, Uncle Monty, who studies snakes.  He has collected snakes from all over the world.  Everything goes well until he hires a new assistant.  However the new assistant is actually Count Olaf.  The orphans have a terrible time convincing anyone of his identity, and then it is too late, Uncle Monte dies from an apparent snake bite, and the assistant (Olaf) is in a rush to take the orphans on a trip to Peru, where he can get their money and dispose of the kids.  Will no one come to their rescue, or if not how can the three siblings make thing right?  I am having great fun with this series, and with the personalities of the three children.

Picture Book Review: Hop on Pop by Dr. Seuss

Hop on Pop by Dr. Seuss (The Simplest Seuss for Youngest Use) Random House, New York, 1963.
This book is a nightmare for every father.  You don't know how many times I have ben hopped upon.  I blame it all on Seuss.  "Hop Pop We like to hop.  We like to hop on top of Pop.  Stop  You must not hop on Pop."  Those few words have lead to many a smashed belly.  Hopping on Grand Pop is also a favorite activity of children.  This is one of the Seuss books for beginning readers.  It uses very few words, but has many rhyming words.  Even with so few words he draws they reader into the stories.  He tells of Mr. Brown, the thing that can sing, and Pat who sat on a hat.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Movie Review: **Curious George 3: Back to the Jungle (2015)

In this Curious George episode, George (Frank Welker) goes to space to retrieve a part off a satellite, which they want to use to help control and dam and stop flooding in Africa.  George retrieves the device, but has some problems upon reentry into Earth's atmosphere, and his ship ends up in Africa, where George has to save the day as a terrible storm approaches which will flood uncontrolled.  Ted (Jeff Bennett) (the Man in the Yellow Hat) also goes on the rescue mission, and sort of, George rescues him.  The man from NASA is played by Jeff Goodman.  The also meet an animal doctor (Angela Bassett) in Africa, and she takes them to see many of the animals.  This is a great film for a child who can't get enough Curious George, and a great change of pace from watching the same one over and over.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Book Review: The Bad Beginning or, Orphans (A Series of Unfortunate Events No. 1)

The Bad Beginning or, Orphans: A Series of Unfortunate Events No. 1, by Lemony Snicket, illustrations by Brett Helquist, Harpertrophy, New York, 1999.
This is the beginning of this series of 13 books.  In this we are introduced to three children, the Baudelaire children, Violet, Klaus and Sunny, who are made orphans in the first chapter.  They have inherited a large fortune, which is the only reason anyone takes an interest in them.  Certainly Mr. Poe from the bank, really is not interested in their welfare, but his status at the bank with handling a large account.  And definitely no Count Olaf, who schemes of getting his hands on the money.  Mr. Poe appoints the Count as their legal guardian.  The judge who lives next door would take an interest, but the cannot live with her as she is not a relative.  The parents will, before being burned in a fire, states they must be raised by relatives.
In this book terrible things happen.  they are made to live in deplorable conditions, they are set to do excessive amounts of work, but worse Klaus is hit, Sunny is locked in a cage, and Violet is force to marry the Count.  It seems they have no where to turn, and those who should have protected them fail to do so.
Lemony Snicket's style of writing is very catching.  He often goes down, "you shouldn't read this book" etc.  He also has an interesting way of explaining words.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Jack Johnson - Sing-A-Long and Lullabies from Curious George

the link starts with upside down, but goes through all the songs.  I think my favorite is "We Are Goin to be Friends."  I like the rhythms and the feel of these songs.  they make you feel good.
We Are Going to be Friends
Fall is here, hear the yell
Back to school, ring the bell
Brand new shoes, walking blues
Climb the fence, books and pens
I can tell that we are going to be friends
Yes, I can tell that we are going to be friends

Walk with me, Suzy Lee
Through the park and by the tree
We can rest upon the ground
And look at all the bugs we've found
Safely walk to school without a sound
We safely walk to school without a sound

Well, here we are no one else
We walk to school all by ourselves
There's dirt on our uniforms
From chasing all the ants and worms
We clean up and now it's time to learn
We clean up and now it's time to learn

Numbers, letters learn to spell
Nouns and books and show and tell
Play time, we will throw the ball
Then back to school through the hall
The teacher marks our height against the wall
The teacher marks our height against the wall

And we don't notice any time pass
'Cause we don't notice anything
We sit side by side in every class
The teacher thinks that I sound funny
But she likes it when you sing

Tonight I'll dream while my bed
While silly thoughts run through my head
Of the bugs and alphabet
And when I wake tomorrow I'll bet
We will walk together to school again.

'Cause I can tell that we are going to be friends
I can tell that we are going to be friends

Movie Review: **^Pete's Dragon (2016)

I just don't like this version of Pete's Dragon as much as the original, although the special effects are much better, and the dragon is much more realistic.  The story is almost totally different, other then a boy, lost in the woods is taken in by a dragon.  However when civilization encroaches, bad things are going to happen and things are going to change.  Pete (Oakes Fegley) is lost in the woods when his parents die in a car accident.  The dragon rescues him from wolves.
Meacham (Robert Redford) tells the story to the local kids of when he saw the dragon.  He is not believed.  Pete and the dragon have a nice life together for several years.  It isn't until the loggers reach their forest that things change.  A forest ranger, Grace (Bryce Dallas Howard) discovers Pete, and takes him home.  Now the dragon is looking for Pete everywhere, and makes it to the village.  The loggers however are after the dragon, and eventually capture him.  So who is going to rescue the dragon in the end.
This is a movie of goodbye, which is hard sometimes.  However Pete does find a family, and so does the dragon.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Movie Review: Curious George (2006)

