Sunday, November 01, 2020

November 1st

Well, we've reached November.  Here's an update in pictures...

We had gorgeous fall color here...


Until the first, early snow of the season killed all the color....

I adopted two kittens, a pair of siblings



Sleeping kittens

And I lost my 16-year-old Elanor to kidney failure.

Elanor on right, Jack (her brother) on left

Life goes on.
Tonio is a shoulder cat! Yay!


Saturday, October 31, 2020

Sean Connery (1930-2020)

I am deeply saddened by the news this morning that Sir Sean Connery has passed away.  He has given the pubic so many great roles and movies over his career.  The Untouchables, The Wind and the Lion, The Hunt for Red October, Outland, Darby O'Gill and the Little People, and, of course, his James Bond films are all much loved movies I will never tire of watching.  My thoughts go out to his family and friends.  RIP, and thank you for leaving such a legacy behind.

Saturday, October 17, 2020

My Favorite Star Wars ships (space ships, that is)

I love ships.  Physical ships, that is.  I don't "ship" characters.  Either a relationship happens in a movie/show/book or it doesn't.  I don't EVER wish two characters who don't get together would get together.  But a physical seagoing or aircraft or space-traveling craft can be a thing of sheer beauty, and I love them immensely.  The Nautilus from 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea was probably the first ship I fell in love with.  Followed by Seaview (Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea).  Followed by the Romulan Bird of Prey and the original Klingon ship design from Star Trek.

Then Star Wars came out, and the ships that movie introduced me to are still my favorite space-traveling ships to this day.  The Falcon, TIE Fighters, and original Star Destroyers all rocked my world and have never been surpassed.  

So, favorite ships?  These:

#1.  The Falcon


#2.   TIE Fighters from the original trilogy

#3.   Star Destroyers from the original trilogy


#4.  Poe's X-Wing in The Force Awakens

#5.  Obi-Wan's Jedi Star Fighter in Revenge of the Sith

#6.  Krennic's shuttle in Rogue One.

How do you know I love all of these?  Besides the fact that I said so?  I have them all as models or toys (and only these).  I still have the large Millennium Falcon and TIE Fighter toys (large enough to hold action figures) my parents got me in 1979, I have a Star Destroyer model still in the original box (never put together, though, cuz I have zero patience for building models) from 1980.  Those are stored in boxes in the garage.  

However, my Obi-Wan's Jedi Star Fighter is displayed on my shelf in the library, and Poe's X-Wing sits under my monitor at my work computer desk where I can look at them daily.  I also have a little TIE fighter from Force Awakens that matches Poe's X-Wing in size, and it is displayed on one of my DVD shelves.  Krennic's shuttle is the only one I love and don't own, and that's only because I never found a version of it for sale that I liked.  I will hopefully remedy that some day.

This is another, quite spontaneously written, post for the Everything Star Wars blogathon hosted by Coffee, Classics, and Craziness and I'm Charles Baker Harris (And I Can Read).

Thursday, October 15, 2020

Star Wars: Rebels - Favorite episodes

Star Wars: Rebels came out in 2014, back when my family was still getting cable tv, so I was able to go to their house and we watched each season as it aired.  We had not really been interested in the Clone Wars animated series at the time, but the Rebels trailers were intriguing, and we got sucked into the show.  The half hour episodes made it a nice, show easy to watch, and we liked that it was set before A New Hope.  


I ended up rewatching the entire series after the first season of The Mandalorian ended, because there was so much from Rebels that appeared in The Mandalorian.  Seeing a live-action Loth cat was awesome.  Seeing the dark saber made me literally cheer out loud.  Seeing live troop carriers in the Rebels design was thrilling.  Seeing live blurrg!  The Mandalorian just increased my Rebels love ten fold.

