THE CIRCLE OF MOVIE LIFE – Rich Paschall

The Lion King, a review, Rich Paschall

In the world of the Disney movie magic, what goes around will go around again. This is especially true for the beloved animated classics. You may have noticed this by their calculated re-release program.

Disney has employed what is known as the Vault program. When they released a movie for video sales, first by VHS and then DVD and BluRay, it was limited in nature. The very fact that it was limited created an instant demand. When it was gone, it was gone forever.  OK, it was not really gone. Every 7 to 10 years they would bring it out of the vault, so to speak, for another limited release. There could be Gold editions, anniversary editions, Platinum editions. There might be interviews and other bonus material included. Each would be different and therefore the Disney fanatic would need the next version of something they already owned.

Original Snow White

Consider Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, one of Disney’s oldest and most endearing classics. It was released in 1937 and re-released in 1944. The success of the re-release set the precedent for what would be crafted into the Disney Vault Program. Snow White came around for a visit in theaters again in 1952, 1958, 1967, 1975, 1983, 1987, and 1993. In this time period, something wonderful happened for Mouseland. The VHS player became standard home equipment.

In October 1994 Snow White appeared in homes on VHS. She was also released on the short-lived LaserDisc format. Seven years later it was the Platinum edition on VHS and also on DVD. In 2009 it was the Diamond Edition with two discs on DVD and BluRay. What could be better than a Diamond Edition? The Signature Edition!

The Signature Edition came out on BluRay in 2016. Disney must have felt that they were missing out on a big piece of the audience and released a different Signature Edition on standard DVD in 2017.  In between all of these you can find some foreign language releases for other countries. Is a live version coming soon? What do you think?

Among the many Disney animated classics is The Lion King. The 1994 release is the 11th highest-grossing animated film of all time. What’s number 1? Hang on by your claws for a moment. We’ll get there.

Lion King was released on VHS and laserdisc in 1995 in various editions after its spectacular run in the theaters. Those editions were gone in a few years and into the vault went the King. Before he could come back to the home video market, The Lion King returned to the theater in standard and IMAX release in 2002. The following year saw various editions for VHS and DVD.

In 2011 the King came to life in a 3D theatrical release followed a few weeks later by BluRay release including 3D. The Signature Collection release came out in 2017 on HD Digital, DVD, and BluRay. If you thought all bases were covered, think again. The Lion King was so popular, he came out again in 2018 in Ultra HD Blu-ray and 4K digital download.

You may think you don’t need any of these various Lion King media presentations.  You can stream it on Hulu or Netflix. But the Mouse King has a surprise for you. Disney bought a controlling interest in Hulu and has bought its way out of the Netflix agreement.  Why end the Lion King’s reign in the streaming world? Did you really think the King was going to run away to another land? Just like Simba, the film will return because Disney will soon have their own streaming service, Disney+.

The Lion King also rules over the Broadway stage. He made it there in 1997 and never left, but I digress. We were talking about movies, weren’t we?

This year we received the live-action version. OK, it’s live-action if you believe those animals are really singing and dancing. Disney has employed CGI (Computer Generated Imagery) to make a realistic-looking version of The Lion King. This sort of thing was inevitable. Movies have been using CGI for years. Video games get their realistic look from this remarkable computer wizardry.

The 2019 version of The Lion King is actually an animated remake of the original.  The story is the same. Much of the dialogue is the same. The songs are the same, except they added one more to the mix. Some things are added or lengthened for effect, but you are getting the same story with a new kind of animation.

Simba

The Lion King, Mufasa, from the beginning of the story is the same. Let’s face it, James Earl Jones is so memorable in the role, why get another actor? He is King of the story. All of the other parts have been recast. Some are just as good or at least equal to their 1994 counterparts. Others are not.

Holding up their parts as the Warthog, Pumbaa, and his little friend meerkat, Timon, are Seth Rogan and Billy Eichner. They are the comic relief, which is absolutely needed in light of the darker, more realistic looking, death, and fight scenes. While the original performers were great, these guys do quite well.

