January 2010 Archives

i was a communist for the fbi

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January 29 movie: I Was a Communist for the FBI. This was more what I had in mind. So over the top it was hilarious. The title says it all: Frank Lovejoy stars as an FBI agent working undercover as a member of the Communist party.

In this movie there are communists lurking under every rock. They twirl their handlebar moustaches, steeple their hands and murmur "Excellent" while plotting the overthrow of the US government. The Communist Party in the US is presented as being about the same as the Stalinist regime. Party members spy on each other constantly. When one party member objects to a violent tactic, another (an older woman) shrieks at her for being disloyal. And the party assassinates anyone who tries to quit.

According to the movie, the civil rights movement was a front for communists. In fact, the party leader explains that it's a fundraising tactic: they incite race riots, hopefully the rioting blacks kill somebody white, then when they get arrested the communists raise money for the "defense fund," except the communists keep the money. (Warning, this scene includes offensive terms for blacks.) Labor unions are also a front for communists, and in one scene, the communists start a riot at a strike, using lead pipes wrapped in Yiddish newspapers to beat the factory representatives, so the Jewish community will be blamed. Also, the communists have an army of schoolteachers infiltrating public schools. The teachers identify idealistic children and target them for indoctrination.

Everyone knows Lovejoy is a communist and he is universally reviled. His son disowns him, his brother beats him up at their mother's funeral, his neighbor tells him to stay away from the neighbor's son. Robert Osborne said that this movie was intended to placate HUAC, and the climactic scene, where Lovejoy finally gets to denounce the communists and vindicate himself, takes place at a HUAC hearing. After the hearing his son begs forgiveness for not trusting him, and he says he was proud of his son's intolerance. "Even when you hated me, I loved you for it." Just as with My Son John, there's no room in this world for differing points of view. You're either with us or against us, and anyone who's the tiniest bit liberal is either the dupe of communists, or being indoctrinated to become one.

The weird thing is that the movie accuses communists of cynically exploiting workers and minorities. But that's what the movie is doing. When the movie suggests that the civil rights and labor union movements were entirely driven by communist plots, it reduces the people in those movements to simpleminded puppets, unable to act on their own behalf.

I'm not an expert on this period of history, but I understand that the "red menace" wasn't invented out of whole cloth; there was a communist presence in the US, and some part of it had ties to the Soviet Union. And this movie is so far-fetched, so ludicrous, it makes that history seem less plausible.

my son john

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January 28 movie: My Son John. I had heard about this movie and had never been able to see it before. It's an extreme example of early 50s anti-communist hysteria, a cautionary tale about a simple, salt-of-the-earth older couple (Helen Hayes and Dean Jagger) who realize that their son (Robert Walker) is a communist. Walker eventually confesses to being a traitor, although he's never accused of any actual wrongdoing. According to the movie, his crimes include:

  • moving to the big city,
  • not going to church anymore,
  • using "two dollar words,"
  • not playing football in high school,
  • saying things like "our only hope is to learn to live with our fellow man. The globe is getting smaller. We must tear down our spite fences and love our neighbors," and "I love humanity. I love the downtrodden, the helpless minorities."
  • wanting a "lasting peace,"
  • having the apartment key of a woman who is arrested for being a communist.

The movie presents a world where all virtue resides in small towns, where people who don't fit in are suspect, where college is a recruitment ground for communism, where intellect and education are anti-American values which true patriots avoid. Early on the father tells Walker, "They tell us to be alert, and you talk like the people we're supposed to be alert against." And in the world of My Son John, the father is right. Walker is a bookish man with a dry sense of humor who doesn't like sports. Obviously he's a communist.

This movie made me sad. Not just because there are too many people who still think this way. Even worse, Robert Walker died during production of this movie. They had to piece his final scenes together with footage from other movies, mainly Strangers on a Train. Walker had real talent, and it's a damn shame that this is how his career ended.

My Son John is worth watching to understand the political climate of the early 50s -- a politician who said "Americans need to watch what they say and watch what they do" wouldn't have been condemned -- though I didn't enjoy the experience. And I strongly advise against reading the comments on IMDB, unless you're interested in lengthy discussions of whether disliking this movie makes you a pinko.

snowy white snow and jingle bells

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Georg drove me over to the station this afternoon. The roads were starting to clear, though still icy in spots especially in shade. Still, we made it over without incident. Super early too, as we had left enough time to push the car out of a ditch if necessary.

I played a little over an hour of songs about snow, which was a lot of fun. Here's the playlist. Several of the songs I played are associated with Christmas, although they never mention the holiday. Like "Let It Snow" or "Marshmallow World." The songs are about cold weather, and it's kind of a shame that no one ever plays them after Christmas. I did play one song that explicitly says Christmas: "Snowy White Snow and Jingle Bells." I couldn't resist, I love that song so much.

I had all the snow songs on one CD, which totally felt like cheating -- just sitting there letting the CD play out, and hitting "advance" if there was a gap between tracks -- but it was a good thing because one of the CD players was broken and the computing guy came in during my show to fix it. Doing my show with only 2 CD players is hard enough, add someone working on the CD player at the same time and it would have been ridiculous.

