Tag Archives: The Avengers

My Year End Wrap Up 2012

Another year has slipped away, and here I sit, reflecting back on what entertained me in 2012.  I always start my wrap up by going back to the beginning of the year, to see how my interests have changed.  I began the year dividing my time between British stuff and vintage television shows…and that’s exactly where I find myself now.  Only the faces have changed!

Best Books:  Might as well get the embarrassment out of the way first.  Normally I read a couple of books a week, but I went 8 months out of the last 12 without finishing a single book!  Oh, the shame.  I could blame my eyes, since I need new glasses, but the real truth is that I spend too much time online.  Making videos has also sucked up my reading time, but that’s for another category.  Of the small selection of books read this year, I really enjoyed Okay For Now by Gary D. Schmidt, Call the Midwife by Jennifer Worth, and Confessions of a Prairie Bitch by Alison Arngrim.  (More about Arngrim’s book in an upcoming post.)  The biggest disappointment was Death Comes to Pemberley by P.D. James.

Best Television:  My television is usually always tuned to either Me-TV or CBS, except on Sunday night, when I watch Masterpiece on PBS.  I still enjoy The Big Bang Theory, but I do think it’s losing something from having too many separate storylines, with the characters spending less time gathered in the same living room.  More characters means less screen time for favorites Sheldon and Raj.  I discovered Leverage in reruns just as the show got cancelled, but at least I have five seasons to explore further.  Since September, I’ve been enjoying reruns of Emergency! on Me-TV.  Another season of Sherlock brought more delight, as well as more Inspector Lewis.  Thanks to a friend, I’m now back to enjoying EastEnders, the British serial drama, and already my life wouldn’t be complete without weekly visits to Albert Square.   This year’s favorite program was Call the Midwife, featuring new favorite Miranda Hart as the wonderful Chummy.  I can’t wait for more of this series!

Best Twitter:   I’m very picky about twitter.  Too much shameless self-promotion?  Unfollow.   Too many retweets?  Unfollow.   Too many conversations that should be private?  Unfollow.  No sense of humor?  I shouldn’t have been following in the first place!  I enjoy humor, whimsy,  and folks who don’t take themselves too seriously.   The most consistently entertaining tweets this year have come from Josh Groban.  I’ve also enjoyed following Russell Tovey.  I can count on a friend to share the best of Demetri Martin and The Onion, so I guess they count, too!

Best Theatre:  Oops.  Didn’t see any.  Never mind.

Best Movies:   I had good luck with the movies I saw in the cinema this year.  Mind you, I still haven’t seen three of the four films I was most looking forward to in 2012, so they will have to wait until 2013!  The Avengers was terrific, and I also enjoyed Life of PiThe Dark Knight Rises wasn’t a favorite, but Tom Conti and Joseph Gordon-Levitt made it worthwhile for me.   I saw my first 3D movie, John Carter, but I’m not a fan of the technology.  It was a great year for silents: Napoleon was stunning, and I also saw three films at the San Francisco Silent Film Festival, with The Canadian (1926) making the deepest impression.   Shah Rukh Khan’s Jab Tak Hai Jaan had an entertaining beginning and middle, but I was disappointed by the third act.  The best new film I saw in 2012 was Argo.

Best DVDs:  I spent six months of this year with Wagon Train at the top of my Netflix queue.  They never sent me any on the discs, and my queue always said “short wait.”  I could have bought the DVDs for the money I spent on my Netflix plan, especially since I wasn’t watching the discs they sent me instead.  I cancelled my account.   This means I can’t go look at my history for this year to review, but this an easy category.  The best DVDs of my year have been the classic television western Laramie, particularly seasons one and two.  When I’m not watching the episodes again and again, I’m making tribute videos and posting them on YouTube.  I now have more YouTube followers than blog followers!   Which leads me to a new category…

Best Time-Sucker-Upper:  Call it a hobby, a passion, an obsession, a skill or an art.  But this year I started making videos, and now I can’t stop.  I’d been making slideshows using still images at animoto.com, and this summer I tried using their template program for short video clips.  It was okay, but I didn’t like their wide border which wasted space, so it forced me to try Windows Movie Maker.  I had no idea it would be so much fun!  My Laramie tribute videos aren’t very interesting to people who aren’t fans of the series, but I’m proud of my channel and grateful for all my followers.

Best Music:  Mostly I’ve listened to older stuff this year.  When Davy Jones died, I started listening to lots of the Monkees.  I love Gaelic Storm’s album How Are We Getting Home? (2004), discovered in a stack of my own CDs that I never got around to hearing.  I’m definitely going to listen to more of this group in 2013.  I’ve also been enjoying lots of Kate Rusby.  One of my favorite new old songs is “Can’t Turn My Heart Away” by Art Garfunkel.  I’m still enjoying The Book of Mormon Broadway soundtrack, but I learned the hard way not to listen to it in public.  Even with earphones, you look like a nutter snickering at the lyrics.

