THE FINAL NOTES ON THE “HOLIDAYS”

    This week is considered the final week before December 25th (”Christmas”) comes around. And since this writer won’t necessarily make any more comments about this time of year until the next season, we thought it would be ideal (if not timely) to cram in a few final notes.
By now, one should have received those Christmas cards either sent through standard mail or by way of electronic means, through the latter method isn’t a “card”, but a group of invisible computer files that is usually enclosed by way of a text message, an e-mail, an app, or a dedicated web site. However, for the sake of simplicity, we’ll note that this card will be of the physical type.
Besides the usual greetings scrawled within a card, one might receive a form letter that known as the “What-I-Did-The-Previous-Year” letter; that ever loving essay that’s composed in such a method where the letter mentions people, events, and related details that the reader may know or may not know of. These kind of letters, once common in the pre social media days, may not be as frequent as they used to be, since getting in touch with everyone is a whole lot easier. However, there are a few “old school” folks that still reply upon this letters. Besides, if one wanted to save these notes for sentimental purposes, it’s a lot easier to keep the letter that exists in paper form rather than attempting to somehow save the blurbs written on a Facebook wall or as a tweet. (One can do this, but the passion isn’t the same!)
And there are the Christmas photos taken that consists of all of the family members. These pictures range from a group shot that consist of the family in question, perhaps posed within a Christmas/Holiday surrounding. (Christmas tree, wreaths, everyone donning Santa hats, etc.) Other photos might have the family taken in a non traditional backdrop. (A shot with the gang at the Grand Canyon, or in a setting with no hints of a holiday, etc.) And there is the shot of perhaps a single adult person taken as a self portrait.
But hold on here for a moment! Sure, self portraits have been around since the beginning of photography. However, thanks to cameras that capture still imagery by way of a cell phone or through a dedicated camera (digital or even film), its a lot easier to take this form of picture. And to use what’s been called in the media as perhaps the “new” English word of the year, this modus of self portrait pic is known as the “selfie”.
The Oxford English Dictionaries, billed as the de facto source of the recognized of words used in the English language (ask and hard core Scrabble player if you don’t believe us), defines the word “selfie” (or “selfy”) as A photograph that one has taken of oneself, typically one taken with a smart phone or webcam and uploaded to a social media website. Many folks use this form of photography to enclose with their holiday greetings as expected, by way of the for noted electronic delivery protocol and devices.
So what does this discussion of “selfie” have to do with the final Christmas message of the season? Well, it has nothing to do with Christmas, or any other holiday! Because it’s the hottest word to use for the moment, perhaps folks that lean toward the high tech side of things that might just take advantage of grabbing their smart phone, hold it in front of their face at an arm’s length, and snap a digital still image of their smiling mug (assuming that the selfe is smiling), and post it on the social media outlet(s) of their choice to state “happy holidays” or something equivalent to that fact.
Now that this writer got this theory out of the way, we better get back with those last moment greeting messages to pass on to family, friends, and related, adding on a photo of the sender in question a.k.a. “me”!
And to all a good night!!
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NEWS AND REVIEWS
On December 18th, the Library of Congress’s National Film Preservation board announced their list of twenty five film titles that will be added as part of the LOC’s National Film Registry.
These titles that have been added to the registry are those that the Film Registry Board recognizes to be culturally, historically or aesthetically significant. Titles that are eligible to be listed must have been created ten years or longer.
The following titles have been added for 2013. A “*” mark denotes that this title is a short subject or amateur film a.k.a. a noncommercial theatrical title, along with their year of first release. “S” denotes that this picture is a silent feature.
Bless Their Little Hearts (1984)
* Brandy in the Wilderness (1969)
* Cicero March (1966)
Daughter of Dawn (1920) (S)
* Decasia (2002)
Ella Cinders (1926) (S)
Forbidden Planet (1956)
Gilda (1946)
* The Hole (1962)
Judgment at Nuremberg (1961)
* King of Jazz (1930)
* The Lunch Date (1989)
The Magnificent Seven (1960)
* Martha Graham Early Dance film (1931-44)
Mary Poppins (1964)
* Men & Dust (1940)
Midnight (1939)
* Notes on the Port of St. Francis (1951)
Pulp Fiction (1994)
The Quiet Man (1952)
The Right Stuff (1983)
Roger & Me (1989)
A Virtuous Vamp (1919) (S)
Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf (1966)
Wild Boys of the Road (1933)
For a complete list description of the above titles, read the official LOC press release at http://www.loc.gov/today/pr/2013/13-216.html
