MOVIE REVIEW: Fly Me To the Moon

I told someone recently that we had never taken our daughter to a movie in an actual movie theater. This was inaccurate, a function in part, of the fact that I never blogged about it.

Actually, it was August 2009, right after the wife had (thankfully) returned from her intensive two-week college experience. the three of us went to Schenectady to one of the theaters in the Proctors complex, the GE Theatre. There we saw a 3-D movie from the summer of 2008 called Fly Me To The Moon. And yes, Sinatra, or a Sinatra soundalike, does sing that familiar theme.

The story was about three young bugs who wanted to go to the moon, hitching a ride with these guys named Armstrong, Aldrin and Collins, who looked, BTW, almost exactly alike, even without of their space helmets. Of course, the youngsters don’t bother tell their mothers about their trip, who only discover their sons’ mischief after they see them on television. The small travelers experience mild peril but (hardly a SPOILER in this type of film) make it back home safely.

The voicework is done by name stars such as Tim Curry, Robert Patrick, Nicollette Sheridan, and Ed Begley Jr., with Kelly Ripa and Adrienne Barbeau as a couple bug moms, and Christopher Lloyd as a bug grandpa.

The bad news is that it’s a pretty dopey story with minimal animation techniques. It was painful to watch the real Buzz Aldrin at the end of the film explain to the audience that there were really no insects in space, let alone on the moon, in 1969. The good news is, given those limitations, the 3-D effect wasn’t half bad, with bugs “flying towards us” at times. At least once the bugs were “flying from behind us” and toward the screen, and I instinctively shooed an insect away.

The mixed news was that it was short, maybe 50 minutes. At $8 a pop, it’s a bit pricey, but then it was pretty tame fare for the child’s first flick, so that was a plus.

Fly Me To the Moon must be a reasonably successful film at this venue, since it’s showing again every weekend in January 2010. I can’t recommend it, obviously, but it’s less painful than, say, root canal. And I’ve HAD root canal.
Oh, and when I misstated Lydia’s movie experience, I was asked if we have surround sound at home. Well, no, we STILL have that 1987 19″ GE color TV with no SAP or V-chip, which I turn on and off —ready for this? manually — and I am still NOT replacing it until it dies, I tell you, until it DIES.

The Lydster, Part 69: LS’s Oth Christmas

Three months before Lydia was born, I made a mixed CD for the child. We didn’t know whether we were having a boy or girl, so she was called Little Soul. Or more accurately, my wife’s friend Alison, who was in our wedding, dubbed her as such.

Anyway, the playlist is this, and for most of them I was able to find something on YouTube:

1. Mr. Sandman – the Chorettes. A song from the 1950s I always liked that I have on some compilation.
2. Lullabye (Good Night, My Angel) – Billy Joel. From his last proper pop album, River of Dreams. One of my favorite songs, even though, or maybe because, it has a certain melancholy.
3. Dreamland – Mary Chapin Carpenter, from her greatest hits album, Party Doll.
4. Good Night – the Beatles. From the white album, a Lennon tune sung by Ringo. I often sing it to Lydia before she goes to bed.
5. Lullaby for Sophia – the Beverwyck String Band. A lovely tune by our friend, violinist/vocalist Britney and a couple of her friends.
6. Alright for Now – Tom Petty. From my favorite Petty album, Full Moon Fever.
7. Sweet and Low – Bette Midler.(Starting at at 2:03)
8. All Through the Night – Shawn Colvin. The last two songs from some benefit album for the rain forest called Carnival, which also features Saint-Saëns’ Carnival of the Animals.
9. Common Threads – Bobby McFerrin. A song without words, a transition to the instrumental portion of the album.

Songs above are by the artist on the recording; below are not.

10. Brandenburg Concerto #5 Affectuoso – Bach.
11. Pachebel Canon. The last two by Neville Chamberlain & the English Chamber Music Orchestra.
12. Four Seasons: Autumn, adagio – Vivaldi.
13. Four Seasons: Winter, largo – Vivaldi.
14. Moonlight Sonata – Beethoven. Dubourg.
15. Fur Elise -Beethoven.

Now that she has her own boom box to go to sleep to, it’s in her pile of music to play. Not that she plays it as often as I had hoped, but I’m glad that she doesn’t seem to hate it.


Stop. Breathe. Think.

One of the things I try to do each month is to take one day off from work on a day the wife and daughter are at school. This allows me to write slightly longer blog posts, while also allowing me to catch up on the newspaper and a TV show or two, a bit of “roger time” that just doesn’t usually happen during the week.

I had planned one of my days for Monday, November 30. I had a couple posts, including a movie review, I wanted to work on for the next two days.

Unfortunately, the wife decided the daughter was sick. Her temperature was up slightly, but I wasn’t convinced of her illness. In any case, I stayed home with her, because i have far more sick days available (140+) than my wife does.

I must admit that I was disappointed and frustrated. If she were home sick in bed, it’d be one thing. But this was a very active “sick” child, who wanted to play various games and wanted me to watch her TV shows with her.

