Showing posts from 2012

The Muppet Movie (1979) and The Muppets (2011)

I have fond memories of watching The Muppet Movie in a theater with my family. I guess I was nine, since it came out in 1979. Seeing a movie in a theater was a huge treat for us, but what I remember the most is my parents breaking into song once we got home. They started singing "Moving Right Along," which thereafter became a family joke -- we'd sing it at each other at odd moments, especially when we were trying to leave the house or when we wanted someone to move. I've enjoyed all of the Muppet movies since, but the original was my favorite. When The Muppets came out in 2011, I didn't expect much, but the reviews I read were good, so I raised my expectations, probably a little too much. It had a few good moments (my kids love the part where Chris Cooper raps), but it didn't approach my memories of the original. I recently watched the original again and confirmed that it's a classic. It has such a goofy sense of humor and the cameos are delightful, es…

Freaks and Geeks (1999)

This one-season TV show from 1999 was recommended to me and Jon some years ago, but the first couple of episodes just seemed depressing, so we didn't get any further. I mean, it takes place in 1980 in a high school and everyone seems to be wearing olive drab. It seemed painfully realistic. But during one of my recent knitting projects, I decided to give it another try. I loved it. It's more innocent and familiar than other high school TV shows I've watched recently, like Veronica Mars or Buffy the Vampire Slayer. There are still the obligatory high school themes -- cliques, sex, drugs, parties, sneaking around, etc. -- but everything seemed more realistic than in other shows. Painful, yes, but also funny and heartfelt and touching. Maybe that's why it only got one season. Not enough soap opera-y drama! Every character on the show is believable. Quirky but not excessively so. Regular but not boring. In fact, I think one of its triumphs is showing that everybody has a…

The Dark Knight (2008) and The Dark Knight Rises (2012)

I watched The Dark Knight again with my oldest three boys. They hadn't seen it yet. I was disappointed in it the first time around and I still didn't like it nearly as much as Batman Begins, which is an excellent origin story movie, I think. The Dark Knight is (surprise!) dark and the plot is fairly complicated. And yes, Heath Ledger does a fine Joker. But I didn't enjoy it that much. Maybe Two-Face is too sad or something. But I'm glad I watched it with my boys, partly so I could remember its darkness and know what the boys were seeing and partly because it's important to the plot of The Dark Knight Rises. Which we were lucky enough to see in a second-run theater just a couple of days after watching The Dark Knight. It wasn't the best theater experience -- the focus was off for a little while and there are other things that make this particular theater second-run -- but it's a great movie. I loved the villain and his populist rhetoric. Catwoman was wonde…

Watched in or near 2011

More catching up. 17 Miracles (2011): Really good movie about the Mormon handcart companies.Winnie the Pooh (2011): I liked it a lot! I'm a Winnie the Pooh fan.Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (2011): Enjoyable and not as convoluted as the others (although I liked the others a lot, too).Mansfield Park (1999): I like this movie a lot, although it doesn't have a lot to do with Jane Austen's novel.Monday Monday (2009): A British TV series, good, fairly short.Jerry Maguire (1996): I liked this.Killers (2010): Funnier than I thought it would be.Crazy, Stupid Love. (2011): I really liked this, although the end was overly cheesy and unlikely.Raising Arizona (1987): One of my favorite movies ever!How Do You Know (2010): I really like Reese Witherspoon, but this was just okay.Dear Lemon Lima (2009): Really good music and I liked it, but I didn't like one major part of the plot.The Tenant of Wildfell Hall (1996): A pretty good adaptation of Anne Brontë's novel.It…

Movies watched in 2010 (or thereabouts)

Yes, I'm behind. This is catch-up. Date Night (2010): Loved it!Koyaanisqatsi (1982): I liked this. So did the kids, surprisingly enough.Powaqqatsi (1988): Not as good as the first one.Naqoyqatsi (2002): Even less good than the second one, although the kids liked it because of a couple of scenes from video games.Robin Hood (2010): So good.Au Revoir Les Enfants (1987): Second time seeing it. It's good.Bright Star (2009): Apparently kind of forgettable.Back to the Future (1985): The kids hadn't seen it before. They loved it, and it was fun to see again.Outsourced (2006): OkayHotel Rwanda (2004): Very good. Moving.Leap Year (2010): Somewhat enjoyable fluff.Whip It (2009): Very good.The Incredible Hulk (2008): Meh.Groundhog Day (1993): Kind of fun.Pizza (2005): Pretty good.Amreeka (2009): Very good. Zed saw this at his Arabic camp at BYU, so we watched it while he was there.Amélie (2001): Cute. We'd had the soundtrack for a while, which is excellent, and I think the movie …

