Dec 13

HOLIDAY PRODUCT INTERVIEW #4: ART PRINTS, PERSONALIZED GREETING CARDS AND A NEW TUBE COMPANY

Are you lookiholdng for something special this Christmas? Why don’t you check out some of the great products currently for sale by artist and author Judy Mastrangelo. You can check out her FANTASTIC new holiday product interview by clicking right here. Act quickly though… These products may sell out quickly… If you like what you see… grab it!

If you want to learn more about Judy Mastrangelo you can check out her latest fantastic interview about her love of movies right here.

Dec 12

Take Six of Seven: A Night At The Movies With Artist Judy Mastrangelo

This wonderfulju new interview series with Judy Mastrangelo is all about the movies. This is a seven part series… Let’s delve in!

Films have always inspired my life and my art, ever since I was young.  They fulfill needs for fantasy, excitement, etc., which can be experienced vicariously by everyone who loves to partake in the adventure of this delightful art form.

I don’t watch movies all day long, only when I have some time to spare for them.  But many great movies stay with me forever in my memory. Several of the films I mention here, I’ve seen several years ago.  But they were so enjoyable that sometimes they will come to mind, and I’ll enjoy thinking about them and the actors who were in them.  I find the realm of film a magical place of enrichment for my soul, since when I visit it, I can become other characters, visit fascinating lands, and partake in exciting adventures.

Personally, I enjoy both the old and the new films.  They each have something to offer.

take-6

 

FILMS ABOUT FAMOUS PAINTERS:

Michelangelo:

THE AGONY AND THE ECSTASY with Charlton Heston as the great artist and Rex Harrison as the Pope Julius II. This 1965 movie is beautifully done and filmed on location.  It’s fascinating to see Michelangelo in the process of painting the Sistine Chapel, and all of the conflict and turmoil that went into the creation of this masterpiece.

Van Gogh:

LUST FOR LIFE – In this 1956 film, Kirk Douglas portrays the sensitive and troubled artist Vincent Van Gogh.  I feel it is one of Douglas’s greatest films.  He was a great choice for the part, since he even resembled Van Gogh.

Rembrandt:

Charles Laughton beautifully portrays the famous artist Rembrandt van Rijn in this 1936 film.  He brings this unfortunate genius to life for us.  Today, this great artist’s original paintings command millions of dollars, but when he was alive, he could barely get enough money to buy food and art supplies.  It was so sad.  Laughton, who really resembles the artist in this old film, does a wonderful acting job.

Beatrix Potter:

MISS POTTER ~ 2006 ~ About the life of artist Beatrix Potter.  She is beloved for her children’s book animal stories and illustrations. This film was a great delight for me, since I am a great fan of Beatrix’s artwork.

FILMS ABOUT GREAT AUTHORS:

James Barrie:

FINDING NEVERLAND ~ about James Barrie and the events leading to the production of his famous play PETER PAN.  Johnny Depp stars as Barrie.  This is a wonderful film, with special interest for all lovers of this beloved story.  It shows Barrie’s sensitivity and imagination, as he develops a friendship with the mother and children of the Davies family.  The surprise ending is beautiful and touching.

C.S. Lewis:

SHADOWLANDS:  There are two versions of this movie about the sad, yet inspired life of the great Oxford don and author who penned the delightful series of Fantasy books THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA.

Dec 06

No Name on the Bullet: An Interview with Western Super-Seller John D. Fie. Jr!

john d fie photoThis interview is with one of the giants of the Western writing world… John D. Fie. Jr! You may already know about his books “Incident at Benson’s Creek,”  “Luke Pressor: U.S. Marshal,” and “Blood on the Plains.” These books have been picked up by Western readers, libraries and even bookstores around the world. If you haven’t heard of these great books… you may want to check them out by clicking here. Now… if you aren’t convinced to buy your copies now… you may be after this interview. Scroll down to learn why Fie is leading the pack when it comes to exciting Western adventures!

 

John… I’d like to start this interview by asking why it was important for you to write a Western?

The Western genre has had me excited since I was a young child. Westerns on TV became the main shows that I watched. I think I was so fascinated by the West that it turned me into a prolific reader of the Western lifestyle and the people of the time. It transformed into a fixation, with me digging through the library for anything I could find about the Old West. It also turned me into a real history buff. There is really nothing else I would care to write about.

As an America… how closely do Westerns represent the American way of life?

That would depend on which part of the country we’re talking about. Apparently, those living in the major cities, like the northeastern part of this country, have a different type of lifestyle where it’s more industrial and financial. The Mid-west has a more complex mixture of Industry, commercial, and farming with a large part of it being influenced by the Western lifestyle. The southeastern states below the Mason-Dixon line have a variety of lifestyles. Farming and ranching play a significant role here where a lot of the population is influenced by Westerns. But when you move west of the Mississippi and the farther you go, Westerns are it. I love visiting the seven western states and talking with people. You can find out so much about their family traditions and history. I use a lot of those findings in my books, so when someone reads one of my books, they’re getting a taste of realism, although I’m writing a fictional story.

Where did it all begin? How did you discover your love of Westerns?