On the way home we had to take the long way around -- head up Hillsborough Rd away from town, go to Sparger and double back -- because during the afternoon some idiot had lost control and driven into a telephone pole. The wires were down and Cole Mill was completely blocked. The road wasn't that bad; they must have been driving really fast to hit the pole that hard. Thanks a lot, idiot.

off i go

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The sun's out today, and there's a steady flow of cars on the road, about one every 5 minutes. That's a far cry from our normal traffic level, but enough for me to feel comfortable venturing out this afternoon for my show.

Also, the DJ after me has a live band scheduled to perform on his show, and I just found out that he's not canceling. If Ross can manage all his equipment plus an entire band and all their equipment, then I can certainly get myself and my CDs over there. I think I'll try to leave really early so I can go to the store beforehand. That way I won't have to worry about it afterwards & can come straight home.

We got about 7 inches of snow total. Heaviest snowfall in I can't remember how many years. It was sleeting most of the day today which kept the total accumulation down.

We had a quiet day here. We watched movies -- Road to Utopia, It Should Happen to You and The Mummy 3 -- I worked on the Pat Robertson voodoo doll and we cooked -- buttermilk biscuits for a late breakfast, and corned beef hash for dinner. We made our own corned beef, which I had never done before. It was really easy and turned out pretty good if I do say so myself. I only stepped outside the house twice, to scatter bird seed on the snow. The birds loved it. We had crowds of juncos and wrens hopping around.

I am planning to go in to the station for my show tomorrow. We live on a busy road and I'm hoping the plows will come through before I have to leave. If not, I have driven on snow before, though it's been a long time. I think I can remember the basics: drive slowly, turn slowly, brake slowly. The only part of the drive I'm worried about is entrance to the station parking lot. It's a steep incline that I'd rather not have to deal with. I was thinking about driving to Whole Foods, parking in their lot and walking the rest of the way. Then I remembered, duh, I have three giant cases of CDs to take with me. I usually carry them in two trips. No way could I get all of them across campus in heavy snow when it's 20° out. I guess I could leave the heaviest case behind and just take the other two. That would make the show kind of suck but it would be easier to get there. Dang. Now I'm not sure what I'm going to do.

sometimes the forecasters are right

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We woke up to 5 inches of snow.* I know because I went far enough out to stick a ruler in the snow on top of an outdoor trash can. It's sleeting now, and it supposed to keep doing that until about 1 and then snow until early evening.

It's been so long since we've had real snow here. Georg has a rule of thumb that he takes the lowest snow estimate, divides it in half, and that's how much snow he expects. I guess I was thinking the same way because I was amazed to see more than a couple of inches, regardless of the predictions.

Besides measuring the snow, I also went out long enough to toss some bird seed on the ground. I splurged yesterday and bought a bag of premium "nut and fruit" birdseed. I probably wouldn't have bought it if the price had been marked, but what the heck, it was my birthday! I can buy one bag of super expensive birdseed if I want to. This morning the birds looked so sad, trying to find seed on the snow, so I tossed several handfuls of the seed on the ground under the feeder. It has a strong dried fruit smell. I hope the birdies like it.

*I almost titled this post a dirty joke about the relative merits of 5 inches, but decided against it.

discretion is the better part of valor

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We left for dinner, drove about a block, got a look at the road conditions, turned around and came home. Even the road we live on, which is busy and gets a lot of sun, was starting to accumulate. What is it going to be like in 2 hours when we'd be coming home?

Ah well. We have lots of nice leftovers, and we can go to Panciuto another night.

frozen white death from above

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So, we've been expecting snow tonight and tomorrow. Real snow, actual accumulation, not just a few flakes that melt before they hit the ground. Possibly significant accumulation.

I love a snow storm, and I love watching the pre-snow storm panic almost as much. Everyone, get to the store and buy eggs, milk and bread! Now! The french toast gods must be appeased! This time is great because it's happening on a weekend. All the fun of a storm, and minimal disruption.

The only problem today is that we have reservations at Panciuto, a really nice restaurant in Hillsborough. It's an occasion so we'd really rather not cancel. On the other hand, we don't want to be driving home on an icy interstate.

It wasn't supposed to start snowing until about 9, and our reservation is at 7:30, so we thought we'd be fine. Then a few minutes ago, I checked weather.com and their map showed that it was snowing here already. I chuckled at that -- even the weather map is panicking needlessly! Then I went and looked out the window. What do you know, it's snowing. Looks like it has been for a while.

I think we're still going to go to Panciuto. Because it's not supposed to get below freezing until around 11pm. So the roads shouldn't be icy tonight. Still, we'll probably leave early. I'm assuming they'll have no-shows, which will allow them to seat us early.

duchess of idaho

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January 27 movie: Duchess of Idaho. Esther Williams and Van Johnson starred in several movies together. This is one of their lesser efforts. It does have a few things going for it:

  • specialty numbers by Lena Horne, Connie Haines and Eleanor Powell;
  • a dance contest where Johnson and Williams have to hold a potato between their foreheads. They win and Williams is crowned the titular Duchess of Idaho;
  • a song called "Choo Choo Choo to Idaho." This was a real thrill because I'm working on a 4th of July show with a song for every state. There are a few states I didn't have songs for, and Idaho was one. Well, there's an instrumental called "Idaho." If I can, I really want to find a song with lyrics for each state. That leaves me with only a few states I still need songs for: New Hampshire, Nebraska, Arizona, Alaska, and possibly Maryland.

