Category Archives: Uncategorized

Gone: Len Wein

STL041147-720x1119

justice-league-the-movie-that-len-wein-built

hulk181

Marvel_Team-Up_Vol_1_22

The-Demons-Quest-Part-2

e690c3aa71f7c80838adcdcd86bc8623--marvel-defenders-vintage-comics

untoldlegendofthebatman1cover

 

 

Advertisements

Gone: Don Williams

I ain’t gonna marry in the fall
I ain’t gonna marry in the spring
‘Cause I’m in love with a pretty little girl
Who wears a diamond ring.

And I’m just a country boy
Money have I none
But I’ve got silver in the stars
And gold in the mornin’ sun
Gold in the mornin’ sun

You’re my bread when I’m hungry
You’re my shelter from troubled winds
You’re my anchor in life’s ocean
But most of all you’re my best friend

I guess there’s not much I can do or say
Saw my baby with another guy today
Though I love her and I try to tell her so
It’s hello blues and down the road I go

Fate should have made you a gentleman’s wife

MI0003714342Coffee black, cigarette
start this day, like all the rest
First thing every morning that I do
Is start missing you

Some broken hearts never mend
Some memories never end
Some tears will never dry
My love for you will never die

Rendezvous in the night
A willing woman to hold me tight
But in the middle of love’s embrace
I see your face

Some broken hearts never mend
Some memories never end
Some tears will never dry
My love for you will never die

My baby said, I’z crazy
My mama called me lazy
I was gonna show ’em all this time
‘Cause you know I ain’t no fool
And I don’t need no more schoolin’
I was born to just walk the line

‘Cause you know I’m a rake and a ramblin’ man
Free as an eagle flies
Well, look at me now and tell me true
Do I look like a daddy to you?
Oh, do I look like a daddy to you?

It must be love
It must be love
I fall like a sparrow
Fly like a dove
You must be the dream
I’ve been dreamin’ of
Oh, what a feelin’
It must be love

When I was a kid Uncle Remus would put me to bed
With a picture of Stonewall Jackson above my head
Then Daddy came in to kiss his little man
With gin on his breath and a bible in his hand
And he talked about honor and things I should know
Then he’d stagger a little as he went out the door

I can still hear the soft southern winds in the live oak trees
And Those Williams boys they still mean a lot to me
Hank and Tennessee
I guess we’re all gonna be what we’re gonna be
So what do you do with good ol’ boys like me?

Lord, I hope this day is good
I’m feelin’ empty and misunderstood
I should be thankful, Lord, I know I should
But Lord I hope this day is good

I have drifted up across the mountain 
And I have stumbled down the other side 
I’ve been tempted, tried and troubled 
Come early morning I’ll be home and satisfied 

A RROY REPORT Special Report: LawyerCon 2017: Lake Tahoe: Part III

Part III: Shakespeare By The Lake (but not really Shakespeare)

Day Four

So, I’m thumbing through the “What To Do In Lake Tahoe” magazine that is one of the few free complementary things in our hotel room when I made an observation.

“Are you aware there’s a Shakespeare Festival going on around here this week?”

“Yes. A group of people from the conference are going to it. I didn’t get tickets.”

“What? Why?”

“Because you always complain about the extra-event activities.”

“No I don’t. Are you still mad about Utah? For Pete’s sake, I don’t have a problem with extra-event activities unless they’re designed to kill me.”

“Exaggerate much?”

” ‘Oh, it will be a nice nature walk up to a lake.’ No, it was a mountain climbing expedition up to a lake. I wouldn’t climb a mountain to see a lake if it was filled with Sports Illustrated swimsuit models. And nowhere in the brochure did it say that riding a bobsled was dangerous. It wasn’t until we got there that the people were all, ‘take this very seriously and follow our directions to the letter or you could be seriously hurt.’ I wasn’t thinking about me, I was thinking about Andrew. Shakespeare isn’t going to kill me… Unless it bores me to death.”

“So you’re saying we should go?”

“No. I’m saying you should go. Andrew and I will be at the pool. What show are they doing?”

“The Hound of the Baskervilles.”

“Excuse me? I’m no Shakespeare expert, but I’m pretty sure that’s not a Shakespeare play.”

“It’s not. At this festival they do one Shakespeare play and one by someone else. The night the group is going it’s someone else.”

