Saturday, August 15, 2009

If I Were a Carpenter-Music Review

Since many "gay" features and stereotypes are attributes I have, and I am quite proud of, it should be no surprise to anyone that I love Karen and Richard Carpenter. In fact, I'd probably loose my gossamer wings and fairy dust if I did not. Karen's voice was unique and Richard's expressions were always right on the mark. If I Were a Carpenter is a collection of Carpenter covers that does justice to music I would almost consider sacrosanct. Even fifteen years after this compact disc's release I come back to this collection time and time again.

My favorites from this CD include:

-Shonen Knife's version of Top of the World.
-Sonic Youth's Superstar.
-The Cranberries take on Close to You.
-Dishwalla's twist on It's Going to Take Some Time.
-Johnette Napolitano's reinvention of Hurting Each Other.
-Babes in Toyland remaking Calling Occupants of Interplanetary Craft.
-4 Non Blondes magical Bless the Beasts and the Children.

Though these are my favorites from the collection I do love all the songs and respect every change each band made to their song. Each song is a fitting tribute to a dynamic music duo that will always have a place in music history. Just one of the things I listened to today, but this one gets 5 stars out of 5.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Bountiful Black Eyed Susans-Fumbling for Feedback

I'm never at a loss for words, but I'm feeling that I might need some feedback. I would like to know if any of you have questions that might give me a jump start for posts. What would like to hear about in my blog? My life is pretty much an open book, I just need to know which chapters you want to hear about. I have a lot of trouble formulating posts for the blog and sometimes I feel it would be easier if I was trying to answer a question versus trying to come up with a topic. If Stan and I are talking it is very easy for me to go on for hours about a topic, but it is hard for me to chose a topic to talk about on my own. I think I'm always afraid I won't be interesting. It is very easy to tear myself down. Stan thinks video blogging might help, because he thinks way too much of me gets lost in the translation to a typical blog post. What are your thoughts?

It has been a great day here in NH. The sun has been shining all day. Stan and I walked with the kids earlier and have been working in the garden for the rest of the day. He has been working on the creating the terraced steps in the back yard. We had to tear apart the back yard when the addition was built and slowly we have been pulling things together back there. I've been working to create the new side patio space. It sounds a lot more grand that it is. I also needed to clear the space on the driveway for the four pallets of pellets that will be delivered next week. Stan likes my new phone so much that he is going to get the same model when he renews next week.

Tonight we are going to the Imperial Garden, which is our local Chinese restaurant here in Farmington. We are meeting our neighbors Deb and Deb there. They have been together for a long time and are very community minded, and terribly funny. They live just a few doors down from us and we are trying to nurse the new friendship. It is hard to find people to socialize with here, so every opportunity is pretty important to us. They are also inviting some of their friends, so I know we will have a good time tonight.

How should you deal with a zombie?

One of my favorite short films about how to deal with zombies.

Zombie Wars-Film Review

Zombie Wars was an interesting concept, but the lack of a credible budget and bad choices from the writer/director sends this film to the depths of zombie movie obscurity. Much of the dialogue and story setup is worthless. The editing and acting aren't the worst I have seen, but both are just above amateur most of the time. There did not seem to be a lot of gore in this film and what was there certainly reflects the low budget this film had. I don't think I once felt scared and the film doesn't have a suspenseful bone in its body. Not a film I would ask even die hard zombie fans to watch. 1.5 stars out of 5.

Rachel's thoughts on Teabagging

The Rachel Maddow Show: Insani-Tea: Conservatives Rally Around "Teabagging"

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Striking Stripes-The Husband Returns!

Yet another cloudy day in New Hampshire. That should make it easier for me to work in the yard and move the last bits of the enormous mulch pile in the driveway, but I am a little disappointed that I won't be able to paint today. The photo is of my striped dahlia. It gets a lot of attention from people walking by the house.

I'm loving my new upgraded cell phone. I wasn't expecting too much, but the LG CF360 is a lot better than I expected. It has a good weight, is easy to read, has good speakers and microphone, and I'm loving having online access via phone. I'm still trying to learn all the new shortcuts and the phone menu layout is a bit confusing on this phone. I think I want to purchase a bluetooth headset to listen to music. I found a few good candidates on Amazon.

Stan will return home this afternoon from the Attitash Resort. Yeah! The four day science conference went well, but he is ready to be home. He doesn't get cell coverage at the hotel, so he has been driving to a place where he could get coverage just to be able to call me. We have a couple of movies to watch tonight and Stan has a ton of stuff to catch up on tomorrow.