So, what appealed to me about Rebels?  The characters, of course, always come first.  I love these characters, though I still have a hard time with Ezra in the early seasons.  The kid just doesn't listen!  I want to slap him.  I didn't start actually liking him until he eventually matures in the fourth season.  Finally, he came into his own, and then I was able to appreciate him.  My favorite characters of the Ghost crew were always Kanan and Sabine, but when I rewatched the show earlier this year, Hera jumped up higher on the list.  And Zeb is amusing.

But as much as I like our heroes, my favorite character has been, and always will be, Agent Kallus.  I adore Kallus.  He ranks high on my top favorite Star Wars characters of all time list.  I'm a sucker for a redemption arc, and he has a good one.  He's a smart adversary and I just dig him.

Which brings me to my favorite episodes.  None of the first season episodes make my favorite list.  As with most shows, it was still finding its footing in the first season, the characters were still settling in.  All the meaty stuff was still to come.  That said, the season one finale is probably my favorite episode of season one.  Which is part of a trend, as you'll see, because each season's finale show is pretty darned spectacular.

Fave episodes: 

#1.  “A Fool’s Hope” and “Family Reunion and Farewell” (season 4 series finale)

These two eps roll right into each other, so it’s hard to separate them.  Not only are they the best eps of season four, but they are the best eps of the entire series.  They’re also the very last eps, not just the season finale, but the series finale.  Everything that was set up over the four seasons comes to a head here.  Characters reappear, characters we’ve been waiting to face off against each other finally face off.  The Loth-Wolves are awesome as always, and instrumental in events.  Everything resolves Just So.  After getting next to no Kallus in season four, he finally gets to do a lot.  These last eps are just plain great.  (This series finale is not something you can cheat and just watch without having seen everything that came before, though. What makes it so fantastic is the payoff after the build-up to get there.)

#2.  “The Honorable Ones” (season 2) – A Kallus episode, is anyone surprised?  Kallus and Zeb are stranded and forced to work together to survive.  It's one of my favorite themes – enemies who have to put aside their differences to make it out of some life-threatening situation.  This ep is really well done and marks a turning point in Kallus’s arc. 

#3.  "Twilight of the Apprentice" (season 2 finale) – Without plot spoilers, this episode features Darth Maul, Darth Vader, Ashoka, Kanan, Ezra, Inquisitors... all facing off on an ancient Sith world.  This season two finale has it all.  Love it. 

#4.  "Zero Hour" (season 3 finale) – Surprise, surprise... another season finale makes my favorite list.  Admiral Thrawn arrives to wipe everyone out, the Bendu gets to shine, and I’ve never adored Kallus more.  

#5.  "Twin Suns" (season 3)  – I love this ep solely because of Obi-Wan and Darth Maul.  Ezra's disobeying orders as usual.

 Runners up:

"Heroes of Mandalore"
"Through Imperial Eyes"
"Fire Across the Galaxy"
"Blood Sisters"

There are plenty of guest appearances by familiar Star Wars faces.  Princess Leia, C3PO and R2, Mon Mothma, Tarkin, Darth Vader, Darth Maul, and Obi-Wan all appear.  Some characters from the Clone Wars also get some good parts, like Saw Gerrera, Bo-Katan, and, of course, Ahsoka.  

This has been an entry in the Everything Star Wars Blogathon, hosted by Eva and Katie.

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

2020 Tolkien Party Tag

It's time for the 8th annual Tolkien blog party, hosted by Hamlette.  Here are my answers to the tag questions:

1. What Tolkien character do you think you're the most like?

In the books, one of the unnamed Dunedain rangers.

In the movies, Fili

 2. What Tolkien character do you wish you were more like?


3. What would your dream home in Middle-earth be like?

Beorn's home from the movies.  Love the isolated location, love the terrain, love the house itself. 