I’ve done a lot of different things in my life, always looking for another adventure. I have a curious nature, I guess you would say. I would see someone doing a job and think, “I wonder what it’s like?” Naturally, I had to find out. But curiously I always stuck with the being free outdoor types of work. Here’s where my earlier childhood comes into play with my fixation with the West. Farming (I’ve done a lot of it), ranching, horses and cattle, and of course, trucking (long haul). It was when I was trucking I started writing short stories. I’d tell a few to fellow drivers and found out they loved the stories. I would write those stories in my idle time in the cab of my truck. When you’re in between those two doors, you’re in a world of your own. You have only the CB radio as a connection to the outside world most of the time. Writing and reading became my only enjoyment. Now, I’ve discovered writing books and sharing my stories with a larger audience is complete happiness.

Where did your cover art come from? Who designed it?

Blood On The Plains, when I first wrote it, had a different book cover. I was with a different publishing house at the time. Contract time was coming up, and I was going nowhere. I began looking around and stumbled on Outlaws Publishing and J.C. Hulsey. My immediate thought was Outlaws—the word stuck in my head. I’m a bit of an outlaw myself, and the name of the company in my mind fit the bill. Well, J.C. took a look at the book and loved the story. We both decided it needed a new cover. The design of the current book cover became a team effort, and when it was released under the Outlaws Publishing name with its new cover, it took off, rocketing up onto the Best Sellers list.

Let’s talk about characters. Who are your favorite characters from your books?

There is no one favorite character. The main characters in my books play a large part in the story I’m trying to tell. They live with me in my head. When I’m writing, they take over and talk to me. It sounds crazy, I know, but that’s what happens.

How about your least favorite character? What makes them less appealing to you?

My least favorites are the characters who pop into a chapter and are gone by the end of it. Most of the time, they’re the villains I’m building as part of the action in the storyline. What makes them less appealing to me is they’re just pop-ins, and they’re not the main story that I’m trying to tell.

If you could change ONE thing about your novel, what would it be? Why?

That’s a hard question to answer, but in book one of Blood On The Plains, I would have to say the ending. I left my readers a little short with the ending. In Luke Pressor: U.S. Marshal, I would introduce him earlier in the story. Some of my readers loved it, and a few, well… they were a little disappointed.

Give us an interesting fun fact, or a few, about your series:

I had a lot of fun writing Book 2 of the Blood On The Plains Western Action Series “Incident At Benson’s Creek.” I wanted to expand the story and make the characters in the book more enjoyable. I don’t remember the town we were visiting, but my wife and I were sitting and eating at this resturant in Kansas. In walks this guy with this accent, and his voice reminded me of an actor we all know. His name I just couldn’t remember, but I said to my wife, “Listen to that accent. It fits Clem, the livery owner in Blood On The Plains.” We both had a good laugh over it. Well, to make a long story short, it turned out that the actor’s name was Strother Martin. The idea then became a reality, and I started to match my characters and came up with another character who would match Bea Arthur (Maude). Now it’s up to the readers to figure out who that is.

Which other books are similar to your own? What makes them alike?

I’m told I have a different writing style than all the other Western writers. I don’t go into lengthy detail on descriptions, and I throw in a lot of quick one-liners. So I don’t really know if I’m different from any of the others, and I can’t think of any really. I just know what I like in a book, and I write mine that way.

Do you have a favorite gun?

Oh, yes. Several, in fact. The Colt, and the Winchester.

How can we contact you or find out more about your books?

Anyone can contact me by going to Outlaws Publishing.com or by writing to Nick@nickwale.org. And if you prefer, johnfie@outlawspublishing.com

What can we expect from you in the future?

I’m currently working on several new projects that I’m researching right now, and I have been asked to please turn the short story of The Bender Brothers into a book. I have the discussed the idea with Outlaws Publishing, and we’re going to run 5 chapters of the Bender Brothers on the Outlawsecho.com free online magazine, in which four chapters are already available. We will then continue it as a book. Also, there is another book 2 of Luke Pressor almost finished, and you can look forward to it after the first of the year with another surprise story coming later with “Cattle Queen Of The Pecos.”

What can readers who enjoy your book do to help make it successful?

Write those reviews after you’ve finished reading. It makes a world of difference to hear from you readers, and it gives your author a better idea of what you’re looking for.

Do you have any tips for readers or advice for other writers trying to get published?

To my readers, write me, and please let me know your ideas; or if you just want to say hello that’s fine also. You have all the information on how to reach me. Writers, take it from me. That book is your baby, and please don’t be in a rush to publish. Look around and research. Then, when you’ve finished doing that, do yourself a favor and talk to J.C. Hulsey at OutlawsPublishing.com. You will never have a more thrilling experience in your life than when you hold your first published book in your hands.

In a shootout who would win—John Wayne vs. Clint Eastwood?

You have to figure in several factors between the two. John Wayne wears his pistol high on the hip while Clint carried his slung low and strapped down. Clint would win simply because of less arm movement.

Looking for a great Western to see you through the holidays? Why don’t you grab a copy of “Incident at Benson’s Creek” today from Amazon! Just click here to purchase your copy.

