Sunday, September 03, 2017

The Iron Mistress (1952)

It is nearly four years past when I intended to write a review for The Iron Mistress.  Thanks to Hamlette, I can now remedy my tardiness with this entry for her Alan Ladd blogathon!  Check out all the other posts for more reading on Ladd and his films.


The Iron Mistress was the first Alan Ladd movie I ever saw when I was a young thing, though I didn’t know who he was at the time.  No, what stuck in my head about this movie at that very tender age were two scenes:  Jim Bowie getting ambushed and left for dead, which allows the bad guy to get hold of his famous knife, and the scene were said bad guy starts learning how to throw it.  It was this second scene that stayed with me.  I wanted to learn how to throw knives simply because of that moment.  I spent countless gardening sessions not gardening and throwing trowels and fishtail weeders and garden knives into the ground until they’d stick in just so every time.  And I spent years simply trying to find out which movie that scene came from.  I’d ask my parents, “Remember that movie where the guy’s trying to learn how to throw the knife and it bounces off the wall and he barks at his servant to go bring it back to him...”  No, they didn’t.  I’d ask other people.  No.  No one remembered it.  I was pretty sure it was a movie about Jim Bowie, but that was it.  It wasn’t until the age of the internet that I was finally able to search for it and come up with a likely candidate:  The Iron Mistress.  Except at that point, it wasn’t available to buy or rent.  When it finally came out on DVD, I bought a copy, simply so I could satisfy my curiosity.  I settled in to watch, and lo and behold, an hour and a half into it, there was the scene I’d been waiting all my life to see again, with Anthony Caruso playing the character determined to learn how to throw Bowie's knife left-handed after Bowie injures him.  I grinned like a goon because it was pretty much exactly as my memory had held onto it.


(The first scene, however... the ambush... that one I didn’t remember correctly.  I remembered the hero climbing out of a river onto a grassy bank.  Hm.  That’s not in this movie at all, so I wonder which movie I mixed that up with?  Another movie memory mystery I'll have to solve someday...)

And then I promptly forgot about the movie again, curiosity finally satisfied.  It wasn’t until Hamlette started watching Alan Ladd films that I pulled it off the shelf again.

The Iron Mistress is an uneven film, but still entertaining.  It has some good parts, and some mediocre parts, but no bad parts.  One of my favorite scenes is one of Bowie’s early duels, knife against sword, in a darkened room that is lit occasionally by lightning.  It’s a striking scene.  There’s also the knife duel with Anthony Caruso's character that is really well-done.  I also like the scene where his knife is forged, even if their supposed meteorite isn’t a real iron meteorite at all and looks more like a piece of pumice. The knife itself turns out lovely.


I admit, thanks to The Alamo, Richard Widmark is still my go-to movie-version of Jim Bowie.  I have to consciously set him aside to watch The Iron Mistress or I spend my time doing unfavorable comparisons, and that’s unfair to both actors and both movies.  This is, fortunately, a very different movie, and a very different Bowie, so that gives Alan Ladd a chance to make it his character.


The meandering plot for this one follows Bowie as he goes to New Orleans to sell lumber, ends up meeting society belle Judalon and her brother, decides he likes the finer things life has to offer, embarks his family on land speculation ventures, and ends up in Texas marrying Ursula Veramendi, daughter of the vice governor.  There are duels, horse races, more duels and, of course, the forging of his famous knife. The thread that ties all the disparate pieces together is Bowie's dangerous attraction to the beautiful Judalon and the consequences of that attraction.  He is drawn back to her time and time again.  It's quite satisfying when he finally is able to tell her to get lost and can walk away from her for good.

Alan Ladd always seems too nice and too civilized to pull off the rough toughness of Bowie, but wearing fancy suits, gambling, dueling, and dealing with and being hurt by Judalon’s double-dealing, he does that part of this Bowie very very well.  He's also very good with the human level, with showing his emotions in his eyes and face.  The way he lights up every time he sees her, the disappointment when she betrays him.  I also love how protective he is of Audubon, the famous bird painter, and also of Judalon's brother.  He does best in this movie in the scenes where he's climbing the social ladder, but the fights and duels are engaging as well.


Virginia Mayo excelled at playing women who were beautiful on the outside, but shallow, vain, scheming, and deceitful on the inside.  These characters display just enough vulnerability and flashes of real emotion to hook the men and keep them hoping.  Judalon is prime example.  Bowie falls in love at first sight, but he can’t ultimately offer her the money and social position she wants, and she betrays him repeatedly.