4. You get to make a movie of the story of Beren and Luthien!  Who do you cast as the leads?

This is an ancient tale, so I believe it would be the coolest if it had been made back in the day as a silent movie.  When you read the version in the Silmarillion, it reads rather like a silent movie with occasional dialogue that would be perfect as dialogue cards.  And so, I would cast Ramon Navarro as Beren and Maude Fealey as Luthien, (with Rudolph Valentino playing Thingol, cuz Valentino just needs to play an elf).

(If I did have to make the movie today, I'd cast Dominic West as Beren and Rebecca Ferguson as Luthien...but I prefer the silent movie version.)

5. Have you ever marathoned the LOTR or Hobbit movies?

Yes, both.

6. Do you have a favorite song or track from the movie soundtracks by Howard Shore?

Multiple, but I'll go with "The Lighting of the Beacons" from the complete recording of Return of the King.

7. Which of Tolkien's characters would you like to be best friends with?

Elrond, specifically from the Hobbit movies.

8. Who of the people in your real life would you want in your company if you had to take the ring to Mordor?

Hamlette and Cowboy, my sister, her husband, and my nephew, Doc B, and three of my co-workers:  HR, AB, and JT.

 9. Have you read any of Tolkien's non-Middle-earth works?


10. Is there a book by Tolkien you haven't read yet, but want to?


Friday, August 21, 2020

Legends of Western Cinema Week 2020 Tag

It's Legends of Western Cinema Week, hosted by Hamlette's Soliloquy and Along the Brandywine.

Here are their questions for this year's event.  I found some of these quite hard to answer, so it took me all week to figure out responses.

1. What's the last western you watched?
Custer of the West, (1967).  Still in the middle of it actually.  It's an interesting movie, but it's taking me awhile to work through cuz it's not that interesting.  Last completed western would be The Lone Ranger (2013).

2. A western of any stripe (happy or tragic) where you were highly satisfied by the ending?
I'm not quite sure what this question is looking for, cuz every single one of my favorite Westerns obviously meet this criteria.  A highly satisfactory ending is critical to me loving a Western (or any movie).  Let's go with For a Few Dollars More, because it's one I haven't really talked about, and the ending, both the finale and the wrap up are awesome.

3. The funniest western you've seen?
Cat Ballou or Rango, I guess?  Depends on my humor mood.  Both make me laugh throughout.

4. What similar elements/themes show up in your favorite westerns?
Ack, this question is too much like school work.  Okay, fine.  I like a lot of end-of-the-West movies, where the old-fashioned cowboy heroes/lawmen are outdated/no longer needed/wanted. Or just Westerns set in the early 1900s, like Big Jake, Ride the High Country, The Wild Bunch, The Professionals...  Lonely Are the Brave fits that theme too, even if it's set in more modern times. 

5. Favorite actress who made 1 or more westerns?
Barbara Stanwyck

6. Favorite western hero/sidekick pairing?
Sam Boone and Whit (Robert Pernell and James Coburn) in Ride Lonesome.(1959)Their relationship is my favorite part of this movie and I adore how Whit follows Boone around, always deferring to him. Their partnership conversation at the end is one of my favorite moments and never fails to make me grin in sheer delight.

7. Scariest villain/antagonist in a Western?
Liberty Valance (Lee Marvin) in The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance or Grimes (Richard Boone) in Hombre.

8. Favorite romance in a western?
None?  Romance isn't my thing.  None stand out to me.  Okay, one does:  Matthew Quigley and Cora in Quigley Down Under

9. Three of your favorite westerns?
Big Jake, Hour of the Gun, The Lone Ranger (2013)

10. Share one (or several!) of your favorite quotes from a western.
Since this was asked last year, I'm going to try to avoid repeating all my favorites already listed and try to find new ones, which is rather hard.  So, I'm going to cheat and go with my nephew's two favorite quotes from Westerns that the two of us say to each other constantly.

"What's that? NOTHING!" - John Reid, The Lone Ranger (2013)
"You son of a---*timely hawk screech interrupts* - Toad in Rango.

