Friday, February 7, 2014

7 quick TV, movie and book recommendation takes

1. As I mentioned in last week's 7-some-kind-of-takes post, I recently watched the movie, The Way.
I so recommend it, in fact, I want to watch it again and see if I can get Bob hooked too. I already snagged Corrie into wanting to go and do it. I hope before we are too decrepit. All are welcome!

2. I also watched the movie Lorenzo's Oil. I think Manny suggested it? Manny, the reader of 1000 books a year, or something. The movie is about a real story of a boy who comes down with a rare disease, adrenoleukodystrophy (ALD). His parents research and find a treatment that later becomes an accepted treatment for the disease. Of course I went and read up on the real people. Apparently, the father was not overly thrilled with every choice made by the film maker, such as the choice of actor (Nick Nolte) and his affected Italian accent. I thought he was very good, not having a high standard for Italian accents. His wife is played by Susan Sarandon.
 Some situations in the movie, and in the real lives of this family, were not very storybook. If the quote was correct, the father said he would have opted to abort the boy if he had known how much he would suffer. Given his actions during his son's life, I am not sure if that was a reactionary statement or what. Even knowing that, I believe the film has value. The father was given an honorary medical degree for his research, and his treatment is still used for that disease, and other neurological diseases. I thought it was well done, and life affirming.

3. I am currently semi-addicted to three TV shows. In order of addiction:
---Downton Abbey. Yes, yes, it's all the rage now, but I have been watching it with rabid-fan-hunger, great interest since the first season. The last season and this are supposed to be bringing the story line through the roaring twenties and reflecting the changed in thinking for the British aristocracy. I have no idea how accurate it is, but I read that the costumes are quite on point. They are definitely beautiful to behold. I do have a feeling that they are sneaking in some social issues from the present
day, in order to keep the excitement level high, add some sensationalism, and keep the viewers coming back. For some of us, who were perfectly happy with the acting and nicely flowing British banter, the addition of nonstop social issues is not a nice one. I know I went to this show to get away from that sort of thing. I have already read that some die hard fans have quit watching. I am not quite ready to go there, because, as I said. Addiction. Also, I read a few hints and accidentally, one spoiler, that gives me some hope.
 I remember also liking Call The Midwife, but I found the way they portrayed abortion to be a little too painful. I still think it is probably a good show, but I have been trying to watch TV for relaxation and pleasure, and that was a bit too raw. I am still watching news, but that may go too, at least during Lent.You know, going for some kind of stillness.

--Parenthood. This is not one that I would watch with my kids. What I do like about it is the way the Bravermans (little Willie Loman going on there, whatever that is called) battle through all of life's twists and turns together. This setting, unlike Downton Abbey, is the right vehicle for all manner of family and child raising issues. The realism depicted is not one I would really like to have to constantly explain to kids, especially very suggestionable kids. But I do think it is well written and acted. I am not quite as addicted to this show, but I do somehow get around to watching all the episodes On Demand to find out what happened. And all the characters are so darn attractive. The kids are a-dorable, especially Max, who has Asperger's Syndrome.  Interestingly, Ray Romano also stars, and his character is discovering, in adulthood, that he also has Asperger's.

4. On my new Kindle Fire, given to me by my dear husband who clearly didn't know what he was getting himself into, there are many and sundry ways to read books for free. (h/t to Meghann and Marie). The offerings on these sites is kind of hit and miss, and I have this thing that makes me want to finish a book to see how it ends, even if it's bad. That aside, I came upon an author I really like.

 William Landay is a lawyer, and he depicts the legal process with detail, but not tedious detail. (The whole reason I like to watch the last fifteen minutes of Law and Order). Love those courtroom dramas, but only if they have some realism. The way he paints his characters causes the reader to either like, hate, or suspect them, and then in the end, WHAMMO, we were wrong! If you read very many suspense thrillers, you will know that one can usually work out the ending by the end of the first chapter or two. Not this time! He has another book out, but I am currently reading a couple others and haven't gotten around to it yet.

5. Stay with me now, these next couple are not sort of Universally Appealing. But I have my reasons.

The Incredible Dr. Pol. Initially I started watching this because I thought Malaika would like it, as she has expressed a desire to someday become a veterinarian. Then, I saw that he lives and practices in Michigan, which to me is fascinating. Then, I just liked it myself, even when Malaika wasn't around to watch. Warning: not the greatest show for snacking while watching. Some really real reality.
I love his sense of family and community. The people are the opposite of the Parenthood cast; first of all, real, and secondly, not polished or fixed up for the camera. Dr. Pol, who I believe is about 71, goes about shirtless during some of his farm calls. He's a vigorous, healthy guy and gives us hope for being 71, some very long time from now. Of course, most of us don't work like he does, but still. He has another doctor working with him, Dr. Brenda, who is pretty amazing in her own right. Summary:Wholesome of message, slightly gory of image.


