Movie review: Toy Story 4 (Pixar)

a fine coda

Toy Story 4I saw Toy Story 4 in a movie theater, the Spectrum 8 in Albany. Every Toy Story I’ve seen at a cinema. Since the first two movies came out in 1995 and 1999, respectively, pre-parenthood, it was my own volition in seeing them.

The third film I saw with my wife but without my daughter in 2010. Since my wife and daughter saw #4 without me, I saw it by myself.

Woody (Tom Hanks) and the rest of the toys are on a road trip with Bonnie (Madeleine McGraw) and her parents (Jay Hernandez, Lori Alan), just before Bonnie enters kindergarten. The toys’ primary task is keeping track of the new character named Forky (Tony Hale), who has issues.

Woody unexpectedly runs into his long-lost friend Bo Peep (Annie Potts), now a “lost” toy. They have philosophical differences when it comes to what the role of a toy should be. Bo, despite her porcelain construction, is impressive.

Ultimately, Woody, Bo, and some new friends such as Ducky (Keegan-Michael Key) and Bunny (Jordan Peele), have a mission. They have to sneak into the antique store run by Margaret (June Squibb), a place Bo knows too well. It’s not just the old-school doll Gabby Gabby (Christina Hendricks), but her friends, all of whom are creepy identical ventriloquist dummies named Benson.

There is a lot of insecurities revealed in Toy Story 4, including from daredevil Duke Caboom (Keanu Reeves). It can be difficult to find your place in the world, even if you’re a doll.

This is a fine coda to the franchise. Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen) and Jessie (Joan Cusack) had smaller but vital roles in the narrative. I LOLed at a scene involving dependence on GPS.

Toy Story 4 received a 98% positive rating in Rotten Tomatoes. Matthew Norman of the London Evening Standard wrote: “The legislation it flouts is the law of diminishing returns which governs movies with numbers after their names.”

Disney Removes ‘Toy Story 2’ Scene That Recalled Hollywood Casting Couch Abuse.

July Rambling #1: Even darkness must pass

Lin-Manuel Miranda and William Daniels Talk Hamilton and 1776

Sister Leslie is out of the hospital, as of ndependence Day. Still healing at home. More probably on July 23.

Flirting with Fascism

The Coming Collapse and Why It is Extraordinary

We Were Warned: What the Movie Villains Should Have Taught Us

As our democracy is dismantled right before their eyes, Americans remain silent

“America First” means China wins

During CBS interview, government agents chillingly showed up to intimidate former ICE spokesman

On July 4th Eve, Jeff Sessions Quietly Rescinds a Bunch of Protections for Minorities

If Pixar Made A DACA Movie

The retirement of Supreme Court Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy is as bad as it seems and Anthony Kennedy, You Are a Total Disgrace to America

Larry Kudlow is Never Ever Right

If You Think Basic Income is ‘Free Money’ or Socialism, Think Again

Turks Have Voted Away Their Democracy

Trust Issues, examining the state of trust in 2018

Fatal accidents, off-the-books workers, a union once run by a mobster. The rogue world of one of New York’s major trash haulers

That Property Down In Coeymans: The City of Albany is still trying to get rid of the proposed site of Jerry’s Dump

Tim Berners-Lee has seen his creation debased by everything from fake news to mass surveillance. But he’s got a plan to fix it

Radical Democrats Are Pretty Reasonable

Israeli airline says it will no longer accommodate Orthodox Jewish men who refuse to sit next to women

There’s some good in this world. And it’s worth fighting for

An Interview with Deborah Mends, UK College Diploma Graduate and Owner of Your Visual Mind – I first met my friend in the summer of 1977 in NYC

Atomic Roundtable: Harlan Ellison 1934-2018

Gene Editing: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver

How’s the Water?

Agent Zigzag

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What to Do When an ATM Won’t Give You Any Money

The Counterfeit Queen of Soul

Lin-Manuel Miranda and William Daniels Talk Hamilton, 1776, Mr. Feeny, and More (2016)

Five Muppeteers explain how they operate their characters on Sesame Street


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Yes! The Wedding of Winnie & Thomas


I Don’t Know – Paul McCartney
Come On To Me – Paul McCartney

We Are the World video, re-created by a bunch of talented folks from Broadway

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First Burn (Hamilton)

Smells Like Karen Carpenter – Moneyshot Cosmonauts

Beautiful Life – Rick Astley

Coverville 1223: Cover Stories for George Michael, Men At Work, and Cyndi Lauper

K-Chuck Radio: Gorillaz in our midst and It’s All About That Bass

Friends don’t let friends clap on the 1 and 3 (Harry Connick Jr)


The kudos for Inside Out, and great box office to boot, are well deserved.

Inside-OutAs luck would have it, The Wife, The Daughter and I attended the same Sunday afternoon showing of the new, animated Disney/Pixar film Inside Out at the Spectrum Theatre in Albany as our friend Jon with his kids.

Afterward, we went to eat supper, and Jon, who is a therapist, noted how well the movie did in capturing the various human feelings, as understood by the psychological community. This is because Pixar used consultants to infuse what scientists have learned about the mind, emotion, and memory and worked to get those childhood emotions just right.

Everything was going great for an 11-year-old girl named Riley (voiced by Kaitlyn Dias) until she has to leave her beloved Minnesota when her father (Kyle MacLachlan) gets a new job in San Francisco. Mom (Diane Lane) and Dad try to make the transition easier, but the emotions in Riley’s mind get off-kilter.

