Monday, November 27, 2023

Movie Music: Alexandre Desplat's "The Monuments Men" (2014)

I think The Monuments Men (2014) is a lovely movie, if you can ever call a movie about war "lovely." It feels like a throwback to classic WWII films from the 1960s, like The Great Escape (1963) and The Guns of Navarone (1963). Alexandre Desplat's soundtrack also hearkens back to the movies of that era, and it has become one of my favorite scores to write to. 

The first track I'm sharing is "Basic Training." It's upbeat and cheery, one of those "let's all get working on something together" sorts of songs. And about 30 seconds in, it brings in the movie's main theme, which is endearingly jaunty and optimistic. 

"I See You Stahl" is completely different -- dark and foreboding, and with a sense of desperation. In the middle it gets very menacing before a calmer theme arrives to bring a sense of hope that leads back into the more can-do feel that pervades the movie. 

"Normandy" is a more thoughtful song, quiet and reflective, and yet ultimately also strong and confident. 

And, as a timely treat, here's a rendition of "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" that figures into the plot:

If you enjoyed those three short selections, you can listen to the whole soundtrack on YouTube here. I heartily recommend it.

(This review originally appeared here at J and J Productions on November 29, 2015.)

Thursday, November 23, 2023

Giving Thanks

I give thanks to the Lord that he became my heavenly Father when he called me to be his child and sealed me as part of his eternal family through the waters of Baptism.

I give thanks to the Lord that he has revealed his name to us.  He is not a nameless god that makes us guess his name, or even guess whether or not he exists.  He is the great I Am.  He tells us everything we need to know about him in his own divinely inspired words contained in the Bible.  Not only that, but when he came to earth to save us, he took another name, Jesus, the only name given to us by which we must and shall be saved.

I give thanks to the Lord that He reigns in heaven and on earth, and that he takes an active role in the lives of all, stopping or permitting hardships, depending on which will be of the greatest good to those who love him.

I give thanks to the Lord that he gives me all that I need today to support my life here on earth, from food to clothing to shelter to medicine to transportation to the people around me.

I give thanks to the Lord that he richly and daily forgives all my sins, not because of anything I have done, but because of what Jesus has done in my place.

I give thanks to the Lord that he gives me the ability and desire and courage to forgive those who sin against me.

I give thanks to the Lord that he helps me to resist the temptation to sin whenever I ask him to, and that he actively keeps me out of Satan's clutches.

For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are the Lord's, now and forever.  Amen.

Wednesday, November 22, 2023

Black Friday Indie Book Sale!

This weekend, the Kindle editions of all four of my novels are marked down to $0.99 for Black Friday, and will be through Cyber Monday!  They are usually $2.99-$3.99, so this means you could theoretically get all four of them for less than just one ebook copy of My Rock and My Refuge.

And not only that, but my books are part of the annual Black Friday Indie Book Sale hosted by author Perry Kirkpatrick, which includes more than 500 ebooks all priced under a $1.  Check out her website to browse the complete list of books that are included in this sale, and start reading some great books this weekend!

Here are direct links to each of my Kindle books that are on sale on Amazon, just to make life easier for you:

Sunday, November 19, 2023

"Mr. Mom" (1983)

Mr. Mom (1983) is one of those movies I grew up with -- I can't remember a first-time viewing because it seemed to be always part of our movie-watching lives.  I will add a little caveat to that, though: there is one section my parents always fast-forwarded through, and when we were very young, they made us close our eyes during one other part that might have scared us.  We'll get to those.

When Jack (Michael Keaton) loses his job working for General Motors because there's a recession on, his wife Caroline (Terri Garr) gets a job as an advertising executive.  Jack insists that he is very happy to get to stay home with their three children and spend quality time with them while Caroline has to trudge through the drudgery of the working world.

Naturally, because this is a comedy, nothing goes right for either of them.  Well, maybe not nothing, but a lot of things definitely go wrong.

Jack feeds the baby chili and has to deal with toxic diapers.  Jack discovers that Caroline has named their demonic vacuum cleaner 'Jaws' for a good reason.  (That's that part that my parents made me shut my eyes for.)  Jack gets addicted to soap operas.  Jack overloads the washing machine and it goes berserk.

