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Saturday Movie Throwback: Labyrinth

This Saturday, I would like to suggest watching Labyrinth.

Labyrinth was a Jim Henson film released in 1986.  Starring David Bowie and a large number of creative puppets, a film that all should love.

Over the years, the film has gotten a number of poor reviews, but in the end the movie has overcome all negativity and remains a frequently watched and highly acclaimed movie to most people.  Having shown it to my daughter, as well as a girl scout troop of teenage girls, you can see that this movie will even still appeal to a younger group (though I should comment that they thought David Bowie looked like a woman, but did otherwise find the movie wistful).

The story is excellent, the labyrinth magical.  Plus, the characters feel reminiscent of Alice in Wonderland, each teaching a necessary lesson to the protagonist.  If you haven’t seen it (have you been living in a box your whole life?) then I recommend that you give it a watch.  If you have, then take the moment to leave your stress behind, be reminded of your childhood whimsy, and bring some magic back into your life.

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Sunday Book Recommendation: The Eyes of the Dragon

The Eyes of the Dragon, written by Stephen King, was published in 1984.

Myself never being a fan of Stephen King’s books (not because of his writing, but because of his preferred genre), I loved this book by him.  I do not much like suspense or horror stories, and being able to enjoy Stephen King’s skill in a fantasy setting was wonderful!

This is definitely a good vs. evil kind of story, with very clear lines between who is good, who is evil, and who is pitiable.  I feel like one of the most difficult things for an author to do is make you, the reader, feel what they want you to feel.  King definitely makes it clear how he wants you to feel about each of the characters in this story, and I think makes you feel it strongly.

The antagonist is great, and easily hate-able.  The protagonist is strong, smart, and patient, everything that you would want your protagonist to be.  The story is complex, and King makes sure you see every angle of that complexity.  However, as complex as it is, it still feels young, making it a refreshing change from the material he would normally write.  I highly recommend this book, so if you haven’t read it, please pick it up and let me know what you think of it.

Word of the Day: Panegyric

Panegyric.

Definition
: a eulogistic oration or writing; also : formal or elaborate praise

Did You Know?
On certain fixed dates throughout the year, the ancient Greeks would come together for religious meetings. Such gatherings could range from hometown affairs to great national assemblies, but large or small, the meeting was called a panēgyris. That name comes from pan, meaning “all,” and agyris, meaning “assembly.” At those assemblies, speakers provided the main entertainment, and they delivered glowing orations extolling the praises of present civic leaders and reliving the past glories of Greek cities. To the Greeks, those laudatory speeches were panēgyrikos, which means “of or for a panēgyris.” Latin speakers ultimately transformed panēgyrikos into the noun panegyricus, and English speakers adapted that Latin term to form panegyric.

Word of the Day: Confabulate

Confabulate.

confabulated; confabulating
intransitive verb
1 : to talk informally : chat
2 : to hold a discussion : confer
3 : to fill in gaps in memory by fabrication

Did You Know?
Confabulate is a fabulous word for making fantastic fabrications. Given the similarities in spelling and sound, you might guess that “confabulate” and “fabulous” come from the same root, and they do – the Latin fabula, which means “conversation, story.” Another “fabula” descendant that continues to tell tales in English is “fable.” All three words have long histories in English: “fable” first appeared in writing in the 14th century, and “fabulous” followed in the 15th. “Confabulate” is a relative newcomer, appearing at the beginning of the 1600s.

Movie Review: Valerian

Full name:  Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets.

I want to be clear up front, I have never read the comics, so this review will be based off of my opinion of the movie only.

I loved the movie.  It was imaginative, fun, and adventurous.  I loved the market that existed in another dimension.  I loved the little critters that could multiply the things that it eats.  The shiny race whose world was destroyed.  The city that our space station had become.  All of it, I loved it.

I also loved Laureline’s evolution through the movie.  My favorite scene, though, was probably when Laureline was nabbed by an alien tribe.  They try to get her into different dresses, and she turns each down.  The best part about it, though, was the alien’s ridiculous smiling face each time it held up a dress.

The only thing that I didn’t like about the movie was the clumsy acting between Valerian and Laureline in the beginning of the movie.  However, I do believe that it got better.

Movie was awesome, and completely left me wanting to read the comics.

I would give it an 8 out of 10.

Word of the Day: Nebbish

Nebbish.

