Monthly Archives: August 2011

It All Seems So Familiar


This weekend was a movie triple header. The first up was “The Kings Speech.” When this movie came out it really didn’t come out and say “Watch me!” In fact, I really had no intention of seeing at all. And of course when it won four Oscars, including Best Picture, Best Actor in a lead role and Best writer/screenplay, I could most definitely say I did not want to see it. When my boss came in one day and said she saw it and it was really good I was beginning to drift a little closer to the thought of watching it. One night as we were surfing through Netflix my wife saw it and asked me to put it in the que. All I got from the trailer was this movie was about a king that needed a speech therapist. I think that is what turned me off to it because I immediately thought of “My Fair Lady.”

I stand corrected, this movie was very good. Colin Furth plays Prince Albert, the Duke of York and tells the true story of his unfortunate stammering, a very serious speech impediment, especially if you do a lot of public speaking. His very first speech, which his father, King George V insisted he do, was a complete disaster. After seeing specialist after specialist he gave up and said never again. His wife, Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon (Helena Bonham-Carter – nominated for best supporting actress by Oscar), found one anyway. Lionel Lobe, played by Jeffery Rush did an excellent job and should have gotten the Oscar for his nomination of best supporting actor – but I guess Oscar figured four was enough. One of my favorite scenes was when Bertie heard his voice for the first time. One reason I felt good about this movie could have been the fact that I sort of felt for King George the VI because I also had a speech impediment – it wasn’t stammering, but I hated not being understood and having to go to therapy to learn how to talk. I think even since this was based off fact what really kept the movie interesting were the actors. As good as it was I couldn’t help but notice all the Harry Potter actors that were in it. It was almost a Hogsworth reunion. Here is another favorite scene;

No String Attached was another movie I was skeptical about, maybe because of the appearance of Ashton Kutcher as Adam, (for some reason I never really liked his style of comedy), a screenwriter for a TV show that combines musical numbers and high school. Hmm, sounds familiar. This also stars Natalie Portman as Emma (I wonder if the writers toyed with the idea of naming her character Eve), a medical resident in LA. The two first meet in summer camp and become friends –through the years they meet again a few times until they find out they both live in the same city. They start as friends but end up as friends with benefits. Guess the question here if there is a question, is can a man and women have a NSA relationship without love getting in the way? Unfortunately we know what happens in this movie and how it ends, I suppose what made it interesting and a little humorous in spots was getting to that point. This also stared Kevin Kline as Adam’s father – a successful TV star that is now seeing Adam’s ex-girlfriend, and Ludacris as one of Adam’s best friends and confidants. (Some people should stick with one profession and go with it.) And as an afterthought, I usually have a little bit of an issue with too much sex in a movie, but I suppose in this one it is needed. It was a cute movie, but I am glad I didn’t waste money to see this in a theatre.

Our third movie was a little chick flick called You again. The story of a girl named Marnie, played by Kristen Bell, and life in high school and after. Seems she was teased a lot by the school bully Joanna, played by Odette Annable (Never heard of her, but she was in a Transformers movie). After high school Marnie becomes very successful in a PR company and also becomes very hot! [When I first met my wife and we were watching a lot of TV and movies, every time a famous actress or even a hot one came on the screen she would ask me if I would do them. At first I was afraid to answer but I finally figured out a way to make it good. The answer is almost always a “Yes – but I would rather do you.” That was how I answered when she asked about Kristen Bell.] Marnie never forgot about high school and the torture she experienced at the hands of Joanna – something she should really work on. It all comes to a head when she is invited back home, to her home town, to attend her brother’s wedding. If you guessed he was marring Joanna, you would be right. Less than an hour into the film we discover that Marnie’s and Joanna’s mom have history also, played by Jamie Lee Curtis and Sigourney Weaver. Victor Garber also has a role as Marnie’s Dad which he plays very well. Betty Davis has the best lines as Marnie’s grandma and near the end we even see Cloris Leachman in a very small cameo, but worth it. Marnie’s goal in this movie seems to be proving Joanna to be the mean person she really is instead of the one she is playing – all sugar and spice, and very nice. The ending wasn’t too much of a surprise to me but it was a cute movie. I gave it 3 stars on Netflix and it was the worse movie I saw this weekend, so in honor of that, the blooper reel. Enjoy.

 

As I was typing this out I realized that I had something in common with all of these movies. How about you?

