Posts Tagged ‘Reviews’

We Were Soldiers”  —  (2002)  movie review
Today’s movie review is for the film depicting the first major air-mobile battle of American forces in Vietnam in the Ia Drang Valley which occurred in 1965.  The movie stars Mel Gibson as the commanding officer Lt. Colonel Hal Moore and Madeleine Stowe as his wife:  Julia Moore.  Other main actors include:  Greg Kinnear, Sam Elliott, Chris Klein and Keri Russell.  Kinnear is a helicopter pilot;  Elliott is the battalion First Sergeant;  Klein is a junior officer (2nd Lieutenant) and Russell is his wife.
The basic plot shows how a “gung-ho” Army leader forms a unit, trains his officers / men to implement a new technology (helicopters and air-cavalry) and then leads them in a “major” engagement with the enemy.  Unfortunately, the engagement shown is Lt. Col. Moore is leading his men into a trap where his men are cut-off from direct (non-airbased) support, surrounded and heavily outnumbered:  roughly 10 to 1.  The bulk of the movie is about their three day battle to survive (“win”).  The essence of the Vietnam conflict is shown as superior American mobility and firepower (air and artillery) versus a dedicated / committed adversary willing to use close engagement (hand-to-hand) to negate the enemies strengths.
There are three “main” secondary plots / story lines:  1)  the effects of military life (death) on the families of the soldiers (limited to officer’s families);  2)  the civil rights / racial issues which were erupting in civilian society and getting carried into the military (depicted mainly on the family side);  and,  3)  combat leadership and how it differs from non-combatant and political leadership.  The first sub-plot is intertwined with the bulk of the combat portion.  The societal issues are mainly presented in the early portion (training) of the film – and, again, by the families / spouses.  The leadership sub-plot is just sprinkled in and is more implied than actually shown.  As it turns out, there were significant portions of this sub-plot which only appear in the “deleted scenes”.  I had to view these on YouTube as my version of the movie does not include the “extras”.
So, what did I think?  Is this a good movie?  Is it an accurate depiction of combat / war / military life?  Is this an “anti-war” movie or is it a glorification of war movie?  Were the sub-plots interesting / accurate?  And, lastly, to paraphrase “Gladiator“:  was I entertained?  In order:  yes;  yes;  more anti-war than I thought it would be;  yes – the sub-plots were interesting, accurate and important to the movie;  and finally, NO!  This isn’t an “entertainment” movie.  The time spent watching it was well spent, but while I can be entertained by over-the-top special effects / Sci-Fi movies, I don’t watch many horror / slasher movies and I don’t find realistic depictions of war “entertaining” – no matter how much I may “like” the film.  To me, it’s similar to reading a book to learn about something, versus reading a book to be entertained.  This is a “learning” film;  it is not an “entertaining” film
If you like(d) any of the more recent “war / combat” movies:  “Saving Private Ryan“, “Fury“, “Hacksaw Ridge” or “Black Hawk Down“, you will almost certainly “like” this film.  I liked all of the above and I liked this movie, too.  This film depicts heroism and personal risk / injury without a glorification backdrop.  The film shows combat:  brutality, chaos and terror.  In a refreshing turn, the movie shows the “enemy” in an almost equally positive light:  they are fighting for their country, on their land, and they have families “back home”, too.  This was one aspect of the film which I really did not expect as “the other side” is rarely shown in a positive light – otherwise, how would you understand you’re supposed to hate them and root for them to lose / die.
Anyway, as an amateur military historian, I found the first section (the character introductions) with the unit formation to be very interesting.  I found the description of the air-mobile infantry (Air-Cav) and the specific references to the unit combat limitations to be both accurate and insightful.  I found the sub-plots also accurate – as far as my limited experience was concerned, but maybe a bit too glossed over.  I was single during the 1970’s when I was on active duty, so all of my “personal” information about family life / support is really second hand.  The racial issues had not gone away between the film’s period (1965) and my service time (mid-70’s).  And, I don’t think there is ANY doubt (IMHO) the “Congressional / military / industrial complex” has only gotten worse since the 1960’s.
The film concludes with a visit by Col. Moore to the Vietnam Memorial “Wall” in Washington, D.C. and a list of the seventy-nine Americans who died in the battle.  It is an emotionally powerful scene on par with the cemetery scene in “Saving Private Ryan“.
