Monday, November 30, 2015

Music Love: "Mother" by Pink Floyd

I’ve never really considered myself a Pink Floyd fan per se. At the risk of setting myself up to get flamed, I’ll admit that I tend to think of Pink Floyd as a “druggie band.” Since I’m not exactly into drugs myself, I’ve always felt a bit dismissive of them. I don’t own any of their albums. In fact, I own just one of their songs (the beautiful and haunting “Wish You Were Here”). On the other hand, if I come across them on the radio, I’m unlikely to change the channel.

They seem to get played on the radio a lot here. And since I’ve been hearing them on the radio, I started looking them up on YouTube and, consequently, listening to them at home. This reminded me how much I love the song “Mother.”

Two things really make this song for me: Roger Waters’s vocals (god, I love his voice) and the lyrics. On the surface, it seems like a sweet song: a man turns to his mother, seeking comfort in the face of his fears. His mother’s responses, however, push the song into a creepy place. When he asks her,

“Mother, do you think she’s good enough for me?

Mother, do you think she’s dangerous to me?
Mother, will she tear your little boy apart?
Ooo ah, Mother will she break my heart?”

she replies,

“Hush now baby, baby, don’t you cry.
Mama’s gonna check out all your girlfriends for you.
Mama won’t let anyone dirty get through.
Mama’s gonna wait up until you get in.
Mama will always find out where you’ve been.
Mama’s gonna keep baby healthy and clean.”

Um, ick.

Now, I know that this song doesn’t exist in a vacuum. It’s part of a concept album, one that I maybe listened to in its entirety once 25 years ago. So perhaps there’s a context to it, a nuance, that I don’t get, hearing it independently from the rest of the album, but I don’t know that any context would make it less creepy.

This song makes me uncomfortable, and the fact that I like that it makes me uncomfortable makes me even more uncomfortable. A song that makes me feel something? Yes, please.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Solo at the Movies: "The Night Before" at ArcLight Santa Monica

Theater Info:
ArcLight Santa Monica
395 Santa Monica Place, Suite 330, Santa Monica
Cost: $15.75 for a matinee showing

Movie Stats:
Released 2015 (USA & Canada on the same day)
American, in English
Director - Jonathan Levine
Stars - Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Seth Rogen, Anthony Mackie

Plot Summary:
One year, in an effort to cheer up Ethan (Gordon-Levitt), orphaned by the sudden death of his parents, his friends Isaac (Rogen) and Chris (Mackie), spend Christmas Eve with him. Now, fourteen years later, the three men decide to finally end the tradition with one big last night out.

Blue language; drug use; mild violence; sexy times; brief female nudity (I think; honestly I can’t quite remember and the movie is too new for all of the warnings to be up on IMDB but I know it’s not full frontal).

Bad Stuff:
It’s not as funny as I’d hoped it would be. That’s not to say it wasn’t funny at all. There were some moments when I laughed a lot. However, I didn’t laugh nearly as much as I expected to.

There are some really weird moments. In a way, I’ve come to expect that from this type of movie but I’m not convinced that it’s necessary. I felt like the screenwriters took as many drugs as Isaac did (one of the plot lines in the film).

Good Stuff:
The underlying message - about friendship, love, change, and growing up - is very sweet.

I loved Michael Shannon as Mr. Green. Is there anything that man can’t do? He’s excellent.

It was nice to see female characters portrayed fairly well for once. The women were, by and large, strong, funny, intelligent, understanding, and supportive. I especially liked Isaac’s wife, Betsy (Jillian Bell).

The Verdict:
It was okay. When I first saw a trailer for it, I was interested because, hey, JGL, I love him. But it didn’t look very funny to me. Then the reviews started coming in and they were actually pretty good, so I thought I would give it a chance. I guess I should’ve listened to my gut. I didn’t hate it, but I wanted something more. I wanted to really laugh, the kind of laughing where your face hurts by the time you leave the theater. This didn’t do that for me, so I was disappointed. Maybe on a different day, in a different mood, it might have struck me funnier. I’m not trying to warn you away from it. I’m saying go into it with low expectations.

I give it 3.25 stars.

