Moments of escape can be moments of clarity!

"Oh, had I but followed the Arts"-William Shakespeare

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Bits & Bobs

Time to check in on all pursuits creative. The last two months have been productive. I finished my scene work class. It was great fun. What I learned I've been able to apply to all aspects of my life. In January it's back to conquering ASL (American Sign Language). So looking forward to that.
I nabbed the hand model job I auditioned for a few weeks ago. Go figure. It was an interesting assignment, nothing strenuous ,but a very long day. Becoming a hand model had never crossed my mind. I don't know if I could make a living at it, I just found very little joy in thinking about my hangnails so much!
The interview with Author John Connolly went well and was an enjoyable experience. I found combining ASL with the interview a satisfying challenge. I don't know what's next on that front.
On to what's playing in my ear. Steady rotation includes: "Hair" Soundtrack, Lucie Idleout, her emotions are raw and pure. In lighter moments I'm listening to Travis Tritt's "Down the road I go" It's a great Cd, straight through no skipsies.

Since I last blogged I've finished 3 books. The first was "Wench" by Dolan Perkins-Valdez. It's a story that takes place before the Civil War. Through the eyes and hearts of four black enslaved mistresses. Valdez speaks eloquently to us about Tawawa House, a resort in Ohio, where slave masters vacation, away from their Southern plantations and Southern wives, bringing with them their Black slave mistresses.
Valdez writes agonizingly of the psychological bond the women have with the men who enslave them and dehumanize them, but at the same time are their lovers and the fathers of their children. When these women interact and mingle for the first time with free Blacks, running away becomes for the first time an option. The complexity of the slave/lover relationship makes that decision a choice between two different kinds of death.
The book was poignant and at time a tortuous read, but well worth it. Actually written by a Black woman, read this book instead of that other one. I will review the other two books later. Reel of the week is next.

Catching up with the BAU....Sorta

Seriously behind again on "Criminal Minds" episodes. It's a busy time of year. So I'm reviewing episodes 9 & 10.
In Episode 9, "Self fulfilling Prophecy"  Rene Auberjonois, plays Colonel Massey, the headmaster of a military academy. When six cadets are found hanging in the woods, it is ruled a mass suicide. The BAU is called in to confirm the conclusion while helping the locals determine the reason behind the suicides.
Now I interrupt my review, because, well I admit it I fell asleep. I know I can't believe it myself. It's just the episode was a might slow. I did wake up 45 minutes in,  just in time to catch a very tasty exchange between Morgan and Hotch, regarding Hotch's trust issues and secrecy involving Strauss's drinking problems. That was worth waking up to. I continue to enjoy CM when the focus is on the team and the  interactions between members.
Episode 10, "Bittersweet Science" was, for me the best episode so far this season. Shawn Hatosy of "Southland" fame stars as Ryan Hall.  A lower tier boxer, striving for that one big break that will change his boxing luck from mediocre to great.
He is under tremendous pressure to come out a winner so that he can use the proceeds to help his son, who is dying of leukemia. He cracks under the pressure with pernicious results. Shawn Hatosy's performance was compelling and heart breaking. Charles Dutton's understated performance as Tony, Ryan's trainer was the perfect push and pull to Hatosy's. There was no sleeping during this Episode, it was that good!
CM is on Christmas Hiatus for the next two weeks. I will use my time wisely.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

" Let me just say: Peace to you, if you're willing to fight for it"

My Reel of the week is a documentary from 1971 called "The murder of Fred Hampton" Fred Hampton was a young college educated Black man who was murdered by New York City policemen while sleeping with his pregnant girlfriend at a Black Panther Party owned building. Fred's purpose in life was to be the voice of the disenfranchised people, in other words listen up Occupy Wall Street people , back in the 1960's we knew all about being the 99%. Fred started out as a deeply committed member of the NAACP until after the assassination of Martin Luther King. Seeing what this Country has done to non-violent leaders he started to feel that Americans needed to take up arms to protect themselves from the police.
The Back Panther Party was all about empowerment and Civil Rights and uplifting people, (the arming of members was where they went pear-shaped, police tend to get antsy and trigger happy, when they think of the angry and disenfranchised having guns) The BPP,marched for equality, started free clincs and breakfast programs for school children. believing that Solidarity starts by nourishing people from the inside out.
The New york City police department wanted to put an end to the BPP, which represented to them a challenge to power structure of America. So how do you do that? You kill the leader and hope the organization will scatter. That leader was Fred Hampton whose prophetic words foretold his fate: "I believe I'm going to die doing the things I was born to do. I believe I'm going to die high off the people. I believe I'm going to die a revolutionary in the international revolutionary proletarian struggle"
All through the documentary listening to his impassioned , ardent speeches, I kept having to remind myself that Fred Hampton was only 21 years old. Had he been allowed to live, what else could he have accomplished.
The New York city policemen who murdered Fred Hampton were cleared of any wrong doing by a grand jury. The Family of Fred Hampton filed a civil law suit. A reenactment   and second look at the physical evidence also statements from the other BPP victims proved that Fred was sleeping at the time of his murder. The suit was finally settled in 1990 and the family was awarded an undisclosed amount.
I recommend this documentary for not only the 99%, but everyone. Because the struggle continues.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Fun with ASL & one John Connolly




Eiayay

Hi, I’m eiayay, I’m here with Irish Author John Connolly. He’s the Author of some of my favorite books. The Charlie Parker books and the “Book of Lost Things” I love that, it’s a great book and his newest book “The Infernals”  the sequel to 2009’s “The Gates”
John, could you tell us a little about “The Infernals”?


John
Most writers are magpies by nature, we look for shiny things to steal and I had an idea about 10 years ago for a book in which a young boy discovers that his neighbors are trying to open the gates of hell.  It was essentially Satanism for children, and I couldn’t quite figure out how to do it.  Then I begin reading about the large Hadron  Collider, which is a big particle accelerator in Switzerland and basically they were trying to uncover the secrets of the Universe and their were dire threats around this machine. Which was said could create a black hole that would destroy the planet. And I thought… there’s my story. Although what was really funny was when they did turn it on, not only did it not destroy the planet, it didn’t work at all. But I realized that I could combine Science and Fantasy in one story.

