Feb 242020

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

Directed By: Marielle Heller
StarringTom Hanks, Matthew Rhys
Release Date: November 22, 2019

My Rating:

I know this movie isn’t exactly a recent release; last November in fact. However a movie about someone as iconic as Mr Rogers cannot go without commenting. The man defined an entire generation; my generation. The trailer for this film had me choked up with nostalgia and Tom Hanks seemed like the perfect cast.

And he was! However, this movie isn’t actually about Fred Rogers, its about the man writing a profile on Mr. Rogers; Lloyd Vogel. This movie is a true story.

It’s Not About Fred

As I mentioned, this movie isn’t actually about Mr. Rogers. Lloyd Vogel is the character name that represents the actual writer, Tom Junod. Lloyd has a reputation for writing rather scathing exposes for Esquire magazine. He also has a very hostile relationship with is father (for reasons that are explained in the movie). When he is given an assignment to write a profile on Mr. Rogers, his perspective is completely changed. It’s all thanks to Mr. Rogers.

This movie is so amazing and very respectful to Mr. Rogers. It reinforces that Mr. Rogers is the same person on and off the screen. Every time there is a location change, a scaled down model of the location is used (just like they did in Mr. Rogers Neighborhood). That is easily one of the best features of the film. After reading some of the trivia about this film (which I often do for lots of movies) one of the interesting facts I read is that the studio spent a lot of time (and money) getting the film as accurate as possible.

The writers said the film took so long to be made because they worked with the estate tirelessly to ensure the accuracy of the film. They were given access to the archives to ensure it was “right”.IMDB

“Such a Good Feeling”

I especially like the scene where Mr. Rogers is on the subway and the whole subway car sings “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood”; I would have joined in the chorus had I been there too. This movie will leave you with “such a good feeling” by the end. By the way, if you have Amazon Prime, you can watch old episodes of Mr. Rogers Neighborhood; my daughter has already watched a few. If you grew up with this man in your living room, you need to see this film!

film_reel“The screen is a magic medium. It has such power that it can retain interest as it conveys emotions and moods that no other art form can hope to tackle.”
– Stanley Kubrick


Feb 102020

Dead Beat (The Dresden Files, #7)Dead Beat by Jim Butcher
My rating:
(Click here to go to Goodreads.)

I haven’t been posting reviews for the Dresden books I’ve been reading. Its not from lack of enjoyment, I’m definitely hooked on Harry Dresden. It helps that these books take place in Chicago, my favorite city. The books have been around since April 2000 (in fact the 16th book comes out this July). I just assumed everyone has already read or heard about these books so writing a review seemed superfluous. However I’m committed to writing more book reviews this year so here goes.

Biggs’ Review

I can see why this book is the favorite of many Dresden fans. I’ve been in love with Harry Dresden’s wit since Storm Front but there’s more to love than his personality in this book. I’m not going to plunge into too many details because I don’t want to ruin anything. Basically Harry agrees, reluctantly again, to another dangerous case (from an even more dangerous person) and you wonder, the entire book, how he’s going to survive this one. All I can say is Bob plays an awesome role in the outcome. There are some new characters and a few other twists and surprises in this book that I’m not going to mention so you’ll just have to read to find out.

I loved this book; easily one of the best ones so far (though, I do have a long way to go before Peace Talks). I can definitely see myself reading this book again after I’ve finally caught up.

View all my reviews

Feb 062020

How Much Do You Know about Peter Cushing? Star Wars fans know him as Grand Moff Wilhuff Tarkin from A New Hope. If you’re not quite “Star Wars savvy” to know which one is Tarkin, he is the Imperial leader that ordered for the termination of Leia and the destruction of Alderaan (see picture on the right).

I try to consider what the audience would like to see me do and I thought kids would adore Star Wars.
– Peter Cushing

I’m sure it’s a generation thing but Tarkin is the only role I know Peter Cushing played. Granted, he was 64 years old when Star Wars was released so, obviously, he’s had many roles in his career. I was curious, so I dug into his filmography. He has quite the distinguished career.

From Darcy to Sherlock

Peter Cushing passed away in 1994 and over the course of his 81 years he’s been in 130 movies or TV series. What I found most surprising is, of the 130 films/series, 50 of them were horror films. It seems he had a penchant for the creepy and scary. In fact, among his horror accolades, he played some iconic characters. Baron Frankenstein and Van Helsing are two of the more well known characters in the genre.