About ArcLight Santa Monica:
This theater is brand spanking new, opening up less than a week before my visit. It’s the first ArcLight I’ve ever been too, so I didn't know much about it. Given the cost of the ticket, I have to say that I expected more. The seats were nice enough, but they didn’t even recline. Everything was nice and new. Concessions were about the same as any other theater, but the portions were smaller. On the one hand, I think this is a good thing because standard movie theater portions are too large. However, if I’m getting a portion that’s a sane size, then I don’t think I should be paying the same price as the insane size. At the end of the day, I didn’t understand what the big deal was. Why pay nearly $16 for a ticket to a theater that wasn’t any nicer than some of the others I’ve been to recently? I’ll probably go back, however, since it’s the hot new theater in town and my friends will want to go.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

AFI Top 100, #s 55, 54, 53, 52

I previously reviewed these four movies, each one for my Best Picture Project. Below is the pertinent information about each: the movie stats, plot summary, and the rating I gave it.

Movie Stats:
Released 1965 (USA)
American, in English
Director – Robert Wise
Stars – Julie Andrews, Christopher Plummer, Eleanor Parker, Richard Haydn

Plot Summary:
Set in Austria in the months just before the German takeover of the country. Maria (Andrews), a novitiate at a convent in Salzburg, doesn’t quite seem to have what it takes to become a nun. Uncertain what to do with her, Mother Abbess (Peggy Wood) sends her to work as a governess to the seven children of Captain Georg von Trapp (Plummer). There, Maria and Georg slowly begin to fall in love. Parker co-stars as Georg’s other love interest, The Baroness, and Haydn as her brother (?), Max Detweiler.

4.25 stars

Full review HERE.

This review was written before I standardized my review process. I gave the movie 3 stars. You can read the full text of the review HERE.

Movie Stats:
Released 1984 (USA)
American, in English (some non-translated Italian & German, although it’s in the form of opera, which I personally can never understand no matter what language it’s in)
Director – Milos Forman
Stars – F. Murray Abraham, Tom Hulce, Elizabeth Berridge, Jeffrey Jones

Plot Summary:
In the court of Austrian Emperor Joseph II (Jones), royal composer Antonio Salieri (Abraham) is driven to the point of madness by envy of the genius of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (Hulce). Berridge co-stars as Mozart’s wife, Constanze. (I also feel compelled to note the appearance of baby Cynthia Nixon as Mozart’s maid.)

2.75 stars

Full review HERE.

Movie Stats:
Released USA (1953)
American, in English
Director – Fred Zinnemann
Stars – Burt Lancaster, Montgomery Clift, Frank Sinatra, Deborah Kerr, Donna Reed

Plot Summary:
Set in Pearl Harbor during 1941, Private Robert E. Lee “Prew” Prewitt (Clift) has recently been transferred to a new unit, where his new captain (Philip Ober), aware of his talent, wants him to fight on the boxing team. When Prew refuses for personal reasons, he’s subjected to cruel treatment. In the meantime, Prew’s sergeant, Milton Warden (Lancaster), is falling in love with the captain’s wife, Karen Holmes (Kerr). Sinatra costars as Prew’s buddy Private Angelo Maggio & Reed as Prew’s love interest, Alma “Lorene” Burke.

3 stars

Full review HERE.

Up with Geography: Brunei


Bandar Seri Begawan

None. It shares the island of Borneo with Malaysia & Indonesia, although it doesn't share a border with Indonesia. Borneo is surrounded by many seas and is located off the continent of Asia.

I'm still experiencing technical difficulties with my scanner. Below are pictures of my drawings. I apologize for the poor quality.

The island of Borneo. Brunei outlined in dark ink & shaded.
Indonesia occupies the south half of the island.

A close up of Brunei & its neighbor.


Water Borders:
South China Sea

Total Area:
2,226 square miles

Five Largest Cities:
Technically, Brunei doesn't have cities. Here is an explanation. The four official towns of Brunei, in descending order, are: Bandar Seri Begawan, Kuala Belait, Tutong, and Seria.

Famous Geographical Point:
Ulu Temburong National Park

Famous Person:
Wu Chun, singer, actor, and model

Book Set In/About:
Brunei: From the Age of Commerce to the 21st Century by Marie-Sebille de Vienne

An in-depth look at the politics, geography, and history of Brunei.

