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Posts Tagged ‘Liverpool’

Sharpe’s Eagle” — book review
Today’s review is for “Sharpe’s Eagle” (1981©) written by Bernard Cornwell.  This book was the first in the “Sharpe” book series which became (in the 1990’s) the Sharpe television series.  I became aware of the character via this TV series while living in Liverpool and was reminded of them when they came up as a suggestion in YouTube.
Richard Sharpe is a sergeant in the British army in Spain fighting against Napoleon Bonaparte and his French army.  Sharpe saves the life of the commanding general who then gives Sharpe a field promotion to Lieutenant.  The series tracks Sharpe’s rise through the officer ranks.  This book jumps in with Sharpe as a Captain and then begins dropping bits about how he got that far.
The book revolves around two main battles.  The first where his regiment loses the “King’s colors” (the British Flag) and Sharpe personally recovers his Regimental colors.  The two flags are normally kept fairly close together on a battlefield and if you lose one, you generally lose both.  The second battle is to win a Regimental Eagle, which is the French equivalent of the British Regimental colors.  The first battle is purely fictional, while the second is dramatized history – so, basically fictionalized history.  The battle occurred, the eagle capture did not.
So, is the book any good?  Entertaining?  Interesting?  Yes.  Yes.  And, yes.  I can easily see why this book became both a book series and a TV series.  Of course, I like historical fiction, military stories (and fiction), and good old action novels (and movies).  It is not “very” realistic that Sharpe survives the battles, let alone the book or series, but setting that aside, the book is actually much better at explaining the battles than the TV series.  The TV series was significantly scaled back, but it still retained the flavor of the book.  For example, in the battle where the flag (King’s color) is lost, the book’s battle is a battalion size engagement.  In the TV show, it’s a company fight.
One other point.  The author (Cornwell) is a serious military historical expert on the Napoléonic period and the book is full of details which high-lights his expertise in period tactics, weapons, social classes, food and geography.
Final recommendation: highly recommended!!  As I said, I saw some of the various series back in the 1990’s, so I jumped in with the YouTube offering.  I then read the book and re-watched this particular episode in the TV series again.  The episode was even better after reading the book.  I will add there were “somewhat” significant differences in the two versions, but (again), perfectly understandable given the time and space a book gives you and the cost limitations a TV adaptation does not allow.  And, yes, I bought a number of books in the series, so you’ll be seeing posts on those as I get through them.
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On This Day In:
2019 #45: Who Lost By Three Million Votes
2018 Torn Between Two Loves
A Girl And A Boy
2017 I Think They Are Starting To…
2016 Living There
2015 Bookin’ West
Beyond My Reach
You Never Call Anymore…
2014 Winning?
2013 Still Inventing
2012 Motivated
2011 Waiting In Line At Starbuck’s

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A friend asked me to post (on Facebook) the covers of ten(10) vinyl albums which had an impact on the musical taste(s) in my life.  The limitations are / were: they must be (have been) vinyl, they should be posted one per day and with no explanation.  I don’t use Facebook for ten consecutive days, so here they are in one fell swoop…
My only criteria were: I had to own the album at or near the time of release, I had to have played the album (at least) 50 times the first year I owned it and it has to have at least one song I can still recite practically word for word.  I’m 99% sure I still  own all of these, but it might take some rooting around to dig them up…  (LoL!)  And, yes, there are literally dozens more I could have included on this list up through the early 1990’s when I moved to Liverpool and after which mostly (almost exclusively) bought CD’s (hence the shortage of country and modern artists).
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On This Day In:
2018 Three Things
2017 Love Yourself
Deliver The Revolution
2016 Once Eccentric
2015 Trusted Desperation
2014 Orange October (V) – Giants Win Game 3
Who Am I To Teach?
2013 Deliver Us Something Larger
2012 Bore, n.
2011 Attaining High Office