Eiayay

How has your upbringing affected your writing, especially in this book?

John

You know, I had a perfectly lovely childhood. I really resent my parents for not being more dysfunctional.  I feel they gave me very little to work with. But I have a kind of fondness for childhood, for my childhood. That I suppose I remember myself as a 10, 11 year old boy who read a lot, who had a dog, that was maybe a bit too imaginative for his own good. So, there was a lot of me in David, in “The Book of Lost Things”.

Eiayay

Moving on, I want to talk a little about music. I’m a musician and I listen to your radio show ABC to XTC. How did that start for you?

John

Well, my….I would find it very difficult to choose between books and music. They’re both just huge parts of my life, and I have a particular fondness for that period, the late 70’s and early 80’s. Musically, because it was the period that I became a teenager, and I think when it comes to music a lot of our affection is tied up with the music we listened to as a teenager. And I had done a radio show for children , a one-off radio show for Halloween in which I played odd songs about people drowning and weird songs about ghosts, none of which were what the radio station quite expected. And once they had de-traumatized the children, they asked me if there was anything particular I’d like to do if given the opportunity? I said I’d like to do a show about late 70’s, early 80’s music and the producer said….Please don’t because it’s all terrible. And I said, I will convince you otherwise and I kinda did. Although he still resents me for making him listen to so much of it.

Eiayay

This is kind of a funny question. When you listen to music, do you sing, loud and clear or only on the inside?

John

Only on the inside, I was not gifted with a singing voice and I dance like an ironing board.

Eiayay

A What?

John

The thing you iron your shirts on.

Eiayay

Oh, an ironing board. The last question, “Guns & Roses” or “The Cars”, which is worthy  of  the  Rock  &  Roll  Hall  of Fame?

John

Oh, I’ll take “The Cars” over “Guns & Roses” any day.  “Guns & Roses” had one good Album.

Eiayay

I  agree, me too!!  I want to thank John for taking time out of his busy schedule to speak with me. If you want to learn more about John and his books, go to his website,  johnconnollybooks.com  Thank you



Sunday, November 27, 2011

Bits & Bobs

Ok, I have been a little slackey in the Blogger department, but it's a very.....Oh, hell I have no excuses, except doing other things, fun things and a few lazy things.
This is stressful time of year in my straight job. I work in the Mental health field and Holiday time is a heart-wrenching but rewarding time of year.  My ASL (American Sign Language ) Studies are going well albeit slowly. I am waiting for my next class to come up in rotation.
On the Acting front I'm still grinding along, a few auditions and just finished an acting class brushing up on my scene work.  I will be doing some script reading this week. One audition was for hand model work (who would of thought). I'm also putting my head to the grindstone in the songwriting department I've actually managed to finish two songs (A hardy WOOT for me). giving the drum set a steady workout and loving it I am channeling my inner Nigel Olsson.
It's what am I readin' and listenin' to time. Musically my mood changes from moment to moment. Robert Palmer's "Sneakin' Sally through the Alley"  is in heavy rotation . What a voice, I miss him, he had a way with phrasing that is unparalleled, he can wrap his voice around a word and change it's meaning while at the same time have it begging to be released. My favorite track is "Hey Julia" preferably blasting.


My book review is "The Infernals" by John Connolly. This is the sequel to his 2009 book "The Gates". OK I have to admit I read these books backwards. I quite enjoy his books but it took me awhile to get around to his three young adult books, the two above and his 2006 novel "The Book of Lost Things". It's just , well they are in the children's section of Book stores and as one who doesn't have young children ,I feel a bit skulky heading to the children's section for something to read. I felt like I had to wrap it up in a bit of brown paper, like porn. sorry.....
Ok, back to the review. "The Infernals" revisits young Samuel Johnson and his trusty dachshund Boswell (Is it just me or does this bring to mind a certain 17th century author and his biographer) after they have saved the Earth from the Gates of Hell (with the help of their friend, the decidedly un-demon-like , demon Nurd).
Samuel's neighbors and friends in the town of Biddlecombe have blissfully returned to ignorance and have put the whole nasty episode behind them, but Samuel knows better.
Soon he and Boswell once again find themselves in a fight for their lives , dragged through a portal into the realms of The Infernals. Due to bad timing and poor aim , an ice cream truck, some errant Dwarves and a couple of Constables find themselves sucked into Hell also.  Thus begins an imaginative, rollicking adventure, even a bit hair-raising at times. It was a delightful read. What I loved most was that the characters were filled to the brim with Hope. Mr. Connolly used Foot notes throughout , which had me laughing out loud.
So step boldly into the children's section and claim all three, I highly recommend "The Book of Lost Things" (It tis the season) which is on my list of top 20 favorite books. If at purchase you are asked if you would like a bag, proudly proclaim "NO"!


I had a chance to interview Mr. Connolly for an ASL (American Sign Language ) project (Thank you very much Mr. Connolly). I will post it next, it was meant for my Deaf friends and classmates, so the sound is wonky, but I will include a transcript. To my Deaf friends be gentle, it was spur of the moment and I did not request answers ahead of time. Thanks !

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Still trying to find the Sweet part!

The Reel of the week is 1990's "After Dark my Sweet" based on the novel by Jim Thompson. It's the tale of a punch drunk, off-kilter ex-boxer (Jason Patric) who's drifting through life and towns with nothing but a brown paper bag, holding all his worldly possessions. He happens into a bar where he meets the young slightly alcoholic widow, Faye (Rachel Ward). The collision of these two characters could not have been more wrong.  Faye introduces Kevin (Jason Patric) to her "good Friend" Uncle Bud (Bruce Dern), who though he cares for Faye, he is keenly aware of Faye's weaknesses and uses them to his advantage.  Uncle Bob sees an opportunity to use Faye's seductiveness and Kevin's fog of punch drunkenness to his advantage. He hatches a plot to kidnap the son of a wealthy businessman and hold him for ransom talking the volatile Kevin into performing the task.
This movie is full of twists and turns. You never quite know, who's telling the truth, in other words, there is no Dramatic Irony. Bruce Dern's character Uncle Bob, is so annoyingly creepy you wonder what the hell Faye saw in him, but maybe she is just too high to notice. Sometimes Jason Patrics character is vague and confusing,but I don't know if that's the way the character is written, or it's Jason Patric's acting.

