Friday, March 28, 2014

Why Oprah Still Matters and The Week in Reviews

[I give you a sneak peek at Kevin Costner's upcoming new movie "Draft Day" - it opens April 11 - and review the movies "Kill Your Darlings," "Telstar: The Joe Meek Story" and "Spinning Plates."  I also recommend a great rock & roll memoir].


But first...
 

Why Oprah Still Matters

Since I have retired, I have started meditating.  I am om'ing and counting my breaths all over the place, and I really am the better for it.  There is something to being "still" with yourself, living in that quiet space between thoughts, communing with your consciousness, your real self, and being aware of your breath.

I have Oprah to thank for that. 

She and Deepak Chopra have teamed up to present free "Meditation Challenges," and that's what got me started (there is another one - "Finding Your Flow" - starting April 14.  Check it out.)

I miss Oprah.

She is not on TV every day anymore. 

I know we still see her on her OWN channel.  She has several shows she hosts such as her "Oprah Prime" series and "Oprah's Life Class." But since she left her daily afternoon show, it hasn't been the same.

I started watching Oprah's show from the very first episode.  In fact, I can remember seeing her ads for her first show, this overweight black woman who exuded something...what was it?  Realness?  All I knew was that I wanted to be her best friend.  And she was a kind of best friend for over 25 years.
 
For 25 years, Oprah came into our living rooms and kitchens, interviewing guests on the topics of the day, and sharing her views, but most importantly, sharing herself.

When Oprah first went into national syndication, her show wasn’t much different from Donahue’s or Geraldo’s. And Jerry Springer had not yet gone to the dark side. 

She had the usual shows like “Librarians Gone Wild” and “I’m in love with a librarian. Does that mean I have to read books?" or something like that. 

But it was during a program on skinheads that she had an epiphany. She didn’t want her show to be a vehicle for spreading hate, so she made a conscious decision to move away from the sensational and to use her show as a platform for good. And she has never looked back.

But now Oprah has retired from her daily presence on the small screen and in our homes to pursue her dreams.

Why does Oprah still matter?



  • She practically single-handedly revived the publishing industry with her Oprah’s Book Club where people reported not having read a book in years until she told them to and she is still promoting reading. Here is her list of books for 2013.

  • Her seal of approval was given to countless “favorite things,” thus assuring their success: from Spanx to Miraclebody jeans to Barack Obama’s bid for the Presidency to her current interest in meditation.

  • She launched the careers of Dr. Phil, Dr. Oz, Suze Orman, Rachael Ray and Nate Burkus and she is single-handedly trying to save Lindsay Lohan.

  • She made dreams come true with her Wildest Dreams tour, from helping  audience members figure out their true bra size to bestowing Pontiac G6s to all 276 of her audience members (I wish I had been there). 

  • She has teamed up with Deepak Chopra for Meditation Challenges (I have been doing these and just signed up for the next one.  They are free and wonderful. I highly recommend them.  Can't you tell how much more calm I am?) and one of her new shows on the OWN channel is Super Soul Sundays where she sits with top thinkers, writers and spiritual leaders like Eckhart Tolle or Toni Morrison to try to raise our consciousness.

  • Oprah was and still is a champion of reading and libraries, even if she never did fill her audience with librarians for one of her Favorite Things shows, despite my many emails to her producers. ( Didn't she realize that librarians needed new cars and washers and dryers too)? Oprah said that it is not enough to simply tell children to read, but there should be books in the house. She said, “You make a field trip of a day to the library and make a big deal out of getting your own library card."  Hallelujah!

Her shows made a difference.

Oprah tells the story of a woman who came up to her in a store and told her that she used to beat her kids. And then she watched an Oprah show about how you weren’t supposed to beat your kids. At first that didn’t make sense to her, because her mother had beaten her and her mother had been beaten. But she kept watching the show and she said that Oprah had been consistent about this issue. So she said she was going to try to not beat her kids for one week. She tried it for a week and then a second week. And then she said, “Now I can’t remember how long it’s been. I don’t beat my kids anymore---and I got different kids.”

