Monday, January 30, 2017

Picture Book Review: I Wish that I Had Duck Feet, Dr. Seuss

I Wish that I Had Duck Feet, by Theo LeSeig (Dr. Seuss), illustrated by B Tobey, Random House, New York, 1965.
This is a clever tale, about different animal parts that could make life so interesting, a whale spout to keep cool, duck feet to swim, a tail to jump rope, antlers to wear many hats.  The problem is everything has a drawback.  Sometimes it is better to just be yourself.  I like the little play between the main character and Big Bill Brown.  Dr. Seuss also mixes in the boys parents, who don't want duck feet in the house, or who would make him work all day if he had a cool nose.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Picture Book Review: Wacky Wednesday, Dr. Seuss

Wacky Wednesday, Dr. Seuss as Theo LeSieg, illustrated by George Booth, Random House, New York, 1974.
This is admittedly not one of my favorite Dr. Seuss books, but it is fun to look on every page for the things that are wrong, such as the alligator showing up in the baby carriage or on a leash, or people on top of the car, or driving from back.  There are plenty of wacky thinks gong on, and it is fun to find them, even for an old man like me.

Friday, January 27, 2017

Movie Review: ****Northanger Abbey (2007)

This film features felicity Jones as Miss Catherine Morland, the young woman taken by reading too m any novels, and who falls for the son, Henry (JJ Feild) of General Tilney.  However another suitor, John Thorpe (William Beck) is also making a play for her, and at time telling her falsehoods to get her to go with him.   However the general invites Morland to Northanger Abbey, thinking she is a rich heiress.  However when he discovers he was mistaken, he kicks her out of the house.  In the meantime, Morland's imagination has gotten the better of her, and she thinks perhaps the general killed his wife.  This turns Henry off, and Morland leaves the home disgraced, thinking Henry has told his father of her imaginings, and for this reason she is kicked out.  Henry follows her home, expresses his disappointment in his father, and confesses his love.  And we assume the live happily, although outside of Northanger Abbey.
I enjoyed this show.  There a a couple times it made me laugh; and with most Jane Austen stories, it leaves you feeling good at the end.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Movie Review: ***Joseph the King of Dreams

This Dreamworks animated musical tells a very good story, but from my point of view the music is mostly forgettable.  Ben Affleck voices Joseph, and David Campbell provides his singing voice.  Mark Hamill voices Judah, and Richard Herd gives voice to Jacob.  This presentation portrays Joseph as being very bitter because his brothers sold him into slavery.  His wife, Zuleika (Judith Light) confronts him about his bitterness.  However, it isn't until he sees how his brothers are willing to given their own freedom for that of Benjamin, and because the truly express forgiveness of their previous actions, Joseph's heart is melted and he takes his brothers in and reveals who he is.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Music Review: Austin City Limits: Cyndi Lauper

This concert has been recently shown on PBS and is still available through the internet.  Cyndi Lauper is quite a performer.  She has just released a country album , Detour and this concert is in support of that album.  In the concert Lauper plays flute as well as a steel guitar on a base.  Of the country music I most enjoyed "I want to be a Cowboy's Sweetheart" and "The End of the World" which is the cover song for KBYU's Granite Flats.  She sings a few of  her classics, "Time After Time" which is just exquisite, "Girls Just Want to Have Fun" which gets everyone hopping, and then as an encore she sings a Capella "True Colors."  This is a very entertaining concert.  For a woman in her 60s Lauper has great energy.  However she appears too skinny.  I hope it was just the camera.  She sports pink hair which I guess is her fashion.

Music Review: Once on this Island

This is the original Broadway Recording released by RCA VICTOR and released in 1990.
My son Mark played the roll of Daniel Beauxhomme in his high school production.  His girl friend at the time was Ti Moune.  This recording has LaChanze as Ti Moune and Jerry Dixon as Daniel.  Lynn Ahrens wrote the book and lyrics.  Steven Flaherty wrote the music.  The music has a Caribbean style, is the tell the story of an island and the two populations, the peasants and the grand hommes.  The story is catching, as Ti Moune gives her life for Daniel.  However Daniel in turn cannot get past the culture of the day.  he is intended to another.  Consequently some "girls you marry and some you love."  This is very enjoyable, but not the best musical.  It was nominated for many Tony awards.