Gay Siblings-Film Review

Both my brother and I are gay, so this concept sounded intriguing when I ran across it. I wish I had better things to say about this show. Unfortunately, Gay Siblings was about what I have come to expect from shows on LOGO. Lots of drama and very little substance. Each of the three stories in the show was very interesting and I can certainly say that I got caught up in the drama of each family, but after seeing this program I can't say that I know any more about gay siblings. The lack of substance aside, I also felt like each story was distilled to the very basics; the story of each group of siblings could easily have filled the entire episode. I liked the fact that the show focused on how the siblings were going through problems together regardless of their sexuality, but I thought the focus of this documentary was supposed to focus on their sexuality. If I wanted to see a documentary on typical brothers and sisters I'm sure I could find plenty. Also, if you are reading the Netflix synopsis it incorrectly in states that this episode includes a segment about a straight man who adopts his lesbian sister’s child. It might be in another episode of this series, but it is not on this disc. Overall, this show jumps around way too much and loses its focus too often. Barely 3 stars.

Persepolis-Film Review

Persepolis exceeded every expectation I had. It is a truly beautiful dramatic film in every way possible. This film fills you with sadness, warmth, laughter, and pain. Marjane Satrapi's story is fairly simple, but has a unique voice that is as compelling as its' visual style. It is an atypical coming of age story, until you throw in the Iranian Revolution in the late seventies and the experiences brought to Marjane's life because of the revolution. I love animated features, but this film's black-and-white graphic art sets it apart from the rest; the art may be two-dimensional but the emotion and soul of the visual style give this film an awesome presence. Catherine Deneuve, Danielle Darrieux, Gena Rowlands, and Iggy Pop are four of the featured voices and happen to be personal favorites. The voice work of this diverse cast fills the characters with life and adds to the film's layers. This French drama is a distinctive addition to cinema and will find its way into my collection. Highly recommended. 5 glorious stars.

Austin Powers in Goldmember-Film Review

Austin Powers is all about mojo. Goldmember certainly entertains you, but let me tell you Austin's mojo is getting pretty weak. The opening sequence was tremendous fun, with big splashy dance numbers, tongue on cheek humor, and plenty of cameo appearances. I only wish the rest of this psychedelic adventure could have been as good. Many of the jokes and gags the film employs from the previous films are becoming tiresome, to say the least. There are a lot of laughs packed into this film, but there is too much recycling going on and that just makes Austin, Dr. Evil, and everyone else seem lame. Doctor Evil and his cohort have always been my favorites and their twisted, loony antics just barely kept me interested. The story is a a little tired as well and once again pulls much from the previous films. Beyoncé Knowles did a pretty good job as Foxxy Cleopatra and Michael Caine is credible as Austin's absent father. Austin Powers In Goldmember should be the last time we see Austin on screen. It's time for Austin to retire to his boudoir, before he looses all of his mojo...again. 3 stars

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Were the World Mine-Film Review

Were the World Mine is the kind of gay fantasy film I live for. It features beautiful songs, unusual and robust dance numbers, and has all sorts of fairy dust coating the story. It follows a partial re-telling of A Midsummer Night's Dream, giving that play a modern update and a gay twist here and there. The main character, Timothy, is a gay student at an all boy's school and doesn't really feel like he fits in. He is isolated and teased, but not for long. His drama teacher, Ms. Tebbit insists he play Puck in the school play and that's where the fun and laughs begin. Wendy Robie, Tanner Cohen, Zelda Williams, and Nathanial David Becker really sell their parts and the rest of the cast doesn't disappoint. The sets, costumes, and visual style of the film sparkle with fresh, yet surreal flourishes. Unfortunately, this really isn't a coherent musical as the song and dance numbers are rare and don't necessarily move the story forward; sometimes they just seem to halt abruptly. There are lots of clichés and just as many stereotypes jumping off the screen, which hurts this film's integrity and insults the audience's intellect. A film I enjoyed very much and one I will own some day, but not a film for everyone. 4 shiny, beaming stars out of 5.

Grey Gardens-Film Review

I wasn't sure how anyone could make a film honoring the life of big and little Edie, especially since the 1970's documentary really made me feel terribly sad. In that documentary I felt like the the Maysles brothers, who directed the documentary of the duos existence, were somehow exploiting two hurt, isolated, codependent human beings. It was painful to watch sometimes. With that being said, this film casts a beautiful light on the pair's lives and strange choices, and did a better job of explaining how these two women had come to this place in life. The best thing going for the film was casting Drew Barrymore and Jessica Lange as the leads. Their impersonations of the mother and daughter are uncanny and their performances show the great effort they applied to truly embody their respective characters. The work put into recreating Grey Gardens also helps to elevate this film's potential impact on a viewer. Whether seen condemned or in its' heyday, the house and estate that were Grey Gardens are just as important a player in this pair's life, and this film shows that. If recreations of documentary footage help give context to their later years, the flash back sequences to the years before their Grey Gardens sequestration are even more important to bring understanding to these unique individuals. The sets, makeup, and costumes were amazing in this period drama and the weaving of fact and fiction seemed seamless. Grey Gardens is a film well worth watching. 4 slightly tarnished, solid gold stars.