Final recommendation:  highly recommended movie.  This is one of the “better” military genre movies I’ve seen in some time.  This is not an anti-war movie, but it also does not extrapolate the personal integrity and heroism of the individual American soldier on to the American government or senior military command structure.  A note of caution:  the combat scenes are brutal, realistic and sometimes horrifying.  This movie is not for the squeamish.
Final comment:  if you’re wondering why I’d never bothered to see this before…  Two reasons:  1)  I’m not an “all-in” / committed Mel Gibson fan.  I’ve enjoyed his directing more than his acting.  Also, 2)  when this movie came out I was not keen on supporting U.S. military adventurism around the world.  At that time, I wanted revenge for “9/11”, not occupation and nation-building in Afghanistan.  I did not support an invasion of Iraq and foreign government toppling.  I may have been wrong, but I viewed movies and TV shows in this genre as propaganda for the Bush Administration and a “war of choice” in Iraq.  Despite the quality of this individual movie (in that time period), I still hold that “propaganda” view / opinion.
On This Day In:
2021 On Learning To Play Guitar
When You’re Feeling Small
2020 Remember Your Obligation
Smile And Shuffle
2019 If One Is Lucky Enough
Basic Training (In Films)
2018 Being President Doesn’t Make You Presidential
Day 27: 4 Weeks / 55lbs
2017 I’m Seeing It, Too
2016 Personal Decisions
2015 Verbal Fluency
2014 Familiar
2013 Unbending
2012 Simple Sayings
2011 Wupped Again?
2010 3 and 1…
Musical Notes…
Doubt Tries…
Northwest Passages – Evening Two
The Beierly’s Web Site

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Warning:  This is LONG post…  It won’t hurt my feelings if you’re not interested in my guitar reviews and go now…  (LoL)
[Disclaimer:  I have not received as a promotion any guitar or music related product, nor am I mentioning anything in this post to secure compensation / income for myself or the manufacturer(s) of the products mentioned.  I am only posting about this / these item(s) because I personally purchased it / them and am excited to be learning about music and playing guitar.    —    kmab]
* Guitar Acquisition Syndrome
Background:  For the last 19 months, I’ve been trying to teach myself about music and playing guitar.  To date I have now purchased nine “inexpensive / cheap” guitars.  This is the review of my latest:  a Fesley “Strat” style Electric Guitar (Sunset color)…  What is a “Strat” style?  If you’ve ever seen a picture of Jimi Hendrix playing guitar, it was probably a “Strat”.  Strat is short for Stratocaster and is one of the two “main” styles of electric guitar.  It is characterized by two “cutaways” (one on either side of the neck where it attaches to the guitar body);  “horn” shapes which are more reminiscent of bulls horns than of devil’s horns;  and, the guitar body is solid (not hollow) with six steel strings.  The “horns” are usually of slightly different shape and are normally slightly offset (not mirror images) with the more forward horn on the base-string side of the guitar.  The “Strat” was created in the 1950’s by the Fender corporation.  The Strat usually comes with three single-coil pickups and may also come with a tremolo bridge.  The “pickup” is what translates the steel string vibration in front of a magnet and converts it to electrical impulses which are amplified into the sounds you hear coming from the amplifier.
Anyway, as stated in several prior reviews, I’m retired and I have a significant price point and life time (mine) limitation when making discretionary purchases.  I haven’t found my music / guitar sound or style (or hero), so I’m playing around at the bottom of the market in search of one, both or all three.  For those of you readers who are unfamiliar with the price of music instruments, a decent quality, name brand guitar “probably” runs near USD $1,000.  (If you are lucky, you can find the same model used for half that.)  At half that price (USD $500), you can also normally find the same name brand (or their subsidiary) selling a new entry-level model of substantially lower quality.  You can also go (quickly) the other direction to many times that price before you even get to custom guitars.  Specific historic guitars sell in the tens and hundreds of thousands of dollars!