Children's Book Review: The Tale of Peter Rabbit

The Tale of Peter Rabbit, Beatrix Potter, Frederick Warne, London, original 1904.
Beatrix Potter is a master of telling stories about animals, and in those stories telling stories about children.  Here we have four rabbit siblings, three which obey their mother, and one who doesn't.  Of course Peter enjoys many different vegetables in the garden of Mr. McGregor, but he barely avoids being put into a meat pie, and loses his shoes and jacket in the escape.  Peer Rabbit was lucky, however he was sent to bed without dinner and just chamomile tea, while the others enjoyed bread and black berries.  Maybe Peter has learned a lesson.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Grand baby Movie Review: Curious George: A Very Monkey Christmas

There was a time when Tony loved Curious George.  Now it is my younger grand babies who like him; particularly Bronnie and Hayley Dawn.  I enjoy this movie as well.  This is about the Man in the Yellow Hat not understanding George, or at list not being able to understand his Christmas list, which is a picture of geometric shapes.  The part of this movie which I love, especially if Bronnie dances, is the Christmas Monkey Song.  I must admit I like to get up and dance too, to encourage them because they are so cute.
Bronnie as Curious George

Picture Book Review: The Berenstain Bears and the Missing Dinosaur Bone

Here is another Berenstain Detective book, however in this case, one of the detective team actually likes bones.  The hound leads them on a wild chase, until the bears notice a mound in the ground.  This book is cute the way they take artifacts and make them bearish; such as Queen Elizabear, Balck Bear the Pirate and Wild Bear Hickock.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Book Review: The Krystal Promise

The Krystal Promise, Blaine M. and Brenton G. Yorgason, Bookcraft, Salt Lake City, UT, 1981.
If you venture to read this book, make sure you are OK for a good cry.  This book is very emotional, as it explores the burning death of a one and a half year old girl, and the reaction of her family, especially that of her mother.  The names used in the book are fictional, but the epilogue introduces the real family upon which this story is based.  I cannot imagine the pain and the struggle this would be.  Also would be the self doubt and the self-questioning--could I have done something different.  That is at the cruz of this story.  This book is very moving, and it does teach lessons about our dependence on god, and letting God perform his miracles in His time rather than our own.

Bread - The Best of Bread (1973)

The voice of David Gates is high lighted through much of these songs.  He has a mellow falsetto voice that rings with songs such as "If," "It don't Matter to Me,"  and "Baby I'm a Want You."  However they are also able to turn to a more rock sound with "Mother Freedom" and "Down on my Knees."  this group had many top 100 hits with these two styles.  The band was generally David Gates, Robb Royer and Jimmy Griffin with Mike Botts on drum; although some of the members changed.  They were also relatively short-lived.  David Gates had a successful solo career.  Most of their original albums were recorded between 1070 and 1973 (except one in 1977).  However they released many compendiums albums, this being the first.  This concert includes material included in a rerelease from 2001.

Seals & Crofts | Greatest Hits (1975) [FULL ALBUM]

Music Review: Seals and Croft: Greatest Hits (1975)

This album is a compendium, so the music is not new to the album.  However it includes hits from their nine previous albums.  This album peaked at number 11 on the billboard charts.  It included their first big hit was "Summer Breeze."  The story telling in the song is excellent.  Some of their songs include references to the Baha'i faith.  This includes "Diamond Girl."  I personally love "King of Nothing" and "Ruby Jean" (a tribute to their spouses.)  "Diamond Girl" is also one of their most popular and sounds great.  This set also includes "I'll Play for You" and "We May Never Pass this Way Again."  The only song that was originally done is "When I Meet them" which had been previously recorded, but a different version.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Book Review: Otis Spofford by Beverly Cleary