The ending is satisfying but as usual I wanted a little more information, but I think that's my own need to completely unwrap a package to make sure it is what it's supposed to be. I need to work on that.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Checking in with the BAU

This weeks episode of Criminal Minds entitled "Hope" was definitely Garcia (Kirsten Vangsness) driven. Garcia is the moderator of a survivor support group and one of the members is abducted after a meeting. Garcia calls in the team to help. The woman (Brigid Brannaugh) was abducted on the 7th anniversary of her own daughters abduction. Criminal Minds was really digging deep into the ick, ickky bag for this episode when it is revealed exactly what the abductor did with both mother and daughter. It was a tense episode, but even I found this episode discomfiting. I'm pretty hardy when it comes to Murder & Mayhem, maybe it touched the pit of my stomach because I have a child, albeit grown but still....
I think this is one episode that needed a little more of the team side stories to help it go down a little easier, but all in all Kim Harrison (writer) did a good job.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

A Softer side of Bale

My Reel of the week is 1999's "All the Little Animals". Christian Bale stars as Bobby Platt, a 24 year old who because of a head injury when he was a boy has a slightly diminished mental capacity. His mother who loved , cared and doted on him, passes away. He is left with his angry, disinterested and abusive step-father played by Daniel Benzali. Now that Bobby's mother is out of the picture, his step-father is free to put into action his own agenda, which is to institutionalize Bobby and take over the chain of stores owned by Bobby's mother and willed to him. Bobby runs away to escape the abuse and meets a tortured stranger (John Hurt) who has given up on man, and become a nomad who's life mission is to care for the animals that lose their lives due to man's negligence. This begins a journey of change, discovery and redemption for them both.

A simple and sweet film.  This is one of Christian Bale's first films. A much less guarded performance, full of innocence. It is a pre-Hollywood dentistry Christian, which really adds to his charm and innocence. Daniel Benzali's character is a little bit over the top and is almost a  caricature , but the performances of Bale and Hurt make it a worthwhile film.  A warm and unornamented film

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Ain't nothing but a Wednesday Thing!

Ok I am so definitely behind on checking in with the BAU, but that's water under the bridge. Onward and upward. November 2nd's episode "Epilogue" finds the BAU called to California on the trail of a serial killer who kills young men and dumps their bodies in nearby lakes. Hotch and the team discover from the autopsies that the UNSUB is drowning and reviving the victims repeatedly, the reason for this we find out later. This episode was written by Rick Dunkle (pictured below with Thomas Gibson) who also wrote one of my favorite episodes "Slave of Duty". I thought the flashbacks  really gave you a window into what factors into the making of a serial killer.


Meanwhile a side story involving Rossi and a question his first wife asked of him in a previous episode weighs heavy on his mind. My only problem with this part of the episode was how quickly it resolved itself. I would have liked it to be revisited in a few more episodes before ending so quickly. I think it was a missed opportunity to check in on Rossi's tender side a bit more. All in all it was a great story, I'm also enjoying JJ's new role as a profiler.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

What I learned on the way to the Rodeo

My Reel of the week is actually on my list of top 100 favorite movies. It's 1996's " Ruby Jean and Joe" starring Tom Selleck, Rebekah Johnson and Jobeth Williams.
Tom Selleck plays Joe Wade a fast fading Rodeo star, who sees the writing on the wall, but wants to end his career on a high note. Eight really good seconds and that winning belt buckle.  While making his way to that big Rodeo, his trusty, aging horse in tow, he picks up hitchhiker, Ruby Jean (Rebekah Johnson). A young girl, who is wandering for reasons of her own, which she is reluctant to share.
What results is an unlikely friendship, a  love story  about not selling yourself short. But more importantly realising that every one you meet,however briefly, you meet for a reason, which may have more to do with their lives ,then your own.
Ruby jean and Joe discover how much an aging Rodeo star and an eighteen year old African American girl have in common.

I wanted this movie to go on and on and I cry buckets every time I watch it, loving every single minute.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Checkin' in with the BAU

I feel like I'm frantically playing catch up, but I have decided to remain resolute and focused on the task at hand. I'm so easily distracted , I think today it was the lovely fall foliage.  See, distracted, now back to the Wednesday thing. This is for episode 3 "Dorado Falls" In this episode the BAU is called to Charlottesville, Virginia. Because the case is basically is their backyard, the wheels alas, did not go up. I yearned for it. (ok, maybe yearned is a little much, but I did miss the plane camaraderie)
The case starts with a mass murder at a security firm. As the team delves into the case, they discover a link between the murders and a military veteran. Max Martini plays Luke Dolan a veteran, who after a minor traffic accident, develops a rare brain disorder,which causes a disconnect between his brain and his eyesight. This results in horror, pain and the inevitable high body count.  Max Martini plays the part with compassion and conviction.                                   
While the case is unfolding, the team is still struggling to find it's way back after the recent upheavals. Prentiss and Morgan are trying to reestablish their trust in each other.
This episode is firmly rooted in the formula that first drew me in six years ago. Story and relationships. I just missed those wheels going up, but I guess they will occasionally be called to cases in Washington and Virginia but they best not make a habit of it.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Bits & Bobs

It's time to check into what's going on now that summer has peaked and passed. I had a most lovely summer, visits with family and friends, sun and fun. Usually  the summer acting work tends to be a bit like the Sahara, dry. So what do actors do when work is scarce? They seek tools to add to the old toolbox. So I'm in class soaking up knowledge so I'm ready for that next role. I'm also managing to fit in some song writing.
I'm reading whenever possible. I just finished John Connolly's 'The Burning Soul" He has gone back to the well of my favorite character, detective Charlie Parker and quenched my thirst once again. This time around, Mr. Connolly's story telling begs the question..How far do the ripples of horrible mistakes made in youth reverberate? Also, is change just an illusion. John has a way of weaving a great detective mystery and then out of the blue, dropping the scary on you and you find yourself freaked out and delighted at the same time. His writing has the same melodious lilt as his Irish accent. He doesn't paint pictures, he paints photographs with his words.["The channels through the Scarborough salt marshes appeared as swaths of a deeper blackness against the tall grass as I drove home, like lengths of dark ribbon dropped from the sky"] ("The Burning Soul" pg. 207) Perfection!  I also look forward to Charlie Parker's friends from New York, Louis & Angel .One more layer of storytelling richness. I didn't want "The Burning Soul" to end, now all I have left is the sweet memory of a great read and ......the wait.
Now onto what's playing in my ear. It always varies but lately I've been hitting the repeat button on Nina Simone.  I had never listened to her before so when my brother introduced her to me, my ears certainly perked up.   http://youtu.be/-TarrSrx4v0 .  Her singing made me want to sway and cry a little.
I haven't forgotten that Wednesday thing, how could I? There are only so many hours in a day. Tomorrow, that Wednesday thing , shortly after that? My Reel of the week. Slumber calls.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

