Friday, November 15, 2013

Bear Has Cancer

My Friend, and one of my Loves, Bear, got cancer. Bummer. He is 60, and from North Haven, ME. He lives with his beautiful wife and my good Friend/Sistah, Pat. I assume they still have dogs; maybe cats too. It's been many years since Larry and I visited them at there home in Somerville, ME. Bear and Pat are mostly dealing with his disease and its treatments alone.

I was Primary Caretaker for my Mother and my Sister-In-Law. Caretaker is a hard, challenging, emotionally Sacred, painful Joy. I am blessed to have been of service to my Beloved. I would do it again if needed.

It is in my old Boyfriend, Bear. I call him Bear. Pat calls him Arthur. Pat and Bear attended my wedding to Larry twelve years ago, and drove to MA to attend my 60th birthday party. I met Bear in about 1983. They are Family to Me. I met his two children. I knew his ex-wife. I brought fancy sipping booze to the Island for Margie, Bear's Mother, to share on Her front porch in Her fancy, little glasses. We have History. All of Us. It's all good.

The week after Thanksgiving, I will visit Bear at Dana Farber (DF)  in Boston. He will live in DF-affiliated discounted housing because he lives forty miles or more from treatment. Pat can be with him as much as she can. She weighs being Superintendent of Schools in ME, and care of her animals and property. They are good, hard-working people, and I love them dearly. That they are now challenged by all that comes with Cancer, pains my heart. They need my help, and I am happy to be there for Them. We will work out what support I can provide. He will be there over the coming Holiday Season! Does that suck or what???!!!

We hope for some limited Family support in ME for Bear in Boston. Let's see what God and The Universe have in store for us in the coming months to the New Year. This Time is an opportunity to experience the true meaning of the Season: Love. Service. Joy. Satisfaction. Contribution, and Compassion. But most of all, Love. I do it for Love. That's it.

Sunday, November 3, 2013


My neighbor and friend, Nancy, has been talking about a brilliant wind ensemble called WindSync for a couple of years now. Every time they play locally, we are not in town. Last night, I was and went to Bristol, RI for one of their concerts. They are currently on a fourteen-day tour, culminating in a performance at Carnegie Hall on November 19th. The bassoonist of the group is her daughter's best friend.

Her husband, Mike, also invited a friend and colleague, Glenn, who plays harpsichord in their baroque musical trio, The Greybeards. I met Glenn for the first time last night, and he echoed about Mike what I just said about Nancy, "He's been talking about this group for years!" He had also never heard them play. We all had the pleasure of meeting a lovely family from Illinois, whose son, Tim, just got married and landed a great job teaching at Roger Williams University. They were visiting their son, and were just looking for something to do last night. They saw the sign in front of St. Michael's church, and listened to a few You-Tube numbers by Wind Sync. So, they decided to pop into the concert. Before the performance, we all had a lovely time sharing our stories and getting to know one another, in as much as one can get to know another in the course of an evening, of course.

Wind Sync was invited to play after performing in Tiverton last year. They were introduced by Sandy, Chair of the Community Concert Series at the church, and a good friend of our choral director, The Greater Tiverton Community Chorus, in which Nancy and I sing. Sandy made a point of describing the group as very young, "None of them look older than seventeen!" But assured us they were very professional.

Soon, the performance began with an introduction by Tracy, the Bassoonist. Her short speach was articulate and confident with a twist of humor. She joined the other four, and began to play "Wind Quintet in E-Flat Major, Op. 88, No3" by Anton Reicha (1770-1836). The next number was "Quintet for Winds, No. 3 (1999) by David Masianska (b. 1943), described as a modern composer and one of their favorites. It was by far my favorite movement. Their playing was fluid and mature, and they moved their bodies as they played, leading me to do the same. The group had wonderful rapport with one another, and their sound blended beautifully to completely fill the accoustic space. It was a magical performance. We were all just wowed by it.

The second half contained four pieces that most of us recognized. "Bolero" by Maurice Ravel (1875-1937) was beautiful rearranged by WindSync (I heard Tracy being given credit). Each member took turns playing the snare drum as they also each in turn played multiple versions of their instruments: more than one flute, oboe and clarinet. The bassoonist also play the saxaphone. It was a wonderful performance.

