Monday, 5 December 2016

Entertainment Monday: Rankin and Bass Christmas (Monday, December 4, 2016)

Entertainment Monday: Rankin and Bass Christmas

Some of the videos that I am sharing this week are longer than what we would typically share during one of our Entertainment Monday segments. Unfortunately You Tube does not show the full version of all the movies so a few of them I have provided links to where you can hopefully watch the full movie.

I do not know how well Arthur Rankin and Jules Bass Christmas movies are known World wide, but certainly most anyone growing up in 1960s, 1970s or 1980s in the continental United States would be familiar with the Christmas Specials featuring these classic films.  In an era when we had 13 television channels there were not too many cartoon Christmas movies aimed towards children, or dozens of options to sort through and choose favorites.  I remember seeing a cartoon version of Yes Virginia, There is a Santa Claus, Mr. Magoo's Christmas and of course the iconic Charlie Brown's Christmas, but far and away the most memorable specials of the Christmas season belonged to the Rankin and Bass movies.

I wanted to share some of those movies here with our readers.  There are some that people may know and others perhaps not, but these are my favorite Rankin and Bass Christmas films.  The films that will forever remain a cherished part of my childhood, providing memories of sitting in front of the t.v.  underneath a blanket on a cold winter night with Mom, Dad, Robert, Clifford and Heather, while we drank hot cocoa and ate Mom's delicious Christmas cookies.

Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer (1964)

Nestor the Long Eared Christmas Donkey (1977)

The Year Without A Santa Claus (1974)

Twas the Night Before Christmas (1974)

Frosty the Snowman (1974)

There are several other wonderful Rankin and Bass films, but these are my very favorites.  I hope that whether or not you have seen them before, that you enjoy(ed) them.  Carlyn and I want to make sure to wish all of our readers a very happy, safe and healthy Holiday season, which ever Winter/Summer (depending on where you live) time Holidays you celebrate, or even if you do not celebrate the Holidays.   We send all our best wishes for you peace and happiness in the New Year!  Thank you all for taking the time to be a part of our little corner of the blogosphere! <3 

Thursday, 3 November 2016

Jon Bear Journal: Why I'm Voting For Hillary Clinton

This coming Tuesday, November 8th will be the United States Presidential Election.  I am a registered Independent and I have been heavily politically invested as a viewer and reader for over a year now.  Therefore I have a much more intimate understanding and exposure to this years race then many Americans who tend not to follow the electoral race until much further along in the process.  For a lot of Americans this election is an election of discontent, apathy and fear, particularly from the most extreme sides of the electorate.

Like it or not the United States standing in the world means that our election has a ripple effect across the globe.  So not only should this race be important to American citizens but it should matter to people of other nations as well.  I realize that there are concerns about Hillary Clinton for a lot of voters.  I understand those concerns and I do not think they are entirely baseless.  I do however believe that they are overblown.  I think that there has been a demonization of Hillary Clinton.  I think that the demonization of here is largely driven by the mess that is the Republican Party in the United States today.  The Democratic Party used to be, for a few decades that party that did not have it's act together.  It still is a work in progress and is not as organized as it could be, but the Republican Party is splitting in my opinion.  I think that as a whole the American Public from a social standpoint is moving to the left.  From a fiscal standpoint is where a lot of traditional Republican voters still hold on to the Republican Party of Ronald Reagan.  I don't think anything is wrong with the voters whom still prescribe to things like small government, less taxes and the like.  It is not something that aligns with my own beliefs, but I can appreciate it.

The problem is that the Republican Party has been slower to move in its social views then the public has been.  As such it has gotten caught in the past, and the most extreme members of the Republican Party have gotten a strong foothold in the party because of it.  Those people are the people running the Donald Trump campaign.  The less extreme members of the party have become political eunuchs who are so afraid to yield control to the Democrats that have essentially lain waste to their own social standards and behavioral standards for political efficacy.  The thing that even many Republican voters do not seem to realize is that the people running the Donald Trump campaign (I bring up those in charge because I view Trump himself as nothing more then an easily manipulated puppet) hate one thing more then the Democratic Party... and that one thing is... the Republican Party.  The Trump campaign is actually being run as a Third Party IMO.

Now the idea of a third party is appealing to many Americans because the Democrats and Republicans have stone walled each other for so long and become so divisive in their rhetoric.  Donald Trumps "outsider" status is refreshing to many because it represents are departure from the status quo.  A status quo that many are tired of.  Hillary Clinton as a political lifer represents the status quo.

