Category Archives: Entertainment

What Are Your Favorite Children’s Stories?

I thought it was time to lighten things up a bit and talk about something that has absolutely nothing to do with blogging… or does it?

being still amidst chaos {explored}
Jack Fussell via Compfight

I tend to think that those blogs that work best are the types that know how to tell a story or know how to give detail on how to get something done. But where do we learn how to tell stories? Sometimes we learned from our parents, sometimes we learned from other people we listen to, but for the most part we probably got it from stories we read as children.

Since my parents never read to me that meant that I had to basically read all the books myself and use my imagination to bring them to life in my mind. Even now I don’t have a problem with that, and yet I’ve always wondered what kind of voices my parents would’ve given to stories if they had read to me.

Here’s an unfortunate truth. At a certain point most people stopped reading children’s stories unless they have children of their own. I’m not one of those people, so over the years I’ve continued to read a story meant for children here and there along with all the other things I read. It’s probably because I drive so much and listen to the a lot of recorded books that it makes it easy for me to absorb so many books in so many genres.

Thus, I’m going to share some books here that are children’s stories that I didn’t read only as a child. I’m only sharing for them, and after I share these four I hope that you will comment below and let me know what some of your favorite children’s books are because to tell you the truth I have probably missed a lot of them. My wife is always amazed at the books and stories and fairy tales I’ve never heard, and yet when I mention the ones I know she never seems to know those so I think we’re even.

With that said let’s take a look at my little list here:

wp01

Watership Down – I actually read this book in college when I took children’s literature to catch up on some of my elective credits that I needed to graduate. This isn’t a typical children’s book in that it was around 500 pages and pretty dense and detailed. And yet the authors seem to perfectly capture as much of a sense of personality that a rabbit could have along with the motions of trying to survive their world. It was probably this book they got me to realize that just because something is called a children’s book doesn’t mean it can’t be quality literature.

frisby_nimh

Mrs. Frisby & the Rats of NIMH – This is a book I read in high school but not for any particular class. I thought in the library and it looked interesting so I took it out and read it at home. It’s a story of a mouse child is sick and they need their house moved because the farmer is going to basically destroy where they are, and she goes to these intelligent mice who were given all kinds of drugs to make them more intelligent at the National Institute of Mental Health. It’s an intriguing story and more down to earth than the movie that was made 20 years later called The Secret of NIMH, and really made me think about some of the experiments done on rats and mice and whether there are certain areas that should be explored.

GDGo

Go Dog Go – This is a Dr. Seuss book, and my favorite one of all time. It’s basically got dogs, dogs of all kind, dogs of all color ( including blue dogs), and every once in a while has two dogs meeting up where the female dog asked the male dog if he likes her hat, to which he responds “no” until the end of the book. This is just a fun book of course and yet almost 40 years later I still have this book.

hp01

1st 3 Harry Potter books – I’ve broken it down this way because anyone who reads the last four books and think does a children’s story haven’t paid attention to what’s going on. Actually I started out with book number five, The Order of The Phoenix, because I didn’t know that the books were supposed to go in order at the time. But the first three books, even with some of the dangers that were in them, and the adult theme that was added near the end of the third book, are classic. I find me so fascinating that I keep watching the movies and listening to the books (as I said, I listen to a lot of recorded books and I travel a lot) over and over, and I pick up something new every single time.

And there you go. So, tell me what you think of my choices and let me know what some of your favorites are. See, isn’t this a nice light topic for once? 😉
 

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2013 Mitch Mitchell

Les Misérables: My Movie Review

A few days ago I went to see the movie Les Misérables, going into it having no idea of what it was about, but being familiar with some of the music in it. Yesterday at lunch someone asked me if I liked it, and I responded “I don’t know”.

Les-mis

Just to get this out of the way, I’m not mentioning the names of any characters because, truthfully, I only remember the name of one of them, Cosette, and I’m not in the mood to go looking them all up. So go with me here as I give a synopsis, then opinion, about this film.

The title stands for “the miserable ones”, and man, did that turn out to be true. About 25 minutes in I leaned over to a young lady I consider as my niece and said “Wow, this is depressing”. Her response was “it gets worse”. As I stated earlier I knew it was a musical, and the only other musical I’ve paid money to go see was Phantom of the Opera, which I thoroughly enjoyed, and also didn’t know what the story was about before I went, though I knew all the music.

Overall this is the tale of a guy who’s finally released from a penal detention in France after 20 years because he stole a loaf of bread to feed his family, makes it on his own until he’s eventually rich. He tries to save a woman that was fired from his factory but she still dies and vows to take care of her child whom she’d left with some sleazy people. He turns himself in when another guy is arrested as him because he’d broken probation 8 years earlier, but runs to find and take care of the girl.

He hides with her about 9 years or so until a bunch of consequences find him hiding once again from Crowe, her falling in love with a young guy she just met, the young guy in the middle of trying to help start another French Revolution, the older guy saving him from being killed so he can get healthy and hook up with the young girl who’s been his daughter for all these years, goes away so his daughter will never know what he did, and then the young guy he saved learns he was saved by the older guy (he never knew), tells the daughter about it on their wedding day (along with the older guy’s background, which he never divulged to her), and they rush to the convent (I never knew men could be in a convent) where the older guy’s character is dying, dies and meets up with all the other people in the movie who died; whew!