As Oprah says, quoting her friend Maya Angelou, "When you know better, you do better."

For me personally, it was Oprah herself that I tuned in to see every day. 

Oprah was like a close girlfriend for 25 years, sharing her own story which included child abuse, issues with weight and her “aha moments.” Her sincerity urged me to make a difference and to be my best self. Her programs always seemed relevant to what was going on in my life at the time. When I would share some new idea with my family about family time or how we might want to change something, my son would yell, “Mom’s been watching Oprah again.” When the change was something he didn’t like, he would cry, “I hate Oprah!”

She is one of the most powerful women in the world, and she has chosen to use that power to help others. No matter what you think of her, I don't think you can say her heart is not in the right place.  She wanted to use TV to make the world better.  She has her own network and what she shows there is of a higher nature than most television. 

On her website she shares her vision:

"My life's work is about fulfilling my potential and leading other people to fulfill their own. It is my calling to help other people find their calling and summon the courage to live it."

So even though Oprah is not on television every day she is still a presence as she uses her fame and power for good.

And we should support her.  If you complain about television, then you should support people who are trying to elevate it and use it for higher goals.  Check it out.

Oprah deserves all of the accolades, and I am glad she is realizing her own dreams.

But I miss seeing her every day. 

I think she should run for President. 

Or at least become my best friend.


What do you think of Oprah?

Oh, on second thought, I don't really care. 
I don't want you to say anything bad about Oprah.

Check out her new website.


The Week in Reviews



***In Theatres April 11***

Sneak Preview
 
 
 
 
 
 
Kevin Costner plays the General Manager of the Cleveland Browns and his career is on the line if he doesn't put together a winning team on Draft Day.
 
This movie doesn't open in theatres until April 11, but my active theatre-going resulted in some free tickets to this sneak peek.
 
Hubby had to explain some of it to me (as in how the draft works) since I am not a big football fan, and I probably wouldn't have gone to this if my beloved Kevin wasn't in it.  But football fans will enjoy the real life football footage, the behind the scenes wheeling and dealing for draft picks and the appearances of famous football heroes.

I could have done without the romance side story, but didn't mind the big kiss at the end ('cuz I LOVE Kevin).
 
(Humorously, the Seattle Seahawks had the first pick here and were the "bad guys!" This must have been made before we won the Super Bowl).
 
Rosy the Reviewer says...football fans will enjoy this despite some implausibilities.  And it's a nice lead-in to the actual NFL draft in May.
 
 

***DVDS***
You Might Have Missed
And Some You Should Be Glad You Did
(I see the bad ones so you don't have to)


 
 

Recreation of a true life murder that brought Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac and William Burroughs together.

It's 1944 and all three meet while at Columbia University. It's early days for what will become the "Beat Generation." Ginsberg is just finding his writing chops. They fall under the thrall of charismatic Lucien Carr, who is supposedly being stalked by an older man.

"Kill your darlings" comes from a quote arguably attributed to William Faulkner.  It's a caution to writers that to reach their writing potential they must get rid of their literary self-indulgences and pretentions.

 
Rosy the Reviewer says...Brace yourselves, Harry Potter Fans. Daniel Radcliffe like you have never seen him. An interesting addition to the history of the Beat Poets.
 
 
 
 

This documentary shares the stories of three restaurants: Alinea, a Chicago restaurant with three Michelin starsBreitbach's Country Dining in Balltown, Iowa and La Cucina de Gaby in Tucson, Arizona.

There could not be three more different restaurants.  Alinea embraces molecular gastronomy and the concept of food as art; Breitbach's embraces home cooking and provides a place for locals to meet; and La Cucina de Gaby embraces Mexican comfort food. 