I can appreciate why people feel the way they do.  I just think the Donald Trump is the WRONG candidate to choose as an outsider to Washington.  I think he is the wrong candidate because he can be easily manipulated by others and the others who are pulling the puppet strings on Donald Trump are people from the "Alt Right".  A faction of people who function much more like Fascists then they do like Patriots. These are VERY VERY dangerous people.  It's seriously frightening.

Hillary Clinton has years of working together with both Republicans and Democrats to pass bi-partison legislation.  Many of the Republican members of Congress who have come out against her publicly during the electoral race are people who have complimented her and often times publicly stated how adept, knowledgable and dedicated she is to working at passing legislation with political compromise, a give and take, where both parties can take some satisfaction.

She has a plan to try and decrease taxes on the majority of working class Americans while increasing taxes on those who represent the top 10 percent.  She wants to have sensible gun legislation that allows people to enjoy their second amendment rights but also restrict access to the kinds of weapons that are used to commit mass murders in our country.  She wants to FIX the issues with the Affordable Care Act that are causing high rate and deductible increases this November.  A lot of people do not understand that.  They think she wants to keep the Affordable Care Act just as it is.  That is NOT the truth.  Whom ever gets elected President, Democrat or Republican, you can rest assured that there will be changes made to the Affordable Care Act.  It might be rough on families for a year or two here, but it will get fixed for the better.  She wants to protect the rights of people who are looking for a path to American citizenship and contributing positively to our communities, not throw them out of the country as Trump has suggested. She wants to increase the Federal Minimum Wage to a true Living Wage across the country.  $7.50 or whatever it is not is PITIFUL.  The effort to get the minimum wage to $15.00 Federally is extremely important and something the Democrats do a poor job of selling to the American people.  It's baffling to me how some of the people in our poorest states.  THE SAME PEOPLE WHO BENEFIT MOST from Democratic Party sponsored programs, like Welfare and Social Security, are often times the people who vote against their own interests and their families interests.  She wants equal pay for equal work for Woman and Minorities.  She wants to change the poor trade agreements that are causing many American Businesses to outsource their work to other countries.   The Obama administration already has one of the toughest stances on Immigration of any U.S. administration.  Terrorists DO NOT get into the United States... the ones who are here are born here, they don't come here from elsewhere.  It is extremely hard to get into this country without a thorough vetting of your past. She has a real plan for taking on and defeating ISIS.

I am your White Anglo Saxon Protestant.  I am the guy that the Trump campaign depends upon to rally and support their efforts.  How?  By making me think that America is not great, not great because our jobs are being taken away by people who don't look like me. The truth is that the policies are taking away your jobs, not the people.  Hillary realizes that there have been mistakes in some of these policies and they need to be changed.  They did not have the originally desired effect.  She has made some mistakes in her support of past trade agreements, but she acknowledges that.  The way to fix a mistake (and we all make them) is by being able to say you made a mistake and that you are willing to work to fix it. Donald Trump can not admit to any mistakes, so rest assured that when he makes one, and trust me he will, he will be far too short sighted and too conceited to admit responsibility and do anything to fix it.  No, in all likely hood he will compound the mistake and make it worse.  

I implore our American readers with all my heart to get out and Vote this coming November 8th.  I have tried to make my case for Hillary Clinton here.  I realize that there are people who will not agree with it.  I do not have any ill will towards people who choose to vote for Donald Trump. I get that they are frustrated and I get that they want change.  I just think that the Trump campaign is playing on that frustration and is not truly invested in their best interests.  If there are any undecided voters who are reading this, I hope that I might have been able to persuade you to vote for Hillary Clinton.  Most importantly vote though.  Make your voice heard.

I do not think that majority of Americans support the Alt Right movement.  I think a vote for Donald Trump is a vote for the Alt Right, and NOT a vote for the Republican Party.  If you wish to vote Republican, vote for a TRUE Republican in Evan Mcmullen.  Or write in Ted Cruz or Mitt Romney.

Or vote for Hillary Clinton as I will this November 8th.  I think she is going to make a good U.S. President if she is given the chance and if Congress does not look to try and Impeach her over some nonsensically manufactured controversy.  The F.B.I.'s recent partisan decisions are also scaring the living Bejesus out of me, but that's another story.

I'm With Her (image link)

Monday, 24 October 2016

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

Entertainment Monday: Happy Halloween Themed Songs

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

First is the classic Werewolves of London by Warren Zevon.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, 20 October 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, 17 October 2016

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

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


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

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

Monday, 10 October 2016

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

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

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

picture link

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, 6 October 2016

My 30th Birthday

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

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

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