Otis Spofford by Beverly Cleary, Avon Books, New York, original 1963.
I really enjoyed this Beverly Cleary.  She really has a sense of humor, and is family with the human psyche, how we sometimes do things we really don't want to do, because we are egged on, or our pride gets in the way.  Otis is a boy who liked to stir up excitement.  Sometimes this lead to his getting into trouble.  However he was also a dramatic boy.  Otis is half of the bull in the school dance, which is to be slain by the toreador.  It is funny how the teacher tells him he doesn't need to raise his legs when he is dead.  Of course the day of the show, it takes a turn and the bull ends up winning.  Otis would have gotten, but too many parents like the way it turned out.  Otis most often gets into trouble with a girl he must have a crush on, because he really likes to tease her.  However one day he does too far, and the whole class is mad at him.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Movie Review: ***^Singing in the Rain

This is a classic movie, musical about the switch from silent movies to talkies.  Don Lockwood (Gene Kelly) and Lina Lamont (Jean Hagen) are stars of the silent screen.  However, when the studio decides to do a talking movie, they discover Lina  Lamont's voice is not conducive to good theater.  When the premier comes out, there are just too many problems, and those in attendance are not impressed.  A last minute change to a musical before release is in order.  Cosmo Brown (Donald O'Connor), Lockwood's good friend and Kathy Seldon (Debbie Reynolds) his love interest agree to help; Seldon by dubbing over the voice of Lamont, and singing all her songs and giving all her lines.  All this is kept from Lamont, but when she finds out it is as if she is a woman scorned.  She insists Seldon continue as her voice, while the studio keep the truth under wraps.  In other words, she wants to destroy Seldon's possibility of having her own career.
This musical is good, but it has the fault of the time, putting in numbers just for no reason.  there is the song "Gotta Dance" which is just that. a big production with nothing to do with the plot.  However songs that work are "Make them Laugh," "Singing in the Rain" and "Good Mornin'."  A lot of fun if you don't fall to sleep with the long song and dance numbers.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Book Review: The Inn Between: Marina Cohen

The Inn Between by Marina Cohen, Illustrated by Sarah Watts, Roaring Brook Press, New York, 2016.
This is a very interesting read, although the author tends to the naturalistic bent a bit too much for my taste.  There are a few times she seems to be trying to gross us out with her descriptions.  Quinn is going on a trip with her best friend, but this is bitter sweet because her friend is moving with her family to California.  This is thousands of miles from Colorado.  So this is a farewell trip.  Quinn is only allowed to go, because she has been in therapy following the kidnapping and murder of her sister.  There are five in the car, traveling across the Mojave desert.  It is after a bright light that they come to the Inn.  This inn is different, and soon her friend's parents and brother disappear.  Not only that, but QUinn is sure she saw her sister in one of the rooms.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Picture Book: Would You Rather Be a Bullfrog?

Would You rather be a Bullfrog by Theo. LeSieg (Dr. Seuss), illustrated by Roy McKie, Random House, New York, 1975.
This book asks the all popular question of what do you want to be? but asks it in a rather peculiar way.  would you rather be a Dog or a Cat? A bullfrog or a Butterfly?  And it keeps on from there.  Great pictures and many different creatures represented.

Picture Book: The Bear Detectives: The Case of the Missing Pumpkins

The Bear Detectives: The Case of the Missing Pumpkin by Stan and Jan Berenstain, Random House, New York,, 1975.
This book explores the right way to investigate, and the wrong.  When Farmer Ben discovers his prize winning pumpkin is missing, the Bear detectives and father Bear take on the case.  father Bear seems to lead them astray, but the Berenstain Bears follow the clues.

Movie Review: ****^A Monster Calls

Conor's (Lewis MacDougall) parents are divorced.  His father (Toby Kebbell) lives in Los Angeles with a new wife and child.  Conor lives with his mother in England.  His Mum (Felicity Jones) has cancer, leaving Conor to clean up and raise himself.  He calls the monster (voiced by Liam Neeson) in his dreams.  Conor is forced to move in with his grandmother (Sijourney Weaver) who he doesn't particularly care for.  Conor's dream is about falling into a hole in the earth.  It is a recurrent nightmare.  Conor thinks the monster has come to heal his mother.  The monster all along says he has come to heal Conor.
This is a must see movie.  It delves into cancer like nothing else I have seen.  It also deals with fantasy and nightmares.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Movie Review: ***^Fences