Definition
: a timid, meek, or ineffectual person

Did You Know?
“From what I read … it looks like Pa isn’t anything like the nebbish Ma is always making him out to be….” Sounds like poor Pa got a bum rap, at least according to a 1951 book review that appeared in The New York Times. The unfortunate Pa unwittingly demonstrates much about the etymology of nebbish, which derives from the Yiddish nebekh, meaning “poor” or “unfortunate.” As you might expect for a timid word like nebbish, the journey from Yiddish to English wasn’t accomplished in a single bold leap of spelling and meaning. It originally entered English in the 1800s as the adjective nebbich, meaning “innocuous or ineffectual.” Nebbich (sometimes spelled nebekh) has also been used as an interjection to express dismay, pity, sympathy, or regret, but that use is far less widespread and is not included in most general-use English dictionaries.

Book Review: The Strain

The Strain, by Guillermo Del Toro and Chuck Hogan.

For those of you who have seen the show, this book flows much the same path, with a few differences.

First, Eichorst and Dutch are not characters in the book.  An interesting difference, I thought.  After all, Eichorst was a major character in the show.  Without him, however, we got to see more of the master, and learn more about Setrakian’s personal enmity with the master.

Second, the beginning of the book puts a lot of emphasis on the occurrence of the solar eclipse at the beginning of the book, shortly after the plane’s landing.  This is presented as the master’s opportunity to leave the hangar with his coffin, when there is no light.  It is also a huge, symbolic opportunity in the book.

The first half goes a lot slower than the show, but the second half a lot faster.  It’s kind of weird where this quick transition happens.

I loved the show, and I love the book.  It gives more details about the history of the strigoi and about how the transformation actually works.  It introduces more characters, and gives a little more depth to the main characters.  If you love the show, read the book.  The Strain is only the first of three.  When I finish the second, I will let you know what I think about it.

History of Valentine’s Day

So, on this Valentine’s day, my daughter was complaining about the other kids in her school coupling up and looking for dates for this romantic holiday.  This led to a discussion about the origins of Valentine’s day.  So, I spent the day doing some research.

What, then, is the origin of Valentine’s day?  And what had St. Valentine done that would earn such a romantic holiday in his name?

Well, fact is, no one really knows.  Apparently there were many St. Valentine’s over the last few millennia.  Seems about all of them died brutally, and they may or may not have done romantic deeds.

There is also a lot of mention about an old pagan ritual called Lupercalia.  Whether or not this holiday has anything to do with the origins of Valentine’s day or not is definitely up for debate.  However, it does at least seem to have something to do with matchmaking, all the way to a ceremony where the men randomly draw the names of women to couple up with.

The short version of this?  Who the hell knows where this overly commercialized holiday has come from.

To read more on the origins of this holiday, please check out these links:

History of Valentine’s Day

The Gory Origins of Valentine’s Day

The Real History of Valentine’s Day

Word of the Day: Embargo

Embargo.

Definition
1 : an order of a government prohibiting the departure of commercial ships from its ports

2 : a legal prohibition on commerce

3 : stoppage, impediment; especially : prohibition

4 : an order by a common carrier or public regulatory agency prohibiting or restricting freight transportation

Did You Know?
Embargoes may be put in place for any number of reasons. For instance, a government may place a trade embargo against another country to express its disapproval with that country’s policies. But governments are not the only bodies that can place embargoes. A publisher, for example, could place an embargo on a highly anticipated book to prevent stores from selling it before its official release date. The word embargo, dating from around the year 1600, derives via Spanish embargar from Vulgar Latin imbarricare, formed from the prefix im- and the noun barra (“bar”).

Movie Review: Geostorm

Geostorm was an interesting watch.

I loved the idea of the system in space that could moderate and fix sudden climate changes.  I liked the political issues and conflicts, and I loved the main character’s role.

The idea of a perfectly operating system that is that large feels…unrealistic to me.  The issues that happened were all man-made, and the idea that the system had no malfunctions on its own was odd for me.  In the end, my biggest question was how the Chief of Staff and a senior member of the Secret Service could, in any scenario, begin a conspiracy of this size.  I mean, for two such high-level people, how does a conversation begin that ends with them decided to manipulate the system and create a Geostorm that will destroy nearly everyone on the planet?

The action was good, the storyline detailed, and the solutions believable.  An entertaining movie, but I was still left feeling like it was similar to every other end-of-the-world geologic movie out there.

I would give it a 5 out of 10.