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Tuesday, November 20, 2018


The top three films this weekend with Rotten Tomatoes reviews:
I don't go to J.K. Rowling and animated features anymore.  I saw Bohemian Rhapsody last week.

So this weekend I went to:

                                                                      Rotten Tomatoes
                                                                 Reviewers  Audiences
  • #4 Widows                                             91             63
Widows is a heist film directed by Steve McQueen, who also was co-writer with Gillian Flynn (Gone Girl).  This is not the Steve McQueen who you saw in the 1968 movie, Bullitt.  Can you believe that was half a century ago?  That McQueen passed away in 1980.

The Steve McQueen, to the right with Flynn, is a British director, producer and screenwriter.  He won two academy awards for his 2013 12 Years a Slave.

Widows was a well-crafted production with several twists.  Worth your while.

Stieg Larsson was a Swedish author who wrote three books in his Millennium series, all published posthumously from 2005.  A decade later, 80 copies of the threesome had been sold.  He died at the age 50 in 2004, and the cause was said to be eating processed foods and copious amounts of coffee.  The Girl (...with the Dragon Tattoo, Who Played with Fire and Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest) in all his books is Lisbeth Salander, somewhat based on an awful experience when at the age of 15 he witnessed the gang-rape of an acquaintance named Lisbeth.

Rooney Mara was Lisbeth with the Dragon Tatoo, while Noomi Rapace played her in #'s 2 and 3.  This fourth version was written by David Lagercrantz, with Claire Foy (in the middle, below) as The Girl in the Spider's Web.  I just mentioned Claire last month, and she has risen to now be among my favorite actresses.  Will there be a 5th?  Sure, for Lagercrantz has already published The Girl Who Takes an Eye for an Eye.

The Girl films are all Swedish noir, stylish, sexually provocative, daring and a challenge for reviewers.  You'll either like it or not.  They possibly will reflect your innermost thoughts.

Three films open this weekend, here with Rotten Tomatoes reviews:
Go if you can, but chances are that none will be shown in your local theaters.  TWBYF is a documentary about the five boroughs of New York City.  I was just there.  Would have loved to compare my experience, for, while tour buses served as my feet, I wonder what I missed.

I might add that, suddenly, there are now four ocean storms on the other side of this world:

Monday, November 19, 2018


The Sound of Music barely makes the top 500 on Box Office Mojo, but with earnings of $2.5 billion at the value of money today, is just about the fifth highest-grossing film of all time.  Avatar and Titanic are #1 and #2.  SoM (1965) received an 86% rating from Rotten Tomatoes reviewers and 91% from audiences.  Avatar (2009) scored 83%/82% and Titanic (1997) only 89%/69%.

So why am I bringing this subject up?  PBS recently had the latest version of The Sound of Music, the London revival of 2015, as a Great Performance.  And if you missed it, the show streams until November 21 on PBS Passport, then again on December 26 at  Feel free to contribute.

While the original film remains the classic, this London version was better than the 2013 offering with Carrie Underwood.  She did not take the criticism well.

Kara Tointon as Maria was particularly good in the 2015 production.  There is, of course, a long history to The Sound of Music.

It all began in 1926 when Maria, a 21-year old novice soon to become a nun, was sent to take care of  Maria, one of the seven (three more of their own came from 1929 to 1939, the youngest in the USA) children of the Georg von Trapp family, whose wife had passed away in 1922.  This portion of the story is generally ignored by all those above productions, for the reality is that Georg married Maria in 1927, eleven years before they left Salzburg, Austria.  Georg was a decorated submarine captain and hero of Austria.

Her 1949-book, The Story of the Trapp Family Singers, indicates that she did not love the father, but adored the children.  She was a quarter century younger, there was no physical resemblance to Mary Andrews and  she had a terrible temper.

The family did win first place in the 1936 Salzburg Music Festival, which was indeed a big deal, but they did not leave Austria until 1939.  The family also did not lug their instruments over any mountains, but merely left on a train to Italy, for he was an Italian citizen.  They settled in Vermont, and had successful singing tours into 1955.

They also ran the Trapp Family Lodge, and you can still stay there.  They sold off their rights and did not benefit much from The Sound of Music revenues.  Maria died in 1987.  Here, Julie Andrews and Maria together singing Edelweiss and more.  Finally, a 46-minute documentary of The Sound of Music family.

No one is aware of this, but a 1956 German comedy-drama production of The Trapp Family (this is the complete 1 hr 49 min movie) became one of the most successful films of the 1950's in Europe.  Then, two years later, a sequel, The Trapp Family in America (again, the whole film).

Maria von Trapp's memoir spurred The Sound of Music by Howard Lindsay and Russel Crouse, from which came the 1959 broadway musical by Richard Rogers and Oscar Hammerstein II, starring Mary Martin and Theodore Bikel.  This was the last Rogers and Hammerstein collaboration, for nine months after the Broadway premiere, the latter died of stomach cancer.

The 1965 film with Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer won five Academy Awards.  This nearly 3-hour long movie seems now to regularly be ad nauseam shown on television.  Still a great film of a memorable family.