As I watched this movie, I was thoroughly convinced that Denzel Washington and Viola Davis would compete for oscars as the husband an wife Troy and Rose Maxson, who are the focus of this character study.  However another worthy performance is that of Mykelti Williamson who portrays Troy's brother who has brain damage form the war.  This movie gives you the feel that you are sitting in on this family, as they relieve tension after work, with their good friend Bono (Stephen Henderson)  The relationship between Troy and his son (Jovan Adepo) is played up in the advertising, but this seems only a back story compared to that of the couple.  The other son is Lyons (Russel Hornsby) a struggling musician.  I was enjoying this movie, but eventually the character of troy began to seem too shallow.  When he explains his reason for having an affair was because he needs to laugh, and lost my sympathy for the character.  At that point the show went from being a best picture nominee to just being a cliche.  that person who deserves honor is Viola Davis.  Her reaction to the above revelation from Troy is beautifully done.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Picture Book Review: Mr. Brown Can Moo! Can You? Dr. Seuss

Mr. Brown Can Moo!  Can You?  Dr. Seuss's Book of Wonderful Noises, Dr. Seuss, Random House, New York, 1970
Mr. Brown can make all kinds of wonderful noises, moo, cocka doodle doo, tick tock and knock knock.  This book also gives a chance to practice the same noises.  This book again features the amazing art of Dr. Seuss.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Movie Review: ***^Passengers (2016)

This movie has a fascinating premise, you are woken 89 years before your arrival on a ship where you are suppose to hibernate for 90 years on your way to a colony.  The ship is on autopilot, and suppose to regulate itself.  However, a large asteroid causes a miss function, and one of the hibernating pods frees the passenger.  The only other beings on the ship are robots, cleaning, medical, and a bar tender (Michael Sheen).  SO the dilemma is created when our passenger (Chris Pratt) spies a woman in her functioning pod, who fascinates him.  He begins to study her, listens to her video blog.  She is a writer, and intends to write stories no one has written before.  He studies her (Jennifer Lawrence) and also the functioning of the ship.  He discovers that he could also cause a malfunction in her pod, and awaken her; but should he.  Of course in the end he does, and then there are two alive.  He however is carrying a very big secret.  Another crew member is also awoken, (Laurence Fishburn), however in his case, there are also physical health problems from the process.  However, he knows enough to know that something is wrong with the ship, and it is getting worse.  I really enjoyed this movie.  It is a romance in space, and an Adam and Eve type scenario.  Very fun.

Book Review: Chicken Soup for the Soul: Christmas Treasury for Kids

Chicken Soup for the Soul: Christmas Treasury for Kids, Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen, Patty Hansen and Irene Dunlap, Health Communications, Deerfield Beach FL, 2002.
Here is an excellent book for the Christmas Spirit.  I used it this year so that spirit would linger a bit more with me.  It is designed as a story-a-day starting December 1 through December 25.  the stories are excellent.  Many deal with finding the spirit of Christmas and giving.  Some deal with pets, some with death, police officers etc.  They all leave a warm feeling, some a smile, and some tears in the corners of your eyes.  They are all designed to be short, two to three pages is all.  Excellent read for Christmas or any time.  The stories are written by children, adults and adults telling stories of their childhoods.  This is a great Christmas addition.

Picture Book Review: The 500 hats of Batholomew Cubbins

The 500 Hats of Batholomew Cubbins by Dr. Seuss, Random House, New York, 2965,
This Dr. Seuss book has the illustrations Dr. Seuss is known for, but it does not have the rhyming style.  What it does have is a very intriguing story.  What if the King requires everyone to take off their hat when he comes by, and you take off your hat, and another appears, then another, then another.  Of course the king would have to order you to prison, or that your head be chopped off, or something.  That is the case here.  How can such a tell end for Batholomew, who takes off his hat and another appears.  It can't be good, or can it?

Picture Book Review: I'm Bored

I'm Bored by Michael Ian Black, illustrated by Debbie Ridpath Ohi, Scholastic Inc., New York, 2012.
This book has a very good way of pointing out the being bored is in the eye of the person bored.  What one person thinks is fun, is not necessarily fun to someone else.  If you were bored would you play with a potato or a flamingo?

