Monday, August 29, 2011

Stolen Sea-Shells, Naomi and the Presidency.

A few moments ago, whilst contemplating blessing you with a review of "Ball of Fire", the door to my room burst open and in came a sobbing five-year-old. I soon pieced the fact that I would be expected to act as comforter. Instead of solving all her complicated childhood problems in a long face-to-face Andy Griffith style talk, I decided to solve it the way I solve my problems; blog it. So here is out on-the-scene reporter (me) to cover the drama;

Me: Esther, tell me exactly what you think right now."
Esther: "I'm thinking that Mommy doesn't like...she won't listen to me and stuff. And Mommy knows that I think that, she just wants to be mean to me."
Me: Why do you think Mommy is being mean?
Esther: "Because she's very mad at me just because I yelling on accident at Isabel and she was being mean to me too. And she doesn't know that Isabel was actually hurting my feelings by stealing stuff. She's stealing my sea-shells and saying there hers. And sea-shells are very important to me. Do you think you could put it on there that Isabel will please be nice and say that they are actually my sea-shells and because it's not nice to steal?"
ME: "Is that all?"
Esther "Yes. Go and tell mamma to check your blog post."

The evidence for a one-sided case of theft and cruelty seemed conclusive, but in the effort of fairness, I decided to call in Isabel to relate her side:

Me: "Isabel, what do you have to say about this?"
Izzy: "That she is making a deal out of nothing"
Me: "Please explain that statement."
Izzy: "Are we gonna do a whole court here? Just yell it if you want to; 'Order in the court!' So I had these sea shells in my pocket, and you know how they all look alike? "
Me: "Yes."
Izzy: "They all look alike, so she's saying that I stole these sea-shells...these...she's shaying...uhm, saying that I stole these, which I did not. "
Me; "OK."
Izzy: "So she screamed really loudly which Mom told her not to do unless something really bad happens, so she sent her upstairs and she was screaming."
Me: "So Esther was entirely in the wrong?"
Izzy: "Well she wasn't entirely in the wrong, she was right that they look like her seashells. And that's the story."

Now the plot was getting thick. Isabel seemed fair and unbiased in her view, and Mom must of had a reason for convicting Esther. Still, could I believe that broken expression to be just alligator tears? I decided to call in a third party, a witness, someone who's voice I could always trust and who's wisdom and clarity were unquestionable. I asked three-year-old Naomi:

Me; "Naomi, have Esther and Isabel been yelling at each other a lot?"
Naomi; "Uh-huh."
Me: "Why?"
Naomi: "I love this light! It's shining in my eye..." (witness was playing with lamp)
Me: "Naomi?"
Naomi: "What?"
Me: "Who was right?
Naomi: "Uhm Mama is. Uhm Essy is!
Me: "Esther is right?
Naomi: "Uh-huh."
Me: "And why do you believe Esther and not Izzy?"
Naomi: "Uh...cause Izzy's stealing sea shells...can't you get on video? I want to watch a movie!"
Me: "Let's try to stay on topic."
Naomi: "Noooo!!!!"

I decided that the case was basically unsolvable, so while I had this great intellectual in my presence I would ask her one of the great questions of the nation:
Me: Naomi, who should be president of the United States?"
Naomi: "Uhm...Essy!"
Me: "Why Essy?"
(witness then played with tongue for about five minutes)
Naomi: "Because, she's being mean! And bossy!
Me: "And you think that would make a good president?!"
Naomi: "No."
Me: "Then why did you say she'd be a good president?"
Naomi: "I didn't say she'd be good! I said she will be mean!"
Me: "Then why should Esther be president?"
Naomi: "Because Esther is the one! And I am Queen Naomi!!" (witness then sang a song entitled "Queen Naomi")
Me: "Let me get this straight. You want Esther to be the president, and she's mean, and you want that?"
Naomi: "Uh-huh."
Me: "Why do want a mean president?"
(witness then spat a spitty-hair curler into interrogator's face)
Naomi: "I want a mean president because I am mean!"
Me: "I thought you were nice ?"
Naomi: "I mean, mean! (witness then a sang a song entitled "Mean", not a cover of Taylor Swift)
Me: "Naomi, is there anything you want to say on my blog?"
Naomi: "Uh-huh." (witness then sang a song entitled 'you are blog', those were also the only lyrics.)
Me: "It was nice having you Naomi."