My other favorite besides "Bolero" was their most performed number, "Peter and the Wolf, Op. 67" by Sergei Prokofiev (1891-1953), excerpted for wind quartet. For this performance, each member dawned the minimal costume of woodland creatures and the grandfather: the cat had ears and a tail, the duck had a bill on her head and a call around her neck, and wolf wore a mask, and the bird had a feathery mask on his head and a pink feathery boa around his neck. Grandfather wore a hat and a large beard. The horn player narrated the story, and also played the wolf. The ensemble danced around the stage and into the audience, engaging us in a very interactive performance. It was energetic, very entertaining, and beautifully played. The reason this was my favorite is because when my son was very young (he was a latch-key kid at six years old), he played his 78rpm LP of "Peter and the Wolf" to keep himself entertained and company while I worked. He loved this record and this song always reminds me of him, even if my heart aches a little each time I think of those days.

They replaced "Histoire du Tango", with their arrangement of Billy Joel's, "And So It Goes". Here we discovered that not only do these very talented young musicians play their instruments expertly and beautifully, they can also sing! This rendition was accapella and beautifully harmonized. Needless to say, at the end of the night, everyone jumped to their feet to give a rousing standing ovation. It was one of the best concerts I have heard in a long time. I bought their first CD and asked each to autograph it. I really enjoyed supporting their tour and their careers, just a little.

If you get a chance to see WindSync (check out their web site for their very full schedule), or are near Carnegie Hall on November 19th (I sent Billy Joel a message about it on Facebook, hoping he'll attend -- why not?), I highly recommend paying for a ticket. You will be very happy you did. Enjoy.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Our State Fair

After being sick with a cold all week and watching the SC State Fair coverage on local news, we decided to spend Saturday there. The Temptations were going to be in concert at 7:00pm, but we went too early, and I couldn't wait that late to see them. We were done at 5. I have never been to a State Fair, and Larry couldn't believe it has been over fifty years since he attended one. The theme song from Roger and Hammerstein's 1962 movie, State Fair, starring Pat Boone, my childhood idol, plays in my head every time I think about the fair. I was excited.

We arrived and all we could see were food stands. We decided to get a chicken in a pita sandwich before meandering around the grounds to get the lay of the land. We wandered first through the kiddie rides then onto the horror houses and houses of glass and many other kinds onto the rides that make you puke. There were three different kinds of Ferris wheels and we went on one as it started to sprinkle. Rain clouds hung overhead, threatening us most of the afternoon. We rode in a sky chair to see the grounds from on high, and lastly rode on one of my all-time favorites, The Matterhorn.

We wandered through all the connected exhibit buildings displaying the multitude of contestant entries vying for a ribbon in baking of everything you can think of, handicrafts and woodworking. Christian politics were there too. "Did you get your word of God yet?" the woman asked as she handed me a pocket-size New Testament. "No, thank you", I replied and moved on sliding the little book in my back jeans pocket. The anti-abortionists were there with their little plastic fetus displays and in another booth, a Christian man was intensely counseling someone. There were lots of commercial exhibits and demonstrations, but my favorite was the sand sculpture of a dragon surrounding his claimed castle. The detail of this sculpture was incredible.

We stopped on the way to the animals to listen to some "Mountain Music" by Jeff Robbins, who made his own banjos out of dogwood and a fruitcake box of his mother's. He was talented, fun and told great stories. Then we walked by a pretty blond woman who looked like she did standing Yoga poses while her little white poodle jumped over her bent legs on command.

We finally made it to the animal area and walked through the poultry house first. Every kind of duck, rooster, chicken and goose was on display. There were some very pretty and handsome specimens of every shape, size and color; squawking and cocka-doodle-dooing. The smell was very hen-house. A woman stopped to explain to us about the origins of a champion goose we stopped to admire. It was the largest goose I had ever seen. And, of course, in Gamecock Country, there was also a real cock.

We learned that showing prize goats is much like showing dogs at the Westminster Kennel Club; posing them with the handler placing their legs just so to be judged. We watched young people on horseback compete for ribbons, and just had to go see some beautiful specimens. We ended up in the cattle house and watched young people compete their prized cattle for that blue ribbon. The animals were so calm and seemed trained to perform on command

Walking through the stall areas for various farms showing their prized animals was really fun. The smell was not, and accidentally stepping in "paddula", as Larry kept calling the cattle shit I found on my shoe in the car after we left because I kept smelling it after we drove away, was not either. But I admired the animals and the care I saw of cowboys and farmers gently brushing each one to spiffy it up for sale. There were thank you signs to the buyers of their cattle stating the thousands they paid, and one that held a warning to anyone thinking it was okay to walk up to the ass end of a large bull, "Hugo will kick".