That Wednesday Thing

Ok, I'm a little behind in my "Criminal Minds" Review, but summer is over and life has turned a little less lackadaisical. That's why TIVO has become my friend.
We are at "Proof" Episode 2 of Season 7.  The team is called to rural Oklahoma. The flight to Oklahoma while filled with facts on the coming case is also filled with tension. Reid (Matthew Gray Gubler) is still stinging from the betrayal surrounding Emily's resurrection from the dead. He seems to be aiming his anger at JJ (AJ Cook) who he went to in his grief and mourning, which made her silence all the more painful.
This colors the investigation into the death and torture with sulfuric acid of several women.
The case turns when evidence points to a mentally disabled man (Andy Milder), who's fixation on a long ago hurtful rebuff has him seeking revenge on women who resemble the object of his fixation.

I have to admit this episode really creeped me out. The method the Unsub uses to lure these women was something that we would all fall for.  CM is back full force, scaring the shit out of us and creeping us out. I also liked the fact that this episode didn't leave us in the muck and mire. It ended with the team reconnecting over a good meal, like all families do. Oh, and Hotch (Thomas Gibson) smiled ,like 3 times. Go Figure!
 

Unexpected Trip

The Reel for this week is 2008's "Goodbye Solo". It's a small gem in the world of Independent films.  Film maker Rahmin Bahrani beautifully takes us on a roadtrip with Taxi driver Solo (Soloueymane sy Svane) who picks up a grouchy, angry and mysterious man named William (Red West). William wants to hire Solo to drive him to Blowing Rock, North Carolina no questions asked to basically keep his mouth shut and drive. Solo is just not that kind of Taxi Driver he is curious to know Williams story, why William goes to the movies every night, why he writes in a small notebook and mostly, why he wants to go to Blowing Rock. What follows is a movie filled with earthiness and real heart. The characters were so rich, I felt like a voyeur in the everyday lives of these people. I developed a warmth towards William and Solo. A heads up this movie will draw you in, but leave you hanging. I have a love, hate relationship with movies that make me weep uncontrollably and want to know what happened to these characters later on. I want my happy ending. But I loved "Goodbye Solo", It was a trip worth taking.

Friday, September 23, 2011

And away we Go!

The Fall Television season has started so I'm back reviewing my favorite show "Criminal Minds". It has been a long summer. The behind the scenes drama is finally over and the band is back together.  Our collective squeaky wheels got the grease. The CBS executives went back to their offices leaving CM to do what it does best ..telling stories.

Last year's season finale left Prentiss (Paget Brewster) "dead" at the hands of Lachlan McDermott who killed Prentiss to avenge the death of his son.  Meanwhile,JJ  (A.J. Cook) is forced to leave the team and take another position at the insistence of Strauss, who continues to throw wrenches into Hotch's (Thomas Gibson) team.

The new season opens with the Team suspended and flung to the five corners. Morgan, Reid and Garcia are desperately searching for the man who "Killed" Prentiss.   Hotch is on assignment in secret desert location. Seaver (Rachel Nichols) has moved on. (Silent Yippee!).  Ross, calls in JJ, when it's discovered that Lachlan's son Declan is alive and has been kidnapped.  Morgan has brought in his man but must now use Lachlan to lure the kidnappers out of hiding.

Hotch comes back to oversee the operation, but also to come clean with the team. He has lied to them, and in some of the team members eyes, he has betrayed them. He ordered Prentiss's death faked to protect her from Lachlan. The coming season will deal with the betrayal and the fact that the team may be back together, but can they regain the trust in one another.

It was a long summer and I kinda got out of the habit of watching CM. I have watched the DVD's so many times I needed the break. I was really looking forward to the season premiere. I was so glad the cast was back together, but the episode for me was a little anti-climactic.  Maybe I built my anticipation up so high, nothing could have reached it. I also think I just have to fall in love with CM all over again.  That's the Yin & Yang of summer. You get involved with other things because TV is all reruns, but you also lose touch with great shows and have to get to know them all over again.  I know I will rediscover the joy that is CM, because I want to. "Wheels Up"!http://vimeo.com/28630559

Monday, September 12, 2011

Don't touch that Knob!

My Reel of the week is the Medical Thriller "Contagion".  Beth Einhoff (Gwyneth Paltrow) returns
home to her husband and son from a business trip to China with a touch of what she thinks is the Flu. It quickly progresses to seizures, blurry vision, difficulty swallowing and finally death. By this time she has come in contact with countless people and objects.
This is the start of a chilling and all too real mystery to find the origin of a fast acting,  fatal disease, which is spread by indirect contact. It  quickly becomes an epidemic.
Dr. Ellis Cheever, played with calm authority by Lawrence Fishburne is a head honcho with the CDC, who guides Dr Erin Mears (Kate Winslet) as she conducts her first in the field investigation.


Alan Krumweide (Jude Law) is a Blogger, germaphobe and conspiracy theorist, who is way ahead of the game when it comes to disease outbreaks.He challenges the efficiency as well as the truthfulness of the CDC and the pharmaceutical  companies (Imagine that !)  He serves as the movie's conscience and cautionary tale teller.


"Contagion" was chock-a-block with solid actors giving solid performances. Matt Damon was excellent as Mitch Einhoff. Protective and vulnerable at the same time.  It was good to see Sanaa Lathan who played Dr. Ellis Cheever's fiance. She's underused as are a lot of Black actresses.


There were moments of tension and excitement, but in the end it was just an OK movie, not great, not "Oh my god , you have to see this", but OK. I left the theatre squirting sanitizer into my palm and avoiding touching my face.



