Friday, December 30, 2011

Movies and Reviews

Sherlock Holmes-above average 

Robert Downey Jr reprises his role as the legendary detective Sherlock Holmes who lives off a 'jungle diet of coffee, tobacco and coca leaves'. Jude Law is back as Dr Watson, his sidekick.
Ritchie's sequel highlights Holmes stunt skills more than anything else. The train sequence when Holmes comes to Watson's aid, scene when Holmes and co. are chased by bullets that tear across their coats in slo-mo are superbly entertaining.
However more than the action, it is yet again the chemistry between the lead actors that holds the movie together for you. The banter between Holmes and Watson keeps you alive in a film that otherwise slumps to boredom owing to its monotony in terms of the shallow storyline.
The sequel gives the much talked about bromance a little more time and prominence. Watson finally disengages himself from Holmes to get married to his love Mary ( Kelly Reilly). Sherlock's slight hesitance at losing him to marriage, Holmes calling their 'friendship' as 'relationship' and finally the two doing a waltz! Holmes's fondness for Watson is made open this time around.
RDJ and Jude Law are terrific together with their comic timing, one liners and chemistry. Robert Downey plays his eccentric, scruffy character with finesse. His natural quick-wit makes him perfect as Holmes. Law is stoic and delightful as Watson.

Mission Impossible-Excellent
Ghost Protocol brims with scenes that are exciting and amazing at the same time; they're brought off with such casual aplomb that they're funny, too. Early on, Hunt and a fellow agent, the nattering tech nerd Benji (Simon Pegg), have to penetrate the archive room of the Kremlin, and they do it in captivating silence by hiding behind a scrim that projects, to the security guard, an exact image of the hallway they're in (minus the two of them). It's the spy equivalent of a magic trick, and that's the spirit of the whole movie. Ghost Protocol is fast and explosive, but it's also a supremely clever sleight-of-hand thriller. 
It's become easy to take Tom Cruise's skill for granted (even his fans do), but in Ghost Protocol he has a pulsating presence, a dynamic mind-body fusion. From the moment he gets broken out of a Russian prison cell, only to argue with Benji via video feed as chaotic violence swirls all around him, Cruise energizes the film with his no-sweat bravura. He kicks butt like an Ultimate-Fighting bruiser, he races vehicles like a demon — but more than any of that, he invests every line, every situation, with the cleanly intense, fired-up concentration of an actor who means it. Powered by Cruise's moxie, Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol proves that in a Hollywood action-ride ­culture drenched in fake adrenaline, it's cathartic to encounter the real thing.

We Bought a Zoo
The film is loosely based on the story of Benjamin Mee and his book chronicling the purchase and saving of a zoo. Damon plays Mee, a widower looking to give his son, Dylan (Colin Ford), and daughter, Rosie (Maggie Elizabeth Jones), a new start. He settles on a charming house sitting on 18 acres of land inhabited by lions, tigers, lemurs, a grizzly bear and much more.
The zoo comes with a staff, populated by the likes of Kelly (Scarlett Johansson), left in charge of the zoo and its animals after it was closed to the public. There’s also the goofy Lily (Elle Fanning), Kelly’s niece being home-schooled at the zoo and working in the small restaurant. The woman and the girl provide significant chances for Benjamin and Dylan to shake out of their funks.
Crowe pours it on thick with the emotional stuff, sometimes with success. Damon gets to show his comic and emotional range throughout the pic. His moment reminiscing about his wife while viewing pictures on his laptop is exceptionally moving. And the film’s closing scene is actually one of the finer sequences Crowe has ever put to film.

As Benjamin says, "all it takes is 20 seconds of insane courage to change your life." There's a lot of fun waiting at We Bought a Zoo, but it's the feelings that run through every scene scene that'll make you glad you came.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011


I love Christmas, and I loved being able to spend the weekend with my family.
 Christmas eve after work, Lindsay and Tyler and the kids came over for dinner. 
In keeping with the spirit of why we celebrate Christmas in the first place we had a mini home evening/activity. We started discussing what the scriptures teach us about shepherds and their sheep. That sheep always know the voice of their shepherd. Then we listened to this cd that got from my aunt and uncle. Its about 15 minutes long. It was comprised of excerpts of conference talks from prophets and apostles that told the story of Christ's life. It was really interesting. Most of them were pretty recent so they weren't very difficult. The two I struggled with the most were Elder Maxwell, I obviously have not heard him speak in years, and Bruce R McConkie, who I have never actually heard speak in my entire life. 
After that we all drove to the church for our ward Christmas Eve program. We discussed each member of the nativity scene and sang a song. It was short and sweet and to the point. Very nice.
Then it was on to our traditional white elephant gifts. Here's a sampling of what we got.
 This sparkly hat was perfect for India. She looked so cute!

