A Review of Les Miserables

Ebcosette

I have seen two movie versions of Les Miserables.  One with Liam Neeson and the other with Hugh Jackman.  Both versions provide a moving story based on the book, which I have yet to read. The most recent one, a musical, I have to admit annoyed me at times with the constant singing instead of some normal dialogue.  However, what I enjoyed immensely about the musical, more than the movie, is the ending.

In this day and age people vilify anything associated with God and Faith.  I am a man of faith.  I am just not a man of religious institutions. My relationship with my maker is a direct and private one.  I want my daily walk and talk to be the testimony of my faith.  To do all that I can while living to help those around me and to reach for self perfection, of which, I’ll never obtain.  I recently watched and was equally moved with Life of Pi.  I hope more stories with spiritual themes are made.  These are the ones I enjoy immensely.

I took this snippet from Wikipedia, which explains Hugo’s structure of the story.

The book which the reader has before him at this moment is, from one end to the other, in its entirety and details … a progress from evil to good, from injustice to justice, from falsehood to truth, from night to day, from appetite to conscience, from corruption to life; from bestiality to duty, from hell to heaven, from nothingness to God. The starting point: matter, destination: the soul. The hydra at the beginning, the angel at the end.

One of the most powerful statements in the lyrics to the songs was contained in the finale.

To love another person is to see the face of god.

I was deeply moved with the ending scene of Valjean passing on to be with the dead and just, and to stand united as one.  In the movie with Liam Neeson, Cosette merely fled to London, and Valjean walked away.  I assume because those involved with that version would rather leave out the reference to redemption and salvation.  Because of that exclusion, I prefer the musical version.  Anne Hathaway’s singing of I dreamed a dream as the character Fantine is obviously a tear-jerker. Hugh Jackman gave a much more emotional touch to Valjean’s character, than did Liam Neeson.  I was also touched by the character of  Éponine, excluded from the Neeson version. I will at some point in the very near future find time to read the book and catch all that Hugo embedded into the story.  I still struggle understanding Javert, but I prefer Geoffrey Rush’s acting over Russell Crowe’s.

In my trilogy, The Chosen One of Allivar, the story is primarily concerned with evil, redemption and resurrection. Although completely fictional, set in an epic high fantasy, the story confronts the basic themes of the human struggle. There is no reference to any organized religion or Jesus Christ.  In my story, Glyneth, the mother of Terrian and Telluria, had been a prostitute and was judged harshly by her son Terrian.  In the final battle, Glyneth stands with her son and daughter, knowing death is upon them all, she makes the following statement to him and he discovers his mother had not given his sister over to prostitution,

“I know you do not understand that. Sometimes mothers have to do the unspeakable for their children. I wish I had other choices. Please accept me now, for I offer my body a second time with the hope that through some wonder you both can live.”

She kissed her son and turned to the direction the enemy would appear. Deep inside Terrian finally understood the sacrifice of dignity his mother had made for him and his sister. He forgave her and begged the Lord to forgive her as well.

Here, a mother is willing to sacrifice not only once, but twice, for she so loved her children more than herself. Here, the meaning of loving another allows us to see the face of God rings powerful. There is also another section where a mother sacrifices in a different and even more heart-wrenching manner. How my story ends should be equally as touching for a  reader. Many of the classic stories in history have a basic theme of justice, sacrifice and redemption. We may not understand the ways of our maker, but we learn that it is only our maker who knows the soul and can grant redemption.

Les Miserables will forever be etched into my mind as one the greatest stories of history past, present and future.  If you enjoyed Les Miserables, give my trilogy a try and stay loyal to the very end.  Do not prejudge it, it may pleasantly surprise you.

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I can, I will and I did

I just finished watching Les Miserables.  Something struck me from the lyrics to the song, “I dreamed a dream” which ended with, ” Now life has killed the dream I dreamed.”