Monday, September 5, 2011

High Tea, with a decidedly bitter aftertaste

The Reel of the week is 2006's  "Amazing Grace" .The  story takes place in 18th century England and recounts the adult life of William Wilberforce (Iaon Gruffudd) a member of British Parliament who along with his best friend William Pitt (Benedict Cumberbatch), the youngest Prime Minister in history,who take on the other members of Parliament, who own plantations and slave ship,s to abolish slavery in England.    
They are thwarted at every turn by Wilburforce's illness and the underhanded tricks of the members of Parliament. Defeated again and again, Wilberforce's spirit is crushed and he returns to his home. He meets Barbara Spooner (Ramola Garai) who shares his belief in the inhumanity of slavery, they fall in love and she spurs him on to continue the fight. With the help of abolitionists, his friend the Prime minister and the former slave Olaudah Equiano (Youssou N'Dour), who bought his own freedom and penned his memoirs in a book entitled "The interesting Narrative of the life of Olaudah Equiano". Wilberforce is reinvigorated to jump back into the fight. Along the way, he meets John Newton (Albert Finney), a former slave ship owner whose conscience , in the form of thousands of the souls of Africa haunting his every waking moment, cause him to renounce slavery and pen the song "Amazing Grace" and dedicate his life to repenting his sins. 
The movie was a bit plodding at times, but overall informative and watchable. Iaon Gruffudd was well cast and likable as was Benedict Cumberbatch.
What I did find rather strange, was the fact that this was a movie about slavery, but the entire movie contained only two black actors and only one had any lines. I think the movie could have really used some of that perspective, which would have balanced the film a bit more.
Also as aside if you enjoy Ioan Gruffudd I highly recommend his "Horatio Hornblower" series, which is out on DVD. It's fascinating series, I was totally hooked. Also Benedict Cumberbatch in "To the ends of the Earth", excellent!

If you are looking for an evening of informative history, I recommend either of these films.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Bits & Bobs, The Whisperers & waiting...

It has been a very lazy summer indeed. I'm writing this post Hurricane "Irene" evening. We fared pretty well. A bit of a leaky roof. Few blown around branches and we lost power for about four hours.
I am lamenting the inevitable end to the lazy,hazy,crazy days of summer.
Now, what have I been up to. I'm still a starving actor. Two auditions, one for a hospital and the other for Sylvania headlights. Playing the waiting game, the power people love to keep us on pins and needles awaiting the decision from on high. I'm thinking..do I need a new headshot? Oh, the angst of it all.


I have finished "The Whisperers" by John Connolly. Surprisingly it didn't have enough Charlie Parker to satisfy my voracious appetite. I found the story about the many levels of devastation war heaps upon us, intriguing. I found myself sympathizing with the "bad" guys.  The wait for Louis & Angel to come into the picture was excruciatingly long...come on John page 245. I was beginning to think Charlie was going it alone. All in all in was a good read, as usual.  John's newest Charlie Parker novel "The Burning Soul" hits the stores September 6th. Life is good. I hope to see him on his book tour which starts soon.

Musically what is toodling away in my MP3 you ask?  Most of the time it runs the gamut.  I'm listening to a lot of Jack White. He collaborates with some of my favorite artists. He has really interesting cd with Loretta lynn called "Van Lear Rose" excellent!   http://youtu.be/XK5D8nWADTQ
I'm also listening to a singer named Samantha Crain she is Cree NDN, and sings with such purity of spirit, I find rare today she has a single called "Santa Fe" that I have been playing over and over.http://youtu.be/6cssvT1W4c8    
In "Criminal Minds" news. The gang is back and are filming. Episodes 1-5 are in the can. That was fast. The new season begins September 21rst at 9:00pm. I can't wait , no more reruns, except DVD's and ION, and A & E and.... you get the picture. The first episode of the new season has Emily (Paget Brewster) coming back from the dead. Her return rocks the fabric and loyalty of the team. Especially when the find out that J.J (A.J Cook) and Hotch (Thomas Gibson) knew about Emily's faked death. Be sure to tune in, you know I will.
Well that's about it for now. Reel of the week will return in a few days. I sop up as much fun as I can for the remainder of the summer.  Cheers!!!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

PASS THE TISSUE, PLEASE

The Reel of the week is 2007's "Things we lost in the Fire".  Audrey Burke (Halle Berry) a wife and mother loses her anchor and the love of her life, her husband Brian (David Duchovny) in a tragic accident.She reaches out to Brian's best friend ,heroin addict, Jerry Sunborne (Benecio Del Toro) , who she resents , for taking advantage of her husband's time and loyalty. She sees him as an emotional thief, depriving her of a part of her husband.

The movie is poignant and moving at times. Benecio Del Toro's performance was emotional and well-acted. He was in touch with his character at all times. I felt the history and depth of Jerry and Brian's relationship. I wanted Jerry to conquer his demons and go on to a great life.


Halle Berry does a good job as Audrey, though at times her character is annoying which hinders my sympathetic feelings.Sometimes making me think he died just to get away from her.  At times I wished her husband was still alive, not only because David Duchovny did an excellent job, but, Halle and Benecio did their best work in their scenes with him.  Okay I'll also say it's because he's nice to look at.       


"Things we Lost in the Fire" was an engrossing peek into the window of our humanity and humanness.  It's a film about love, loss. regrets and living in the moment or moments.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

A Hardy Yee-Haw and a we are not alone!!

I feel like I have died and gone to heaven, my two favorite genres in a Mash-up! Wonderful!!
So, you've probably guessed my Reel of the week is "Cowboys & Aliens" .  First show of the first day as usual.    