The really weird thing about the movie is that Mel Torme is in it, and he doesn't sing. Whaa?

the bride goes wild

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January 27 movie: The Bride Goes Wild. Van Johnson is a famous children's author, also a drunken lecher. June Allyson is a prim and proper schoolteacher doing the illustrations for his latest book. A monster child was introduced, and I think he was supposed to be cute in an "ain't I a stinker?" way, but in fact he was unwatchable. He made me glad I don't have children. I shouldn't include this on the movie list because I didn't watch the whole thing. I didn't even get to the half-way point. I'm only writing it up so I remember not to watch it again.

the guns of navarone

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January 25 movie: The Guns of Navarone. They showed this on The Essentials this past weekend. I have to say, I'm enjoying Alec Baldwin's stint on The Essentials much more than I expected to. I wonder how much he contributes to his dialogue. I assume there's a script of some kind; they're too articulate for it to be purely off the cuff. Still, Baldwin sounds like he's talking about the movies from an actor's perspective, and it's interesting to hear.

self-promotion

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I'm terrible at self-promotion. So bad that when the station asked specialty DJs to contact them about promotional flyers -- in full color, which they are going to hang, no effort required on our part -- I didn't respond. Because they're going to hang the flyers on campus, and I thought they should focus on shows that would appeal more to students.

Well programming contacted me & asked me to do a flyer, so I did. I think it turned out pretty good!
Divaville Lounge Flyer

I almost bought a new font, but good sense prevailed and I realized the retro fonts I already have are still perfectly good. I still kind of wish I had bought it. Mmm, new font.

optimism

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It's Johnny's Seed time! I just placed my seed order. This is an annual ritual that I love. It's pure optimism, unblemished by reality. I imagine my garden spread out in front of me, and I see not the overgrown, wild and wooly, rocky, solid clay, constant battle with weeds that I am slowly losing. In my mind I see perfectly cultivated, weed free garden beds full of rich loamy soil, just waiting for me to fill them with flowers and vegetables. I could grow everything in the catalog! And I will!

Okay, so I give myself an evening to flip through the catalog and indulge in that fantasy. Then I start thinking realistically about our garden space and what it can support. Johnny's is geared towards small commercial growers, and it has all kinds of unusual varieties. It's more cost effective for large quantities of seed. Packets are cheaper at the big box store, if it's something the big box sells.

I got lots of sunflowers and zinnias to fill all that new space in the back, that the goats cleared. Also snapdragons and calendulas for the front. Some vegetables: watermelon radish, poblano, a special zucchini called Costata Romanesco that we really like, and a new variety of cilantro that's supposed to bolt more slowly. Also some more asparagus to fill out the bed, we lost some in the drought two years ago.

And I also ordered a gallon of liquid seaweed/fish emulsion. It's great fertilizer and hard to find locally. I think I got it before from that 5th Season place in Carrboro, for way more expensive than Johnny's.

All in all, a good shop! There are a few seeds I'll get from the big box -- chard, beets, basil, sugar snaps -- where I don't need some unusual variety. And a few other vegetables -- tomatoes, eggplant, onions -- which we'll get plants from the farmer's market. I used to grow tomatoes from seed until the farmer's market started to have vendors with a great selection of heirloom tomato plants. We always grow one each of 5-6 tomato varieties. It doesn't make sense to buy six different seed packets when we only want six plants.

the getaway

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January 23 movie: The Getaway. Not the original with Steve McQueen and Ali MacGraw; this was the remake, with Alec Baldwin and Kim Basinger. What's that, you say? Why on earth would I watch a crappy remake instead of the classic original? That sounds so unlike me!

Well, I watched it because of an interview with Joss Whedon. It turns out that Joss' first job in Hollywood was writing looplines. Which means coming into a movie that's already been filmed and writing new dialogue to be added to over-the-shoulder shots where you can't see the actor's face. It's much cheaper than filming entire new scenes (which wouldn't even be possible in many cases). Apparently they do it all the time in the editing phase, if they're having trouble getting the movie to work. Sometimes they just need to add a few good lines, to make a movie funnier or give it snappier dialogue; sometimes they do more extensive work. Joss said that when they're trying to make the movie make sense, it's almost like adding narration.

So Joss' first Hollywood job was writing looplines, and one of his first projects was The Getaway. And the way he described it: "if you look carefully at The Getaway, you'll see that when people's backs are turned, or their heads are slightly out of frame, the whole movie has a certain edge to it," made it sound like almost another movie within the movie. A secret Joss Whedon film hidden inside a dumb 90s action flick? This I had to see.