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Movie Review: **^Continental Divide (1981)

When your star investigative columnist becomes the brunt of death threats what do you do as an editor?  You send him to get a story in the middle of no place with the hopes that the trouble will go away.  However you must live with the consequences.  This movie has John Belushi as the ace reporter, Ernie Souchak, and Blair Brown as the living in the wilds eagle enthusiast, Nell Porter.  Who knows how, but they hit it off.  Now the question is how do they manage life in two different worlds.  This movie features great views of the Wyoming and Colorado Rockies, as well as great film of eagles.  As for this budding relationship, it is cute, and at times the participants are desperate, and in the end it becomes a long train ride of whoopee leading to marriage.  It doesn't show the marriage after, nor what happens with those after Kouchak.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Movie Review: ***^Transylvania (2012)

This is a delightful movie, with Adam Sandler portraying Dracula, who loses his wife to the town mob, and determines to raise his daughter (Selena Gomez) away from humans.  He makes a hotel, where all monsters can come and enjoy life away from humans.  He tricks his daughter into being scared of humans as well, until one comes upon them seeking adventure.  Of course the daughter falls for him (Andy Samberg), and the count has to decide if he will ruin his daughter's chance for happiness.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Picture Book Review: And to Think that I saw it on Mulberry Street: Dr. Seuss

To Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street, Dr. Seuss, Random House, New York, 1964.
This book is an imagination book.  It lets us know what happens when the imagination runs free, but when we talk to our dads we still have to be truthful.  Very entertaining.

Monday, January 2, 2017

Christmas Music Review: Rockapella: Comfort and Joy

This C.D. represents the Rockapella style very well with mouth percussion, low bass, nice melodies backed by intricate harmonies.  There is much to enjoy here.  Particularly, "Rockin' around the Christmas Tree" and "I'll be Home for Christmas" feature bass solos.  "Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer" also ends with bass lead.  However the cream of this set is a song "Peace on Earth" in which the melody continues, "should begin with me."  Some other notable songs include "Merry Christmas Darling", "Home for the Holidays" and "This Christmas day."  "Little  Mary Snowflake" starts the C.D. and provides an uptempo song.  This is plenty to enjoy here.  There is something weird with kids adding dialogue, which doesn't work for me.

Movie review: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

Fantastic Beasts is the prequel to the Harry Potter.  It is produced and story from J.K. Rowling.  It features the author of one of Harry Potter's favorite books.  Newt (Eddie Redmayne) is a collector of fantastical beasts, which he keeps in his suitcase (magically expandable).  He has traveled to America to release a Thunderbird in Arizona.  However, first one, and then a few more of his beasts get away and cause problems.  Tina (Katherine Waterston) arrest him and takes him to the Ministry of Magic.  She is a disenfranchised Auror and is trying to get in the good graces of the ministry.  However they don't believe her and send her on her way.  Newt befriends Kowolski (Dan Fogler) who is a no-mag (normal person).  They also meet Tina's sister, Queenie (Alison Sudol) and the four make quite a group, and engage in capturing the creatures.  At the same time an obscurus loss in the city, causing great damage and in fact killing people.   This includes a senator.  The head of the Aurors (Colin Ferrel) is very interested in the obscurus, and maintains an investigation outside of the ministry.  Newt and Tina are blamed for the deaths perpetrated by the obscurus, and sentenced to immediate death.  Only with magical creatures, and Queenis's help are the able to escape.
There is plenty of action here, and the creatures are unique and interesting.  They seem to make this movie.  The antics of different creatures are very well done.  I really enjoyed this film.  by the time this film is over, they must erase the memories of the entire town, including Kowolski who is having a romantic relation with Queenie.  However some memories linger in his subconscious.

Christmas Music Review: Lonestar: This Christmas Time (2000)

This is country music with a country flavor.  The "O Holy Night" is original and fresh with their style.   It loses the triplets familiar in the piano, which I like.  In this case the presentation is dependent more on the vocal.  Their version of "Drummer Boy" is forgettable.  There is not enough percussion which is the trade mark of this song.   "Winter Wonderland" has a more upbeat rhythm and its catchy as a result.  In contrast "The Christmas Song" is sung with acoustic guitar only and was the mellow Holiday feel.  "The Reason for the Season" is a song new to me.  This song really hits the Christmas message beautifully.  This is likely the highlight of this C.D. I found myself singing with "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas."  This was very well done.  Another song new to me is "This Christmas Time."  It is very well done, and has very good energy as they sing of being together.  they also provide a beautiful song in "If Every Day Could Be Christmas."  This is another song with which i was not familiar and the message is very poignant.  That we open up and give with our hearts, which is a message we should carry with us all year.