I do find the end of this movie disappointing, in that Bowie and Sturdevant (Anthony Caruso's character) don't have a final reckoning.  Sturdevant has finally mastered throwing the Bowie knife, but we don't get to see him go up against Bowie.  Hmph.  All that work for naught...  Sad.


All in all, while not one of my favorites, this remains an entertaining film.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Top Ten Favorite Television Series

So, I'm stealing this from Hamlette and Eva.  My favorite television series.  I have a whole bunch of television shows I love and love to watch, but not all of them make the favorites list.  It's really got to have characters/actors I love, well-written shows, emotions, humor (the right kind), action.  These make the grade.

1. Combat! (1962-1967)
Vic Morrow.  WWII.  Some of the best written shows ever. Only show I've written fanfic for as an adult and have another website, co-owned by White Queen, that is devoted just to this show.



2. Highlander: The Series (1992-1998)
I enjoyed the original movie, but didn't love it.  It was Adrian Paul as Duncan MacLeod in the series that sucked me into this world, not Connor, though I still love Connor too, and that premiere ep when Connor and Duncan are sparring... that never ever ever gets old.  And Joe and Methos are probably two of my favorite characters of all time.  I even love Amanda.  And Kronos, of course. He may only be in a few episodes, but this series would be among my favorite television shows based solely on the "Comes A Horseman"/"Revelations 6:8" two-part ep, though there were plenty of other really good solid episodes.  Only show that had enough awesome sword fights to satisfy me.  I watched this one from premiere to conclusion when it aired.


3. Star Trek (1966-1969)
This one goes back to early childhood.  We watched an episode a day for years and years and years as they aired in re-runs throughout the 70s and 80s.  It was the backbone of my youth.  Love that crew!  Love their adventures.  Love that ship.  (Although my favorite captain from all the ST series is still Captain Pike...).  I listed my top ten favorite episodes of this show here.


4. Buffy: The Vampire Slayer (1997-2003)
Another show I watched start to finish as it aired.  Didn't think I'd like it initially, but silly me. I had yet to realize the power of Joss Whedon's writing.  This show took over my life the entire run time.  Waiting for new episodes to air was almost painful some weeks.  The fifth season remains my favorite season, and "The Gift" remains my all-time favorite episode.  Buffy is my favorite character, followed by Spike, but there wasn't a single main character I didn't like.


5. Starsky & Hutch (1975-1979)
Was too young for this show when it aired, but started watching re-runs in the 90's and was instantly hooked.  I loved the two lead characters so much.  Loved all the regulars.  Loved the eps.


6. Have Gun: Will Travel (1957-1963)
Paladin is one of my favorite characters, and these little half-hour episodes are so well-written.  They pack a lot of punch into a very short time.  Some are funny, some deadly serious.  This is the only show on my favorites list that I haven't seen every episode of yet, as I'm savoring and spreading out the later seasons so I have something to look forward to. 


7. Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea (1964-1968)
My earliest television memories are of Voyage and Star Trek.  There wasn't ever a time when they weren't part of my memory.  Both dominated life from early single digits well into my teens. These two shows were family shows, so they're also both tied up in family memories and a boatload of nostalgia. 


8. Rejseholdet (Unit One) (2000-2004)
Danish crime drama with Mads Mikkelsen that follows an elite police force around Denmark.  I really did not expect to fall in love with this show and in particular, all of the characters.  I'm not a fan of most American crime shows, as they... hm... well, they seem to play to the audience, to invite the audience to try to solve the mystery ahead of the characters.  I'm not interested in solving fictional mysteries, so I find those shows annoying to watch.  Red herrings and cleverness and crimes that have to outdo other crimes to keep the audience on their toes... Not my thing.  This show, on the other hand, is just very matter-of-fact, isn't designed to make you a participant.  I love how straight-forward it is.  And I LOVE those characters, every single one of them.  So much that I've started watching other Danish movies and tv shows that star those actors, and not just Mads.  And the show really helps my Danish language lessons too.


9. Xena: Warror Princess (1995-2001)
A spin off from Hercules: The Legendary Journeys (which I happen to be re-watching right now! We're introducing my nephew to it, and he is absolutely loving it.), Xena was both darker, more emotional, and also funnier at the same time.  I watched both shows to completion when they aired, but Xena was the show I preferred.  I love Lucy Lawless and Renee O'Connor as the two leads, loved how they grew and changed, particularly Gabrielle.  I loved the crossover eps and the wacky meta eps set in the current day.  This show also introduced me to Marton Csokas, so, yeah...