The older guy is played by Hugh Jackman of Wolverine fame, and he actually goes through about 20 years of aging or so in the movie. He’s a credible singer, a Broadway guy, and he has the major part in this flick. The guy who gives him the “I’ll be watching you” speech is played by Russell Crowe. My wife would say he’s a “talking singer”, and I’ll go with that assessment. He had to be there because of his acting more than his singing, but truthfully I wasn’t overly impressed with his acting in this one. Actually, I’d never seen him in anything else that I could think of, and maybe this is why.

Anne Hathaway plays the woman who was fired from Jackman’s factory, and then whose life went into a major spiral, selling everything, having her hair cut, and becoming a prostitute. I knew the song “I Dreamed A Dream” pretty well, or so I thought, but seeing it performed in this movie the way they did it… this woman wins Best Supporting Actress, hands down! I have a much deeper appreciation for what this song was about.

The comic relief in the movie was handled by Helena Bonham Carter of Harry Potter and many other movies fame and Sacha Baron Cohen of Barat fame; he was unrecognizable to me and I only knew it was him when the credits came up. I hated them immensely, which probably means they did a good job.

Two people played Cosette, one as a young girl, then as an older girl Amanda Siegfried. Her singing was passable but nothing outstanding. Someone who I felt was really outstanding was Samantha Barks, whom I didn’t know but it turns out she’s also a Broadway star in her own right, and hot as well, even though she wasn’t supposed to be.

The guy who played the young man who Cosette falls in love with… don’t care, and that’s a shame. Truthfully, the student revolutionary piece kind of threw me off from the rest of the story, and the only part that actually made me care was when this young boy was killed by the French army on purpose; that was pretty cold.

One last thing before I move on. Crowe’s character, Mr. Law and Order, decides near the end to let Jackman’s character get a pass while he’s trying to save the young guy because Jackman had let his own life go when he could have killed him. Crowe’s character sees this as a flaw in himself and he jumps off a bridge to kill himself. What I didn’t expect was that they actually showed the body hitting the ground, half on the ground and half in water; I wasn’t prepared for that in this type of movie, and I have to admit I didn’t like it.

Overall review? There was a lot going on yet they kept it all together pretty well. I could have done without the revolution part but without it we’d have lost this one great song and I guess a purpose for Jackman to go try to save this kid. I wasn’t ever sure I cared about anyone in the movie until Jackman’s character was about to die. I almost cried, though I didn’t, but a lot of other people did; sniffles were everywhere, and I couldn’t blame any of them. It’s hard to say I enjoyed such a depressing movie but it did touch me. Since this isn’t normally the type of movie overall that I’d even watch, I’m not quite sure how to process it.

It touched me in a couple of places on an emotional level; I’ll own up to that. I liked the music but didn’t like what the director did. The shot the music “live” rather than in a studio, and to do it many of the music scenes were closeups, and I kept wishing they’d pull the camera back as that made me uncomfortable.

I’ll say this then. If you like musicals definitely go see this. If you like to cry, give it a shot. If you like happy endings, this ain’t it. This isn’t a bad movie, but I didn’t hear a single person saying as we were walking out “that was fantastic”. I think we were all too depressed. 🙂
 

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2013-2015 Mitch Mitchell

The Hobbit – A Review

Last Friday I decided to go to see the new movie The Hobbit. I had seen all 3 of the Lord of the Rings movies, enjoyed each of them, but truthfully had no idea what any of it was about. In my mind, I thought it was only about a guy called a hobbit who had to get a ring to a volcano to melt it; all that other stuff was confusing. And I had never read any of the books; I tried, but just wasn’t interested.

The_Hobbit

Also, this movie had gotten fairly maudlin reviews from many professional reviewers who griped about its length, griped about how it was shot (48 fps, or frames per second, versus the normal 24 fps for 3D), griped about what they said reminded them of Star Wars Phantom Menace… they didn’t like it. They liked Ian McKellen and Martin Freeman and nothing else.

The story of The Hobbit is how Bilbo Baggins, the uncle of LOTR’s hero Frodo, comes to discover and own the ring that ends up having to be destroyed later. It also talks about the adventure he goes on, along with 14 other individuals which includes Gandolf the Grey, who’s also in the LOTR movies, to help liberate the Dwarf Kingdom of Erebor that had been taken over by a dragon named Smaug. The second story arc is that the current exiled king of Erebor, Thorin Oakenshield, had thought he killed Azog, a top leader of Orcs, and it turns out that not only is he not dead but he wants revenge; who wouldn’t?

And the ring… it’s almost a subplot, to the extent that if you hadn’t seen any of the LOTR movies and were seeing this movie for the first time without knowing anything else you’d think it was just a plot point that was setting up the next movie, since this will be a 3 movie arc. That’s saved until the last 35 minutes of the movie, which is about 2 hours and 45 minutes long. We know how important it is, and it seems that Gandolf knows something’s different near the end, but the rest of us… if we didn’t have foresight into what was coming we’d miss it.