Incident at Benson's Creek: Western Action and Adventure (Blood On The Plains Western Action Adventure Series Book 2) by [Fie Jr., John D.]

 

Dec 06

HOLIDAY PRODUCT INTERVIEW #3: INSPIRATIONAL CARD DECK FROM U.S. GAMES, ART PLATES, NIGHT LIGHTS & ART PRINTS FROM GREAT ART NOW

dddAre you looking for something special this Christmas? Why don’t you check out some of the great products currently for sale by artist and author Judy Mastrangelo. You can check out her FANTASTIC new holiday product interview by clicking right here. Act quickly though… These products may sell out quickly… If you like what you see… grab it!

If you want to learn more about Judy Mastrangelo you can check out her latest fantastic interview about her love of movies right here.

Dec 05

Take Five of Seven: A Night At The Movies With Artist Judy Mastrangelo


hansel-and-gretel-lost-in-the-woodsThis wonderful new interview series with Judy Mastrangelo is all about the movies. This is a seven part series… Let’s delve in!

Films have always inspired my life and my art, ever since I was young.  They fulfill needs for fantasy, excitement, etc., which can be experienced vicariously by everyone who loves to partake in the adventure of this delightful art form.

I don’t watch movies all day long, only when I have some time to spare for them.  But many great movies stay with me forever in my memory. Several of the films I mention here, I’ve seen several years ago.  But they were so enjoyable that sometimes they will come to mind, and I’ll enjoy thinking about them and the actors who were in them.  I find the realm of film a magical place of enrichment for my soul, since when I visit it, I can become other characters, visit fascinating lands, and partake in exciting adventures.

Personally, I enjoy both the old and the new films.  They each have something to offer.

take-five

 

Besides being a film buff, I’m also an opera buff, and films of my favorite operas are a delight to me.  There are many to choose from, but there is a very special one I’d like to share with you:

HANSEL AND GRETEL: An Opera Fantasy –  This 1954 movie of the beautiful opera, with magnificent music by Engelbert Humperdinck, is a lovely childlike film with the characters done as stop motion animated figures.  These puppets were called “Kinemans,” and took many years to create so that they looked very lifelike, with wonderful movements and facial expressions.  It’s a real classic, like a fairy tale come to life.  This opera is one of my personal favorites.

FILMS ABOUT FAMOUS COMPOSERS:

There are quite a few movies about the life of Beethoven:

IMMORTAL BELOVED ~ 1994   The premise of this film is most likely a fictionalized theory that Beethoven’s nephew was his love child from an affair with his sister-in-law, but it is very enjoyable.  Gary Oldman is a great actor and portrays Beethoven’s spirit well.

BEETHOVEN’S NEPHEW – 1985  I think Wolfgang Reichmann portrays a very believable, eccentric and fiery Beethoven. This shows his stormy and troubled life, and sad relationship with his nephew.

BEETHOVEN LIVES UPSTAIRS

COPYING BEETHOVEN starring Ed Harris

Mozart:

AMMADEUS with F. Murray Abraham and Tom Hulce ~1984   This film was developed from the stage play by the same name.  It has some true details about Mozart’s life, but much of it is fictional.  For instance, fellow composer Antonio Salieri did not really poison Mozart, as implied in the film.  They were, in fact, friends in real life.  The sets and costumes are extremely beautiful, and I really enjoy experiencing the excerpts of Mozart’s operas depicted the way they were produced in his day.

Stravinsky:

COCO CHANNEL AND IGOR STRAVINSKY ~ 2009   This is a fascinating portrayal of Igor Stravinsky and his affair with Coco Chanel.  It shows the dramatic buildup to his performance of his ground-breaking composition, “THE RITE OF SPRING,” and the riot it caused at its opening night.

Verdi:

TV SERIES: The Life of Verdi ~ 1982, starring Ronald Pickup, narrated by Burt Lancaster.  This is a wonderful portrayal of Giuseppe Verdi’s life and music.

Wagner:

WAGNER – 1983, starring Richard Burton and Vanessa Redgrave. This is one of Burton’s last roles before his passing.  He doesn’t resemble Wagner, but he portrays his amazing spirit.  This film has great actors in it, and magnificent scenery and music of course. It was filmed in many original locations, such as King Ludwig’s castle in Bavaria ~ Neuschwanstein.  It is well worth viewing.

Gilbert and Sullivan:

TOPSY TURVY  ~ 1999 is about the famous duo of operetta composers, W.S. Gilbert (librettist) and Sir Arthur Sullivan (music composer). I was raised on their music, since my parents loved it so much.  This film shows the relationship the two had together, and how they almost broke up their association.  But luckily for us, they reunited, and this fascinating and delightful film chronicles the making of one of their most popular operettas: “THE MIKADO.”   It’s a beautiful film, set in the lavish Victorian era.

Chopin:

These two films show the short life of Frederic Chopin, and his love relationship with female author George Sand:

IMPROMPTU ~1991  Hugh Grant plays a charming and sensitive Chopin.