As it turned out, I ended up watching an episode of Blue’s Clues – neither my favorite or my most loathed of her programs, seeing an episode called Blue is Frustrated. Boy, could I relate! (So can this woman.)

The message when you’re frustrated is to, well, it’s in the title. So I don’t post the movie review until the following Sunday – so what? The world didn’t end.

So, in answer to the question posed by Salon, Is my kids making me not smart?”, the answer has to be “no”.

And when I’m too busy, or feeling lousy, both of which are true this week, sometimes one just has to post pictures of cute kittens. I’ll just have to deal with that.


The Lydster, Part 68: the North Pole

If you are one of those people who just cannot STAND hearing Christmas music before Thanksgiving, or December 1, or the first day of winter, then I highly recommend that you NOT visit Santa’s Workshop in North Pole, NY in mid-September, as our family did. Notice the Merry Christmas on the water mill.

Not only Christmas carols but parts of Messiah by Handel – “For Unto Us Is Born”, e.g. – as well. As the website says, it was “founded in 1949 and designed by Arto Monaco. We are known as the forerunner of present day theme parks in the United States.” And it most definitely felt like that, a pre-Disneyland theme park.

I must say that it was initially disappointing. It was not inexpensive ($17-$19 each) and many of the rides Lydia, at over four feet, was too tall to ride in. Of the two rides she could be on, she tried the (little) roller coaster (with me), and decided that she did not particularly enjoy it.Worse, a train that we ALL could have ridden through the park was closed for repairs.

Ultimately, what made it worthwhile for Lydia were the friendly clowns and animals and snowmen who performed musical bits periodically. It was a little schlocky – OK, it was a LOT schlocky – but it was earnest. There weren’t that many attendees to these mini-shows and the clowns, e.g., would always go to the performances of their costume-clad colleagues.

Ultimately, it was a successful visit because we had a nice getaway from our usual Saturday routine of cleaning and shopping and laundry.

And Lydia got to go to the North Pole! The pole is not some painted stick; it is actually made of ice. This was actually a thrill for my wife, who went to the North Pole when SHE was a child and feared the frozen pole had been turned into a plastic replica. No way!

I should tell you about this production of the Christmas story, told on the loudspeakers, with clearly young actors performing the roles of Mary, Joseph, the shepherds and the Wise Men. Even from the distance – they were up the hill from the little amphitheater we were sitting in – you can tell that at least some of them were cracking up, though they tried to hide it.

But the high point in the trip for the child was Lydia playing on swings, playground equipment and this container of plastic balls she could wade in, things she could do on the local playground or the local McDonald’s. She had a good time, so we had a good time too.


It Ain’t Easy

Very few phrases fill me with dread and/or irritation as the response, “Oh, it’s EASY!” And it bugs me on two separate but related levels.

I had this colleague who was very smart but I don’t think she recognized her own intellectual gifts. When I would ask her for help, she’d say, “Oh, that’s EASY.” It was as though, if SHE could could do it, it must not be all that special. But, in fact, it was, and in her profession, she is now quite accomplished. It seems that she has recognized the value of her talent.

The other version is when a techie or someone doing something technical or mechanical says, “Oh, that’s EASY.” Implicit in this one is that “anyone” can do it it. Well, obviously, they don’t know ME. While I have mastered which end of the hammer is the one you generally hold, there is nothing in this arena that comes easily to me. If there are four ways to put something together, but only one correct way, you can be sure I will have tried at least two of the other three first. I have absolutely no innate spatial reference capacity.

And it also extends to my absolutely DREADFUL capacity for remembering names. I’ve tried all the tricks. Someone named Mr. Dole is wearing a pineapple shirt; I’ll remember him as Mr. Pineapple.

Now there ARE some things that I do do easily, but I don’t assume that others can, or should be able to do the same. I specifically remember 9th grade algebra, which I was rather good at (97 on the final – I’m also pretty good at remembering numbers generally). There was a particular problem that this kid Sid was trying to do on the board. The teacher was trying to explain it to him, but he just wasn’t getting it. Then she let me try, and the light bulb went on in Sid’s head.

What got me thinking about this was the daughter in kindergarten. She’s fairly smart. Her teacher is having the students spell out the words phonetically, and she knows most of her letter sounds. What happened last month was that she spelled the words incorrectly, of course, and burst into tears. Her mother and I had to emphasize the fact that English isn’t easy.

I mean I am a pretty good speller. A lousy typist but good speller – 100 on my 5th grade final (really) – but I don’t know if I ever knew WHY most words were spelled as they are. Why do “giant” and “jelly” have the same starting sound? Or “cat” and “kitten”? Or “school” and “skill”? The silent e has some rationale – long vowel sound – but what about the silent b in climb or silent g in gnu, the latter of which appears in one of her picture books?

She HAS mellowed since then, but does have a perfectionist streak that doesn’t seem to come from either her mother or me.

“Well all the people have got their problems
That ain’t nothing new” – It Ain’t Easy

It Ain’t Easy by David Bowie video. “Dedicated to The Big Easy with much love.” ROG