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Monday, December 31, 2012

Les Miserables, the movie

I’m going to end the year with a movie review. I just have to. I haven’t been to a theater in such a long time (I think it was the last Harry Potter movie) and now the good films are just popping out all over.

Ever since I heard that they FINALLY decided to make a movie from the stage production of “Les Miserables” I’ve been on edge. It could go either way. They could do a great job, replicating the play in every way and maybe even improving it, or they could completely massacre it. I’m thrilled to report that they did the former.

To start here are a couple of other reviews you might want to check out. One is negative:

and one is a little more positive:

Now the first time I saw the stage production was in ’94 (I think). I was still mourning the loss of my grandfather and had never read Victor Hugo’s book. My mom and I attended together. I bawled my eyes out. It was like I was in shock afterward; I was unprepared for such an emotional story. I’ve seen it once or twice more on stage and each time I cried but never so painfully as that first time. So this time I took a pocketful of tissues prepared for the waterfall.

I’m not going to explain the story since you can get that over and over again all over the internet. Instead I’m just going to give you my impressions.

The movie starts with a bang. Well, I guess there was a quiet inkling of the Les Miz music for just a second or so then wham – it started. From the very first scene I was amazed. The scenery is incredible. Unlike one reviewer I appreciated the landscapes and cityscapes – that’s what makes a movie different from a stage play: you can do more.

As the movie progressed I came to realize that the producers also enhanced the stage version by using more references from the book (I have read the book a couple of times after I saw the play that first time).

I will say a few semi-negative things about it though. First, Russell Crowe? Really? (Someone wrote that Russell Crowe “forgot to act”) I heard that Ewan McGregor was up for that part. I know he would have done a much better job although he’s a little short to be playing next to Hugh Jackman. Also I could have done without the sex scenes (one with Anne Hathaway as a first-time prostitute and the other, well, involving Santa Claus). And if you think that the first half is a little rough, hang on. The second half of the movie is superb!

The younger actors gave the best performances. I am woefully unfamiliar with them myself but I understand that the actors portraying Cosette, Marius and Eponine are popular today (Amanda Seyfried, Eddie Redmayne, Samantha Barks respectively). They sang their hearts out and broke my heart. Aaron Tveit (Enjolras) fit my vision of that character perfectly. His version of  “Red and Black” nearly brought me to my feet.

The younger crew, Isabelle Allen as the child Cosette and Daniel Huttlestone as Gavroche, kind of balanced each other. Allen has a beautiful, sweet voice with the innocent look of an abused child. Huttlestone appears tough and streetwise as his character should but his voice is not strong enough for the part. His death scene though is enough to bring even the coldest person to tears.

Then there’s Colm Wilkinson, who plays the bishop in this version of Les Miz. What can you say about him? He has the most beautiful voice and a great presence. He was the original Jean Valjean, the one all others are measured by. His part here is very small and yet he makes it memorable.

Some of the well-established songs are cut short in this version unfortunately, and the words are changed in several instances. But perhaps the most jarring change is the rearrangement of scenes. Sometimes this juggling causes some problems with the storyline.

However, the addition of Lamarque’s funeral procession only enhances the spirit of this story. When the entire crowd joins in with the students singing “Do You Hear the People Sing” you can’t help but feel a victory is in the works. And I loved the way they handled the “One Day More” compilation. On the stage it is impossible to separate the actors so that they appear in different locations but in the movie that’s exactly what happens. We see them simultaneously anticipating the events to come in only one day. Thrilling.

But no one can mess with the finale, “Do You Hear the People Sing?” Though I’d been crying so hard up to that point that finale made me swell with pride. But then I thought, laughingly, what am I so proud of? I only sat here watching a movie. Funny, but that’s what you feel after seeing the pride of these people.

I noticed at the end that I wasn’t the only person still sitting firmly in my seat. I think we all just needed to unwind our emotions. That, or we wanted to make sure our tears were dried before we headed out into the public arena. I’ve heard that many audiences applauded at the end but ours did not. It seems like such a strange thing to do, clapping when there are no actors to hear our appreciation. Who are they clapping for?

Can you tell, I absolutely loved this film? I will probably be going to see it again in the next couple of days. Then I’ll see “The Hobbit” again J.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Well, it's after midnight and I'm still here, are you? I'd love to hear from anyone who still exists on this last day on earth :)

Here's a great opportunity to fill your library with a bunch of books and win some money for more!

These prices are available on Amazon only.

For a listing of books offered and to enter to win, click here!!


I'd love to hear from you. Tell me what it is like in your part of this earth. Here's what we have here in Iowa: snow, snow and more snow and COLD to make it even more "comfy."

Midnight amidst the blizzard

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Collection of articles

Today I have a collection of interesting sites for your surfing pleasure.

Even animals can be involved in the healing process at Newtown, CT. A group from the Chicago area travelled to Newtown with their “comfort dogs” to offer mourners and others a few moments of non-judgmental love:

Another dog is helping a woman with a unique problem maintain a sense of normalcy in her life. Service dog for woman who can’t stay awake:

One of the very young victims in Newtown had a special love for animals. She wanted to be a veterinarian:

The best reason in the world to vaccinate pets for rabies:

I love to see coverage of rare animals in the wild, even more so if it includes video. Here scientists were lucky enough to get video of rare clouded leopards (this article also includes an earlier video):

As always be vigilant about the chemicals and other substances around your house and yard. Make sure that your pets cannot get ahold of them or you or someone you know could go through an experience like this. A dog dies after ingesting a poisonous substance and releases a toxic gas:

Here’s another story about a special dog. A therapy dog helps children overcome challenges:

In time for Christmas, here’s one about pets that are naughty or nice:

….and one about a reindeer that received knee surgery to correct a luxating patella:

I hope you enjoy this offering. As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts. And if the world still exists I hope to post again on Friday!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Pets As Gifts - NOT

Mewdy Blue

I must apologize up front if I don’t sound myself tonight; I am on a “Hobbit high.” No, I don’t mean that stuff the Hobbitses smoke, whatever it might be. No, I mean I wrote this in the dark in the theater today while eagerly awaiting the start of the movie. Now, I’m  so happy I’m floating already anticipating the next time I see it – again!

Okay, here goes:

This time of year I usually reiterate my plea to not give pets as gifts. This year I am amazed, however, that at least one local shelter director is quoted as saying she disagrees with this philosophy!

Read this article in the Iowa State Daily to see the actual quote:

I prefer the information in this post at
Billy - a Cymric

Instead of giving a surprise pet as a gift at Christmas or any time here are some alternatives:

1.     Gift certificates: some shelters give gift certificates for this very purpose. Or you can make up your own certificate promising a pet of the recipient’s choosing. Never buy a pet from a pet store!

2.     Pre-choose a pet: offer the recipient the chance to pick out a pet themselves before Christmas. Do your research, make sure the source is reputable and be clear what all is included in the adoption fee (vaccinations, spay/neuter, worming, pedigree, etc.?) Make plans to take the pet home after the holidays. The holiday season is usually hectic enough without adding a new pet to the mix. And moving into a new home is stressful enough for a pet without the frantic pace, noise and introduction of strangers to cope with.

3.     Give a list: if you know what type of pet your recipient is considering do some research on your own and present your findings to them. They will appreciate your help. It will make their search that much easier.

Make sure that adding a pet is something your friend or relative is ready to do before presenting them with a new puppy or kitten. Let them do the choosing at the right time in order to ensure a rewarding and lasting relationship between that person and their new pet.