What links them together?  They all faced tragedy and heartbreak and triumphed.  And they all really cared about their customers' dining experience.
 
Rosy the Reviewer says...A foodie's delight.



Telstar: The Joe Meek Story (2008)


 
 
 
A biopic about the rise and tragic fall of British record producer Joe Meek, who had a huge hit in 1962 with "Telstar," the first record by a British group to make it to #1 in the U.S. He recorded many artists who went on to have big careers (Tom Jones, Gene Vincent...) and his influence on the music industry is still felt today.


 

 
 Recognize it?
 
Despite his genius and innovations in music production, Meek had issues.  He was the British equivalent of Phil Spector.

I love biopics, but this one doesn't know if it wants to be a comedy or a tragedy. It starts out with over the top comical characters and then morphs into tragedy. It's all over the place. Despite a good performance by Con O'Neill as Meek, there is a lot of scenery chewing (do you hear me, Kevin Spacey?). What could have been a compelling story fails to engage.
 
Rosy the Reviewer says...very atmospheric take on the British pop scene of the early 60's and a sad story, but it's a bit of a slog.  Depends on how dedicated you are to films, biopics and the music world of the 1960's.  I had trouble with this one.  But this guy is worth knowing about.
(For a better British biopic on a similar topic and of the same era, try "The Look of Love."  I reviewed it here). 
 



***Book of the Week***
 


Wild Tales: A Rock and Roll Life by Graham Nash (2013)
 
 


Musician Graham Nash candidly shares his life, his love affairs and his stints in The Hollies and with David Crosby, Stephen Stills and Neil Young.

I judge a memoir on how readable it is and how honest and this one meets both criteria.  It's a fast, fun read that you Baby Boomers will especially love.  All the shenanigans of the 1960's and 1970's are here.  Made me very nostalgic for the good old days of sex, drugs and rock and roll!

 
Rosy the Reviewer says...for rock & roll memoirs, they don't get any better than this.
 
 
 
That's it for this week.
 


See you Tuesday for


 "Why We Need Librarians."


 


Thanks for reading!


If you enjoyed this post, feel free to share it and/or email it to your friends.


Check your local library for DVDs and book mentioned.

 

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

My Favorite Summer Vacation: A Narrow Boat Cruising Adventure in England

Now that Spring is here, you are probably starting to think about what to do this summer.

So if you are looking for a great adventure, I thought I would share one of the most wonderful summer vacations I have ever had.

If you read my blog, you probably already know how much I love England.  (If not, you can find out from my earlier blog "Why I Love England.") 

So what better way to enjoy England than to hire a narrow boat and cruise slowly up one of her beautiful canals?

So that's what we did.

Not sure where I got the idea from.  Probably from watching too many Morse mysteries or reading magazines about England ("In Britain"), but somehow we decided that was how we were going to spend our 25th Wedding Anniversary.

I gathered our "crew" - Hubby, our daughter, my older sister, and my cousin, Jane and her soon-to-be husband, Lars, who joined us from Sweden.

Our ages ran the gamut from 24-70.

I did my homework and decided the best route for us was the Oxford canal (not too many locks) and the best company the Anglo-Welsh Company.



Meet the Damselfly. 

Our home for the next four days. And we were driving it ourselves.  There were guided tours available and we saw many of those along the way, but, hey, we can do this ourselves!

We all met up in Oxford not knowing what to expect.


Wouldn't you know.  Our boat was the farthest one away.  Geez, why did I bring so much luggage?


After a brief training on what to do, we were off.


Everyone wanted to drive - in theory - but as you can see, it is driven from outside and when it started to rain, Hubby took over.  And it rained for the whole first day!  Lars tried to keep Hubby's spirits up with...well...spirits!


Keeping dry.




Our first challenge was getting through the first lock.