Lastly, I wanted to ride on the back of an elephant. Don't ask me why. I was at the State Fair! It was there, and I could. So I paid my six dollars and climbed on Fazzle's back, a female from India, who began our ride by laying a huge, loud fart which required shovelling, and a huge piss that loudly rained on the asphault before we walked onward. I loved it.

We had a great time at the fair, and were exhausted when we were done. It was time to head to the Liberty Tap and Grille in The Vista where we enjoyed a dark ale from Belgium (8.5%!), and I had shrimp and grits. It was delicious. Lastly, a high school was hosting a formal dance, so we were treated to a fashion show of dozens of young women and men dressed formally in all the bling and sparkle the females could muster and very handsome bow ties with white shirts on the young men. I complimented the table of youngsters closest to us and left them smiling with a, "Have fun!"

Now we're home watching the sixth ALCS game at Fenway park on television, yelling "Go Red Sox" at the TV and posting it on Facebook. I love social media!

Monday, September 30, 2013

Hope Walks 2013

Sistahs: Colleen, Margie, Karen, Jeanne and Me
My sister, Karen, signed up for this walk in honor of her sister-in-law, Diana. Diana is also a friend of mine from high school and our neighborhood of Newton Upper Falls, MA. Team Diana was created for Hope Walks 2013. Newton Wellesley Hospital has been our family hospital for generations: my grandmother, mother, me and my son were all born there. Many of life's major medical events landed there, and I was happy to help out their Vernon Cancer Center. Dr. Jim Vernon began the center, and lost his wife to cancer a year later. He was on-hand to welcome walkers and received a standing ovation. My sister, Karen, told me he did all her cancer surgeries, and she just loves him.

So may people I did not expect showed up to walk in Team Diana. Her children and many friends came. Her mother, who I never met, was there with her husband. "Hi, I'm Kathy", I said to him. "I'm Clay. So what?" I loved him right away.  Friends I haven't seen in years were there, and it was like a mini-"old home week". What a wonderful experience.
Diana's sons: Travis and Adam and daughter-in-law (sorry I forget her name.)

The walk totalled 3.5 miles and was very well organized. Whole Foods provided bananas and apples free to walkers. I got inroduced to "Hint" water"a lightly flavored water I liked, but my sister, Margie, didn't. She likes more flavor.  There were tables with lots of information and an inflatable colon with examples of benign and malignant polyps. It was actually interesting. They fed us lunch after the walk and provided water along the way. At the turn-around point, my sister, Jeanne (also a cancer survivor), spotted a single Port-o-John at the end of a driveway in front of a house on Commonwealth Ave. We decided it was a private potty, but we used it anyway. Soon, walkers lined up behind us. We felt badly about this, but the owner moved his car and didn't tell us not to use it. Thank you, whoever you are!
Diana's mother and step-father

My hips stiffened up quite a bit and I had sharp pain on the ball of my left foot. I wore Moleskin, but it didn't help. I sucked it up, reminding myself of everything Diana and my sisters, mother and grandmother and many others went through with their cancer treatments, and felt grateful for my good health. So what if I stiffened up and limped a little. I can get over that! "Shut up and keep up," I told myself. I was happy when we got to the lunch line and to sit for a while. It was a beautiful day, and I was grateful for that too.

Seeing old friends and reconnecting with family, especially while helping a good cause, is a wonderful feeling. Thank you to everyone who donated on my behalf. You helped me raise $300! Our Team raised $5,425.00. Thank you so very much. I love you all.

A hot shower and a bit of stretching, and my legs were good as new. I decided I need new shoes though. :o)
Ted Bagley with Jeanne.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Sieze the Moment

One can never stop having adventures. That's my motto at least. Last Monday night, a lovely Nordhavn trawler named Shear Madness graced the waters outside our Tiverton home. We noticed her approach and then she moored in full view of our windows. The next morning, she was still there.We spied on her with binoculars, and saw a young man on deck before he disappeared below decks. Larry looked up the name online and we found an entire web site all about the owners, Kathy Clark and Bradley Rosenberg. They even have a blog!