10. The Adventures of Brisco County Jr. (1993-1994)
I just can't leave Brisco off this list. I've talked before about it, and about my favorite episode here.  I still just love this show so much.  Western, comedy, drama, so much fun.  Bruce Campbell rocks.  I'm amused that he's in two of my favorite shows on this list (this one and Xena), and one of my runner up favorite shows is Burn Notice, in which he's also a lead.  I have much Bruce Campbell love, clearly.


So, there you have it!  My top ten favorite shows right now.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

And now for a minority opinion

Normally, I don't like to post much negative stuff.  I only do it when I feel very strongly about something.  But as I've just had one of the most unpleasant movie-going experiences of my life, I figure I'll blather on a bit about it.

That would be my viewing of Dunkirk.  My brother-in-law and I went to catch this on the IMAX this morning and we nearly walked out mid-movie.  I'm not sure if unpleasant is strong enough to describe what sitting through this movie was like.  I suppose, given my intense dislike of Interstellar, this should not really be a surprise.  Interstellar had the award for my least favorite movie until today.  Now it's a toss up between the two.  I guess it's fair to say that even though I loved Memento, I'm officially not a Christopher Nolan fan.  At all.

The good stuff:
  • Tom Hardy, Spitfires, unlimited ammo, and aerial dogfights on an IMAX screen.  Best part of the movie by leaps and bounds.
  • Mark Rylance.
That's it.

Not even Ken Branagh, who I adore, gets any marks here.  But he's given nothing to do other than be Exposition Man.  I suppose if someone has to tell us what's going on, it might as well be him.

I hated, loathed, and despised Hans Zimmer's score for Interstellar.  His score in Dunkirk (if one can even call the incredibly loud, monotonous, droning wall of noise in Dunkirk a score) made me nostalgic for the incredibly loud wall of monotonous organ noise from Interstellar.  Okay, not really.  All it did was upset my stomach, give me a migraine, make me want to take a shower to wash the awfulness away (no, I'm not joking), and confirmed my long-held need to run the other way screaming when I see Zimmer's name on a movie poster.  (If you think my reaction is strong, my brother-in-law's is even stronger.)

We assumed this incessant wall of oppressive noise that never ever lets up is supposed to increase the tension for movie viewers?  (Never mind that if your movie can't be tense without music something's wrong somewhere.)  All it did for us is irritate us.  It overrides everything.  Couldn't hear the dialogue, couldn't even hear the fricking gunfire.  It didn't help that our theater was so loud my normal earplugs were ineffective, and earplugs don't help anyway with the overwhelming bass and constant physical vibration from the sound.  But even if the volume had been turned down, it wouldn't have made the movie experience any better.  I respect the right for the director to make whatever stylistic choices he sees fit to help his vision come true, but these choices flat-out fail for me.  We were never tense, never worried for characters, never on the edge of our seat.  We were annoyed and looking for the exit. 

SPOILERS!!!

As to the story... there wasn't much of one.  It felt more like a slice-of-life look at Dunkirk rather than a story.  That will work really well for some viewers.  My brother-in-law is a history teacher, and he was not at all happy with the historical side of it.  I'm not a historian, nor am I that familiar with Dunkirk, other than basic WWII knowledge -- big military disaster/trouble getting everyone home -- so those aspects didn't bother me the way they did him.  Neither of us liked the script's choice of following those opportunist little twerps as they deceived and lied to get off the beach ahead of the other soldiers.  We both were hoping, quite uncharitably I do admit, that they'd get blown up before the movie ended.  Every time the movie cut back to them, I groaned, because not only did I not care what happened to them, I actively disliked them.  This isn't to say there weren't plenty of men willing to do anything to escape that beach, self-preservation is a strong motivation, and it's not that their story might not be worthy of telling, but this movie made no effort to make me like or care for them or their story.  Maybe I'm not supposed to care for them?  Maybe their self-serving attitudes are supposed to balance the heroism of the pilots?  I really don't have any idea what my take-away from this movie is supposed to be.  That might be part of my problem.  I came away with nothing but a profound feeling of annoyance.

If I wore a watch, I would have checked it multiple times to see how much more of the movie I had to endure. I know it's running time is supposedly short, but man, it felt endless.  Interminable.  Painful.  This is what happens when there's no emotional investment in the characters... it's boring.  And dude, what happened at Dunkirk should not be boring.  I didn't get any sense of amazingness or happiness when the few ships showed up at the end.  Maybe because there appeared to be only a handful of boats come to help? 