So who was right? Who should be president? Who stole the sea-shells? Do they really all look the same? I leave it to you to decide.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Mr. Chicken And Some Book Reviews

Ok, ok, ok-

Were back today with a few book reviews. When I put Jonathan's (he graciously allowed me to use his real name) post up the other day, I meant to quickly write up a snappy review of the three books I told you about to go along with it. However since nothing get's done quickly around here I was forced to just forget the whole thing, three days after I told Jonathan he could look for his post on my blog. So now I'm back, with a cute little 60's horror/comedy feature and three semi-short/long reviews.

1. Child Star, by Shirley Temple Black. (Yes, that little Shirley Temple with a Black added to her name)

Beginning with the first chapter, a detailed, informative, and interesting look at her birth, parents, and beginnings in show-business (at the age of three!). It then moves on to talk about her career in show-business, fellow actors and actresses, directors, agents etc. I'm making this review short because I didn't get too far in this book, in part I think because Shirley Temple was never one of those people I really took and interest in and her book doesn't seem to mention any of them, and also- her attitude as she gets farther on begins looking...cynical. How could you expect anything more? The girl has been working in the twisted world of Hollywood since the tender age of three, sure she entertained America during the depression, but she also had her childhood stolen away from her by a whirlwind career that ended in her teens.
Bottom Line; I can't say anything about age-appropriateness because like I said, I didn't go beyond her paramount and Warner brother days, and there very well may have been some gritty incidents as she got older, I just wouldn't know. Its a good look at what it was really like for her; and that was tough. I guess my biggest complaint is that nothing about her career is really remembered in fondness, not that I expected any.

Gracie; A Love Story by George Burns

Putting this one up next to the Shirley Temple just isn't fair, there was no possible way I wouldn't like this book. not only because George Burns was a funny man with a good sense of humor, but his wife was Gracie Allen and his two best friends were Jack Benny and Harpo Marx (coincidentally, those happen to be two of my most favoritest people in the world). So yes, I enjoyed it thoroughly. I would put the kid rating at like 13 and up or depending on what parents say- not that Burns is being unnecessarily crude, just honest, and it was written more for adults anyway. The cussing factor however is surprisingly low for a biography/autobiography written in the 80's. I want to give you a little snippet of the stories he tells, so here is my favorite, when he's talking about tricking his best friend Jack Benny;

"Another thing I admired about Jack Benny was that he thought I was the funniest man in the world. I could make him laugh so hard that he would literally fall down and pound the floor with his fist. Obviously, that was very embarrassing to him, so I tried to do it only when we were in public. Then I would tell people not to be concerned, he was only having a fit...

The worst thing I ever did to him took place at a party at his house. It was a lovely party, there were about one hundred fifty people there, and everybody seemed to be hav
ing a good time. But Jack took me aside and said nervously, "I don't the party's moving." "Sure it's moving," I told him. "Everybody's talking and drinking." He actually started to get angry. "I'm in show business to you know. I know if a party's not moving. This one isn't." What could I do? Tell him to take his pants off and put on a stupid hat? Absolutely. "You want to liven it up a little," I said, "here's what you do: go upstairs and take off your pants, put on one of Mary's big hats, then come downstairs in your shorts playing your violin." That appealed to him, "You think that'll make the party move?" "Oh yeah, sure." What else could I say? Trust me? Me?

As soon as Jack went upstairs I got everybody's attention and said "In a few minutes Jack is going to be coming downstairs in his shorts, wearing one of Mary's hats and playing the violin. When he does, don't pay any attention to him, Just ignore h
im completely." A few minutes later Jack appeared at the top of the stairs, wearing his shorts and one of Mary's wide-brimmed hats, playing the violin." And everyone ignored him. It took him only a few minutes to realize he was dressed in his underwear and a woman's hat, playing the violin and being ignored by one hundred fifty people. and then he realized I'd done it to him again. Jack pounded the floor. When he got his breath, he looked at me and said "NOW the party's moving."

