Monday, 24 October 2016

Entertainment Monday: Happy Halloween Themed Songs (Monday, October 24, 2016)

Entertainment Monday: Happy Halloween Themed Songs

I hope that all our readers and their families and friends have a safe and happy Halloween with all sorts of wonderful treats and perhaps just a few harmless and funny tricks.  There are lots of great songs that could be used for Halloween playlists, so here are just a few that I wanted to share, and maybe a song or two will make your Halloween music playlists this year?

First is the classic Werewolves of London by Warren Zevon.

Broken Bells is a group I have shared music from before, but they have the appropriately titled The Ghost Inside which is a nice Halloween treat.

Don't Fear the Reaper is not only an awesome Halloween song but one of the great classic rock songs of all time by Blue Oyster Cult, a band who hails from my native stomping grounds on Long Island in the great state of New York!

Seeing as we have already celebrated the Ghost Inside this Halloween I feel like we should give the Devil his due and share The Devil Inside by INXS.  The Devil Inside has one of the great opening guitar riffs for a song and is one of the iconic songs of the 1980s music scene.

Halloween has been a holiday enjoyed by many generations and as such I wanted to share a song that some of our more mature readers might be able to appreciate in Bobby Darin's Mack the Knife.

Spiders, our little creepy, crawly friends can make even the most macho man scream like a little school girl, so I decided to share the epic Halloween classic, Spider from They Might Be Giants.  TMBG is another band I have previously featured on our Entertainment Mondays and in one of my concert reviews as well.  I hope you'll all enjoy this short 52 second song.

Finally this Halloween I wanted to share one of my all time Halloween playlist favorites, The Dave Mathew's Band's sad and haunting toon, Grave Digger.  This is also probably my favorite DMB song of all time.

:o Feel free to share any of your Halloween favorites in our comments section! :)

Thursday, 20 October 2016

Lola and the boy next door by Stephanie Perkins- Review by Carlyn

Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins is sequel to Anna and the French Kiss. You can read my review here. I loved Anna the French Kiss as it’s a coming of age story and a romance set in Paris. This book is set in San Francisco and Anna is a secondary character. The main character is seventeen year old Delores “Lola” Nolan. Lola lives with her two dads and her dog Heavens to Betsey. She aspires to be a fashion designer and wears flamboyant costumes every day. When Lola learns that Cricket Bell, a boy she once loved is moving back into the neighborhood, it changes her life forever.

 I thought this book wasn’t as good as the first book. I was swept away with the first book as it was adventure to read about Anna living in a foreign country, going to a new school and learning to be independent. Lola’s journey is not as epic but there were some good parts. I liked how Lola was an eccentric who loved to dress up. Yet, she worried about whether her costumes truly expressed her personality or if she was hiding behind it.

There is a love triangle in this book between Lola, Cricket Bell and Lola’s boyfriend Max. Speaking of dream boys, I never liked the name Cricket. I wish that it had been his nickname instead. I suppose it does suit the character since he is described as tall and angular but I found it jarring. It was obvious who Lola would end up with but the love story well written. The romance in the book is passionate but nothing too scandalous for its intended audience.  There are lots of cute moments that young girls will dream about.

Another side plot is Lola’s relationship with her birth mother. Lola lives with two of her adoptive dads and her mother comes in and out of her life. Lola’s mother was a homeless junkie that her parents constantly had to rescue on occasion. Lola has an estranged relationship with her mother, resenting her life choices and burden that she puts on her family.  I thought that storyline could have been explored further.

I recommend this book for anyone wanting a light read that is a coming of age story, with romance and set in a vibrant backdrop. You don’t have to have read the first book to understand this one the first novel is briefly covered in this book.  Anna and Etienne from the first book are secondary characters in this one. It was not just a cameo either, they appear throughout the book. The next book in this trilogy is Isla and the Happily Ever After. I’m looking forward to reading that book and finishing off the rest of the series. The third book is from the point of view of Isla a minor character that was in book one.