“You still want to go?”

“Yes. They perform on a stage by the lake. It’s supposed to be very cool.”

“Treat Yo Self.”

tahoe12

Day Five

Normally on Wednesday we check out the local comic book shop. Alas, there were no comic book shops in Lake Tahoe. So it was another day at the pool. At some point we did go walk around back down where the shops and restaurants were. Walked through a couple of art galleries. That was a nice break from hot tub, pool, hot tub, pool. Yes, there is a casino at Harvey’s but we’re not really casino people. We walked through it a few times to get from here to there. If there had been an Avengers slot machine I might have played it.

That night the extra-event activity was dinner and dancing at a mountain lodge. So we boarded a bus and rode to the tram, which took us up the mountain. I don’t mind going up mountains if I don’t have to walk.

tahoe16 The views were spectacular, the food was meh, as is the way of these things. They did have some decent mac and cheese which Andrew filled up on. They had a really nice ice cream bar. And COFFEE. The dance floor was small and the music was loud so we (or rather Laurie and Andrew) didn’t do any dancing this year.

tahoe15

Day Six

The final day of conference Laurie got done early so we went for a drive around the lake. More spectacular views. That night Laurie had her closing banquet and the son and I had one last dip in the pool. All in all a pretty pleasant visit. Not one of my favorite LawyerCons but better than some. You lose major points if you don’t have a comic book shop or a dinosaur exhibit.

Tomorrow: The only thing worse than babies on a plane – toddlers on a plane

On Stage: Church Basement Ladies

 

“Church Basement Ladies,” a musical comedy about ladies who work in a church basement, opened Friday in The Playhouse @ Westport Plaza. It’s a humorous little show that’s part “Fargo (except for the murder part),” part “Lake Wobegon Days” and part “Nunsense (if you replace Catholic with Lutheran).”

Created by Janet Letnes Martin, Suzann Nelson and Curt Wollan, the show centers around four women – and their pastor – at a Lutheran church in rural Minnesota. The action takes place in the kitchen in the church basement. The year is 1965.

CBLInvite1 1Vivian Snustad (Janet Paone) is the matriarch of the quartet. She hates big cities and hates change. And she’s not very fond of lasagna. Mavis Gilmerson (Robbie Mancina) spends most of the show working on the church furnace and dealing with her “women’s issues.” Karin Engelson (Lee Anne Mathews) is in line to take over the kitchen if Mrs. Snustad ever moves aside, and her daughter Beverly (Tara Borman) is home from college and represents youth and change (Yes, Beverly and Vivian are bound to butt heads). They are occasionally joined on stage by Pastor E.L. Gunderson (Greg Eiden).

The show covers four major events in the life of a church kitchen: a Christmas dinner, a funeral, a fundraiser and a wedding. The ladies – and the pastor – sing and dance and laugh and cry as they deal with life and death and marriage and lutefisk and the evolving nature of the church.

“Church Basement Ladies” is a funny and charming show. The set design and costumes are spot on (I was having flashbacks to my grandmother’s kitchen). The songs are clever and the actors have strong voices and appear to be enjoying their roles.

I found myself relating to Mrs. Snustad probably more than I should admit.

“Church Basement Ladies” runs through October 1.  http://www.playhouseatwestport.com/

At The Movies: Dunkirk; Valerian

Two very different movies open this weekend and both are worth seeing in a theater with a really big screen and glorious, glorious air conditioning.

Dunkirk

Writer/Director Christopher Nolan delivers an unconventional yet impressive war movie  with “Dunkirk.” He avoids traditional storytelling techniques to present a film that puts the audience in the center of the action.

The year is 1940, and in the early stages of the Second World War, soldiers from Britain, France, Belgium and Canada find themselves trapped on the beaches at Dunkirk, France. The German army is closing in and their only hope of survival is to board a boat that will take them across the English Channel.

dunkirk-posterThe film takes place on three different fronts, each with its own time frame. The main story takes place on the beach and centers on a British army private named Tommy (Fionn Whitehead). Tommy goes through several grueling trials while attempting to get out of Dunkirk.

The second story takes place at sea, where Mr. Dawson (Mark Rylance) takes his private boat into the channel with plans to bring back as many soldiers as he and his son can fit on board. Along the way they rescue a soldier (Cillian Murphy) who has no intention of going back to Dunkirk.