I now have nine “cheap / inexpensive” guitars of various style / types, and, not counting books and accessories (tools, tuners, picks, cables, gig bags, straps, etc), I’m just over the $1,000 “all-in” mark.  My wife believes I’m a hoarder and while she supports my trying to learn music / guitar, she does NOT approve of my continuing guitar purchases.  I (on the other hand) still feel the need for one last guitar before pausing to concentrate on the “right” one – which I may never find / buy.  I will probably get that “last” inexpensive one before the end of next year (2023).  I actually have my eye on two types I don’t already have.  After that, I will be playing them each, and, over time, upgrading the bits and pieces on them until I’m more or less happy with each.  Some, like my three-quarter size acoustic are so minimalist it really can’t have much changed out.  Of course, as my luthier skills improve, there is a seemingly endless pool of tools to spend (my wife would say “waste”) money on.  And, there are also amplifiers.  On the issue of amps, I only have my initial 20-watt amp from the purchase of my first electric guitar.  I’m sure it’s “crap”, but I very rarely use it, so it may be some time before I get a second / replacement amp.  At the moment, I play my acoustic guitars in the day and my electrics sans amp at night.  The main time I use my amp is when I get a new guitar and want to verify the electric bits work.  Because I just starting to gain an ear for electric sound, I still can’t tell if the electric guitars are good or not – only if they play at all.  As an aside, in my prior reviews, I mistakenly said my amp was a 10-watt amp.  It turns out it is a 20-watt.  Not that it matters, as it is NEVER turned up, and still rarely used.
Start of review:
Ordering:  I ordered the guitar on Amazon.com.  The general price on Amazon varies from $169 to $119 (depending on the color chosen), not including tax or shipping.  I have NO idea why the price varies by color!!?!  But, of the colors available, the one I wanted was the least expensive anyway.  I purchased the item via my daughter’s Amazon membership, so shipping was free.  The price ended up:  $131.54 (delivered).  I “earn” $100 gift cards for Amazon about once every six months by answering questions on a marketing / polling / survey site.  Although this is “real” money, it does not come out of my retirement money, and since I’d be answering the surveys anyway – it’s “free” money (to me, but not to the IRS).  The price of a “moderately” decent padded guitar gig bag is $20-$30 on Amazon.  So, basically, I got an electric guitar and gig bag for the price of a gig bag:  $31.54!! (LoL)
Delivery:  I ordered mine on Thursday 28 July 2022 (evening) and it arrived on 4 August, mid-afternoon.  Amazon’s delivery estimate was spot-on.  On delivery, the exterior box was slightly crumpled on several edges;  the interior box had no damage at all.  On opening the interior box, the guitar was inside the padded gig bag and there was no damage at all to the guitar.  This is the first guitar I’ve received “double-boxed”.  My only comment is the interior box was free-floating and slid around inside the larger exterior box.  All-in-all, I am very happy with the delivery.
What you get:  (Specifications)
Brand:  Fesley
Model:  Fesley ST Electric Guitar Morandi Series
Style:  “Strat” with tuners on one side of the headpiece
Price:  $119.85 — my price was $32 including tax (out of pocket).
Orientation:  Right handed
Guitar Color:  Sunset (Front and back)
Weight:  9.73lbs
Number of frets:  20
Number of strings:  6
String Material Type : Nickel Steel
Guitar Pickup Configuration:  H-S-S (humbucker / bridge, single / middle, single / neck)
Guitar Bridge System:  Cold-rolled Steel Block Bridge with tremolo system (push-in “wammy” bar)
Controls:  4 – 1 switch (5 positions), 1 x Volume, 2 x Tone;  the three knobs are black plastic with no numbers
Color – Black:  Zinc Alloy Tuners, a Single String Guide, Cold-rolled Steel Block Bridge, Wammy Bar, Volume and Tone Controls, Inlaid Fret Dots
Body Material:  Poplar
Neck Material Type:  Poplar
Fretboard Material Type:  Hard-maple
Neck Info:  C-shaped neck profile with satin finish;  20 frets, marks (dots) on the neck and top of the fingerboard help guide / play;  430mm radius
Tuning Peg Material:  Metal, Kidney Bean shape
Nut Material:  Unspecified (I think it’s plastic)
Pick Guard:  None
(Package Includes)
1 x Guitar
1 x Wammy Bar (pop-in style, not screw-in style)
2 x Spanner Tool (for adjusting the neck / truss rod and one for setting intonation)
1 x Padded Gig Bag
Double boxed for delivery
First impression:  right out of the box, the guitar has a beautiful, dark, rich sunset (sunburst) front AND back.  It is thin and feels small and light.  I run my left hand up and down the neck.  The edges of the fret board are smooth and fret sprout is non-existent!  I could NOT feel the frets from the side of the neck.  I had to slightly curl my fingers around the edge.  They are not rounded on the ends – ball-bearing style – so you still have to be a bit careful running your fret hand up and down the neck, but this is among the best fret work I’ve ever gotten on any of my guitars. It remains to be seen if this continues after the guitar has had a chance to acclimate for a couple of weeks.  I don’t think it will be an issue…  The guitar was in a plastic bag with the wammy bar and tools rubber-banded to the neck.  The strings were paper bound for their protection.  There is a little card indicating the guitar was inspected and listing the action height at that time.  I will compare this info later when (if) I do a full complete setup with action and intonation.  It’s also a useful reference for future string changes…  The frets are shiny and smooth and the fretboard looks moist without being shiny.  NO crud comes off the frets on my fingers as I check them (sometimes you can get a bit of blackening on your fingertips) and there is no gritty sound on string bending at a few test points.  (I’m laughing to myself!)  This is the best looking first impression of a fretboard of any of my guitars!!