This last week I came to the realization that it is not life itself that kills the dreams of dreamers, but people.  I subscribe to various websites, blogs and Facebook pages about writing and publishing.  My sister has a masters degree in creative writing.  Every step of the way I took from the year 2000 to the present was to live a dream of becoming a writer.  I have a vivid imagination. I day-dream of stories that entertain me and I want to share that imagination with others. Over ten years I wrote and completed the epic high fantasy trilogy, The Chosen One of AllivarI can, I will and I did.

Article after article tells the dreamers that if you are not one of them, the highly educated perfectionist in writing and grammar, then you are vain and self absorbed.  When did the simple enjoyment of telling a story become vain?  Who sets the rules?  Self publishing technology has opened the doors for those of us who are story tellers.  We have no goals of becoming a teacher, a doctorate or member of an elite club where people congratulate each other over their own self accomplishments.  Now, who are the vain again?  How many books, other than academic, have many of these people actually written and shared with the world?  I can, I will and I did.

Life is not always about perfection, but the pursuit of perfection.  We will never obtain it.  If you have a story in your mind, it will never be perfect.  Why?  Because their are seven billion people in this world that will have a differing viewpoint that they want to inject into your story.  To compensate for their own inabilities they trash your story, your grammar and anything they can including the easy cop out of calling you a vain author.  Those that do this stand before mirror of self pity and envy.  It is how they compensate for their own fear of rejection because they cannot tolerate how in the world no one can see their perfection.  Let me tell you, I’m not perfect, my stories have flaws, but did they entertain you?  That is truly the question.  Did my stories give you pause to consider humanity and uplift you in a period of history where so much conflict exists, where degrading our fellow man or woman is now considered entertainment?  I want to write different stories.  I can, I will and I did.

Some of you might think that I am a starving writer.  I am CPA, an investment advisor, a technology consultant and now a licensed realtor.  These professional designations is what feeds my family. I have climbed the ladders to the top of the various walls.  On the other side are countless opportunities to experience more in life.  There was nothing to prevent me from experiencing all that I have, because I had the will to do so. I can, I will and I did.

In 1998, I went independent and have been ever since. Has it been a fairy tale?  Hell no. There were those I was employed by who controlled my career, who held me back, who never mentored or offered encouragement.  Why?  Let’s face it, businesses make money when they control those that perform most of the work.  They retain enough knowledge so that you cannot outshine and replace them, or attempt to go independent.  They further justify their agenda by convincing you that their management of your work is what will bring you success.  Does this sound familiar?  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve read comments and articles by those in the publishing industry, who rant and rave about how poor the grammar is of self published authors and the justification for their services. I chose to be an independent author simply to tell a story and control my destiny.  To date, I’ve made a few thousand dollars from my efforts, which some will say is not a success.  I’ve not won any awards or accolades, or have been patted on the back by fellow writers, including those in my own family.  Who defines my happiness and self worth of accomplishment and success?  Is money the only measurement?  Is a plastic award, a paper certificate, or trophy what you seek?  Is it the inclusion in some monthly newsletter or trade journal that you seek?  Is it the trips to writers conferences in the Bahamas you seek?  Whatever it is go for it!  Just do not belittle those that have a simple dream. Life is hard enough without all the human induced misery. Separate yourself from those that choose to live life dictated by others and those absorbed with the word “Can’t.”  I can, I will and I did.

I dreamed a dream of one day, before my death, of writing an uplifting and inspiring story, because I can, I will and I did.  My success can be summed up in the words of a 14 year old aspiring author,

“I’m a huge J.R.R. Tolkien fan, but I have to say that this was 100 times better than the Lord of the Rings, the Hobbit, and the Silmarillion combined!”

Should I die tomorrow, there is my accomplishment, there is my reward.  I was loyal to myself. I used my own capital and took the risk to live my dream.  So next time you stand before the mirror of self doubt because someone called you vain, remind yourself that it is you who controls your destiny and then boldly proclaim – I can, I will and I did.