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The image above is a plaque in one of the pubs located in Liverpool, England – which my wife visited on her latest trip to spend time with her mum and family…
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On This Day In:
2018 Intensity Doesn’t Make It Correct
HF2: 1940’s Grapes
2017 Proof Sits In The Oval Office
2016 Tragic Determinism
2015 Maybe It Should Be Clearer
2014 Make It Your Strength
2013 Four Score
2012 The Ruler
2011 Forever
2010 Just Cuz
How Do You Mend A Broken Heart?
It’s Alive!! (3rd Pair Shoe Review)

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Image of my Hil at SFO before flight to Liverpool

Hil at SFO before flight to Liverpool

Today I drove my wife to San Francisco International (SFO) Airport to catch a flight to Manchester so she can be with her family (in Liverpool).  Hil flew back earlier in the year to spend time with her mum before her passing.  Her mum’s health has been poorly for some time and has recently taken a turn for the worse.  She has just been released from hospital to hospice care.  It is a time of mixed emotion for us as while we will miss her mum, she will be joining her husband (George) who has been waiting on her some 20 years now.  I guess “Papa’s” calling her home is finally getting too much for “Nana” to ignore.
Here is a photo of Hil’s mum and dad (“Nana & Papa” to our kids) in happier times:

Nana And Poppa With Big Smiles

Hil’s Mum and Dad with Big Smiles

And here is a post of mine from back in 2011:   Things I’ve Learned From Life – Nana Carter
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On This Day In:
2018 What I Tell You Three Times Is True
2017 And So On
2016 Kept
2015 Envy * 2
2014 Destiny For The Talented
2013 I Do Not Fear It
2012 Until Found
2011 Reducing Goods To Data
The Fog Of Civilization Building

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The towels were so thick there I could hardly close my suitcase.
  —  Yogi Berra
[Today my wife will be boarding a jet to go visit her family back in Liverpool.  Her mum isn’t doing too well these days and this may be Hil’s last chance to be with her before her mum passes.  The trip will be sad for Hil and lonely for me as she will be away for seven weeks.  As with every separation, I miss her before she has even gone.  Sometimes, I’m just silly that way…
PS:  Today’s post title is a line from the song: “Ferry Cross The Mersey“, by Gerry and the Pacemakers.  Liverpool sits on the north shore of the River Mersey estuary.  LOL  …And so ends the combo musical lyrics and geography lesson for today.  —  KMAB]
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On This Day In:
2018 Recently Seen On A T-shirt:
2017 Rhythmical Creation
2016 In The Beginning
2015 False Gods
2014 But Sometimes Careers Choose People
2013 Pretty Sure Of Uncertainty
2012 Face Reality
2011 Intelligent Luck

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Yesterday I went to the hospital for an Electrocardiogram (ECG) in preparation for my Lithotripsy today.  Basically, I need to have a kidney stone reduced in size so I can (less) painfully pass it / them.  The following is a description of the today’s procedure and is taken from the John Muir Hospital web site…

Shock Wave Lithotripsy

Passing a kidney stone can be very painful.  Shock wave lithotripsy is a treatment that helps by breaking the kidney stone into smaller pieces that are easier to pass.  This treatment is also called extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy (ESWL).  Lithotripsy takes about an hour.  It’s done in a hospital, lithotripsy center, or mobile lithotripsy van.  You will likely go home the same day.  This treatment is not used for all types of kidney stones.  Your healthcare provider will discuss whether this is the right treatment for the type of stone you have.
Image of Kidney during Lithotripsy
Energy waves strike the stone, which begins to crack.
The stone crumbles into tiny pieces.

During the procedure

• You get medicine to prevent pain and help you relax or sleep during lithotripsy.  Once this takes effect, the procedure will start.
• A flexible tube (stent) with holes in it may be placed into your ureter, the tube that connects the kidney and the bladder.  This helps keep urine flowing from the kidney.
• Your healthcare provider then uses X-ray or ultrasound to find the exact location of the kidney stone.
• Sound waves are aimed at the stone and sent at high speed.  If you’re awake, you may feel a tapping as they pass through your body.