We were cautioned to be sure to NOT leave the "windlass" behind, which was the "key" to opening the locks.  Naturally when we got to the first lock Hubby didn't know what to do.  Uh, gee, here is this handy notebook in the boat with the DIRECTIONS!  What is it with men and directions as in not following them?

That sorted, we opened our first lock.



 

After more of that, we tied up to do a little sightseeing. 


the ruins of a manor house and church at Hampton Gay.
(Librarian Rosy had already done her research for activities along our route).


Over the stile, over the bridge - watch out for cow pies!


Now on to the next lock.



A bit of traffic.  We were traveling a bit off season. One can imagine what it must be like in the heart of summer.


Though Hubby did an admirable job driving the boat, we were not without mishaps.  Note the hull.  We were not responsible for all for all of those nicks and scuffs, but thank goodness the sides of the boat were reinforced with steel. 

Hubby complained that in order to steer the boat, he had to rev the engine to gain some speed and then swing it around.  The wind was also a factor.  Sure.

I can remember sitting happily inside with a lovely glass of wine looking out the front of the boat and suddenly a tree was looming and boom!  No worries.  Lars jumped out and pushed us off the shore.  Thank goodness for the handy, dandy poles provided for just such a purpose.

The first night we tied up at The Boat Inn in Thrupp.


We were having difficulty finding a space until a friendly local woman came along.  She grabbed hold of the line of one of the parked boats and moved it, making room for us.  She said that since the owners were in the pub having a few, they would never notice their boat had been moved!



So Day 1. 

We traveled about eight miles. Hey, it's not easy when you can only cruise at about 2-3 miles per hour.  Hubby cranked it up to 4 one time as we passed another boat parked on the side of the canal.  The owner of that boat came out and shook his fist at us.  We were probably rocking his boat as he was preparing his tea!

Day 2 was our 25th Wedding Anniversary.


This friendly swan seemed to be saying, "This way to the next pub!"


And here we are!


At the end of Day 2 we had to turn the boat around.  Yikes.


There are only certain places where you can turn the boat around.  Those spots are called "winding holes (pronounced "win - ding")." 

Here at Lower Heyford, our farthest point, Hubby once again didn't read the directions and after many attempts, a friendly local turned our boat around for us.


Half the fun was tying up and spending the evenings hanging out together.


Or just relaxing.


 

Or making new friends.







I was able to get my Inspector Morse fix as we headed back toward Oxford having lunch at the Trout Inn, one of Morse's and Lewis' haunts. 



Our last day, after traversing the Thames, we tied up just outside of Oxford as we had to return the boat early in the morning.


As we readied the boat for its return, we noticed we still had a lot of wine and spirits, er, "supplies" left. 


What to do?



What do you think we did?

 

 




Zzzzzzzzzz.






On the fourth day, we said our good-byes.

Taking our happy memories with us
(can someone tell me what is going on with the hair on that redhead?)

We were a motley crew aging 24-70, but nary a cross word was spoken and a good time was had by all.

I have often thought of doing this trip again and sharing it with others.

But I can't help but worry that it just wouldn't be the same. 

Sometimes you just can't recreate magic.

So I think - next stop!  Barging in France!

What are your favorite summer vacation memories?


 
 
See you Friday for

"Why Oprah Still Matters"

and

The Week in Reviews



Thanks for reading!

If you enjoyed this post, feel free to share it and/or email it to your friends.
 
 
Photos courtesy of Rosemary DeHoog and Chuck Brewer



Friday, March 21, 2014

Famous Movie Trailers: Can You Identify the Films? - A Quiz - and The Week in Reviews

[I review movies "Frozen," "The Patience Stone" and "Baggage Claim" and recommend a great book for fashionistas]

But first


Famous Movie Trailers:
Can You Identify the Films?

Quizzes are all the rage.

I have discovered from taking Zimbio quizzes that if I were a Disney Princess I would be Cinderella and a Buzzfeed quiz told me I definitely was not a hipsterAnd I have taken quizzes to determine who my celebrity roommate should be and what "Game of Thrones" character I am.  Those quizzes are highly addictive.

