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Archive for July, 2008

Sir Ian

Sir Ian McKellen…  our very own beloved Gandalf.

I love Gandalf.  And I love Sir Ian for his magnificent performance as Gandalf..

(These are two fantastic pieces of art that I have seen at autograph shows)

Carl was nice enough to tell me about a blog he found.  Would you believe it was kept by Ian during the time he was making Lord of the Rings? (found here!)

I’ve read it all, even though it’s well after the movies were made.  I do like reading what he had to say and if you think you would just use the link above.

 

Sir Ian:  From Gandalf to King Lear…

…. and beyond!………..

He is someone I really wish I could see on stage.  Who knows, sometimes miracles happen!  But for now…

I *  *Sir Ian McKellen!

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Pollution Dangers Cast Shadow over 2008 Olympics
By Hilmar Schmundt

Is Beijing dangerous to athletes’ health? With the prospect of athletes running marathons and cycling in Beijing’s smog and pollution-laden air, environmentalists and experts in sports medicine are concerned about the health risks associated with the Olympic Games in China.

The Beijing smog feeds on itself. Whenever the city periodically disappears into a brownish-yellow haze, the traffic only gets worse. Those who are fortunate enough to own a car leave their bicycles at home, choosing air-conditioning over the unfiltered cocktail of coal smoke, particulate matter and ozone in the air.

But escaping to the relative comfort of a car’s interior won’t be an option for those traveling to Beijing in August 2008, when more than 10,000 athletes will compete in the Olympic Games in one of the world’s dirtiest cities. China has promised what it calls “Green Games,” but its pollution figures suggest the more grayish hue of smog and pollution.

“The athletes could be exposed to unhealthy air pollution unless there is a substantial reduction in emissions,” warns David Streets of the Argonne National Laboratory in the United States, the principal author of an article on the subject in the professional journal Atmospheric Environment

The air is often thick with pollution in Beijing, a city of 11 million. When there is no rain or wind, ozone and fine dust accumulate, often to a rate that is two or three times the maximum levels recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO).

The fine dust stems mainly from coal power plants and factories, while vehicle exhaust gases are responsible for the ozone. The city’s constant traffic jams have reduced the average speed of the cars on its streets from 45 kilometers per hour (28 miles per hour) in the past to only 12 today. Adding to the problem, more than 1,000 new cars are registered each day.

Even healthy visitors often complain of sore throats, allergic reactions and asthma. In China’s 14 largest cities alone, air pollution is responsible for the deaths of 50,000 newborns each year, writes the Shanghai Star newspaper. “If you exercise,” advises Ibrahim Salahat of the International Medical Center in Beijing, “you should do it inside.”

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An outbreak of blue-green algae is seen on the coastline of Qingdao, the host city for sailing events at the 2008 Olympic Games, in eastern China’s Shandong province Tuesday June 24, 2008. The Qingdao government has organized 400 boats and 3000 people to help remove the algae after Olympic organizers ordered a cleanup. Experts say the algae is a result of climate change, and recent heavy rains in southern China, according to the Xinhua news agency. (AP Photo/EyePress)

I have to say this………..  I do think the Olympic Committee should take more time to  look into the cities that want the Olympics, ….. Our athletes health is worth it.  

I find I am actually nervous about this years Summer Olympics.   I guess I always am a little nervous whenever and where ever they are held,  but this one in Beijing could be a health hazard to many athletes… it’s just not right.

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Freaks…

Freaks: Alive on the Inside  by Annette Curtis Klause

Hardcover: 336 pages
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry (January 10, 2006)
ISBN-10: 068987037X