I emailed them to let them know which house we were in, and wished them well on their voyages. Kathy and Bradley are sailing the world as a retirement lifestyle. How romantic! Kathy emailed me back and invited us to come say "Hi". I got very excited, and asked Larry if he wanted to go. He was open to the idea, but he is not comfortable in the water, so I saw trepidation on his face as well. I thought it would be a great idea to call our friends and neighbors to the north, Mike and Nancy. They are sailors and have lived aboard a sailboat for a time, sailing as crew between Miami and Bermuda. They both wanted to go too, so I tried to make a date with our potential new friends hanging out on the Sakonnet.

Kathy called me back when I told her we all wanted to visit and proposed a 7pm time Tuesday night. She suggested earlier might be better, so we didn't have to navigate rowing in currents in the dark. We planned to row a skiff out from our shore. I suggested immediately since I knew were were all home, so I called Nancy and asked if they could go right away. Mike was out doing errands, and Larry wasn't really keen on going, so Nancy and I went.

I met her on the beach in front of her house. She had life jackets, and together we pulled the little boat onto a trailer and launched it. She insisted on rowing out, so I was the navigator. We laughed at our folly all the way out to Shear Madness. It was pretty far! But Nancy did very well, and is one strong woman: the current was strong and winds caused waves we had to plow through. We just kept laughing.

Once we reached the boat, Kathy, Bradley and their hand, Tyler, met us. They held our boat while we climbed aboard, rinsed our feet after we removed our water shoes, and then entered their luxurious floating living room. What a boat! It was like something our of a movie. It had three decks, four bedrooms and five bathrooms. It carried 4,600 gallons of diesel fuel, travelling 1 mile a gallon, and had sixteen large batteries. They made their own fresh water from salt and had several large holding tanks for fresh and grey water. There was a washer and dryer aboard, a full-size galley with large refrigerator, and several freezers.

The living quarters were carpeted, and the comfortable furniture was quality: a full dining room table and chairs to seat at least eight. Leather furniture in the living room, and in the Pilot House was another watch berth. This bed is not for napping while on watch, though - that is absolutely forbidden! It's a place for a second person who is not on watch to sleep if they need to be close at hand, or to take a nap while they are at anchor (this phrasing was sent to me by Kathy as a correction to my original post. Thanks, Kathy).

Their navigation system was very sophisticated, and the controls looked like a gameboy. Bradley showed us how it all worked, and we were just wowed. They also had comfortable furniture on the upper deck and could navigate from that vantage point while basking in the open under a permanent canopy shade. There was a large motor boat for venturing ashore, two kayaks and an inflatable boogie board. They both were scuba divers, and must be in their fifties. Very active, and very nice people.

We enjoyed a glass of Prosecco while we visited for another hour before Nancy and I headed back to shore. Before leaving, though, Kathy announced that anybody who rowed to see them got a t-shirt. Really?  Yes, they had their own t-shirts made, and we were so happy we took a shot to meet these adventurers who welcomed us into their floating home and their lives. I've never done anything like this before, but was very happy I siezed the moment, and that my friend was willing to share it with me. Life is very good.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Red 2

What's better than watching a very classy Helen Mirren wielding a gun like she was born to do it? She can do anything as an actor. I just love watching her. This movie had me laughing out loud. Several times. It was funny with great explosions and special effects. The drama was good and the twists intelligent. We really liked it and found it incredibly entertaining.

The talented cast highlighted a credit list of seemingly hundreds of stunt people, drivers and many others; filming in Canada, Paris, Hong Kong, Moscow and the US. There is a company called, "Pixel Liberation Front". Really.

This is a story about an operative named Frank, played by the incomparable Bruce Willis,  who tries to retire and live a normal, albeit boring, life with his girlfriend, Sarah, played by Mary Louise Parker. Watching Mary Louise play a bored, silly ninny turned make-out queen killer was really fun. I just love her. She really came into herself as an actor in the Showtime TV series, Weeds. John Malkovich played the most normal role I've seen him portray in a while as Frank's best friend, Marvin. Marvin fakes his own death and shows up to save Frank's ass, pissing his friend off and taking us on the beginning of a wild ride.