Bottom line, I loved this book.

The last book on the list is Audrey Hepburn; An Elegant Spirit, written by her son, possibly the only not-adopted kid in Hollywood, Sean Hepburn Ferrer.

It's really more of a scrapbook than an autobiography, with plenty of glossy, full-scale pictures with helpful captions. Her son paints a brief but emotional image of her life and then moves on to talk about her as a person for the rest of the book. Lots of time is spent examining her: what kind of person she was, what kind of mother, wife, actress, etc. And I'll give you a little hint; he has nothing but good things to say about her. It's a nice book if your looking to find out what she was like as a person, but not a very helpful biography. A complete G-rating on this one.

Finished! Hooray! We've accomplished something! So on the subject of auto-biographies, I may as well tell you that I didn't find the one I really wanted. It's called Barney Fife and Other Characters I Have Known. Take a wild guess who wrote that one. The title somehow even sounds like it was said in his voice. Anyway, after watching a lot of TAGS and hearing that it's an essential in biographies department I was disappointed at not finding it. And so while were on the subject of Don Knotts (aren't I great at linking things up?) let us move on to our movie;

I love glossy old movie posters that just say it all for you.

This movie was never a classic and you may not have heard of it, but it's certainly nothing new to me. My dearest great-grandmother has been a fan of Don Knotts for years, and watching his collection of movies in her well carpeted living-room brings back many fond memories. However, I cut no movie any slack (even if it has the words 'Marx brother' or 'Muppet' in it! ). So where to begin? I think that the place the writers began was Don Knotts. It's first grade: if your going to have a movie in which your title character does a copious amount of freaking out, get Don Knotts. There's never been a better freaker-outer in the business. Can you imagine getting to write a movie for Don Knotts? It would be incredibly easy;
"OK, so what's the plot so far?"
"Well there's this haunted house."
"Ooh that's great! That's great."
"Yeah, and he has to spend the night in it."
"I dunno..we'll figure that out later. OK, so he's in front of the house..."
"And I guy pops out of the bushes!"
">laughs hysterically< Can you imagine his face?"
"OK, so then he goes into the house..."
"How? It has to be some funny way."
"He falls through a coal chute!"
"Then a phonograph starts playing!"
"Yeah, and then we do some mirror gag...."
"And the ghost starts playing the organ!

See what I mean? The majority of Knott's is acting skills in this movie...and for that matter most of his others....rely not his ability to say lines or portray emotion but to find a way to react hilariously to cornucopia of scary situations. Not that this makes him any less of a great comedian, but it does say something for this movie; and that is that brilliant original writing is not it's strong point. This plot has all the perfect elements of a "Barney Fife becomes a reporter" storyline.
I mean, it's inevitable that a guy like Don Knotts is going to be stuck playing the same kind of character in every film, so it's not the fact that there is virtually no difference between Luther Heggs from this story to any of the other characters he plays. Jim Nabors once said he asked Don how he managed to be so funny, and he replied "Well it helps to look like I do." Whether you slap the title Luther Heggs, Barney Fife, Mr. Limpet, Alexander Figg or whatever on him, he's always gonna be Don Knotts. Long story short, character development was not a problem for these people.

So what else is left? Plot, OK, well that wasn't a problem either.The makers of this film apparently decided that the audience would either be busy studying Don Knott's facial expressions or kissing (this was the swingin' 60's) by thirty minutes into the movie, and no one would bother their sweet little heads about music. Well I, as an amateur movie reviewer did: and realized that it consisted of one tune, consisting of two notes, which sounded almost identical to the opening credits of The Addams Family which is played repetitively during the entire film. Yes, in case you wondering, it gets quite aggravating around the middle of the movie.