From Booklist/ Amazon*Starred Review* Gr. 10-12. Seventeen-year-old Abel has spent most of his life at Faeryland, a resort offering “displays of oddities,” featuring performers with unusual physical characteristics. Both of his parents are missing limbs, and his first girlfriend is Phoebe the Dog-Faced Girl, whose cheek fur is ever-present when they kiss. Abel feels “useless” and “handicapped” by his normality. Longing to find a sense of purpose (and eager to escape Phoebe’s affection), he runs away. He soon discovers that Phoebe’s fur-faced younger brother has followed him, and together the boys journey through the seedy, terrifying world of traveling sideshows, led in part by the mysterious dark-haired girl who appears to Abel urgently in dreams and begs to be rescued. Klause‘s wild historical fantasy enfolds numerous stories and characters, and readers may get bogged down in the wandering subplots that knit the story together. The characters often speak coarsely, occasionally dipping into broad sexual innuendos, and Abel’s romantic interludes read with the steaminess of a bodice-ripper. But teens will be easily drawn in by the cliff-hanger chapter endings; the vibrant, affectionately drawn cast of characters (including a seductive mummy); and the exuberant, often bawdy language, in which even emotions are visceral creatures: “A worm of anger squiggled in my gut,” Abel says. Klause‘s suspenseful twist on the outsider’s story, the grim horror of human exploitation, and the questions about belonging will fascinate readers. Gillian Engberg
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Amazon gives a good review of this book, and I doubt I could do better.

It was a book that I wasn’t sure if I’d like or not, but took a chance, and I’m glad I did.  It’s a coming of age book, but it also takes a long hard look at the people who make up what is called “the Freak Show” at Carnivals and Circus’s.  This book gives a good look into the inside feelings of people who manage to survive despite their odds of doing so.  And what you discover is that they aren’t as different as they may look.

The protagonist, 17 yrs old, Abel, was feeling sorry for himself living with carnival freaks (his parents among them) when he was “normal”, so he sets off to find himself …and his destiny.

Followed by the dog faced boy they find adventure, love, fear, and many new friends, who seem to be attracted to Abel as if he were a magnet.  Try as he may he cannot leave the dog faced boy or his new friends behind when he see’s they are not being treated with the respect they are due.  He stays, and decides to do something about it. 

Good lessons are learned in this book… not the least of which is that no matter what someone looks like, beneath it  we are all the same, wanting the same things, and hoping for the same happiness’s.  In the end, the old belief that you can never go home again, is found untrue.

Annette Curtis Klause, Author’s Notes:      I may have started reading about unusual people out of curiosity, but what I brought away was respect- respect for people who fought the odds and created lives for themselves.  They made the best of what they had, earned a living, love, married, had children, and left a legacy when the could- just like anyone.  We are all different- and how boring life would be if we were all the same- but some of those differences may be more obvious than others, and present greater challenges.  Yet one thing unites us- we are all human.

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Ron Howard: From Mayberry to the Moon by Beverly Gray

Hardcover: 336 pages
Publisher: Thomas Nelson (March 12, 2003)
ISBN-10: 1558539700

Amazon: Product Description:     Ron Howard: From Mayberry to the Moon  and Beyond, the first full-length biography of Ron Howard, takes an in-depth look at the Oklahoma boy who gained national fame as a child star, then grew up to be one of Hollywood’s most admired directors. Although many show biz kids founder as they approach adulthood, Ron Howard had the advantage of brains, common sense, and two down-to-earth parents who kept him from having an inflated view of his own accomplishments. He also had a longstanding goal: to trade the glare of the spotlight for a quieter but equally creative life behind the camera. This biography tracks his career from 1960, when he debuted as six-year-old Opie Taylor on The Andy Griffith Show through 2002, when he accepted his Academy Award® as Best Director for A Beautiful Mind.

Throughout the book it’s noted (sometimes jokingly, sometimes not) that Ron cannot seem to rid himself of people still calling him Opie.

Some of the movies  I enjoyed that  were  Directed/ Produced by Ron:   

Splash- 1984 …….

Cocoon – 1985……..

Willow-1988 …….

Backdraft -1991 …..

Apollo 13-1995…….

The Chamber – 1996…… 

From the Earth to the Moon – 1998 (HBO)…….

A Beautiful Mind – 2001……  (the book was written and ended here)

Cinderella Man -2005…….  (since then.. Ron is still going strong!)

The DiVinci Code – 2006.

Considering that Rons career is far from over, this was a fairly good biography.