Oh, by the way, next month is my Birthday month so watch for some special offers on my books, yes – even the one that I am trying to get my editor to look at. She seems to be stalling and that isn’t a good sign. And I also signed up for my very first Nanowrimo. The hardest part will be to ignore my editing and spelling mistakes as I pound away at the keyboard at 17 wpm. (Yeah, I’m practicing; however typing with a broken finger is a challenge.)

Ships of the Line


Stardate, 334639.04

Friday, August 22nd, 2657

Reported by Lt. Brian Hutchinson

Historical Division

Federation of Planets.

Currently serving on the USS Enterprise – NCC 1701 M

 

For one of the classes on this multi-family exploration Starship, I have been asked for my opinion of the most relevant moments in Federation history involving ships of the line named Enterprise.

I believe I should start at the beginning, which actually starts in 2373, Star Date 50100.2 when the USS Enterprise – NCC 1701-E, commanded by Captain Jean-Luc Picard, follows a Borg sphere into the past to March 2, 2063.

Here the Borg attempted to assimilate Earth before Zephram Cochrane’s first warp drive test that bought about First Contact. With the help of his crew Picard manages to save the future of Earth. I’ve always loved the time travel stories that the Enterprise’s crews and Captains have shared with the Federation readers. The way Picard describes this in his logs the action was fast paced and they saved the Phoenix almost at the last minute, and also destroyed the Borg Queen, but not without some loses in the process.

 

For the next instance, I will pick the incident at Broken Bow on April 16, 2151. Earth’s first encounter with a Klingon brings about the launch of the very first warp drive ship, the Enterprise NX-01 commanded by Captain Jonathan Archer. Against the wishes of the Vulcan High Command the Enterprise launches with a Vulcan Science Officer and Denoblian doctor. This starts an exciting four year voyage where the tenacious starship Captain and his crew meet Klingon, Romulans, Sulaban, Organisms, Onions, Tholians, and Androrians and save Earth from the misguided Zindi. His voyages alone opened up space for more exploration and laid the foot steps that would eventually lead to the beginning of the Federation. Archer eventually became an Admiral in Star Fleet and served in many more campaigns for peace.

 

For another one, we should first pay a visit to 1996 and the Eugenics War and the escape of Khan Noonien Singh in a sleeper ship called The Botany Bay. The ship is recovered accidently in 2267, Star Date 3141.9, by Captain James T. Kirk on the USS ENTERPRISE – 1701. Khan and his crew are awakened accidently and eventually commandeer the Enterprise, coming very close to killing Kirk and his crew before Lt. Marla McGivers comes to her senses and rescues Kirk. For reasons only known to Kirk, the crew of the Botany Bay is stranded on Ceti-Alpha 5. The story doesn’t end here.

In 2285, Star Date 8130.3, First Officer Pavel Chekov, formerly of the USS Enterprise, is serving aboard the starship USS Reliant while they search of a lifeless planet for the Genesis Project. When they get a possible glitch in their sensors from Ceti-Alpha 6 they beam down and investigate further, finding Kahn still alive, and very upset. Khan manages to gain control of the Reliant and the Genesis device. He eventually finds Admiral James T. Kirk aboard the training ship USS Enterprise and manages to set off the device, killing Kirk’s best friend, Captain Spock. Soon after the USS Enterprise, NCC-1701 is destroyed by Admiral James T. Kirk. Many things begin at this point which will eventually help stabilize the Federation, including the rebirth of Spock, the saving of Earth (again) and the peace accord with the Klingon Empire.

 

Which is actually my next little historical note, in 2293 – Stardate 9521.6, Captain Kirk and the new crew of the Enterprise – NCC 1701 A escorts Chancellor Gorkon of the Klingon Empire to a peace conference on Earth. During the voyage Gorkon is assassinated and Kik and McCoy are arrested for murder. The two of them are found guilty then tried on Kronos before being sentenced to the penal asteroid, Rura Pente. After escaping they discovered a conspiracy to undermine the efforts of the peace plan. Once again, Kirk saves Earth. Soon afterwards the Enterprise –A is decommissioned and the higher ranking officers retire.

 

The last item on my list involves “Q”, a member of a race of beings so advanced even now we know little about them. Q had a habit of interfering with the journeys of the USS Enterprise D under the command of Jean-Luc Picard. During one of these chance meetings in 2365, Star Date 42761.3 the crew is sent into system J25 where they meet the Borg. This is possibly the second time, or third that the Borg has been met since Humans discovered warp drive. But this meeting forced the Borg to seek Humans out and eventually meet the Federation in battle. This was a devastating event for the Federation, but because of their overcoming the Borg presence they had a chance to study their science and technology. This helped a lot in the future exploration of the galaxy and humans were a lot more comfortable going where no man has gone before.

