Wednesday, March 30, 2011

When in 2 Cities, Ask for the King of Theatre

Live Theater
"To be, or not to be...that is the question." My wife and I are officially area reps for the Utah Shakespearean Festival located in Cedar City, Utah. When you are asking yourself to be in a live theater or not to be in a live theater, the answer should be to be. Live theater (i.e. musicals and plays) has an impact that movies and books just do not have. There is something about sitting in a theater and the actors just pull you right in..."its like your there" (see the great commercial below! Two of my favorite things in one can see the others too...check them out)'re involved with the show and it makes it that much more powerful and enjoyable.

The Once and Future King

T.H. White brings to us a classic. The Once and Future King  compiles four different books into one telling of King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table. The first book is basically the Disney movie The Sword in the Stone. It shows us King Arthur's childhood (or I should say Wart's childhood), and his education with the wizard Merlyn. "Education is experience, and the essence of experience is self-reliance."

The other books are "The Queen of Air and Darkness," "The Ill-Made Knight," and "The Candle in the Wind." These books have a very melancholy feel to them even with White's clever humor. It goes into depth about Sir Lancelot and one of the most famous third wheels of all time. It is a good classic read, but was a bit slow at times.

When in Rome
A movie that I watched recently for a good laugh. It was actually a pretty entertaining movie and it made me laugh. It just didn't have the nice quality that other flicks of the same genre have such as Hitch, The Proposal, and Dan in Real Life. I don't know if it was a problem with the actors/actresses (Napoleon Dynamite and Pedro were perfect), but it just didn't get passed two up for me.

The Tale of Two Cities (The Musical)
The Hale Center Theatre is currently showing "The Tale of Two Cities," a musical version. It is an amazing show. I have not read the book myself (not yet anyway), but what a powerful performance. The talent was amazing, and the show was dead on. There was some really good musical numbers (although the music over all was not as powerful as the story of the show, excluding one song which was just amazing), and if you have the chance, you should see the show. "It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to, than I have ever known."

Oh...Yes! Wyoming! And that is How Lou Sees It!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Superman Grounded

Superman and I go way back, and believe it or not I owe it all to Holiday Inn. Not only did kids stay free back then, but one night back in 1994 they were also giving the kids a free comic book if they wanted one. Being the charming child I was...I got 4 (Animaniacs, Batman, Supergirl, and Superman). Little did they know that that simple act would change a lot about my life.

That simple introduction to comic books was a very dangerous one and for one obvious reason...I'm a collector. I have a coin collection, stamp collection, rock collection, marble collection, dice collection, pin collection, and a game collection, just to name a few. Oh, yeah, and I also have a comic book collection. What started out as 4 free comic books is now a collection just over 300 valued over $1,000.

I really enjoy the collecting of comic books, but I also really enjoy reading them (an important thing in my opinion when one collects something). Comic books to me are art and story. To help you appreciate the art form and writing style that is comic books, let me recommend a few things: take a look at my favorite comic book artist's work (Alex Ross), read "Maus", and take a look in a comic book shop and pick out one that stands out to you and read it (or ask to borrow one of mine, I have favorites).

As we are on the subject of comic books already, let me discuss movies/tv based on comic books. Comic book stories and characters have always been portrayed in other media besides the actual comic book. If you are going on a long road trip, let me recommend  getting a few old radio shows for the drive (Superman in radio form is pretty entertaining or my favorite may be The Shadow). As the world moved from radio to the screen, so did follow our super friends.

In 2002 Spider-Man changed how comic book movies were viewed and how superheroes were viewed in general. With Spider-Man's huge success on screen, Spider-Man was everywhere! Comic book movies could be highly profitable, and thus the movies followed....X-Men, Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, Superman Returns, and Batman etc. Some more popular than others. Not only did other superheroes  join Spider-Man on the screen, but they returned in sequels! We are only brushing off the surface now. With many more movies scheduled for release...Batman: The Dark Knight Rises, Thor, The Avengers (Introducing Captain America), another Spider-Man, Green Lantern, and many more. For a current list of all the movies based off of comic books, click here.

I have really enjoyed most of the superhero movies myself. The movie industry and the world population is eating it up. Why? Because a lot of people enjoy the story telling and characters that come from the comic book universe. Each of these superheroes have a legendary origin and stories upon stories have been written about them already (some for over 70 years). The characters have a lot of depth to them and have refined themselves over the years.

Comic books transport us into another universe; people with amazing powers or abilities standing up for what is right. I really enjoy Alex Ross and the comic books he has been involved in, because he makes them more real (click here to see some of my favorites in one book). They also include my two favorite pieces of artwork (Superman and Batman), where Superman and Batman are shown like never before. After the battles and it gives a look more inside their lives.