Anthony Hopkins was magnificent as the genius Dr. Bailey, locked up by England's MI6 in an insane asylum prison for thirty-two years for inventing the ultimate nuclear bomb, then hiding it under the Kremlin. The US wants it, the Kremlin wants it and Iran wants it. But who will end up with it in the end? Getting there is half the fun. All the aged agents are brought back together to find the bomb and settle old scores. There's great fighting, especially from Byung-hun Lee as Han, who played "the best contract killer in the world". Plus, he's a real hotty. Go see this entertaining and exciting movie. It's worth the ride and you'll get a few laughs out of it to boot.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Iron Man 3

I am so happy Robert Downey, Jr. got clean and sober. He is such a good Iron Man character! He is natural and smooth at comedic drama. And, he's pretty nice to look at. He's gotten really buff from this series and the Sherlock Holmes action movies. But the real star of this movie is the technology fantasy and those awesome suits.

I also love Guy Pearce. He was terrific in Priscilla, Queen of the Desert and The Count of Monte Cristo, among other roles, and he makes a great villain. His acting is very intense and believable. His character proved to be a very nice nemesis to Tony Stark. Aldrich Killian was wonderfully power hungry, greedy and terrifying. He was also incredibly buff for this role, and so hot!

I was happy to see Don Cheadle once again playing a character that talks intelligently and doesn't drop the "f" bomb every other word like his character in the TV series, House of Lies, on Showtime. I couldn't get into that show just because of the offensive language. As Colonel James Rhodes, his personality was likeable and smart. I enjoyed the comedic banter between his character and Stark. He also looked good in a metal suit.

Gwyneth Paltrow's Pepper Potts was the most action-packed role for her yet. Even though she was voted Most Beautiful Woman of the Year on the cover of People Magazine, her style in this movie was gorgeous. She fought with the best of them, and her abs would equal any male six-pack. She was fun to watch.

Lastly, Ben Kingsley's role as The Mandarin was really fun. It was a different role for him, and I enjoyed watching him create it. His costume was great, and he is so incredibly talented as an actor.

This was truly big screen movie fun with lots of giant explosions and sci-fi fantasy entertainment. But, the question remains: is this the last Iron Man movie? Not sure. It's not crystal clear to either me or Larry. I guess we'll have to wait and see. If you want fun, mindless entertainment, go see it. We both really enjoy the distraction.

P.S. Larry and I had no problem ignoring the blatant commercial plugs in this movie for FiOS and Oracle. And, the plug for Downton Abbey was priceless.

Friday, April 26, 2013

I had a dream...

Future site of my new Meditation Space under the Camilias.
I had the most powerful dream this morning. I woke up to pee and realized it was after 8:00 a.m. I made coffee and fed the pups in a groggy haze. I am still very groggy as I write this. The dream was like those I have missed. I was in a deep sleep, and it was two hours long. I awoke at 6:00 this morning, but could not get up. Then how did I know it was six? I must have gotten up. I don't think I am yet fully back in my body.
The dream had so many messages with interwoven plot lines: all related, but different. The gist of it all is this:
My personal "Bodhi" tree.
  1. In helping another, I help myself.
  2. Trust that I am always being guided and taken care of.
  3. Even when I am afraid and don't have a clue what to do or where to go, I am being guided.
  4. Following my instincts is how I am led by my Guides.
  5. My Guides will drop everything they are doing when I need them.
  6. If my Guides are teaching others when I need them, I then become the lesson for their students; in the moment.
  7. My Guides are loving, kind, generous, understanding and caring.
  8. I feel saved and nurtured in their presence.
  9. I feel loved and important when I let them into my life.
  10. When I get out of my own way, I allow them to show me the way.
  11. You don't know who your earthly Guides are going to be. Don't worry about that.
  12. Be open and pay attention. That's it!
  13. P.S. You'll be guided whether you're paying attention or not.
Entrance to Meditation Space
View of lake from inside.
I feel changed this morning; energized for the first time in a long time, and excited. I love it when that happens. :o) Realizing the original dream of creating my own retreat here on the lake, complete with beautiful meditation space, will come true. Beginning this year! Life is sweet, and I am eternally grateful. Blessings be.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

"Open Space of Possibility"

Knotted Beauty
When I confided in my friend and spiritual mentor, Simran Singh, that I felt dreamless, she told me to "Consider another perspective... Maybe you are not dreamless ... just in the open space of possibility. Let yourself be in the space and watch for the conversations from the Universe; connect your dots and your dream will rise up within you... YOU are the dream." I am the dream? I don't quite understand that statement yet, but I do understand "the open space of possibility". I will rest there and see what comes up. In order to rest there, however, I need to do the work of resting: "sitting still in meditation and holding my questions sacredly" while I await answers.

