Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Edgy or Over the Edge?

After watching the Academy Awards last Sunday evening, it made me think about issues of self-censorship and age appropriateness.
I know that Seth MacFarlane, who served as master of ceremonies, is a cutting-edge kind of guy. That’s probably the main reason he was selected to M.C. the program, hoping his unpredictability factor would attract viewers. And the ratings were up.
But was he edgy or did he go over the edge?
I suppose that’s a matter of taste, something that's very subjective. I’ve read comments by viewers on various websites. Some thought he was great, something thought he was hilarious, something that he was terrible, and some wondered what he was thinking with his comments.
As it pertains to writing, I wondered if he and his team of writers really gave more than superficial thought to how folks would react to his quips and production numbers?
Let me say here that I like MacFarlane. I think he's smart, funny, outrageous. I thought his movie, "Ted," was hilarious. And I think the Ted skit with Mark Wahlberg was one of the highlights of the Oscars telecast.
But I thought the joke about actor John Wilkes Booth getting into Abraham Lincoln's head was in poor taste - and I don't care if it happened nearly 150 years ago. It was a tragedy in 1865, and not something to laugh about in 2013. I don't hear people joking about Pearl Harbor, John F. Kennedy, or attacks on 9-11.
The opening number, the silly and sophomoric "We Saw Your Boobs," would have been more appropriate for a PG-13 movie, premium cable, or late-night commercial TV after the kiddies have gone to bed. At the least, perhaps a parental warning before the telecast.
But let me say that I was impressed with MacFarlane's singing and dancing.
As for the Oscars, I thought the program was too long. The salute to the 50th anniversary of the James Bond franchise was dreadful with the exception of Shirley Bassey and Adele. 
I really don't know why there must be as full-blown production. I think most people would be content with a broadcast of no longer than two hours, simply showcasing the movies and stars.
What are your thoughts?
Until the next time...

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Movie Madness

I know a lot of folks will be watching the 85th annual Academy Awards show on TV this weekend. I must admit that I have only a casual interest in who wins what. 

I've only seen one of the nominated movies for Best Picture ("Lincoln") but I hope to see the some of the others on commercial TV, cable or Netflix. 

This may sound crazy, but other than Best Picture,  I think the only other awards that truly merit consideration are those in the non-acting categories such as director, cinematography, costume design, visual effects, and writing.

As for acting, it's simply part of the finished product. How many takes did it take for an actor to nail a scene? What about the lighting? Maybe the sound? If those elements aren't right, then perhaps the words coming out of the actor's mouth, or even his movements, are minimized or overlooked. The actor is simply a small part of the whole.

If an actor blows a scene on camera, it will be redone until it's right (at least in the director's eyes). For those who attend stage plays, if an actor messes up, it's there for everyone in the audience to see. The actor can only fix the problem in the next production of the play.

That's not to say I don't appreciate good acting. I just think so much rides in the hands of the director and production crew that the acting element is overrated when the film reaches the silver screen.

Your thoughts?  

Until the next time...

Sunday, February 17, 2013

National Library Lovers' Month

I suppose it's appropriate to have National Library Lovers' Month during the same month of Valentine's Day.

For those who love to read and participate in the various activities at their local library, there is a passion among patrons in their support of the facility and all it does for their communities.

 I've always considered the library one of the main hubs of any city. In fact, I wouldn't want to live in a city that didn't have a good library. Often when I visit towns in Kentucky, I'll stop by libraries and browse through their collections.

For authors and readers, a library is a great place for readings and book discussions. Authors also can sign copies of their latest book.

I've been fortunate to reside in places in Kentucky with excellent libraries, such as the Paul Sawyier Public Library in Frankfort, Lexington Public Library, and Louisville Free Public Library.

The Friends and Foundations of California Libraries has these recommendations to show your love: Contribute, Be a Friend, Volunteer, and Promote.

If you get a chance over the next couple weeks, go over to you local library and show your love!

Until the next time...

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Love Songs

Since it's Valentine's Day I thought it would be nice to share some of my favorite love songs.

While some folks prefer love ballads, you'll see that I enjoy all kinds including ballads, country, rock, and pop. It's the words and melody that move me. I like some that are sweet, some that are sappy, and some that are thoughtful. As the Beatles sang, "All you need is love"

I've included a few lines from the songs (composers in parenthesis) as well as the video.
So here goes:

"Love Is All Around" (Reg Presley)

"You know, I love you, I always will
My mind's made up
By the way that I feel
There's no beginning
There'll be no end
'Cause on my love you can depend"


"Softly Whispering I Love You" (Roger Greenaway and Roger Cook)

"And I know your soft  kiss turning into music
Every beat of my heart
When I hold you close to my heart
And I hear your voice whispering I love you"


"At Last" (Mack Gordon and Harry Warren)

"At last my love has come along
My lonely days are over
And life is like a song"


"When You Say Nothing At All" (Paul Overstreet and Don Schlitz)

"The smile on your face lets me know that you need me
There's a truth in your eyes sayin' you'll never leave me
The touch of your hand says you'll catch me if ever I fall
You say it best when you say nothing at all"