A SONG TO REMEMBER ~ 1945

Robert Schumann:

SONG OF LOVE ~ 1947  This is a wonderful movie about the life of the talented but mentally disturbed  Schumann.   The composer Johannes Brahms was a friend, who fell deeply in love with Clara Schumann, the composer’s wife, a great concert pianist of her time.  Katharine Hepburn plays Clara.  I understand that Katharine practiced the piano diligently for the filming of this movie so that she could give a very believable feel to her piano playing.

Franz Liszt:

SONG WITHOUT END – 1960

Edvard Grieg:

SONG OF NORWAY – 1970    This is based loosely on the life of Edvard Grieg, the great Norwegian composer.  There is lovely scenery of Norway, and scenes of Tivoli, Italy when Grieg visits the great composer Franz Liszt there.  The movie contains some beautiful songs, sung to the music of Grieg, and wonderful dancing.

Nov 30

HOLIDAY PRODUCT INTERVIEW #2: CROSS STITCH PATTERNS, POSTCARDS, WALL MURALS & ORIGINAL PAINTINGS

judy-mailer-imageAre you looking for something special this Christmas? Why don’t you check out some of the great products currently for sale by artist and author Judy Mastrangelo. You can check out her FANTASTIC new holiday product interview by clicking right here. Act quickly though… These products may sell out quickly… If you like what you see… grab it!

If you want to learn more about Judy Mastrangelo you can check out her latest fantastic interview about her love of movies right here.

Nov 28

Take Four of Seven: A Night At The Movies With Artist Judy Mastrangelo


judy-mailer-imageThis wonderful new interview series with Judy Mastrangelo is all about the movies. This is a seven part series… Let’s delve in!

Films have always inspired my life and my art, ever since I was young.  They fulfill needs for fantasy, excitement, etc., which can be experienced vicariously by everyone who loves to partake in the adventure of this delightful art form.

I don’t watch movies all day long, only when I have some time to spare for them.  But many great movies stay with me forever in my memory. Several of the films I mention here, I’ve seen several years ago.  But they were so enjoyable that sometimes they will come to mind, and I’ll enjoy thinking about them and the actors who were in them.  I find the realm of film a magical place of enrichment for my soul, since when I visit it, I can become other characters, visit fascinating lands, and partake in exciting adventures.

Personally, I enjoy both the old and the new films.  They each have something to offer.

take-4

As a graphic artist, I always enjoy painting beautiful people to “star” in my  artwork in various “roles.” If I were able to choose some actors to portray for my paintings, here is who I would choose:

Males:

Females:

  • Phoebe Tonkin – A stunning beauty.  I first saw her in the TV series THE MAGIC CIRCLE. (Hollywood Trivia: From what I understand, Paul Wesley is now in a relationship with Phoebe Tonkin. What a good looking couple!)
  • Keira Knightley – A stunning elegant beauty.
  • Liv Tyler – She played Arwen in Lord of the Rings. She is a lovely, dreamy looking sweet beauty.
  • Michelle Dockery She played Lady Mary Crawley in Downton Abbey. A very elegant woman.
  • Emilia Clarke

Now that Christmas is soon upon us, here are some Christmas-themed movies I enjoy:

SANTA CLAUS, The Movie ~ 1985   This is an endearing, fanciful story of the origins and development of Santa Claus.  The adorable Dudley Moore steals the show as a very likable and well meaning, yet bumbling elf.

There are many versions of the famous Dickens tale of “A CHRISTMAS CAROL.”  Here are some of my favorites:

THE MUPPETS CHRISTMAS CAROL ~ 1992, with the wonderful Michael Cain as Scrooge.   Many of the Muppets are included in this retelling of the tale, including Kermit the Frog as Bob Cratchit.  (I’m sure you can guess who played Mrs. Cratchit.)

MICKEY’S CHRISTMAS CAROL ~ 1983, starring Scrooge McDuck, Mickey and the Gang, plus Goofy as Marley.

A CHRISTMAS CAROL ~ 1984 with George C. Scott

CHRISTMAS CAROL with Patrick Stewart

A CHRISTMAS CAROL ~1938, with Reginald Owen as Scrooge, the lovable Gene Lockhart as Bob Cratchit, and adorable Terry Kilburn as Tiny Tim.

SCROOGE ~ 1951, with Alastair Sim as Scrooge and Sir Michael Hordern as Marley. There are some additional scenes that they added that were not in the original Dickens story, such as the memorable one with young Scrooge and Marley, as they take over the business from poor unfortunate Fezziwig.

A CHRISTMAS CAROL ~ 2009  This is a wonderful Disney animated adaptation of this classic, with the voice of Jim Carrey as Scrooge.  The animation and backgrounds are fantastic, and they use a great deal of the original text by Dickens.  (Sometimes they use more of the original novel than many of the other live action movies.)  It’s wonderful.

Of course, it would be very remiss of me to omit mention of these two favorite Christmas films:

IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE

MIRACLE ON 34TH STREET (original version with Natalie Wood) A very heartwarming story indeed!

ANIMATIONS:

It would be difficult to mention animations without talking about my favorites by Walt Disney. It’s very hard for me to choose which ones to talk about, but I list below some of my favorites.  In truth, I really love them all.