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Schaffer and Annie Barrows

After a brief moment of annoyance at the beginning of this epistolary novel when I thought I might not finish it, I picked it up again and devoured it in a couple of days. It's lovely: funny and moving and informative about the German Occupation of Guernsey, one of the Channel Islands between England and France, during World War II. I loved it.

Rah, rah Rasputin!

It's been a few years since I heard this song, but a few of us were singing it at work the other day and now I can't get enough of Boney M.'s legendary Rasputin. Here's one version from 1978:A shorter version of the same show in color and better quality, but without the fun Moscow photo/film montage:How can the people sit still, looking bored, at the dinner party or whatever that event was? Impossible.Live at Top of the Pops, Christmas 1978:Wacky Count Rasputin version on Italian TV in 1978:And a 30-year reunion live version in Russia, 2008:Not as much to commend that, except the lip-syncing guy doing nice backflips on stage. And everyone having fun with it.There are more, but I'll stop here. It's one of disco's finest tracks.Back in the non-disco world, Rasputin had a daughter, and it's too bad she died before this song became famous:Rasputin's daughter, Maria Rasputin (Matryona Rasputina) (1898–1977), emigrated to France after the October Revoluti…

Debt-Free U: How I Paid for an Outstanding College Education Without Loans, Scholarships, or Mooching off My Parents by Zac Bissonnette

I skimmed much of this book, but I found it very informative and useful. It helped me solidify some plans for our kids' education. As an example of the interesting stuff in here: a study showed that college students who work about 20 hours a week get better grades than those who work full-time and better than those who don't work at all. Now that's the kind of thing I like to learn for future reference, you know? There's a lot of good info for parents about prioritizing saving, too, i.e., savings and retirement should come before your kids' education. It's likely that I will be consulting this book again in the future.

Major Decisions: Taking Charge of Your College Education by Henry J.Eyring

This is now required reading for our kids (along with College Without High School). The first part is about deciding what to major in and the second part is about making the most of your college education once you get there. I wish I had read something like this when I was in high school.

A few years' worth of reading

Twelfth Night by William Shakespeare. A traveling group from Cedar City's Shakespeare Festival performed this at our local high school, and it was fantastic. After we saw it, I came home and read it. Shakespeare is so much fun when you can see it performed, and then it's more fun to read, too. Antigone. This is embarrassing, but I can't remember if I read the play by Sophocles or the one by Jean Anouilh. We have them both, and I read them both in college. On second thought, it must have been the one by Sophocles, because my copy by Anouilh is in French, and I don't think I've read any significant amount of French since college. (A few pages of the first Harry Potter doesn't count.) Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert. I think I made it through about a third of this book before giving up. I have little patience for books that I don't enjoy these days, and this one was self-centered, self-indulgent, and annoying. The Year of Pleasures by Elizabeth Berg. So f…

The Actor and the Housewife by Shannon Hale

It's been a few years since I read this, so I don't have a detailed review, but I enjoyed it. Shannon Hale is funny and insightful and I haven't been disappointed by her yet.

The state of the surveillance state

It’s hard not to be at least a little paranoid when I come across all the following articles in a single day not of concerted search on the subject, but simply following a few links I came across on Twitter:The NSA Is Building the Country’s Biggest Spy Center (Watch What You Say) by James Bamford, longtime NSA watcher — I guess Utah is supposed to thank Orrin Hatch for bringing in some new jobs! Jobs and money über alles.Democratic Senators Issue Strong Warning About Use of the Patriot Act — Senators Ron Wyden and Mark Udall say they are “skeptical about the actual value of the ‘intelligence collection operation’” where even the rules surrounding it are secret.RIAA chief: ISPs to start policing copyright by July 1 — Comcast, Cablevision, Verizon, Time Warner Cable, and other Internet providers plan to monitor customers’ Internet traffic and issue warnings if in their opinion any copyright is violated, absent any legal requirement or framework.How Not to Attract Tourists — “Imagine tha…