The third tale takes place in the air, where a pair of Royal Air Force pilots (Tom Hardy and Jack Lowden) fight off German aircraft intent on bombing any ships at sea or soldiers on the beach.

The film veers back and fourth between the three stages. It is told with minimal dialogue and maximum attention to detail. Everything takes place in the now and on the front lines — there are no flashbacks to happier times, no scenes of loved ones back home, no moments with world leaders making plans. This is a “you are there” story in its most visceral and basic form.

Valieran and the City of a Thousand Planets

“Strong visuals, weak story.” I bet I’ve typed those words more than a thousand times over the years since I got in the movie reviewing biz. And nowhere is it more true than with Luc Besson’s science fiction epic, “Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets.”

Based on a French comic book series by Pierre Christin and Jean-Claude Mezieres, the movie features a variety of weird, wonderful, colorful and surreal planets, places, and creatures. Then the plot comes along and gets in the way.

The film begins with a montage showing how a small Earth space station grows over the decades as new life forms show up to visit. Eventually Space Station Alpha becomes too big to be in the planet’s orbit, so it is sent off into deep space. As Alpha travels it continues to grow as other beings latch onto it and craft their own worlds on top of it. And so the space station becomes the City of a Thousand Planets.

Cool, huh?

From there we are whisked off to a beautiful blue planet with gorgeous beaches and tall, thin people who spend their days gathering colorful pearls. It’s all lovely, peaceful and surreal until alien spaceships come crashing down on it.

It’s very cool.

valerian_and_the_city_of_a_thousand_planets-241302562-largeBut then, alas, we have to kick into a story. Meet Major Valerian (Dane DeHaan) and Sergeant Laureline (Cara Delevingne), two top cops working for whatever government there is that regulates outer space. In addition to being the best law enforcement agents in the universe, the duo are lovers. Valerian has a history as a ladies man, but he seriously wants to marry Laureline.

If it seems odd that characters we’re meeting for the first time (unless you read a lot of French comic books, and I’m assuming you haven’t. I’ve read a lot of comic books and even I don’t know who these people are.) are acting like we’ve been watching their movies for years, well, that’s far from the oddest thing about this movie. But it is on par with how odd this movie is.

Val and Lar get called to Alpha Station where a pocket of radioactivity has been discovered at the station’s core. Attempts to investigate have failed, so the galaxy’s top officers have been brought in on the case.

“Valerian” is a feast for the eyes, best observed on a very large screen. The story is nothing to write home about but the visuals make up for it. The first half of the film is a wonderful hodgepodge of scenes full of clever, creative bits. But by the end it gets bogged down in a bog-standard tale involving corrupt military leaders and accidental planetary genocide.

The leads appear way too young to play the worldly, experienced people they are supposed to be. It doesn’t help that DeHann sounds distractingly like Keanu Reeves.

“Valerian” will no doubt be compared to “The Fifth Element,” the director’s previous sci-fi fantasy film. It looks and feels a great deal like that earlier effort. “Valerian” has a grander scale and better special effects, but I think “The Fifth Element” was a stronger film overall.

 

 

 

At The Movies: Spider-Man: Homecoming

“Amazing” and “Spectacular” are the two adjectives most often used in conjunction with Spider-Man. But in recent years they haven’t really applied to his movie career.

The first two films by Sam Raimi and Toby Maguire fit the bill, but then the third one was a mess. The franchise was rebooted with Andrew Garfield, but that series was so misguided they didn’t even complete the trilogy.

As a result, in true comic book fashion, Sony Pictures (which has the rights to make Spider-Man movies) did a team-up with Marvel Studios (the movie arm of Marvel Entertainment, birthplace and comic book home of Spider-Man) for a third reboot of the wall-crawler.

Spidey would go back to his teenage roots and would become a member of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. He made his MCU debut in “Captain America: Civil War” and is now fronting his first (for this incarnation) solo movie.

The result is amazing. And spectacular.

MV5BNTk4ODQ1MzgzNl5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwMTMyMzM4MTI@._V1_UY1200_CR80,0,630,1200_AL_Tom Holland stars as young Peter Parker, and we first encounter our hero through a home video made by Peter that gives us a humorous inside look at his role in “Civil War.” But now that mission is over and he’s itching for the next one.