For the most part in books like this when they begin to make each movie an individual chapter it gets drawn out and not so interesting.  (well.. if you’ve seen the movies a rehash isn’t all you want to read)  I’m guessing this book wasn’t too boring because I did read it to the end. 

I truly admire Ron’s directing career… let’s face it, .. he’s good !  And I think he has a lot more in him before it’s all over.

Yes, I did watch him as Opie, and as Richie Cunningham and have probably seen just about everything he’s done in front of the camera, and enjoyed it.  But no matter how good the actor is (but you do need both to be good!)… what you see on the screen, is more how the director see’s the story… and I do think Ron Howard has what it takes to be one of those exceptional directors.

I pretty  much knew most of his story.. how his parents were in the business and how they allowed him to act at such a  young age and watched over him etc.  So there were no surprises tucked away in this book, but that’s not why I read Biographies and Autobiographies…  I do read them in hopes to get to know the individual better.. and in hopes that what I read makes me admire him more and not less.   I guess I want verification that the person I am reading about deserves my accolades.

No surprises here.  What you see is what you get… and so I continue to look forward to what Ron will give us next!

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July 6, 2003     Buddy Ebsen  dies age 95……

This  post is about the book written by Buddy Ebsen (The Other Side of Oz) .. and also a little extra about the actor.

I know most who look at Buddy Ebsen see Jed Clampett.. not me.  I am old enough to remember seeing his old black and white movies, when he danced with the likes of Shirley Temple and Judy Garland!

And then color came to television.. and wow!  I’m sorry but, old I am.. dead I am not!  This was a good looking man, with gorgeous  (I said GORGEOUS) blue eyes!  Sorry.. no Jed Clampett here!

But besides the old movies I’m also old enough that I first fell in love with the handsome Buddy when he played Davey Crockett’s side kick George Russel. I never missed that show!  Two handsome devils for a young girl to swoon over!  And..nope.. I wasn’t watching it for the history lessons!

     A few weeks ago when I went to Comic Con I met and helped Lee Meriwether. Among her photo’s she had two pictures of Buddy as Barnaby Jones and herself.  After talking about the show Lee mentioned the book Buddy wrote.  I have to admit I totally forgot about that book!  But I did remember when it was mentioned.. so I came home and searched it on Amazon, found it was no longer being published then went in search for a used copy.  I have 3 places I check on for used copies of books… Amazon (naturally), Barnes and Noble (or course) and a place called Alibris. I’ve had good luck with Alibris. (all of them actually) This is the 3rd time I’ve trusted their sellers and purchased a used book and each time they are mailed in good time and come in fantastic condition.  You’ll get no arguement from me!

The Other Side of Oz by Buddy Ebsen

Hardcover: 285 pages
Publisher: Donovan (January 1994)
ISBN-10: 1880538083

Amazon: 

From Publishers Weekly
Ebsen‘s career was launched when he and his sister Vilma danced in the Eddie Cantor Broadway hit Whoopee! and in Ziegfield Follies of 1934 . Later, in Hollywood, his co-stars numbered the likes of Judy Garland, Shirley Temple and Audrey Hepburn. Ebsen‘s media have included stage, radio, movies and TV, but he is best known for his roles in the long-running TV series Beverly Hillbillies and Barnaby Jones . In this memoir, the performer, who was born in Illinois in 1908, the son of German immigrants, recalls his early film experiences, especially as the originally cast Tin Woodsman in The Wizard of Oz –before he was fired. Unfortunately, despite the obvious richness of Ebsen‘s career, fragmentary reminiscences and amateur writing do not make for an involving autobiography. Photos.
 

Copyright 1994 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

   I can’t just put thisphoto here and not tell you .. I was totally shocked when this came in the mail.. the quality of this book is so fantastic it would be more than worth the original selling price of 24.99.  It was published in 1993.  Under the paper jacket lies a book that looks like (fake) leather.  The binding is done better than any book I’ve every purchased.  The paper is thick. (yes, you read correctly… THICK)  The print is fairly large, though it says nothing anywhere about it being “large print”.. it’s  double  spaced, and it’s filled (FILLED) with gorgeous photo’s along with the story!  I found myself just flipping pages and brushing my hand over the quality of the paper.. incredible!  If you like celebrity Biographies or Autobiographies and happen to like Buddy Ebsen… It’s worth finding a “used” copy as I did just to feel this book in your hands!