After the procedure

• You’ll be closely watched in a recovery room for about 1 to 3 hours.  Antibiotics and pain medicine may be prescribed before you leave.
• You’ll have a follow-up visit in a few weeks.  If you received a stent, it will be removed.  Your healthcare provider will also check for pieces of stone.  If large pieces remain, you may need a second lithotripsy or another procedure.

Possible risks and complications

• Infection
• Bleeding in the kidney
• Bruising of the kidney or skin
• Blockage (obstruction) of the ureter
• Failure to break up the stone (other procedures may be needed)

Passing the stone

It can take a day to several weeks for the pieces of stone to leave your body.  Drink plenty of liquids to help flush your system.  During this time:
• Your urine may be cloudy or slightly bloody.  You may even see small pieces of stone.
• You may have a slight fever and some pain.  Take prescribed or over-the-counter pain medicine as instructed by your healthcare provider.
• You may be asked to strain your urine to collect some stone particles.  These will be studied in the lab.
I had the procedure done twice before back in the 1990’s while I was living in Liverpool, England.  Hopefully, I’m good for another 20 – 25 years.  (LOL)
A big shout-out to the office staff, nurses and doctors at John Muir Hospital – Concord, CA, campus!  You were all terrific and I felt VERY well cared for!
I am home and resting comfortably.  And, another shout-out to my lovely wife (Hil) for driving me back and forth and looking after me in my recovery at home!   💖
Just a side note:  my weight at the hospital yesterday was 332lbs.  My weight today (at the hospital) was 330lbs.  2lbs difference.  My weight at home yesterday was: 325lbs.  Today it was 324lbs.  A 1lb difference.  I was wearing virtually the same clothes (shoes, shorts and underwear).  I was wearing a change of underwear, but they were the same types of briefs and V-neck T-shirts.  I just thought this was “interesting”.
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On This Day In:
2017 Never Forget
2016 It’s All Greek To Me (Well, Latin Actually)
2015 Truism
2014 Thank You
2013 Really
2012 Ordinary Five Minutes Longer
2011 The Wealth Of Sons (And Daughters)

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Because one can never have enough pictures of your spouse on the internet, here are a few pics of my Hil visiting her mum over Easter during her visit to Liverpool in March / April…

Hil in her Easter hat

Hil in her Easter hat

Hil in her Easter hat (2)

Hil in her Easter hat (2)

Hil and Lynn with mum

Hil and Lynn with mum on her mum’s Birthday

It is kind of a tradition for the staff and visitors to don “Easter hats” to give the “old dears” a bit of a chuckle…
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On This Day In:
2017 Decisions
2016 Along The Path
2015 Make Mine Rare, Please
2014 Passion Flooding
2013 On Purpose
2012 Sans Gall Bladder, Day 4
How Did You Spend Your Day?
2011 It’s Hammerin’ Time!!
Convenient Auxiliaries

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As an adopted son of Liverpool, one is inevitably forced to take a side – to make a choice…  Because my wife made the mistake of buying me a book about growing up in Liverpool and the author stated Liverpool was home to the two greatest soccer teams in the world: Everton and Everton Reserves…  With my wife (and her father and brother) being committed Reds fans, you might say I was destined to be baptized a Blue…

Image of Everton F.C. jersey patch

The Everton F.C. kit jersey patch

Notice at the center of the patch is a round tower.  This is an image of the magistrate’s tower where the police held drunks and criminals for overnight stays.  I didn’t see the original tower for many years – even after I lived there (in Liverpool) for almost a decade.  Still, visiting the “Tower” remained on my bucket-list.  In my imagination, this is what I pictured…