Monday, 17 October 2016

Entertainment Mondays: Hello, My name is Doris (Monday 17 October 2016)

Sally Field stars as Doris Miller, 60 year old woman who has lived with her mother for almost her entire adult life. Doris’ mother dies suddenly leaving a huge gap in her life. At work, Doris falls in love with a new employee named John (Max Greenfield), a man in his twenties. Doris tries to win John over by befriending him and through making a fake Facebook profile. Meanwhile, John is oblivious to Doris’ feelings, seeing her only as a friend. While pursuing John, Doris experiences youth culture particularly Hipster trends and learns to become independent.


Sally Fields did an excellent job in portraying Doris as a real and likeable person. Max Greenfield had great chemistry with her too and plays the perfect dreamboat. There were some steamy fantasy sequences that happen between Doris and John which is quite entertaining.
I felt embarrassed for Doris when she was trying to court John and I thought he was way out of her league. I think he only viewed her as cute, eccentric old lady rather than a potential love interest. This movie also highlighted for me, the assumption that I had that older people view younger people like their grandchildren. I had forgotten that older people have desires too. In the movie, Doris went home to take care of her mother when she was in her twenties. One of my friends pointed out that Doris probably still thought of herself as a twenty year old girl which was why she went after John.

I thought this movie was sweet, funny and a little cringe worthy. I liked how Doris tried new things while chasing after John which lead to new friends and opportunities for her. I wanted to know what Doris would do in her new life after the movie ended. I enjoyed seeing her grow more confident and take control of her own life.  It reminded me that you can change your life at any age.

Monday, 10 October 2016

Entertainment Monday: Miss Peregrine's Home For Peculiar Children (Monday, October 10, 2016)

October 10, 2016 Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children Movie:  With Spoilers

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children is the movie adaptation of the best selling young teenagers book by author Ransom Riggs of the same name.  The story chronicles the adventures of a teenage boy named Jacob Portman who is a bit of an awkward, socially shunned teen, who feels very normal and average in virtually every respect.   Jacob's parents worry for Jacob's metal health when Jacob discovers his grandfather, Abraham on the verge of death after what appears to be an intruder's attack.  Jacob sees a monster directly after his grandfather's death prior to which his grandfather tells Jacob he has an unique talent.  Jacob confides the vision of the monster to his parents, who in turn seek a mental health advisor for Jacob.

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Jacob also has time enough with his grandfather to be instructed to go to Wales and find the answers relevant to his talents and to his grandfather's attackers by seeking out Miss Peregrine's school for Peculiar Children.  Through Jacob's psychiatrist, Jacob is able to convince his father to take him to Wales in order to help him come to grips with his grandfather's passing and seek out the home.

Once in Wales Jacob discovers that the home for children his grandfather sent him to was destroyed when it was bombed by German planes on September 3, 1943.  Despite his frustration with his grandfather's miss information, seemingly brought on by dementia, Jacob returns to the wrecked home to search for clues.

During his search of the home he discovers and is spooked by a group of peculiar children hiding there with special, disabilities or abilities depending on one's point of view, who take him through a worm hole in time back to the morning of September 3, 1943 prior to the nighttime bombing of the home.

The children are Emma Bloom, a pretty blond haired teen who has the ability to control air.  She will float if she is not locked down to the ground by lead boots; Bronwyn Bruntely, a little girl who has the strength of 10 men; Enoch O'Connor, a boy who has a penchant for temporarily resurrecting the dead; Fiona Fraeunfeld, a young teen who can control plants; Horace Somnusson a teen boy who can project, for everyone to see, his dreams and prophetic visions of the future. Claire Densmore, a little girl with a monster-like mouth in the back of her head; Hugh Apiston, another young teen boy who sympathies and provides safe haven inside his body for bees; Millard Nullings, an invisible boy; Olive Abroholos, a beautiful red headed teenager who can control fire with her hands, but must wear gloves to contain and control her ability; two Twin boys who do not speak, like to play games and wear completely white clown/doll suits and much like Madussa possesses the ability to turn people to stone when looked upon, and Victor Bruntley, Bronwyn's older brother who is dead, a victim of a monster much like the one Jacob had seen at Abe's home, prior to September 3.  Victor possessed the same power as his sister Bronwyn, prior to his death.  Miss Peregrine keeps Victor at the home because she seems unable to come to grips with her failure to protect him.