A Short Biography…….. (some photo’s are from the book… some from the web)

Born: Apr 02, 1908 in Belleville, Illinois
Died: Jul 06, 2003
Occupation: Actor
Active: ‘30s, ‘50s-‘90s
MajorGenres: Drama, Western
CareerHighlights: Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Davy Crockett, King of the Wild Frontier, Davy  Crockett and the River Pirates
First Major Screen Credit: Captain January (1936)
A dancer from childhood, Buddy Ebsen headlined in vaudeville in an  act with his sister Velma. In 1935, Ebsen was signed by MGM as a specialty performer in The Broadway Melody of 1936, wherein he was shown to good advantage in several solos. He worked in a number of subsequent musicals, including Shirley Temple’s Captain January (1936)

     …. teaming with Shirley for the delightful number “At the Codfish Ball.”

 

 MGM assigned Ebsen to the role of the Scarecrow in 1939’s The Wizard of Oz,

   but Ray Bolger, who’d been cast as the Tin Man, talked Ebsen into switching roles. The move proved to be Ebsen‘s undoing; he found that he was allergic to the silver makeup required for the Tin Man, fell ill, and was forced to bow out of the film, to be replaced by Jack Haley (however, Ebsen‘s voice can still be heard in the reprises of “We’re Off to See the Wizard”).Ebsen then returned to thestage, taking time out to provide the dancing model for a electronically operated wooden marionette which later was used at Disneyland.

In 1950 Ebsen returned to films as comical sidekick to Rex Allen, gradually working his way into good character parts in “A” pictures like Night People (1955). Walt Disney, who’d remembered Ebsen from the dancing marionette, offered the actor the lead in his 1954 three-part TV production of Davy Crockett,

    but at the last moment engaged Fess Parker as Davy and recast Buddy as Crockett’s pal George Russel. Ebsen continued to pop up in films like 1961’s Breakfast at Tiffany’s (as Audrey Hepburn‘s abandoned hometown husband), and in TV westerns, where he often cast his image to the winds by playing cold-blooded murderers. Comfortably wealthy in 1962 thanks to his film work and wise business investments, Ebsen added to his riches by signing on to play Jed Clampett in the TV sitcom The Beverly Hillbillies,

    which ran for nine years to excellent ratings. A millionaire several times over, Ebsen planned to ease off after Hillbillies, but in 1972 he was back in TV in the title role of Barnaby Jones. Few observers gave this easygoing detective series much of a chance, but they weren’t counting on Ebsen‘s built-in popularity; Barnaby Jones lasted until 1980.

 (web photo)

Cast Members:
Buddy Ebsen …… Barnaby Jones
Lee Meriwether … Betty Jones
John Carter …… Lieutenant John Biddle
Mark Shera …….Jedediah Romano “J.R.” Jones
Vince Howard ….. Lieutenant Joe Taylor

Excerpt from the book about Lee……

I was assigned a dressing room suite and parking space on the Goldwyn lot.  Two days later, an attractive young lady parked her station wagon nearby, got out, and approached me, smiling.  “We’ve nnever met,” she said.  “I’m Lee Meriwether.  I’m your new daughter-in-law”.  This former Miss America who had made a go of an acting career was referring, of course, to the role she had just won in the series.  Her appearance was soft, feminine, belied by a strong, firm handshake.  The skin texture spoke of a girl who works.  This lady, I concluded, does her own gardening.

 (web photo)

The actor now confined himself to special events appearances and occasional guest-star roles, though he did play the recurring part of Lee Horsley’s uncle in the final season of the TV mystery show Matt Houston (1983-85). One of Buddy Ebsen’s final roles was in the 1993 theatrical film version of The Beverly Hillbillies — not as Jed Clampett but in a cameo as Barnaby Jones!~               Hal Erickson, All Movie Guide

 Here is a piece of  “trivia” that I didn’t know about Mr Ebsen found in his book…

 I was totally unprepared for the phone call I got one day from Jimmy McHugh.

