Friday, November 30, 2012

last xmas and snow in florida

Last night we went to check out the Christmas tree at City Place, a local shopping area. Not only is the tree impressive, but every night at 6 and 7 p.m. it also "snows" there. My daughter and the crowd was delighted as the flakes fluttered around us.


To add to her enjoyment, the music playing while it snowed over the sound system was Wham's "Last Christmas."That is far from my favorite holiday tune, as I find George Michael's breathy, Marilyn-esque line readings a bit hard to take.

But the kid loves the song, especially the recent cover by teen queen Taylor Swift.

She proceeded to explain the song's chorus to me line by line:

Last Christmas I gave you my heart - That means that last year the girl fell in love with a boy
But the very next day, you gave it away - But then he decided to date another girl
This year, to save me from tears - Now this year, so that she doesn't have to start crying
I'll give it to someone special - She's going to fall in love with someone else

I still don't like the song very much, but I like her line readings. And I like the tree and the Florida "snow."
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Thursday, November 29, 2012

liz and dick and lindsay and whatshisname

Like most television biopics, Liz and Dick ends up being a blow-by-blow, scene-by-scene play-acting of the high and low moments from a celebrity's life. In the case of this film, which was supposed to chronicle the great romance between actors Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, there were two larger-than-life celebrities to portray. Liz and Dick were the original paparazzi darlings, and were THE celebrities of their era. Once they were together they were rarely out of the limelight. They both shunned and courted the press, reveling in their romantic, financial, and other excesses.

They were hot stuff and their affair was world news - check out her Cleopatra eyeliner
Taylor and Burton at their (first) wedding
The recently published book Furious Love took readers through their tumultuous affair and marriages. Liz and Dick most likely used the book as a source, but tended to play down or leave out some well-known details that would have played more dramatically into the saga of the "Battling Burtons" — such as the prodigious amount of alcohol that both parties consumed, and Burton's never-ending philandering. The Burtons were larger-than-life, but the movie is curiously quiet in tone, considering how many epic battles and parties the couple was known for.

The Lifetime movie did only OK in the ratings and even worse in reviews. Liz and Dick wasn't very good, but it wasn't horrible. It's about on par with The Girl, the recent HBO biopic which purported to be the true story behind the making of The Birds, but was mainly an opportunity for actress Tippi Hedren to finally share the sordid details of her unfortunate relationship with director Alfred Hitchcock. The main reason to watch Liz and Dick was not to find out about the life of the 60's most glamorous couple, but to see how tabloid darling Lindsay Lohan (who never manages to stay off the front page) would do as La Liz.

Lohan looked a bit too skinny to portray the fabulously curvy and diminutive Taylor. The costumes, make-up, and wigs were so meticulously done — why didn't the stylists add a little discreet padding in the hips and derriere to perfect Lohan-as-Taylor's look? She did just fine in the emotional scenes, but where her portrayal fell flat, and which undermined the whole viewing experience was in the voice. Elizabeth Taylor had almost a touch of hysteria to her voice. It was higher-pitched and more forceful than Lohan's. Lohan or her director, Lloyd Kramer, needed to take things up a notch. The quiet delivery of most lines just didn't cut it. Grant Bowler (Lost, True Blood), who played Burton, did a very good job imitating Burton's voice, which helped make up for his character not having much to do except pose with Lohan or spout pseudo-Shakespeare.

Lohan and Bowler play-act the Burton's wedding day
Actresses knew how to pose in the '60s
Liz and Dick shouldn't be a blot on Lohan's career as some unkind reviewers have been suggesting, but viewers who want to get a real taste of the Burtons and their undeniable chemistry would do better to watch Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf, The Taming of the Shrew, or the movie that started it all, Cleopatra.
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Wednesday, November 28, 2012

dragons: riders of berk

This week DreamWorks premiered a DVD of Dragons: Riders of Berk, the brand-new animated series airing on the Cartoon Network. Based on the successful animated movie How to Train Your Dragon, viewers will recognize their favorite characters from the feature film - Hiccup, his dragon Toothless, their Viking friends, and a host of new dragons, too.