Image of Glendalough Round Tower

Glendalough Round Tower

or

Image of a Round Tower in Northern Ireland

A Round Tower in Omagh, County Tyrone, Northern Ireland

The reality was not quite as impressive…

Image of Everton Lock Up Looking Up Hill

Everton Lock Up – Looking Up Hill

and

Image of Everton Lock Up Looking Down Hill

Everton Lock Up – Looking Down Hill

And here’s a historical image…  (The sheep “cutting” the grass just kill me.  LOL!)
 EvertonLockUp_Old
Sometimes the reality of a bucket-list item just doesn’t quite live up to the spirit of the item.
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On This Day In:
2014 Penalty Period
2013 Theft
2012 Cranky Old Man
2011 A Man’s Got To Know His Limitations

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At the time, I was living overseas in Liverpool, but I remember the days and days of news coverage…
On April 19, 1995, the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in downtown Oklahoma City was the site of a domestic terrorist bomb attack.  Carried out by two survivalist and white supremacists Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols, the bombing killed 168 people and injured more than 680 others.  They were seeking to punish Federal law enforcement agencies for perceived attacks on anti-Federal groups at Ruby Ridge, Idaho and in Waco, Texas.
The following year, Garth Brooks sang “The Change” which is a tribute to those lost and injured and to those who rushed into harms way to provide aid.
See the video on YouTube.com at:   http://www.youtube.com/embed/LAJ9tNXZfu8 or you can click through the embedded video below.
The lyrics are available on my poems page at: “The Change
The song – and the memories it stirs – still brings tears to my eyes…   KMAB
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On This Day In:
2014 Who Was That Masked Man?
2013 Enemy Mine
2012 Strengthen Me
2011 Service, Please
2010 The Church In Crisis…

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Book Review:  “Everton Strange But Blue” (2010©)
Last Thursday I finished reading: “Everton Strange But Blue“, by Gavin Buckland (2010©).   The book was originally published in 2007, but it is updated yearly.  The author is what is affectionately known in England as a “stathead”.  That is, someone who loves (and does) keep track of the arcane knowledge of something – in this case, Everton Football Club, otherwise known as “the Blues”.  Fans of the team are also known as “Blues”.
First, a little background information.  Everton is one the oldest football (aka: soccer) clubs in England.  It is one of the two best clubs on Merseyside (aka: Liverpool), the other one being the Everton Reserves.  (Just kidding.  It’s and old joke, but it still works…)  The other, of course, being the Liverpool Football Club, otherwise known as “the Reds”.  (Manchester United fans might dispute this as their club is also know as the “Reds” and they are only a stones throw up the Mersey River.)
Anyway, getting back to the book, this was a going away present from a friend (a Blue) at the end of our trip to visit Hil’s family during this last summer.  Everyone knows I’m a avid reader, so I’m easy to get presents for.  Anyway (again), this book is a collection of short stories about interesting and unusual statistical facts about Everton F.C.  The book is well written with obvious enthusiasm by someone who clearly loves both the Blues and statistics.  There in lies my problems with the book.  “Footie” in England is not essentially a sporting event.  It is intertwined with the culture in a way that is not fully approachable for an outsider (like me) to appreciate.  The U.K. is a small enough country that you can actually attend many of the away games by car and until recently (the last 15-20 years) was reasonably enough priced that the average person could attend many home games.  The closest social / sporting equivalent in the U.S. would be the American football SuperBowl.  Even this isn’t the same, because it’s held on neutral ground, it’s only one game a year, and tickets are virtually unobtainable for the average person.  But we do hold SuperBowl parties which create the social / cultural equivalence (somewhat).