AllivarTrilogy

1-800-URM-ONEY (Phone Phun)

I didn't order a Saddle Soap!

I didn’t order Saddle Soap!

This spring break I went home to visit my parents and to deliver their tax return.  Exciting – huh?  My mother just turned 78 on March 23rd, and let me say her patience is no longer present.  If the phone rings, and she has caller ID, she knows who is calling and who wants money.  If you donate money just once, you are on a bazillion phone lists.  Now she could just politely not answer the phone, oh no, not my mother.  She has to answer and immediately start shouting (she is losing her hearing), “I told you people that I don’t donate by the phone, so stop calling!”  Now just to annoy her they call right back and she repeats what she yelled and immediately goes to testing her blood pressure.

She just doesn’t know how to have phone phun (sic).  Here are some of the things I suggested that would cease the call very quickly:

  1. Sexy Granny – answer the phone something like this, “This is Opal Mae, I’m 78 and ready for you baby, oh yes, I’m ready for you. The polygrip is still holding and you are number nine in line – come over NOW!” CLICK.
  2. Asian Donkey Rescue – answer the phone something like this, “Dis is Fwang Fwong Fwu, tank you fo callwing Asian Donkey Wescue.  Send us $25 dolla per month an we save wonderful Asian Donkey’s.” CLICK.
  3. Circumcisions R Us – answer something like this, “Thank you for holding, please wait. (Pause)  Thank you for holding, please wait. (Pause)  Thank you for holding, please wait. (Pause) Thank you for holding and calling Circumcisions R Us, when would you like to schedule your trimming?” CLICK.

The whole point is to have fun at someone else annoying expense.  What cracked me up about my mom is that she tries to listen in on her children’s conversations. My sister was talking about a new telescope she bought for her husband.  My mom interrupts sounding so confused and yells out, “You bought Saddle Soap?”

Now we all looked at each other and then burst out laughing.  Now my mother is an army brat whose father served under General George S. Patton – old blood and guts.  Needless to say her use of curse words is almost epically poetic and puts every US Sailor to shame.  She can rattle off everyone of them in just a single sentence.  I will spare you the details, but “Up Yours” was the gist.  Now being the genius that I am I also saw the opportunity for more phone phun.  Use your loss of hearing to your advantage.

Here are some more suggestions:

  1. Get a Bull Horn – answer the phone with a bull horn and immediately shout out “I am hard of hearing! What did you say?” CLICK
  2. Switch Words – answer the phone and listen to when they say the word “Donation” then immediately stop them them and ask back, “Now why would I want to go through ovulation again? I’m 78 you fools!” CLICK
  3. Make up a language – if an Indian call group is making the call, just speak Phundarian, “Ung phundo pho ni titi bo we wo we.” CLICK
  4. Act Insane – depending on the sex of the caller, pretend they are a long lost cousin, “Bessie, is that you?  Oh I haven’t talked to you in ages sweetie.  Remember old Bobby Lee? You know that boy that showed us his …” CLICK

My point is simple, when I was a kid we had phone phun called pranks.  But now with caller ID and the killjoy of technology you can’t get away with it anymore.  But who says you can’t if they call you?  We could end all these annoying calls with just a few pointers from above.  Because when its 800-THEIR-MONEY, they don’t waste their time.

I am considering being the entertainment director at our local woman only senior’s home  – Our Ladies of Grace Senior Center.   It should be an ung phundo pho ni titi bo we wo we saddle soap ovulating hoot of a time!