You know what? I thoroughly enjoyed this movie and knew exactly what was going on at every step along the way. Probably because this movie explains how they got to the LOTR movies and books, some things started to fall in place for me. The faster filming of frames made the movie lighter than traditional 3D, and that was nice. The one problem was that every once in awhile it looked like the background was moving when the action stopped; that was freaky.

The part some critics hated was the comedy part. There were a lot of funny parts in this movie that were interspersed with the serious and action parts. I loved that, especially early on when Bilbo is trying to figure out what’s going on. Frankly, I think all of us would react the same way to suddenly having lots of creatures in the house that aren’t like you and you don’t know why, and they’re eating your food and drinking your wine.

Even the scenes with Gollum were both intense and funny and, well, weirdly sick because I’d never gotten the real sense of just how dangerous he was and could be in the 3 LOTR movies, which might seem strange to some of you who saw those movies. It was well done here; frankly, I think this entire movie was well done.

Overall I had a great time. I didn’t notice how long the movie was while watching it. The critics said no action takes place until the last 40 minutes of the movie; I wonder what they were watching. There are great back stories here and lots of fun. Visually it’s stunning, and I’ll just say that it was fun seeing rock people fighting as opposed to Transformers, which I also enjoyed. This is a lot of fun, with no bad language and yet I’m still not sure that young kids should see this. But the teens will love it, the movie’s going to be successful, and I have no qualms about recommending it.

Go have fun!
 

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2012 Mitch Mitchell

Ode To Joy Day!

This is something different from me. Ode To Joy is actually a poem written by Friedrich Schiller in 1800, but most people know it as the 4th movement of Beethoven’s 9th Symphony, the one he wrote when he was totally deaf. It has been performed in multiple ways throughout history, and it’s a piece I absolutely love.

It’s in that vein that I’m doing a video post of different ways the song has been performed. Some are goofy, some are eclectic, and some are outstanding; okay, in my mind they’re all outstanding. Yes folks, it’s the same song over and over, but something amazing with each one.

Let’s start with something funny, Beaker from the Muppets:
 


 
A flash mob performance:
 

 
How about hearing it via 10,000 voices?
 

 
A commercial with David Beckham
 

 
Pete Seegar’s folk music version with English lyrics; love this:
 

 
On a glass harp; amazing:
 

 
Piano variations:
 

 
A techno version; this is kind of extreme lol:
 

 
We started with Beaker, we end with Beaker:
 

 

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2012-2015 Mitch Mitchell

John Carter – Movie Review

The Saturday the movie John Carter opened, I went to the 3D matinee version with my friend Scott because, well, we each really had nothing else to do. I went into this pretty much blind, not knowing anything about the storyline except it involved someone from the United States who, in the 1800’s, somehow ended up on Mars; that’s it. I also knew it was written by the same guy who wrote Tarzan, Edgar Rice Burroughs. I haven’t seen many Tarzan movies and I never saw the TV show either, but I did have this one question; why didn’t Tarzan have a beard? lol


The basic premise of the movie is that a man named John Carter is a prospector who also has a gruesome family past he’s running away from. After somehow getting himself into and out of a mess between some cavalry morons and an Indian tribe (yeah, I know, someone’s going to call me on not using “Native American”, but if I won’t use “African-American” and I’m also part Cherokee…) and, with the commanding officer in tow after he’d been shot, escapes to a cave where he encounters an alien with something glowing in his hands and is immediately transported to this vast desert, which he later learns is Mars. Because of gravity differences he is stronger than the norm and has leaping ability beyond comprehension, and thus becomes the hoped for savior for two different groups of Martians, one hoping he’ll save them from the great white ape (sheesh!), the other hoping he’ll save them from annihilation.

The star of this movie is Taylor Kitsch, whom I’ve never heard of, but that’s his picture above. His co-star is Lynn Collins, and she’s just stunning, and in this movie she’s not always wearing a lot, which my buddy Sire would love. Turns out I’d seen her in X-Men: Wolverine as his love interest in the movie, though I couldn’t remember that while I was watching it.

For what it’s worth this movie was a lot of fun to watch. Not having any preconceived notions of what was to be expected based on the books, I thought it was visually stunning to see, very funny, aliens that looked like what I was hoping for (I mean, green 4-armed Martians; very cool) and some beautiful landscapes and skyscapes that showed its $300 million plus budget. We laughed a lot and the audience made those group sounds at all the right places, and to me that’s what this kind of movie is for. It won’t win any Academy Awards except maybe in some technical design category, but based on the makeup of the people who judge for the Oscar, it’s probably not happening.

Critics have beaten it up for being uneven. Just how “even” is a movie like this supposed to be? It’s received a 51% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, which pretty much means you either like it or you don’t, obviously. I’ll just say that it was much better than the previews led me to believe it’d be, because I wasn’t going based off what I’d seen. But I’m glad I went and if you have a sense of humor and love visuals you’ll enjoy this movie as well. And if you’d like to see another review of the same movie go see what Karen of Blazing Minds had to say.
 

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2012 Mitch Mitchell