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LABOR DAY (Paramount) is a period melodrama that stars Kate Winslet and Gattlin Griffith as Adele Wheller and her thirteen year old son Henry. Living is al old rustic house in a small New Hampshire town, Adele has been withdrawn as her husband left the family to see a new life, as well as a new woman. Henry takes on the job of “house husband” keeping up with with the pace of the homestead. The entire feature’s time set is the Labor Day weekend c.1987. While on a shopping trip, the pair encounters Frank Chambers (Josh Brolin), a man that seeks help from an injury he received. Adele takes the man home as Frank is a gentle sole and once had a family. However, Frank is actually on the jam as he escaped from a hospital while serving time in the state pen for a murder he committed years before. (His wife and kid). But unlike the typical escaped con, Frank is more of a gentle soul, becoming the new man about the house. Soon, Aldele and Frank falls in love with one another, even planning to flee to Canada with Henry in tow. The question remains if Adele is willing to start anew, although she (and Henry by default) is harboring a criminal as a manhunt exists.
This feature film, based upon a novel of the same name by Joyce Maynard, has the same appeal of a TV movie seen on Lifetime, or any other programming source that caters to a female demographic. The pacing is rather slow and dull. Each of the three main characters act and speak in rather plodding tones, the same method that soap operas are normally staged. Any feature that has a con on the run would be considered a “thriller”. However, there are no thrills to speak of, just a lot of poky forerunning and slower dialogue. This feature is so lackluster, what goes on and how the dialogue is delivered is nearly unintentionally funny! (There are not enough laughs in it to even label this feature as a comedy!) Jason Reitman adapted the novel for the screen as well as directed this movie that would be better suited for the non theater viewing area. (i.e. TV or related electronic device!) The woman folk may enjoy this movie as a love story and about an emotionally broken woman that find her real desire. As for the men? Well, there’s always a comic book super hero feature to fall back on! (Thor perhaps?)
This feature also stars country singer Tobey Maguire is a non musical role. It’s also rated “PG-13” for TV-type violence, and TV level sexuality. Opening on December 25th in selected theaters.
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THE SECRET LIFE OF WALTER MITTY (Fox) stars Ben Stiller as the titled character. He’s an unmarried working stiff in a rather low position as a negative editor at Life Magazine. He also lives in a world of fantasy, occasionally zoning out to image himself committing heroic deeds that only play in his mind. He also takes a shine for coworker Cheryl (Kristen Wiig) a single mother who finds Walter a good friend and nothing beyond that. News comes around that the division Walter works for has been bought out and decides through a committee of three that the magazine will no longer be a print publication and will only be produced exclusively online. To create its final print edition, the magazine desires to use a photo taken by the legendary (and rather recluse) photographer Sean O’Connell (Sean Penn) who travels around the globe taking photos of unique and exotic places, usually in black & white and on film. The photographer himself sends a roll to Walter’s attention that contains the ultimate picture. However, Walter loses that single shot. Though circumstance and his vivid imagination, Walter embarks on a journey to find the picture as well as  meeting with this photographer that he admires, and to perhaps win the heart of Cheryl.
The feature is based upon the beloved short story written (and illustrated) by James Thurber, one of America’s legionary writers of the 20th century. However, unlike the short story in question that is charming and engaging, this film begins to lose its charm as it progresses. In its first third, Ben Stiller as the lovable loser-to-be Walter, holds its meek and humble persona where his fantasies are overblown special effects scenarios. (For instance, while awaiting upon an “El” platform for his commuter train, he hears a dog bark from a nearby building. He imagines that the dog detects a gas leak where the building will blow up within seconds. He leaps from the platform, rushes in the building to save the dog just moments before the building explodes!) Episodes such as the one described develops a few times that makes this feature amusing. However, when Walter goes on a far fledged journey to find Sean O’Conner to a remote section of Greenland, its focus begins to wander, making this trip as either a fantasy or reality. (Perhaps this is for the viewer to decide.) Steve Conrad adapted this tale for the big screen that adds a lot of characters and subplots that enhances the drive, expanding a story that can be told in less than an hour to a running time of a little over two. (125 minutes to be exact!)
The casting is appealing for what it is. Ben Stiller (who also directs) plays his role not so much as a milquetoast per se, but a man who would rather prefer a life of adventure while getting by in his own (real) world. Kristen Wiig as Cheryl is as amusing, but nothing remarkable. She could have been cast playing her same character in a “chick flick” or any romantic comedy title, both theatrical or made for TV. Sean Penn as Sean O’Connell is a photographer that chooses to hide, never staying in one place, working as a man with a camera that shoots his perfect shot while moving on to places unknown. He’s far from Walter’s world; the world that Walter desires to live in. (Not so much a spoiler alert, but Sean Penn’s character appears in the final portion of this feature!) The supporting players are also engrossing as well. Adam Scott appears as one of the bigwigs at Life that is orchestrating the change in management (sporting facial hair, making him appear as a comical creep), Kathryn Hahn is featured as Walter’s quirky sister and wanna be actress, Shirley MacLaine is cast as Walter’s mother, and Patton Oswald is cast as a tech support guy for the dating web site eHarmony. (More about this mention of the brand found in the paragraph below.)