The villain lion Scar was Jeremy Irons the first time around. This time it is Chiwetel Ejiofor as the scary one. Ejiofor sounds to me at times like Alan Rickman at his evil best.

Donald Glover does not match Matthew Broderick as Simba. Others fall short of the original all-star cast as well. Critics have not been kind to Beyonce as Nala. We know she is there both to add star power and to sing a song. The part is lengthened to explain exactly how it is Nala found Simba, but the voice work lacks the energy and passion of Moira Kelly as the original.

When you compare the casts, you may wonder why more than James Earl Jones was not retained from the original. In many places, they did not do better. The Circle of Life opening is performed by different singers in the two movies, and the 2019 version fails to add the Elton John version to the soundtrack at the end. I think they missed the mark there too.

Still, this is a version worth the time, if only for the stunning visuals. By the way, I promised to mention the number one animated box office hit and here it is The Lion King 2019.

Sources include: Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (video),” disney.fandom.com

 

GETTING INCREASINGLY PISSED OFF

I tried out the block editor and now I can’t get rid of it. If I try to use the classic editor from my dashboard, I have to select it separately. As for older posts, it does NOT leave them as they were. Instead, it makes a godawful mess of earlier posts which it insists on opening using the block editor no matter how they were written. Which essentially makes them unreadable.

I have 11000 posts. Does this mean I can’t open old posts and rewrite them without completely reformatting each one? Seriously?

Have I mentioned that I really don’t think WordPress wants my business?

BIRDS, WOODS, TREES — SUNNY DAY IN SEPTEMBER WITH JUST A NIP OF AUTUMN IN THE AIR

Last night it got downright chilly. About four in the morning — which these days seems to be my automatic wake-up time — I got up, took the cover off the bed. Folded it and moved the next weight covering from the quilt rack and to the bed. We have three basic covers — very light, a bit weightier, and winter, which is to say, the down comforter. For those other weirdly in-between nights, there’s a very lightweight quilted cotton cover and a heavier quilted cover, and an actual made-by-the-Amish quilt that I really use because it has a lot of heft and make my feet curl up.

Birds are everywhere

Carolina Finch enjoying a snack. The black sunflower seeds are the big winners.

When I come out in the morning, there are birds everywhere. This morning there was a bright red Cardinal sharing a feeder with a brilliant yellow Goldfinch and at least half a dozen other species flying around. We have a big ladder-backed woodpecker who has a serious passion for one of our Catalpa trees. He bangs his head into it all day long, then drops by the feeder for, I assume, dessert. He is quite a big lad.

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It’s hard to tell the woodpeckers apart. The Downy, Hairy, Black and Ladderback all look very much alike, at least at a glance. This guy is just noticeably bigger than the Hairy and a lot bigger than the downy. Wicked beak, too. When he takes over a feeder, he stares down all the other birds. 

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So the question is first, can I use the block editor. Yes, I can. Will anyone else be willing to use it? That is a really big question and I don’t have an answer. I’m not convinced this format is going to work with my template or any template I choose. The templates have been crashing for quite a while already — and if they don’t fix them so they can work with the new editor, they will very soon not work at all.

Two woodpeckers, one feeder
Still blooming

Also, the roses are still blooming. Not with the enthusiasm of July, but definitely alive and well. How they have survived with so little rain, I do not know.

 

THE MOST TRUSTED MAN IN AMERICA

“And that’s the way it is” by Rich Paschall


With so many questionable sources of news in the world, who do you trust to give you reliable and up to date information?  At one time there was a radio, television, newspapers, and your grandma’s gossip across the back fence. You may also have had a few barroom buddies who seemed to be pretty up to date on the happenings in the nation and even the world. Now that there are so many more options, how do you know who to trust and what to believe? Network news? Cable news? Twitter posts?