 Ever since Olivia came back from Iowa and Missouri she has been obsessed with old fashioned phones. Notice her huge smile!
 Not sure who thought of this but I think its pretty awesome. Who doesn't want a gas pump drink dispenser.

 Isabel made a haul with not only Candyland, but real candy. The good stuff.
 This was my gift. The bumper car alarm clock. It was voted the worst gift of the night. Even Olivia was mocking my present. For some reason I couldn't get anybody to trade with me. But to be honest, once we got it working it wasn't all that bad. At least it wasn't a live chicken, right Erin?.
 Miss georgia may got a gift too. In case you haven't noticed, my mom totally rigs the gifts. At least for the little kids.
Then after White Elephant, it was off to the Madson's for game night before Santa showed up. We played a homemade version of Time's Up. We played boys against girls. After two completely intense rounds which resulted in a tie, boys 1, girls 1, we finished the night with the lightning round tie breaker. A very heated game of Catch Phrase. Winner takes all.  It was a lot of fun.

Sunday morning Jordan had to work. So Jordan brought his ward to our house for a couple of hours before we went to church at 1. After church the Mitchells showed up and ate lunch. Then we played around til Jordan got home. Finally at around 4:30 we opened presents. I was so excited to give my parents their gifts. I got my dad a set of History Channel documentaries on the Mob and the Steve Jobs autobiography. I got my mom the new Il Divo cd, which is excellent, and that new book about gospel learning by Elder Bednar. Jordan and I were apparently on the same wavelength because he bought ma the Il Divo concert DVD that was filmed at the Greek theatre in California. We ended up watching that and it was a very good show.

Santa was very generous with me this year.

                             A very cute necklace handmade by Erin! Thanks again
 Finally a digital camera I can't wait to use

 Scarfs. One from Erin and one from Grandma Blanche
 And a Samsung Galaxy Tablet. I can't wait to learn about everything I can do with it. 
I hope you all had a lovely Christmas!  Its my favorite time of year.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Roses Are Red Pt 4

Twelve years passed. I entered a classroom at the University of Utah and took my seat. The professor began to call roll. "Violet," he called. The girl in the seat directly behind mine answered, "Here." My blood ran cold. As discreetly as possible I turned and looked at her. She had matured, she had changed form an ugly duckling into a swan, but there was no doubt it was violet. When class ended I turned to her.  "Violet," I said, "I don't know if you remember me. We were in the same class in third grade at Emerson School." She looked at me, and her forehead wrinkled.
 "I'm sorry, I really don't remember you name. I was only in that class for part of the year."
"Violet, may I take you to lunch? i need to ask your forgiveness." 
"For What?" She looked puzzled.
"I'll tell you at lunch, okay?"

We walked silently to the Union Building, through the cafeteria line, and to a table. "What do you need to talk to me about?" "How much do you remember about our third grade class?" I asked. "The music," she answered. "Our teacher played such beautiful music. I think she's the reason I'm a music minor today. It had been such a tough year for my family. My father died that July, and we found a little house to rent. It was so croweded with six children. I had to sleep with my two sister, and they both wet the bed. I can remember how embarrased i was to come to school smelling so bad, but the bathtub didn't work, and we had to wash out of a washtub after heating the water on our coal stove. Usually there wasn't time to bathe in the morning." The words were tumbling out as Violet remembered bitterly that third grade experience.  I used to come to school and hide in the back corner."

I was finding it harder and harder to confess. As Violet spoke, the colas were heaped higher and higher upon my head. At last she was silent. "Violet, do you remember the Christmas party?"
Tears formed in her eyes. "oh, yes."
"Violet, can you ever forgive me? I was the one who wrote that terrible poem that sen you sobbing from the room." She looked puzzled. "What poem? i was crying because I hadn't had a quarter to buy a gift and yet someone had given a gift to me. I couldn't stand the guilt and the shame."
"Violet, there was a card attached to your gift. On it I wrote a terrible poem. Don't you remember?" Violet tipped her head back and laughed. "I couldn't read in the third grade. i don't think I even looked at your poem." Then the knife twisted. "What did it say?"