The Disney studio started out with a series of beautiful animations called “SILLY SYMPHONIES,” which were a prelude, and served as practice for their future feature full length animations.  They were like beautiful old fashioned storybooks come to life on the screen.  I would call them “Mini Masterpieces of Animation.”

My other favorite Disney animations are part of the GOLDEN AGE OF AMERICAN ANIMATION:

SNOW WHITE AND THE SEVEN DWARFS  This was Disney’s first and greatest full length animation.  It has beautiful and masterful animation, lovely attention to detail, and memorable songs.

Gustaf Tenggren was a talented illustrator who was on the Disney staff.  He played an important part in the creation of Snow White, and other Disney films.

PINOCCHIO  This was such a stellar piece of animation also.  In my opinion, the BLUE FAIRY herself was one of the most beautiful creations of an animated fairy ever done.  The amazing toy shop with its beautiful details, the wonderful characters, plus the beautiful music, are fantastic.  The song “WHEN YOU WISH UPON A STAR” became a classic.

BAMBI    This 1942 film was lovely in its sensitive and poignant portrayal of forest animals.  It was adapted from the original story by Felix Salten.  Live animals were even brought into the Disney studio, so that the artists could draw from them, in order to learn how to portray realism correctly.  The sweet animal friends of Bambi the fawn, such as Thumper the rabbit and Flower the skunk, are tenderly portrayed.

FANTASIA ~ 1940   This was an admirable Disney endeavor.  It wasn’t an immediate success but is now considered a great movie.  In it, great classical music is performed by the Philadelphia Orchestra, originally by Leopold Stokowski. (The Maestro even got to shake Micky Mouse’s hand!) In the movie, eight great musical compositions are illustrated with amazingly beautiful animations.  Some notable ones are:

Tchaikovsky’s THE NUTCRACKER SUITE with lots of fairies, dancing mushrooms, etc.

Igor Stravinsky’s THE RITE OF SPRING showing fantastic imagery of the creation of the Earth, and amazing dinosaurs.

Beethoven’s THE PASTORAL SYMPHONY ~ my personal favorite, with adorable flying horses, male and female Centaurs, and other Greek deities.

Paul Dukas: THE SORCERER’S APPRENTICE (starring Mickey Mouse wearing a Sorcerer’s hat.)

THE JUNGLE BOOK   I feel this was the funniest of the Disney animations.  Some of the animal characters, such as haughty Shere Khan, the Tiger, with the voice of George Sanders, was outright hilarious.

COMEDIES:

I do love comedy film, and very often it is needed to “cheer you up.”  The following comedies are some of my favorites, and I feel they can be viewed often without tiring of them.

GHOSTBUSTERS #1  I think this was one of the funniest fantasy movies ever made.  And the terrific cast of Bill Murray, Dan Ackroyd, Harold Ramis, and Rick Moranis were so comical!  It is very imaginative, adventurous romp by our stalwart heroes to rid the town of ghosts.

THE PINK PANTHER movies, starring Peter Sellers is one of my favorite comedy series.  I think Peter made the best Clouseau.  There were several imitators who tried to fill his shoes as the bumbling detective after his untimely passing.  I feel that Steve Martin was one of the best.  I also think Roberto Benigni who portrayed his illegitimate son in “THE SON OF THE PINK PANTHER” was wonderful.  Herbert Lom, who stars as Commissioner Dreyfus, is quite a riot and a very outstanding actor.

PLANES TRAINS AND AUTOMOBILES  The comedy team of John Candy and Steve Martin were so funny.  They were the “Odd  Couple” of “The Regular Guy” and “The Snob.” It’s such a shame they didn’t make more movies together.  This one, about two chance travelers trying to make it home for Thanksgiving, who are caught in a snow storm, became such a favorite that it is often shown every Thanksgiving Eve.

SUMMER RENTAL  This is yet another favorite comedy with lovable John Candy made before his untimely passing.  What a delightful summer vacation family romp.

EASY MONEY is one of my favorite  Rodney Dangerfield comedies. Rodney became a star rather late in his life, but aren’t you glad he finally made it?  We might never have seen his funny “I get no respect” antics.  He was a talented script writer, also.

BEAN  Rowan Atkinson is a wonderful comedian known for his portrayal of Mr. Bean.  In this movie, he is a bumbling security guard at a London art museum.  He makes a mess of things when he’s put in charge of protecting the famous portrait of Whistler’s Mother, which is sent on loan to be exhibited in a California art museum.  What a catastrophe for the world of art!  Rowan is also great in the BLACK ADDER TV series.

Some of my favorite “old time” comedy stars are:

LAUREL AND HARDY

BUD ABBOT AND LOU COSTELLO   They actually made a delightful fantasy of JACK AND THE BEANSTALK, with Lou playing the part of Jack.

THE MARX BROTHERS

HISTORICAL DRAMAS:

THE WHITE QUEEN (TV series)  Set in the time of the Wars of the Roses in 1464 along with Edward IV of England.  This is a feast for the eyes, with sumptuous period costumes and authentic settings.  Wonderful acting, also.

REIGN (TV Series)  Historic Fantasy Romance about Mary Queen of Scots.  This is a very enjoyable series.  I’m not sure how many more seasons they can extend it for, though.