My point being, (you knew I’d get around to it eventually) while the book is full of wonderful trivia, which I normally love, I don’t have the lifelong fan experience to appreciate much of the nuances of trivial subtleties the author covers.  For example, games with four goalie changes, or games which are lost by multiple own-goals.  They are interesting occurrences, but I have not shared in the emotional depression of such a loss and so mean less to me (except as historical footnotes).  I remember being shocked by the murder of a South American player because he has scored an own goal in a World Cup match and his country was eliminated from the tournament.  The player was machine-gunned down at a restaurant after returning home.  Now THAT is a fan taking your sport a bit TOO seriously.
The second problem I had with the book – which is why it took me so long to complete – was there was no discernible theme.  By this I mean, there were no clear sections, “Here’s a few of our worst losses”; “Here’s a few of our greatest wins”; or even, the most simple – chronological – highs and lows from the earliest days to the present.  Having said this, I should say the 50 stories are chronological, it’s just that the stories don’t seem interesting that way.  Two or three goalie stories may be separated by 30 or 40 years, so by the time you get to the second or third story, I had lost track of the first.  This happened to me repeatedly while picking the book up and putting it down and I never got the feeling that reading the book straight through would have altered the perception.
The best thing about the book was (and is) the language.  “Scouse” is the local dialect of British English spoken on Merseyside.  For Brits, it’s an inflection or slurring or dropping of syllables and words.  For me, Scouse is poetry and imagery and humor.  It’s an imprecise description which means nothing and yet says everything.  One example: “the center-half finished the match courageously.”  What the heck does that mean?  Who was he (no name), what did he do (not stated), and most importantly what was courageous about it (undefined).  It says nothing, but it leaves it to your imagination to fill in the blanks.  In some ways, this is the greatest of storytelling.
In conclusion, I would highly recommend this to someone interested in enjoying the flavor of Scouse storytelling or to anyone who is a hardcore Blue stathead.  I would moderately recommend it to anyone who is a casual stathead or a Blue fan who wants to know more about the history of the club.  I’m not sure many others would find the book anything else but “quirky” and nerdy.
And by the way, thanks to my friend Dave, who gave me the book and who is one of those great Scouse storytellers, himself.  Over the years and during this latest trip, I’ve spent many hours enjoying Dave and my brother-in-law Robbie (another Blue) trading stories over a pint.  It’s a shame he doesn’t write his own book (or blog) on growing up in Liverpool, following Everton F.C. and working at Ford’s.  Now, that would be book worth reading!
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Nana And Poppa With Big Smiles