Saturday, June 06, 2020

I apologize for not posting anything in months.  I appear to have nothing to say lately.  No words at all, nothing to offer, nothing to share.  I should look for some tags or something.  I'm safe, my family is safe.  In fact, very little changed for me, as I already worked from home.  My daily routine stayed basically the same.  A grocery store trip once a month instead of once or twice a week, but that's about the only difference.  I don't live in a big city, so I never had to stop walking my dog daily or anything like that.  I hope everyone stays safe and sane while the world continues to go bonkers.

I have not been watching many movies.  A few here and there.  Mostly I've been watching South Korean dramas on Netflix.  As most of these shows run a minimum of 12 eps, and usually 18... that's a lot of hours per show, which keeps me nicely occupied.  I suppose I could review the ones I've seen... but I can't seem to muster the energy, and I'm not sure anyone cares.  I will say my two favorites so far have been Memories of the Alhambra (2018) and Tunnel (2017).  I burned through both of those shows in ridiculously short times. The first is about an augmented reality game that bleeds over into real life.  I always liked the song "Memories of the Alhambra," but now, if it ever starts playing during a thunderstorm, I'm liable to freak out. It's such a lovely song, and I LOVE the frightening context it took on.  Good stuff.  The second show is about a cop who accidentally travels through time while pursuing a serial killer.  I love time travel stuff, and this was a great show.  I loved the characters, loved seeing how the police in a different country work on a case, loved watching the lead try to adjust to the current year after jumping forward from the 80s.

Other than that, daylight hours are mostly spent outside doing yardwork.  Pulling weeds daily, mowing and edging twice a week. I put a small garden in this year, with more than just my normal tomatoes.  If stuff grows well, I will expand the area next year.

My aspen grove with lupines and Silver
No sunlight, so these look washed out, but they're pink, with a yellow lupine in the background.  I had a deep maroon one, which was my favorite, but Silver dug it up when it was just coming back, and it didn't survive.  Sigh.
The purple lupine

Saturday, February 01, 2020

The Never have I ever Writing Tag

1.  Link to and thank the blogger who tagged you. (Thanks, Hamlette!)
2.  Include the graphic somewhere in your post (or make your own!)
3.  Answer the questions truthfully and honestly.
4.  Tag 3 bloggers.

Never Have I Ever…

…started a novel that I did not finish.

hahaha.  Of course I have!  I've started many a novel that I didn't finish for all kinds of reasons.

…written a story completely by hand.

Many. Oh so blooming many stories.  Also a whole novel, and several half-finished novels.  Mostly, all this question does is date me.  There were no computers when I started writing.  I grew up writing everything by hand.  And then editing, and then re-writing it neatly by hand.  And it takes a very long time to copy an entire novel neatly and cleanly in cursive by hand, let me tell you.  And then, if it was important enough, possibly typing it up on an old typewriter.  Which also takes a long time because when you messed up, you'd have to type that page over.  So yeah, basically every story and novel I wrote through college (including all stories and essays for coursework) was handwritten first.

…changed tenses midway through a story.

…changed my protagonist’s name halfway through a draft.
No. (or if I ever did, I don't remember it now.)

…written a story in a month or less.
A story?  Sure, many many stories were written in way less than a month.  A complete novel in less than month?  No.  Three months is the fastest I ever completed an entire novel.

…fallen asleep while writing.
No.  This is a very strange question.  Do people actually fall asleep while actively doing things?

…corrected someone’s grammar irl/online.
Rarely, but sometimes I can't stand it anymore.  Like people who use in regards to instead of regarding.  And misusing nauseous when they mean nauseated.  But only in real life, not online.  I tend to say very little online.

…yelled in all caps at myself in the middle of a novel.
Of course.  Usually of the "FIX THIS LATER" variety.