So I decided to capitalize on this quiz-mania and devise my own quiz.

So let's see if you know your movie taglines and can attain the title of
"Movie Know-it-All."

First of all, what's a movie tagline?

A tagline is a memorable phrase or sentence that sums up the tone or premise of a film.  Movie marketing folks probably wrack their brains to come up with just the right slogan, one that will cement the film in our brains so we have to see the film, e.g. "In space no one can hear you scream,"

If you are going to be any good at this, you have to have recognized the above tagline as being from the film Alien (1979).



OK, let's get started. 

I will give you the list, you come up with the answers and then check your answers at the end.  No peeking!  Then check your score to see how you measure up.

Ready?  Let's go.

1.  One dream.  Four Jamaicans.  Twenty below zero.

2.  A lot can happen in the middle of nowhere.

3.  One man's struggle to take it easy.

4.  There are 3.7 trillion fish in the ocean.  They are looking for one.

5.  The classic story about a boy and his mother
(you have to choose the correct version)

6.  The Bitch is back.

7.  Earth.  It was fun while it lasted.

8.  We are not alone.

9.  This is the week-end they didn't play golf.

10.  Cocktails first.  Questions later.

11.  Her life was in his hands.  Her toe was in the mail.

12.  You'll laugh.  You'll cry.  You'll hurl.

13.  Does for rock and roll what "The Sound of Music" did for hills.

14.  No actual Europeans were harmed in the making of this film.

15. Don't get mad.  Get everything.

16.  This is Benjamin.  He's a little worried about this future.

17.  And you thought Earth Girls were easy.

18.  Things are about to get a little hairy.

19.  Family isn't a word.  It's a sentence.

20.  Check in.  Unpack.  Relax.  Take a shower.

21.  You don't get to 500 million friends without making a few enemies.

22. They're young, they're in love and they kill.

23.  3% body fat.  1% brain activity.

24.  The biggest mother of them all.

25.  All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.






Here are the answers:

1. Cool Runnings (1993); 2. Fargo (1996); 3. Ferris Bueller's Day Off (1986); 4. Finding Nemo (2003); 5. Psycho II (1983); 6. Alien 3 (1992);
7. Armageddon (1998); 8. Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977); 
9. Deliverance (1972); 10. Swingers (1996); 11. The Big Lebowski (1998);
12. Wayne's World (1992); 13. This is Spinal Tap (1984); 14. Eurotrip (2004); 15. First Wives Club (1996); 16. The Graduate (1967); 17. Bad Girls from Mars (1990); 18. American Werewolf in Paris (1997); 19. The Royal Tenenbaums (2001); 20. Psycho (1960); 21. The Social Network (2010); 22. Bonnie and Clyde (1967); 23. Zoolander (2001); 24. Mommie Dearest (1981); 25.  The Shining (1980)








Here is your score:

20-25  Movie Know-it-All
You are a person who fancies yourself an expert on movies and you at least know your movie trailers (or are good at figuring things like this out).  But be careful.  People hate know-it-alls.

15-19  Movie Know-it-All Wannabee
You so want people to see you as a movie expert.  Keep at it.  You are almost there.

10-14   Movie Amateur
OK, 50% plus isn't bad.  Watch more movies.

5-9  You don't know that much about movies.   

0-4.  Why did you even bother to take this quiz?


How did you do?
 
What is your favorite movie trailer?
 
 
 
 
Now let's get on with

The Week in Reviews
 
 
 

***In Theatres Now***

Frozen


Loosely based on Hans Christian Andersen's "The Snow Queen," Queen Elsa has turned her kingdom to ice and her sister, Princess Anna must find her and save her from herself in this 2013 Academy Award winner for "Best Animated Feature Film."

All of the Disney staples are here:  plucky heroine, funny animal sidekicks and music plus a hilarious talking snowman.  Olaf, the snowman was the best part.