THE FIRST CHURCHILLS  The life of John Churchill and his wife, Sara, is depicted here.  It is wonderfully acted in beautiful period costumes, taking place in a fascinating period of history.

KOREAN HISTORICAL DRAMAS are literally very addicting.  If you are able to see any that have subtitles, I’m sure you will enjoy them.  The actors are superb, as are the stories, costumes and scenery. They depict great Korean heroes, and their trials and tribulations.  I know it sounds incredible that they each have so many chapters.  You can actually watch them, once a week, over a period of more than a year.  But they are so fascinating to see.  Here are some that I have seen:

BALLET MOVIES:

When I was young, my mother took me to see several live ballets on stage.  It was such a magical experience for me that I’ll always remember, and my love for ballet has remained with me all my life.  These first two ballets that I list here are the first ballets I saw live as a child, which left such a lasting impression on me:

COPPELIA is a beautiful ballet about a mysterious life-size doll, created by Dr. Coppelius.  It takes place in a quaint little village, where the townsfolk join in trying to discover the doll’s mystery. One of my favorite versions that I found on DVD is done by the Australian Ballet company in 1990.   The music by Leo Delibes is delightful, and the dancing, sets and costumes are magnificent.  I personally prefer sets and costumes done in a traditional way like this, rather than done in modern contemporary style.

THE NUTCRACKER is many people’s ballet of choice for the Christmas season.   The well known music is by Tchaikovsky, and features the famous DANCE OF THE SUGARPLUM FAIRY, etc.   One of my favorite versions of this is the 1985 one done by the ROYAL BALLET.

This link lists some of the other Nutcracker productions.

ROMEO AND JULIET is a wonderful ballet set to the music of Prokofiev. The most amazing film version I ever saw of this starred the great dancers Rudolf Nureyev and Dame Margot Fonteyn as the leads.  They first performed it in 1965.  Margot was much older than Rudolf at the time, but she was revitalized by dancing with him, and they both seemed like young lovers.

CINDERELLA, with music by Prokofiev, is a wonderful fairytale ballet.  My favorite movie version stars Sir Frederick Ashton as the comical stepmother.  He is also the choreographer.  The sets and costumes are very fairytale-like set in a lavish tradition, and the dancing is fantastic.

THE TALES OF BEATRIX POTTER ~ 1992: In this beautiful film, the Royal Ballet presents several tales of Beatrix Potter, with lavish costumes and sets. It must have been extremely difficult for these talented dancers to perform with the elaborate costumes and animal masks they had to wear, which limited their vision. They danced the charming stories about mice, ducks, squirrels, pigs, rabbits, etc.  To me, this production is an unforgettable sheer delight!!  (Jeremy Kingfisher, a frog, does an amazing dance in his watery pond, with fantastic leaps, reminiscent of Gene Kelly’s dance in SINGIN’ IN THE RAIN.)

NIJINSKY~ 1980  This is a wonderful film about the rise and fall of one of the greatest dancers of all time ~ Vaslav Nijinsky.  It is based on his personal diaries. It also shows all the difficulty that went into his choreography for Igor Stravinsky’s “The Rite of Spring”, which caused a riot on opening night in 1913.  This film has fantastic dancing and fascinating portrayals of, among others, composer Stravinsky, costume designer Leon Bakst, and Sergei Diaghilev, his patron and the impresario of the Ballets Russes.  This film is a fascinating glimpse into an important turning point in music and dance that would greatly influence modern art to come.

Nov 23

HOLIDAY ART PRINTS AND PERSONALIZED GREETING CARDS by Judy Mastrangelo

judyAre you looking for something special this Christmas? Why don’t you check out some of the great products currently for sale by artist and author Judy Mastrangelo. You can check out her FANTASTIC new holiday product interview by clicking right here. Act quickly though… These products may sell out quickly… If you like what you see… grab it!

If you want to learn more about Judy Mastrangelo you can check out her latest fantastic interview about her love of movies right here.

 

Nov 21

Take Three of Seven: A Night At The Movies With Artist Judy Mastrangelo

judyThis wonderful new interview series with Judy Mastrangelo is all about the movies. This is a seven part series… Let’s delve in!

Films have always inspired my life and my art, ever since I was young.  They fulfill needs for fantasy, excitement, etc., which can be experienced vicariously by everyone who loves to partake in the adventure of this delightful art form.

I don’t watch movies all day long, only when I have some time to spare for them.  But many great movies stay with me forever in my memory. Several of the films I mention here, I’ve seen several years ago.  But they were so enjoyable that sometimes they will come to mind, and I’ll enjoy thinking about them and the actors who were in them.  I find the realm of film a magical place of enrichment for my soul, since when I visit it, I can become other characters, visit fascinating lands, and partake in exciting adventures.

Personally, I enjoy both the old and the new films.  They each have something to offer.

 

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FANTASY:

Here are two Fantasy films involving children, which I feel are so wonderful that they can be enjoyed by all ages:

THE NEVER-ENDING STORY  1984

What an imaginative and beautifully done film this is, starring Barret Oliver as a shy Bastian, who goes into a fantasy world with a dragon, gnomes, and many other delightful characters.  It is one of my favorite fantasy movies.  Two more sequel films came after this first one, but this still remains my favorite of the three.