I did at least like the two pilots.  And Mark Rylance.  But I didn't care about them.  We aren't given enough to care about them. 

So, yeah.  This one's a huge ugly fail for me.  However, I recognize that the very things that don't work for me personally in this movie seem to work very well for the majority of other people out there, so I would probably still recommend this movie.  The subject is worthy, regardless, and people should decide for themselves if they like it, not listen to reviews, positive or negative.

Friday, July 07, 2017

The Fall (2006)

This has to be one of the most uniquely shot, beautiful, and intriguing movies I've ever seen.  This is a movie about making movies. It's also about storytelling and about the relationship between a storyteller and an active listener.  Whose story is it?  And it's about imagination, or perhaps shared imagination would be a better phrase.  How does one perceive story?


It's set in a hospital in Los Angeles of the 1920's, where a young girl with a broken arm meets a Hollywood stuntman who's been injured on the job.  They become friends as he tells her a story.  The movie juxtaposes life in the hospital with a fantastic tale of adventure, until slowly the two stories merge.  The young girl populates the story with various people from her life and whom she has met and seen at the hospital.  I'm going to avoid spoilers in this review, because this movie is too good to be ruined by a casually tossed-out spoiler.


I rented this movie for my sister, as she's a big Lee Pace fan, and I came away loving it as much as she did. We watched it twice in one day.  Then showed it to her husband.  Then showed it to my niece.  I've watched most of it again here with the subtitles turned on.  Then we bought our own copy of the DVD.  LOL!  It's one of those movies that just needs to be seen again, to help put all the pieces together, because there's far too much to catch on the first viewing.  A lot of important dialogue is spoken in the background, or said at the same time something else is going on, so on first viewing, we missed a lot.

Catinca Untaru is adorable and amazing as young Alexandria.  She instantly became my favorite child character in any movie.  I love her.  This movie works so well because of her.  Because of her relationship with Roy (Lee Pace's character).  They are wonderful together.


It's her imagination we see at work in this movie, bringing his story to life, sometimes in subtle but cool ways.  Such as when Roy tells her one of the story's characters is an Indian.  We've seen him working in a Western in the beginning of this movie, so when he says Indian, you know he's thinking Native American. He mentions the words squaw and wigwam.  Alexandria doesn't know any Native Americans, but she works with a man from India in the orange groves, so he's the one she envisions in the story anytime the Indian is mentioned.

This movie was filmed on location all around the world, and it makes for some absolutely exquisite locales.  It's colorful and striking, with amazing architecture and wide open landscapes. I ooohed and ahhhed all the way through it.  One of my favorite shots is in the very beginning of the movie, in black and white, of a rope being thrown off a bridge.  You can see the shadow of the rope coil on the water below, and then the rope snakes into the camera's view, while you're still watching the shadow below.  It unwinds as it falls, the shadow matching it, and it is lit and filmed so perfectly that that shot just boggles my mind every time. 

 
 
 
(and this isn't even a fraction of the amazing real places shown in this movie)

This movie is rated R, and for the longest time my sister and I were wondering why that was, as almost nothing in the first half was R.  But the movie does turn darker, more violent, and more emotional in the last half, and it does eventually earn its R rating.  Even still, it has a lot of humor in it and some of the funniest moments were in the middle of what seemed the darkest moments.  Ultimately, it was a satisfying, beautifully told story that just sucked us in and will definitely be one we re-watch on a regular basis.


Saturday, July 01, 2017

First of July

The apricots have come and gone, although I still have a bunch in the fridge that are slowly going bad because there are just still too many to consume.  My apples have mostly come and gone as well.  I dried tons of them this year, which will be nice to munch on later.  My tomatoes are currently ripening.  I got smart this year and planted them in a slightly different shadier area, and for once they have not died in the sun.  They are flourishing, yay!

The three wild parrots are back and enjoying apples.

It's turned hot, of course, and my walks with Silver are mostly restricted to very early morning before it heats up.  When it's still 90 at 9 pm, there's no chance of an evening walk.  He still loves water so he has a blast playing with the sprinkler and hose.  The more water to play in the better.


Today marks my 32nd straight day of studying the Danish language on duolingo.  It claims I am 47% proficient, but I don't remotely have the vocabulary built up yet for that to be true.  And I am never in a thousand years going to be able to pronounce some of their words correctly, but I don't care.  I am having an absolute blast learning it!