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Miss Peregrine can turn into a Peregrine Falcon and she has the peculiar ability to create a time loop, which plays the same day, September 3, 1943 over and over again, providing a safe haven for the peculiar children where they can live forever protected from the bombing that should have taken their lives.

Jacob does not know what his special or peculiar trait is until it is revealed to him by Emma, when she takes him to see Miss Peregrine defeat one of the monsters that Jacob saw fleeing the site of his grandfather's death.  Neither the peculiar children or people without special talents can see the monsters,  they are invisible.  Jacob's peculiarity is his ability to see the monsters like his grandfather Abe could.  Jacob finds out that his grandfather essentially functioned as a mercenary killing off the monsters who would seek out the other peculiarly talented children across the world whom are protected throughout time by a variety of time loops and caretakers much like Miss Peregrine.

A battle between the children, the monsters and a defected faction of peculiarly talent people known as whytes takes place during which the protective time loop created by Miss Peregrine is destroyed. Due to the destruction of the protective time loop, Miss Peregrine's peculiar children must live out the rest of their lives day to day in 1943, aging as normal people would.  Jacob must choose to return to his own time or remain in the past forever with the destruction of the time loop.  His only escape path back to the present are the other time loops that have been created.  Jacob's time travels through the time loops map his grandfather created and his ability to defeat the monsters who ultimately kill his grandfather in the future allows him the opportunity to save his grandfather's life, and later on, provides him the chance to return to 1943 and pursue his romance with Emma after he made the difficult decision to return home to the present day.

The characters are dynamic and interesting.  The movie doesn't really provide enough time to delve into the pasts of all the children and fully appreciate each of them.  Emma, Olive, Enoch and Millard are the most developed characters outside of Jacob who the story centers around. I felt kind of sad that when the house was destroyed and the time loop with it, that Victor's body was destroyed too.  Somewhat surprisingly the particular sadness of that moment in the movie was not reflected at all by Miss Peregrine or Bronwyn whom likely would have been the most effected by the loss.  I don't know if it was cut, or if it was just ignored, but to me it was the biggest oversight in the film.

That said, I really liked the movie and think that there is so much potential for sequels, especially given the fact that 3 books have been written by Mr. Riggs, with this movie only covering the first book of the series.  The storyline is much more detailed then my review lets on, and as such, given the number of characters and the time travel it can be a bit difficult to follow.

More then anything the movie made me wish to read the books.  Often times I am introduced to a book or series of books through a movie I enjoyed.  There are some aspects of the film which might be frightening for younger children or give them nightmares.  For the book audience though which is a teen audience, I think the subject matter is appropriate and the story an enticing adventure along the lines of the Harry Potter series.  With that said I don't know that the novels reflect J.K. Rowling's brilliance and narrative acuity.

I hope that some of our readers will take the time to watch the film and share their opinions on it.

on edit: the pictures I included in my post were removed because blogger informed me with a message that they might cause difficulties for some blog viewer's computers.  As such I have removed the pictures but left the links to them.  

Thursday, 6 October 2016

My 30th Birthday

On the 27th of September, I turned the big 3 0. This year I decided to mark the occasion by going to an Escape Room with my friends. An Escape Room is themed room where players are locked in the room for about an hour and they have to solve a series of puzzles to get out. The rooms themes usually have a mystery or crime theme. The rooms are monitor via camera and players are usually given a telephone so they can call for clues.

I booked the Forensics room at Strike Bowling in Brisbane. The bowling company has branched out to have themed Escape rooms too. The Forensics scenario is that players are hunting down a serial killer. My friends and I had a lot of fun playing detectives. Unfortunately, we didn’t solve the crime in time. What got us in the end was trying to put a code into a padlock. We actually had the right code but we couldn’t open the lock. It was some solace to my friend when the supervisor let her open the lock after the time ran out because my best friend was dying to know what was inside. If we had to do it again, we’d be more meticulous with the clues rather than turning the room upside looking for clues here and there. We’ve already made plans to go again and I have a feeling it might become a tradition.

Apart from that, I went out to dinner with various friends and family in celebration of my birthday. I got a few presents too, mainly money from family and beauty products from friends. I know it sounds silly but I do feel different by turning 30. I feel more of a grown up and closer to death! So, I feel that I ought to do more with my life such as go travelling and take more risks. 