Penelope Pucker PussProfessor of Phundarian

Penelope Pucker Puss
Professor of Phonetic Phundarian

Coffee Chaos – March 2013 Edition (Cupcakes)

Coffee ChaosThe Monthly Journal

Coffee Chaos
The Monthly Journal

WARNING – Gratuitous Nudity Below

As you might have figured out this month’s blog posts were dedicated to cupcakes.  Why?  I haven’t a clue, somehow everything I read or heard this month was connected to cupcakes.  Don’t get me wrong, I applaud all the entrepreneurs that are cashing in on these little arts of flour and toppings.  But while I was researching this month’s topics I came across this!

starbucks-cupcakes

Is nothing sacred?  How can one desecrate a coffee cup and turn it into a cupcake cup?  I feel a caffeine induced riot in the making.  Although I never drink anything with toppings, can you imagine all the suckers who went to drink this and got nothing but a mini-me cake in the face? Outrageous!  When I buy coffee anywhere I open the lid to make sure it is nothing but Colombian Supremo dark gold.  No one goes and buys a pair of Levi jeans and then studs it with a variety of ribbons and gems, well, some cupcakes do, but not this plain vanilla guy.  Give me coffee straight, it does not need to be a work of art laced with 18,000 calories and enough sugar to rot my teeth. My dentist is already financially well off without more decay.

I am an investment advisor and I always try to stay abreast of the trends.  Does anyone remember the Easy Bake Oven for little girls?  I think those little girls are now the cupcake moguls of industry.  They were in their bedrooms playing with their Barbies and they had poor Ken, buck naked at the table. I always wondered what the ooh’s and ah’s were when I walked past my sisters bedroom.  Boy were they in for a big surprise.

ken-doll

Buck Naked “Braveheart” Ken

Along comes Corvette Barbie with a giant cupcake. Now Ken, who remains silent is the confronted by 50 Shades Barbie, who has a whipped cream and chain cupcake and tries her best to make him submit to her cupcake. Ken (aka Braveheart Barbie Boy Toy) is still resisting the frosted sugar bombs, when Starbucks Barbie comes along and introduces her coffee cupcake.

BarbieCupcake

Now at this point Braveheart Ken is still resisting the evil cupcakes until the trio begin talking about Oprah, Dr. Phil, Dancing with the Stars, Idol, The Voice, The View, Celebrity Splash, etc.  This was Ken’s breaking point and he screams, “Freeeeeedooooom.”  He shoves all three cupcakes down his throat and collapses. Now poor old Ken is thrown back into the toy box, buck naked and renamed Java The Hut Ken, where he still resides in a sugar induced coma.

Next the lovely Barbie trio from Hell pull out the newest Barbie boy toy – Armando De La Sontoro

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Armando

The point of this rambling is that, well, actually there is no real point other than we seem to go all OCD on certain trends until we get so sick of it we run like lunatics to the next one.  First we girlify coffee, then cupcakes, and now bacon.  Nothing is sacred from these Martha Stewart clones. What happened to the simple world of my youth, where coffee was coffee, cupcakes were cupcakes, bacon was bacon, and hairy chest GI Joe’s smacked down nude Nair treated Ken dolls? We only had 3 TV channels and girls were forced outside to annoy the hell out of boys, hence the reason for 3,000 TV channels.

Chaos abounds everywhere, but only pure Colombian Supremo can bring us back to normalcy. Stay caffeinated my friends.

Apocalypse Monthly – Spring Break 2013

I just read another blogger’s hilarious take on spring break trip to Six Flags San Antonio.  It has been years since I ventured to a theme park, let alone a Walmart store. Why?  If you ever want to experience empirical evidence of devolution and digression just pick a spot where our youth hang out and socialize in long lines.   In just one week your precious son or daughter can leave and come back a different person, from a different planet, from a different dimension, and from a different species.  Girls Gone Wild was just a mild way of putting it, Girls Gone Insane is more descriptive. Young men are are already wild, but add girls gone wild and their heads just explode.

Must of us cringe at the sight of the People of Walmart photos.  Guess what?  That’s your little Johnny or Victoria in just a couple of more decades.  What devolves next is that little Johnny or Victoria will be calling you to see if their soul mate (the one they met on spring break) and soul children (The byproduct of soul-mating on spring break) can unconditionally rent (meaning free of course) your basement  from you. I am so sorry, you poor soul.