Hil’s Mum and Dad with Big Smiles

While I was back in Liverpool, I sat down to have a conversation with Hil’s mom.  Nana Carter recently turned 80 years old and I wanted to ask her what she’d learned in four score years.  Here was her reply:
1) There is a time to speak and a time to be quiet.  You don’t always have to say the first thing that comes to your lips.  You don’t always have to get wisdom from experience; although that’s usually where the most wisdom comes from.  Sometimes you can get wisdom from others; but usually you have to be quiet and listen to them first.
2) One of the best gifts in life is contentment.  If you can recognize that what you have is what you need, you don’t have to want for other things just to have them.  Count your blessings and be happy with what you have.
3) Be truthful to others and to yourself.  Follow the Ten Commandments and you won’t go wrong.
[The photo I’ve included is a section of another, larger photo which isn’t actually focused on Hil’s Mum and Dad (hence it’s a bit fuzzy), but it is one of very few “non-posed for” photos I’ve ever seen which shows a natural joy, friendship and physical closeness of an older couple who are very much in love.  Because Hil’s parents were both raised with a great deal of “British reserve”, this remains one of the favorite photos of them.  —  KMAB]
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Back at work now for a week after my thirty days off for vacation.  Hil, Sarah and I flew to Liverpool, U.K. to visit her family for three weeks (Sarah has stayed an extra two weeks and will be back soon).  We flew out of Oakland, to Portland, on to Amsterdam, and then into John Lennon / Liverpool International Airport (aka Speke Airport).  The return trip was via Seattle instead of Portland.  All the flights were surprising comfortable and there were no problems at all.  The most interesting thing was we took a turboprop on the initial leg of the trip (from Oakland to Portland).  This was only the third time I’ve ever flown in a propeller aircraft and it was the first time it was quiet.  I would say it was quieter than a jet – particularly on the takeoff and landing.  I was expecting to have to shout to Hil, but we could speak at normal volumes.
We had a wonderful time visiting with family and old friends and I felt particularly relaxed by the whole experience.  We stayed close to Liverpool and just enjoyed getting re-acquainted with the jewel at the mouth of the Mersey.  The weather was surprising agreeable – in fact, I would say the first four days we were there it was “hot” (in the low 80s).  Very pleasant for us coming from Concord, CA (in the 90s).  I was hoping for more rain.  We did get some, but it was mostly intermittent and not a bother at all.  “Just enough to keep the dust down,” is how it’s described in Scouser.
Books
I took a number of books along with me, hoping to be motivated enough to get through them.  I wasn’t.  I made the “mistake” of purchasing a Sudoku book at the airport and ended up wasting many hours in simple entertainment.  I find the pattern matching in Sudoku to be extremely relaxing even though it seems to also involve a great deal of mental concentration.  Anyway, the three books I did complete were: The Art Of Pitching, written by Tom Seaver (1984©) with Lee Lowenfish, “Wampeters, Foma & Granfalloons“, written by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., (1976©), and “A Christian’s Pocket Guide To Islam“, written by Patrick Sookhdeo (2001©).
If you’ve been following this blog for awhile, you probably are aware of my re-kindled interest in baseball (in general) and the San Francisco Giants (in particular).  Hil and I have watch most of the games this season and I would estimate we’d seen some of all but three games – up until we left for our vacation.  Anticipating I was going to be suffering from baseball withdrawal, I took along Tom Seaver’s book to ease my suffering.  The book is an excellent guide to learning about the mechanics of pitching and I would highly recommend it for a junior level baseball coach or 10 to 12 year old who dreams of becoming a high school, college, or Big League pitcher.  For me, there were many insights into the mechanics, but not a lot on the strategy of pitching to a specific hitter or work a game.  Seaver does spend the last chapter going pitch by pitch through a game (he wins it), but it was somehow lacking in what I was hoping for.  I’m not sure what I was looking for, but this didn’t quite “get it” for me.  Anyway, it did help me get through the three weeks without watching a game and I do highly recommend this short volume to anyone interested in the mechanical side of pitching and picture preparation.