…killed a character who was based off someone I know in real life.
No.  I don't base characters off anyone I know.  Fiction and real life are two very separate things.  I write fiction to escape real life.  I'm sure as little fishes not going to put anything or anyone remotely reminiscent of my own real life in there.  That would defeat the purpose!

…used pop culture references in a story.
No.  I tend to write scifi/fantasy and that doesn't lend itself to pop culture references.  I would feel weird referencing other things anyway.

…not researched anything before starting a story.
Like nothing at all?  Not character background or world or anything?  No.  I have to know something, even a minimal something.

…used “I’m writing” as an excuse.

…written between the hours of 1 a.m. and 6 a.m.
Very rarely and really only during college when something was due the next morning.  I am not that kind of a night owl.  Them's sleeping hours!

…drank an entire pot of coffee while writing.
No.  I don't drink coffee.  But I have been known to drink multiple pots of tea while writing. 

…laughed like an evil villain while writing a scene.
Occasionally, though not as often as you might think.  I tend not to write as a writer, so if I'm laughing like an evil villain while writing a scene, it's because my evil villain is actually laughing in that scene. 

…written down dreams to use in potential novels.
I used to.  Had one completed novel's premise come entirely from a dream.

…published an unedited story on the internet/Wattpad/blog.

…procrastinated homework because I wanted to write.
Thank goodness homework is so far behind me, but yeah, back in the day, of course.  Constantly.  I did just about anything to procrastinate doing homework until the last possible moment, but writing was the most fun excuse.

…typed so long that my wrists hurt.
Only back before I had an ergonomic keyboard.

…spilled a drink on my laptop while writing.

…forgotten to save my work/draft.
Only really back in the early days when computers didn't autosave stuff.  It was one of my primary complaints against computers when I first started using one... if you didn't save or something happened your work was gone for good. Handwriting was clearly the superior choice because your words couldn't be swallowed by the ether.  Yeah.  Nowadays, I hit ctrl-s every other minute, it seems.

…finished a novel.
Yes, several.

…cried while writing a scene.
Yes, though not as often as you might think, given how many beloved characters I've killed off over the years. Usually, I get gutwrenched, but not teary.  But I did bawl when I wrote the ending of one of my novels, "While Gods Lie Dreaming."  And I cried all through writing the ending of my novella, "A Frost of Bones."

…created maps of my fictional worlds.
(one of my novel's maps)

…researched something shady for a novel.
I don't know about shady, but stuff about murders and weapons, sure.

And there you have it.  I'm afraid I'm not going to tag anyone, cuz they people I would tag are already tagged.  But, snag if you want to!

Sunday, January 26, 2020

1917 (2019)

I'm so glad I got to see this film on the big screen.  It was really good, though not for the faint of heart.  The camera movement is silky smooth as it does its astoundingly edited one continuous shot throughout.  The editing is flawless.  Don't know how they did it, but the result is magical.  I got teary twice, not from anything sad, but just from the power of the visuals coupled with the score by Thomas Newman.

The scene that goes with "The Night Window" cue... holy smokes.  I would go see this movie again, just to experience that moment again alone.  The soaring music is one of best cues I've heard in years.  It's got some Ralph Vaughn Williams influence, but even more, it's got some exquisite Alan Hovhaness-ish going on, but given that those are two of my favorite classical composers, I was in heaven.  I purchased the score within 5 minutes of getting home from the movie.  I have not needed a score so badly in years.  How I've missed real powerfully emotional music that makes me want to listen to it in headphones and disappear into the notes, but "The Night Window" does that and then some.

I loved the simplicity of this movie.  Our heroes must deliver a message within twenty-four hours to the front line to stop the troops from walking into an ambush.  That's it.  The journey to achieve that goal is at turns violent and beautiful, brutal and gentle.  There are friends; there are enemy.  The way the movie is filmed, you become a third soldier, accompanying them on their mission.

