Movie Review: UHF (1989)

Title: UHF
Release Date: 21 July 1989
Director: Jay Levey
Production Co: Orion Pictures
Country: United States
Language: English
Genre: Comedy
Rating: **

A recent article about this movie contains this quote:

All over America, whenever a young man turns 13, he sees this film, and it becomes his favorite film of all time. It’s kind of like a secular, comedic Bar Mitzvah. And the accumulation of young men who at the age of 13 who have seen this film over the last 25 years has given it a massive fan base and elevated it to a legendary stature.

I failed to see this movie when I was 13, or anytime since.  Technically, I couldn’t have seen this movie when I was 13 because it was released when I was 15, but it’s the type of thing I would’ve liked when I was 13.  Or maybe 9.

UHF has a general plot about daydreamer George (Al Yankovic) inheriting a local tv-station, and making it a hit with oddball programming.  This is all just linking device for movie and commercial parodies disguised as George’s day dreams and tv shows.  All of it feels pretty dated but you can imagine it was at least somewhat funny in the 1980s.

And this may be the most 80s film ever!  Despite the decade being marked by selfishness and inequality, it has that 80s movie optimism where the ordinary folk rally together to beat evil rich guy.  A virtual parade of 80s celebrity crosses the screen – SNL‘s Victoria Jackson as George’s love interest, Gedde Watanabe as a martial instructor as stereotypical as Long Duck Dong, Fran Drescher as the station’s nasally reporter, and Emo Phillips – EMO PHILLIPS – as a high school shop teacher making a gruesome television appearance.  I can only assume Sam Kinnison, Joe Piscopo, and Spuds McKenzie were busy. The real heart of the film is a pre-Kramer Michael Richards as the station’s janitor who becomes a whacky tv star.  You can tell he’s having a great time improv-ing his part.

I mock this film, but it’s sweet and does it’s best for the laughs.  I just saw it at the wrong age.

Book Review: Airman by Eoin Colfer

AuthorEoin Colfer
TitleAirman
Narrator: John Keating
Publication Info: [New York] : Listening Library, 2007.
Books I’ve Previously Read by the Same Author:

Summary/Review:

Irish author Eoin Colfer, creator of the Artemis Fowl series, spins a classic adventure story set in the fin de siècle era on the Saltee Islands off the coast of Ireland.  In this story, the Saltees are home to a fictional sovereign kingdom which bases its economy on diamond mining.  The protagonist of the story is Conor Broekhart who is friend of the daughter of the island’s progressive, American-born king.  Conor shows an early proclivity towards science and engineering and when he is 14 he is framed for the murder of the king and sent to prison/mining colony.  It’s up to young Conor to escape from prison and save the kingdom through his knowledge of flying machines.  The outcome is never in doubt but Colfer spins an entertaining yarn with a lot of action and many memorable characters.  John Keating does a magnificent job of narrating this escapist story.

Recommended books: The Land That Isn’t There, An Irish Adventure by Leonard Wibberley, The Twenty-One Balloons by William Pene du Bois
Rating: ****

Book Review: Fifteen Minutes Outside by Rebecca P. Cohen

AuthorRebecca P. Cohen
TitleFifteen Minutes Outside: 365 Ways to Get Out of the House and Connect with Your Kids
Publication Info: Sourcebooks (2011)
Summary/Review:

This book exists because parent Rebecca Cohen asked herself: “What if I got outside every single day, and what if I could get my kids to come along? It would be easier to pull this off in the middle of summer, but what if we did it all year round, no matter what the weather was like?”

This book provides a different activity for children and parents to do outdoors for each day of the year.  The book presumes one has a large yard and a mild climate (the author lives in Virginia), so one may have to adapt a few things to one’s own circumstances.  Cohen is also really into gardening so probably about a quarter of the suggestion have to do with planting, weeding, and harvesting vegetables.  Nevertheless, this book is chock full of creative suggestions to make spending time outdoors a fun daily activity varying by season.  As a parent, it’s good to have a reference to help get started because sometimes you just can’t think of a convincing reason to go outside, especially when it’s too cold or too hot.

I listed some of my favorite suggestions below.  One may also download  “50 Outdoor Activities for Busy Families” from Cohen’s website (email required).

Cohen also provides a number of websites to go to for more ideas:

Favorite Passages:

“While your kids are outside enjoying sunshine and physical exercise, why not have them exercise their imaginations as well? Encourage them to climb a hill and pretend it’s Mount Everest, build a fort with tree branches, or prepare a pretend feast using leaves as plates and wild berries as the main course. Ask them about stories they are reading at school and at home, and join them in acting out their favorite parts. Mary Pope Osborne’s Magic Tree House series is perfect for this, but there are hundreds—even thousands—of great children’s books (and movies and even video games) to draw on. Folk tales like “The Three Little Pigs,” “Goldilocks and the Three Bears,” and “The Gingerbread Man,” or children’s favorite board books such as The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle or We’re Going on a Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen and illustrated by Helen Oxenbury are a great place to start.”