"Can't Help Falling in Love" ( Hugo Peretti, Luigi Creatore, and George David Weiss)

"Take my hand, take my whole life too
For I can't help falling in love with you"

"Asking Us to Dance" (Hugh Prestwood)

"Darling tonight I am reminded how much these two hearts need romance
You know it isn't all that often we get this kind of chance
Why don't we get caught in this moment be victims of sweet circumstance
Tonight I feel like all creation is asking us to dance"

"Moondance"  (Van Morrison)

"Well, it's a marvelous night for a moondance
With the stars up above in your eyes
A fantabulous night to make romance
'Neath the cover of October skies"

"Something" (George Harrison)
"Somewhere in her smile she knows
That I don't need no other lover
Something in her style that shows me
I don't want to leave her now"


"Wonderful Tonight" (Eric Clapton)

"I feel wonderful
Because I see the love light in your eyes
And the wonder of it all
Is that you just don't realize how much I love you"

OK, I know that's a lot of stuff. There are more songs I could have included so perhaps I'll save them for next Valentine's Day.

What is your favorite? Feel free to share a video and/or lyrics in the comments section.

Until the next time...

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Puppy Update #1

Bailey, our little Chorkie, is growing up quickly. He's been part of my family since Dec. 14 and he's made himself at home. He's about 14 weeks old.

He's doing well in the potty department, using the pad probably 90 percent of the time. The remaining 10 percent is when he misses the mark or finds another convenient place to relieve himself.

For the most part, he sleeps through the night. That's if we go to bed after 10 p.m. If we turn out the lights at 9 p.m., he'll usually awaken us at 3 or 4 in the morning. But he's good about going back to bed for a couple more hours before getting us up at 5 or so for breakfast.

He loves to play ball in the hallway. We usually spend some time each day teaching him the three R's of that doggie pastime known as "Fetch!" He's great about retrieving and returning the ball, but is still a bit reluctant about releasing it.

We've had a few nice days in the past week or so and I've been able to take him outside on his leash. Since he's been a house pet, it's been fun to watch him discover the outdoors, such as leaves blowing on the ground or responding to various sounds. We're looking forward to spring.

He's also has a couple of girlfriends. There's Callie, a German Shepard mix next door, and Lady, a dainty white Poodle from across the street.

Bailey is a healthy pooch. He's probably closing in on four pounds (he weighed about one pound when we brought him home). And he gets his final shots this week.

Bailey has been a godsend as well for us since Baxter passed away on Dec. 28. We still miss Baxter a great deal but Bailey has eased some of the pain in dealing with the loss of our beloved pet. 

Until the next time...

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Story Songs: God Only Knows

In celebration of St. Valentine's Day on Feb. 14, one of my favorite love songs is "God Only Knows" by the legendary Beach Boys.  

The song was written by Tony Asher and composed by Brian Wilson.  It was released in 1966 on the group's masterpiece "Pet Sounds" album. 

The words are elegantly simple, pure,  and straight to the heart as the narrator professes eternal love to a special person:

"I may not always love you
But long as there are stars above you
You never need to doubt it
I'll make you so sure about it"

And then we hear the words:

"God only knows what I'd be without you"

In the second verse, and repeated in the third, the singer tells the lover that life would be empty without him/her in their life:

"If you should ever leave me
Though life would still go on believe me
The world could show nothing to me
So what good would living do me"

And then:

"God only know what I'd be without you"

While the song wasn't a great commercial success in the United States, it was very popular in Europe. And the tune has been listed on several "greatest song" lists including Rolling Stone magazine, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Pitchfork (No. 1 of songs from the '60s). 

There's interesting history behind the song in Wikipedia.

"God Only Knows" lyrics

Monday, February 4, 2013

"Butter in the Morning: Pieces of a Kentucky Life"

Georgia Green Stamper’s delightful and insightful “Butter in the Morning: Pieces of Kentucky Life” is a collection of essays about her rich and colorful life. 

Georgia spent her formative years in Owen County, a rural area in north-central Kentucky. She later became a wife, teacher, mother, and a writer.

There is a freshness and honesty to her stories that makes you laugh, smile, and even shed a a few tears. She has a wonderful sense of humor and shares many funny incidents from her life as well as some tragedies. It was from her mother that she learned that when facing life’s unpredictable twists and turns,  “You might as well laugh.”

The 270-page book, published by Wind Publications, is divided into four sections reflecting different stages in Georgia’s rich and colorful life -- from her childhood, humorous events, places she’s lived, and who she is today. There’s also some history about people and places interspersed that many readers will find interesting.

The stories are culled from columns and essays she’s written in several publications and as a National Public Radio commentator. Whether she’s writing about guacamole, her childhood home going up in flames, an encounter with chiggers, or getting into the wrong car on a rainy day, Georgia’s words are warm and sincere.

From her heart-felt remembrances, you discover that she was nurtured in a caring and loving family while growing up, and that she grew up to become a caring and loving wife, mother and grandmother.

And, after reading these stories, you will sense that she’s your friend by getting to know her so well.

Until the next time...