Let me update you on what Superman is up to currently. Superman has been away on New Krypton, and when he comes back to earth (similar to Superman Returns the movie) and people have mixed views of his return. Some people are angry with Superman for leaving them for a different planet. They feel that more and more Superman has lost touch with the American people. Superman gets to thinking about that, and decides to slow things down. He is going to walk across America, no flying and no super speed. He is going to walk through towns and get to know the American people and their every day problems (the series is entitled "Grounded"). He started this back last year and will continue for the next few months (there was a contest before the storyline started and people could enter and say where Superman should go close by near being Salt Lake City).

Currently Superman is in Boulder, Colorado and is on his way to Salt Lake City next month (along with Bruce Wayne)! I'll keep you updated each month on where the Man of Steel is on his journey.

And that is How Lou Sees It!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Good Reads

As I recently learned from a communications training at work, I am an analytical/amiable person. Ok, I didn't need someone else to tell me this, I already know this. As an analytical person though, I love making lists. It helps me not forget things and I like to be orginized.

Goodreads is a fantastic website where you can orginize the books in your life. I love to read, and with goodreads I can easily keep track of all the books that I want to read as well as easily find more books that I would enjoy reading. You can see what your friends are reading and what books they enjoy.

Goodreads also has free giveaways where you can enter to win free books. I currently have won a free signed copy of "Dark Life" by Kat Falls (I should receive it in a couple of weeks). Goodreads is the best source to find something to read. You can look up authors, genres, and it will also recommend books you might like. Everyone who likes to read should log onto and get started.

"Blind Man's Bluff: The Untold Story of American Submarine Espionage"

What a fascinating read. Real life stories of submarine missions during the cold war. History teachers teaching about this time should somehow incorporate a story or two from this book. One of the most interesting stories was about finding an underwater Russian communications cable and putting a tap on it. It is amazing how quickly our Naval technology advanced during this time. Bottom line - Submarines are awesome, and a book about their secret missions is also awesome.

"The Shadow Thieves"

Written by Anne Ursu, the first book in her Cronus Chronicles. This is a young adult book and as such makes for a quick read. The main character is 8th grader Charlotte Mielswetzski (Meals-wet-ski). She and her cousin Zee get caught up in Philonecron's plan to overthrow Hades, the God of the underworld. Yeah, when Philonecron starts steeling the shadows from children, Zee and Charlotte set out to make things right.

Anne does a really good job with her writting. There isn't much depth to the books, but her writting is good and she is very clever and comical. The book is also a bit creepy. Yes, a funny and creepy book about a couple of kids who find out that the world of Greek mythology is real and they are right in the middle of it all. A good read.

"The Siren Song"

I just finished a little bit ago Ursu's second book in the Cronus Chronicles, and in my opinion, its even better than the first. I know, why am I reading young adult fiction you ask? Well, they make for fast reads that are very entertaining (ie. Harry Potter). Char and Zee leave the underworld and Hades to the high seas where they face Poseidon. Ursu continues with her clever and entertaining writing style. The Immortal Fire is the 3rd book, and you can bet that I will be reading this one soon.

Paper VS eBook

What is your preference: a book made of paper or an electronic book? Technology is slowly getting rid of our paper needs (sorry Dunder Mifflin, its true), and with that paper books. Borders is the first to start closing down stores, and wont be the last. Is the eBook to Borders as redbox is to Hollywood Video?

Discussions in the newspaper's (also available through Kindle and other eReader devices) opinion section discuss the use or roles of a public library in a more computer based world. Do we need them? Will they just end up being giant computer labs in a few years? Who is to blame? Amazon and its Kindle perhaps? The internet in general? Apple? Bill Gates? Is it really a bad thing?

Well, as an amiable and analytical person, I apparently don't except change very well. There is some truth in that. My personal opinion has changed slightly since my wife and I received a Kindle for our birthday's this year. The Kindle really is amazing. The one thing that I struggle with eReaders and with iPods for that matter, is that when you buy something online with a click of the button, and its just all electronic...its like I haven't really bought anything. I don't get a CD with a cool album cover, or I don't get a nice hardback book to hold in my hands. You still get in essence the same thing, but digitally and confined to a nice small package. That being one of the eReaders strongest selling points. You can have thousands of different books, all in one little device (that would sure help out with moving and not having to pack around all of your favorite books - although I really don't want to re-purchase all the books we have now to get rid of, I have some really nice hardback edition books that are really nice).

You can get a book without leaving your home or waiting for shipping. You can start reading it within minutes. Books are generally cheaper when purchasing an eBook. Our Kindle case has a built in light so you can read in the dark (very useful), and its nice to not hold big awkward books but just a little screen that you flip a page with a press of a button. You can also make notes or highlight things without actually writing in a book (you can edit or delete these). eBooks are the wave of the future my friends, and it is pretty delightful. I love to read, and this is such a great addition to our library (not to mention all of the free eBooks we downloaded like Moby Dick, Sherlock Holmes and others).