 “Ron Howard called today,” he told me.  “He wants to talk to you.”

 “About what?” I asked.

 “A part in his new movie Cocoon.”

 The news was thrilling.

 Fate sure knows how to torture a fellows.  Here I was locked into a year with the television series, “Matt Houston,”  and the hottest director in town calls to talk about a part in his next project.  I don’t wish to disparage television or Matt Houston or its star Lee Horsley- a true gentleman and friend.  But a part in the new Ron Howard feature?  For the big screen?  Wow!

 But a sad fact remained:  I was unavailable, so the part went to Don Ameche.  Don made the most of it and won an Academy Award.  And even though he got what might have been mine, Don Ameche will always receive my highest marks as a talented gentleman of rare humor and humility.

 Before exiting stage left, let me give you the final excerpt of the final page of Buddy Ebsen’s book………..

 I wanted to tell this story for the millions of young men and women- and grownups too- who start out bravely every morning prepared to sell something, whatever it may be.  I wanted them to know the story of someone, like themselves, who has been confronted by negative people who are secure behind polished desks, and who listen doubtfully as your pitch flops.

 So what to you do then?  Ring up “no sale” and walk out of the office defeated?  Never! Refuse to accept it! Just call it a temporary postponement of success.  The difference between success and failure is often no wider than the thickness of a cigarette paper.

 Just as Dorothy, the Scarecrow, the Cowardly Lion, and the Tin Woodman stood up to the Wizard and won- so can you!

 Life’s a brand-new ball game every day!

 Remember that of all the elements that comprise a human being, the most important, the most essential, the one that will sustain, transcend, overcome and vanquish all obstacles is… Spirit!

 I am so thrilled I have this book!!  And to think I owe it all to Lee Meriwether!!  (Thank you Lee!)  I will tell you.. there are no great surprises in this book.  No revealing, sorted affairs.  And no huge Ego eccentric to be found.  This book was a straight-forward telling of how Buddy broke into show business and managed to stay there and become the star we know.

Everything about this book is pleasing.  From the heavy weight, and the extraordinary quality of the book, to the well written story and multitude of photographs on the pages!  I feel as if I have found a hidden treasure which will remain with me for the rest of my life!  The only thing better would have been to have had the opportunity to meet this very fine actor in person.

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This is the part of summer that I can’t say I am thrilled with…

       It’s HOT!

I mean Heat Wave Hot!  It’s been in the high 90’s for days now.

Did I mention I have no air conditioner in my room?  Oh.  Well.  I don’t.  So whatever the temps read outside… they pretty closely read the same inside.  My room has been averaging 90 degrees.

So I’ve been sweating … a lot.  I know, it’s gross to imagine an old lady sweating.  Somehow, I don’t think I’m the only one!

I’ve been daydreaming lately…  about 75 degree days!  heh.   Other than in my mind is there really a place that stays 75 degrees all the time??  And if there is.. will someone please take me there?!

But there was a bright spot in my day.  Just when the day felt endless…. the mailman appeared… with an unexpected package!

A book ! 

From England! 

My blog buddy Cath sent me a BAFAB (Buy A Friend A Book)!  Never would I expect anything heavier than a piece of paper for a letter to come from overseas to me!    Like, good thing I still have good bladder control or I woulda wet my pants!  (*snort*)

I don’t know how to say Thank you to Cath so it sounds like so much more than just  thank you.    I feel like I have a little piece of England now! 

Ok, so it’s a book… still… it was bought in England!   How cool is that?!!!!!  Waaay cool !!

When Cath first reviewed this book it immediately went on my wish list, as did the other two from the trilogy as she reviewed them.. *sigh*.. one day someone will review a book I would like that isn’t a series!   (yeahrightsure, that and I’m getting younger not older!)

What a strange coincident that this book would come today …  the reason I think that is because I just finished reading Anne of the Island by  L.M. Montgomery, a book which I never would have read had it not been for Cath and her review of Anne of Green Gables (which I bought and read not long ago).  I found this book at the last show I went to and grabbed it up, even though it was actually book 3 of a series…  I can’t tell you how delightful both  Anne of Green Gables and this one, Anne of the Island, both were.