I do believe the Universe guides and speaks to us. I have lived this belief and had it proven to me time and time again. I have gotten stuck lately in the world of "reality", according to many people around me in my life who do not believe as I do in the unseen Guides who help us/Me. I believe in God, and I believe in Angels. I believe in the Unseen. But, I also believe in the power of the Mind. How we choose to perceive ourselves, the world, and us in the world is foremost to how the quality of our lives unfolds. Most recently, I have been consumed with financial worry for the future. I am reminding myself, once again, that in the past I have been taken care of. I did not "have a pot to piss in", but I was given everything I needed in the exact moment I needed it because I believed this was true. I have just forgotten this Truth, and am working to remind myself of it once again.Matthew 6:26, "Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?"


Oxalis (I think)
My body feels stuck, and so my mind follows suit and my spirit remains clouded. I must stretch to work out the kinks of my locked joints and knotted muscles; open those spaces and make room for clarity and a body free of aches and pains. In so doing, my mind will open up and my heart will follow suit (or lead, however that works). When my heart opens up, my spirit flies free. When my spirit flies, the answers come and I am open enough to receive and accept them. I open now by breathing in my own voice with Love, Acceptance and all the possibility the Universe has in store for me. Thank you.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Inspiration is not dead.

If you want to be inspired, go see "42". Chadwick Boseman as Jackie Robinson was powerful and moving. His gorgeous and very stylish wife, Rachel, played by Nicole Beharie was also a joy to watch. Her clothes were just wonderful. Through the whole movie I kept saying to myself, "I love that dress. What a great top. She is so chic! Love her style." Great costume choices, people. But, the star of the movie was Harrison Ford as the Brooklyn Dodgers owner, Branch Rickey. "God is Methodist", Branch declared, and used religious references for everything through the movie. I loved it. "Do you want me to fight them?" Jackie desperately asks Rickey. "No", Branch declares, "I want you to have the guts NOT to fight them. Have the guts to turn the other cheek. Can you do that?" And that's how the first African American baseball player was introduced.

Mr. Robinson was so brave to be the first to break the ice of racism in baseball. "You made me love the game again", Rickey told Jackie when Robinson asked him why he did it (integrated a black player into his team). Robinson must have suffered so much more than was blatantly portrayed in this wonderfully powerful movie. I can't even imagine the courage it took for him to do what he did. The Pittsburgh Pirates coach shamelessly heckled Robinson while at bat at the opening season game in 1947, and the anguish Boseman portrayed in those moments were heart-breaking to watch. He was wonderful in this role, as was Ford, and I hope they are both nominated for awards.

The most powerful moment for me in the movie was when a father and son were sitting in the stands waiting for a game to start and the son was so excited to see his hero, Pee Wee Reese, perform. But when Robinson came on the field with the Dodgers, this father along with all the adults in the stands around he and his son began to angrily yell, "Get out of here, nigger. You don't belong here!" After a minute, as the son looked around at all the yelling with a shocked look on his face, that face changed and he began to yell right along with his father. This blatant example of how racism is passed from one generation to the next was very strong.

Pee Wee got scared before the game because he got a threatening letter, calling him a carpet bagger. He took the letter to Rickey, who then showed him three thick file folders worth of death threat letters sent to Jackie, and Pee Wee got perspective. Once on the field before the start of the game, Pee Wee walked across to first base, put his arm around Jackie's shoulder and chatted with him. Jackie asked him what he was doing and he said, "I have family in the stands right now, and I want them to see exactly who I am." "You gonna play ball or socialize," the ump yelled at Pee Wee. "Play ball, ump", Pee wee replied laughing, and said to Jackie, "Maybe tomorrow we'll all wear 42, and nobody will be able to tell us apart." Watching each member of the Dodgers slowly lose their prejudicial views toward Jackie was incredibly moving.