In the original film Hiccup (Jay Baruchel) was expected to become a dragon slayer, but he rebelled after capturing and befriending a young dragon named Toothless. Between them, Hiccup and Toothless convinced their friends and family that the humans and dragons can work and live together in peace. Dragons: Riders of Berk picks up the story to tell new adventures and to show how the human and dragons of Berk are getting along.

Actors Baruchel (Hiccup), America Ferrera (Astrid), Christopher Mintz-Plasse (Fishlegs), and T. J. Miller (Tuffnut) are once again on hand to voice their characters. Other characters in the series are voiced by Stephen Root, Zack Pearlman, Chris Edgerly, Nolan North, and Tim Conway.

Hiccup is back, with his trusty dragon Toothless
The DVD includes four episodes from the series and many extras, including previews for Dragons: Riders of Berk, the recently released Rise of the Guardians, and Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted. Viewers can also get a sneak peek at a behind-the-scenes featurette on the touring arena show How To Train Your Dragon: Live Spectacular and the upcoming Valentine's Day television special Madly Madagascar. Subtitles can be accessed in English or Spanish, and closed-captioning is available.

Episodes included on the disc are:

"How to Start a Dragon Academy" - Although the inhabitants of the Isle of Berk have now made peace with the dragons, the winged creatures can still be a source of mischief and mayhem. Hiccup comes up with an idea of how to tame - and train - everyone.

"Viking for Hire" - Gobber doesn't want a new job, but Berk no longer needs him to make weapons to fight the dragons. How can Hiccup help Gobber find a new career and keep him happy, too?

"Animal House" - The human inhabitants of Berk have accepted their dragon friends and neighbors, but what about the other animals? Hiccup and his friends need to help all of the creatures get along, before Berk's farm supplies dwindle to nothing in the coming winter months.

"The Terrible Twos" - Toothless is not thrilled when Hiccup discovers a new species of dragon. The dragon is not only injured, but a baby, and Hiccup and his friends soon realize that its mother should be arriving in Berk soon, too, looking for her missing baby.

The series Dragons: Riders of Berk has already been renewed for a second season, which will air before the upcoming feature film sequel in 2014. An extra-special bonus are five collectible Dragon Training Cards linking to a free app, which can be downloaded at DreamWorks Animation Augmented Reality for even more dragon-training fun. After downloading the app, point your smartphone's camera at a training card image and watch each dragon come to life.

Hiccup and Toothless and all of their friends
The original How to Train Your Dragon film was great to look at, but computer graphics have already improved leaps and bounds since its 2010 release. The characters in Dragons: Riders of Berk are amazingly detailed, with surfaces like fabric, water, hair, and wood realistically rendered. Perspective and shading help to give the episodes a 3-D feel. The colors are bright and shadows dark. The episodes look wonderful on a large-scale high-definition television. The series is rated TV-PG for moderate violence - mostly some fighting amongst the dragons and Viking swordplay. Dragons: Riders of Berk is a highly enjoyable animated series with humor and great visuals which can be enjoyed by family members of all ages.
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Tuesday, November 27, 2012

rise of the guardians and the rise of william joyce

We saw Rise of the Guardians over the holiday weekend. It was beautifully animated, more than a little frenetic, but intriguing. The kid loved it. I enjoyed most of it. Like the equally super-charged The Avengers, I find fight scenes in movies to always be a little too fast-paced and blurry and a little too long in length. I was going to say in animated as well as live-action movies, but lets face it, with so much CGI these days most fight scenes in the movies are 90% computer animated anyway.

Jack Frost just wants to have fun
The story is a standard good vs. evil battle. The very not-nice Pitch (Jude Law), or the Boogeyman, as most have come to call him, is tired of being shunned and ignored and is plotting to turn every human's, and especially children's, dreams into nightmares. The Guardians are a group of beings whose express mission is to protect children. Santa Claus (Alec Baldwin), The Tooth Fairy (Isla Fisher), the Easter Bunny (Hugh Jackman), and The Sandman have come together to decide how to deal with Pitch when the Man in the Moon chooses a new Guardian, Jack Frost (Chris Pine). Jack is not only reluctant to join the crew, but is unsure of who he is and his real purpose. Maybe The Guardians aren't so different from those other super heroes, The Avengers, after all.

