Old, Putting the Young to Shame

A movie review of Last Vegas

"I'm gonna find some damn water and take all my damn pills and get this party started."

-Morgan Freeman as "Archie"

I can't exactly put words to what I was expecting when I started watching this movie, however, what ever those expectations were, this did not come close.  Subjecting yourself to another film where old actors are trying to be young again, and do things they are far too old to do, is depressing.  I always think back to the last iteration of the Indiana Jones movies when I make this point, because Harrison Ford was literally too old for what they had him do, and it was sad, not impressive.  So I guess we could say that I didn't have high expectations for this movie.  It was recommended to me by a customer not long ago, and with that recommendation I did decide to give it a viewing.

To sum up the movie without giving away too much, it is about 4 long time friends who decide to go to Las Vegas for one member of their small group's bachelor party.  These guys are old, so bachelor party does sound a bit peculiar, of course, however, nowadays, it isn't so far fetched.  The bride of said wedding is barely more than half the age of Billy, the groom, played by Michael Douglas, who is clearly rich and afraid of getting old.  His friends, Paddy (Robert De Niro), Archie (Morgan Freeman), and Sam (Kevin Kline) are all trying to live it up and be hip in Vegas, without breaking one.  There is the standard love interest along the journey as well in Diana, (Mary Steenburgen) who is a lounge singer, and the apple of more than one man's eye.

All together, this film threw my expectations out the window, and took me on a ride that I will remember.  Watching these iconic actors together in this film was also quite the perk.  However, the comedy was spot on. Morgan Freeman did steal the show on more than one occasion.  The story had it's relatable touching moments, without alienating the audience.  The only thing I can say is, I loved this movie, and it will be part of my permanent collection very soon.

Take the time if you haven't yet, and watch this movie.  It's not what you expect, in a very good way.  Embracing their age, while having fun with it at the same time.  Watch it.

Is there anybody out there? - Album review by Amanda King

Is There Anybody Out There? By A Great Big World

Album review by Amanda King

So you may know that I love to read. I also love music. A lot of what I really like is not necessarily

mainstream (my boyfriend says I only listen to things nobody else listens to), but I like all kinds of music.

I have never felt super compelled to encourage people to listen to what I am listening to, except in rare

cases like this.

Many of you may be thinking that you have never heard of this band. I hadn’t either until I was sort of

half watching The Voice last fall while reading, and heard one of the most beautiful songs I have ever

heard. I look up and sitting there playing the piano, singing with Christina Aguilera, is this kind of doofy

looking dude. I don’t judge much on appearance, but it is rare to see in any performance industry. I was

so drawn to that song I looked it up to find out who that was and what the song was. The song title is

“Say Something”, and the band is A Great Big World. They are two guys who met at NYU studying music.

They had done some stuff previously but rebranded themselves in 2012 and things kind of went crazy

for them. Their song “This is the New Year” was performed by the cast on Glee and was used in promo

spots for the finale of this years The Biggest Loser.

The songs are upbeat with a positive message with only a few exceptions. The downer songs like “say

Something” and “I Don’t Wanna Love Somebody Else” are beautiful and relatable to everyone at some

point in their lives. I suppose there are people that have never experienced heartbreak or loss but they

are few and far between.

My six year old daughter’s favorite song that she now requests all the time is “Rockstar” and is all about

following your dreams. There is not a single song on this album that I have to skip or turn down for

fear of her repeating inappropriate lyrics, which I love. There are a few songs “Land of opportunity”,

“Everyone is Gay” and “Cheer Up” that have kind of a goofy feel to them, and a few lines that actually

made me laugh out loud, but still have a good message.

The lyrics are well done, interesting and (my favorite) not overly repetitive. The music varies from

simplistic but hauntingly beautiful like in “Say Something”, “I Don’t Wanna Love Somebody Else” and

“Already Home”; to steering wheel drumming upbeat like “Rockstar” to calliope carnival music in “Cheer

Up”. There is not a single song on this album that I did not thoroughly enjoy.