THE BLUE BIRD 1940 ~ starring Shirley Temple

MGM wanted Shirley to star in THE WIZARD OF OZ film as Dorothy, but they couldn’t use her since she was not permitted to break her contract with the film studio she was working with at the time.  So, as an alternative, she was cast in a fairy tale written by Maurice Maeterlinck with co-stars Nigel Bruce and Gale Sondergaard, etc.  It was a beautiful fantasy movie but not very successful.  A memorable scene to me was where she meets children waiting to be born.  The beautiful backgrounds are reminiscent of a gorgeous Maxfield Parrish painting.

ARTHURIAN-THEMED MOVIES:

EXCALIBUR ~ 1981 This is one of my favorite movies depicting the Arthurian legend.  My favorite actor in it was Nicol Williamson as Merlin.  He’s so magical.  In this film, director John Boorman made excellent use of music by Richard Wagner.

CAMELOT This 1967 musical movie had beautiful sets and costumes, and a wonderful performance by Richard Harris as King Arthur.  (Trivia ~ On the set, Guinevere, (played by Vanessa Redgrave), and Sir Lancelot (Franco Nero), fell in love and got married in real life.)

MERLIN mini tv series ~ 1998  This was a marvelous retelling of the Merlin story, with excellent actors, including Helena Bonham Carter, Sir John Gielgud and Rutger Hauer.  SAM NEIL gives a very sensitive and magical portrayal as Merlin, as he tries to “preserve the old, magical pagan ways.”

DRAGONS:

I must admit that I do really enjoy watching films with great dragons and other creatures. Here are some dragons I have known and loved. (It’s amazing to me how often in film dragons are given the wonderful voices of great actors.)

THE HOBBIT: SMAUG (voice of Benedict Cumberbatch)

DRAGONHEART  1996 –  DRACO THE DRAGON (voice of Sean Connery)

MERLIN TV SERIES (JOHN HURT is the voice of the GREAT DRAGON)

ERAGON  2006 – with ROBERT CARLYLE AND JEREMY IRONS

NEVER-ENDING STORY 1984 – FALKOR THE DRAGON

HORROR FROM CLASSIC LITERATURE:

I am not much for horror movies, but I find these two classics wonderful:

FRANKENSTEIN:  The classic Universal Pictures films were wonderful.  This early Frankenstein movie starred Colin Clive as the doctor and Boris Karloff as the creature.  It was Boris’s “coming out” movie.  He was unknown at the time of its release. It’s amazing to think that this wonderful story was actually written by a 19-year-old young woman named Mary Shelly.  She was the wife of the great poet Percy Bysshe Shelley. It has been recreated in many film versions.

DRACULA from the original story by Bram Stoker.

This was the classic film starring Bela Lugosi as the Count.  Bela really was Hungarian, and he fits the part perfectly with his mesmerizing eyes and thick accent. (Trivia: Bela was buried in his full Dracula costume when he passed away.)

I know that comedy spoofs of great movies can be really silly.  But to tell you the truth, I really enjoy the following two very much:

YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN 1974 – Peter Boyle as the Creature, and Marty Feldman as Igor really steal the show.  They are a riot!

and ABBOT AND COSTELLO MEET FRANKENSTEIN (with Bela Lugosi): A classic Bud and Lou great comedy with a wonderful cast.  When Boris Karloff found out how successful Bela Lugosi’s movie was with Abbot and Costello, he agreed to make some comedies with them

MUSICALS:

Some of my favorite Musicals made into film:

BABES IN TOYLAND  (aka “THE MARCH OF THE WOODEN SOLDIERS”) ~ 1934

This was probably the first colorized film.  It is a delightful Laurel and Hardy movie, which has beautiful music from the operetta by Victor Herbert. This includes the famous song “TOYLAND.” It incorporates many of the nursery rhyme characters, including Bo Peep and Tom Tom, the piper’s son, plus a mean villain named Barnaby.  It’s sheer delight, just like an old fashioned story book come alive.  The two beloved adorable innocent comedians contribute to making it a great classic.

GIGI:  This was a delightful romantic musical comedy, with beautiful Paris scenery, wonderful music, and lovable characters, portrayed by Leslie Caron, Louis Jourdan, and Maurice Chevalier.

These following two movies starring Julie Andrews are among my very favorite musicals:

THE SOUND OF MUSIC: The movie treat, although not quite historically accurate story of the von Trapp Family singers, is understandably extremely popular.  With beautiful music by Rogers and Hammerstein, great acting, and magnificent scenes of Salzburg, Austria, I always enjoy seeing it again.

MARY POPPINS ~  1964

The great Walt Disney movie is another universal favorite, based on the P.L. Travers book series.  It contains great music, animation, dance sequences, etc.  It is always a delightful fantasy to see, no matter what your age.

HANS CHRISTIAN ANDERSON ~ 1952

This movie is not a very historical account of the life of the great author, but it is one of Danny Kaye’s most memorable films.  It has some delightful songs in it and a fantastic ballet sequence portraying his story of “THE LITTLE MERMAID” danced by Zizi Jeanmaire to the music of Franz Liszt.  Trivia: The song “Wonderful Copenhagen” was so popular that it really bolstered tourism for this city during that time.