Caroline contradicts her new boss in front of an important client.  Caroline's fresh and new advertising ideas make her the darling of said client, which means all her co-workers resent her.  Caroline's boss makes passes at her.

Caroline's best friend makes passes at Jack.  Said best friend and some other ladies take him to a male strip club (that's the part my parents skipped for us), and then the (erstwhile) best friend tries to seduce Jack.  

However!  With love, kindness, occasional dollops of patience, and a great deal of willingness to forgive and move forward, Jack and Caroline and their kids move through this season of turmoil and have a bright future ahead by the time the movie ends.

One of my favorite things about this movie, as an adult, is how much pop culture gets referenced in this movie.  I didn't really get most of that as a kid because we didn't engage with pop culture much at that time.  But now I understand the references to JawsRocky, Chariots of Fire, The Young and the Restless and so on, and that adds an extra layer of fun to the whole comedic shebang.

Another thing I love about this movie is the way it plays with gender stereotypes.  Jack isn't bad at parenting so much because he is male, but because of the kind of person he is -- he's an engineer, so he tends to get obsessive over details and miss what else is going on around him.  Caroline is good at advertising not because she's female, but because she's great at combining ideas and finding unusual or quirky angles to approach things from.  There's plenty of humor about Jack not knowing how to use common household appliances, but let's face it -- who among us hasn't been stumped by the instructions on a machine we have never used before?

Over all, Mr. Mom is a funny, heartwarming, ultimately hope-filled good time.

This has been my contribution to the Familyathon Blogathon hosted by 18 Cinema Lane this weekend.

Thursday, November 09, 2023

The Strike-Out Tag

I purloined this from The Texas Lass.  But I told her I was going to, so that makes it all fine, right?

The idea behind this tag is that you cross out things you've done, like they're a to-do list or something.  And provide a bit of explanation if you want.  

Kissed someone – Well, I've been married 21 years, so I would hope I could cross that off!

Gone to a rock concert – I've been to a Beach Boys concert and two Creed concerts, all when I was in my twenties.

Helped someone – Um, I'm a mom.  I help people all the time.

Gone fishing – I went with my grandpa in Iowa several times as a kid, and also with some friends when I was a teen.

Watched four movies in one night – My husband and I worked third shift for four years, after we got married but before we had kids.  Every week, Cowboy and I would have one night off together, and then I would have another night off that he had to work.  And do you know what I did those nights off by myself?  I watched movies.  Oodles of movies.  Our library system had an amazing collection, and I just basked in movies.  Four movies in one night wasn't even rare.

Lied to someone – I am, alas, a sinful human being.

Failed a subject – Closest I came was a C- in Geometry in high school.  Let us not speak of it.

Been in a car accident – Our family was in a really bad wreck when I was 8, when a drunk t-boned our car.  I was also hit in a parking lot when I was a teen, and my hubby and I had a fender bender a few years ago.

Been in a tsunami – Thank the Lord, no.

Watched someone die (including pets) – I've had plenty of pets die, but I don't think I watched any of them die.  I just found them dead, or sometimes they wandered off to die alone and we never found them.

Been to a funeral – Quite a few.  My dad is a pastor, and my mom was the choir director when I was growing up, and I got called upon to sing in the choir for more than a few funerals as a teen.  Also, I attended the funerals of all four of my grandparents.

Burned yourself – I have an aloe plant in my kitchen because I am accident-prone, and I love to cook and bake.  I wouldn't say I burn myself routinely, but 2 or 3 times a year is pretty common.

Run a marathon – Not something I have any interest in doing.

Spend over 10,000 bucks in one day – Buying a house counts, right?

Flown on an airplane – Many times, as a passenger.  Once, when I was 12, a friend of my parents took us up in his little private airplane, and he let me steer for a while, even.

Written an 18-page letter (front & back) – I've written a LOT of long letters in my life, but 18 pages is probably a little over my max.  Usually I run out of steam around 10 pages.