Movie Set In/About:
"Yasmine" (2014), directed by Siti Kamaluddin & Man-Ching Chan

The story of a young woman who strives to become a master of of the Brunei martial art called Silat.

Headline of the Day:
"Paulo Sergio Inspires Brunei DPMM to First-Ever S.League Title" on ESPN FC.

I swear that, despite my love for soccer, I didn't seek out a soccer-related headline. Lol.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

AFI Top 100, #56: MASH (1970)

Consider this your general (mild) SPOILER ALERT for this review.

Movie Stats:
Released 1970 (USA)
American, in English (some Korean & Japanese, mostly non-translated)
Director - Robert Altman
Stars - Donald Sutherland, Elliott Gould, Tom Skerritt

Plot Summary:
It follows the zany antics of three American surgeons - Hawkeye Pierce (Sutherland), Trapper John McIntyre (Gould), and Duke Forrest (Skerritt) - on the front of the Korean War.

Blue language (including a racial slur); heavily implied sexy times; non-consensual drug use; violence; gore; brief female nudity (breasts & butt only).

Bad Stuff:
In numerous scenes, people talk over one another. Even with the subtitles on, it was hard to follow. This is a huge pet peeve of mine. Most of this movie just sounded like random noise.

It meanders aimlessly without ever really getting anywhere.

It felt more like a National Lampoon’s movie set during the Korean War than it did an honest exploration of the horrors of war and how people cope with them. The war took such a back seat to the hijinks that it might as well have not been set during that time at all.

Good Stuff:
I liked how compassionate Hawkeye and Trapper John occasionally were. They prevent a man from committing suicide, try to keep their Korean servant (Ho Jon, played by Kim Atwood) from being conscripted into the Korean army, and save the life of a half-American, half-Japanese baby when other American doctors refused to do so. It was sweet.

The Verdict:
I saw this once before and didn’t recall not liking it. In fact, I was looking forward to seeing it again. Unfortunately, this time around I thought it was terrible. Really terrible. I pretty much hated it. Hawkeye, Trapper John, and Duke are basically these incredibly arrogant doctors who want everything done their way and whenever someone tries to say no, they ruin their lives. They have one man dragged away in a straight jacket, expose a woman to the whole camp while she’s showering (not to mention the time they broadcast her sexual liaison over the camp radio), and drug & blackmail another man. Granted, all of those people were jerks, but I’m not convinced that frontier justice was the answer. The movie wanted me to believe that it was all in good fun, but I felt appalled the whole way through.

It’s horrifically sexist. And just when I thought it was pretty good on the racism front, a black character named “Spearchucker” Jones (played by Fred Williamson), who was also a doctor by the way, appeared. I mean, really. Maybe I’m getting cranky in my old age but by the end I felt rather stumped as to how this was so beloved that it got turned into a TV series (which is far superior in every regard). If you love the show, I’d give this one a definite pass to preserve your warm and fuzzy memories.

I give it 2 stars.

Random Fun Fact: I used to work with the niece of Sally Kellerman (“Hot Lips” Houlihan). She looked just like her.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

AFI Top 100, #57: "The Third Man" (1949)

Movie Stats:
Released 1949 (UK)
British, in English (lots of German, much of it non-translated, and a little Russian, non-translated)
Director - Carol Reed
Stars - Joseph Cotten, Alida Valli, Orson Welles, Trevor Howard

Plot Summary:
When down-on-his-luck pulp writer Holly Martins (Cotten) is offered a job in post-WWII Vienna by his long-time friend Harry Lime (Welles), he arrives to find Lime dead and himself embroiled in a mystery. Valli co-stars as Lime’s lover, Anna Schmidt, and Howard as Major Calloway, a police commander in the British sector of Vienna (Austria was occupied by Allied forces for 10 years after the war).

Non-graphic violence (very minor).

Bad Stuff:
In the beginning, I thought Martins was a lot to take. He spent a lot of time running around, acting like a loud, blustery American. It was annoying. (Luckily he got better.)

