American Elephants


Comic Relief! We need a comedy break! by The Elephant's Child
January 11, 2009, 4:06 pm
Filed under: Entertainment, Heartwarming, Humor, Music | Tags: , ,

For any one who ever had a mother.  For anyone who is a mother, and for anyone married to a mother.  And of course for all kids everywhere.  But I repeat myself.



Cool Site of the Day by Emerald City Elephant
June 3, 2008, 2:30 pm
Filed under: Art, Blogging | Tags: ,

Fun with kaleidoscopes! Create your own kaleidoscope right on your desktop. No, really, I know it sounds stupid, but it’s deceptively fun. Drag and drop the shapes into the circle on the left and see the kaleidoscopic effect in the circle on the right as the blue wedge sweeps past. Be an artist, experiment. Great timewaster! Newer, better version here, where you can pick your own colors and use different brushes to draw whatever you want.



Charlton Heston, Much More Than a Great Actor by American Elephant

As you’ve probably seen or heard, Oscar-winning legend Charlton Heston died in his Beverly Hills home Saturday. He was 84.

I’m a big fan of grand epics and sci-fi, so, like many, I know and love Heston best for his work in The Ten Commandments, Ben Hur (which at 11 Oscars held the record for most Academy Awards for one film until it was recently tied by Titanic and Lord of the Rings), and The Planet of the Apes. And as a conservative I admire his passionate activism in support of gun rights and individual liberty.

But there’s a great deal I didnt know about Heston, and much I had forgotten…

  • In addition to playing Moses in The Ten Commandments, Heston also played the voice of God, and his 3 month old son played the baby Moses floating down the Nile.
  • Heston was a civil rights activist early in the 60’s, long before it became fashionable, picketing a segregated Oklahoma theater showing one of his own films, and later accompanying Martin Luther King Jr. in the 1963 march in Washington and other marches.
  • Long before he became the president of the NRA, he joined Gregory Peck, Kirk Douglas and Jimmy Stewart in supporting President Johnson’s Gun Control Act of 1968.
  • Contrary to almost every article that I’ve seen that has tried to portray his conservatism and active support for gun rights as a great departure from his civil-rights activism, Heston knew there was no contradiction. Heston said of his support for conservative causes that he was promoting freedom, “in the truest sense.”
  • In addition to his long, legendary acting career which spanned more than 60 years and included more than 120 performances in Film, Television, Radio and on Broadway, Heston also wrote and directed Antony and Cleopatra,
  • He served in the Air Force in WWII as a B-52 radio operator and gunner and was promoted to the rank of Staff Sergeant.
  • He not only served famously as the outspoken and unapologetic president of the NRA, but also as president of the Screen Actors Guild.
  • Heston was named, “Commandor in the Arts and Letters Order” by French minister of culture in 1997, and awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Bush in 2003.
  • His favorite performance on screen was as the aging cowboy Will Penny, in the 1968 film of the same name.
  • Heston has said one of his proudest moments was when he used his status as a stock-holder in Time Warner to march into a stockholders meeting where he read aloud the lyrics from the song Cop Killer by Ice-T and shamed the conglomerate into firing the rapper and dropping the album for which Ice T threatened to kill him. Heston’s response was reportedly, “let him try.”

Charlton Heston was much more than a legendary actor. As his family said, he was, “an adoring husband, a kind and devoted father, and a gentle grandfather, with an infectious sense of humor.” He was also a great American. When he died Saturday, it was with his loving wife Lydia at his side. They had been married for sixty-four years.

Rest in peace Mr. Heston. God bless and comfort your family and many loved ones.



You Think Your Weather is Bad! by American Elephant

Tornado season is on its way

Sioux City, Iowa

Grand Island, Nebraska

Alvo, Nebraska

Storm-chasers are nuts. But they make good fodder for action/adventure movies. If you’ve never seen Twister with Helen Hunt and Bill Paxton, give it a rent. It’s not high cinema, it’s just good, solid, storm-chasing fun!

A great example of how computer graphics can be used to make the action more believable, instead of over-the-top and unbelievable — Twister really sucks you into the action, and almost makes you feel as though you’re right there in the path of the tornado.