Sunday, November 18, 2018


A miracle is a religious event linked to God, while magic is a seemingly impossible act performed by humans.  I'm a kind of authority on the former, for I wrote a whole chapter in SIMPLE SOLUTIONS for Humanity on a somewhat skeptical view of religion, featuring miracles.  To quote:

The University of Hawaii football team experienced a miracle in 2007. For the first time in history, it went undefeated, and was the only major one to do this that year. There are even religious implications, for the front page of the December 24 issue of The Honolulu Advertiser article written by Michael Tsai was entitled “Their Spirit Carries Them,”extending through much of page two

Based on what happened last night, I now place that miracle 2007 season as magic.  Magicians perform magic.  Shin Lim won America's Got Talent this summer.  I can't believe how he does those card tricks.  That is magic, something that fools you, but is reality.  Here is just one of his performances.  Somebody, explain to me how he does it!

So we come to last night at Aloha Stadium in Honolulu.  Hawaii's football team won six of its first seven games (their only loss was to Army at West Point, and I went to that game), then got embarrassed in their next four, by at least three touchdowns each time.  

Last week the University of Nevada at Las Vegas with their second string quarterback upset San Diego State at San Diego.  The star QB returned when UNLV visited Hawaii last night.  I thought UNLV would beat Hawaii by at least three touchdowns.  The Las Vegas bookmakers had Hawaii as a touchdown favorite.  Ridiculous, but it took magic for me to be wrong.

The game started as expected.  Halftime:  UNLV 21 - Hawaii 6, well on our way to another multi-touchdown loss.  Into the fourth quarter, the score was UNLV 28 - Hawaii 13.  With 12 minutes to go, Cole McDonald was replaced by freshman Chevan Cordeiro.  It was just about a year ago (18 November 2017) that Cordeiro (right) passed for 440 yards and three touchdowns, as St. Louis High School beat Kahuku in this same stadium 31-28 to win the state championship.

All Chevan did in those 12 minutes was to complete four of five passes for three touchdowns plus a two-point pass conversion, for 153 yards, leading Hawaii to a 35-28 victory over UNLV.  With that win, Hawaii will now play in the Hawaii Bowl on December 22.  This will not be official until it becomes official, but ESPN has a heavy say and needs the ticket sales.

Cordeiro is not Jesus Christ, just a freshman at the UH, so he must be a magician.  Give Bruno Mars some credit for leaving some magic dust during his 24K Magic tour at this stadium a couple of weeks ago.

Maybe I'll go see A Star is Born today.  Rotten Tomatoes gives it 90%/82% ratings.  Finally, we also won back the Golden Pineapple trophy.

Interestingly enough, Cordeiro was the understudy to Tua Tagovoiloa at St. Louis, now Alabama's quarterback and favorite to win the Heisman Award this year.  They are both 6'1" tall.  Alabama crushed Citadel, 50-17 yesterday.  Drew Brees, incidentally, is only 6 feet tall, has played 16 years, and just broke Bret Favre's record for most completions in the NFL.

Chevan was player of the year in Hawaii last year, winning the Marcus Mariota Award?  Who is he?  Marcus is a former Heisman winner who also graduated from St. Louis High School.  He is now performing minor magic for the Tennessee Titans.

Another Hawaii quarterback on the Heisman list is McKenzie Milton, from Mililani High School.  He has led the University Central Florida to another undefeated year, beating #24 Cincinnati yesterday 38-13 for ESPN's Game Day in Orlando.

It's only appropriate that on 24 November 2018 St. Louis plays Mililani for the 2018 Hawaii State Championship.  Their quarterbacks, Jayden de Laura, St. Louis junior, and Dillon Gabriel, Mililani senior, are the two best in the state this year.  Dillon just de-committed from Army.

As this is a solar blog site, I want to point out that the Florida Solar Energy Center is part of the Central Florida University.  When it opened in 1968--exactly half a century ago--it was known as Florida Technological University.  

I recall visiting FSEC in their early days when David Block was director, and the school enrollment was less than 10,000, about half of what we had at the University of Hawaii.  UCF is now the largest university in the USA with 66,000 students (57,000 undergraduates...Texas A&M has 53,000 for #2)  Hawaii?  We are just about where we were forty years ago, around 20,000 students.  

David?  He is about my age and recently retired as FSEC director.  Me?  I retired 20 years ago when I was director of the Hawaii Natural Energy Institute at the University of Hawaii.  

That's the only photo I could find of David, to the right, at one of Kenji's Golf Safari.  Our leader, Kenji, is to the left.  We usually spend Cinco de Mayo at a Mexican restaurant.  If you think that all we do is drink a lot during our one week of golf in Napa Valley or Las Vegas you'd only be half right.  We do golf five or six times in a week.


Saturday, November 17, 2018


My previous six postings from Purgatory reported on my health, Stanford and cuisine.  I might mention that I twice walked 18 holes at the Ala Wai Golf Course and continued eating.  Red headed cardinals and the 18th hole:

I also had a beef curry bento lunch on the right portion of Diamond Head which you can't see in the above photo:

There was bongo entertainment and a magnificent view of the Pacific Ocean towards Molokai:

After golf yesterday, my neighbor John and I stopped by J-Shop, where he purchased a pound of Japanese wagyu beef from Nagasaki:

That table behind John is the one I join on Wednesday and Sunday nights.  We had a spectacular  15.4% 2013 Haywood Estate  Cabernet Sauvignon Stanford Governor's Selection from Napa.

We also enjoyed a double rainbow:

This morning I awoke to a good morning welcome from my water lily:

Just another week of golf, flowers, birds, wagyu beef and continued euphoria in Purgatory.