 Be sure to warp over to visit Ellie’s blog fest for the rest of the fest!  http://www.elliegarratt.blogspot.com/ 

 

 

Order – Disordered


I was planning on doing more movie reviews this afternoon, but when the wife found out what the movies were she gave me “The look.” This is her trade mark expression whenever she believes I have done something wrong. Her eyes become narrow slits; all you can see is the bright green line of her cornea as her eyebrows crunch down over her brow. Occasionally she will do either the thin flat lipped scowl, or just settle for the jaw dropping expression that says basically, “What the F___ were you thinking?”

Fortunately, I do not get this a lot; in fact this was the first time in at least a month since this look crossed her lovely face. But I got the message loud and clear – the movies, “Gulliver’s Travels” with Jack Black and “The Killer,” with Chow Yun Fat made in 1989, went back to Netflix unopened, and unwatched. Instead this weekend, between cleaning the house, getting rid of the jungle that has spread across our back yard – my wife calls herself the Queen of Thistles because we get so many and they always come back bigger – and suffering through countless hours of news that my mom likes to watch. (Why is that old people – over 80 – like to watch the news so much? I care about what is happening in the world, but I can only take it in small increments no bigger than 90 minutes.) We caught up on the shows we missed for the past two weeks. The Closer, Rissole & Isles, Warehouse 13, The Glades, Memphis Beat, Falling Skies, Alphas, Burn Notice, In Plain Sight, White Collar, and Royal Pains. All of these shows can keep my attention for a little while, until I can see what’s coming before it happens. I pay more attention to the Sci-Fi than anything else except for The Closer and Rissole & Isles.

Warehouse 13 is very enjoyable – some of the stories they come up with about these artifacts are very interesting and will keep you guessing. But when I saw Jerri Ryan get stung by an Egyptian Golden beetle I really expected her to turn into a Borg. Sorry – that is typecasting.

Alphas is okay, a nice fresh look at super powers or are they more like mutants. It is hard to tell but it hasn’t lost me yet.

Falling Skies is keeping my brain moving, which TV shows should do. With the type of race indentified last week as the ones in charge of the Skitters I’m thinking maybe they were originally humanoid. As a side note – I know the season finale was last night, I haven’t watched it yet – with our schedule it will take a couple of days to watch both hours. (A season finale already? Wow.)

Memphis Beat I can do without only because I always see the guy from My Name is Earl and when it comes to situation comedies you better make me laugh in ten minutes or I turn you off for good – that didn’t make the cut.

The rest keep my interest, fresh takes on old themes, and only the occasional story that has run ground so many times. But I understand that when it comes to writing TV mysteries the hardest part is not making it seem so familiar and trying to think of different ways to kill people that haven’t been done before is damn hard.

Between the breaks, early morning rising for early hours, and sometimes when I get home before 1pm, I watch Netflix Instant play, since when they raise their price in September I will be canceling at least that part. I have been watching Star Trek: Enterprise, if I can convince my mom that she has watched enough news. Surprisingly enough she likes it. She says it is a lot more entertaining than the news and I agree. I’m closing in on the last few episodes of Season 3 now, the only season I do not have of any Star Trek series. The acting keeps improving from season to season, and the stories are all beginning to tie in with each other – but there is so much time travel in this four season pre Star Trek: TOS even I am getting confused. I do like the fact that the ships in this are totally CGI – I think all the effects from space are CGI also, I may be mistaken. And what I really like is the fact that they digitally re-mastered the original series to have the same look, CGI planets, ships and everything they could without destroying the feel of the series. Of course they did this right before I got my hands on the original series and – NetFlix Instant play (or whatever it is called) doesn’t have the CGI versions. Bummer.

Since my mom has been living with us for a little over a month it has made life rather interesting, and somewhat strained. But nothing I can’t handle. (I blame my medication for my easy going attitude.) She does embarrass me occasionally, like when we went to an apartment complex, which she knew was an apartment complex, and asked if they provide meals or transportation. “Okay, uh no they don’t, this is not assisted living mom.”

I checked those out too, I don’t understand why some are so expensive. One place wanted $2400.00 a month, true they were all-inclusive, three meals a day, activities, runs to hospitals and doctor offices and even onsite pharmacies, but do they have to take all their money?

But we are getting closer to a solution, and hopefully in a month things may be back to normal.

I hope I didn’t just jinx myself.

Oh yes, must express my condolences for the loss of my step daughters cat, Sushi. She went Sunday to the big scratching post in the sky. Bye Sushie – may cat heaven fit you well.