While I enjoyed the zither music that made up the majority of the soundtrack, it didn’t match the tenor of the film. The music is upbeat, chipper, and playful. The movie is not.

The action sequences are laughably terrible, but that’s rather typical for the time period.

Good Stuff:
I loved Major Calloway. He was so very, very British. His dry sense of humor, and witty put-downs, made me laugh every single time.

I thought it made some fairly profound observations on human relationships, in particular: just because someone you love has done something terrible, that doesn’t mean that you stop loving them. I enjoyed watching Martins struggle with his feelings.

Some scenes are incredibly well done, almost perfect. In particular, whenever [SPOILER] Martins and Lime [SPOILER] were on-screen together, it was electric.

The Verdict:
I figured out the mystery pretty early, but I’m not sure if that’s because it was obvious, because I was astute, or because I may have, at some point, heard someone blab the truth. It’s probably #3. Honestly, it’s hard to stay spoiler-free about a movie when it’s 66 years old. Anyway, because I figured it out early, it was difficult for me to really get into the mystery aspect, but there was still a lot that I enjoyed about it. The performances were all-around pretty good. The story was fairly solid (although, given the resolution of the mystery, I’m not sure why Lime invited Martins to Vienna to begin with). I liked the exploration of relationships, and I especially liked that it didn’t “go there” when it came to an obvious chance for romance.

I give it 4 stars.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Up with U.S. Geography: Delaware

State Name:


Date of Entry:
December 7, 1787


Map of the USA. Delaware shaded dark & tagged.

A close-up of Delaware & its neighbors.

Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Jersey

Water Borders:
Delaware Bay, North Atlantic Ocean

Total Area:
1,982 square miles

Five Largest Cities:
Wilmington, Dover, Newark, Middletown, Smyrna

Famous Geographical Point:
Delaware Bay

State Nickname:
The First State, because it was the first state.

Famous Person:
George Thorogood, musician (“Bad to the Bone”)

Book Set In/About:
And Never Let Her Go by Ann Rule

The true story of a well-to-do lawyer who murdered his former lover. Normally, I wouldn’t include a true crime book here, but I actually read this one a number of years ago. It’s very good and there’s a lot of information about Delaware in it.

Movie Set In/About:
“Fight Club” (1999), directed by David Fincher

A man, suffering from insomnia and in search of relief, makes a new friend who introduces him to an underground fighting ring. I had no idea that this book/movie was set in Delaware but the internet insists that it is, and it’s a great movie, so here we are.

Headline of the Day:
“Layoffs Could Spur Delaware’s Bioscience Industry” in The News Journal (delawareonline)

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Up with U.S. Geography: Maintenance Post

It occurred to me recently that I don’t know much more about U.S. geography than I do about world geography, so I decided to expand my Geography Project. From now on, I’ll be doing once-monthly posts about U.S. states. These posts will be very similar to my world geography posts, except that I’ve taken out the Continent category (since they’re all part of the same continent). Instead, I’ll give you two new categories: Date of Entry and State Nickname. I’ll be doing them in order of entry to the union. Therefore, the first one will be Delaware, a post that will be up within the next few days.

Here’s a refresher course on what information these posts will contain:

State Name:
This is the name of the state, in English.

This is the name of the state’s capital city, in English.

Date of Entry:
The date that the territory became a U.S. state.

There will be two for each state. One will depict where in the U.S. the state is located. The other will be a close up of the state, including the names of the surrounding states, countries and/or water. These maps will be hand-drawn by me.

This will denote all of the states/countries that share a border with the state in question.

Water Borders:
This will denote any large bodies of water that make up an entire border or a significant partial border of the state in question. Included are: oceans, seas, gulfs, and occasionally bays, rivers, and lakes.

Five Largest Cities:
The five largest cities in the state in descending order. Population numbers will not be given because such stats are very changeable.

Famous Geographical Point:
An interesting and/or well-known geographical point of the state. Where possible, I’ve picked things that should be known across the country, i.e. the Grand Canyon or Death Valley. They will all be naturally occurring, i.e. nothing manmade.

Note that some states have several famous geographical points. Please don’t be offended if I didn’t pick the one you think I should have, but feel free to add your suggestions in the comments.