I loved this movie. All the acting was fabulous. It's been a long time since I've seen a heart-warming film, free of "f-bombs", that moved me to want to be braver than I am. Our fourteen-year-old nephew, who watched the movie with us, declared that if Jackie Robinson could do that, we can do anything. Amen to that. Go see it. After the last week, feeling the stress of the Boston Marathon bombing and the hunt and capture of the bombers; locked down and scared family and friends, and heroes who brought people together once again to cheer departing vehicles in a make-shift memorial parade down Mt. Auburn Street in Watertown, Massachusetts, we need a good inspirational movie to lift our spirits. This is it.

Friday, April 12, 2013

No Singing in This Wizard Movie

If you're in the mood for more childish fantasy, Oz The Great and Powerful is just the movie for you. I saw Wicked on Broadway, and the storyline was a more mature rendition with an interesting plot. This prequel Oz story felt much more like the innocent version with Judy Garland. The special effects were magnficent, but the story sagged in the middle, leaving Larry and I feeling a little less than enthused when the final credits rolled.

The movie begins in black and white. Oz as the carnival wizard from Kansas is portrayed as a gigolo and a cad by James Franco. He lures innocent women in to be his magician's assistant and offers them each the gift of a music box he claims belonged to his warrior grandmother. Also, like Garland's original, characters from the Kansas carnival become Land of Oz residents.

When the strongman finds he gave such a box to his smitten wife, he comes tearing after the magician. Oz narrowly escapes in his hot air balloon and is immediately sucked up in a tornado. After a harrowing ride, he glides through in an incredibly beautiful and unique landscape to finally crash in a swamp. There he meets Theodora played by Mila Kunis. Theodora is by far the most interesting character in this movie. Her costumes are beautiful and her eyes couldn't be bigger if they tried.
 Theodora escorts Oz to the Emerald City, and there he meets her sister, who also seems enamored with this handsome Wizard who fell from the sky to fulfill their father's prophecy.

This story is about the three witch sisters and their dysfunctional relationship: Theodora from the West, Evanora of the East played by Rachel Weisz, and Glinda from the North, portrayed by Michelle Williams. At first we are lead to believe that Glinda is the evil witch who poisoned her father to gain his throne and all the gold that comes with it. But soon we see that Endora controls Theodora, and it is in Theodora's transformation that the rest of the ride takes place.

Endora shows the wizard around Emerald City, and finally introduces him to the room filled with gold. Oz is greedy and wants to be the important, and soon to become very rich, king of the land that bears his name. But Endora tells him that before he can be king or get any gold, he must kill the evil Glinda by breaking her wand. Oz is convinced this quest is worth the risk, so he embarks down the yellow-brick road towards the Dark Forest.

Oz is accompanied on his journey by Finley, the flying monkey he rescued from tangled vines on his way to the Emerald city with Theodora. Finley swears allegiance to the death in exchange for his rescue, only to be told by Oz out of Theodora's earshot that he is not the great wizard the people of Oz have been awaiting for. But, Finley swears he will remain silent. Finley is played by Zach Braff, and is just adorable.

Along their way, they come upon China Town. It has been destroyed by evil flying monkeys, and they hear the crying of a little girl. They find China Girl, played by Joey King, and she couldn't be cuter if she tried. Her legs were broken in the rampage and the Wizard used his "magic" to repair her legs. At least his glue could repair china legs, when his carnival magic could not make a crippled girl walk after she begged him during his performance in Kansas. China Girl insists she accompany Oz and Finley to the Dark Forest and now we have three heading into danger.

Glinda seems demonic when she first appears, but we soon find out it is really Endora who is the evil one, and the three companions accompany her to her northern outpost city where she convinces Oz that he can be the Wizard they await. Apparently, she and Endora both realize he is not the one. Endora sees this realization as a way to win the throne for herself, while Glinda sees it as a way to save her people.

Theodora is then told by Endora that the Wizard loves Glinda, and has abandoned her; betraying her trust. This causes the volatile red witch who throws fire balls when she's angry to implode and become the green witch we recognize from the original movie. Her transformation is magificent, and Ms. Kunis' portrayal is the best of this movie.

The movie's magic was fun, and the landscapes created were reminiscent of the movie Avatar. I loved the huge flowers. Everything was brightly colored, and fantastic. But the story fell flat for us, and we were a little bored. The movie is worth seeing on the big screen for the sets alone. We paid $4.50 each for a 1:00pm show. Otherwise, wait for it to come on TV and see it for free.