Well, either Whedon oversold his impact on The Getaway, or I'm not as good at interpreting movies as I thought. Because I really didn't see it. It was still the same crappy movie when the actors' backs were turned as when you could see their faces. There were a couple of moments where I thought, okay, that's Joss. For instance, there's a scene where Baldwin is chasing a man on a train. The camera is behind Baldwin, and a woman jumps in front of him and asks him to help her put her bag away. He grabs the bag, shoves it into the overhead compartment, and then says "No problem" as he blows past her. The timing and the casual way he says the line, that was very Joss.

The most obvious example was a scene where Baldwin and Basinger are holding up a gun shop owner. Baldwin tells the guy to get down on the floor, and as soon as he disappears behind the counter he starts talking, "Right, I know the drill! Count to 100, okay, 1, 2, I need a new job! 3, 4..." That was the only example I noticed where the "face out of frame" dialogue is unconnected to the rest of the scene and also changes the tone of the scene. Before that line it's not a funny scene. Once the shop owner starts talking, well, it wasn't classic wit for the ages, but it clearly gets the point across that the viewer can relax, nothing bad is going to happen (at least, not to that guy).

I guess the fact that I only noticed it a couple of times, maybe is a sign of Whedon's skill. Because he managed to integrate the new looplines so well into the dialogue that was already there, it comes off as one whole.

how to save a marriage and ruin your life

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January 22 movie: How to Save a Marriage and Ruin Your Life. The sleaziest of sleazy sex comedies, this starred Dean Martin, Eli Wallach, Stella Stevens and Anne Jackson. It was kind of like Pillow Talk, except much more ... well I was going to say misogynist, but the movie seems to hate men as much as it hates women. At first it was appalling and then it became hilarious because it was so awful. The fact that people thought this was funny, that's what's funny.

I'm being a little unfair -- the acting is good, the comedic timing is good, there are some genuinely funny moments. It's just that the humor is so, deeply fucked up. It makes you wonder how men and women ever managed to fall in love, if they disliked each other that much. If you thought How to Murder Your Wife, Boy's Night Out and A Guide for the Married Man were funny, well, first of all, I don't want to know you. Secondly, you should try to catch How to Save a Marriage and Ruin Your Life. You'll love it.

cast a dark shadow

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January 19 movie: Cast a Dark Shadow. This was really, really good. Dirk Bogarde stars as a sleazy opportunist who marries a rich older woman, kills her for her money but botches it up. It sounds like I've just given away a major spoiler, but no, that was the first 15 minutes of the movie. The performances are terrific, especially Bogarde -- he has this way of sounding all sympathy and caring, while throwing a look of pure contempt, which is just chilling -- and Margaret Lockwood as Bogarde's second wife, a hard woman who is more than his match. My only criticism is that in the second half of the movie, the plot was a touch obvious. More than a touch actually. There's a major plot "twist" which you can see coming a mile away. Still well worth seeing for the acting.

die, die my darling

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January 18 movie: Die, Die My Darling. Whoo-ee, talk about stinkers made by legendary actresses late in life. This was almost the final film role for Tallulah Bankhead. Who was actually more of a theater star than a film star, and was in hardly any movies. She's probably best known for Lifeboat, though my favorite is the Depression-era Faithless. Anyway, I read that as she reached a certain age, appearing on stage every day became too physically demanding. She was offered this script for a Hammer film (called Fanatic in England) and agreed to do it because other actresses like Bette Davis were doing cheap horror movies, why couldn't she?

Bankhead stars as a religious fanatic (thus the title) mourning the death of her young son. Stephanie Powers, the son's fiancée, visits Bankhead, they clash over religion and morality, and Bankhead decides that she has to protect her son's immortal soul by locking Powers in the attic and tormenting the sin out of her.

I think religious fundamentalism must be somewhat different in England. When you hear "crazy religious fanatic" in a Hollywood movie you expect a certain type of character, which Bankhead's Mrs. Trefoile was not. She reminded me a lot of the preacher in Cold Comfort Farm. Except that guy wasn't eeevvvill. But the habits, the way they speak and the way they read from the Bible, fairly similar.

finishing school

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January 18 movie: Finishing School. Another pre-code drama, this one stars Frances Dee as a new student at, you guessed it, a finishing school. It's a snooty place concerned not with providing a genuine education or building character in the students; just with appearances and the school's reputation.

Dee is dumped off at the school by her selfish, frivolous mother, Billie Burke (the most negative character I've ever seen her play). Dee is immediately corrupted by her roommate, smart-mouthed party girl Ginger Rogers. Rogers sneaks Dee out of school one weekend and takes her to a hotel party where some guy tries to rape her. She's rescued by Bruce Cabot, a medical student working as a hotel waiter. Dee and Cabot start spending time together, fall in love, and she gets pregnant. The finishing school headmistress (Beaulah Bondi) and Dee's mother are horrible about it, concerned only with how it will reflect on them, Dee considers suicide, then Cabot rides to her rescue. Did I mention this movie was pre-code? There's also a hilarious scene of Dee and Rogers rolling around on the floor of their bedroom, wrestling over a bottle of bathtub gin. The pre-code equivalent of a pillow fight I guess.

