Fiddler on the Roof

Posted September 2, 2020 by joebowker
Categories: Movies

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Fiddler on the Roof Poster

We watched another musical last night. This time it was “Fiddler on the Roof” on Netflix. The movie stars Topol, Norma Crane and Leonard Frey. It was released in 1971 following the successful run on Broadway.

The film is a bit on the long side (3 hours). We watched act I on the first night and Act II on the second night.

This is the story of Tevke, a poor Jewish man who lives in a small house in the town of Anatevka in pre-revolutionary Russia. Tevke lives with his wife of 25 years and his five adult daughters. Here is the storyline from IMDB.

At the beginning of the twentieth century, Jews and Orthodox Christians live in the little village of Anatevka in the pre-revolutionary Russia of the Czars. Among the traditions of the Jewish community, the matchmaker arranges the match and the father approves it. The milkman Reb Tevye is a poor man that has been married for twenty-five years with Golde and they have five daughters. When the local matchmaker Yente arranges the match between his older daughter Tzeitel and the old widow butcher Lazar Wolf, Tevye agrees with the wedding. However Tzeitel is in love with the poor tailor Motel Kamzoil and they ask permission to Tevye to get married that he accepts to please his daughter. Then his second daughter Hodel (Michele Marsh) and the revolutionary student Perchik decide to marry each other and Tevye is forced to accept. When Perchik is arrested by the Czar troops and sent to Siberia, Hodel decides to leave her family and homeland and travel to Siberia to be with her beloved Perchik….

So why is Tevke playing his fiddle up on the roof of his house. It is not exactly explained, but my idea is that where else is Tevke going to get some peace and quiet in a house (a small house, at that) of a wife and 5 adult daughters.

So the music was written by Jerry Bock and lyrics by Sheldon Hamock. The 1971 film won 3 Oscars (Best Cinematography, Best Sound and Best Music). The original Broadway Production ran for a record setting 3,642 shows starting in 1964. Click here for the complete Wikipedia article. That Broadway run was finally broken by Grease.

SPOILER ALERT

In the end all of the Jews of Anetvka are told to sell there homes and get out. The small community is broken up. They all go off in different directions. Some to New York, Some to Chicago, Some to Jerusalem. A very sad ending but one feels the hope of starting a new era.

1SE – 1 Second Everyday for August

Posted September 1, 2020 by joebowker
Categories: 1 Sec Every Day, 1SE

Tags: ,

Here it is (runs about 1 minute.)

Firmware

Posted August 29, 2020 by joebowker
Categories: Hearing Aids

Tags: , , ,

It sucks getting old. Over the past few years I have been experiencing hearing loss. Right now I am working on my second set of hearing aids that I bought at Costco back in January.

My particular hearing aids have a feature whereby one can connect to your TV to pipe the audio directly to one’s hearing aids. It does this by way of an audio streamer device that connects to the audio output of our TV.

So what exactly is “Firmware”? Here’s the def from Wikipedia:

In computing, firmware is a specific class of computer software that provides the low-level control for a device’s specific. Firmware can either provide a standardized operating environment for more complex device software hardware-independence), or, for less complex devices, act as the device’s complete, performing all control, monitoring and data manipulation functions. Typical examples of devices containing firmware are embedded systems, consumer appliances, computers, computer peripherals, and others. Almost all electronic devices beyond the simplest contain some firmware.

My hearing aids also have Blue Tooth capability which allows me to control them with my iPhone. So I can adjust the volume or bass/treble with the ReSound app.

So what does this have to do with firmware? Yesterday, I had to visit the folks at the hearing aid dept. at Costco. My complaint was the I couldn’t connect to the audio streamer. Sometimes I could, but mostly not.

So I explained the problem with the technician, she took my hearing aids and started working on the problem. First thing that she had to do was to update the firmware on the hearing aids. So who knew that hearing aids have firmware? Not me.

So many devices that we use everyday operate with firmware. Generally, there is never a need to update the FW. But in this case, the FW can be updated by the hearing aid technician. So that’s where my problem started. The update failed. That means that she has to ship the hearing aids back to the factory to get fixed. 🙁

So that means I need to wait for 7-10 days to get my hearing aids back and hopefully working. Luckily, I still have my old hearing aids that still manage to work. It’s just that the old devices can’t connect to the TV audio. 🙁🙁🙁

One last thing. I don’t want to sound negative about Costco. I have nothing but praise for their support. The people at the Costco (in Torrance, CA) are the best. Good prices and great support.