Gone skiing – Not something I enjoy much, but I've gone downhill skiing probably half a dozen times.

Lost someone you loved – All my grandparents have died.  Several of my aunts and uncles, too.

Got into trouble for something you didn’t do – Probably?  No specific instances come to mind, but I know it happened when I was a kid, and it always made me furious.

Stolen a book from a library – Not on purpose, but we have had a few go missing over the years.

Gone to a different country – Yes!  I've been to Canada quite a few times, plus Mexico, Poland, Ukraine, and whichever island in the Bahamas where Nassau is.

Gambled in a casino – No, thanks.  I've been inside a couple casinos, but I didn't do any gambling.

Been in a school play – I mean, sorta -- I was in a couple talent show productions in college, including one where we performed the Monty Python skit "Buying a Bed," and I was in the chorus for three different Gilbert and Sullivan musicals in college, too.

Taken a lie detector test – Why would I?

Voted for someone on a reality TV show – I don't really like reality TV.

Read more than 20 books a year – Rare is the year when I don't read more than 20 books.  For the last few years, I've read about five times that many.

Gone to Europe – As mentioned above, I've been to Poland and Ukraine.

Had a surgery – Let's see... I had surgery to set a broken arm when I was 12, got fully sedated to have my wisdom teeth out when I was 18, had my gall bladder out in my mid-30s, and then had surgery to set a broken arm again last year. 

Had stitches – Thanks to three of those surgeries, yup.

Ridden a tuk-tuk (autorickshaw) – No, but they look cool.

Had more than 5 IM conversations going on at once – I think I've maxed out at three.

Been in a fistfight – Fighting with my little brother when we were kids probably doesn't count.

Had a pet – Many!  Cats, fish, dogs, and hamsters.  No llamas, tho.

Petted a wild animal – I like to pick up grass snakes, so I think that counts.

Had your own credit card & bought something with it – I didn't have any credit cards until after I got married, but I do have two of them now. 

Dyed your hair – Several times, usually some shade of red.

Got a tattoo – Nope, but if I did, it would say "The readiness is all."

Had something pierced – I have one hole in each ear.

Got straight 'A's – I got a B in one class in college, which ruined my perfect record of straight A grades for all four years and made me graduate second in my class, with a GPA of 3.98.  Stupid PE class spoiled everything :-b  The girl ahead of me had a perfect 4.0.  But for seven out of eight semesters, I had straight 'A's.

Taken pictures with a webcam – I mean, I've used a webcam to video chat with people plenty of times, but I don't think I've used one to take a picture.  Not sure why I would.

Gone to sleep with music on – I had a couple college roommates who insisted on sleeping with either the radio or a CD on, and I got used to it eventually.

Well, that was fun, in a random and wacky sort of way :-D  I hope you enjoyed it!

Because I wasn't tagged with this, and there don't seem to be any rules about tagging people... I am not tagging anyone with this.  However, if this looks fun to you, go ahead and copy it for your own blog!  To make that easier, here's a clean copy of the questions:

Kissed someone 
Gone to a rock concert
Helped someone 
Gone fishing 
Watched four movies in one night 
Lied to someone 
Failed a subject
Been in a car accident 
Been in a tsunami
Watched someone die (including pets) 
Been to a funeral 
Burned yourself 
Run a marathon 
Spend over 10,000 bucks in one day 
Flown on an airplane 
Written an 18-page letter (front & back) 
Gone skiing 
Lost someone you loved
Got into trouble for something you didn’t do 
Stolen a book from a library 
Gone to a different country 
Gambled in a casino 
Been in a school play
Taken a lie detector test 
Voted for someone on a reality TV show 
Read more than 20 books a year
Gone to Europe 
Had a surgery
Had stitches
Ridden a tuk-tuk (autorickshaw)
Had more than 5 IM conversations going on at once
Been in a fistfight 
Had a pet 
Petted a wild animal 
Had your own credit card & bought something with it
Dyed your hair
Got a tattoo
Had something pierced
Got straight 'A's
Taken pictures with a webcam
Gone to sleep with music on