Star Wars Update…..

Our son is a big time Star Wars fan – it was one of the first non-animated movies he watched at home (and watched many times) and “Return of the Jedi” was the first movie he saw in a theater. He’s read many (if not all) of the books and when they were here last week, we kept granddaughter while they went to see “The Last Jedi”. Hubby had been wanting to see it so we did a matinee on Wed. It is a long movie of almost three hours and definitely has some dark tones. We do not in general go to the theater and make exceptions for the “big screen” pictures. All the special effects in these movies puts them into that category and you do get an eyeful as well as “earful” with swooping crafts and lots of explosions.

I won’t do a spoiler in case someone reading this hasn’t seen the movie yet and plans to. It is interesting though to see the characters who were so very young in the original as they have aged. Naturally they’ve added new young actors in different roles to keep a balance. I don’t have the faintest notion of how many more of these there are supposed to be, but there is one about Hans Solo scheduled for the summer. I’m not sure of the concept and will no doubt hear more about it from my friends and family who are fans.

 

Not A Holiday Movie….

As much as I love a couple of the holiday movies and have posted about them in the past, the other day, the original “True Grit” was on. It was such a quintessential John Wayne role in his older years and while there are only a few lines I really enjoy, there is one scene in particular I have quoted from for a variety of situations. In the event someone hasn’t seen the movie or it’s been quite some time, a very young Robert Duvall is bad guy Ned Pepper. He has a small gang and a young girl, Maddie (Kim Darby), has engaged the services of the older, very gruff Marshall Rooster Cogburn (John Wayne) to help bring Pepper to justice. Much of the story line is about having adequate True Grit to handle someone like Pepper and his gang and the unlikely pairing of Maddie and Cogburn. Cogburn has a patch over one eye, a fondness for whiskey and few kind words for anyone.The duo becomes a trio when Glenn Campbell joins them as a Texas Ranger also on the trail. There are of course many challenges to face.

Deep into the movie, Cogburn is on horseback across a meadow from Ned Pepper and three of his cohorts, also on horseback. Pepper had previously kidnapped Maddie and was using her as a bargaining chip to get away. In learning Maddie is safe, Pepper makes the case Cogburn should move aside because one against four isn’t good odds and the girl is okay. Pepper calls out, “What are your intentions?”

“I am to kill you in one minute or take you back to Fort Smith to hang at Judge (something or other)’s convenience. What do you have to say to that?”

“I call that bold talk for a one-eyed, fat man.”

Cogburn sits straighter in his saddle, draws a second gun and shouts, “Fill your hand you son-of-_____!”, and charges forward.

It’s not a totally happy ending which I won’t get into, but there have been times in my career or other endeavors when I have made decisions to tackle something that falls into the category of, “bold talk for a one-eyed fat man”. And there were times when the odds were not favorable and things didn’t work out well. In other cases it did. The words, however, have held special meaning since I saw the movie all those years ago.

“What You’re Telling Me Is Impossible”…..

Musing content ahead.  We all make mistakes at times and most of us form opinions that may also turn out to be incorrect because the source we used to form that opinion was flawed in some way. Those are errors we can acknowledge and learn from; it’s part of maturing. On the other hand, many of us have known individuals who hate to admit mistakes and may try to slide responsibility to others. When someone you are supposed to be able to trust lies to you repeatedly, that is another category.

The movie, “Shattered Glass”, is based on a real-life situation of a young reporter for a very prestigious magazine who wanted to be a star. Being in a deadline-driven profession, especially when you have many competitors, comes with a great deal of stress. Maybe this young man simply reacted to a stress event the first time he fabricated part of a story. The movie doesn’t go into that aspect. There was a change of editors at the magazine and the young man in question belonged to a core of writers who were loyal to the previous editor. So, when the initial allegations were made that the young man had seriously erred in an article that was published, most people in the magazine thought it was a jab from the new editor. As it turns out in the course of the movie, the young man had fabricated at least part of more than half the articles he’d written to include during the tenure of the previous editor. One of the senior editors who was refusing to believe they could have all been fooled by him was finally forced to acknowledge the depth of betrayal. When asked why she couldn’t see it, her response was, “Because what you’re telling me is impossible.”  Sadly, we, like those in the movie, can occasionally encounter individuals who for reasons of ambition, or a need for attention, or malice, or other motive will  lie skillfully and repeatedly. I hope you don’t ever have to deal with it, but should you be in such a situation, be willing to accept the possibility.

Headed Home….

If you have a long layover, Atlanta is a good airport to be in. I haven’t checked the flight status yet, but so far it appears there are no delays. It’s been a good trip, but I’m ready to get home. Of course as it turns out, I am dealing with a couple of issues that have required my attention and I have to follow-up with as soon as I get home. Neither is a good situation, and yet, one of the reasons I am involved with the groups I am is because I bring problem solving skills. Therefore, when we have a problem, my brain does kick into gear. Anyway, that’s not the point of this post.

