The Greatest Showman

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

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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

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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

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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

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Greyhound

Posted July 29, 2020 by joebowker
Categories: Books

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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

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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.

Fever Pitch

Posted July 12, 2020 by joebowker
Categories: Baseball, Movies, Reviews

Tags: , , , ,

We watched another baseball movie last night. This time it was Fever Pitch starring Jimmy Fallon and Drew Barrymore.

So this is the story of a young man named Ben who has season tickets to Red Sox games that he inherited from his uncle. He is a super fervent fan. He doesn’t miss any games, ever.

So Ben has real good seats located between home plate and home dugout. The tickets would have needed to be owned by his family for decades.

So Ben meets a young lady named Lindsey (Barrymore) who he takes a liking to. Ben has plenty of time for Lindsey during the winter, but when summer rolls along he has to decide whether baseball games are more important than love.

Okay, this movie was filmed in 2004 when the Red Sox were heading towards the World Series. And the playoff series between the Yankees and Red Sox is prominent in the story.

There was produced an extended Red Sox edition of the film with additional scenes from the actual baseball games. Guess which one we watched?

Other baseball themed movies on my list include “Bull Durham” and
“The Natural”.

So baseball starts up again on July 26th. We should be able to get in one or two more baseball movies before opening day.

Battered Bastards of Baseball

Posted July 2, 2020 by joebowker
Categories: Baseball, Movies

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Well enough dancing for a while. Now, it’s back to baseball. Last night we watched a documentary called “The Battered Bastards of Baseball“. This is the documentary about an independent minor league baseball franchise called the Portland (Oregon) Mavericks.

The team was independent in that it did not have any relationship a major league team. In fact at the time, it was the only team in Minor League Baseball that was independent. The team operated in Portland from 1973-1977. Most of the team consisted of misfits and outcasts. But the people of Portland came to love the team and set attendance records for a minor league team.

Usually minor league teams are told who is on their team by the parent major league team. In this case, the Maviricks held tryouts to see who could do the job,

The team was started by Hollywood actor Bing Russell. Bing Russell was best known for playing the deputy on the TV show Bonanza and Robert on “The Magnificent Seven”. Bing was also the father of Hollywood actor Kurt Russell. Click here for his bio on IMDB.

It was an interesting story, full of interviews with Bing and Kurt Russell. There was a lot footage of games and players. The documentary runs about 1 hour and 20 minutes. It is showing on Netflix.

In the end, MLB seeing that the team was doing so well tried to buy out Bing Russell with $25,000 and replace the team with a AAA Minor League franchise. Bing took MLB to arbitration and eventually win $206,000 for the rights to running a baseball team in Portland.

1SE (1 Second Everyday) for June

Posted July 2, 2020 by joebowker
Categories: 1 Sec Every Day, 1SE

Tags: ,

Here it is.

Flashdance

Posted June 30, 2020 by joebowker
Categories: Dancing, Movies, Reviews

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Last night was movie night, again. This time we went back to the “dancing” theme and watched “Flashdance” starring Jennifer Beals and Michael Nouri.

This is the story of a young woman named Alex (played by Jennifer Beals) who works as a welder during the day and dances in a bar/night club in the evening. Her dream is to become a professional ballet dancer. So the manager/owner of the construction business (played by Michael Nouri) recognizes her when he sees her perform in the bar.

So it is a simple story. He meets her and tries to ask her out. She initially refuses but eventually gives in. Then he uses his contacts to facilitate getting her an audition with the local ballet organization. So she eventually does the audition and nails it. She gets the ballet gig and they live happily ever after.

So here is a little that Roger Ebert has to say about Flashdance:

I have a friend who has a simple test for a movie: Is this movie as interesting as the same things would be, happening in real life? A lot of movies aren’t, and “Flashdance” sure isn’t. If this movie had spent just a little more effort getting to know the heroine of its story, and a little less time trying to rip off “Saturday Night Fever,” it might have been a much better film.

See RogerEbert.com

So a manager/owner dating one of his employees is a BAD thing. He shouldn’t have done it and she shouldn’t have agreed to go out with him. But that would have ended the story, wouldn’t it.

So the film runs for about 1 hour 35 minutes and is rated “R” for nudity. Once she gets the ballet gig the show is done. Not much else to say. In comparison with the other “dancing” movies that we’ve seen over the past weeks, Flashdance looks decidedly light weight. We enjoyed it but not the best we’ve seen recently

The movie won the Oscar for Best Music, Original Song and had a few other Oscar nominations. The film was released in 1983. That being said, the movie has a fairly decent sound track. Click here for the Amazon entry.

So this was filmed in 1983. I was amused to see many articles of the time, like pay phones or desk phones. Like when was the last time you used a pay phone? Or not see someone with a cell phone in their hand? The film was filmed in Pittsburgh. Nothing much to say about that. Never been there. Not on my bucket list.

Back to baseball movies in a few days.