Kids will connect to the lonely Jack and love the other Guardians, especially boisterous Santa, his goofy elves, and the guys who apparently do the real work at the North Pole, the Yeti. Parents and guardians will like the slightly darker tone of the story and its imagery. Santa has "Naughty" tattooed on one forearm and "Nice" on the other. The Easter Bunny lives in a warren with monolithic sculptural eggs. The Tooth Fairy is unnaturally knowledgeable about Jack's and everyone's flossing habits. The voice actors for the most part have a lot of fun with their characters and their enthusiasm carries through to the audience. Pine does a nice job as Jack. Baldwin sports a Russian accent for his boisterous Santa. Hugh Jackman gets most of the laughs with his down-under kangaroo — I mean bunny. Jude Law is appropriately menacing as Pitch. Isla Fisher is fine as the Tooth Fairy, but her voice isn't very remarkable or memorable — it's not likely that the audience would recognize her the way they might have if the character was voiced by someone with a more distinctive voice like Reese Witherspoon.

The all-embracing Santa and his sidekicks, the Yeti
After watching Rise of the Guardians I was interested enough to find out a little bit more about it and its author, William Joyce. I was pleasantly surprised to find that I am already familiar with quite a bit of Joyce's work, and am now eager to see and read more. He is the co-director of the lovely animated and Oscar-winning short, The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore. He is one of the founders of Louisiana-based Moonbot Studios, which produced Lessmore. He has also written several books which have been adapted into films, including Meet the Robinsons and Robots. The upcoming Epic (which we are really looking forward to seeing) is based on his book The Leaf Men.

Coincidentally I had picked up the first book this summer in the Guardians series at a library book sale, Nicholas St. North and the Battle of the Nightmare King. The kid and I had not gotten around to reading it yet. After seeing Rise of the Guardians I zipped through it in two afternoons, deciding to read it first before handing it over to my daughter. We'll probably end up reading it together. It shares some similarities with the film, as Pitch is still the main villain, but it is more of an origin story for Santa Claus, or the bandit Nicholas St. North as he was once known. There are hints of everything from The Wizard of Oz to Harry Potter in the book, but kids should enjoy it and its heroine, Katherine, a young girl who joins Nicholas and the wizard Ombric on an adventure. Joyce has followed it up with E. Aster Bunnymund and the Warrior Eggs at the Earth's Core! which also looks like a lot of fun.

The Easter Bunny can be tough when he wants to be
I'm happy to be getting to see more work from Joyce and his partners in crime (in the case of Rise of the Guardians, Guillermo del Toro). And I like how he talks and thinks about projects:
The idea of developing a feature, as just a feature, seems kind of limiting. You could develop it as a book, and develop it as an app, and get its — see how it’s working, and see if the designs are appealing. And get it out there, get a sense of people’s response to it, and not just stay cloaked behind a veil of secrecy. Back in the day, Buster Keaton, the Marx Brothers, a lot of those — and Chaplin — they would take their ideas, and take them on the stage first. They’d go and play, evolve those ideas, see how the audience responded to what they were working on, and get a sense of how the story, ideas, the gags and things would work, before they go into production on a film. We’re finding the equivalent of that, you know, now with apps and other technologies. It’s kind of exciting.
DreamWorks's animated films just keep geting better and better looking, and Rise of the Guardians takes viewers through environments that are visual knock-outs. It's a fun movie, if a bit frenetically paced. There are likely to be a sequel or two. Hopefully the filmmakers will slow things down enough for the audience to take in all the pretty pictures.


A113 Animation, "Interview: William Joyce, Moonbot Studios Co-Founder and Co-Director of Morris Lessmore"
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Monday, November 26, 2012

decorations are up!

Little by little this holiday weekend we put up the tree and our other holiday decorations. The cats love the tree and can be found frequently batting ornaments from the branches when they aren't in alien kitty mode:


Of course we could only put up unbreakable ornaments. All my glass treasures are put away for the foreseeable future. We also decided to mix some of our holiday lights and figures with the kid's Lego Harry Potter castle, so it's Christmas at Hogwarts with Snape and Harry. The video really shows off the lights and castle:


And who could forget Shrek, who is still a big favorite of the kid's. Once again he is hanging out with Rudolph and his crew.