After getting to know a little bit about the geography of each state, I thought it would be fun to know some of the culture/pop culture. Therefore, I’m including the following categories:

State Nickname:
The state’s nickname, in English.

Famous Person:
A famous person who was born in that state. I am not including people who were born elsewhere but moved to that state, even if they did so as babies. Where possible, I’ve picked a name that I recognize. Barring that, I’ve picked someone who sounded interesting to me upon further research. I’m trying to keep this fun, so I’ve picked people who have had a positive influence on the world, so don’t expect to find despots or criminals in here (i.e. no Ted Bundy, etc.). Presidents are too easy so I’m unlikely to pick them.

Note that pretty much every state has produced multiple famous people. Please don’t be offended if I didn’t pick the one you think I should have, but feel free to add your suggestions in the comments.

Book Set In/About:
A book either set in and/or about the state, either fiction or non-fiction. I took suggestions from Goodreads and tried to pick books with ratings of 4 stars or higher. I also tried to pick books that sounded interesting, in case you or I might want to read them someday.

Note that pretty much every state has produced lots of literature. Please don’t be offended if I didn’t pick the book you think I should have, but feel free to add your suggestions in the comments.

Movie Set In/About:
A movie either set in and/or about the state, either fiction or non-fiction. In some cases, I had to settle for a movie made by a director from that state. I took suggestions from several sources online and checked them against IMDB. I tried to pick movies with a rating of 7.0 or higher, in case you or I might want to watch them someday.

Note that pretty much every state has produced lots of movies. Please don’t be offended if I didn’t pick the film you think I should have, but feel free to add your suggestions in the comments.

Headline of the Day:
Right as I am about to post the state, I will google the state’s name. The first news headline that pops up will be what I post here.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Solo at the Movies: "Crimson Peak" at Cinemark 18 & XD

While I was deep in the trenches doing editing work on my latest book last month, I missed doing this series. I’ll try to catch up with two movies this month.

I’m issuing a general SPOILER ALERT for this review.

Theater Info:
Cinemark 18 & XD
6081 Center Drive, Los Angeles
Cost: $7.50 for an “early bird” showing (first show of the day, I guess)

Movie Stats:
Released 2015 (USA)
American & Canadian, in English
Director - Guillermo del Toro
Stars - Mia Wasikowska, Tom Hiddleston, Jessica Chastain, Charlie Hunnam

Plot Summary:
When young, would-be author Edith Cushing (Wasikowska) meets the handsome, charming English baronet Thomas Sharpe (Hiddleston), she’s swept into a world of mystery and danger. Chastain co-stars as Thomas’s sister, Lucille, and Hunnam as Edith’s childhood friend, Dr. Alan McMichael.

Minor blue language; sexy times; brief male nudity (butt only); graphic violence & gore.

Bad Stuff:
My main problem with horror/scary movies is that the characters are often forced to behave in incredibly stupid ways in order to further the plot. While this movie is refreshingly mostly-free of that, I had to wonder why the ghost of Edith’s mother, instead of issuing the vague warning “beware of Crimson Peak,” a name that Edith would never hear from Thomas’s mouth until it was far too late, she couldn’t have said, “hey, marry the hunky doctor who’s clearly in love with you instead of that handsome British guy you’ve known for a hot minute.” I suppose we wouldn’t have had a movie in that case though.

Honestly, the ghosts, as much as I enjoyed them, seemed rather superfluous to the rest of the story. I feel that the character of Edith was smart enough to figure out what was going on without the ghosts’ help.

Hunnam’s accent was so distracting. In his first scene, I was like, “Ah, they’re letting him use his natural accent,” but no, he ended up sounding sort-of-American, sort-of-something else the whole film. I’ve heard him do a passable American accent, so I’m not sure what was up with that.

Good Stuff:
Okay, so they may have been superfluous, but holy crap, those ghosts looked very cool and they were SO creepy. I liked them a lot.

This cast was rock solid. Everyone was extremely good (even Hunnam, if you ignore the accent problem). I was very pleasantly surprised to see Jim Beaver (as Edith’s dad, Carter), who I’ve loved since his days as Bobby on Supernatural, and Burn Gorman (as private investigator Mr. Holly), who cemented his place in my heart when he was Owen on Torchwood. I think the acting gold star probably goes to Chastain, though. She was terrifying.