Down there they become cave creatures, only venturing forth from their endless days of video game tournaments, to check up on your stock of extra crunchy cheesy Cheetos.  If none are available, they will venture outside like cheese craving vampires, only after darkness arrives and head straight for Walmart, where they socialize.  They might get distracted if a tattoo shop is in their path.  Never, ever, venture to a Walmart after dark!  You know how dogs sniff each others behinds?  Well our youth are becoming closer to dogs than to humans.  Don’t believe me?  See the evidence below.

TrampStamp

Years from now some guy named Bob (at birth) will come up to your daughter Victoria in Walmart, see the little heart tattoo, all stretched and sagging into the cracks of doom and yell out, “Yo Vicky Yo! It’s me Crunchy Cheezy Cheetos RayJay Bob-Z.  Spring break Dayton Beach 2013! Doncha ya remember babeeeee?”   Now Victoria’s best friend Buffy, whose cute little butterfly is now the subject of a major motion picture – The Girl With the Really Scary Dragon Tattoo, turns to Bob and says, “Prove it’s you!”

??????????????

Then they all hug and recall the two minutes of spring break they remember before the haze set in.  They then turn to their smartphones and exit the Walmart back to party in their cave.

people-of-walmart2

Little Victoria
All Grown Up

When I was in high school and college, I loved going to the Texas State Fair on the weekend of OU/TX football game.  It was on the Midway that I began noticing the slow devolution of the human species.  I don’t do this anymore, nor shop at Walmart and I avoid spring break destinations like the plague.  I may not be hippity-hoppity, tantalizingly tattooed, or even cool-Z, but I will survive the coming devolution apocalypse – a result of addictions to spring break wildness.

I’ve been hoarding extra crunchy cheesy Cheetos.

The Man Flick

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I just had to write this, because I had to sit through Under the Tuscan Sun, again, about a woman with a new life in Italy. The character runs into the man of her dreams, but is set back, when he turns away from her because of a perceived lack of interest. In the end everything comes out perfect.  My wife and daughter refer to this as a great chick flick.  I call it Lord of the Wedding Rings – a high epic fantasy.

As a wide-open family, we discuss everything and I mean everything.  Part of this is so we can talk about human nature, our weaknesses and the path towards self perfection.  I try with all my heart to explain how some men truly feel and how the movies do not accurately reflect some of our thoughts.  We are not all beasts obsessed with breasts and sex.  Here are my points about men and romance  that I tried to convey to my daughter:

  1. Men want to be great lovers.  Let’s face it, women advertise with makeup and clothing that suggest they are more obsessed with sex than men.  Men are also attracted to women with great attitudes and sense of humor.  Yes we are physically attracted to gorgeous women with nice figures, but here’s another secret,
  2. Men are extremely jealous.  We do not want to share the one we love with others.  When we marry and make that lifelong commitment, we want a more conservative public appearance.  We can’t stand it when the one we love has single male friends.  Sorry, jealousy works both ways.
  3. We are not consumed by thoughts of women.  I asked my wife and daughter about Twilight and why Bella was not concerned for her soul and the unhealthy obsession with Edward?  I admit to reading all of book one and just a little of book two.  I did this to gain perspective to be an effective male author. Men are more consumed by achieving goals.  Unfortunately today many young men are too consumed with beating video games than much else.  Who can end this?  That’s right, you ladies can. One thing men can be consumed by is the number of lovers in a woman’s life.  When our love life is not as we hoped for, we begin to think about what others might have done and if they are on your mind.  Men, believe it or not, want a virgin not because of the sexual connotation of being the first, but of being the only. Anytime a woman comes on strong we are faced with extreme temptation and sometimes men fail.
  4. Men want a companion.  We want someone who will exercise with us, engage in outdoor activities, etc. In return we give a portion of ourselves to your interest.
  5. Men want conversation and evaluation.  Yes we love to talk, but not just about your emotions, fashions and home accessories all the time.  I will freely admit my wife and I had marriage counseling.  At the heart of the matter was communication and the expression of our deepest thoughts without having to go into defense mode.  Men hate two things in the communication process – Silence and Criticism. Go back to the first item above.  How can a man be a great lover if his mate is not communicating what she likes and dislikes? We men are not mind readers and we are not supplied with a “How to” manual.  You’ve heard the term nagging of course.  That is direct criticism.  Instead of demeaning the man, uplift him with words of encouragement like, “I love how you pick up after yourself.”  In turn, tell him that is what you want to hear as well.
  6. Men want to feel like a man.  Ever notice how men change with fads?  We are impressionable too.  We shave our body hair, try a new hair style, shave our head, add tattoos, whatever it is we think women are attracted to at that moment in time.  We have our own insecurities and doubts of self worth. For example, I tried desperately to learn Disco.  Luckily for me my wife to be wasn’t into Disco.  We want to feel as though we are strong for a purpose, to be the protector of our mate.  Allowing us to feel this way keeps our ego and our body fit.  Compliment a man on his exercise routine, pinch his buttocks every so often and he will return the compliments.
  7. A Tiger in the Bedroom.  Do you recall My Big Fat Greek Wedding where the mother tells her daughter to be a tiger in the bedroom?  That my readers is wisdom. Men are not looking for Porn Stars.  We are easily visually stimulated, but we love an air of mystery.  Need to gain our attention?  Walk into the bedroom in new lingerie and I guarantee you will gain a man’s attention.  In the movie Under The Tuscan Sun Diane Lane’s character goes home and revels in the sex she just had.  Why not do this in front of the man?  Why not tell him, “Wow you are a GREAT lover!”  The guy would grin and think to himself, “Wow I really did it!” Refer back to number one above. We want to please our mate.
  8. Learn to say “NO.” Men do in fact respect women who set the limits.  If you want to see a change in men, learn to respect yourself first.
  9. Men HATE being trapped.  The absolute worst thing a woman can do to a man is to use sex as a means of commitment.  We do figure this out eventually and deep resentment and anger will set in. You can live a lie by giving a man as much sex after the rings are exchanged, but we can figure this out as well. Go back to number 8.
  10. Have a Deeper Sense of Yourself.  This week we watched together Life of Pi.  I made the remark that I never recalled watching a flick where the woman was questioning the deep meanings of life and her role in it. Hopefully someone can lead me to a movie or book of similar nature.  Recall how we like conversation?  Engage in something that tells your mate who you are deep inside.

Why do men love Lord of the Rings?  It is a a true man flick.  Aragorn is the man we admire the most.  He loves and loves deeply, not just protecting Arwen by leaving her, but the world around him and his fellow man.  I truly miss the movies of our past where men and women displayed grace and mutual respect.  Seems to me we are flooded with movies that are just nags, telling us of how bad we and life are.

Hopefully more movies and stories will be told that reveal the inner beauty of being man and woman, so that we can come to a point where we understand each other and work diligently for long and meaningful relationships.  These are the ones I want to watch or read. It is said an author writes because he cannot find the stories that interest him. The Chosen One of Allivar is one of the stories I hope one day people will again want to read with a passion.

My wife and I have been married for 33 years.  I’d lay down my life for her.  She is my best friend and companion, my lover and my queen and I would do everything in my power for her happiness and well being. This just didn’t happen, it requires a hell of a lot of work with open and honest communication.  I hope everyone is allowed to experience this kind of love and commitment.  This is reality, not a fantasy, or a wish list of selfish demands, but the commitment of a real man, “I promise to be true to you in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health. I will love you and honor you all the days of my life.”

If you are looking for a good man, or to become a good man, set the standard of your expectations and be true to yourself first.

As always, your thoughts are appreciated.