This is a full length movie based on the lovable monkey of Margret and H.A. Rey.  Will Ferrell gave voice to Ted, The Man with the Yellow Hat.  There is a woman (Drew Barrymore) who has interest in Ted  the museum owner (Dick Van Dyke) and his son Junior (David Cross) who is determined to sell the museum for a parking garage.  George's noises are voiced by Frank Welker.
In this movie, George befriends Ted when he visits Africa looking for a relic.  George comes away with his hat, and follows him to America, and eventually to his apartment.  The relic, turns out to be only three inches tall.  However it is billed to be 40 feet tall.  And this was the last effort to save the museum.  George, in his usual way, crashes the dinosaur bones, and all efforts seem to fail.  Ted has to eventually decide what is really important.
I found this movie cute, and the grand babies love it.  It is good for the little ones, however even Tony likes it.  The music is very catchy.  It was done by Jack Johnson.  The music track CD album hit number 1.

Upside Down lyrics - Jack Johnson

Who's to say
What's impossible
Well they forgot
This world keeps spinning
And with each new day
I can feel a change in everything
And as the surface breaks reflections fade
But in some ways they remain the same
And as my mind begins to spread its wings
There's no stopping curiosity
I want to turn the whole thing upside down
I'll find the things they say just can't be found
I'll share this love I find with everyone
We'll sing and dance to Mother Nature's songs
I don't want this feeling to go away
Who's to say
I can't do everything
Well I can try
And as I roll along I begin to find
Things aren't always just what they seem
I want to turn the whole thing upside down
I'll find the things they say just can't be found
I'll share this love I find with everyone
We'll sing and dance to Mother Nature's songs
This world keeps spinning and there's no time to waste
Well it all keeps spinning spinning round and round and
Upside down
Who's to say what's impossible and can't be found
I don't want this feeling to go away
Please don't go away
Please don't go away
Please don't go away
Is this how it's supposed to be
Is this how it's supposed to be

The song "We Are Going to be Friends is just as enjoyable. 

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Picture Book Review: The Tale of Two Bad Mice

The tale of Two Bad Mice by Beatrix Potter, Frederick Warne, London, 1904.
This is a reproduction of the original.  These mice aren't really bad, except that the have a very bad anger reaction when they come upon what they think is a feat, only to find that the food is not real, but plastic food for a doll house.  In their temper they commit an act of vandalism against the doll house.  However, they make up for it later when they help clean up and they leave a coin they found to help pay for repairs.  What is the reason to have plastic food around anyway?
I enjoy these stories.

Book Review: Jack London: Five great Short Stories

Five great Short Stories, by Jack London, Dover Publications, New York, 1992.
These stories are well titled, they are great.  They are taken from some of Jack London's books, Tales of the far North, South Sea tales and The Night-born.  It shows London was a much broader writer than just the Klondike north, although that is were he produced his best work.  The characters in these stories are fascinating.  He writes of the South Pacific, and he writes of the Mexican Revolution, as well as the far North.  He tells the story of a Native, whose wife is stolen and spends his life trying to find her, and when he does, she does not want him back, of two men who are bound to kill each other, of the death of another man on the winter trail, of the guiding of a boat which is on fire, and lastly of a young revolutionary.  I was drawn into to each of the stories and enjoyed them.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Movie Review: ****Pete's Dragon (1977)

This is the original Pete's Dragon, and it is a bonafide musical.  I really enjoy musicals so I have to give this movie the nod as to the best Pete's Dragon.  Nora (Helen Reddy) lives with her father (Mickey Rooney) where the tend a light house.  The come upon an orphan boy who is running from his adoptive parents, who mean for him to do their work and they are abusive to him.  Mrs. Gagon, the mother is portrayed by Shelley Winters.  The other two character are a shyster doctor (Jim Dale) and his assistant (Red Buttons).  When the doctor gets word of a dragon he is determined to catch him and chop him up so he can use every bit.  There is plenty to like with this movie, but it is another one of those bad adoption stories.  However the relationship between Nora and Pete is sweet.  She is able to become his new mother.
Reddy sings a very popular song, "Candle on the Water:"
I'll be your candle on the water
My love for you will always burn
I know you're lost and drifting
But the clouds are lifting
Don't give up you have somewhere to turn
I'll be your candle on the water
'Till ev'ry wave is warm and bright
My soul is there beside you
Let this candle guide you
Soon you'll see a golden stream of light
A cold and friendless tide has found you
Don't let the stormy darkness pull you down
I'll paint a ray of hope around you
Circling in the air
Lighted by a prayer
I'll be your candle on the water
This flame inside of me will grow
Keep holding on you'll make it
Here's my hand so take it
Look for me reaching out to show
As sure as rivers flow
I'll never let you go
I'll never let you go
I'll never let you go...

In this version Pete the dragon is animated while the rest of the characters are real.  I have already really loved this show.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Disney Movie Review: ***^Hercules (1997)

Not the best Disney, I must admit.  Hades' side kicks were just too obnoxious.  However that one song, "Go the Distance" makes this a worthwhile experience.  It was sung by Roger Bart even though Hercules was voiced by Tate Donovan and Josh Keaton.  Meg, his love interest is played by Susan Egan, and she also sings the song, "I Won't Say (I'm in Love)."  In this movie Hercules must save the day, but this is after he gives away his heroic strength to save Meg.
The love interest plays a good part in making this movie enjoyable.  Alan Menken wrote the music.  Charlton Heston also has a cameo part.