His mentor, Tony Stark/Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) doesn’t feel Spider-Man is ready for the A-team, and he’s too busy to coach him, so he leaves Peter in the hands of his trusted friend Happy Hogan (Jon Favreau).  Happy isn’t too happy with the situation and ignores Peter’s frequent phone calls.

Elsewhere in New York, Adrian Toomes (Michael Keaton) has been building a good business by hoarding alien technology left over from the Chitauri invasion and using it to create new weapons that he can sell on the black market. One weapon he’s kept for himself is a flying suit that earns him the name Vulture.

Needless to say, Spider-Man and the Vulture are going to come to blows. In dizzying, dazzling, summer movie fashion.

“Spider-Man: Homecoming” proves that you really can take a movie franchise that has been beaten down and seen better days and revive it into something fresh, funny and exciting. Director Jon Watts has put together a perfect blend of action, comedy, special effects, surprises and characters that you care about.

A large part of making the franchise fresh was the decision to take Peter back to his teen years and jettison or render unrecognizable a great deal of his supporting cast. Marisa Tomei is not your grandmother’s Aunt May. Uncle Ben is nowhere to be seen. J. Jonah Jameson and the Daily Bugle have not yet entered the picture. Peter now has a best friend (Jacob Batalon) and a multi-cultural lineup of high school comrades. One thing hasn’t changed — the Parker luck when it comes to women, in this case Liz (Laura Harrier).

“Homecoming” solidly brings Spider-Man into the Marvel movie world. If you haven’t been following the Marvel Studios films then you may feel a little lost, but then what are the odds you’re going to a Spider-Man movie and aren’t already well versed in the MCU?

This isn’t an origin story, a brief mention of being bitten by a spider is all you get. And that’s a good thing, because everyone knows Spidey’s origin by now, so best to just get down to business. Funny, amazing, spectacular business.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wherever They’s A Guy Trying To Get Out Of The Opera, I’ll Be There

Our final show for the Opera Theatre of Saint Louis’ 2017 season was a new version of John Steinbeck’s classic “The Grapes of Wrath.” I was initially looking forward to the performance. I had actually read the book, either in a college or high school literature class. I was familiar with the story.

But then I saw that it had a run-time of roughly 3 hours. Normally, I could handle that. But this was not a normal week.

1478828905_5efvy_1478541922_u3sfj_grapesblogpictureWednesday night we left St. Charles for Columbia so The Wife could attend a conference. Thursday I spend most of the day poolside with The Son, breaking only for food. Friday we returned home, did some pre-party prep, and headed out to the opera (The Trial — see above). Saturday: Joelfest. Sunday, hang out with the friends who spent the night, post-party cleanup, 3-hour opera. We don’t normally schedule 2 operas in 3 days, but we had to move one of our operas for a Cardinals game (see Baseball – Spawn of Satan) and Sunday night was the only option. I was not looking forward to capping off a long, busy week with 3 hours sitting in the frankly uncomfortable seating at the  Loretto-Hilton Center (Leg room — invest in it).

Oh, and did I mention Sunday is also our wedding anniversary? I agreed to moving the opera to Sunday night in part to get out of having to come up with something to do for our anniversary.

So it’s now Saturday night and Joelfest is going swimmingly and The Wife’s best friend Christine is sitting across the room and I figure it’s time we began our dance.

“Christine, what are you doing tomorrow night?”

“Hmm, I don’t know Ron. No plans.”

“How would you like to go to the opera with Laurie?”

Now, here’s what you need to understand: Christine and I have this conversation 4 times a year, every year. It always ends with “Gee Ron, I’d love to go, but I think you should go. It would be good for you and you should spend the time with Laurie.”

So I’m all ready for that line and instead I hear,

“Sure. I’d like to go.”

Wait. What just happened? Did I just get out of going to the opera? Have I been drinking? Has Christine? I have a room full of witnesses that heard her say she’d take my place at the opera.

And so it was that Sunday, after the last of the Joelfest revelers had left for parts unknown, I took The Son to the pool (because Lord knows he deserved some pool time after the past two days) while The Wife went to visit her mother. That night Laurie and Christine went to some fru-fru place for dinner then enjoyed an evening at the opera (I’m told it was an excellent show). I spend the night on the couch, eating Little Smokies and chips and dip while binge-watching Parks and Recreation until I passed out.

Best. Anniversary. Ever.