I have always loved studying languages.  Took three and a half years of French in high school, a year of Russian in college, and I've been learning Italian (via opera librettos) my whole life.  But Danish is the first language I'm studying for no reason whatsoever but because we live in a fabulous age where things like duolingo make this possible.  This means zero pressure.  No grades to worry about, no tests, no trip to Copenhagen (though I can dream), just nothing but learning for the sheer fun of it.  And it is so much fun that it's one of the first things I can't wait to start working on every single morning when I turn the computer on.  The grammar rules are pretty straight forward, much simpler than French.  The pronunciation of words is the only truly difficult (impossible!) part.  However, practice really does make a difference, and I can at least understand the spoken lessons far better than I thought would be possible when I first started.  And reading and writing Danish... that's the easy part.

My sister is studying Norwegian, which shares a lot of the grammar rules and many similar words.  I find I can follow her lessons along with her with relative ease and help her understand the sentence construction... and their pronunciation is sooooo much easier.  Their words are mostly pronounced the way they look, which cannot be said of Danish, where almost nothing is pronounced the way it looks like it should be said.  I find that amusing.

Yep.  Pretty much.

Current favorite Danish word:  badev√¶relset which is the epic word for "the bathroom."  Don't ask me to pronounce it though.  It's something along the lines of "bell-vay-ah-suh" but I haven't listened to it said enough to remember for sure.

I also find it amusing that the last two movies I watched were French-language movies.  Wrong language!!  I have watched four or five movies in Danish now, but I watched them back before I started studying the language.  I'm going to rewatch those in a another month or two, see how much I can actually understand at that point.

And now for something completely different.

I am a huge fan of the chocolate peanut butter Kind bars, and I recently found I could make my own.  These are spectacular.  Very easy to make (other than chopping up three kinds of nuts into bits is a pain), and they taste so much better than anything from the grocery store.  I've made two batches so far.  I like these for breakfast with my hot tea, but for those so inclined to eat between meals, they'd make a great snack.


Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Four Fictional Characters Tag

Hamlette tagged me for this one.  I tried not to repeat characters I've already listed on this blog as ones I relate to.  I really tried to find book characters, but while there are many book characters I really want to be, I couldn't find one that I particularly relate to.  I'm sure there must be some out there, but I scanned my book shelves and came up with nothing.  Movie characters, on the other hand... it's hard to pick just four.  I also have several opera characters I relate to.

The Rules: 
1. Link back to the person who tagged you. 
2. List four fictional characters (use pictures if you want! They can be from movies or books) and, if you like, describe what they're like and why you believe they relate to you. 
3. Tag a few other blog people! Three, or four, or even twenty. :) Share the fun! Be sure to let them know you've tagged them!


1. Napoleon Solo (Henry Cavill) from The Man from U.N.C.L.E. (2015)
Like Napoleon, I prefer to work alone, and if I do have to work with someone I don't know, I would be a bit of a control freak about it because having to depend on others to do their job right is very hard for me.  However, once I accept someone, then I’ll risk my life to save them and they have my trust from then on.  I lack Napoleon's specific safebreaking skill set (unfortunately), however, like him, I’m pretty unflappable under action, stress, and duress.  (I’m the one who went back to sleep after the Northridge earthquake wrecked my apartment.  I mean, come on, it was 4:30 am in the morning.  Aftershocks don't bother me.  The house and broken stuff can be sorted later.  I just wanted to sleep.)  Like him, I’m not riled easily, but, on occasion, I don’t mind baiting others, particularly if I'm trying to get their measure.  I also like the finer things in life, and we’re both good cooks.  Also, the fact that it wouldn’t match would definitely bother me!

2. Peter Jensen (Mikael Persbrandt) from The Salvation (2014)
This older brother character is one I relate very strongly to.  We’re both quiet and steady, a bit cynical, and not easily provoked.  We give our married younger siblings time and space to be alone with their spouses, and can happily go off and/or stay in town by ourselves.  Being alone doesn't bother us.  And if you mess with our younger siblings, we will calmly and efficiently (and violently, if necessary) do whatever needs to be done to rescue them.  If that means leading the bad guys away and possibly sacrificing ourselves to save our siblings... yeah, we'd do that too.