Something to think about though...what if in the near future all of our books are electronic (oh, by the way...they have some text books available as well - can you imagine college without lugging around giant text books, but just a little eReader...yeah, that is awesome)? What would happen to the little book store around the corner? or the bookmark shoppe? What about all of the revenue brought in by the selling of paper book marks? We would be saving a lot of trees though right? That's a good green thing. Tell that to Lumber Jack (and his family) who just got laid off, and who is now making a living as a Paul Bunyon impersonator. Will books made of paper become like the VHS? I think that is probably the most agreeable comparison actually. Some people may purchase a DVD movie and throw out the old VHS copy...or there are some that will have their VHS movies and the new movies on DVD.

Where will books be in 10 years? One thing is for certain, books will still be written, and I will be one to enjoy them in any or both forms. I see myself buying more and more eBooks, but I still like walking and browsing in a library (not to mention it is really nice to borrow books and read them for free). I love my books that sit on my shelves, but it is extremely nice to have the technology that we have now and the Kindle is really amazing.

And that is How Lou Reads It!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

A Night at the Movies

Welcome to another installment of rapid review, where I rate some movies that I have seen recently, as well as movies from way back when:

Knight and Day

An action, adventure, and comedy starring Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz. This is a pretty entertaining action flick. Now, I didn't say it was the greatest action movie, or the best movie in general, but it was entertaining. One that I would perhaps watch again, but one that I definitely would not buy. Rent it, enjoy it, forget about it.


A great video game back in the day (basically the game of snake with opponents, but cooler because you are on motorcycles in the future). The sci-fi action movie starring Jeff Bridges and Olivia Wilde did the best they could with what story they had to go off of. The movie did not really get stellar reviews from many, but I actually really enjoyed it. Maybe it was because it reminded me of the feeling of watching Saturday morning cartoons, I don't know. It had some fun action scenes and some great music. I liked it.

Sydny White

Another Amanda Bynes movie. That pretty much describes the movie. Her movies are funny and are good for a laugh. This movie actually was not as great as some of her other movies, but it made for a good night. The story is roughly based off of Snow White.

Copying Beethoven

Drama starring Ed Harris and Diane Kruger. The movie is about Beethoven in his dying days and a female copyist. It was a very well done movie, and similar feel to Amadeus. Although it was a good movie, it felt long and by the end we were ready for Beethoven to die.

Melinda and Melinda

A movie with an intriguing story concept, the movie written and directed by Woody Allen fell short of my expectations. It is a drama comedy starring Will Ferrell. It tells a story two different ways; one telling of the story is a drama and the other is told as a comedy. Great potential, especially with Will Ferrell in it, but it just fell short.


Woody Allen redeemed himself with Scoop, a comedy mystery where he actually has a big role in the movie along side Scarlett Johansson and Hugh Jackman (both fantastic). This was actually a really enjoyable movie, it dragged its feet sometimes making the movie slow at points, but it was a great movie!

The Hunt for Red October

A fantastic movie that came out around 20 years ago based off of a Tom Clancy novel and starring none other than one of my favorites Sir Sean Connery as well as Alec Baldwin. I recently bought a VHS copy of the movie from DI, because I saw it and said to myself, "self, you have wanted to watch this movie for a long time...just buy it." I'm so glad I did. A classic that belongs with all the other classics such as The Fugitive. Also, I have had submarines on the brain because I just finished reading "Blind Man's Bluff" (come back and look for my review on it soon).

Dan in Real Life

I love this movie! This is one that is on my to buy list. Starring Steve Carell and Juliette Binoche, this is a fantastic romantic comedy. I really don't know what to say about it, other than the fact that it is a great movie. Steve Carell does a really great job in this movie. One that I could watch again and again.


A Disney movie that came out in 1998, I include this in the many reviews because I have watched it recently and it is pretty much one of my favorite Disney animated movies, if not my absolute favorite. Eddie Murphy as Mushu and Donny Osmond singing. It has some of the greatest and most enjoyable songs out of all of the Disney movies, and it has lots of great action and lots of laughs. Good stuff.

Preview of Upcoming Blog Posts

Upcoming blog posts include: review of "Blind Man's Bluff" (a book), new Cornelius Fly comics and a special archive post of the original comics that started it all, reviews on board games such as Dominion, Carcassonne, Citadels, Hive, and Power Grid, more movie reviews including reviews on Despicable Me, Megamind, and special movie posts dedicated to the different superhero movies and all of the sequels (ie. the Superman movies, the Batman movies, the Spider-man movies, the X-men movies, the Iron Man movies, and the upcoming superhero movies), television show reviews of Smallville, Modern Family, Grey's Anatomy, The Office, Outsourced, The Sing-Off, The Simpsons, and How I Met Your Mother.....

There will be many more reviews and much more commentary. Also starting soon, I will be keeping you all informed of Superman and his current walk across America (stay tuned)!

And that is How Lou Sees It.