The Dog Whisperer. Now understand, I don't even have a dog. That alone says something for the show. Yes, I would like to own a dachshund or two someday, when I have that house and land I go on about, but I am not watching solely to become educated on doggy psychology. It's the people psychology that Mr. Cesar Millan teaches I find so interesting.

Also interesting is that both he and Dr, Pol are immigrants. Dr. Pol, from Sweden, and Mr. Millan, from Mexico. (Obv, I know).

And of course I went and read up on Cesar Millan. Turns out he went through a divorce during the course of filming his many seasons of The Dog Whisperer. If you watch certain episodes, he does talk about it, and to his credit, if he is being truthful, he is not flippant or dismissive about it, and reveals that he went through a period of depression and suicidality. I respect him for his candidness, it doesn't appear that he said those things to be sensational, but just to add his humanity to the person we see on the show.

One definitely gets a Zen feeling from him,  and a bit of New agey-ness. But some of the stuff he says is really profound and solid in a universal way. For instance: if the activity happening around dog he is working with distracts, upsets, or causes the dog to display his problem behavior, Cesar always says, "this is good, it is an opportunity to learn." Exposure therapy, more or less. The owners usually have spent considerable time and effort to shield the dog from all it's triggers, and Mr. Millan shows up and takes them through all of them, sometimes multiple times in a row. It never ceases to amaze me how quickly the dog responds. The owners often take a little longer. It really makes you think! He also talks about "calm, assertive energy." That dogs pick up on how we feel and react more to that than what we say or do. I think there is wisdom in that, not in a hocus-pocus sort of way, but more for a call-upon-our-inner-Jesus-resource kind of way, that could be helpful in many more ways than relating to the animals in our lives. In a word, trust. That's how I filter it, anyways.

7. Okay. Last up, and either least or most controversial, depending on your perspective.

Fox News. I don't even need to link to it, because you either watch it all the time or have it blocked.

I do watch, and mostly like the channel. There are some loud detractors, but the number of likers far outnumbers the number of haters. The haters are just more vocal. (News coverage of the six protestors at the March for Life, numbering at a quarter million plus, anyone?) (in the bitter cold and snow?)

 I think we get much more of a scope of news. Things that other networks won't touch. Many of the anchors are lawyers. They are all smart. As for likability, I would say I enjoy listening to 95%. A few just aren't my cup of tea. Megyn Kelly is my favorite, followed by Martha McCallum. The qualities that attract me most are fearlessness, intelligence, wit, and politeness in candor. I love The Five. Bill O'Reilly, we tolerate because he does a good show, but he can be a bit much.

Yes, sure, I have been accused of leaning 'too far' to the right. Whatev. My beliefs and perspective don't come from Fox News, but rather, I hear my beliefs and perspective included there, which I can't say for any other news outlet.

I do get a bit news-overloaded and stressed out from news in general, and as I said before, hope to take a bit of a break.

* I apologize to anyone who read this the same day I posted, (Friday). I think when I added in that clever moving picture of Maggie Smith, My paragraphs got all jumbled. 


  1. Thank you for the plug, but I have to say it wasn't I don't recall ever mentioning Lorenzo's Oil. I don't really watch much TV any longer, but Downtown Abby would have been the type of show I would love to follow. Those British shows are so much better than ours. I don't know why American TV appeals to the lowest common denominator. My wife and I used to love to watch those pet hospital shows. They really do inspire to be a veternarian. That Dr. Pol must be a new one. I have watched possibly over a 100 episodes of Cesar Milan. He can be a bit much after a while, sort of the Bill O'Reilly of the dog training world. ;) Prayers for Malaika in her dream. Smart young women have taken over the vet world. I can't remember when I had a guy for a vet. Except for sports Fox News is all I might watch these days, and Megyn is wonderful.

    1. Ha! I Now have no idea where I heard about it. But oh well. Bobs not a movie watcher, but even he liked it.
      Cesar, at least is not overbearing. :) But I know what you mean. You would like Dr. Pol. he is a crack up. Saturday evenings on Nat Geo wild, usually.