The film takes place in Arizona in 1873. A man , played with steely magnificence by Daniel Craig. Wakes up in the desert with no memory and a strange device attached to his wrist. Unbeknownst to him he is Stagecoach robber Jake Lonergan. He eventually falls into the hands of the town sheriff (Keith Carradine), but Colonel Dolarhyde, played crustily by Harrison Ford, wants his gold back so since he owns the town lock, stock and barrel he is determined to have his way.  Their Tug of War is interrupted by strange lights in the sky, explosions and people being pulled into the air by lasso-like steel ropes. Colonel Dolarhyde's son is amongst the taken. Jake's hand device seems to have a mind of it's own and seems to be the only weapon that can kill the invaders.So the town has to unite, to fight this common enemy. Jake's strange weapon seems to interest another stranger, Alice, played badly by Olivia Wilde, who seems to have only one facial expression. I think it's saying: "I can't act worth shit, but look at me aren't I sexy" I'm not sure who the target audience for the useless sexual tension scenes were, (teenage boys?), but I for one as an audience member, went to "Cowboys & Aliens" for just that "Cowboys & Aliens" So to quote Michael Bolton I wanted to get "Back to the good part".

What I loved most about C & A was the fact that each story could stand on it's own. It was a great Sci-Fi story and a great Western. I was so happy to see my NDN's. Adam Beach held his own in every scene with Harrison Ford, who was at his grizzled best. Adam's last scene brought tears to my eyes. Kudos to David Midthunder and Moses Brings Plenty.I just wish the NDN character's were given names instead of warrior # 1 or Apache #2.  C & A was full of everything that makes a great western and everything that makes a good Alien Flick. The Aliens scared the crap out of me, which I loved. C&A was pure indulgence,like licking my favorite ice cream cone (coconut) while it's dripping down my arm...delicious!!!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

"The Past Is Never Far From Us!"

My Reel of the week is 1991's "Paris Trout" based on the novel of the same name, written by Pete Dexter.
 I read the novel about 15 years ago. I was happy to see that the screenplay was written by Mr. Dexter so it retained the vision of the novel. I can't tell you how many times I have read a novel and found the screen adaptation so far removed from the novel as to be totally unrecognizable.  A perfect example was the adaptation of Robert Ludlum's  "The Bourne Supremacy" I urge all who saw the movie, but did not read the book, to read it.  I swear you , it will not bring even a second of deja vu.

Sorry, I digress. Back to "Paris Trout" The story takes place in Cotton Point,  Georgia shortly after WWII.  The title character is played by Dennis Hopper in what I think is one of his finest performances. He is so convincingly loathsome I found myself  giving him a piece of my mind out loud.
Paris runs the General Store in town, which means he pretty much runs the town. One day he goes to the Black part of town to collect a "Debt". He takes the law into his own hands,  resulting in the murder of  Rosie Sayers (Darnita Henry) a twelve year old .
His wife Hanna (Barbara Hershey) is longing to do the right thing and break free, but is trapped by violence and fear.  Harry Seagraves (Ed Harris) is Paris's  Attorney. He is fully entrenched in the "Rules" of the South, but battles with the ghost of Rosie and his growing attraction to Paris's wife.  The lives of Rosie, Hanna, Harry and Paris collide with Horrific results for all.

This movie haunted me, as did the novel.  I can't say it was a "good" movie in the same way as other movies I have reviewed. It's not the kind of movie that you pull out on a Saturday night , when someone says "Let's watch a movie", but that being said I believe this is an important movie.
When I watch a movie dealing with one of America's two Holocaust's (Black Americans & Native Americans), it touches that deep place of anger and pain.   It reminds me of how far we have come and how very far we have to go. We need to be constantly reminded, because that is the only was we can move forward.
So, as uncomfortable as  these  types of  movies are, they are a teaching tool, and a Remembrance to all who lost their lives fighting for dignity.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Bits & Bobs

Yes, I admit it, I've been a bit of a slacker. I have a good excuse... It's summer! Things are a little slow.
Ok, what's been going on?  The life of an actor continues. Last month I had a chance to audition in front of 20 film, theatre and production folk.  It was simultaneously scary, nerve-wracking and exhilarating. I was glad I did it, and glad when it as over. Now I wait for the jobs to come rolling in (the consummate dreamer).
The song writing is going well, there is always a plethora of material at my finger tips.
I start a new dance class next week. I plan to master African dance.  There is always room on ones' resume for one more thing.   I think summer and dance go together, the sun makes me feel like I can do anything.

Musically, I have been listening to Cat Stevens "Tea for the Tillerman". It's a great CD, and reminds me of one of my favorite movies. "Harold and Maude".  It makes me all smiley!!
The pages I'm turning bookwise are  John Connolly's "The Whisperers". Another great Charlie Parker novel. Can one be in love with a fictional character?  The way John Connolly writes them, you just can't help it.  I look forward to our time together. Is that strange... Don't answer that, I just want to continue on the road I'm on. Must go, can't keep Charlie waiting.
Reel of the week soon!   Also a bit of CM news. Thomas Gibson has signed a new contract. The cast and crew have returned to work. As I write they are filming episode 701. YEA! The new season begins September 21rst.  So we will have to be happy with season 5 on ION television until September or get out and enjoy the summer, I shall dance.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Excitement and Adventure, not Lion !

The Reel of the week is 1997's "The Ghost and the Darkness". It's the true story  of the 1896 "Lions of Tsavo"
Val Kilmer plays Lt. Col. John Henry Patterson a construction engineer who is hired to build a bridge in Tsavo, Kenya for the British Railway. During the building of the bridge workers are attacked again and again by a pair of rampaging Lions. This brings the project to a complete standstill. Patterson is unable to restore calm, and the workers refuse to continue so long as the attacks continue.
Patterson needs help, which comes in the personage of big game hunter Charles Remington (Michael Douglas) who has loved Africa and hunted in Africa for decades.
The two embark on a quest to rid Tsavo of the man eaters and finish the bridge.
I found the movie riveting. There was tension galore and all the characters were fully formed so that you really felt for their plight. Michael Douglas (Remington) gave a rousing performance, I was taken in by his swash-buckling personality, Val Kilmer (Patterson) was captivating  as Patterson, not to mention oozing sensuality.
You totally understand why his wife missed him. She did not leave him out in the bush alone for very long.
this movie was an exciting little Gem. If you missed it in 1997, rent it tonight.