Many years ago, I read a few of Kurt Vonnegut’s books.  The one which struck me the most was “Slaughter House Five“, but I enjoyed the couple I read and I bought several more intending to complete more of his works.  Well, life got in the way and I’ve never gotten around to them.  I found a few of his quotes on another blog I subscribe to (and copied them to my own), but they tickled my fancy about getting back to the ones I’ve not read.  “Wampeters, Foma & Granfalloons” is one of those unread works.  This is actually a terrific little book about science fiction, life, war, peace and honesty.   I highly recommend it!!  One story on Biafra was particularly touching; another (a SciFi story) on prolonged life was particularly frightening.  As I said – highly recommended.  And now I really do want to read several of his other works which have been sitting on my shelf for thirty odd years…
The third book I completed, “Pocket Guide To Islam“, was a very thin book I found at Hil’s mum’s place.  I didn’t know exactly what to expect reading it.  It seems to be written by a Christian minister who has spent some time studying Islam.  I would say the book captures the basic story, philosophy, historical facts of the religion, but I don’t feel the book conveys the depth of feeling or nuanced interpretation of a Muslim.  Of course, not being Muslim myself, I may be completely incorrect, but my direct experience with Indian, Egyptian, Iranian and Arabic Muslims is not in complete agreement with some of the minor facts in the book and therefore I find it difficult to accept the whole of the work.  Still, I do feel the author seems to be coming from a willingness to accept conversion to Christianity by Muslims.  I’m just not sure the author says anything which would help a Christian convert a Muslim, even if the Muslim were personally willing to listen to an attempt at conversion.
Movies
Including one movie I saw after I got home from Liverpool, I’ve seen fourteen new movies during my thirty days off.  They include: The Adjustment Bureau, The Eagle, The Green Hornet, A Law Abiding Citizen, Grand Torino, Transformers 3, Defiance, Invictus, True Grit (the new version), Harry Potter – Deathly Hallows part 2, Battle: Los Angeles, The Lincoln Lawyer, Country Strong, and Captain America (in 3D and normal the following day).  Wow!!  (That’s some sittin’ around on your duff – even for me!)
The Adjustment Bureau: another good, solid performance by Matt Damon.  Is life pre-ordained or is there free will?  See the movie and then you decide…  Highly recommended as an adult, thinking movie.
The Eagle: a surprising entertaining movie about Romans in England (Scotland, actually, but why nit-pick).  Reminiscent of the first battle scene in Gladiator (which I also enjoyed), but this is the longer, drawn out version.  Not great, but a solid “man’s” movie.
The Green Hornet: mostly a dud.  Very disappointing.  I’ve never seen Seth Rogen in anything before and this movie will go a long way in making sure I make NO effort to see him again soon.  Reminiscent of the Adam West Batman TV series, but I don’t think they were going for the high camp that made the TV series tolerable (sometimes very funny).  Save two hours of your life and do something else besides watching this.  You’ve been warned…
A Law Abiding Citizen: if you liked The Usual Suspects, you’ll probably like this movie.  I enjoyed them both for what they are – good, solid, adult, storytelling.  Perhaps too much implied violence for the young or squeamish, but otherwise, solid entertainment!
Grand Torino: Wow!!  I don’t remember the last time I laughed so much watching a serious movie.  Clint Eastwood at his best!!  Shades of Archie Bunker from “All In The Family“.  A serious movie about racism, hope, coming of age – AND it is laugh out loud funny because it’s so well written and acted.
Transformers 3:  Not as good as T1 or T2, but still pretty good summer entertainment.  If you want to see robots kicking each other around, this is it!  The down side is you have to sit through about 45 minutes of blah, blah, blah about the hero (Shia Labeouf) and why Megan Fox isn’t in the movie.  Next time, just say, “the part of Megan Fox will be played by…” and get on with the robots fighting.  Another thing: you don’t HAVE to include every character from every earlier movie.  Still, I’ll pick it up when it comes out in DVD for X-mas (cause I’m that kind of guy).  I saw this opening weekend, in 3D.  I’m not sure it added much to the movie.  Again, I’m left unimpressed with 3D technology…
Defiance:  an interesting movie about some Russian Jews who resisted the Nazis during WWII.  Based on a true story, it’s not a documentary and it’s not “entertaining”.  Worth seeing and interesting.  Stars Daniel Craig of James Bond fame.  Okay acting – moderate recommendation.
Invictus:  I was expecting a rugby version of Rocky, but instead this was a major bio of support for Nelson Mandela with Rocky thrown in for good measure.  If you like leadership movies and or sports movies about underdogs who win, this is for you.  I highly recommend it (on both counts)!!  Oh, yeah, Matt Damon stars (again).  He is rapidly compiling a significant body of work.