“Close your eyes and have your child lead you to a tree. Use your senses—touch, smell, and hearing—to learn all you can about your tree. The bark will have its own texture, tiny buds may be forming on branches, and the trunk will be easy or hard to get your arms around. With your eyes still closed, have your child lead you back to where you started. Open your eyes and try to find your tree. Now it’s your child’s turn!”

“A female entrepreneur once told me that when she was a kid, her mom would tell her to sit under a small tree and have small thoughts, and then sit under a big tree and think big thoughts. Try it with your kids, and have fun discovering what each of you thinks about.”

“Some days are so dreary, you find yourself wishing for even a little brightness and beauty. Trust me, even in February, it’s out there—but sometimes your family has to work together to find it. Bring in everyone’s perspectives and head out to find something that is beautiful. Each person’s job is to look until they find something in nature that they like and to share why.”

“Red-tailed hawks mate in March and April and usually make their nests in the tallest trees, and they might even take over a nest that a great horned owl used in January and February. I learned this tip from David Mizejewski, naturalist with the National Wildlife Federation. And sure enough, for several days in March I heard loud and unusual birdcalls. When I looked up, there were hawks locking talons in flight. Find out from your local nature center when to look for hawks.”

“As the leaves fill the trees, it may not be as obvious that there are large sections or large branches that have fallen from trees. As you walk, notice fallen branches; see if your child (perhaps with your help) can find which tree a specific branch fell from by looking.”

“A cousin in France once said that she did a sociology experiment in college and asked people to purposefully look up and around for a day. What she found was that it not only opened people’s perspective to the physical beauty around them, but also to a more psychological openness of possibilities. Take this idea into play with your child when you walk outside and start looking at what is above your eye level, and take turns pointing out what you see.”

“This one is adapted from a tennis camp game, and it works whether you have two people or ten. The “coach” throws a tennis ball across an imaginary line to each person standing and lined up in a row facing the coach. If you do not catch the ball each time the coach throws it to you, you lose a limb (e.g., put an arm behind your back, then stand on one foot or sit down, until finally you have no limbs left and are out). The last person left wins and becomes the coach.”

“Pick a day every week to go out to the same spot with a notepad and pencil and write about or draw the changes you notice that are taking place in nature. Or keep a notepad and colored pencils in the car for your child to sketch the changing landscape as you travel around. Have them present their art to you, and write down their story beside their art if they can’t do it themselves.”

Recommended booksGet Out!: 150 Easy Ways for Kids & Grown-Ups to Get Into Nature and Build a Greener Future by Judy Molland
Rating: **

Book Review: A Dance With Dragons by George R.R. Martin

AuthorGeorge R.R. Martin
TitleA Dance with Dragons
NarratorRoy Dotrice
Previous books in the series: A Game of Thrones A Clash of Kings, A Storm of Swordsand A Feast For Crows.
Publication Info: New York, NY : Random House Audio, p2011.
Summary/Review:

So I’m at last caught up with the published works of A Song of Ice and Fire.  Unbelievably, five tomes into the series Martin is still introducing new major characters and plots.  So it drags it times and can be hard to keep up.  But largely this is still a compelling story and it is good to catch up on the stories of characters like Daenerys, Jon, Tyrion, Theon, and Arya.  And there’s a really cool part with a dragon. Now I join the rest of the world in waiting for the next novel. My theory is that Martin has actually written material for several new books and is constantly rearranging chapters, unable to cut anything, and introducing entirely new families and storylines.

Rating: ***

Beer Review: Peak Organic Citrus Saison

Beer: Citrus Saison
Brewer: Peak Organic Brewing Company
Source: 12 oz. bottle
Rating: ** (6.8 of 10)
Comments: Getting ready for spring with this shandy-esque beer from Peak Organic.  The beer is a very light golden/straw color with LOTS of carbonation and a thick head.  The aroma is strong on lemon with hints of wheat.  Flavor is sour lemon with a bit of grapefruit but no too bitter.  The beer has a light mouthfeel, and settles down to a thing head with spotty lacing. A unique flavor and change of pace for me.

Related:

Song of the Week: “Chinatown” by Girlpool

Gorgeous harmonies and spare instrumentals highlight the single “Chinatown” by Girpool, a two woman band from Philadelphia by way of Los Angeles.

Song of the Week: “Go” by Public Service Broadcasting

Public Service Broadcasting is the London-based duo of J. Willgoose, Esq. and Wrigglesworth who attempt “teach the lessons of the past through the music of the future” by combining archival audio clips with their music.  This track from their new album The Race for Space is called “Go!”

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