Visual checklist:
• neck – straight, flat and not visibly warped or bent;
• nut – discolored plastic.  Not white, so you almost think it’s bone.  The string groove depth seems fine to great.
• strings – strum… not in tune, but string ends are not excessively long or wrapped around the tuning pegs.  It tuned up very easily.
• body – again, beautiful color and shiny (matte NOT high gloss) finish.  I don’t see ANY dents or faults!!
• pickups – are all magnetic.  I can’t tell much else visually.  The “visual test” is to hold something metal near the pickup and feel if it is pulled to the magnetic pickup.  I would say there is an “unsightly” gap around the pickups.  My other guitars’ with single pickup slots are covered by the pick guards, so you don’t see the gaps.
• controls – the switch is responsive without being resistant, the volume and tone(s) both turn smoothly. I am able to hear the differences between the pickups on the switch (after it’s plugged in and the amp is turned on).  One slightly disconcerting thing is the knobs seem to turn past “0”.  I don’t know what that means.  All of my other guitars fully stop at “0” and “10”…
• tuning pegs – all are smooth and don’t appear to have dead spots.  They are the smallest tuners I have ever felt!  They are functional, but they feel “tiny” between my fingers and thumb.
• action and intonation – the strings seem fine (eyeball test).  I will measure them (for action) in the future.  The intonation is WEIRD!  The intonation is perfect open and at the 5th and at the 12th frets.  All up and down the neck with no dead frets on any strings, but ALL of the other frets are slightly sharp.  To me, this (probably) means Fesley took extra care to get the open, 5th and 12 frets exactly in the right place but were slightly less exact on the remaining frets.  I should point out the difference is similar (if not exact) for all of the other frets and for all of the strings AND I can’t actually hear the difference – but the electronic tuner can.  Just slightly…
Strum… the strings are all loose and there is no hope this is tuned “out of the box”.  I attach my Snark tuner and tune the guitar.  Nothing significant to report.  (Except the intonation issue mentioned just above.)  I’m a happy camper…!!!
I plug in the amplifier and plug the cable into it and into the guitar.  Both connections seem solid enough.  I turn on the amp and increase the volume on both the guitar and the amp.  All the knobs on the amp and the guitar seem to work.  The slippage on the knobs doesn’t seem to affect anything.  When the knob gets to zero (unmarked), whatever is supposed to be changing stops changing.
Strum… I play for a few minutes – chords and scales.  I spend a few minutes practicing “Ode To Joy“, “Taps” and “God Save the Queen” and then noodle a bit before deciding to pack it in for the evening.  The main thing I notice is the guitar is VERY comfortable to play.  The neck seems short, I don’t have to stretch to play open chords and the body (depth / width) seems to be made just for me.  Mainly the thinner body means it’s easier to hold the guitar body under my strumming arm and against my body.  This guitar has a slightly different cut out angle (from the Glarry) at the elbow which seems to make it even more comfortable for me.  Now, a point of clarification:  This is not a “Full Size” strat style guitar.  At least judging by my Glarry 38.6 / 39in strat style it isn’t.  Just eyeballing it, I’d say the Fesley is almost an inch (maybe only 3/4in) shorter.  FYI:  Glarry says their strat body size (38.6in) doesn’t include the strap button on the bottom of the guitar.  Standing the Glarry and Fesley face to face, the bodies are the same length, yet, the tip of the head-piece is clearly shorter than the Glarry’s.  The difference “seems” to be the bridge on the Fesley is larger than on the Glarry AND it is set farther down the body than the Glarry’s because the Glarry’s pickups are S-S-S while the Fesley’s are H-S-S.  The double thickness of the humbucker requires the bridge to be set down the body.  I also point out the Glarry is a 22 fret guitar.  The Fesley is only 20 frets. Interestingly, this (moving the bridge back) makes it easier to right-hand strum mute the strings on the Fesley than it is on ANY of my other guitars – acoustic or electric!  Go figure…
Nothing out of the ordinary…  Just tune and noodle.