Annie

Posted August 26, 2020 by joebowker
Categories: Broadway, Movies, Reviews, Uncategorized

Tags: ,
Kathy Bates, Victor Garner and Alicia Morton

We decided a couple of days ago to start watching some musicals on TV. So last night, we watched “Annie” on Disney +. There seems to be plenty of musicals available either on Netflix or Disney+. Also, there are some on Amazon, but I usually avoid Amazon because they typically charge $4 to watch.

I couldn’t find an IMDB entry for the 1999 version which is weird. I did find an extensive article in Wickipedia. Clicke here for more than you would ever want to know about “Little Orphan Annie”. The reason there was know IMDB for this version might be that is was made for TV.

There have been several movies made on Annie. First one was in 1982. Next one in 1999/ And one in 2014. We watched the 1999 version on Disney.

In the 1999 version, Annie is played by Alicia Morton. Daddy Warbucks played by Victor Garner and Kathy Bates played the evil Mrs Hannigan.

So the movie(s) Annie is based (of course) on the smash Broadway show of the same name. The Broadway show first premiered in 1977 and was based on the comic strip “Little Orphan Annie”. It initially ran for about 6 years and won numerous awards. There have been numerous revivals and touring shows over the years.

And finally a little bit about the comic strip. First published in 1924 by Harold Gray. Gray died in 1964 but the strip continued until 2010.

Finally, here is a sample of the comic strip art work.

The Greatest Showman

Posted August 21, 2020 by joebowker
Categories: Movies, Reviews

Tags: ,

Last night we watched “The Greatest Showman” starring Hugh Jackman on Disney +. This is the story of Phineas T Barnum and his development of his circus. One can watch it on Amazon Prime for $3.99 but if you subscribe to Disney + you can watch for free.

It was a pleasant romp of Barnum’s band of talented misfits including the midget, the bearded lady, the acrobats, et al.

There was much singing and dancing. Somehow, I think that the real PT Barnum couldn’t dance like Hugh Jackman, No matter, still pleasant. Jackman looked quite spiffy in his bright red tails and top hat.

The film also talks about Jenny Lind who was a soprano, known as the Swedish Nightingale. Barnum discovered during a tour of Europe. He convinced her to do a tour of the USA. She was paid $1000 per night. Eventually, she tired of Barnum’s style and did her own tour of the US.

This wasn’t the first film about the circus. There was a film done in 1952 titled “The Greatest Show on Earth” starring Charlton Heston, James Stewart and Betty Hutton. This was more of a film about some of the stars of the show. It won Oscars for Best Picture and Best Writing.

So what about the real Phineas T Barnum? P.T. Barnum was born in 1810 in Bridgeport CT and died in 1891. He is widely credited with saying “There’s a sucker born every minute”, but there is no proof that he actually said that.

Barnum served for two terms in the Connecticut legislature in 1861 for Fairfield CT. He spoke to the legislature supporting the ratification of the 13th Amendment of the US Constitution. (Supporting abolishment of slavery.)

Aladdin (Live Action Remake)

Posted August 5, 2020 by joebowker
Categories: Movies, Reviews

Tags: ,

Last night we watched “Aladdin” on Amazon Prime. This is the live action remake of the original Disney animated version of Aladdin. It stars Will Smith as the genie, Naomi Scott as the princess Jasmine and Mena Massoud as Ali/Aladdin.

I’ve got to say that this was better than I thought it would be. Will Smith does a great job as genie.

So here’s the story. Ali is a street urchin who lives in Agrabah. He is also a thief. He meets Jasmine (who is impersonating her handmaiden). They don’t let princesses out to wander around town.

So Ali finds the lamp and seeing it is rather dusty and gives it a rub. Thus, he discovers the genie who will grant him three wishes. Ali wishes to become a prince so that he can win the heart of Princess Jasmine.

So on the story goes. Ali is not very good at being a prince. He discovers that the Sultan’s trusted consultant Jafar is plotting the overthrow of the Sultanate. Ali and the genie save the day.

Ali’s last wish is to free the genie from curse of the lamp. Ali/Aladdin and Jasmine live happily ever after.

It was a fun romp. BTW, the original animated Aladdin was done in 1992 with Robin Williams as the genie.

Short Ribs in the Crock Pot

Posted August 4, 2020 by joebowker
Categories: Recipes

Tags:

Here’s a simple slow cooker recipe for Asian-style short ribs to serve with stir-fried Asian greens or rice — or both. If you like, add a good pinch of five-spice powder to the black-bean mixture; if you don’t have any, don’t worry — it is delicious without it. Five-spice powder is a combination of ground cinnamon, fennel seed, cloves, star anise and Sichuan peppercorns.