Monday, 3 October 2016

Entertainment Monday: American Ultra ( 3 October 2016)

Mike Howell (Jesse Eisenberg) is a stoner who works the graveyard shift at a convenience store. He passes the time by drawing and wishing he was spending his time with his girlfriend Phoebe (Kirsten Stewart). One day, a woman enters the store and tells him a coded message that Mike dismisses. 
The message was from Victoria Lasseter (Connie Britton) a CIA agent warning him that he is about to be terminated. Mike was a part of a government experiment to make super soldiers. His memory was wiped when the program was shut down. The coded message that Victoria stated to Mike activates his fighting skills just in time for when the first assassin appears. Mike must fight for his life, protect Phoebe and learn the truth about his identity.

I loved the premise of this movie and I thought Jesse Eisenberg and Kirsten Stewart were excellent as two kids with no clue. They have good chemistry with each other and seemed like a real couple. I liked how devoted the characters were to each other and how Mike adored Phoebe and how Phoebe was so supportive of Mike. It was entertaining to see the contrast between Mike’s sensitive nature and his killing skills.
Topher Grace stars as Adrian Yates, a CIA director who is the villain in the movie. He plays Yates as just a young man trying to get ahead in his career by being ruthless. The dialogue between Adrian Yates and Victoria Lasseter adds to the humorous premise.

The movie is an action comedy but I didn’t find the movie that funny. It was a little amusing rather than laugh out loud for me. Most of the funny scenes occur due to Mike’s bewilderment of his abilities and how he kills people using ordinary objects. The fight scenes were excellent but a little too gory for me. I don’t like seeing a lot of blood. Other viewers probably won’t have a problem with it. 

Monday, 26 September 2016

Entertainment Monday: Weird Al Yankovic (Monday, September 26, 2016)

Entertainment Monday: Weird Al Yankovic

On September 17, my family celebrated my oldest brother Robert's birthday by going to see Weird Al Yankovic perform live at Proctor's Theatre in Schenectady, New York as part of Weird Al's Mandatory World Tour.  Of course, Weird Al has been a brand name performer since that 1980s when his first musical parodies of Michael Jackson and Madonna bought him fame and a unique brand that has never really been matched by any artist since.  Make no mistake about it either, Weird Al is a musical artist.  His band and he are true musicians and performers.

I wanted to share some of the songs we got to hear Weird Al perform at his Mandatory World Tour concert. Weird Al's entrance was one of the coolest aspects of the concert, there is a big viewing screen set up on stage for the concert and concert goers watched as he walked through the hallways of the concert hall, down through the main lobby past workers and late arrivals and into the performance hall and up to the main stage, while performing his opening song. I have heard tale of him doing this at other concerts, so while it was not an overwhelming surprise it was none-the-less a unique and cool way to kick off the show.

The song Weird Al came into was Tacky, his parody of Pharrell's hit song Happy!

Weird Al performed his classic parody of Coolio's Gangster's Paradise, Amish Paradise, dressed in full Amish regalia.

One of the great things about Weird Al's parodies is that they are of songs that are really popular, so almost everyone knows the tunes and the music, even if they don't always know the parody lyrics.

Party in the CIA, pardon of Miley Cyrus' Party in the U.S.A.

Part of the performance was a shortened compilation of songs that Weird Al has parodied.   There were also songs where parts of Weird Al's video's were played on screen in the background while he performed live on stage. One of the songs that he performed while the video played on the screen behind him was his parody of Chamillionaire's Ridin', White and  Nerdy.

I really thought the entire concert was amazing and one of the best concerts I have been to.  The only drawback for me was that I enjoy dancing at concerts (even though I do not dance well) and being we were in a seated auditorium it was not the most convenient venue for dancing in, without causing a distraction for other concert-goers.

As a big alt music fan one of my favorite songs was Weird Al's Inactive, his parody of Imagine Dragon's Radioactive.

I also loved his song Foil which parodies Lorde's hit song Royals.

If you are considering going to a concert but have a limited budget, I think going to see Weird Al is a great choice, especially for families.  His parodies cover so many genres and it's a light hearted and fun evening for everyone. If he does chose to tour again I would definitely go to see him again.

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