Ho ho ho!
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Sunday, November 25, 2012

baby boy plays fetch

While Harry supervises.

Our five-month-old kitten Baby Boy is in love with these little rubber balls that the kid has collected. We have been throwing them and he has been chasing them, to his and our delight. This week we noticed that he has upped his game. Now when he "catches" one, he picks it up and brings it back to us so that we can throw it again.

Good work training the humans, Baby Boy!

Saturday, November 24, 2012

midsomer mayhem & mystery

Article first published as DVD Review: Midsomer Murders: Mayhem & Mystery Files on Blogcritics.

Just in time for the holidays, Acorn Media has released Midsomer Murders: Mayhem & Mystery Files
, a wonderful boxed set of 15 mysteries on 15 discs.

Detective Chief Inspector Tom Barnaby (John Nettles) once again finds that the seemingly bucolic villages that make up Midsomer County are a hotbed of crime, murder, and well, mayhem. Ably assisted by detective Sergeant Ben Jones ( Jason Hughes), Barnaby must sort out tangled romances and webs of deceit in order to solve each crime. Always calm on the exterior, Barnaby hides a reserve that strengthens with the rising body count. Barnaby always manages to ground himself at home with the help of his wife Joyce (Jane Wymark) and daughter Cully (Laura Howard).

L-R: Jason Hughes as Sergeant Ben Jones and John Nettles as Detective Chief Inspector Tom Barnaby

The Mayhem & Mystery Files include:

Series 10, Part 1
"Dance with the Dead" - What at first appears an apparent suicide is quickly revealed to be a tangled love triangle - or possible quadrangle. Felicity Dean guest stars.
"The Animal Within" - An old man (Richard Johnson) tells everyone his niece (Lisa Eichhorn) died in a plane crash. When she turns up alive everyone is shocked - and the old man has gone missing.
"King’s Crystal" - A Midsomer murder at a glassware factory. John Castle and Sam Heughan guest star.
"The Axeman Cometh" - Barnaby is put in the position of suspecting his rock and roll heroes when band members start dropping like flies.

(4 discs, previously released as Set 13. Extras include: SDH Subtitles, Caroline Graham biography, and cast filmographies.)

Series 10, Part 2
"Death and Dust" - A hit-and-run leads Barnaby to the tangled relationships of who he believes was the actual intended victim, Dr. James Kirkwood (David Yelland).
"Picture of Innocence" - Barnaby becomes a suspect in a local amateur photographer's death and must conduct his own private investigation as the official one rapidly mounts up incriminating evidence against him.
"They Seek Him Here" - A low-budget film about the French Revolution is set at a local Midsomer manor. The set becomes the scene of a gruesome murder, a la guillotine, and Barnaby must search for the murderer.
"Death in a Chocolate Box" - A rehabilitation center for former criminals becomes the perfect setting for blackmail and murder.

(4 discs, previously released as Set 14. Extras include: SDH Subtitles, and Caroline Graham biography.)

Series 11, Part 1
"Blood Wedding" - Cully is getting married, which might be enough for Barnaby to worry about, but a local aristocratic family's wedding reception turns bloody and requires his full attention to sort out who the culprit may be.
"Shot at Dawn" - Midsomer's own Hatfields and the McCoys, the Hicks and the Hammonds, let their long-standing familial feud take a murderous turn.
"Left for Dead" - Jones is pulled into the forefront of an investigation in Dunstan as his past childhood friends become central to a recent crime in Midsomer.

(3 discs, previously released as Set 15. Extras include: SDH Subtitles, Caroline Graham biography, production notes, and Cully Barnaby photo gallery.)

Series 11, Part 2
"Midsomer Life" - Midsomer Life magazine and past secrets come to the surface in Barnaby's latest murder investigation.
"The Magician’s Nephew" - Barnaby must sort through the members of a local cult, a magic show, an antique book, and family secrets to find a killer.
"Days of Misrule" - As Christmas approches, Barnaby and Jones must deal with problems at the local army training center which become, literally, explosive. Tim Pigott-Smith guest stars.
"Talking to the Dead" - Are the neighboring woods of Monks Barton haunted, as psychic Cyrus LeVanu (Jeroen Krabbé) insists, or should a gang of antique thieves be Barnaby's main concern?