Perhaps you still rely on Aunt Mildred. She always seems to be well-read and has a tidbit of news on everything. When she shows up at family gatherings she can easily dazzle those who would sit down to listen. She always shows up early to the parties and is willing to stay until the very end, as long as there are snacks and highballs around. Her whiskey-fueled news items show the great recall she has from the supermarket publications she picks up regularly. Sometimes she also gets the Sunday papers, but that is more for the store coupons than the news.

Then there is cousin Billy, also a regular at the family gatherings. He tries not to get into arguments with Aunt Mildred because her vocabulary is better than his. However, you just know he is right about his views of America. His sources may seem a bit murky, but if you can not trust someone you practically grew up with, who can you trust?

Your nephew Chad is probably much more up to date than the others because he is on social media all the time, reading up on politics, rock bands, and underwear ads. He often shows you those clever memes that contain some of the best quotes for your education on the latest issues.  If you mention a topic, Chad can find a meme, video, or highly respected blog that will educate you on what you need to know. At least the blogs are highly respected by Chad, and you respect Chad, don’t you? (Chad respects this blog.)

When I was younger (much younger) and staying with my grandparents, dinner had to be finished by 5:30 PM so that my grandfather could get to his favorite chair. We lived in the Central Time Zone and the CBS Evening News came on early. It was OK because it fit right into their retirement schedule. My grandparents had been farmers and were used to early breakfast and lunch, so 5 PM dinner did not seem too early. Their main source of news was a Monday through Friday evening broadcast.

It was not just that it was a news program. There were others at that time. He could have watched the venerable team of Chet Huntley and David Brinkley. He could have tuned to Howard K Smith and Harry Reasoner. But my grandfather only followed the man who came to be known as the most trusted man in America. Many years of news broadcasting had led one man to the top of his field.

Walter Cronkite Jr. was a broadcast journalist who started his career in 1937 covering major news events around the globe. Later he covered NASA and brought us all the early successes and some failures of the space program. You could rely on Walter to describe the event and educate you on space all at the same time. It was the facts that he brought to broadcast, not the spin.

Real journalism

In 1962 he became the anchorman of the CBS Evening News and the main face of the news division. If there was an important story, Walter told us about it. With a confident and authoritative tone and a grandfatherly face, people came to trust him with the news. In fact, as his tenure on the evening news went on, polls began to show that it was not a politician or entertainer that people trusted most, it was Walter.

In 1963 I recall watching Walter as he told us all about the assassination of President Kennedy and the events that followed. No, I did not see the earliest broadcasts live, I was in grade school.  But I did see all that followed. I have seen the early footage many times since in documentaries, as Walter had to tell a nation that the President was dead. To this day that broadcast will evoke tears.

"President Kennedy died at 1 p.m. Central Standard Time."
“President Kennedy died at 1 p.m. Central Standard Time.”

Walter advised us of what was going on in Viet Nam. Did it help turn a nation against the war? Walter told us about Watergate extensively. Did it help lead to the downfall of a President? If he influenced public opinion, it was not because he twisted the facts or spun their meaning, it was because he reported them.

After 19 years, Walter Cronkite retired from the CBS Evening News. CBS had a mandatory retirement age of 65 then. Today they would probably let him go on as long as ratings were good. He lived to be 92 and remained active for many years after “retirement.”

Are there any broadcasters today that enjoy the trust of American people like Walter Leland Cronkite Jr.? Yes, I know the answer to that. Everyone seems to be interpreting rather than just reporting. They all appear to have a point of view and we may trust them about as much as we trust Aunt Mildred. Of course, there are a few that trust Aunt Mildred a lot, “and that’s the way it is.”

MONEY AND FOOLS AND A PARTING OF THE WAYS

Although, a fool and his money are soon parted,
you don’t need to be a fool to be parted from your money. 

You don’t have to be a fool to be unwillingly parted from your money. You can merely be an idealist with a mediocre ability to judge the honesty of others or, as I seem to be, too trusting for your own good. Alternatively, an internet connection and a minute or two of carelessness can do the job. Or a router that lacks the most up-to-date protective software — and we’ve been looking for one that does have the most up-to-date software and they aren’t even for sale yet. How about a cellphone with a back door? How about a worm in your root directory?