Even for a pre-code movie the morality of Finishing School is surprising. The only people who condemn Dee's pregnancy are the villains. Of course Dee and Cabot agree to get married at the end, but they don't express any regret about having sex first. I read reviews complaining that the plot was so vague as to be incomprehensible, though I don't think that's true. No one ever says the word "pregnant" but it's clear what they mean. I think to a 1934 audience it would have been completely obvious.

broadway melody of 1936, night nurse

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January 17 movies: Broadway Melody of 1936 and Night Nurse. Two that I never miss an opportunity to watch. Broadway Melody of 1936 is a silly bit of fluff, most worth watching for Buddy Ebsen's first movie role (and, I think, the only one for his sister Vilma). Night Nurse is a pre-code sleazefest starring Barbara Stanwyck, Clark Gable and Joan Blondell. Both are great fun.

battleground

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January 16 movie: Battleground. I love this movie. Van Johnson leads a terrific ensemble of infantrymen during the Battle of the Bulge. This time I paid attention to James Whitmore who played the sergeant. It was a really good performance. All the actors are really good. My only complaint is that I wish the characters had had a little more depth instead of being the usual cast of cliches. It's still a great movie.

the big cube

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January 16 movie: The Big Cube. Oh, lordie! This was one of the best "so bad it's good" movies I've ever seen. Lana Turner stars a rich widow being driven insane by her horrible stepdaughter and the stepdaughter's sleazy drug dealer boyfriend. They want her money, so they dose her with LSD and make her freak out and it's so trippy, man! Acid is groovy, kill the pigs!

The Big Cube is so bad I don't know where to begin. The depictions of acid trips are ludicrous (and yes, I know what I'm talking about). The stepdaughter's best friend is one of the worst actresses I've ever seen. The drug dealer is played by George Chakiris of West Side Story and is 15 years too old for the part. The stepdaughter has a mystery accent, Eastern European maybe? which no one else shares and is never explained. Lana Turner, who was still under 50 years old, is filmed through a hilariously thick filter (think Liz Taylor in the "these have always brought me luck" White Diamonds ad). Also, Turner wears the partial wig/hairpieces which were fashionable at the time and they don't match her hair. The wig and the hair are totally different shades. I wonder what other hair & makeup flaws I would have seen if the lens hadn't been covered with Vaseline.

Basically this movie is Reefer Madness for the 60s. I enjoyed it immensely. The only fly in the ointment was seeing a star of Lana Turner's stature in a movie like this. Lots of golden age stars did these horrible movies late in life, and it always makes me sad. You know, it's conventional wisdom that mass culture in our era is youth obsessed, but it does seem to me that there are better parts available for older stars today. Jane Fonda isn't doing Trog, is what I'm saying. I'm just glad The Big Cube wasn't Lana Turner's last role. I think she ended up playing the matriarch on a nighttime soap. Falcon Crest maybe.

an eye and an eye

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the eyes have itIn brighter news, my doll eyes arrived! Six pair of 18mm blue eyeballs. You wouldn't think it would be so hard to find eyes for dolls and stuffed animals. At least, I wouldn't. I was surprised to discover the selection in the big craft stores so poor. They all have tons of googly eyes, and maybe, possibly, one size of brown stuffed animal eyes. If you want doll eyes or cat eyes or a different size of animal eyes, forget it.

if at first

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The Pat Robertson voodoo doll got delisted again. Looks like this time the problem was that he claimed the doll contained the actual soul of Pat Robertson. He relisted the doll (third time now) with a much shorter description that quotes the policy against selling "intangible or invisible items" and stipulates that he can't prove the existence of the soul.

I was thinking this evening that if the problem is the charities are offended, then I could do it by not going through the "Ebay Giving Works" thing. I could just list it as a regular sale and state that 100% of the proceeds after Ebay fees would go to a charity benefitting Haitain relief of the buyer's choice. That way it wouldn't be associated with any particular charity. It would just be a sale, followed by a (large, I hope) donation.

But, it may be that Ebay simply isn't going to allow the auction of a voodoo doll that looks like a specific person. In which case, maybe I shouldn't make my Robertson voodoo doll. The whole point is to raise money and I certainly wouldn't want to be stuck with it in my house. I don't even have room in the house for cute amigurumi that I like. It's too bad because the design I has in mind would have been pretty cool. I was going to make it so you could open up his suit and look inside the chest and see his shriveled black heart.

where's your sense of humor

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A few days ago I heard about a brilliant fundraising idea to benefit Haiti: a Pat Robertson voodoo doll being sold on Ebay. How clever!

With a cute handmade doll and a funny description, bidding was already above my budget by the time I saw it. So I wrote to the seller and asked if he minded if I made a similar doll and also auctioned it for charity. I feel like I've had enough practice with crocheted toys that I could design a person pretty well, and I had some ideas that would distinguish mine (like, I could print copies of Robertson's sermons off the net, shred them, and stuff the doll with the paper. Also knit a shriveled, blackened heart and sew it inside, photographing it first so people would know what they were getting).

The seller said sure, just asked me to wait until his auction was over so that people would feel like they were getting something unique. Totally reasonable, so I said okay and bookmarked his auction. I've been watching it every day, watching the bidding shoot up higher and higher and wondering if these were really legitimate bids and how much money he was going to raise by the end of the auction. It was over $1,200 when I looked last night.