"Violet, it doesn't matter. Just forgive me, please."
"Come on, what was the poem?"
 I chose not to compound my guilt with a lie, so I quoted it to her.
"Seems appropriate to me," she laughed. "I forgive you."
We finished lunch, and I walked out of the Union Building with a lighter heart. However, every 
December 23, I still do penance for the cruelty of youth.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Roses are Red Pt 3

I sloshed back home with my purchase. Thankfully, my mother did not sniff the cologne. She merely commented on how lovely the little bottle was. She helped me find a box and wrap my gift. I went to my room, found a pencil and paper, and wrote the following poem:
Roses are red, Violets are blue,
Put this stuff on So we can stand you.
I did not sign it. I sealed it in an envelope and taped it to the gift.

Monday morning I left for school earlier than usual. When I arrived I went to my classroom. The door was open, but Miss Heacock was not in her room. Quickly and furtively I placed the gift under the Christmas tree. So far so good. By the time the school bell rang, Miss Heacock was playing Christmas carols on the phonograph, and more and more gifts were being placed under the tree. We became more excited about tomorrow's Christmas party as the day wore on. Miss Heacock carefully looked at each gift and checked off names in her roll book. On Tuesday our party was preceded by a semi-annual desk clean out. At last all of the papers had been removed, crayon boxes lined up neatly, and pencils sharpened and put away. I twas time for the party!

We drank punch from paper cups and ate cookies and candy canes, and then it was time to distribute gifts. AS we sat in our seats Miss Heacock selected a present from beneath the tree and called out, "Sandra."  Sandra, somewhat embarrassed, walked to the front of the room and took her present back to her desk. She was unsure whether she should open it or not. "You may open it, Sandra," said Miss Heacock. 

Several more presents were distributed before Miss Heacock called out, "Violet." Violet walked slowly to the front of the room. Miss Heacock extended her hand and delivered my gift. Violet, eyes glistening, walked back to her seat. I shifted in my seat so I could see her reaction. She placed the unopened gift on her desk and opened the envelope. Suddenly she began to quiver; a tear formed in the corner of her eye and ran down her cheek. Violet began to sob. She grabbed her present and ran from the room. Miss Heacock, reaching for a gift, did not see her go.

The enormity of what I had down sank home. Tears filled my eyes. There have been moments in my life when I wished I could back up ten minutes and correct errors I had made. This was on of those moments. I am sure my name was eventually called. I am sure I was given a gift.  I remember nothing of this. I merely walled in guilt. Finally the party ended, and I walked home. 

As Christmas vacation came to an end i began to realize I would have to face Violet when I went back to school. Even though I had not signed my name, I was certain she had figured out who had written that terrible poem. How could I face her? But like it or not, school began again. It began without Violet. Her seat was empty the next day and the next. Violet had moved.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Roses are Red Pt. 2

I slunk back into school, face aflame. The rest of that Friday crawled by. Finally the last bell rang. As I was pulling on my galoshes I felt a hand on my shoulder. "Is something wrong?" I looked up into Miss Heacock's emerald eyes. "You seemed awfully quiet this afternoon." "I'm okay," I stammered. My mind had been struggling with the Violet problem all afternoon. I had reached a possible solution; I wouldn't get Violet anything. Since we were maintaining secrecy, no one would know. "Maybe," I said, "i won't  be able to get a present. My father makes me earn all of my spending money," I lied, "and might not have a quarter to buy a present." A look of concern came over Miss Heacock's face.  "If you can't afford a quarter, I 'll give you one. It will be our secret."

I trudged home through the snow. No other brilliant escapes from the situation entered my mind. Christmas was the following Thursday, and the party would be on Tuesday. I had only three days to find a way out of my misery. Perhaps I could become sick, but that path was fraught with peril, since my mother made us stay in bed all day when we were sick, and i might be in bed Christmas Day if she suspected I was really not sick. At last I reached home. The house smelled wonderful. I could tell my mother had been baking bread. I hurried to the kitchen in hopes of melting gobs of butter on a slice of warm bread. My mother greeted me. " Miss Heacock phoned. I'm sure your father and I can come up with a quarter for a Christmas present." My heart sank into my galoshes. Now there was no way out.