Modern day animation is just amazing, especially when compared to the old Mickey Mouse cartoon that is shown before the film.  However, the big eyes of the heroines made me think I was in a Keane painting (remember those?), and I wish they had not been drawn with such teeny-tiny waists. They looked like Barbie dolls. Not a good message to send little girls. But in true Disney fashion, there is always a good moral:  love can melt even the most frozen heart. 
(If you want to see this on the big screen, better get there soon if you can.  It was just released on DVD on the 18th. Not available at Netflix until April 15th so check your local public library).

And answer me this:  I can't tell you how many previews I saw of this thing.  Where was the scene with the reindeer and the snowman fighting for the carrot on the ice?  Didn't happen.  So as I always say, beware of previews!

Rosy the Reviewer says...See it with a little girl (though this is not for the very young).  This is the kind of Disney movie little girl's love.




***DVDS***
You Might Have Missed
And Some You Should Be Glad You Did
(I see the bad ones so you don't have to)
 
 
 
 
In an unnamed war torn town, a woman cares for her comatose husband who has taken a bullet in the neck.
 
In Persian mythology, a patience stone (syngué sabour) is a magical black rock that can absorb one's burdensome, often painful secrets and over the course of the film, the woman uses her husband as a "patience stone" and unburdens herself.
 
Afghan writer and director Atiq Rahimi directed the film based on his 2008 novel “The Patience Stone,” which has been translated into 33 languages.
 
I think this film was lost in translation.  I saw the ending coming a mile away, and it is slow, slow, slow.  However, actress Golshifteh Farahani is beautiful and amazing, though her character can be a bit maddening at times.
 
Rosy the Reviewer says...Grim, grim, grim
(subtitles)



Baggage Claim (2013)


 
Worried about being an "old maid," Flight attendant Montana Moore is on a mission to find a husband in 30 days.

Cute idea turned into a farce with a lot of overacting.  This set the women's movement back at least 50 years.

Paula Patton, though she has been around while, is probably best known for her pending divorce from husband Robin Thicke (Beetlejuice suit, twerking, you remember).

Rosy the Reviewer says...remember my slogan (see above), I see the bad ones so you don't have to?  Well, you don't have to.
 



***Book of the Week***
 
 
 
by Amanda Mackenzie Stuart (2013)

 
 
 
No one effected the 20th century American fashion scene more than Diana Vreeland. 
 
As Editor-in-Chief at Vogue magazine, she was a tastemaker, where her gift was spotting trends such as the bikini, sleeveless dresses, skinny pants, thong sandals and animal prints.  She also first coined the word "pizazz."  She launched iconic careers such as Lauren Bacall's and Richard Avedon's and the 1941 musical "Lady in the Dark" was based on her. as well as the fashion editor in the film "Funny Face."
 
She was known for her observations and spoke in proclamations such as "Pink is the navy blue of India!"
 
Allure is a word very few people use nowadays, but it’s something that exists. Allure holds you, doesn’t it? Whether it’s a gaze or a glance in the street or a face in the crowd or someone sitting opposite you at lunch… you are held."
 
She typically dressed all in black and her New York apartment was painted all red.

Rosy the Reviewer says...if you know and love fashion, you need to know all about Diana Vreeland, or you don't know and love fashion at all (that's my quote).
 
 

That's it for this week.
 
See you Tuesday for

"My Best Summer Vacation"


 

 


Thanks for reading!

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Check your local library for DVDs and books mentioned.




Note:  Next time you are wondering whether or not to watch a particular film, check out my reviews on IMDB (The International Movie Database). 


Find the page for the movie, click on "Explore More" on the right side panel and then scroll down to "External Reviews."  Look for "Rosy the Reviewer" on the list. Or if you are using a mobile device, look for "Critics Reviews." Click on that and you will find me alphabetically under "Rosy the Reviewer."