Check the fret sprout for about a week and do the light maintenance on it for playability.  Then it’s add to the rotation and enjoy!!
Final Recommendation:  LoL!!  Are you kidding me?  Very Highly!  A beautiful, almost perfectly playable instrument for under $35!!!  (Okay, $135 to you…)  I’m laughing all the way to the bank.  (And, still practicing about an hour a day…)
Thanks to anybody who made it all the way through this lengthy post!!
On This Day In:
2021 Born Again
Begin Writing
2020 Nah… I’m Still Chuckling
Squeaking By With “C’s”
2019 Consider Me A Phony
2018 Last
Day 10: Double Digits
2017 Could You Repeat The Question?
2016 Still Busy?
2015 Why, Just This Morning…
2014 Just Kindness
2013 Now Shaking
2012 Absurdity, n.
2011 Minor Changes
Things I’ve Learned From Life – Nana Carter
Acting Out

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Indio (by Monoprice) Retro Classic Solid Body (“tele”-style) Electric Guitar w/ Gig Bag  —  guitar review  (Images follow the review)
[Disclaimer:  I have not received as a promotion any guitar or music related product, nor am I mentioning anything in this post to secure compensation / income for myself or the manufacturer(s) of the products mentioned.  I am only posting about this / these item(s) because I personally purchased it / them and am excited to be learning about music and playing guitar.    —    KMAB]
Background:  I am a rank beginner guitar player (particularly when it comes to electric guitars), so please take all of my advice / opinions with a healthy grain of salt…  This is another in a series of reviews of guitars and kit I am writing as I learn how to play guitar.  All of my purchases have been at the bottom end / inexpensive side of the market.  (Obviously, this is not really a box-opening / initial receipt review like my prior ones.  I just procrastinated…)
Start of review:
Ordering / Delivery:  I ordered on a Saturday evening (11 Dec 2021), and received the guitar the following Tuesday (14 Dec 2021).  I consider this pretty phenomenal service!
Price:  $79.99  (Yes!!  This is NOT a mis-type!)  My son asked what I wanted for X-mas and agreed to go half with me.  He gave me $40, and I paid the difference (just under $90, w/ taxes, but free shipping).  So, I was all-in less than $50!  (My wife is [was] still not happy as this is [was] my sixth guitar purchase in less than 12 months.  LoL!!)
Buyer’s caution:  Indio / Monoprice sells another “tele” style model which – at first glance – looks exactly like this model.  However, it has no “through-body” strings and it has the three post / two string bridge (traditional) as opposed to a post for each string (non-traditional).  I specifically wanted the individual posts because I want to be able to set intonation on each string, not balance between two strings per post.  Does it matter?  Probably not, I’m just OCD.  (images below)
What you get:
Guitar Brand:  Indio (by Monoprice)
Model:  610264
Orientation:  Right handed
Guitar Color:  Blue (Dark Royal)
Number of frets:  22
Nut width:  42mm.
Scale length:  24.75″ (“full size”)
Number of strings:  6
Pick-up Style:  Single (lipstick);  Single (standard / exposed / ceramic)
Guitar Bridge System:  tele-style modified ash-tray
Controls:  3 – 1 x switch (3 positions), 1 x Volume, 1 x Tone;  the switch and knobs are metal and mounted on a metal oval backing plate (traditional “tele” style.
Body Material:  Basswood;  NO pits, gaps or faults.  A surprisingly beautiful instrument for the price!
Neck Material:  Basswood
Fingerboard Material:  Maple
Tuning Peg Material:  Metal, Kidney Bean shape
Nut Material:  Plastic (well cut and trimmed)
Bridge Material:  Metal
Bridge Type:  Through body stringing with a modified “ash-tray” style metal piece
(Package Includes)
1 x Guitar
1 x Gig Bag
2 – 1 x Allen wrench (for adjusting the neck / truss rod);  1 x small Allen wrench (for adjusting the bridge intonation / action)
First impression:
Visual checklist:
• neck – straight, flat and not visibly warped or bent;
• nut – Plastic.  Looks perfect.  Well cut and rounded
• strings – strum…  not in tune, but string ends are not excessively long or wrapped around the tuning pegs.  It tuned up very easily.
• body – again, beautiful color and shiny finish.