The Day the Earth Stood Still-Film Review

Generally, it is always best not to compare an update to a classic, if you don't want to be disappointed. The Day the Earth Stood Still is an inventive, modern update of the classic film by the same name. Sci-fi films seem to be remade often, many times with disastrous results. I think this remake does break some new ground without dishonoring the original. I wasn't at all bothered by the changes to characters or the story itself and the newest CGI special effects are a great addition to the film. The 2008 version focuses on global climate change as the reason for Klaatu's visit. Keanu Reeves is perfect as the seemly emotionless alien Klaatu. I have thought for years that Keanu Reeves has had his emotion chip removed, but that works to his advantage in this role. Jennifer Connelly is convincing in her role as an exo-biologist and John Cleese steals the show in his short time on screen, as her father. This movie has its flaws. It starts off very slowly, it has multiple contradictions and ultimately the ending is not satisfying, but this film kept me interested. If you have not seen the original, see it. If you want to try something different, give this a try. This version isn't going to make your world stand still, but the original message of our world needing to embrace itself for our species to survive still rings true. 3.5 stars out of 5.

Blade: House of Chthon-Film Review

Blade: House of Chthon is pretty good for a TV pilot, but ultimately fairly bland. This canceled TV series looks like it really had potential. Kirk "Sticky Fingaz" Jones created an interesting interpretation of Blade. I though the rest of the cast was fairly talented for a sci-fi/fantasy series. You can definitely tell this was produced for television consumption; the special effects are limited and the dialogue cliched. The storyline certainly mimics average TV fodder and doesn't offer anything new. I would only recommend this title as a rental if your expectations aren't too high. 3 stars out of 5.

Chevy Volt to get 230 mpg rating!

Now this is a car Stan and I might be able to stand by. 230 mpg rating! We'll be keeping track of the Chevy Volt's progress.

Protesters amass in advance of Obama - Dover NH

Failing to reform health care 'truly scary,' Obama says

...and the health care debate comes to my neck of the woods. Whatever side of the debate you are on, left, right, or in the middle, please make sure to independently educate yourself about this issue. It is a terribly important issue for our nation's survival and its' spirit.

Eunice Kennedy Shriver dies at 88

A brassy, sassy, classy lady who championed equal rights for those with physical and cognitive disabilities and who constantly fought for social justice, long before it was popular. She dedicated her life to helping others and was a personal inspiration. You might think the world is a little dimmer, now that she is gone, but the truth is that it is still as bright, as her courageous example and and fierce dedication to helping others influenced so many lives in a truly positive manner. I am sorry she is gone now, but I'm so glad I was here to see her work bear fruit. May she always be remembered for showing the brightest side of the human soul.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Heavenly Hydrangea

Both of these hydrangea are only a few years old and are variants of the snowball hydrangea common in many gardens. They have trouble with our harsh winters, but we have managed to nurse them this far. They like rich moist soil, but they don't like to have their roots too wet. The snowball puffs will eventually get to be four inches or more across and the bush will grow to be as tall as a large ornamental tree or shrub. You can let them grow as shrubs, but they take up a lot of space that way. A showy plant that blooms in late summer.

Sorority Boys-Film Review

Sorority Boys is a screwball comedy that I felt delivered most of the time and I would be telling a lie if I said that Stan and I didn't like this film, but it is not going to be for everyone and most certainly may offend. The Netflix synopsis is completely incorrect, so don't bother reading that if you are a member of that service. Sorority Boys actually follows three seasoned frat boys that are thrown out of their house and shunned by their brothers after being framed for a crime they say they didn't commit. They plot to clear their names by dressing in drag and becoming members of the sorority house across the way, so they can get access to their former abode and get the evidence they need to clear their names. The ninety three minutes of the film are about as far as you can get from an intellectual experience. Thankfully, that is exactly what this film is supposed to be doing. It starts off a bit slow and off kilter, but by the middle of the film it is one laugh after the other. This movie has some substantial quieter moments, with emotional growth and understanding from the main characters and that lends a lot of weight to the message of the film. These gender bending sorority boys know how to put on a show without compromising their masculine manifest destiny. 3.5 stars out of 5.