It’s been a productive trip and on the flight from Milwaukee there was a father and son who apparently booked late. They had to be in separate seats, both a middle and one in front of the other. As the dad was trying to decide who would be in which seat, I smiled and said, “I’ll take care of him if you’d like. It’s been a while since I’ve done this, but I remember how.” He gave me a grateful look and the boy sat next to me. He was incredibly polite and six years old. As it turned out, he did not have a pair of earphones and I had some in my purse. He wanted to watch the Lego Batman movie (he’d only seen it once) and I asked his dad if it would be okay for me to give him mine. It was, and when the service cart came around, the boy asked for apple juice and granola bar rather than soda and cookies. It was a pleasure to see and then as we landed, I watched the dad politely offer to take carry-on luggage down for a woman and gesture for her to precede them into the aisle.  The boy obviously had a good role model.

I’m keeping my fingers crossed for the last leg home and will check back in with a report tomorrow.

When We Lose A Star…..

Not that one can argue with being handsome, famous, wealthy, and living until almost 90. Yet, I was sorry to hear about Roger Moore’s death. Although his James Bond was played differently from the great Sean Connery, it was a winning approach. I don’t how much that was his choice or how much direction and it doesn’t really matter. Actually, the role I loved him in the best was as Simon Templar in the TV series, The Saint (1960s). I’ll have to see if those are available on DVD and put in an order. We do still have some of our greats around and I usually enjoy the movies that provide a role for them as the aged actor. I also admit, one who returns to the screen is an occasional surprise since I didn’t realize we still had him/her with us.

It is not that genuine celebrities (someone who accomplishes something of note rather than simply being the product of spoiled wealth) are more valued humans than the rest of us. It’s that as an actor, artist, musician, etc., they may very well have created one or more special memories for us – spoken lines we remember forever, recorded a song we still play and cherish, crafted a painting that speaks to people for centuries, made an astounding play in some sport that seems almost impossible. Do I think we give far too much weight to celebrities? Oh yes. It has spawned the everyone wanting their “fifteen minutes of fame” to a degree that is well beyond what it should be. With that said, there are many celebrities who do wonderful good in addition to whatever joy/pleasure it is they bring in the matter of what has made them famous. So this afternoon, I shall definitely offer a toast to Roger Moore.

When Politics Really Did Mean Murder…..

My husband hates the Jeopardy category of “Royalty”. Other than Cleopatra, Rameses, King Tut, King Herod, Henry VIII, Queen Elizabeth, Mary Queen of Scots, George III because of the American Revolution, Queen Victoria, and Princess Diana, he hasn’t a clue and doesn’t want one. I’m not an expert, but I often manage the category until it gets into the obscure stuff (of which there is a great deal). We are currently watching “The White Princess” on Starz after having watched “The White Queen” last year. The shows about the War of Roses and rise of the Tudors are actually fairly accurate which is saying something for Hollywood. As I pointed out though, this is a situation where you don’t have to make too much up. There was enough violence, sex, betrayal, and intrigue to make any writer/producer happy. We look at today’s “dirty politics” – which I do wish were less nasty – yet in the end, no one’s head actually gets chopped off and children aren’t murdered because they will have a claim to the thrown. That is not to say terrible things aren’t happening in the world, but within most countries, the “political blood-letting” is figurative.

I tend to prefer non-fiction written in an engaging manner since history reads like so much fiction. I do like historical novels although I am more demanding than hubby when it comes to wanting historical accuracy. I don’t know that I have a favorite period – I mean who didn’t enjoy the Clan of the Cave Bear series – even though I haven’t read (or watched) Outlander. That’s more because I’m not a big time travel sub-genre fan. Anyway, Hubby more or less follows the story line of The White Princess as long as he doesn’t have to figure out whom is whom. He boils it down to who is on the throne and if they can stay there. His view is anyone who isn’t in power is trying to get there and that does pretty much sum up the situation.

Merry Christmas……

It’s been a beautiful day which is part of why people love South Florida in the winter. We checked in with the kids and it wasn’t too bad for them – 40, but no snow or ice yet. They don’t require a white Christmas at this point.