Anyone can get hacked including the most sophisticated users. You don’t need to be old, stupid, or technically challenged. Hackers are smart. They have software and hardware more powerful than yours. If they are out to get you for whatever bizarre reason, they can do it. It might take a while, but they’ll get there.

It might not even be an internet problem. It can be an inept roofing job, an incompetent plumber, or simply a really bad workman. Maybe you hire a contractor who doesn’t complete the work, but walks off with your down payment. Unless it’s a lot of money, the odds are that you’ll win in court, but wind up with even less money than you had before. How about inspection companies that fails to notice any of the problems in the house? Were they inept or paid off? I could go on and on, but why bother? Especially when you get on in years, you become a target for every scammer and spammer on the Internet or any guy who owns a pickup truck and a ladder.

Your only other choice is to not go online — which given our current reality, is hardly realistic — or let your house fall apart. another impractical solution. So many things these days you can only do online. Our State government pretty much runs online. That’s how you get your driver’s license and your registration. These days, if you don’t have a cell phone, you get punished for it.

I am not alone in worrying about cell phones. I recently spent the money on an “unhackable” bag which supposedly protects credit cards and my cell phone. No matter what anyone says, they are easily hackable for anyone with the right software and you can buy the software online. People to distrust? How about anyone you bump into in the grocery store or hospital waiting room. I finally have a good phone and I enjoy it, but it worries me. It works better than our regular “landline” which isn’t a landline, but runs on VOIP on our WiFi. I often wind up using it rather than the other phone because it has better sound and on a good day, I can see my friends’ faces. But it worries me.

Checking to see if we are home? Or just one of those automated services that dials a thousand number a minute. They don’t care if you are there or not. Out of all the calls they make, someone will be home. One of them will give them them just enough private information to misuse. Hackers get smarter every day and so do the phony roofers, plumbers, and handymen. Last time, they hacked my router. I got a new router. But I bet they have a hack for that, too. Meanwhile, I discovered I couldn’t update my router without a cell phone and even with a cell phone, I couldn’t figure out how it worked.

The only problem? All the new routers have the same hackable software as the old routers. In theory, they are working on better software. In reality, by the time they work out how to upgrade current software to beat the current hackers, new hackers will be miles ahead of them. In the meantime, watch out for guy with a pickup truck, a ladder, and a willingness to do the job at half the price.

ALL TOYS PLEASE REMAIN IN THE ATTIC – GARRY ARMSTRONG

The phone rang. The caller ID flashed, showing one of Boston’s two major newspapers. I figured it was the sales department. I handed the phone to Marilyn. I heard Marilyn respond “yes” several times and was puzzled. We didn’t need and couldn’t afford expensive home delivery of newspapers. Then Marilyn said “He’s right here. Why don’t you speak to him?” She had a broad smile on her face. I was even more puzzled.

Long story short. The caller was a reporter working on a series about Boston schools and the history of court-ordered school desegregation. She was looking for people who had covered the story in 1974.

forced busing Boston
Photo: Associated Press

Apparently my name came up in her research. I confirmed I had indeed covered the story and shared a few anecdotes about the first day of what some called “forced busing.” I also shared some stories about my coverage of Boston schools over the following 25 plus years before I retired. To give some context, I mentioned that I’d also covered the civil rights movement for ABC Network before coming to Boston.

The reporter seemed impressed. We agreed to meet again for a more detailed interview. I hung up the phone and smiled. I looked at the Duke who was sitting next to me. He was grinning and obviously understood. I could read his mind. He’s not just any old fart who feeds and plays with me. He’s a legend. 

I looked at Marilyn with satisfaction. I wondered what she had said to the reporter when she took the call.

Marilyn smiled and recounted the conversation. “She asked if you were alive. Then she asked if you actually remembered what you used to do. I bit my tongue and didn’t say ‘That’s a matter of opinion.’ ”

I looked back at the Duke. He was still grinning. How fleeting is fame.