3. Valerian (Caitlin Clarke) from Dragonslayer (1981)
One of the first female characters I related to.  She has spent most of her life masquerading as a young man, both to avoid the horrible lottery that selects which girl will get sacrificed to the dragon, and to get things done she couldn’t do as a girl.  She leads a group to the castle of a wizard to petition his help in defeating the dragon.  She goes by herself to the dragon’s lair to gather scales to make a shield.  She stands up for what she believes, and she’s willing to fight for what’s right, including standing up to the power of a king and his men, and the dragon as well.  Like most of the characters I relate to, she has little respect for authority when it is not used for what she perceives as right.

4. Victoriano Ramirez (Oscar Isaac) from For Greater Glory (2012)
I relate to quite a few freedom fighter characters, and of those, I probably relate to Victoriano the most.  He leads his group of ranchers himself, upholding his own sense of honor and justice.  He doesn’t trust the General or anyone else until they actually earn his trust.  At the same time, he doesn’t discount them out of hand either.  He’s willing to listen to what they have to say, even if he’s openly skeptical.  He relies on his own scouts for information first.  Like him, I depend on my own intel, not what others tell me, and neither of us are team players.  At least not until the team proves itself worthy, and we see everyone else can pull their weight.  Even then, we still have trouble following orders, and when Victoriano sees something wrong in a battle plan, and it appears no one else has seen the problem or is acting on it, he takes the initiative to take care of it himself, which is not necessarily a good idea, but darn it all, no one is doing anything.  I would do the same thing, and I definitely share his impatience with apparent inaction.

I don't know who to tag, but please, if you read this and haven't yet been tagged, I'd love to read what other fictional characters other people relate to!

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Robin Hood Week - Tag

Olivia at Meanwhile, in Rivendell is hosting a Robin Hood Week.  Check out her blog for all kinds of links to various Robin Hood posts.  Here are my answers to her opening questions tag:

What was your first exposure to Robin Hood?
Er.... No idea if it was the Disney animated one or the Disney Richard Todd one in book format.  One or the other.  I also had a Robin Hood kid's book that dates back to the same time frame, so that one's mixed in there too.  I know in elementary school, I had a lunchbox for the Disney animated one, and it was my favorite lunchbox ever.  My sister wanted to steal it, and we both still talk about it to this day.  And meeting Prince John at Disneyland was a highlight of my early visits to the park.  There's an old photo of me with Prince John from that Disneyland trip somewhere... need to get it from my parents and scan it to share.


On a scale of 1 to 10, how big a fan are you?
7 or 8.  I'd say I'm a pretty big fan of Robin Hood in general.

How many versions and spin-offs of the legend have you experienced?
Oh man... so very very many.  I don't think I could count them.  Movies, mini-series, tv series, Robin Hood themed episodes of non-Robin Hood television shows (like Star Trek: The Next Generation, Time Tunnel, etc.), Robin Hood in Ivanhoe, books... 

What is your favorite version of Robin Hood (can be book, movie, TV series, anything)?
I have different favorites for different things.  I'll say up front that I think the 1938 Adventures of Robin Hood with Errol Flynn is the best version.  It's everything a Robin Hood story should be, and nothing has ever quite touched it.  But while I think it's the best version, it's not necessarily my favorite version.  My personal favorite Robin Hood character is Stuart Wilson's version in Princess of Thieves (2001).  He's older, not necessarily wiser, but embodies all the attributes I want out of a Robin Hood. He's noble and rough, snarky in the face of danger, has a nice combo of protective love and bitterness, and is still capable of changing.  Princess of Thieves also has my favorite Will Scarlett, portrayed by Crispin Letts.  I'm also quite fond of Cary Elwes in Men in Tights, even though I'm not particularly fond of the movie itself.  My favorite Sheriff (to date) was a book version, De Lacy, who I believe is in the Richard Todd Disney Robin Hood, but I haven't actually seen it, only read it, so I don't know that the movie version will measure up to the book, even if it's based of him (if that makes any sense).  I'm also fond of Robert Shaw's Sheriff in Robin and Marian, only that movie scarred me when I was young and I'm still haunted by a few moments from it, so I have not seen it since.  Favorite Guy of Gisborne would be Richard Armitage's version, naturally, from the BBC series.

The one character I don't think I can pick a favorite of, would be Prince John.  Prince John seems to be quite good in all versions.  I might just love Peter Ustinov's lion version in the animated movie the best.  But Ralph Brown in the 1997 Ivanhoe miniseries, Toby Stephens in the BBC miniseries, and Oscar Isaac in the 2010 Robin Hood are right up there as well.