Movie Review: Splendor in the Grass

This is a movie of thwarted love, which leads to a two-year stay in a mental institution for Dee Dee (Natalie Wood) and a life settling for for Bud (Warren Beatty).  The are from rural Kansas.  Bud's father (Pat Hingle) is the money behind the town.  When these two were high school lovebirds, there was too much going against the relationship.   Bud always wanted more in terms of sex, but Dee Dee always resisted based on her teachings at home from her mother (Audrey Christie).  Her father was supportive (Fred Stewart) but also in the back ground as they struggle  to get ahead.  They do finally make a killing in the stock market.  On the other hand, Bud's father is dead set against the relationship.  Bud is going to Yale no matter what happens.  He already destroyed the hopes of his daughter Ginny (Barbara Loden) who turns out bad as a result.  Bud's father manages to separate the lovers, and as a result Dee Dee becomes more and more distraught.  Finally at her graduation dance, she is with another boy at the kissing spot, gets away form him and is determined to kill herself going over some water falls there.  Her father sells stock to support her in a mental institution in Kansas.  She is there for two years.  She does come out of her melancholy, and befriends another man there who is studying to be a doctor.  He had had a break down cutting into a cadaver.  Before Dee Dee leaves the hospital he has proposed to her by letter, after he does recover and begins his medical practice.  Bud's father becomes one of those who jumps in New York, after arranging for his son to meet a girl who looks like Dee Dee.  After being released from the hospital, Dee Dee discovers she cannot go with Bud, he is married; she is going to marry the doctor.
Wood does an excellent job acting.  The quiver in her lip when confronted by a school teacher is perfect.  You can see the emotion in her face, and her lead up to the breakdown is well done.  She was nominated for an Academy Award.
There is some brief nudity, as Dee Dee's mother confronts her while she is in the tub.  Dee Dee has an episode as a result, screaming and ending up on the bed.  The movie has a good point in that, sometimes what happens to us does not carry into adulthood.  That is the point behind the poem the use,
 Splendour in the Grass
 What though the radiance
 which was once so bright
 Be now for ever taken from my sight,
 Though nothing can bring back the hour
 Of splendour in the grass,
 of glory in the flower,
 We will grieve not, rather find
 Strength in what remains behind;
 In the primal sympathy
 Which having been must ever be;
 In the soothing thoughts that spring
 Out of human suffering;
 In the faith that looks through death,
 In years that bring the philosophic mind.
-- William Wordsworth

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Movie Review: ****^Moana

Here is a Disney movie without a romantic relationship, yet it is beautiful and I was thoroughly entertained.  Moana (Auli'i Carvalho) is given a mission by the ocean, of finding the demigod, Maui (Dwayne Johnson) and carrying the heart of Te Fiti (a goddess of life) which he stole 1000 years before.  This has caused a curse which is slowly spreading to all the islands, and reaches the island of Moana.  Moana is the chief's daughter, and destined to become chief.  Her father (Temeura Morrison) does not like anyone to go beyond the safety of the reef.  However the ocean is calling Moana, and her grandmother (Rachel House) knows of the need for a quest, and that Moana has been chosen.  There is plenty of action, a battle against coconut pirates, and a visit to the monsters below, all to fulfill the quest.  There are even a couple twists at the end, one when they give up, and when when they have to return the heart.  Great fun!  Plenty of Polynesian dance and culture, and the music is also right on.

Picture Book Review: Dr. Seuss's Sleep Book

Dr. Seuss's Sleep Book, Dr. Seuss, Random House, New York, 1962.
I found this book to be delightful with the rhyming words, creative pictures and so many interesting creatures.  This book begins with one yawn, which is contagious and spreads and spreads until zillions of people are sleeping.  This is a must read Dr. Seuss.