Best Music Video:  My choices are never conventional, but that’s what you get for taking musical advice from me!   Here’s my favorite:

Never mind that it was uploaded in 2008.  It’s still the most adorable video I’ve seen on YouTube this year!  If you don’t know it, this is India’s national anthem. [the original video was deleted, so this is an updated link.]

Best New-To-Me Software:  Handbrake for ripping DVDs, and Google Talk for saving me a fortune on phone bills.  I chat now with friends around the world, without the complications of installing Skype, and no webcam to show everyone how hideous I look through a fisheye lens.

Entertainer of the Year:  Honorable Mention this year goes to Miranda Hart.  I discovered her in Call the Midwife, and now I’m enjoying her comedy on YouTube and her BBC series Miranda.  The winner is an easy choice.  In April, I purchased season one of Laramie on DVD, and by the end of May, I was a member of Robert Fuller’s official fan group.  While my favorite role is Jess Harper in Laramie, I’ve been enjoying Wagon Train, Emergency!, and all of Fuller’s other television shows and movies.   I’ve spent hours chatting with other fans, making tribute videos and collages, and searching ebay for vintage photos.  For so much entertainment in so many different ways, Robert Fuller is my Entertainer of the Year.  Thank you, Mr. Fuller!

Jess Harper whip blog crp

Robert Fuller in Laramie



Filed under Actors, Literature, Movies, Music, Television, The Internet, Videos

The Avengers

I ditched work this afternoon to see Marvel’s The Avengers.  It was okay though, because my boss went with me.  We both enjoyed the movie, and it certainly helped that we had previously watched Iron Man, Thor and Captain America together.  I would have been a little more up to speed if I’d seen Iron Man 2, since Scarlett Johansson’s character was introduced in that one.  Can you enjoy The Avengers without seeing any of the other Marvel films that came before?  I have no idea, but I think knowing the back stories of the characters definitely helps.  [Warning: this contains some plot spoilers. ]

Jeremy Renner and Tom Hiddleston on location in The Avengers

Jeremy Renner (great arms) and Tom Hiddleston (having a great time)

The happiest surprise for me is Mark Ruffalo as Bruce Banner.  I’m no fan of the Hulk, and even though I like Bill Bixby, I never enjoyed watching him as Banner in The Incredible Hulk TV series.  Ruffalo’s Banner is intelligent and wryly funny.  His exchanges with Tony Stark (Robert Downey, Jr.) make for some of the best moments in The Avengers.  Downey provides most of the comic relief, but even  straight-laced Captain America (Chris Evans) gets a laugh with his line about flying monkeys.  I really enjoyed Jeremy Renner (Hawkeye) but wish he didn’t spend most of the movie with the freaky makeup and eyes.  I just looked at his amazing arms during those scenes.  Everybody in the movie is scary fit, with so many bulging muscles and tight buns and those veins that pop out—do those have a name?—that I might end up with a bad inferiority complex now.  Best to avoid mirrors for a day or two.

I wrote in my review of Thor that I really like actor Tom Hiddleston (Loki).  I like him even more in this new film, because he’s obviously having a great time.  He’s also not as lean and hungry-looking.   I know he lost weight for Thor, but it was too much for my taste.  I can’t wait to see him as Prince Hal/Henry V in the BBC’s new Shakespeare history cycle.  (Here’s a preview clip!)  It was also fun spotting Ashley Johnson (Growing Pains) and Harry Dean Stanton in their small roles in The Avengers.  85-year-old Stanton appeared in Laramie and The Rifleman, my two favorite TV westerns.  I didn’t spot Stan Lee, but I wouldn’t know him if he fell on me.

I read some of the pieces online about Indians being annoyed about only the poorest part of Kolkata being shown in the film.   That segment was so short and quick, I’m sure I wouldn’t have paid attention if I hadn’t read about it beforehand.  I was just pleased to understand some of the Hindi, because of all the Indian films I’ve watched.  I will say that eleven years is still not long enough for me to be comfortable seeing New York City attacked, with sections of buildings falling down on people.  Why does it always have to be Manhattan, anyway?  Once the streets were clear of pedestrians, I was able to relax and enjoy the film again.

If you’ve seen The Avengers, let me know your thoughts.  If you haven’t, it’s important to stay for at least part of the credits at the end.  After the big names, before all the thousands of special effects folks start scrolling, there is an extra scene that sets things up for The Avengers 2.

Update:  Oops!  I just found out there were TWO bonus scenes during the credits.  I only stayed for one of them.  I had to ask another friend for a description of the second one, which comes all the way at the very end.  Now I’ll definitely have to rent the DVD.


Filed under Actors, Movies