As far as other actors go, there isn't much to brag about. There's that guy who looks like a neanderthal who plays Sam's husband on Bewitched, an Irish fella who looks really familiar but whom I can't seem to place, and...other people. Oh, and I almost forgot, (and this is a plot spoiler) in the end, thirty-something Don Knotts gets to marry gorgeous model Joan Staley.
("Atta boy Luther!") Did I mention this movie was Don's personal favorite??

So anyway, bottom line; This, despite all the problems I just underlined, is a cute, moderately funny little movie that I'm sure anyone ages 6-11 would enjoy. My 8-year-old sister has watched it three times already, and that music is really starting to grate about now. It might be just slightly scary for littler kids (there's an invisible organ-playing ghost and a stabbed portrait, just judge for yourself) but it's doubtful anyone is going to be terrified.

So anyway, thanks for a long belated listen.

P.S. My class just started back, so from now, consider that an acceptable excuse for my long bouts of absence from this blog.

P.P.S. Anyone know of a good Christian/homeschooler magazine that takes submissions from teen unknowns? Thanks!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Prorogation, Morotorium, and the Little Weirdo


I have crawled back out of the abyss of its-not-a-famous-movie-star's-birthdayness, still lacking that promised post about the Marx fact, lacking any kind of post by me at all...


However, in the nick of time, my good friend...whom I sort of forgot to ask if he wanted his name broadcast all over the internet so from now on we'll call him by his pen-name, The Little Weirdo, has written us a paradisaical analysis of one of those movies I am constantly hearing about but never actually go to see. (This is why I am writing in bold font, so that you know the difference) AND SO!!!! Without further ado I present the Little Weirdo and his thoroughly enlightening analysis of Thor;

When you walk into the theater and prepare yourself to see THOR, the flashing logo of MARVEL COMICS will present itself in the opening credits. MARVEL has created many characters we know as superheroes. Wolverine, Super-Man, and the like, they all seem to go along a basic stereotype: the dashing, brave, and gallant hero, a defender of justice, coming to the aid of all the damsels in distress. Thor, however, brakes away from this stereotype, in more ways then one.

Thor and THOR.

For those of you that don’t know, the original THOR comic was based on Thor, the Norse god of (Wikipedia lists them off) “thunder, lightning, storms, oak trees, strength, destruction, fertility, healing, and the protection of mankind.” However, (as Thor’s father Odin explains in a brief prologue) Thor, Odin, Loki and all the rest are not gods; they are aliens. Aliens, which came to assist the human race when the evil ice-giants attacked. (When I say “aliens”, I don’t mean little green people; they all look exactly like humans, except their attire is that of 2000 years ago.)

Now, this storyline may seem rather absurd, or even ludicrous. But I’d like to see you try and take a pagan religion from two millennium ago a turn it into a superhero movie. And besides: THOR is not about the ice-giants attacking us petty mortals, it is about Thor’s character, and how it develops; which turns out to be quite a compelling story.


Peter Parker (protagonist in the movie “Spider-Man”) is a good example of stereotype superhero: He’s a nice guy, but has few friends at high school, can’t seem to charm a girl, and his general social life is down the tubes. Then, one day, he gets bitten by a radioactive spider, and Bang! Zap! He has super-strength; he can climb up walls, and shoot webs out of his hands. Fortune has struck him at last, and he dedicates his life to the protection of the citizens of New York.

It is almost a complete opposite scenario in Thor’s case.

Thor starts of as the famed son of Odin, the king of an alien kingdom (known as Asgard) light year away for our galaxy. Unfortunately for the audience, he is proud, arrogant, na├»ve, and foolish. After attacking enemy forces against his father’s will, Odin casts him out of Asgard to live among the mortals of the earth, and learn humility. When Thor arrives and finds that his powers have left him, he sets out on a quest to regain them, not knowing that Odin has made it so Thor will need more than muscle to regain…godhood? This is unusual for a superhero movie, but it is cool that it’s when the protagonist loses his powers, that he starts to look the part of a hero. To make matters more interesting, Thor is on a time limit; his younger bother, Loki, sees Thor’s banishment as a chance to kill his father, and seize the throne.