True Grit (the new version) – pretty much follows the original John Wayne classic and then disappoints (me) at the end.  It’s a more realistic ending, but who cares – it’s not a four-poster.  I’d watch them both if I were you and then let me know which you think is better.  This version has Jeff Bridges playing John Wayne (I mean Rooster Cogburn) and it’s a good solid performance.  Oh, yeah, there’s Matt Damon again…  Recommended, but definitely see the first version too.
Harry Potter – Deathly Hallows part 2: a good, solid movie and ending to the series.  I am not a devotee to the books, but I felt it was fairly close.  Interestingly, they did not make the same mistake as Transformers 3, they assume you saw the other movies or read the books, cover the transition into the part two movie in about ten minutes tops and get on with the rest of the story.  I saw this on opening day with Sarah, in Liverpool, in 3D.  For some reason, the things not immediately focused on were blurry.  I’m not sure if this was meant to increase the feel of the 3D or not, but I did not find 3D added much to the movie.  I will definitely pick this up on DVD (in 2D).  Highly recommended if you’ve seen any of the other earlier movies…
Battle: Los Angeles: this was probably the surprise movie of the bunch for me.  I did NOT expect anything from the movie except the pleasure of (once again) seeing Los Angeles get destroyed.  Unfortunately, LA gets saved, but at least it gets thoroughly trashed before it gets saved and the movie is a good action movie.  It’s gung-ho, Marines, oo-rah, but who cares…  It stars Aaron Eckhart (who I first noticed and loved in The Core) and he makes a surprisingly good Marine sergeant.  It’s definitely over the top for the military and the Marines and I loved it.  Great summer entertainment.  Highly recommended.  Oo-rah!!
The Lincoln Lawyer:  a smart law / lawyer movie.  Who would have thunk it?  Stars Matthew McConaughey as a lawyer who does much of his work from a mini-office in a classic Lincoln towncar (oh, I get the title now).  Of course, he’s also out to do the right thing and help the down-trodden – just like ol’ Honest Abe (oh, I get the title now).  Not as interesting as A Law Abiding Citizen (above), but another entertaining adult movie.  Recommended, but not quite highly recommended.
Country Strong: first let’s get the facts out of the way – 1) I listen to country music (a lot), and 2) I think Gwyneth Paltrow is a beautiful and talented actress.  Still, the movie didn’t reach me.  The songs were not that good and the performances (of the songs) were not that good either.  I just didn’t believe Paltrow was a star or the up and coming male singer was up and coming.  I also just didn’t buy into the story of the producer / husband, either.  I know there’s a lot of that in all forms of the music industry – I just didn’t buy it.  This movie came highly recommended by my daughter (Rebecca), but I think she misjudged me on it.  It was okay, but I would not really recommend it and I’m glad I didn’t pay to see it (it was on the flight home).
Captain America:  This was a first for me…  I saw the movie twice – on consecutive days – first in 3D and then in normal 2D.  I was supposed to see it with my son, James, over the weekend, but I went up to visit my brother, Sean, and he wanted to go see it with his son.  So the three of us went to his local movie house.  I really enjoyed the movie!  Of course, it’s VERY over the top on patriotism and rah-rah America, but it’s about World War II and Captain America.  If you can’t get past that, why did you plan to go see the movie?  Chris Evans is much more believable in this role than he was as the Human Torch in the two Fantastic Four movies.  I think it’s because Evans really does play the role seriously (completely unlike Seth Rogen in The Green Hornet).  I also feel Hugo Weaving made a great Red Skull (the bad guy).  I noticed the same blurring of out of primary focus characters in the 3D version (the same effect I saw in HP-Hallows Part 2).  I did not notice the blurring in the 2D version, so again, I’m thinking it’s something the director is trying to do to add depth to the movie or it’s the result of something funky in 3D movie technique.  It doesn’t work for me.
While I’ve stated several times I am not a big 3D fan, I must admit when I watched both versions in close proximity, I missed the 3D effect.  Somehow, my mind remembered and I was expecting it, and I noticed not getting it in the 2D version.  I doubt this will ever happen again, because I doubt I’ll pay to see two version so close together – but it was an interesting sensory experience.
Well, if you’ve made it this far, congratulations!  You get a No-prize and a promise I’ll try not to do another marathon blog like this for a while.
I’ve got more to say about our trip to Liverpool and photos – but that’s for another day/blog.
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Here’s the seven photos Hil and I keep on the dressers in our bedroom.

Where your treasure is, there also is your heart…
Luke 12:34

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