(4 discs, previously released as Set 16, Extras include: SDH Subtitles, episode commentary by John Nettles and Jane Wymark on "The Magician’s Nephew," and production notes.)

Midsomer Murders is always strongest in its human interactions. Barnaby tries to maintain a respectful distance from both suspects and victim's families, but his proximity to his neighbors is also always a factor and a help in his solving of a case. The beautiful settings and depictions of British village life is at once both attractive and eerie, considering the high crime levels in Midsomer County. All of the acting in the series is top-notch, but it is Nettles who makes the show and holds audience interest.

This is Acorn's fourth recent compilation of Midsomer Murders. Other boxed sets in the series are Midsomer Murders: The Early Cases Collection, Midsomer Murders: Barnaby's Casebook, and Midsomer Murders: Village Case Files. The mysteries are in widescreen format with an aspect ratio of 1.66:1 and an approximate total running time of 25 hours for the boxed set. Fans of the series who haven't previously purchased series 13-16 will find all of those episodes in this collection.

The more the viewer watches Barnaby as he sorts out a variety of crimes the more they can get pulled into the lethal charms of Midsomer and its villages. The attention to detail of the interiors and the frequent outdoor settings help make Midsomer and its citizens come to vibrant life. This latest set of Midsomer Murders episodes, Midsomer Murders: Mayhem & Mystery Files, is a very welcome addition to any mystery-lover's collection.
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Friday, November 23, 2012

black (out) friday

I am so tired of hearing about Black Friday deals, with seemingly every store in America trying to pressure or cajole hoards of crowds to patronize their establishments on one shopping day. So today I am going to have a "black (out) Friday." A day to kick back, watch some movies, just generally relax. Because it's a holiday weekend, remember?

Kazimir Malevich, Black Square, 1915, Oil on Canvas, The State Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow
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Thursday, November 22, 2012

happy thanksgiving

I am thankful for very many things.

My beautiful daughter.


My mom still knowing my name.

My health.

The gorgeous place where we live.


The ideas that continue to pop into my head.

My crazy menagerie.

Dash and Harry in the hamper

My interest in the world around me.

All the wonderful caring people that I know.

The ever-changing world we live in — I just hope that more and more people can be thankful for an increasingly diverse and evolving world.


Happy Thanksgiving to all.

xoxoxo e
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Wednesday, November 21, 2012

happy birthday dad!

You are missed.

xoxoxo e
Joseph Francis, toy plane & friend, c. 1935
Joseph Francis Periale, age 10

JFP & Bunny, 8th Street, Belmar
In Belmar, N.J. with Bunny (home from college at Kansas State?)

dad and us
With Elizabeth Anne and John James, on our way to Mystic, CT

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

holiday movies — rudolph the red-nosed reindeer

We are still in holiday movie mode, and no holiday movie viewing would be complete without pulling out the classic stop-motion animated Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer. This is a fond childhood memory for me, so it's a treat to share it with my kid. We had the soundtrack album when I was  growing up, too. The kid loves Rudolph, of course, and especially his glamorous lady friend Clarice. I have always had a soft spot for the Abominable Snow Monster and all the denizens of The Island of Misfit Toys, but everyone has their favorite, like dentist elf Hermey or the irascible Yukon Cornelius.

Original animation model for Rudolph, from TV Party! which also has some excellent background information on the making of the television special

I've always had an affection for stop-motion animation. I guess because I've always loved dolls. Rudolph is probably the most famous of the Rankin/Bass holiday specials, but they have also made some other great animated films, including Santa Claus Is Comin' To Town, Jack Frost, The Year Without a Santa Claus, with the incomparable Heat Miser and Snow Miser, and the delightful feature film Mad Monster Party. What probably puts Rudolph ahead of the rest is the music — not just the title song, but many of the others sung by Burl Ives, which have become holiday staples, like "Silver And Gold" and "A Holly Jolly Christmas." The longest-running television Christmas special, Rudolph's nose continues to shine brightly.

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Monday, November 19, 2012

up a tree

Our tabby cat Dash decided to inspect our assembly of the Christmas tree last night. He can frequently be found in the middle of things. He's a cat who knows where the action is.