You have to be true to your own blood, especially if they are retired and extremely dangerous


More to themselves than anything else.

Due to circumstances that were a little out of control; my 81 year old mother is now the newest member of my immediate family. Add to that a 23 year old stepson and a 21 year old stepdaughter, not to mention the six dogs (one is moms) two ferrets, one cat and one rat, the house has become a little crowded. For some unknown reason the kids are beginning to socialize more in person, having more face to face relationships instead of through a computer monitor. And of course they all congregate at the house. All this makes for a noisy house and leaves me only one place to concentrate on writing, at work. There are still too many interruptions there to get in a decent paragraph.

My mom is alright, fairly healthy but forgetful and a little wobbly on her feet. Other than that she can take care of herself. I just dislike watching news all day long, but I know it could be worse.

Surprisingly enough she doesn’t mind watching the shows we record on the DVR, the weird ones the kids complain about.

 

 

For the past month we have been watching True Blood Season 3. Yes we are deprived and don’t have HBO, yet. My wife is a big fan of vampires and watches almost everything out there to do with vampires. Twilight doesn’t appeal to her so we never saw it. She likes the blood and gore about as much as I do. She received True Blood Season 1 for a Christmas present a few years ago and even I got thrown into the life of Sookie Stackhouse and friends. I for one enjoy the older versions of the vampire stories out there, Dracula, Nosferatu, and Anne Rice’s vampire series. (Tried her other books but really never got into them.) But True Blood is totally different.

In this HBO series vampires have come out of the closet or crypt so to speak, and now interact more with humans, only at night, and drink a synthetic mixture called true blood. In season 1 we meet Bill, a vampire that has been around for a couple hundred years. He is infatuated with Sookie – she can read minds, except for vampires. Of course they fall in lust and have a lot of sex, which this show is full of. There is almost as much sex as there is blood. The first seasons explores the realms of vampires and introduces us to a lot other eccentric characters. Sookie’s best friend Tara (spelling) her brother Jason (who is the town idiot that usually is seen having sex with someone.) The area vampire sheriff Eric, who at this time is the oldest vampire we meet. We discover that Sookie’s boss is a shape shifter and this mystery leads us into season 2. This time we have weird people that want to wipe out the vampires because they are evil. There is also some type of voodoo priestess that ends up controlling everyone’s mind, except for Sookie and some vampires. We also meet the woman (would a female vampire be a vampires?) that turned Bill and the Queen of the vampires.

 

Season 3 is a lot better than both those, which is the way it should be. We learn a few things about Bill, and what he is actually doing in Sookie’s life. And some more about Sookie’s amazing powers and what she is. (Sorry – if you’re looking for spoilers, look somewhere else.) We also meet the werewolves. Now these peaked my interest because they were not the normal holly wood version with weird special effects that make their faces distort or have mats of hair glued onto their bodies. They use actual wolfs in the making of this and the only thing they changed were the eye color. The ending of this season puts the mind in gear for Season 4, which we will see when it comes on DVD.

The entire series has a great look to it, very humorous and keeps you wanting a lot more. Considering where they went with season 4, makes you wonder what other supernatural creatures they will come up with for season 5.

 

 

 

 

Sunday we abandoned all hope and watched RED. RED (Retired and Extremely Dangerous) was a very good movie, surprises and twists everywhere with a great ending. For some reason the very last shot brought back memories of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Hmm. It might have been the music.

RED stars Bruce Willis as retired CIA agent Frank Moses. Not only is her retired, he is extremely bored. He ends up falling for a voice on the phone (been there done that), Sarah Ross – the insurance rep trying to find out why he isn’t getting his retirement checks. She is played by Mary Louise Parker. What does age have to do with love? Just kidding, he is only nine years older than her.

Within the first 10 minutes (I think it was 10) someone, actually a lot of someone’s, try to kill Frank. His first thought is the protection of Sarah so off he runs to kidnap her. Through the journey we meet the CIA agent sent out to retire Frank, William Cooper played by Karl Urban. Some of Frank’s old friends Morgan Freeman, John Malkovich (He does play a great crazy person) and Helen Mirren. Plus an old enemy – Ivan Simanov played by Brian Cox. They soon discover that there is a hit team out for all of them – now they have to find out why and who is behind it.

This movie is highly recommended by me, I enjoyed it anyway. There is lots of gun play and neat little tricks to impress any spy lover, great little splashes of humor – usually delivered effortlessly by John Malkovich.

 

If you saw these, let me know what you thought of them. Or let me know what you watched this weekend.