If you have any leftovers, make a quick soup. Heat beef broth with some sliced carrots and diced onion.
When the vegetables are tender, add the leftover greens, meat and sauce.

Yield: 6 servings

INGREDIENTS

  • 4 pounds beef short ribs
  • 1/4 c finely chopped shallots
  • 1 tsp minced fresh ginger
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 3 tbsp black bean sauce with garlic. See note.
  • 2 tbsp sake or vodka
  • 1/2 tsp cracked peppercorns
  • Juice of 1 orange with the zest.
  • 2 Green onions, sliced, trimmed.

Note: black bean sauce is sold in Asian markets or in Asian specialty section in supermarkets.

PROCEDURE

  1. Position broiler rack 6- 7 inches from broiler element. Broil ribs on both sides, turning once, until well browned, about 10 minutes per side. Drain on paper towels.
    Separate ribs if in strips. Place in slow cooker.
  2. In bowl, combine all remaining ingredients except green onion. Spoon over short ribs and toss to combine. Cover and cook on low setting for 10-12 hours or on high setting for 5- 6 hours, or until meat is tender and falling off the bone.
  3. Serve ribs and sauce over cooked rice or sautéed Asian mustard greens. Garnish with finely chopped green onions.

Notes

  1. I browned the meat on my gas grill. Be careful though. There is a lot of fat on the meat and that means fire. You may want to turn off the gas before you open up the grill.
  2. “The meat falls off the bone” It seems to me that phrase was used in some TV/Radio ads. I Googled the phrase and got a ton of hits.
  3. Hot and Sour. The sauce is a real nice combination of hot and sweet.
  4. No leftovers here.

1 Second Everyday for July

Posted August 1, 2020 by joebowker
Categories: 1 Sec Every Day, 1SE

Tags: ,

Greyhound

Posted July 29, 2020 by joebowker
Categories: Books

Tags: , ,

Last night we watched a movie titled “Greyhound” starring Tom Hanks. This is a story of the US Destroyer USS Keeling that was performing escort duty of a convoy heading from the US to Great Britain during WW2.

The book is based on a CS Forester book titled “The Good Shepherd”. Actually, the title has been renamed to “Greyhound” to coincide with the movie release.

CS Forester has written many books about naval warfare. He probably best known for his books on Horatio Hornblower during the Napoleonic wars. He also wrote the book “The African Queen” that was the basis for the movie made in 1951 starring Humphrey Bogart and Katherine Hepburn.

So I learned a new word. “Pillenwerfer” is the name the Germans used for a device used by the U-Boats during WW2 as a decoy to US Navy Sonar. From Wikipedia:

It was launched by an ejector system colloquially referred to as Pillenwerfer (English: “pill thrower”). When mixed with seawater, the calcium hydride produced large quantities of hydrogen which bubbled out of the container, creating a false sonar target.

So I managed to read the book before the movie came out. It tells the story of action on a US destroyer escorting about 60 ships to England during WW2. It was a quick read. I read it under a week. Lots of action chasing all of those nasty U-Boats. Reading the book beforehand made it easier to understand all of the action.

Back to the movie. I kept wondering, “How’d they do that?”. You know that they didn’t film an entire convoy crossing the North Atlantic in heavy seas. The CGI artists did a masterful job of making the film.

Hamilton

Posted July 23, 2020 by joebowker
Categories: Broadway, Music, Reviews, Television

Tags: , ,

Well, we finally watched “Hamilton” on Disney+. Actually, we have watched it twice. It is such an amazing production. We have been listening to the sound track while riding around in our car. Even our grandson, Jonathan, has heard some of the lyrics.

One of my favorite parts is toward the end of act one, where King George (played by Jonathan Groff) comes on the stage dressed in red velvet with white edging and a matching crown. He sings the piece “You’ll be Back”. Here’s the start of the lyrics:

You say, the price of love’s not a price you’re willing to pay. You cry in your tea which you hurl in the sea. When you you see me, why so sad? Remember, we had an arrangement when you went away. Now you’re making me mad...

I tried to find a video clip on IMDB but couldn’t find one. You’re just having to go out and sign up for Disney+ Well worth the money.

They say that after the pandemic is all done with us, they might do another road show up at the Pantages in Hollywood. We are eagerly awaiting the day. Though, we wouldn’t be able to do repeat views.

At any rate, sign up for Disney+. Once you’re done you can always cancel. You won’t be disappointed.