• pickups – both magnetic.  I can’t tell much else visually.  My “visual test” is to hold something metal near the pickup and feel if it is pulled to the magnetic pickup.
• controls – the switch is responsive without being resistant, the volume and tone both turn smoothly.  I am able to hear the differences between the pickups on the switch (after it’s plugged in and the amp is turned on)
• tuning pegs – no loose spots on turning (tightening or loosening)
• pick (“plectrum”) – none – a missed opportunity for marketing.
• strap – none – another missed opportunity
• action and intonation – the strings are high-“ish” and the intonation is off.  Neither are “bad”, just not spot on.  The guitar did not come tuned, but this is not unexpected.
Strum…  the strings are all loose and there is no hope this is tuned “out of the box”.  I attach my Snark tuner and tune the guitar.  Nothing significant to report.  I’m actually loving this at first touch…!!!  Despite the neck looking pretty unvarnished, the slide is very smooth and comfortable.  It is described as “fast satin”.  I’ve no idea what that means.  Okay, “nothing significant” ONLY means everything seems normal.  There is “normal” fret sprout and the fret ends are not rounded (“BB” style).  Both of these conditions ARE “normal” – particularly at a price point under $100.  The sharp edges are much worse than the sprout.
I plug in the amplifier and plug the cable into it and into the guitar.  Both connections are solid enough.  I turn on the amp and increase the volume on both the guitar and the amp.  Both switch and the knobs on the guitar seem to work.  As always, the tone kind of changes the sound, but I still don’t know what I’m doing or what it should sound like, so I set both back to “0”.  The volume is MORE than enough (perfect) for me to play in my bedroom or living room after everyone else goes to bed.  It is quieter than an acoustic, but no louder than any of my other electrics.  Maybe just a little “twangier” in the base strings.  Not buzzy, but not like clean strings.
Strum…  I play for a few minutes – chords and scales.  I spend a few minutes “playing” Ode To Joy and then decide to pack it in for now.  The guitar is very comfortable to play.  The neck and the body seem to be made just for me.  It is lighter than my Donner “LP” style, but heavier than the Glarry “strat” style.  Also, the single cut top end of the body does make the higher frets more comfortable to reach (compared to full / acoustic bodies).
What’s happened since then?
Mostly, I played with the action and the intonation.  I’ve set the action very low and the intonation is as close as I can get it to perfection – at least to my Snark.  I waited a week or so and then filed of a bit of the fret sprout and rounded them, too.  I also ended up raising the action back a little bit and then re-adjusting the intonation.
Check the fret sprout periodically and do the light maintenance on it / them for safe play-ability.  The guitar has (since) been added to my rotation and I’m still enjoying it.
Final Recommendation:  This is a beautiful guitar and once I sorted out the fret ends and added a strap, it’s been a pleasure to practice with.  I still don’t know enough about electric guitars to comment about that aspect (using with amps).  I am starting to tell differences in sound, but only on head to head comparison.  If I separate the instruments by any length of time (even more than a few minutes), I don’t have enough perception / memory to say if one is “better” than any other.  Please recall:  I have a VERY inexpensive ($30) starter amp.  I’m hoping to experiment more with this later in 2022 or get another “inexpensive” amp in 2023, to use for comparisons.  I am VERY grateful to my son for going half on this with me (for my X-mas present).

As Advertised…

…Delivered in Gig Bag

…Still Wrapped


More traditional three post bridge

My preference… Six post bridge

On This Day In:
2021 Allowing For Compromise
2020 Why #LyingDonald Hurts The US
2019 Blow Between Your Ears
2018 Thinking Ahead
2017 I’d Like To Try
2016 Or Blog (And Bound)
2015 Welcome The Virtuous
2014 Closing The Gap?
2013 On Parenting
2012 What Knowledge Is
2011 The Indefinite Accumulation Of Property

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Lilies of the Field”  (1963) — movie review
I know.  I know.  I haven’t done very many movie reviews of late…  And, yes, I have been watching (both) movies and streaming series.  Truth be told:  I’ve just been lazy and procrastinating…  (Mea culpa, mea culpa…)
Anyway, today’s review is for the drama (mild comedic moments) “Lilies of the Field” starring Sidney Poitier as Homer Smith, and Lilia Skala as the Head Mother / Sister (that’s Mother Superior to you non-Catholics) Maria.  The movie was nominated for Best Picture;  Skala for Best Supporting Actress and Poitier won Best Actor.  With this win, he became the first African-American male to win for a lead role.  There was a female Oscar winner before him, but her role was “Supporting”, not just “Best”.