Visually, it’s stunning.

I loved that the men were so bad at saving Edith that she had to save herself (and Alan). It was quite gratifying.

The Verdict:
As I said, I typically don’t go for scary movies because they tend to be dumb. I was drawn to this one because of Hiddleston, and because it looked pretty (both the cast and the cinematography). Some friends who’d seen it mentioned online that they didn’t find it satisfactory. Perhaps this is why I wasn’t expecting much going in, and why I ended up liking it a lot more than I anticipated. To be sure, it’s not groundbreaking, and it’s fairly cliche. I knew what every plot twist was going to be before it happened. Regardless, it kept me entertained for two hours. I think the cast, and the visuals, really carry it. If it had been done less impeccably, it probably would’ve fallen flat. But it was impeccably done - I expect nothing less from del Toro - and so I rather enjoyed it.

I give it 4 stars.

About Cinemark 18 & XD:
Just off the 405, it’s easy to get to, the parking was easy to find, and that parking wasn’t as expensive as I was expecting, although I was annoyed that I saw no signs anywhere that listed the price (with partial validation, my slightly over 4 hours there cost me $5.00). The theater is quite large, with numerous screens, and for the most part it was clean and nice. However, the employees were rather surly. Also, my particular screening room wasn’t very nice. In fact, there was broken caution tape that had apparently cordoned off one row at one point in time (if the row is now usable, why not remove the tape?) and the seat directly in front of mine (not the same row as the one with the caution tape) was clearly broken, listing to one side. Overall, it was a mostly pleasant experience, but with plenty of nicer theaters closer to me, I doubt I’ll be going back.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Family Keepsakes Fun, Part 2

For the first post in this series, click here.

I've been meaning to do another post in this series for a while, so today I cracked open the second box of keepsakes. This box is much larger than the first. It was difficult to limit myself in terms of things to share. I'll have to revisit the box later and post more. For now, here are the items that caught my attention, posted in no particular order.

First, let's start with some postcards. Below is my favorite, a colorful view of Sparks Fountain in Jackson, Michigan. Growing up, Jackson was only known to me as the place with the state prison. Needless to say, we never visited, but those fountains sure look pretty. I'm tempted now. They're still there, called Cascades Falls. They charge for admission.

The below is one of the worst postcards I've ever seen. I completely forgot to write down the information on the back of the card before I put it back in the box. Since it's all taped up and put away now, I'm not going back in. Just know that it's a motel and the back didn't explain what the white thing in the grass is. I think it may be a bird fountain?

I'll never understand why people used to buy postcards of motels. Maybe they didn't - it's entirely possible that motels used to give these away for free as a form of advertising.

Here are a couple of postcards that I sent to my mom. I'm too shy to tell you what I wrote on the back (although it's pretty mundane). The first was sent in 1995. I lived in Hamburg, Germany at the time, but this is from my trip to Berlin. It's the Berliner Dom (capital building). The second was sent in 2008, when my now-husband and I were on vacation on Maui. It's a picture of the Lahaina harbor.

I could resist including a scan of this brochure of Luray Caverns outside of Luray, Virginia. I wanted you to see the stylish couple in the picture. This tourist attraction still exists. It actually sounds pretty cool, with a hedge maze and a historical museum. Also, I was amused to discover that someone coopted the name for the game Diablo.

Below is a picture from my uncle's (mother's brother) wedding. I don't know who any of these ladies are. In fact, I labelled this picture "church ladies." However, I greatly admire that epic cake, so I had to include it.

And this is a picture of my maternal grandfather when he was a police officer. He's the one standing behind the seated guy in the middle. He has such a baby face! Also, it's rather uncanny how much my brothers look like him.