What makes this feature as somewhat of a let down are two elements: the overuse of special effects (mostly in Walter’s fantasies) as well as the use of product placement. Besides eHarmony, Pappa John’s Pizza is noted as well, and to a lessor extent, Jeep vehicles; Not so much in the film itself, but in its cross advertising, placed within in-theatre ads, video placements on IMDb, as well as its own “channel” on YouTube that speaks for the special effects and stunts seen within this title–but that’s besides the point!
Overall, this feature is appealing for what it is. However, if one really had the deep desire to live the secret life of Mr. Mitty, look up the short story (use that search engine), or even take a look at the original 1947 release starring Danny Kaye produced by Samuel Goldwyn. (Among its twelve(!) producers, Samuel Goldwyn Jr. and John Goldwyn are part of this team, but who cares?)
This feature is rated “PG-13” for intense action scenes. Opens on December 25th at multiplexes nationwide.
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THE WOLF OF WALL STREET (Paramount) stars Leonardo DiCaprio as Jordan Belfort, a man that got involved in trading stocks during the financial boom period of the 1980’s. Working with another stock brokerage firm, he learns the ropes of trading stocks over the phone for hefty commissions. When the stock market takes a tumble in the fall of ‘87, Jordan takes on a job in a small time brokerage company working out of a strip mall storefront. Here, he trades penny stocks that have no value, except Jordan reaps his handsome commissions, enough to start his own trading company working out of a space that was once a body shop calling his firm Stratton Oakmont, He takes on a few trusted fellow traders through his various connections that become his head cronies: Donnie Azoff (Jonah Hill), Mark Hanna (Matthew McConaughey), Manny Riskin (Jon Favreau), Patrick Denham (Kyle Chandler), as well as Swiss money handler Jean-Jacques Saurel (Jean Dujardin) along with Jordan’s spouse Naomi (Margot Robbie) and his dad Max (Rob Reiner). They become the core of his team, reaping in cold hard cash while making it big. Jordan’s wealth exceeds far beyond imaged, living the fast life with total excess of the booze, broads, brawn, and a vast amount of drugs from ‘ludes to coke. His entire world begins to take a tumble (as well as for many of his flunkies) when the feds start catching up upon their heels. For Jordan and company, it’s another part of the life and times felt within the go-go money period during the waning years of the 20th century.
This is one of those movies that take upon a very amusing subject (money and greed) and runs away with it and then some! Leonardo DiCaprio as Jordan Belfort-the for titled wolf of Wall Street, plays his role as a good looking man obsessed by money, power, and to an extent, fame. He’s cocky, smart, but not as overly aggressive as many of the leaders of greed had been back in the day. (He’s a slightly subdued Donald Trump-type, minus the bad toupee!) The lead players also have their characters fit to their “T”! They may not be snide and belligerent but absorbing enough. Terence Winter’s screenplay, using its source from the same titled book written by the real Jordan Belfort, is fast paced and depicts the trading times quite well! (Although its source is based upon actual events, it’s mostly a fictional story!) There is plenty of action to be seen throughout; Not “comic book” action, but within the realms of numerous episodes where Jordan and his gang celebrate, yell, screw, get high, run, and at times attempt to kill one another thanks to the for noted money, power, and whatever will get ‘em off! Martin Scorsese directs a feature that uses plenty of his movie trademarks, such as depicting a boatload of interesting and amusing characters, speaking in complex scenes of dialogue that’s enough to keep the view intrigued, as well as hearing a selection of songs (many of these period numbers) played on the soundtrack! This film, as with many of the features previously directed by Scorsese, suffers from “invisible jukebox syndrome”–music played on the soundtrack that doesn’t appear to be coming from any physical source depicted in the scene! At times, the music played in the background works in harmony in some scenes, and there are a few settings that music scoring doesn’t really fit. However, such scoring does prepare the mood and feeling as the director desired! It’s also a very long feature, running at some three hours in length! But this time frame isn’t much of an issue here since the movie does run at a very rapid pace. (Make sure one’s bladder is kept in check–just in case!)
Will this title grab a few film related awards between now and toward the end of January? Most likely, and there will be a lot of pushing by Paramount with this title to become nominated for grabbing a few statuettes. As the fictional master of money Gordon Gecko once uttered, “Greed is good”, this movie is indeed good, especially in this current economy!
THE WOLF OF WALL STREET is rated “R” for drug usage, sexual depictions and  references, and cussing. Opens on December 25th at multiplexes nationwide.
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TIFFI’S FRIENDS SAY…
(As posted on her Facebook “wall”)
I accidentally bought Ray  vitamins for men age 50+. He is insulted. I personally don’t understand the problem. He looks great for 50!
-Rachelle