The plot is a group of sisters has escaped East Germany and traveled to the United States.  They have inherited a farm, but have no knowledge of farming and only the Mother speaks passable English.  She has been praying to God for someone to help them build a chapel so they (and their parish) can practice their faith (attend Mass and hold Sacraments).  And, along comes Homer…
The rest of the movie is an exposition about the Sisters and Homer and their bonding while building the chapel.
Is the movie any good?  Do I recommend it?  Hmmm…  The movie was up for Best Picture and is currently in the U.S. National Film Registry / Library of Congress designated as:  “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.”  I think that’s a:  “YES!!”
Do I recommend it?  Hmmm…  Yes!!
The acting is terrific!  Skala brilliant as the Head Mother and she brought back a LOT of memories of my years in a Catholic grammar school.  (LoL)  Poitier won Best Actor, so there’s not a lot to add to that.
The movie as multiple GREAT scenes:  from Homer’s ordering breakfast at a road-side diner, to Sister Maria’s reaction while the priest is thanking her, to the on-going “insurance” dialogue.  And, of course, no review would be complete without at least a mention of “Amen“…  Homer listens to the sisters singing and they ask him to join them.  He proceeds to teach them a “down-home go to meeting song”, which has become quite famous in cinema.  I was surprised / disappointed to find out (while researching for this review) that Poitier lip-sync’d the song.  It’s a little bit sad, when things you thought you knew (for most of your life) turn out to be incorrect. (LoL)
Final recommendation:  Very Highly recommended!  This is a terrific movie which I have watched multiple times and still find little details to enjoy.  (IMHO – it’s very reminiscent of “Casablanca” and “Inherit the Wind” in this regard.  All classics!  All in black and white.)
On This Day In:
2021 I Should Have Started Earlier
To Soothe Your Soul
2020 Let’s Make It So
2019 Today’s Question
2018 A Moment Of Union
2016 Symptoms
2016 Tossers
2015 Hunger
2014 Outside Dependence
2013 Doing Right
2012 A Short Course In Human Relations
If Death Be My Future
Such A Fool
2011 I’m Working For A Living

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Reacher”  —  streaming (TV) series:  Season 1 (2022)
This review is for the recently released Amazon Prime video / movie / TV series titled:  “Reacher“.  The series is based on the book series by the same name written by Lee Child (James Dover Grant CBE).  The book series first started getting released in the late 1990’s and comes out about one volume per year – so, yes, there are now about twenty-plus books in the series.  I’ve read the first four and then skipped ahead for one of the books which explained some of the character’s background.  I’ve also seen both of the Tom Cruise movies in which Tom plays the lead.  I’ve done a review of the first (here), but never got around to reviewing the second (which I’ll probably need to re-watch before finally reviewing).
Anyway, the main character – Jack Reacher – is played by actor Alan Ritchson.  This is the first role I’ve seen Ritchson in.  Reacher is a retired Army officer who served in a “special investigations” unit.  Some sort of super JAG / NCIS.  They only worked cases no one else could handle – blah, blah, blah.  Reacher comes from a military family, graduated from West Point (as did his older brother), and served with distinction during his career. Reacher retired as a major; a rank he regained after being busted back down to captain.  The series history differs from the books as over twenty years has passed since the first novel, so they’ve “re-booted” his life to make him younger for the series.  It’s also possible the character got an early-out / medical discharge as he doesn’t seem old enough to have graduated from the Military Academy and served a full twenty years of service for a “normal” retirement.  In real life, Ritchson is 37 years old, (although he looks younger to me) so I guess it’s possible.  Reacher is an expert with multiple firearms, hand to hand combat and has a photographic memory.  He is also given to sarcasm.
Reacher has no “social-media presence”, no driver’s license, no phone, no permanent address, no ID and no bags.  He has a passport, a couple of hundred dollars in cash and the clothes on his back.  He buys used clothes when he needs to change and tosses what he’s done with.  Reacher likes old-fashioned blues, so he decides to visit the home town of a famous blues musician (which his brother mentioned).  The night before he arrives in the town, the murders start…  Reacher is the only stranger in town and he walked into town on the same road near where the body was found.  He is arrested and off we go…
The series is a thriller / crime / action series loosely based on a bigger than life (6ft 5in) paladin who roams around the country with no ties, just trying to mind his own business and bring a form of “rough” justice to the world when he feels it’s needed.