My favorite scores are Korngold's Adventures of Robin Hood and Michael Kamen's "and the score turns black with notes" Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves.  (That's one of favorite composer quotes, from a making of video that played back on television when that movie came out.  Never forgotten it.)

Are you one of the lads? (Meaning, have you watched/are you a fan of the BBC show?)
Yes, I'm a fan of the show.  I'm backwards to most fans, though... the third season is by far my favorite season, followed by the first season, and then the second season.

Who is your favorite Merry Man?
I'm going to have to go with Robin himself.  He's the reason I'm a fan of the stories.  The other merry men come and go depending on the version.  And if I don't like the Robin... I'm probably not going to stick around very long.



Do you have a favorite portrayal of Lady Marian?
Olivia de Havilland from The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938).  She is perfect.


Do you have any interest in or aptitude at archery?
I used to do a lot of archery in my high school days.  My mom had several bows and a whole quiver of practice arrows, so we'd set up hay bales and targets and shoot away.  I also got to do archery in high school as a P.E. course.  I was pretty good at it.

Fact or fiction -- which do you think?
A bit of both.


Do you think Robin Hood has been "done to death," or are there still
new twists that can be found?

Oh, not overdone.  Not at all.  Not remotely.  Are you kidding?  I am anxiously looking forward to the next version, coming out next year, cuz Ben Mendelsohn is the Sheriff.  I don't care who else is in it, that's a version I'm sooooo looking forward to.  When the Russell Crowe version was announced, he was originally supposed to be the Sheriff in that.  And I was super excited.  Super duper.  And then they changed it and made him Robin Hood, and all my joy evaporated.  Now don't get me wrong, he makes a good Robin Hood, but it would have been different and far more interesting if he'd gotten to play the Sheriff instead.  Well, guess I just needed to be patient and hang in there, cuz now I'll get a Sheriff I really want to see.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

RIP Roger Moore

So sad to hear about the passing of Roger Moore.  He isn't my favorite James Bond, but he was still MY Bond.  The first Bond movie I saw in the movie theater was The Spy Who Loved Me, and I saw every one after that.  James Bond movies are a huge part of my life, and Roger Moore is integral to that.  Of course, he also did so many other things beyond Bond.  My favorite role of his is Ffolkes, in the 1980 movie ffolkes.  Very entertaining film, and Moore was fabulous as the cat-loving, knitting, cranky counter-terrorism expert in it.  That movie had a great cast, but Moore is the one that made it great.  I've always wanted three cats named Esther, Ruth, and Jennifer, just because of this movie.  I also have always loved him in The Wild Geese (1978). 


One of my favorite exchanges from The Wild Geese:
 


(Roger Moore) - Allen!  What, not even a hearty handshake, a Shawn my boy how are you, nothing?
(Richard Burton) - Clown
(Roger Moore) - Oh, "clown."  At least it's a start.  Now, would you mind telling me what you're doing here, thank god.
(Richard Burton) - If we live, I'll tell you about it.  Idiot.
(Roger Moore) - Clown and idiot.  You always were a flatterer.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Apricots!

Back in March, I posted a couple pics of my apricot tree in full bloom.  Well, I have a bumper crop this year, and the tree is loaded!  I've eaten a few already, ones that have been ripe enough to fall off.  The rest aren't quite there yet, but they'll be ripening up in the next week or so.  There's nothing like fruit off the tree.

 

And here's a shot of Silver thinking he's a cat and that the back of the couch is made for dogs to perch on as well.  Since he fits and is comfortable... I guess he's right!




Tuesday, May 16, 2017

A Special Night

Last Wednesday, my sister and I went to see opera tenor Joseph Calleja in concert.  He has been one of our favorite tenors for years now, and we could not pass up the opportunity to hear him live.  It was a fabulous evening!  He was in fine voice, and the program was a good one for us.  Normally, the concerts we've seen at this venue have piano accompaniment, but he had an orchestra.  The first half was opera arias, and all ones we love.  The second half was Italian songs.  There were five encore songs as well, and thunderous applause from the audience for all of it.

And one of the neatest parts of the evening was that the concert was a tribute to Mario Lanza.  And who was in the audience?  Mario Lanza's daughter and three other members of his family!  That was pretty amazing.

It was a great evening for two opera lovers!


(one of my favorite arias, which he sang live for us)

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

The Writer Tag

Hamlette tagged me for this one.  So here goes...