Until just now, when I checked and discovered that the auction had been delisted at the request of the charity. He relisted it with a new charity (it was originally the Red Cross, now it's Habitat for Humanity). He also added a note that he's not advocating violence, and please don't try to hurt the real Pat Robertson. I wonder if the new auction will last or if Habitat will also object.

So I wonder if I should make my doll or not. I had just finished the design and was planning to get supplies this evening and then start working on it tonight. But I promised the guy that I'd wait until his auction is over, and now the clock has been reset to 10 days. And if the charities all object, then it might end up being wasted effort.

I only need a couple of yarn colors, mostly I can use what I already have. So I think I'm going to go ahead and get the yarn. Then wait a day or two and see what happens to the current auction. I guess I can understand why a charity wouldn't want someone raising money in their name by mocking multiple religions and attacking a public figure, even one as vile as Pat Robertson. Still, it was a lot of money. Where's their sense of humor?

what not to do

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the shout

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January 16 movie: The Shout. This is a weird movie, about a guy (Alan Bates) who lived with the Australian aborigines and learned their secret magic. Including the power of The Shout. The Shout means he stands there and shouts, and everyone who hears The Shout dies. The Shouty guy invites himself into the home of an unhappy couple (John Hurt and Susannah York), seduces the wife, talks a lot, acts all broody, does The Shout, and that's it really.

The movie isn't really scary, more atmospheric and creepy. Also fairly vague and ambiguous. Hurt's character is an experimental musician who spends his time using a synthesizer to distort sounds like scraping a tin can, a wasp crawling over the mic, smoking, etc. The movie is beautifully filmed and acted; besides Hurt, York and Bates, Tim Curry is also in it. Also Jim Broadbent is credited but it's only a bit part, as one of the cricket players in the movie's framing device.

When I read the info description I thought this movie was going to be unintentionally funny, but it was well filmed and well acted enough to avoid "bad/good" territory. Well, it is funny at one point: when Bates does The Shout. The camera is down on the ground looking up at him shouting, and you can see right up into his mouth and he had terrible teeth. Tons of metal fillings. It's supposed to be the most intense moment of the film, the demonstration that his powers are real, and all I could think was, dude. They're called crowns. They had crowns back in the 60s didn't they? Even in England.

the mercenaries (dark of the sun)

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January 14 movie: The Mercenaries (alternate title: Dark of the Sun.) Rod Taylor stars as a mercenary in the Congo in 1964. He and buddy Jim Brown are sent on a mission ostensibly to rescue a European community about to be overrun by rebels, actually to "rescue" the cache of diamonds hidden in the community. It's an action flick, well made though I'd call it a B movie. Along with Taylor and Brown are the typical action movie ensemble: there's a "frenemy" they need and can't trust, a former Nazi who wears an Iron Cross; a drunken doctor who gets a chance to redeem himself; a woman (Yvette Mimieux) they rescue on the way, whose job is to fall in love with Taylor; and many African soldiers who mostly are not given distinct personalities. I guess in a movie set entirely in Africa, one African who was an actual character was considered enough.

The movie was made in 1968, soon after the events it depicts, and I have to say it is far and away the most violent movie I've ever seen from that era. I would be unsettled by that level of violence in a movie today; forty years ago it must have been unheard of. Early in the movie two children are shot in cold blood as suspected spies. Most notorious is a sequence where the rebels (called Simbas) capture one car of the train full of escaping civilians. The rebels are shown gleefully torturing and killing the civilians. Women and men raped, a person dragged behind a motorcyle while gasoline is poured over him, a flaming torch shoved in someone's face, it's a stunning level of violence. Not gory, it wasn't a splatter film, but extremely graphic. There are also a couple of very violent fight scenes that are more conventional action movie fights (though one features a chain saw, and trying to crush someone's head under a train!) and not so high on the scale of man's inhumanity to man.

I read that the movie took a lot of criticism at the time for being so violent. The director said that when he researched the real situation in the Congo, the violence he learned about was so much worse than what he showed in the movie. Though as Georg says, that's really no answer to the charge that the movie was gratuitous. I'm not sorry I saw it, but I would caution anyone who's sensitive to that sort of thing. This movie is not for the faint of heart. I read that Tarantino was a big fan of The Mercenaries and used a couple of pieces from the soundtrack in Inglourious Basterds.

that was unexpected

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I just got a spam comment for Sita Sings the Blues. The weird thing is they don't seem to be selling anything themselves. The spam comment links to Amazon. So strange.

comrade x / ninotchka

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January 13 movies: Comrade X and Ninotchka. TCM is doing a feature on movies about Russia this month. These movies are very similar. In each, an American (Clark Gable or Melvyn Douglas) woos a dedicated Soviet (Hedy Lamarr or Greta Garbo), warms her heart and wins her over to the decadent ways of the bourgeoisie. I think Ninotchka was first and Comrade X was made because of Ninotchka's success. Both are hilarious, well worth watching. Ninotchka is a better movie, but I adore them both.