Naturally, to get the best effect, I recommend watching it on the biggest screen you can. The truly daring may want to try finding it at a drive-in. But any way you watch it, Twister is a classic, popcorn-crunching, edge-of-your-seat thriller.

And if you’re reading us from Tornado Alley, keep your heads down and stay safe this season.



There and Back Again? by Emerald City Elephant
February 2, 2008, 1:36 pm
Filed under: Pop Culture | Tags: , , , ,

Looks like I will have to rent Pan’s Labyrinth:

Guillermo del Toro has officially signed up to direct The Hobbit, according to reports leaking out from a film premiere in France. The Pan’s Labyrinth creator will oversee a double-bill of films based on JRR Tolkien’s fantasy adventure, which paved the way for The Lord of the Rings. Peter Jackson, director of the Oscar-winning Rings trilogy, will serve as executive producer. [read more]

I am not familiar with del Toro. Hopefully he won’t screw up as much as Peter Jackson did. Yes, there were things that Jackson did very well — but it may take years before I can reread the Lord of the Rings without picturing that insufferable wimp, Viggo Mortenson, as Aragorn, or Rivendell as a bad collector’s plate by Thomas Kincade, the “painter of light!” Ugh!

Nonetheless, I look forward to the Hobbit very much. As of now, it’s scheduled to come out in 2010. Now that the director has been signed, pre-production will begin right away.



Great news for movie lovers… by American Elephant
August 13, 2007, 3:20 am
Filed under: Literature, Movies, Pop Culture | Tags: , ,

Is it just me, or have there been an unusual number of good movies this year? Perhaps its just me, since—while I enjoy many genres—I like good fantasy/sci-fi, family and adventure films the most. All the better when I get all three in one film.

The most encouraging consequence of the success of the Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter and Narnia movies, is that Hollywood seems to have discovered books.

Hollywood is horribly afraid of anything new. It only makes sense; if I were the one putting up my millions to finance a film, I would want some assurance that I would get a return on my investment. Hence the regrettable practice of filming the same films over and over—whether it be the third remake of King Kong or the 27th Rocky sequel—Hollywood wants a sure thing.

But that practice has resulted in stale fare and declining box office.

Enter Harry Potter and Frodo Baggins. Someone finally explained to Hollywood execs what a “book” is, that there are millions of them, that they all contain stories (some of which are very good, in many cases beloved by millions)—and most of which have never been made into movies.

Ca-ching!

The result is there are good movies again. Movies that we havent all seen a hundred times in one incarnation or another. And thats what I’ve been experiencing lately. I must say, so far, so good. But the one big drawback, is that a bad adaptation can destroy a good book. But on the other hand, when one is well-made, it makes going to the movies fun again.

And I had a fun time at the movies tonight. I saw Stardust—which I’ve never read—and I thoroughly enjoyed it. It was truly new.

I also saw previews for several more movies based on books that I love. The Golden Compass looks well-made and exciting; The Dark is Rising (a favortie), however, looks more questionable. Still, I look forward to both. The Spiderwyck Chronicles I have not read, but will have to look into, as it looks right up my alley. And finally, there’s Beowulf (not a book I loved, mind you, rather a book I was forced to plod through in high school) looks positively frightening—and not in the good way.

At any rate, anything that enfuses new life into the Hollywood line-up is great by me. (Click on the pictures to view the trailers)

Stardust The Golden Compass The Dark is Rising The Spiderwick Chronicles Beowulf Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix



So now what? by American Elephant
August 8, 2007, 8:10 pm
Filed under: Literature, Pop Culture | Tags: ,

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

I’ve just finished reading Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows for the second time. Finished reading it the first time within 18 hours of receiving it on release day, and now I’ve just finished the second, more leisurely reading.

So now what?

I’ve been eagerly anticipating this book for years—counting down the days like a child waiting for Christmas—and now it’s over. I know what happens to Harry, Ron, Hermione, the Weasleys, the Dursleys, Hagrid, Neville, Luna, Snape and Professor McGonnagal. And it was wonderful! I loved it! It was everything I hoped it would be. But now the story is finished and there will be no more.

So now I need something new to read. (fiction, I have plenty of nonfiction piled up.) Anyone have any recommendations?




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