1. What genres, styles, and topics do you write about?
Let's see.  I'm a fiction writer of short stories, novellas, and novels.  These days, I write mostly dark actiony fantasy stuff, with a bit of Combat! fanfiction thrown in every now and then.  What style do I write in?  Depends on what the story requires, but usually it's in third person limited, and I tend to write fast-paced suspense stories, I guess you could say.  I'm not sure the word topic applies, as I don't write about topics.  However, there are certainly themes I'm fond of, that I find myself drawn back to over and over again.  Friendship.  Betrayal.  Love.  Magic that isn't traditional wave-a-wand/spell magic. Freedom and fighting for freedom.  Standing up for what's right.


2. How long have you been writing?
Since I learned how to spell.  My first completed story that was not written for school was probably second or third grade, but I'm not memory-oriented, so no actual idea.  I wrote about a space race to Mars, complete with plenty of action, betrayal, and attempted murder.  Yeah.  Not much has changed.

3. Why do you write?
I write to escape this mundane life.  I write to tell stories that will entertain others and let them escape for awhile.  I write to hopefully keep them up until 2 am because they can't put it down and have to find out what happens.


4. When is the best time to write?
Weekend mornings, or weekday nights.  Has to be done in off-hours when I'm not at the day job.  I prefer evenings, when it's dark and quiet and nobody's bugging me.

5. Parts of writing you love vs. parts you hate.
There's nothing as glorious as watching an idea take off in your head, watching it expand and surprise you and become something you didn't dream of when you originally said, "hey, what if..."  I also love writing or rewriting when I'm not involved consciously, but am just racing to write down what my characters are doing and saying.  Anytime they're in charge and I'm not having to coerce or bribe them into working for me is fun and delightful and makes for a good writing day.  I trust my subconscious to deliver what's required, and it very rarely lets me down.  Conscious fiction writing... which I do as little of as possible, is never as fun.  That's when it becomes work.  I'm also probably rare, in that I like editing as well.  I love tightening up a manuscript, throwing out the useless bits.  There's a great joy to turning a 200 word paragraph into a 100 word paragraph where every new word does a better job than the 200 that came before it.  And one of the very very very best parts of writing is when it's all over, and the story is in the hands of a reader, and you find out if it all worked or not.  That's the reward.

What do I hate about writing?  Not much.  Getting stuck, I suppose.

6. How do you overcome writer's block?
Depends on the type of writer's block.  The kind where I'm just lazy and would rather do something else?  I just have to start writing and everything will click into place all on its own, guaranteed.  Just start writing.  The kind where I'm stuck on a scene because I'm missing an element, or the world building failed, or I let my conscious brain interfere and accidentally wrote myself into a corner... those require patience and more thinking time.  So, I walk away for awhile and do something else while the subconscious fixes it.


7. Are you working on something at the moment?
I've got a fantasy noir tale I'm writing, currently titled "The Sunflower Dress."


8. Writing goals this year? 
I'm not a very goal-oriented person, I've discovered.  If I set goals, they tend to make me stubbornly do the opposite because I don't like being told what to do.  Even by myself.  Even if it's something I really want.  So I don't set goals.  (Deadlines from editors are a different thing entirely, but I don't have any of those right now.)  So, I'd say the only task I have at current is to keep working on my WIP until it's complete.  After that, who knows.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Born in China (2017)


And this movie, folks, is precisely WHY I DON'T DO ANIMAL MOVIES!!!!!!  I spent the whole movie tearing up over the beauty of it, and then sobbed my eyes out at the end because not every story in this movie ends well.  And the set of animals I cared most about was the one without the happy ending.  I did not bring nearly enough Kleenex with me.  I blithely assumed because the trailer was so full of cuteness that I didn't have to worry about my heart being torn out and stomped on.  Yeah.  Right.  Couldn't have been more wrong.

My heart and the ensuing waterworks aside, it's a beautifully filmed movie, showing absolutely gorgeous locations in China and a bit of the lives of the wild creatures that make their homes there.  I took my nephew, and he thought the movie was only a half hour long, that's how caught up in it he was.  If he noticed the complete mess it turned his aunt into, he politely didn't say.  LOL.  The credits had some great extra footage showing the filmmakers on location.  It really is a beautiful movie, with some incredible footage of some beautiful creature.  Alas, I could never sit through it again, knowing what happens.

There was a trailer beforehand for next year's Disneynature Earth day movie, entitled Dolphins.  It looks beautiful as well.  I told my nephew his mom can take him to that one!  I'm done!  (Although, I'll probably let him talk me into it when the time comes. I'll just remember to bring more Kleenex, just in case.)