Both include Felix Bressant, Sig Ruman and Oskar Homolka in very funny supporting roles. I guess they were the go-to guys for playing comic Russians in the 1930s.

get smart

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January 12 movie: Get Smart. Georg wrote a review with pretty much everything I wanted to say. So I'll just add that I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this. I got it from Netflix figuring it might have one or two decent jokes. (Like for instance, the Bewitched remake. Which as I recall was terrible, except for the completely hilarious opening credits for the show-within-the-show. One brilliant gag in the middle of a weak sauce movie.) And I was very glad to be proved wrong.

I also liked how the movie rose above some staple gags -- for instance when Max says he had recently lost a lot of weight, I groaned inwardly, oh lord, here come the fat jokes. And there were a few, but mostly the jokes were about how Max is now a carb-obsessed jerk who's terrified of food. Even the fat joke set piece (where Max dances with a very large woman) turns out to be more about how well they dance together, and the other couple trying to keep up with them.

just a minute

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The Doomsday Clock people gave us another minute.

(Also, they have a bad link in their own press release. Their website is TurnBackTheClock.org not TurnBlackTheClock.org. Oops!)

36 hours

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January 11 movie: 36 Hours. Thriller starring James Garner as a US intelligence agent with prior knowledge of the landing at Normandy. He's captured by the Germans just before D-Day, and scientist Rod Taylor creates an elaborate psychological ruse to get the information out of him.

It's an excellent movie. I've seen it several times and was happy to see it come up again on TCM. Much of the movie is from Taylor's point of view, which creates an interesting tension. His character is presented as a scientist working for his country rather than a Nazi true believer. Also and most delightfully, the movie features both Sig Ruman and John Banner! Lucky they never appear on screen at the same time. We might have had a Sgt. Shultz Singularity or something.

There are a few implausibilities -- first of all, no one with the knowledge in Garner's head would have been allowed to leave Britain and risk capture. It's a colossal mistake that just wouldn't have happened. Also Eva Marie Saint's character is somewhat problematic. She plays a concentration camp survivor compelled to help Taylor under threat of being returned to Auschwitz. It makes no sense that they would pull someone from a death camp and put them to work in an experimental interrogation program. The story is that she's so desperate not to go back, that she'll do anything they want. Which is no explanation at all. There must have been plenty of Germans who would have been eager to help gain such vital information. Why the need to use a prisoner from a reviled group? Also, major anachronism, during the movie Saint shows Garner the tattoo on her arm to explain her past. But in 1944 an American would have had no idea what that meant.

These are quibbles, and I did very much enjoy the movie. The cat-and-mouse between Taylor and Garner is well worth watching.

honesty is a refreshing change

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A marriage equality opponent tells the truth for once.

One of the arguments that the anti-gay-marriage side has increasingly turned to outside the courtroom is that allowing same-sex marriage would hurt heterosexual marriage. At the pretrial hearing, Judge Walker kept asking Charles Cooper, the lawyer defending Proposition 8, how exactly it did so. "I'm asking you to tell me," he said at last, "how it would harm opposite-sex marriages."
"All right," Cooper said.
"All right," Walker said. "Let's play on the same playing field for once."
There was a pause--it seemed like a long one to people in the courtroom, though it was probably only a few seconds. And Cooper said, "Your Honor, my answer is: I don't know. I don't know."

I've never understood this argument that gay marriage threatens straight marriage -- beyond disagreement, I can't understand what it means -- and I'm kind of amazed to see a lawyer defending marriage inequality admit that he doesn't either.

the stranger

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January 10 movie: The Stranger. Post-war thriller starring Orson Welles as a Nazi mastermind posing as an American college professor, Edward G. Robinson as a detective tracking him, and Loretta Young as the woman who unwittingly marries him.

I saw this years ago, and I have to admit I enjoyed it more the first time. I think the first time I didn't see the very beginning, so I missed a major structural flaw: the movie begins when Robinson arrives in the small town where Welles is living. Which means that Welles is acting all creepy and skulky from the first moment we meet him. The movie doesn't spend any time making his cover story convincing. So I spent the movie wondering how on earth Loretta Young could be stupid enough to marry that guy. Look at him, he's obviously an evil lunatic of some kind!

On the bright side, the suspense is handled very well. I remembered basically what was going to happen, and I still found myself on the edge of my seat. And it has a hamtastic climactic scene. Scenery chewing like only Orson Welles could do.

life begins

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January 5 movie: Life Begins. Melodrama about pregnant women in a "waiting ward." Which is where they used to put the women who were about to deliver, especially the ones who were expected to have a difficult time of it. Loretta Young stars as a woman convicted of murder who's been let out prison to deliver her baby. She was in her prime and she's just riveting. Incredible presence on camera. And there's a nice ensemble surrounding her. All cliches: the kindly, naive older woman; the sassy unmarried flapper who doesn't want to be burdened with children; the wise, devout Italian who barely speaks English; the wisecracking nurse with a heart of gold; etc.