Doing my HAPPY Dance. For the first time in 20-plus years got on the scale and saw a weight UNDER 200 pounds. I’m going shopping for new clothes!
-Chris

Coloring. Good book. Conversation with my mom. Having fun with Fester the cat. A good workout and some good coffee. Laughing about silly stuff. Seeing family and friends. Making cookies. Not necessarily in that order. I love Christmas vacation.
-Shana

So I’m gonna attempt to make a pumpkin roll for my hubby tonight. I’ve done it before but it cracks when I roll it! I pray it works and is edible
-Cassandra

Oh, the weather outside is crappy but, I will still be happy. I’ve got work to do
-Janyce
As of December 23rd, Tiffi as 1,985 “friends” and counting
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This issue will be the final edition of Accessibly Live Off-Line for the 2013 calendar year. We will be taking a week off and will return with Vol. 19-No. 1, released during the week of January 6th, 2014.
On behalf of the staff and management of ALOL, we wish each and every one of you a very happy and safe holiday season.
See you in ‘14!
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WRITE TO US!!
ACCESSIBLY LIVE OFF-LINE
is a presentation of Linear Cycle Productions
AccessiblyLiveOffLine@gmail.com
http://AccessiblyLiveOffLine.wordpress.com
http://www.LinearCycleProductions.com

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ACCESSIBLY LIVE OFF-LINE (C) 2013 Linear Cycle Productions.
All rights reserved. The views and opinions are those of the writers, and not necessarily of the staff and management. ‘Nuff said!

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