After watching this movie I wanted to read about the real story. I recommend "The Man-eating Lions of Tsavo" written by the real Lt. Col. John Henry Patterson, recounting his experience, written in 1925.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Super Summer

My fingers trembled at the thought. A movie with the names J.J. Abrams (Star Trek, Cloverfield,  Armageddon) and Steven Spielberg (E.T, Schindler's List, True Grit). So I was there , first show, first day, popcorn in hand. The advertisements for "Super 8" were vague, you don't really know what it's about, but you want to know. I'm not a fan of Spoilers because I like to experience the film first hand. Which makes it a little difficult to review this movie. It's about a group of friends in 1979 who decide to enter a  movie making  contest. While filming the movie they end up witnessing a train crash and filming it by accident.. That moment,changes their town and their lives forever. The 1979 feel of the film was so spot on, I found myself waxing nostalgic. I was mesmerized from the very beginning. You just couldn't  wait to find out what was going on. The young actors who played the group of friends (Joel Courtney, Riley Griffiths ,Ryan Lee, Elle Fanning and all the others) were enchanting. There was humour, excitement and tender moments. It was like a coming of age movie, an amalgamation of  "Stand by Me", "Goonies","Alien" and "E.T" all in one. It worked, I was drawn into the story.  If I had one complaint it would be that the ending was a little abrupt and , let's see how can I say this without spoiling the magic of discovery.  I'll just say , why wasn't what was sought rescued and used and why wasn't their a final encounter? There... WHEW. See it, you'll get it. It was worth the popcorn. It was Super!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

An afternoon with Ivy

My Reel of the week is 1968's "For the love of Ivy"  Ivy (Abby Lincoln) is a black maid, who has worked for Frank (Carroll O'Connor) and Doris (Nan Martin) Austin for 9 years. She starts to realize that if she doesn't change things, this will be the story of her life. So she decides to quit her job, move to the city, and go to secretarial school.
Needless to say Mr. and Mrs. Austin are upset. Mrs. Austin proclaiming, "You're part of the family"  (Which is a unique delusion, I mean she never sits at their table, doesn't spend holidays with them. Cleans their house, cooks their dinner, does their laundry, serves dinner and they pay her...I think that's a maid. Ahhh  the 60's, oh wait, things haven't changed.) The  teenage children Tim (Beau Bridges) and Gena (Lauri Peters) are devastated. The kids decide to hatch a plot to keep Ivy from leaving. They believe all she needs is the distraction of male companionship.  Tim decides to bribe Jack Sparks,played brilliantly by Sidney Poitier into asking Ivy out . Jack owns a trucking company that does business with Tim's Dad. Tim knows Jack is a playboy who is not interested in marriage so their is no danger of him taking their beloved Ivy away from them.
The situation becomes sticky when Ivy falls hard for Jack. This has disastrous results when Ivy learns of the Bribery.
A simple story, but it is elevated by superb performances by Sidney Poitier, Beau Bridges and Abby Lincoln.
 A lazy afternoon spent loving Ivy.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Reels & DiCaprio & A warbling Streep...

I took a little time off to work on some projects and enjoy the beginning of the greatness we call summer.
First things first, the latest "Criminal Minds" news. We are still awaiting the signing of a new contract for Thomas Gibson which we all hope happens soon. Paget Brewster's (Emily Prentiss) new series was not picked up for the fall , so she will be back on CM.  That means (drum roll please) Rachel Nichols (Seaver) has been given her walking papers. I wish her the best. Now hopefully we can get back to CM the original.

This week I have a double review. The first is "Inception" I don't know why I hadn't watched it before.  So many people had told me it was hard to understand. I found that to be false. It was fast-paced, easy to follow, if you paid attention and thoroughly entertaining.  Leonardo DiCaprio plays "Cobb" the leader of a band of thieves, who through the invention of "Inception", a way of accessing peoples dreams, takes thievery to a whole new level. Cobb concocts THE big heist, to access the dreams of a multi-million dollar heir, to learn the contents of his fathers safe. Unbeknownst to the rest of the team Cobb has his own agenda, which could endanger  them all, or leave them in limbo for years. The only one who knows his secret is "Ariadne" played by Ellen Page, who Cobb picks to be the architect for his dreams. It's up to her to save Cobb from himself and also save the team from an uncertain future. I loved this movie, it was exciting and the special effects were out of this world. All the actors were invested, Leonardo Dicaprio added the heart. I add "Inception " to the list of films I'd see more than once, because the visuals show you something new every time you see it.
My second review is on the total opposite end of the spectrum. I made the mistake of watching "Mama Mia". Ok I really, really tried to like it, but I failed miserably. It was just Bad on so many levels. I like Colin Firth and Stellan Skaarsgard, thank god they sang very little. They just weren't given much to work with. The plot was weak. The actors were not committed to the music. The flow from speaking to singing  was not there, which made the whole thing a big choppy mess. Meryl Streep's singing went back and forth between whiny and strident. It was just annoying. Pierce Bronson really tried..by singing growly and loud, but like I said they just weren't given much to work with. Christine Baranski over acted and sang larger than life, like she was on a Broadway stage which added to the disjointed feel of the movie. I love ABBA music, just not in this movie. If you like ABBA music, skip this movie and rent "Muriels Wedding" instead.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Back with a Vengence

Ok I've been absent for a bit. I've been cultivating the seeds for a fruitful summer.I will start with a review of the Season Finale of "Criminal Minds".
Season 6, Episode 24 finds the BAU on the hunt for human traffickers after a guy with a serious case of Road
Rage, splatters himself on the highway in which the aftermath reveals 2 dead people in the trunk of the car. The victims are used to fuel the sick fantasies of anyone with enough money. Meanwhile budget cuts in the FBI are looming large for the team. Hotch (Thomas Gibson) hints of cuts on the horizon. This seems to mirror the real life turmoil the show has faced. There was a little of the old banter between the team members, which has been sorely lacking. It was good to see Garcia (Kirsten Vangsness) and Kevin (Nicholas Brendon), I love them together. All in all it was a good episode and the payoff was unexpected, I always like that.
Summer reruns are upon us. Shemar Moore (Derek Morgan) has finally signed his new contract. We are anxiously awaiting the signing of a new contract for Thomas Gibson. I hope with the return of AJ Cook (JJ), Season 7 will be a breath of fresh air, with Erica Messer as the new executive producer hope springs eternal!
 