Saturday morning it was snowing. My mother exulted about a white Christmas while I pulled on my snowsuit and galoshes and prepared for the four-block trek to the Economy Drug Store. My mother game me a quarter and a dime"just in case" and sent me off to do my Christmas shopping. I took time to investigate everything along the way, prolonging the inevitable as long as possible.

Since the previous evening, I had been contemplating what to buy for Violet. Nothing seemed really appropriate. As I wondered up and down the aisles of the Economy Drug, galoshes squeaking mournfully, I discovered my choices were somewhat narrowed by the twenty-five-cent limit. I considered purchasing five nickel candy bars but discarded that idea, since Violet probably liked candy bars. As I reached the end of the counter, I saw the gift, and a terrible plan exploded full-blown in my mind. Not only did I see the gift, but I knew how I would present it to Violet. There on the shelf were small, crown-shaped bottles of cologne. I selected one from the display and twisted off the lid. Years later when I read novels that used the phrase"she reeked of cheap perfume," my mind always flashed back to the first whiff of cologne from that bottle in the Economy Drug. It had only one redeeming feature. It cost a quarter.

Catching Fire.

Catching Fire is the second book in The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins. As the sequel to the 2008 bestseller The Hunger Games, it continues the story of Katniss Everdeen and the fictional, futuristic nation of Panem. Following the events of the previous novel, a rebellion against the ruling Capitol has begun, and Katniss and fellow tribute Peeta are forced to return to the arena in a special edition of the the Hunger Games.

I really enjoyed this book for several reasons

1) The level of horrible that President Snow Reaches. Major shock
     value that the government get away with such           
     despicable things.

2) The Suspense and Action of the story. So many twists and  

3) The whole concept of the arena in the 75th Hunger Games is 
     intriguing.  I think its genius.

4) On top of that the whole situation is thought provoking. Are 
    Katniss and Peeta really helping each other by fighting and
    sacrificing to keep the other alive? Are they just creating more 
    danger? Would they be better off fending for themselves?

5) I love that I am not annoyed by the drama of the love triangle. 
    Its sappy but in a way genuine and believable.

6) I also enjoyed the uncertainty of the allies and the complexity of
    the characters.  Are the other tributes really trying to help
    Katniss and Peeta? Are they waiting for the opportunity to 
    betray them? Where do their loyalties lie? 

7) I liked the ending and hated it at the same time. It was a major\
    revelation but also a huge cliff hanger. I just thought. . .
    "seriously? that's what you're leaving me with?" It was a smart
    move though because now I can't wait to start Mockingjay.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Roses are Red Pt 1

This is one of my favorite Christmas Stories. It is titled Roses Are Red, and it is recounted by a man
 named Richard Siddoway. I want to share it with all of you but it will have to be in different
 installments. It might be long but I am going to try and keep it to 4 or 5 part. So here is Part 1.
Today is December 23rd. It on on this day each year that i do penance for an act I committed in 1947, when I was seven years old. I was in teh third grade at Emerson School and had been blessed with a marvelous teacher named Miss Heacock.  She was not much taller than I, and had dark red hair, and smiling green eyes. I credit her with any love I have for Classical music, because she spent part of every Thursday morning introducing us to the lives of the great composers and playing recordings of music by Beethoven, Brahms, Bach, and other great musicians. I loved school because of the influence of this wonderful woman.

As Christmas approached we made decorations for our schoolroom. Miles of red and green paper strips were pasted into interlocking loops to form paper chains as we listened to Handel's Messiah. Pictures of Santa Claus were drawn and painted with water colors. Stained-glass windows were approximated as Miss Heacock ironed our crayon drawings between pieces of scrap paper.  A Christmas tree was placed in one front corner of the room, and the odor of pine replaced by the particularly pungent aroma of oil that arose from the decades-old hardwood floors of our classroom. It was then that Miss Heacock announced we were to have a Christmas party on the day we were released for Christmas vacation. We were all excited.

Fate had blessed us with a peculiar situation that year. There were exactly as many girls as boys in our class. Miss Heacock decided, perhaps in an attempt to introduce us to the social graces, that each of us would purchase a gift for another student in the room. Each boy would supply a gift for a girl and vice versa. The gifts were to cost no more than twenty-five cents. There have been moments in my life when I have known exactly what was going to happen. I claim no great gift of prophecy, but, nevertheless, I have known.  As Miss Heacock began walking down the aisles, a box of boys' names in one hand, on with girls' names in the other, I knew the name I'd draw would be Violet's. 