I’ve watched “A Christmas Carol” and “Miracle on 34th Street”, so I’ve had my fix. Although hardly a classic, there is a movie that brought a point to mind I’ve posted about before. Ben Affleck and other stars were in “Surviving Christmas”, a movie about a very wealthy young man who decided to “rent” a family for Christmas one year. He didn’t explain why he wanted to come into their home as their “son”, but he was willing to pay a lot of money and they agreed. As you can imagine, a variety of mishaps occurred until the point when it seems as if the whole family was coming apart. In trying to sort through what happened (and of course come to happy resolutions), Christina Applegate, who was the real daughter in the family finally got Affleck to explain his motivation. His mother, raising him alone with no help, had been a waitress at a diner. Since she made double for working at Christmas, she always took not only her regular shift, but an extra one and by the time she was finished, she would be too tired for celebration. His Christmas had been to come to the diner for a big stack of pancakes. The movie had a mostly funny and a tiny bit poignant ending, but the point is that many of us think about military personnel being away from their families. We sometimes consider police, firefighters, etc.,. The fact is, in our busy world, there are a lot of 24-hour jobs staffed 365 days a year. I promise the power plant is being manned and like the woman in the movie, a lot of diners are open. Granted, places like Chinese restaurants that celebrate at different times of the year aren’t in quite the same category. Do take a moment though if you are out at a convenience store or whatever and be sure to give a smile and say, “Merry Christmas” to those who are working today.

An Irish Pub To Enjoy…….

There was a time when the idea of an Irish Pub on the square in the town of Covington wouldn’t have made sense, but those days are in the past. Like many towns in the deep South, the sale of alcohol went through various stages, and so, it simply would not have been a practical choice of location “back when”. Irish Bred Pub (which appears to be either a franchise or at least in multiple locations) did well with converting one of the historic buildings and actually has a fairly quiet downstairs area and the larger upstairs “events” room. It was Trivial Pursuit night last night. http://www.irishbredpubcovington.com/

The fare is as expected with a couple of regional variations such as shrimp and grits as part of the menu. The beer selection is appropriate and they have an interesting arrangement with Cork, their neighboring wine store. If you bring a bottle from Cork with your receipt, you don’t pay an outrageous corkage fee. Considering how difficult it is to resist temptation while traveling (I certainly didn’t for lunch yesterday), I ordered the onion soup and fields greens salad with pecans, roasted corn, and topped with steak. The salad was wonderfully fresh and the steak perfectly cooked. Hubby had beef stew with their Irish flair. (For those who may not be familiar with it, traditional Irish stew is made with mutton.)  Had we not been so tired from getting up early and more traffic than we hoped, we would have sampled the Irish coffee. That will have to wait for the next trip. The weather was clear for travel though and we’re quipped for the chillier temperatures.

Sly, But Fun….

There actually are romantic comedies that guys can enjoy, too, but I’m not certain if Music and Lyrics falls into that category. If you want something entertaining and a great soundtrack, rent or find this to either watch or record for when you have time to sit and watch. It requires no great concentration, and the more-or-less predictable ending is delightfully executed. The main characters, Alex and Sophie, played by Hugh Grant and Drew Barrymore, are wonderfully drawn and acted. The movie highlights the foibles of celebrity status in both the has-beens and absurdly young rising stars. In essence without giving away too much, Alex was in a highly popular band that broke up, leaving the other members to do okay, yet never to regain their former glory. Through an odd set of circumstances, a young singer who has zoomed to the top gives him an opportunity for a comeback through a specific song she wants as a duet. The comedy of the timeframe allowed is well worth a chuckle and the way in which this all leads to Alex teaming up with Sophie is filled with great, droll exchanges.

Not being in the music business (there is a fabulous scene about that toward the end), I don’t know how accurately the process is portrayed, but it seems reasonable. The interaction with Alex’s agent is always funny as is the relationship between Sophie and her sister. The subplot of an event in Sophie’s past that emotionally threw her out of balance is well-drawn to show how we can allow others’ opinions to affect us. It is a lovely little movie you’ll probably want to watch more than once.

“Science the ___Out of It”……

One of my all-time favorite movies is Apollo 13 and I have used it before as an example of the snobbery of the Oscars when director Ron Howard wasn’t even nominated as Best Director. That, however, is not the point of this post. We recently watched The Martian and I consider it to be right up there along with Apollo 13 especially since there is a scene about halfway through the movie which takes a line directly from the predecessor. (No, it isn’t “Houston, we have a problem.”) Anyway, having seen Gravity and Interstellar (both entertaining), what sets this one apart is the attention to the science. (This is an advantage of having a hubby who actually understands this stuff.)

Anyway, if you haven’t seen the movie, an astronaut is stranded by his team on Mars due to an error and one of the intriguing aspects are the multiple Public Relations issues when the error is realized and courses of action are subsequently considered. At one stage the stranded astronaut, played by Matt Damon, is faced with at first a seemingly impossible task in order to survive. In recording the problems and trying to think through a solution, he uses the term, “I’m going to have to science the shit out of this.” As the movie progresses, this is often the case, and virtually all of what is “worked out” is feasible rather than using what the Myth Busters refer to as “Hollywood physics”. Of course there are intensely dramatic moments and while a particular problem solved by an offer of international assistance might be a tad far-fetched considering current politics, it is a situation where what’s right might override politics. It does happen sometimes in the real world. This is another of those movies though where you do have to pay attention because there are some complexities.