The emotion voice actors were fabulous: Amy Poehler (Joy), Phyllis Smith from the US version of The Office (Sadness), Bill Hader (Fear), Mindy Kaling (Disgust), and, appropriately, Lewis Black (Anger). Props too to Richard Kind as Bing Bong.

About halfway through, I heard some bored or perhaps scared three-year-old behind me who was ready to leave, but the kudos for this movie, and great box office to boot, are well deserved. In fact the Daughter has already seen it a second time, she liked it so much.

In that conversation with friend Jon, I hit upon a fundamental truth being expressed in the film, something even we nice adult people unfortunately tend to do a lot. The few critics who did not like the film totally missed the point of the journey, which came from a real, recognizable place, of dislocation.

This movie isn’t as bright and shiny as some other PIXAR films, which I realized only in retrospect. We saw the 2D version, so I can’t speak to what enhancements the 3D version might have brought.

The preview movie was Lava, about two singing volcanoes, which my daughter thought was “cheesy,” my wife thought it was too long at seven minutes, but I thought was cute, clever, and geologically informative.

February rambling: expats, and the end of “Parenthood”


How America’s Sporting Events Have Turned into Mass Religious Events to Bless Wars and Militarism. Amen.

The Weekly Sift analyzes what the Atlantic article “What ISIS Really Wants” gets right and gets wrong. Also, ISIS Bans Teaching Evolution In Schools in Mosul, as well as art, music, history, literature and, of course, Christianity.

American ISIS: The Domestic Terrorist Fallout of the Iraq War.

Melanie: A Modern Day Scarlet Pimpernel and Human Trafficking.

Something most Americans know little or nothing about: The Trans-Pacific Partnership is the latest trade deal being cooked up in secret by big corporations and their lobbyists.

John Oliver Eviscerates the Stunningly Corrupt Practices of Big Pharma. This IS journalism. I also LOVE how he takes on Big Tobacco and their bullying tactics internationally.

Here are Remarks by the President at National Prayer Breakfast, February 5, 2015. Obama Attacked for Telling the Truth about Christianity’s Bloody History and The Foolish, Historically Illiterate, Incredible Response to Obama’s Prayer Breakfast Speech. True this: Using religion to brutalize other people is not a Muslim invention, nor is it foreign to the American experience.

Is The Phrase ‘Playing The Race Card’ As Racist As It Sounds? You Bet It Is.

A Latin motto for Vermont? “I thought Vermont was American, not Latin?”

When a Puerto Rican Wins the Powerball.

When Hate Stays in the Closet: “Answering the most sympathetic and reasonable arguments against same-sex marriage.”

A cautionary tale: How One Stupid Tweet Blew Up Justine Sacco’s Life.

Amy Biancolli: The Weight of a Ring.

Uthaclena: Truth in Advertising, or The Eyes Have It.

Dear Student: Should Your Granny Die Before The Midterm … “Grandmothers are 10 times more likely to die before a midterm, and 19 times more likely to die before a final exam. Grannies of students who weren’t doing well in their classes were at even higher risk of meeting their maker.”

3 Tips For Being Awake In A World That Is Asleep.

Learning stuff.

Nancy Frank, organist at First Presbyterian Church in Albany, NY, retires after 42 years. Not only is she a fine organist, but a great person as well.

Watch Middle School Kids Play A Led Zeppelin Medley … On Xylophones.

Vogue’s The 10 Greatest Oscar-Winning Songs of All Time.

Bob Dylan’s Full MusiCares Speech: How He Wrote the Songs.

Jaquandor is ranking the Bond songs!

The Real Instrument Behind The Sound In ‘Good Vibrations’.

Chuck Miller on the redemptive quality of Allan Sherman.

One of my favorite TV shows, Parenthood, ended this past month. Deleted Scenes Show Seth’s Return, Sarah’s Roast, and More.

Gary Owens of Laugh-In fame, RIP. Mark Evanier’s piece, and a story with Evanier’s mom, and the short-lived show Letters to Laugh-In. Plus Ken Levine’s appreciation.

What happens to someone who goes on Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? and loses $225,000?

Clowns: Beware of the Unicycling Clown and The Toronto Circus Riot of 1855.

Muppets: Miss Piggy and Constantine, the World’s Most Dangerous Frog, accept an award, and I’ll Get You What You Want (Cockatoo in Malibu) and Cookie Monster Chase. Also, ‘Big Birdman’ starring Caroll Spinney and Big Bird [Birdman Spoof] plus Simply Delicious Shower Thoughts with Cookie Monster and I’m Going To Go Back There Someday and The Muppet Movie can’t hide a soft heart beneath the silly gags. Finally, a Sesame Street discography.

Pixar’s 22 Rules of Storytelling.

Video Artist Eran Amir made this video that looks like magical things seem to happen because the video is being run in reverse — but this is not running in reverse…


Somehow, I have helped to encourage SamuraiFrog to compile a ranking of all of “Weird Al” Yankovic’s songs. THIS is a good thing that I will share with The Daughter.

Arthur wrote a GREAT piece, E is for Expat, about being a stranger in a strange land and how that changes over time, quoting others, as well as noting his own experiences.

Jaquandor answers my questions about changing his mind, but not about pie.


Roger Green, from Sudbury, was named as the regional winner of the Churches Conservation Trust Volunteer Award… This is in recognition of the work he has done for St Peter’s Church, Sudbury, where he chairs the Friends’ group, facilitates regular markets, festivals, concerts and theatre productions, and has helped boost visitor numbers to around 60,000 a year.

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