BRIGADOON  This delightful film has music by Lerner and Loewe.  It is a magical tale of a little town in Scotland, which awakes for one day every hundred years.  Gene Kelly and Cyd Charisse do some beautiful dance duets and are united in the end.

SINGIN’ IN THE RAIN  In this famous 1952 film, Gene Kelly sings and dances in the rain in that memorable scene. Donald O’Conner is also a great dancer in this, who I feel deserves more praise than he usually gets.  Lots of fun.

Some of my favorite musical stars:

There are many wonderful singers in musicals, of course.  But to me, there are a few who really stand out.  Certain singers in films have voices that are unmistakably beautiful. They have “IT.” I feel that two of the greatest are Frank Sinatra and Julie Andrews.

Frank Sinatra sings a very tender “Brahms Lullabye” to a child in “ANCHORS AWEIGH

Julie Andrews has such a magnificent sweet and clear voice, which is outstanding in SOUND OF MUSIC  and MARY POPPINS.

Nelson Eddy: He had much experience in the opera and operetta field before becoming famous in Hollywood.  One of my favorites of his movies was THE CHOCOLATE SOLDIER – 1941

MUSICAL FILM DANCERS:

I am also a dance buff and really enjoy seeing dance numbers in musicals.  You will notice that these great musical dancers have studied ballet as part of their training.

Gene Kelly excels for his dancing in “SINGIN’ IN THE RAIN.”  He also did at least two films where he dances along with animated characters. They are:

JACK IN THE BEANSTALK 1967:  He plays the peddler in this adorable fantasy, along with a talented little boy who is also a great dancer: Bobby Riha

and ANCHORS AWEIGH, where he does a wonderful dance with the animated Jerry Mouse, teaching him how to dance in “The King Who Couldn’t Sing and Dance”:

Donald O’Connor is terrific in SINGIN’ IN THE RAIN, where he actually “danced up a wall.”  I don’t know how!

Dick Van Dyke was amazing in “MARY POPPINS,” where he played Bert the chimney sweep.  The “Dance of the Chimney Sweeps on the London rooftops” is considered one of the greatest dances in all of musical theater.

Ray Bolger was well known as The Scarecrow in THE WIZARD OF OZ.  He was an amazing hoofer and danced the scarecrow in such a limber, loose and energetic way! He was so lovable in this part.  I think he was Dorothy’s favorite, don’t you?  I once saw some outtakes which were not included this movie, in which he does some additional dancing.  If  you ever get to see this, you will certainly enjoy it, too.

Fred Astaire was also one of the great musical dancers of all time.  He was very light on his feet and had perfect rhythm.  One of my favorite movies of his was EASTER PARADE ~ 1948 with Judy Garland.

Antonio Banderas does an amazing dance of passion with Catherine Zeta-Jones in THE MASK OF ZORRO  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Mask_of_Zorro What a great dance couple!

Nov 21

Novel Ideas Client G.P. Hutchinson Scores Gold With “Strong Suspicions”

hutch2Not only did G.P. Hutchinson score one of the biggest #Western hits of the year… He also just picked up the The Readers’ Favorite International Book Awards 2016 GOLD MEDAL for Fiction – Western! Congratulations G.P. Hutchinson! This is a fantastic achievement and I’m very proud of you! Enjoy Miami!

Readers’ Favorite has become the fastest growing book review and award contest site on the Internet. They have earned the respect of renowned publishers like Random House, Simon & Schuster, and Harper Collins, and have received the “Best Websites for Authors” and “Honoring Excellence” awards from the Association of Independent Authors. They are also fully accredited by the BBB (A+ rating), which is a rarity among Book Review and Book Award Contest companies.

In addition to reviewing for some of the biggest names in the literary industry, as well as the first time independent author, they host a respected award contest which features entries from new authors to NYT best-sellers, as well as celebrities like Jim Carrey and Henry Winkler.

“Readers’ Favorite is proud to announce that “Strong Suspicions” by GP Hutchinson is a Gold Medal Winner in the Fiction – Western category in our 2016 International Book Award Contest.”

hutch3In “Strong Suspicions,” the second installment in GP Hutchinson’s Emmett Strong Western Series, there’s a ruckus in El Paso’s Wild Hog Saloon, and by noon the next day, folks are convinced that it was Emmett and his compadres who robbed the saloon owner and beat him unconscious. Before he knows it, Emmett is hotly pursued by enemies old and new. But when the only way out of trouble is to head smack-dab back into the middle of it—beautiful young woman in tow—a cool-headed pistolero like Emmett Strong becomes a force to be reckoned with.

Writing for Readers’ Favorite, reviewer Geoff Baggett said, “My recommendation: grab both volumes in the Emmett Strong Western Series now. You’ll have many hours of entertainment and escape to the wild streets of 1880s El Paso.”

Learn more at https://readersfavorite.com/book-review/strong-suspicions. You can pick up your copy of “Strong Suspicions” from Amazon today.

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