The music video for Say Something is beautiful and heart wrenching

http://youtu.be/-2U0Ivkn2Ds

The Tobuscus parody is awesome and hilarious

http://youtu.be/Lvls4oOmk0k

The Pentatonix version is also amazing

http://youtu.be/0dYlvdLdK9w

Other links you might enjoy

To purchase on Amazon

http://amzn.com/B00GCV9S3Q

For more information on A Great Big World visit their website

http://agreatbigworld.com/

On the Diverge: Divergent by Veronica Roth review

Divergent by Veronica Roth review by Amanda King

Divergent – One choice can transform you “We believe in ordinary acts of bravery, in the courage that drives one person to stand up for another... We believe in shouting for those who can only whisper, in defending those who cannot defend themselves.” –Dauntless Manifesto

So, before I write my reviews I always like to look at some other reviews and see what other people thought about the book. It also helps me organize my thoughts, make sure I’m not leaving anything out that other people found to be important, make sure I’m not missing anything etc., etc. I am always amazed at how critical people get about books. I understand that some of these people are paid to find fault, or just really enjoy trying to tear down something that someone else created USING NOTHING BUT THEIR IMAGINATION! I love to read. I love it more than almost anything else in the world. I always have. There has been one book of all the thousands that I have read that was wildly popular that I would give a negative review to. That particular book (trilogy actually) read like it was written by a 9 year old that was wildly, inappropriately educated in S & M. But, Shades of Grey aside, I’m not here to tear down books. I will point out flaws or things that made me stumble, but I am here to recommend books to you. All that said, there are some negative reviews for this book out. Most of them do have some valid points, but, for me, nothing worth not reading the book over.

I read Divergent in about 24 hours. It would have actually been less but I had to pay attention to my daughter and work and stuff too.  I will tell you that when I very first started the book I had to double check to make sure that I had grabbed the right one. I had just bought the trilogy in hardback from Amazon for $25.00 ( http://amzn.com/0062278789 ). The book immediately throws you into the main character’s life in a way that is a little disorienting at first. I was also expecting some more background information about the world that this book takes place in to start with. Instead, Veronica Roth gradually and naturally gives little bits of information at a time. The main character, Beatrice (Later Tris) Prior, isn’t thinking about what all the factions are, what they mean and how her society works. As all of these things become relevant to what is happening, they are explained. I felt completely encompassed in the character's mind because of this way of doing things. Many of my favorite authors that write in first person narrative tend to do almost a voice-over sort of explanation of things that is unnatural to a true first person setting. In book series, I find this excessively annoying as I am reading a description of the character's apartment in every single book. Yes, it was a little annoying to be kind of in the dark about some things for so long, but overall I really enjoyed it. Now, let me give you a little more information about the story. Divergent is a young adult dystopian novel. Essentially that’s a fancy way of saying the main characters are high school age and the timeline is sometime in the future after some bad things happened and society made a huge change “for the greater good” that is not really working out for a lot of people. The author, Veronica Roth was born in 1988 and had the rights for the movie of this book purchased from her before she graduated college. The society in this book is divided into five factions. Each of the factions promotes a particular virtue that all of its members strive towards. The factions are: Abnegation, where our main character originally comes from, they value selflessness above all things; Erudite, which values intelligence; Dauntless, which values bravery; Candor, which values honesty; Amity, which values peace. There are also the faction-less who are people that have decided to live outside of the faction system or did not succeed during the initiation rites for the faction that they have chosen. The faction-less are looked down upon by most of the faction-ed society. The people of this world are born into the faction of their parents and raised there, surrounded by the attitude and goals of that faction until they are sixteen years old. They are then given an aptitude test to help them determine which of the factions best suit their personality. The day after the tests, there is a choosing ceremony. Each sixteen year old has to choose between staying with their family and the faction they were raised with, or go to one that appeals to them more. Beatrice Prior (the main character) was raised in abnegation. She does not feel that she fits in there. She feels that she is too selfish. When her aptitude tests reveal an abnormality, her life is thrown into chaos. The person administering her test tells her that she is divergent and to make sure no one knows about it. She is given no other information about what it means to be divergent other than that it is dangerous for people to know. Ultimately she chooses Dauntless as her faction, and decides to go by the name Tris. A large portion of the book is dedicated to her initiation and training, her struggles to fit in and the usual stresses that teenage girls go through. Throughout the book a larger problem is brewing. Tris and her new friends in her new faction end up in the middle of it all, along with her family and her previous faction. There is, of course, a love story mixed in as well. It is passionate, as only teenagers can be, without being sickeningly sweet or overwhelming in any way. It is confusing, but most relationships are, especially while trying to “find yourself” and dealing with everything else that these kids are going through. Overall, I thought it was a great book, especially from an author who is so young. The attention to detail is great, the imagery is frequently incredible and it is action packed. I am looking forward to the movie coming out March 21, 2014. I am hoping that they do a good job like they did with The Hunger Games, not a mockery like Ender’s Game.

Coming soon from me a complete review of the Divergent Trilogy, The Sandman Slim Series by Richard Kadrey http://www.celebrategeek.com/the-devil-went-down-to-la/, The Age of Steam series by Devon Monk, and The Gentleman Bastards series by Scott Lynch.