Violet was a sorry little girl who had been placed in our class that year. She was very plain and did little to help her looks. Her hair was rarely combed, she wore the same dress every day, and, worst of all, she wet the bed and rarely bathed. Violet sat in the back corner of the room, partially because she chose to sit there, but also because the rest of us had moved away from her. When the room warmed up, the aroma of Violet mixed with the perfume of floor oil and became almost overpowering. Seven-and eight-year-old children cane be cruel, very cruel. Violet had been the target of most of our cruetly during the school year.

Miss Heacock approached my desk with  the box of girls' names. I reached into the box,, shuffled the
 names around, and finally withdrew the folded scrap of paper. I placed it before me on my desk.  My
 fingers trembled as i unfolded it. There it was, as I new it would be: "Violet." I quickly 
wadded up the paper and shoved it into my pants pocket. The bell rang for recess. 

"Who'd you get?" asked my best friend Allen. I panicked. I couldn't let let anyone know I'd gotten Violet. "We're supposed to keep it secret."  "Sure, but you can tell me," Allen probed. "I'll tell you who I got. Just between us okay?" "Miss Heacock said to keep it secret." My voice squeaked a little. Suddenly Allen smiled. Earlier in the year I had made the mistake of telling him I thought one of the girls in our class, Margo of the honey-colored hair, was pretty. I had endured considerable abuse since that disclosure. "I'll bet you got Margo's name. That's why you won't tell. You got Margo!" Immediately he was running around the playground shouting that i"d gotten Margo's name. So much for Allen's ability to keep a secret.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Best Weekend

Pretty Much had the best weekend ever. Here's how it went.

Friday Night I got to see the New Sherlock Holmes Movie. I'll post a review soon. Promise.

Saturday at Noon, BYU basketball against Baylor. Baylor is ranked 6th in the Nation. The Cougars put up a good fight. They lost by one basket. It was a great game, partly because I got to sit on the front row. *picture pending

Saturday Night, dinner at Hagerman's and then the MOTAB Concert with Nathan Gunn and Jane Seymour. The concert was very special. Definitely just the thing to get you in the Christmas Spirit
The Mitchell kids had their Primary Program Sunday. However, everybody was sick with the stomach flu, except Jake. Yes, even Lindsay and Tyler. So mom and I took Jake to church so he could participate.The Program was very sweet. They got some Scripture Power going on. They did sign language with one song. Jake got to play chimes on the last song. He was the very last speaking part in the program, and got to give the closing prayer. He did an amazing job and i am so proud of him. He is such a great kid.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Thoughts of Christ.

Sometimes the most extraordinary things happen in the most ordinary places. Two thousand years ago, in a very common setting, a shepherd’s field, angels proclaimed “good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people” ( Luke 2:10). That holy message of heavenly hosts was delivered not to the pompous or the powerful but to a group of lowly shepherds watching over their flocks by night. It would lead them not to a majestic hall but rather to a lowly manger. The events of that night, so unlike any night before or since, remind us to look for greatness in the common place.
Observe any family or neighborhood, and you will find that the most precious moments usually take place during day-to-day living; a sister helps her younger siblings with homework, a mother tenderly cares for a sick child, a father plays catch with his son, a widow invites friends to her home, a neighbor shovels the snow, a teacher explains a concept at a child’s desk. These events are not to be ignored or diminished just because they seem small or ordinary. They are meaningful in the most profound way, and yet they are cloaked in the commonplace, the everyday.
To see and appreciate these happenings, we need to open our eyes and hearts. We may not hear angels sing or see a new star in the heavens, but we can sense in our souls when something significant is happening. When we do, we will find that these are not ordinary events at all. They are the stuff of which miracles are made; they are heavenly proclamations of hope. We need only remember that a king can be born in a stable, shepherds can receive heavenly messengers, and a bright new star can shine on dark and lonely nights.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Sensing a Pattern

Here's another Merry Christmas. . I thought this was so funny I had to share.
So in the living room at my parent's house we have a huge painting above the fireplace. Notice the big red fruit. 

We also have a bowl of fake fruit on the coffee table.  Again more pomegranates.

We got the Christmas tree up and decorated. 
 In case you couldn't tell and needed a closer look. . . yes, more pomegranates.

Sure is  a pretty tree.  Isn't it?