I've talked a little bit before about my maternal grandmother's scrapbooks. They're such a treasure trove of information for me. Since I never got to meet her, they help me get to know her a little bit. It's fascinating, seeing what was important to her, trying to figure out why it was and what all of it says about her. She liked to clip poetry and inspirational articles from the paper. There are also a lot of notices such as deaths, accidents, and illnesses. I presume they're about people she knew, although it's possible that, like me, she was simply interested in death and destruction. She was fascinated with telephone operators long before she became one - I can tell that it was a dream job of hers. Also, from the poetry and articles, I got the sense that she was somewhat ambivalent about love and marriage, a narrative consistent with some of the things my mom told me about her.

She had a lot of articles by this woman, Dorothy Dix (her real name, I wonder, or a pen name intended to invoke Dorothea Dix?). This one (in two parts below) left me equal parts depressed and enraged. The sad thing is, the sentiment is still alive and well today, especially given the backlash toward feminism in the last few years. It's funny/disheartening to think that people still say, "Yes, women are oppressed, but they're not as oppressed as they used to be, so chill!" I bet this author never dreamed that people would look back at the time in which she lived and shake their heads about how bad women used to have it.

I was so shocked when I discovered these articles! My grandma was the young woman in this accident, which I never heard anything about before. I wonder if my mom even knew about it. I don't know who her male companion was - presumably her beau at the time. When I first went through her scrapbooks, I found his wedding announcement (I couldn't find it this time; must be in another box). I sort of wondered if she still carried a flame for him at the time he got married.

And this is my grandma's notary certificate (name redacted for privacy). I think it's so funny that she had this elaborate certificate. I was a notary for a while when I lived in Texas, and believe me, it involved no fancy certificates. Note that it was signed by George Romney, father of former governor and sometime presidential candidate Mitt Romney. I don't actually know why my grandma became a notary. As far as I know, after she married my grandpa, she was a stay-at-home mom for the rest of her life. I wish my mom was around to ask.

That's it for now! I hope you enjoyed this trip through my family's memorabilia. More to come in the future!

Thursday, November 5, 2015

AFI Top 100, #58: "Fantasia" (1940)

Movie Stats:
Released 1940 (USA)
American, in English
Director - The only credited director is Norm Ferguson (he did the segment “Dance of the Hours”) but there are ten other uncredited directors.
Stars - There are no stars per se. Deems Taylor does the limited narration. The real stars are the Philadelphia Orchestra, conducted by Leopold Stokowski, and the animators.

Plot Summary:
It’s a series of dialogue-free animated segments set to famous pieces of classical music.

Violence; nudity - for the most part you don’t see anything (the nude fairies and cherubs aren’t exactly anatomically correct), but in the last segment there are some boobs that are quite literally, albeit briefly, in your face (bear in mind that they’re cartoon boobs though).

Bad Stuff:
If you’re wedded to the idea of your films having plot, character development (or even characters really), dialogue, and/or action, then this probably isn’t the movie for you.

The dancing mushroom scene could be construed as racist. It certainly made me uncomfortable.

I thought it was too long. I really enjoyed it in the beginning, but then it felt like it started to drag, particularly during the dinosaur segment.

Good Stuff:
It’s such a cool concept. It’s basically an early form of the music video. I kept thinking about about how awesome it was that the writers and artists got to come up with these ideas to match these classical music pieces. I know I would’ve felt privileged to be a part of it.

A lot of it is very beautiful. Compared to today’s cartoons, the animation isn’t exactly spectacular, but I found it stunning nonetheless. The timing of every scene was flawless. I particularly loved the early segments with the fairies and flowers.

Great soundtrack!

The Verdict:
I was surprised by how thematically dark some of the segments were. I wonder if that’s why my mom never showed it to us; she preferred her entertainment to be very 1950s “wholesome.” And yes, you read that right, not only did I never see this movie as a kid, I never saw it before today! I knew about the Sorcerer’s Apprentice segment, and there was something familiar about the hippo ballerina, but other than that, it was all new to me. I really enjoyed the idea of it, and loved the earlier segments. Once it got into the second half, it began to lose my interest. I found my mind wandering, noticing that the filmmakers didn’t seem afraid of science (refreshing in this day and age) and feeling a bit confused by the Greek segment because the Greek revival had its heyday in the early 1900s, so it seemed a bit out of place in a 1940 movie. At any rate, I liked it well enough and thought it was well done. I can see why it’s beloved by so many people.

I give it 3.75 stars.