Sunday, November 18, 2012

holiday movies — white christmas

The kid has been super-excited about Christmas lately. We put some holiday-themed decals on our windows yesterday afternoon and in the evening she pulled out two holiday movies to watch. Her first choice was White Christmas with Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, Vera Ellen and Rosemary Clooney. The apple doesn't fall very far from the tree. This is one of my favorites, and last year I bought it on Blu-ray. It was like seeing a completely different movie. Of course the huge HD television screen helps, but I was once again amazed at how great the movie looks. The bright colors and details of the sets just pop. And who knew that Bing Crosby's eyes were so blue? But what I love best about White Christmas is Danny Kaye. The man could do anything, as he so elegantly proves in this dance number with Vera Ellen, "The Best Things Happen While You're Dancing."

Kaye was actually second choice to play the role of Crosby's sidekick. The movie was originally written as a vehicle for Crosby and Fred Astaire, who turned down the role. Kaye signed on after Astaire's replacement, Donald O'Connor, dropped out. Although I love Fred Astaire, he is not missed in this film. Kaye is perfect. Check out the dance clip when he spins around a pole around the 2:11 mark. Gorgeous. That's the same guy who could be goofy (and funny) as hell in The Court Jester?

The kid got tired out before the movie finished, and feel asleep before the big Technicolor finale, so I have a feeling we will be screening this one again before Christmas actually hits. I'm O.K. with that. I may have to look up The Court Jester, too.

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Saturday, November 17, 2012

poirot's early cases

Article first published as Blu-ray Review: Agatha Christie's Poirot - The Early Cases Collection on Blogcritics.

For fans of David Suchet's classic interpretation of Agatha Christie's most famous sleuth Hercule Poirot, Acorn Media has put together a real treat, Agatha Christie's Poirot: The Early Cases. This recently released collection compiles the first six series of Agatha Christie’s Poirot, remastered and in their original U.K. broadcast order. The collection is available on both DVD and Blu-ray.

David Suchet has created the ultimate version of the Christie's little Belgian detective. Seen in the U.S. on PBS’s Masterpiece Mystery! and the A&E network, Agatha Christie’s Poirot and Suchet's interpretation has been a long-time favorite of all lovers of British mystery since its debut in 1989. Suchet is realizing his dream of playing in all of Christie's Poirot mysteries - he is currently filming the final book featuring Poirot, Curtain.

Hercule Poirot and Co., L-R: Inspector Japp, Poirot, Miss Lemon, Captain Hastings.

The mysteries included in Agatha Christie's Poirot, The Early Cases Collection have all been released on DVD and Blu-ray previously. The advantage to this collection, if one hasn't already purchased separate series, is having all of your favorite Poirot episodes in one set, and especially on Blu-ray, which features an impeccable transfer from the original 16mm-filmed series.

The Blu-ray includes 13 discs with SDH subtitles available. The aspect ratio is 1.33:1 with a video resolution of 1080p/4.3 full screen. The mysteries simply look fantastic on a large-scale high definition television screen, with colors and blacks clear and sharp and details like the paisley on Poirot's cravat and his impeccably waxed mustache popping. Discs for Series 1 and 2 are in 2.0 Dolby Digital sound and Series 3-6 are in 2.0 Stereo PCM, with dialogue crisp and clear. The musical score also sounds excellent. There are no extras, apart from some previews for other Acorn Media mystery titles. The 45 mysteries included in the set are:

Series 1, Disc 1 (Approximate running time 262 minutes):
"The Adventure of the Clapham Cook," "Murder in the Mews," "The Adventure of Johnnie Waverly," "Four and Twenty Blackbirds," "The Third Floor Flat."

Series 1, Disc 2 (Approximate running time 257 minutes):
"Triangle at Rhodes," "Problem at Sea," "The Incredible Theft," "The King of Clubs," "The Dream."

Series 2, Disc 1 (Approximate running time 260 minutes):
"Peril at End House," "The Veiled Lady," "The Lost Mine," "The Cornish Mystery."