Now for the bread and butter:

Storyline: 8.5/10

You’ll have to suspend you’re disbelief a bit, but other than that, it’s intriguing.

Storytelling: 9/10

This is done in possibly my favorite way; we start in the middle, (Thor’s arrival on earth) then we go back to the beginning, and finally get carried forward to the end.

Script: 7/10

not superb, but descent enough. It’s fun to have Thor’s ridiculous old-English styled lines mixed in with the confused, modern day American ones. (it is, however, riddled with a few swears and blasphemies)

Characters and character development: 9.5/10

I forgot to mention that Thor picked up some human friends while down here among us, these do not disappoint. Character development lends itself mostly to Thor, but does so very well.

Cinematography: 9/10

No particular shot comes to mind that takes one’s breath away, but even so the camerawork is excellent.


THOR has much to offer in those 115 minutes. It is interesting and quite exiting to see it betraying the general superhero stereotype. In other words: Thor is not a good superhero movie, it is, however, an excellent sci-fi/ fantasy movie.


Although Peter Lorre and Porky Pig have made them self scarce, Thor is proof that them old movie-makers have still got it.

Amen brother, Amen. If only they would bring back Porky. Or maybe dress up Porky like Peter Lorre in "Mr. Moto" and then we'd have them both;

Well now I'm sorry you had to see that. I don't know what came over me. Thank you again J...uh...Little Weirdo, I'm off to be lazy again!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Happy Birthday Lucille Ball

A hideously un-original title post, but perhaps we'll get some traffic from the people clicking on google today?

Don't get to excited to see this blog post up, because no, I have not been planning a "Lucy's Birthday Blog Bash" for a week. Actually, I just clicked on my Google and saw it there. Very sad, I know. I brag about knowing the names of Humphrey Bogart's parents, Peter Lorre's wives, and Marx Brother's elementary school, but I don't even remember Lucille Ball's birthday. I hang my head in shame.

So what can I tell you? That Lucille Ball is amazing? Certainly. But you probably already knew it. I often call "I Love Lucy" my "connection point" when I want to talk to people about classic television/movies, the subject I'm most versed in besides Volkswagen. Because, obviously, everyone loves Lucy. I'll give you a few facts about it first off; Lucy and Ricky were really married. They tied the knot in 1940, when Ricky was an up-and-coming bandleader. At the time Lucy was already the popular star of "My Favorite Husband", basically the I Love Lucy of radio days but without Ricky, Ethel and Fred to round out the cast. Preparing to bring the popular show to television, Lucy asked if the part could be played by her real life husband. The producers refused, saying that the television audience would never except a "Latino-type" like him. Irked, Lucy quit the show, and with their own out-of-pocket money they started I Love Lucy, predicted to end within one season, it has been on the air now for 61 years.

Why do people love Lucy? Easy. Slightly homely, dizzy, cocky, but well meaning and hilarious, and most of all behind that act of vanity it's easy to spot a very real, down-to-earth woman. Having worked hard to prove herself a good actress (Her drama coach at the academy told her she had absolutely no future as a performer) Her natural comedic talents managed to make the standard 1950's dumb-housewife formula an unforgettable icon for the often-lost patience and unconditional love of American marriage.

And did I read any of that on some other blog or tribute site? Absolutely not. No sarcasm intended.

So I sign off. If I had known today was her birthday I might have looked extra hard for her biography yesterday at the library, but instead I picked up Child Star by Shirley Temple Black, Gracie; A Love Story by George Burns and Audrey Hepburn, An Elegant Spirit by Sean Hepburn Ferrer. I'll keep you posted how they are.

So in conclusion, if you wanna make yourself happy, find some I Love Lucy on T.V. and watch it. It's still on, and if the Lord be willing, it'll be on for my kid's to watch too.

P.S. I love her for all the above mentioned reason, but she also appeared with some of my favorite people;

P.S.S. I, sadly, cannot watch I Love Lucy as we have no cable. Actually now, when I realize that the last thing I saw Lucy in was "Room Service", is the only time I've ever regretted that fact. Go figure.