Saturday, May 14, 2011

CM season winding down

We are in the final weeks of CM's 6th season. May 11th's episode "Big Sea" finds the BAU in Jacksonville Florida. I mean literally finds itself there. WTF the episode opens with the team there. It totally skipped the plane ride, the round table discussion, the fact finding. Last week I talked about the fact that lately the episodes seemed rushed. Now I'm sure it's not my imagination. I agree with Joe Mantegna, when he said change is good , but they are changing the things that set CM apart from other crime dramas. I really look forward to the exchange of information on the plane trips to the crime scene. Even when they got around to the profile, it was sparse and rushed.
The storyline, a pumping crew finds the remains of a mass grave off shore, was a great beginning, it had meat to it. Karl Mackinen was pretty scary as the UNSUB.  The butchery was epic and then it was like the writers said "Ok let's wrap it up quick" and it ended with a cheesy cookie cutter reason for the UNSUB's decline into murder.  I was left unsatisfied. On top of that Hotch (Thomas Gibson) was sans tie, I never thought I'd miss it, but damn it (sniff, sniff) I did!
Next week is the season finale, I'm just gonna expect the worst and hopefully be pleasantly surprised. I am sooo ready to put season 6 behind me. I don't think I will be adding Season 6 to my DVD collection. I'm moving on to Season 7 and staying open to the possibility that it will be fabulous. I have to! (wiping a lone tear).

Monday, May 9, 2011

GOD OF THUNDER!!!!

Ok, I couldn't help myself. Yes, my Reel of the week is "THOR". To top it off I saw it in 3D. It was quite by accident that I went to the 3D version. I wanted to go to the first showing on the first day (I'm a geek like that) I did it for the" LORD OF THE RINGS" trilogy also.
I'm sure most of you know the story of THOR . Would-be King THOR is banished to earth by his father, King Odin, because of his immaturity and impetuousness . Shattering the fragile peace of the nine realms. THOR must learn his lessons to reclaim his hammer and the throne.
Anthony Hopkins gives his usual stellar performance as King Odin. I was a little leery at first when I heard THOR would be played by Chris Hemsworth of STAR TREK fame. But he proved me wrong and was up to the task. He played THOR with an abundance of charm and humor also quite a bit of sex appeal!
The film was directed by Kenneth Branaugh. There was much grumbling at his choice of African American actor  Idris Elba to play Heimdall, the gatekeeper. Authenticity, Viking mytholgy, Blah,blah,blah. I applaud Branaughs creativity and vision.
THOR was a triumph, a comic book jumping off the page. A rollicking good time. Take an afternoon and watch THOR wield that Hammer. You'll love it!!

Saturday, May 7, 2011

It's Wednesday, yeah that's right!

"Out of Light" was May 3rds episode of Criminal Minds. The BAU is called to North Carolina after two young women go missing and one is found injured.
Jeff Meek plays Robert Bremmer, the suspected UNSUB, who reveals some of the icky stuff that makes him a suspect. It was a fairly good story, but is it just me or lately do the storylines feel incredibly rushed. It just feels like the UNSUBS have been identified very early in the story. There was a little interaction between the team members, that we all love and miss.  I was still left a little wanting. Hotch (Thomas Gibson) had a few moments with his son. CM only has two more episodes before the end of the season. All the real life Drama has put a pall on this season , it just hasn't delivered on it's promise to reveal the secrets the team holds. I have hope in my heart that season 7 will be  all that Season 6 wasn't. I'm not ready to give up on my favorite show. I want Thomas Gibson to sign a new contract ,and an end to the outside Drama. I welcome back AJ Cook and hope Seaver will go back to Quantico . Until then bring on the last 2 episodes I will assuage my withdrawl pains through the summer with DVD;s

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Bits and Bobs

It's been a while since I've updated private dealings and my "Criminal Minds" reviews. CM had a few weeks of reruns. They return this week with the last three episodes of the season. :(  I will return to my reviews then. They get approximately seven weeks off then back to production. Still waiting for Thomas Gibson and Shemar Moore to sign new contracts. (I shall perish the thought of that not happening). 


Now whats happening on the home front. No new work yet, but that's how it goes. My agent swears with summer almost full on we will see an upswing in work. I hang my hat on that.  Hubby and I are trying once again to gear up for summer singing gigs. Putting together our song list, tweaking here and there. I have actually finished writing my very first song in about 2 years. It's about the passage of time and keeping dreams alive. I'm proud of being able to embrace the process, after my self-imposed hiatus.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=39TUCMPmVVM&feature=mfu_in_order&list=ULMusic -wise  I'm listening to Elton of course, but also Angelique Kidjo she extraordinary. I have been indulging my guilty pleasure Josh Groban (there I said it). his voice is so perfect, every note he sings pulls you in. His "Bells of New York City" and "February song" are mellifluous. He makes it seem effortless.
Book-wise I am reading the prolific, unbridled king of murder and mayhem John Connolly's "Book of lost things". I have to pace myself when reading his books, simply because I don't want them to end.
Well that's my bits,  can't say I'm waiting for Edward Allen Benero to call, he's left CM, but there is always new head writer Erica Messer. fingers crossed... I'm gonna give my agent a call!

Baby it's ikkiertok outside

The Reel of the week is 2003's "THE SNOW WALKER". It's a film that takes place in 1953. Barry Pepper stars as Charlie Halliday, a rather roguish former WWII pilot who returns from the war and goes to work as a bush pilot in Alaska. He ferries about , rich business men and flies in goods to remote fishing villages. On one such trip he encounters an Inuit family fishing near the shoreline. The family entices Charlie with Ivory to deliver their daughter/sister Kanaalaq (played by Annabella Piugattuk) , who is ill, to a hospital in YellowKnife. 

On the way to the hospital, Charlie encounters engine trouble and they crash on the desolate tundra.
The development of the relationship between Charlie and Kanaalaq is the bread and butter of the Film. It's about two journeys, the physical journey and a journey of the spirit and of self-discovery.

 Annabella Piugattuk was so incredibly charming as Kanaalaq, it almost brought tears to my eyes. She has such an innocence in her laughter and acting. The sound of her native language was melodic and pleasing to the ear.

I was so engrossed in the film, I had forgotten I had put eggs on to boil, until one of them exploded. I cursed the interruption.
This story was an unexpected Gem (Why hadn't I heard of it) It was a commentary on how connected we really are, whether we choose to believe it or not.