This movie is a fantastic follow-up to Peter Jackson's documentary, They Shall Not Grow Old, which I saw twice in the theater (once when it came out, and once last December when it was re-released in 3D).  Everything the documentary showed and the soldiers talked about is here in 1917.  The documentary added a sense of depth and knowledge to the fictional film that just made it even more moving. 

I saw this film with my mom and brother-in-law, and we all felt wrung out, but... rewarded. 

I'm avoiding spoilers and the like, but I just have to say, the opening few minutes where we simply watch the characters walk from a field into the trench, but looking back at them, not actually seeing where we're going, but watching backwards, seeing the walls grow higher and higher on either side as we descend -- wow.  It was one of my favorite moments.  The choices made of where to put the camera, when to look ahead, when to look behind... it's masterful.  This is a powerful and extremely well done movie.  Kudos to everyone involved.

Wednesday, January 01, 2020

Happy New Year - year in review - movies

Happy New Year to everyone!  Hard to believe it's 2020.

This last year has not been a stellar blogging year for me.  I really made no attempt to maintain this.  I had no energy at the end of the day to blog, and nothing I felt compelled to share.  We'll see what 2020 brings!

Let's take a look back at 2019.  I actually went to the movie theater 36 times.  That's quite a lot!  This was a mix of new movies, Classic TCM big screen movies, operas, documentaries, and repeat viewings.

Let's take a look at my entertainment takeaways from 2019.

There were three movies in 2019 that I went and saw multiple times in the theater, and all three of them are favorites:

1.  Avengers: Endgame
2.  Midway
3.  Captain Marvel

All three were fantastic.  Endgame wrapped things up in just the right way, showing how powerful an ending can be when it's earned. I loved it.  I also loved Captain Marvel. Midway I managed to review a couple weeks ago, but I failed to review the other two at all.  Sigh.  Captain Marvel had a fantastic cast, a fun story, and a great ending.  It's everything I want out of a superhero movie, and it led so nicely into Endgame. It jumped right into my top five Marvel movies.

I have two other favorite movies from 2019, ones seen on Amazon Prime and Netflix, respectively that make my top five favorite movies of 2019.

4.  April 9

5.  The Highwaymen

April 9 was discovered almost by accident.  After Midway came out, after I watched a couple of the WWII documentaries on Netflix, I was looking for more WWII movies, and, in scanning what Amazon Prime had to offer, I found a movie I'd never heard of, a Danish film about Germany's invasion of Denmark, on April 9, 1940.  As I'm still studying the Danish language daily on duolingo, I decided to see what this movie was all about.  And I discovered a fantastic little gem of a movie.  This movie is so well done it instantly jumped into my favorites of the year, and it is also jumped into my top ten favorite movies about WWII.

It follows a bicycle squad (!) through the day of invasion. I love this movie for many reasons, but one of them is that you only see things from their perspective, never the German side.  This is one of the first movies that really gave me a sense of what it would be like on the ground, fighting for your country, not knowing what you're up against, just following orders the best you can.  I love the cast and cared about the soldiers we followed.  The movie ends with some short interviews with Danish veterans who lived through it.

This movie was so good, I promptly showed it to my family, and they loved it as well.  My nephew still talks about it.

I also found my grasp of the Danish language is decent... except that despite all the vocabulary I've learned, there are still so many words I don't know.  If I hear something I've studied, I can translate, but in a war movie, there were simply so many words duolingo hasn't taught me.  But that's what the subtitles are for.  If you're not put off by foreign films and subtitles, I highly recommend this movie for a slightly different look at WWII.

The other movie I loved was Netflix's The Highwaymen, with Kevin Costner and Woody Harrelson.  This one's about the hunt for Bonnie and Clyde and was really well done.  I love Costner, of course, but what surprised me was just how much I loved Harrelson in this movie.  He was fantastic, and my favorite scene was when a couple of hoods tried to jump his character.  Hah!  The dynamic between Costner and Harrelson was great, and this movie was one I immediately wanted to watch a second time.