ZA: Zombies Anonymous-Film Review

I couldn't help feeling a little impressed after watching ZA: Zombies Anonymous. This is definitely a low budget feature, so you really need to keep that in mind when deciding whether the movie is for you. With that being said, this film has fairly good writing and was a lively reinvention of the zombie genre. The characters in the story are interesting, certainly not what you would expect, and the acting wasn't horrible. I loved the fact that this zombie flick uses a twisted/abusive relationship to motivate the characters and eventually turns the story back on itself. ZA incorporates just the right amount of social commentary, gore, and drama to create a story you can really sink your teeth into and in my opinion is a credit to C-movie horror culture. Just barely 3 stars out of 5.

Failure to Launch-Film Review

I would suggest going into this film with low expectations if you do choose to watch it. Failure to Launch is a typical cliche ridden, canned flick from the hollow heart of Hollywood. This rom-com is entirely too predictable and the characters are cookie cutter confections. Many of the comedic thrills take the form of low brow laughs instead of employing stylized humor. Sarah Jessica Parker's performance isn't that bad, but it isn't great either. Matthew McConaughey relies way too much on his good looks to sell his character; actually acting would have helped his performance tremendously. The brief performances offered by Kathy Bates, Zooey Deschanel, and Terry Bradshaw are short glimpses at the potential this film had, given the correct ingredients. This one could have been called "Faliure to Have Any New Ideas", but I suppose the real title it has says just as much. Barely 3 stars out of 5.

Someone is killing horses in Southeast Florida

I can't adequately put into words how much disgust and ill will I feel for the people doing this. Horses are truly special creatures and it saddens me beyond words that a human being is responsible for such heinous cruelty toward an animal.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Revolutionary Road-Film Review

Revolutionary Road is a classy, superb film that deserves attention because it puts a defined, focused lens on a period of American history that is often misrepresented as a gilded age, without looking at the costs of that glossy facade. This 1950's period drama packs an emotional punch and strikes just the right cords to create an engaging, compelling character study. Seeing Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio in these roles convinced me that they were the best match to pull off the tense power struggle between the leads. Watching this young Connecticut couple trying to survive in the the straight laced suburban culture of the fifties really pulls at your heartstrings. Revolutionary Road is a complex story and it is obvious great attention was paid to every detail. The beauty of the sets, costumes, and nuanced dialog may cast this piece as remarkable, but those elements pale in caparison to the sad social messages this film exposes. Destined to become a classic. 5 incredible stars.

Between Something and Nothing-Film Review

This film says it is an an exploration of the "drug, sex and money-fueled world of the art school elite", but Between Something & Nothing is nothing but a drawn out disappointment. This surreal story follows a group of young college students trying to find themselves while attending art school.Unfortunately, the story is as imperfect as the flawed, self destructive characters in the film. The story lacks cohesion, the dialog is pathetic, motivations are unclear and contradictory, and the acting is average most of the time. Most of the sets are bare bone accessories to the story and certainly don't provide any kind of atmosphere at all. I think the editing was done well, but the sound quality of this piece is very substandard. This script had many places it could go, but it takes you nowhere. An empty movie I would not ask anyone to see. 2 stars out of 5 and that is being generous.

The Business of Fancydancing-Film Review

I was surprised with how much Sherman Alexie was able to accomplish with this gay independent film, especially with such a tiny budget. The Business of Fancydancing is a cultural art piece. It is not a linear story and its' visual feel is much like the poetry collection used in the film; it is raw, symbolic, emotional, and honest. The script was interesting, the actors were of a higher caliber than I expected, and I was impressed with the cinematography. I also thought the characters were difficult to connect with and the story wondered far too often. An indie film that delivered much more than I thought it could, but a film I think most people would have a hard time sitting through. 3 stars out of 5.

Daunting Days, Darling Dahlia

It has been a busy weekend. We have been working at the rental to catch up with yearly repairs and to fix the upstairs toilet. The rest of the last three days we have been working on various garden projects. Stan and I moved the old bulkhead of the house we saved during the renovations and put in in a permanent place in the backyard. It will be a gardening tool shed now. It needs to have a back put on it and seriously needs to be repainted, but other wise it is ready to go. Stan also started the steps that will lead into the lower portion of the back yard. We went shopping and spotted a few good 47" and 50 " LCD TVs that are within the price range we were looking at. We will purchase a new TV when the new media room is finished in a few months. The old TV will go into the bedroom, so it won't end up in a landfill. Dennis is coming over to see us for movie night. We are making a veggie lasagna with white sauce, rolls, and a salad for dinner. We rented "S is for Sexy" which by its' rating is probably middle of the road. This one is in English, so Dennis will be ok with it. It will be nice to have a few drinks and relax tonight. Tomorrow Stan heads off for four days at the Attitash Resort for the science conference he is attending.