Series 2, Disc 2 (Approximate running time 263 minutes):
"The Disappearance of Mr. Davenheim," "Double Sin," "The Adventure of the Cheap Flat," "The Kidnapped Prime Minister," "The Adventure of the Western Star."

Series 3, Disc 1 (Approximate running time 213 minutes):
"The Mysterious Affair at Styles," "How Does Your Garden Grow?," "The Million Dollar Bond Robbery."

Poirot and his "little grey cells" are more than a match for any criminal.

Series 3, Disc 2 (Approximate running time 210 minutes):
"The Plymouth Express," "Wasps’ Nest," "The Tragedy at Marsdon Manor," "The Double Clue."

Series 3, Disc 3 (Approximate running time 205 minutes):
"The Mystery of the Spanish Chest," "The Theft of the Royal Ruby," "The Affair at the Victory Ball," "The Mystery of Hunter’s Lodge."

Series 4, Disc 1 (Approximate running time 213 minutes):
"The ABC Murders," "Death in the Clouds."

Series 4, Disc 2 (Approximate running time 106 minutes):
"One, Two, Buckle My Shoe."

Series 5, Disc 1 (Approximate running time 204 minutes):
"The Adventure of the Egyptian Tomb," "The Underdog," "Yellow Iris," "The Case of the Missing Will."

Series 5, Disc 2 (Approximate running time 203 minutes):
"The Adventure of the Italian Nobleman," "The Chocolate Box," "Dead Man’s Mirror," "Jewel Robbery at the Grand Metropolitan."

Series 6, Disc 1 (Approximate running time 124 minutes):
"Hercule Poirot’s Christmas," "Hickory Dickory Dock."

Series 6, Disc 2 (Approximate running time 124 minutes):
"Murder on the Links," "Dumb Witness."

Poirot is joined on many of these cases by his faithful companions Captain Arthur Hastings (Hugh Fraser), Chief Inspector Japp (Philip Jackson) and his secretary and general factotum Miss Lemon (Pauline Moran.) The 1930s Art Deco sets and costumes look fantastic on Blu-ray. As do some of the wonderful filming locations, which include period architecture and furnishings. Many of the mysteries take Poirot and the viewer out of his fabulously furnished London flat to the English countryside, as well as overseas to Paris and more exotic locales, like Egypt and the island of Rhodes.

Murder follows Poirot on holiday in Rhodes.

Viewers will also recognize many of their favorite actors in guest appearances, including Caprica's Polly Walker ("Peril at End House"), The Princess Diaries' Caroline Goodall ("The Adventure of the Western Star"), The Tudors' Jeremy Northam ("Dead Man's Mirror"), Doctor Who's Christopher Eccleston ("One, Two, Buckle My Shoe"), and Homeland's Damian Lewis ("Hickory Dickory Dock"). Of the early cases included in the set eight are feature-length movies and 38 are hour-long episodes.

Agatha Christie's Poirot is still impressive to watch, with its intricate puzzles, attention to period detail, and impeccable casting. To now have all 45 of Poirot's early cases from the first six seasons of the series available on Blu-ray is a dream come true for fans of British television and Christie alike. Agatha Christie's Poirot, The Early Cases Collection has come out just in time for the holidays, and Christie and Suchet fans will certainly enjoy watching their favorite television detective in glorious Blu-ray.
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Friday, November 16, 2012

it's beginning to look a lot like ...

... Oh, you know.

Thanksgiving may be less than a week away, but the kid has gone full steam ahead towards Christmas. She has already drafted a list to Santa and scoped out our home for optimum tree placement. She has also been urging me to start putting up decorations. I am trying to resist, but her excitement is kind of contagious. And adorable.

We will be having family here for Thanksgiving, folks we won't be seeing over the Xmas holidays, so putting up the tree right before, or while they are here might actually be fun. The only question is, how long will I be able to hold out until she has me trimming the tree and decking the halls? Stay tuned. Holiday decoration posts are probably in my near future.

She's gotten a little too big for that pony.
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Thursday, November 15, 2012

happy birthday georgia o'keeffe

I have always liked her paintings and her pioneering spirit. I also love the gorgeous photographs taken of her by Alfred Stieglitz. She was an amazing artist and woman. Happy Birthday Georgia O'Keeffe.

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