So:  is the series any good?  Is it true to the books?  Is it better than the (two) movies?  Is the acting / dialogue any good?  Yes, pretty close, so-so and yes.  The season-series is broken down into eight episodes of roughly 50 minutes each, so you’re investing almost 6-7 hours which gives a lot more time to tell the story (book).  The fights are pretty well shot (choreography wise).  Given the lead character’s physical size, most of the fights involve multiple attackers / combatants – again, true to the book.  I found the series marginally better than the two Cruise movies.  I didn’t think the acting was much better, but I found the inter-personal dialogue to be better – particularly the lead’s sarcasm.
The books are good to very good.  Cruise’s two movies were entertaining action movies, but nothing to write home about.  Ritchson simply makes a better Reacher than Cruise does physically (not in acting, though).  Cruise is (maybe) 5ft 7in;  Ritchson is (maybe) 6ft 2in in real life.  Reacher claims to be 6ft 4in in the series.  He’s supposed to be 6ft 5in in the books.  In a funny (strange) way, although height was the biggest complaint about casting Cruise in the movies, it doesn’t seem to be a factor for Ritchson.  The problem remains:  a “BIG” lead requires more than a shorter cast and the sets just don’t deliver / convey the size of the lead character.
Final recommendation:  very good to strong recommendation.  If you are a fan of the books, you will almost certainly enjoy this series more than Cruise’s two movies.  If you are a fan of action / crime-thriller / vigilante genre (again), you will almost certainly enjoy this series.  Note:  There is some profanity and some brief nudity in a few of the episodes.  There is quite a bit of violence / bloody injuries across all of the episodes, but I’d put it closer to “Die Hard” style than to “John Wick” style.  The series is NOT appropriate for young teens or pre-teens (IMHO).
On This Day In:
2021 Suggestions…
2020 Until November… Then Vote
2019 Start With Health And Friends
Iterum Vale Tres*
2018 Tweets From The Disrupter-In-Chief
2017 Do We Still Listen To Her Silent Lips?
Not Now, Not Ever
2016 Why Do You Write/Blog?
2015 Can Your Repeat The Question, Please?
2014 On Faith
2013 My Name Is Charles Stein
2012 Faiths And Sorcery
Made And Kept Free
2011 Multi-Source Learning

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There is an old saying “Genius is the ability to pay attention to details”.  If you really understand this statement, you will see that anyone can be a genius.  It should really be understood backwards.  What we call genius is the result of enough time spent developing a great awareness and sensitivity to something, by continually focusing our attention on it in an intense way.
   —   Jamie Andreas
From her book: “Principles of Correct Practice For Guitar
Jamie’s web site is:   https://guitarprinciples.com
[The quote above reminded me of two similar quotes (both) from Isaac Newton (a widely regarded genius / polymath)…]
If I have ever made any valuable discoveries, it has been due more to patient attention, than to any other talent.
    —    Sir Isaac Newton
If others would think as hard as I did, then they would get similar results.
    —    Sir Isaac Newton
[I have recently begun trying to learn how to play acoustic guitar.  I’ve been watching a lot of YouTube videos from various authors and following links to the video creators various web sites.  Some I now follow and some I’m able to download material from which I then go back and read.  Jamie Andreas is a guitar instructor and has the first two chapters of her book available for free download in PDF format.  I’ve downloaded them (the single file) and am currently reading through them.
Also, I’ve recently become aware some countries require folks to disclose if a referenced item (a mentioned book, movie, product of value or other remuneration / compensation) has been received (by yours truly) as consideration for its being mentioned on my blog.  I have no recollection of ever receiving a “free” anything which I have subsequently reviewed on this blog.  In any case,…
I have not received a promotional copy of Jamie’s book, nor am I mentioning it in this post to secure income for myself or Jamie.  I am only posting this quote because it contains an idea which I find interesting.  Because this is a direct quote, I did ask Jamie (via email) if I could use the quote (and any others I find as I continue reading her book) as a post on my blog.  Jamie has graciously agreed to allow me to quote her book.    —    KMAB]
On This Day In:
2020 Repercussions For Health
2019 Chained To #45
2018 Some Men Make Their Office As Small As Themselves
2017 Too Many
2016 Not Yet, Anyway
2015 On Pornography
2014 Nudge, Nudge
2013 The Journey Will Be Joy
2012 Hopeful Flights
2011 Irrationally Predictable
Lawful Restraint

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