It seems that when he wasn’t trying to scare the audience, he was sleuthing. Yes, Peter Cushing was Sherlock Holmes in several well known Sherlock stories (including The Hound of Baskervilles). His archetypal portrayals also extended to the prideful Mr. Darcy in a Pride and Prejudice series in 1952 and the Sheriff of Nottingham in 1960.

However, I think the role that surprises me most of all was that of Doctor Who. In 1965 and 1966 two Doctor Who movies were produced: Dr. Who and the Daleks and Dalek’s Invasion Earth 2150 A.D. in which Peter Cushing was the beloved Doctor. Hopefully I can track down these movies and watch them.

In fact, I think I need to track down several of his other films; and not just the well known characters. If there is any Peter Cushing film you’ve seen and would recommend, please leave a comment.

“The more you know, the more you know you don’t know.” – Aristotle


Feb 052020

I am a huge movie buff so picking my favorite top 5 action/adventure movies is very difficult. In fact, in order to even whittle the list down to 5 I have to set some further qualifications. So for this top 5 list I chose movies that are non-franchised. A “non-franchised” is any movie that is not part of a trilogy or large collection of related films (ex: James Bond or the Marvel movies that make up the Infinity Saga). It’s also based on if I were channel surfing and these movies came on, I would be inclined to continue watching without starting over. This list is in no particular order.

I actually want to watch all these movies just merely by building this list. In fact, as I was building this list I felt like a few other movies deserve some honorable mentions (i.e. movies that almost made the list). Chris Evans performance in The Losers is one of the best parts of the film. While I do not care for the type of music DMX performs, his nerdy character is Exit Wounds is my favorite. Finally, The Fifth Element because it’s just a fun movie to watch and it’s quite quotable.

I Have Spoken!

Jan 242020

It’s been 7 weeks since we lost Gus. The first couple of weeks after his passing were especially difficult, but then we began noticing something peculiar. Our 1 1/2 year old Westie started exhibiting behaviors similar to Gus. So much so that it gives credence to dogs having souls and they can take possession of other dogs. Gus had exactly the kind of personality that even in death, he still gets what he wants. Therefore it would not surprise me at all if he will occasionally take possession of Gibbs.

It began with subtle behaviors that we just assumed Gibbs picked up on and we didn’t really notice it. For example, if we dropped food in the kitchen and we said “Oops”, Gus was in that kitchen immediately, hoping to reap the benefits of getting there before we picked it up. Gibbs never really responded, at least he didn’t seem as astute. However, we began to notice that he now responds with the same sense of urgency as Gus. Granted that could be Pavlovian behavior.

Gibbs also took a sudden interest in the rooster toy, which was a favorite of Gus’ since the day we brought him home. He has also suddenly decided to lay between our legs when we are reclined in the recliner; also a common behavior of Gus. In fact, it has become so eerily frequent that we started identifying when “Gus is driving”; meaning he has taken control of Gibbs’ body. Sometimes Gibbs will try to play with two toys at once; a ball and the rooster. This is Gus vying for control.

I know its actually a form of imprinting, but imagining Gus taking control helps keep his memory alive.

The things that go through my mind when I’m alone with nothing but my thoughts for entertainment is dangerous. Some might even say eccentric. Consider this your warning about today’s Random Thought of the Day



Jan 092020

The Third Lynx (Quadrail, #2)The Third Lynx by Timothy Zahn
My rating:

I did not review the first Quadrail book, mainly because I was lazy. These are the first Timothy Zahn books I’ve read outside of the Star Wars universe. I’ll admit that it took me a little bit to get into these books. However, The Third Lynx has sufficiently pulled me in. In fact I feel like I should go back and re-read Night Train to Rigel. I feel like Zahn definitely takes a different approach with the Modhri in this book. The Modhri seems more calculated and cunning, like a Bond villain, leaving you suspicious of everyone.

I’ve also been reading Jim Butcher’s Harry Dresden books and I kind of feel like Frank Compton is Zahn’s Harry Dresden. As much as I admire Timothy Zahn, he has not yet matched the wit and snark of Harry Dresden. In that sense, Harry Dresden is a much more entertaining character than Frank Compton. Granted the two characters are nothing alike.

Be that as it may, I still really enjoyed this book, more than the first book. There are 3 more books left in the series and I’m looking forward to reading them. Thankfully there are not huge cliffhangers between each book (again, much like the Dresden books). Therefore I can change things up a bit and read something else in between each of the remaining Quadrail book.

View all my reviews

diablo3-reading“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”
– Dr. Seuss