It was like stepping back in time.  To a more innocent time.  A time most think of when they are older and think back to when they were young.

I never read these books when I was young.. and I missed out.  But I’m making up for it now.  

  The books are easy to read.  They fly by and time seems to stand still.  Maybe it’s the wish that things were still as simple as they seemed when we were young and didn’t hold the problems of the world on our shoulders.

It’s such a short amount of time that we are innocent of so many things… it’s no wonder we all wish we “were young again”… it’s not really the “age” that we want… it’s the feeling of so much hope. 

This is a good excerpt:

Marilla, was thinking of her whole past life, her cramped but not unhappy childhood, the jealousy hidden dreams and the blighted hopes of her girlhood, the long, gray, narrow, monotonous years of dull middle life that followed.  And the coming of Anne- the vivid, imaginative, impetuous child with her heart of love,  and her world of fancy,  bringing with her color and warmth and radiance, until the wilderness of existence had blossomed like the rose. Marilla felt that out of her 60  years she had “lived” only the nine that had followed the advent of Anne.  And Anne would be home tomorrow night.

This book follows Anne for another 4 years Her years away at college, with her frequent trips home to Green Gables for Holidays, and the realization that sometimes love is so close you can’t see it.

So.. I have LOTS to thank Cath for!  

For saying such good things about Anne of Green Gables that it made me read them  (THANK YOU THANK YOU!)

… and for feeding my ADDICTION for fantasy fiction!   (If I could Hug you I would!! BIG Thank You!)

So… it was a horribly hot day… that turned out good anyway!

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The Grass Harp by Truman Capote

Paperback: 224 pages
Publisher: Vintage (September 28, 1993)
ISBN-10: 0679745572

Product Description
Set on the outskirts of a small Southern town, The Grass Harp tells the story of three endearing misfits–an orphaned boy and two whimsical old ladies–who one day take up residence in a tree house. AS they pass sweet yet hazardous hours in a china tree, The Grass Harp manages to convey all the pleasures and responsibilities of freedom. But most of all it teaches us about the sacredness of love, “that love is a chain of love, as nature is a chain of life.”

This volume also includes Capote’s A Tree of Night and Other Stories, which the Washington Post called “unobtrusively beautiful…a superlative book.”

I’ve seen the movie of The Grass Harp a number of times. It had a great cast.. but even with that it wasn’t what would be considered a “hit”.

Piper Laurie …  Dolly Talbo
 Sissy Spacek …  Verena Talbo
 Walter Matthau …  Judge Charlie Cool
 Edward Furlong …  Collin Fenwick
 Nell Carter …  Catherine Creek
 Jack Lemmon …  Dr. Morris Ritz
 Mary Steenburgen …  Sister Ida
 Sean Patrick Flanery …  Riley Henderson
 Joe Don Baker …  Sheriff Junius Candle
 Charles Durning …  Reverend Buster
 Roddy McDowall …  Amos Legrand
 Grayson Fricke …  Young Collin
 Scott Wilson …  Eugene Fenwick
 Bonnie Bartlett …  Mrs. Buster
 Mia Kirshner …  Maude Riordan

When a number of reviews showed up for “In Cold Blood” I remembered that Truman also wrote a movie that I had enjoyed but never read the actual story…  So I fixed that, and just finished reading The Grass Harp.

I feel sure Truman Capote wrote the story before the movie was made.  Knowing this, I was surprised at how much the movie stuck to the book.  This is one of those cases where I’d say it was an exact match.  Which is good.. because that means I got to enjoy both the movie and the story.

For anyone interested, the story is actually only 100 pages long and the book it’s in comes with some other short things Truman wrote… but the one that is the best is The Grass Harp.

Basically, it’s about some old eccentric people.  Not the first thing many young folk would want to read about.  But long before I, myself, became one of those old people, I did find that stories and movies about elderly people were really interesting.  Maybe because they were stories told from the heart.  … and in that respect, this one is no different.

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