KITCHENAID HAND MIXER

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One of the few appliances I brought to my marriage was a avocado green J.C. Penny hand mixer. I bought it in 1975 and it worked for 40 years. Sadly, it died last week. Consumer Reports estimates most appliances last from 5 to 7 years. I certainly got my money’s worth with that hand mixer! Diane and I embarked on a search for a replacement hand mixer. J. C. Penny doesn’t make hand mixers any more so that avenue was out. Diane loves her Kitchenaid stand mixer so we decided to look at the Kitchenaid hand mixers. They come in all sorts of colors. The 5-speed mixer we finally bought is lighter than our old mixer and much, much quieter. The Kitchenaid hand mixer is powerful and easy to use. We like it! If you’re looking for a new hand mixer, I recommend the Kitchenaid.

STATE OF THE BLOG 2015

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Once again, I want to thank you for your role in making this blog what it is today. I really welcome your insightful comments, humor, and knowledge. I appreciate Patti, Jeff, Deb, Rick, Beth, Todd, Art, Bill, Bob, Prashant, Sergio, Carl, Lauren, Steve, Jerry, Stan, Dan, Kelly, Scott, Jim, John, Randy, James, and Trishankupune as well as all of you who make this blog part of your day. As Voltaire once said, “Appreciation is a wonderful thing: it makes what is excellent in others belong to us as well.”

AMERICAN SNIPER

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Bradley Cooper’s performance as Chris Kyle, the Navy SEAL sniper, rings true. Kyle just wants to be a cowboy, but feels compelled to enlist when the Middle East terrorists bomb our embassies. Clint Eastwood directs an affecting story of Chris Kyle’s four tours of duty in Iraq, each one seemingly more horrifying than the last. Sienna Miller is effective as Kyle’s wife who raises his son and his daughter as the years pass while he’s away fighting. The film shows vividly the toll repeated deployments take on military families. The scenes of urban warfare explode off the screen. You can’t walk away from watching American Sniper without some deep reflection. GRADE: A

MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. DAY and SELMA

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What better way to honor Martin Luther King Day than to review a movie of one of the key moments in King’s crusade for Civil Rights. Selma has been criticized for the depiction of President Johnson as a…politician. In Robert Caro’s brilliant books on LBJ, the President knew racism in the South was a minefield. Johnson was crafting the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and needed all the support he could garner. He couldn’t risk losing legislation to an ill-conceived act of support for a controversial figure like MLK. David Oyelowo should have gotten an Oscar Nomination for his performance as Dr. King. He’s convincing and powerful. The oddest aspect of Selma for me is the fact that the King Family refused to allow director Ava DuVernay to use King’s actual speeches in this movie. So DuVernay and writer Paul Webb had to come up with “approximations” of King’s famous speeches. Very odd. But, putting that aside, Selma makes a bold statement about the struggle for freedom. Go see it. GRADE: A

WILD

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After watching the movie version of Wild it’s easy to see why Reece Witherspoon was attracted to the story of Cheryl Strayed’s 1,100 mile hike from Mexico to Canada. Based of Strayed’s memoir Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail, the movie shows Witherspoon’s struggles against the environment. In a series of flashbacks, we see how Witherspoon’s character’s relationship with her mother (Laura Dern) created a major crisis in her life. Problems with her husband, brother, and friends lead to heroin addiction. The trek across the Pacific Crest Trail becomes a healing experience. I really liked Reece Witherspoon’s performance as a very conflicted woman. Laura Dern delivers in the role of a mother trying the best she can to raise her children while living with an alcoholic abuser. If you’re looking for a very different movie, Wild is it. GRADE: B+

FORGOTTEN BOOKS #303: THE RISEN EMPIRE and THE KILLER OF WORLDS By Scott Westerfeld

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Scott Westerfeld now writes successful Young Adult fiction, but ten years ago he wrote a pair of dandy science fiction novels. The Risen Empire starts out with a hostage rescue. The sister of the Emperor has been captured by a commando team from the Rix Cult. The Rix believe they should plant powerful artificial intelligences everywhere. The novel alternates between a Rix commando who is hunted by the Imperial marines on the planet and the crew of the only Imperial warship orbiting the planet. The commander of the Lynx, Captain Laurent Zai, faces a battle with a much more powerful Rix spaceship. Other complications, like a mutiny, make The Risen Empire very suspenseful. The Killer of Worlds continues the story of Captain Zai and the Imperials when they encounter an alien artifact. At the same time, the Risen Empire is shattered when their Emperor’s “secret” gets revealed. If you’re in the mood for high quality story-telling and suspenseful space battles, The Risen Empire and The Killer of Worlds deliver. I hope Scott Westerfeld returns to write more galactic adventures of the Rix and the Empire!

WHY HOMER MATTERS By Adam Nicholson

WHY HOMER MATTERS
I’ve read The Iliad and The Odyssey four times. But after reading Adam Nicholson’s brilliant Why Homer Matters I want to drop everything and reread Homer’s works again. Nicholson writes passionately about what Homer means to him. Some of this book is a tour of the various translations of Homer. Worked into Nicholson’s chapters is a history of how Homer’s works were discovered and how we ended up with them. Finally, Nicholson argues that true story-telling begins with The Iliad and The Odyssey. Have you read Homer? What do think of his masterpieces? GRADE: A

THE VERY BEST OF BURT BACHARACH

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I don’t know about you but I find most contemporary pop music unlistenable. More and more I’m playing songs I grew up with long, long ago. Songs like “Baby It’s You” by The Shirelles and “Only Love Can Break a Heart” by the late, great Gene Pitney still sound great and resonate with me. The Very Best of Burt Bacharach should be retitled The Very Best of Burt Bacharach and Hal David. Hal David wrote all those wonderful lyrics. What’s your favorite Burt Bacharach/Hal David song?
SET LIST:
1. Baby It’s You – The Shirelles
2. Only Love Can Break A Heart – Gene Pitney
3. Anyone Who Had A Heart – Dionne Warwick
4. (There’s) Always Something There To Remind Me – Sandie Shaw
5. Walk On By – Dionne Warwick
6. What The World Needs Now Is Love – Jackie DeShannon
7. Alfie – Dionne Warwick
8. What’s New Pussycat? – Tom Jones
9. I Say A Little Prayer – Dionne Warwick
10. The Look Of Love – Dusty Springfield
11. Do You Know The Way To San Jose – Dionne Warwick
12. Raindrops Keep Fallin’ On My Head – B.J. Thomas
13. I’ll Never Fall In Love Again – Dionne Warwick
14. One Less Bell To Answer – The 5th Dimension
15. Arthur’s Theme (Best That You Can Do) – Christopher Cross
16. That’s What Friends Are For – Dionne & Friends

TAKEN 3

TAKEN 3
One of the great enigmas of today’s Hollywood is how a serious actor like Liam Neeson has become transformed into a 62-year-old action hero. I liked TAKEN. The first movie in this series has Liam Neeson’s daughter, visiting Paris, “taken” by white slavers. Neeson, an ex-CIA operative, tracks down the kidnappers in a bloody confrontation. While the first movie broken no new ground, it was a suspenseful thriller. Since TAKEN made a lot of money, TAKEN 2 revisited the formula. This time Neeson and his ex-wife are “taken.” Big Mistake. Neeson finds ways to escape from the kidnappers and extracts retribution. TAKEN 2 made lots of money, too. So now we have TAKEN 3. It is true action movie. One chase leads to another chase which leads to another chase…you get the idea. This franchise has worn out its welcome. The slogan for TAKEN 3 is “It Ends Here.” I hope so. GRADE: D