It's not subtle drama for the ages, but still worth watching just because it was so rare to see pregnancy depicted in a movie back then. It was pre-code and I'm guessing that's why it could be made at all. Even so, none of the women look at all pregnant. It's kind of hilarious: rows of them lying in their hospital beds, supposedly all ready to pop at any moment, and nary a bump to be seen.

independent lens: billy strayhorn

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January 5 movie: Independent Lens: Billy Strayhorn. Wonderful PBS documentary about Billy Strayhorn. I did a show about him in November, and to prepare for the show I read 2 books about him and listened to hours upon hours of his music. And still I learned a lot from this documentary. Watch it if you get the chance! And then tell me how you saw it -- we missed the first few minutes and I really want to see it again so I can catch the whole thing.

3 idiots

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January 9 movie: 3 Idiots. This was great! It's a new movie -- we went to a theater, woo! -- starring Aamir Khan as one of three friends at an engineering college in India. We wanted to see it because we saw it featured in a "new Bollywood movies" TV show while we were on Staten Island over the holiday. I have to admit, I went into it expecting Khan's age to be a problem. He's 44, and the TV show spent a lot of time on their efforts to make him look like a college student. I thought it was going to be ridiculous, and in truth, he is way too old for the part. But the movie is so fun and engaging that I got over it almost immediately.

Like all Bollywood comedies, 3 Idiots has everything. It's a college comedy which seems inspired by Real Genius, and a romantic comedy, and a family melodrama, and a coming-of-age story, and a send-up of previous movies. At one point they visit the friends' family homes, and one impoverished family is described as "something out of a 1950s movie." It was pure Satyajit Ray and they even switched to black and white for those scenes.

There's a fun song which is a pastiche of Bollywood dance number cliches. Because the movie is still in theaters and the DVD isn't out yet, I couldn't find a youtube clip of the full song. Here's an excerpt:

(direct link if you can't view the embedded video)

We also very much enjoyed the dance number "All Izz Well." This was Aamir Khan's motto throughout the movie, and they do a very funny number in the men's bathroom at the college. Again, I found a decent clip though the full number isn't available yet.

(direct link if you can't view the embedded video)

In general I thought that the songs were not as good here as in Dev.D. the songs in 3 Idiots were just more ... conventional movie songs I guess. But the staging of the dance numbers was terrific. They were a joy to watch; the whole movie was. It was also interesting to see a movie about college life in India. I wonder how realistic it was. My guess is probably exaggerated to some degree, just as movies about college in the US are generally exaggerated. But it most have had at least some degree of reality, judging by how much the audience enjoyed it. There were lots of moments that seemed only mildly amusing to me, which got big laughs from the Indians in the audience.

dev.d

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January 8 movie: Dev.D. I confess, I didn't watch the whole movie. Just the songs. It's a modernized version of a historical novel. We gathered from the songs (which were pretty well integrated into the movie) that it's about a guy who's in love with a girl, he's a jerk to her, she marries someone else, he falls into a downward spiral of booze and drugs, and eventually turns himself around through the love of a prostitute with a heart of gold.

The songs are terrific. My favorite was the fiendishly catchy "Emotional Atyachar." Elvis impersonators and a brass band. What more can you ask for?

(direct link if you can't see the embedded video)

The song is performed at a wedding reception, and it's the most inappropriate wedding song imaginable. The lyrics, according to the subtitles, are like "love is torture, why did you ditch me, why don't you kill me too, the devil take your beauty, the devil take your love." Here's to the happy couple!

Even more fun is the obscene version. I gather it's hysterical if you speak Hindi, and there are several audible "fuck"s in English. It sounds like they're rhyming "mind fuck yar" and "atyachar." Georg looked it up and emotional atyachar means "emotional blackmail" or "manipulation" so maybe they are singing "mind fuck."

There's also a good song set in a nightclub with old school breakdancers:

(direct link if you can't see the embedded video)

speechless

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I come up for air after a long work day and discover that this morning, Rudy "A Noun, A Verb and 9/11" Giuliani said that there were no domestic terror attacks during George Bush's presidency.

Without 9/11, what is Rudy ever going to talk about?

i live my life

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January 4 movie: I Live My Life. Joan Crawford stars as a spoiled socialite who, while on a cruise around the Greek islands, stumbles onto Brian Aherne's archeological dig. She spends a couple of days toying with him because she's bored, pretends to be a working class person like him, encourages him to fall in love with her, then when he promises to follow her to America, she gives him a false name and address. Put like that, it makes her sound like a miserable piece of shit. But we've all been there, amirite?

This movie was hard for me to watch because I spent the whole thing yelling at Aherne to get the hell away from Crawford. Run, man, run for it! A life with her wouldn't be worth living! This is not the best response to a romantic comedy.

chance barbecue encounter

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This evening I went to Michael's to get a gift box for a belated Christmas gift (their leftover holiday stock is picked over, scattered all around the store, and super super discounted!) and then went to Backyard Barbecue Pit for takeout dinner. On the way in I saw my favorite FedEx guy from when I used to work in Chapel Hill! We used to have a friendly chatting acquaintance because he came to our office several times a week. From him I learned that a good route is one with lots of stops within walking distance of each other, and mostly letters and small packages. A bad route is one with very few stops and lots of big packages. For instance he mentioned the hospital was one of the worst routes in his area, because the driver might spend the whole day unloading boxes at one dock.

I kind of messed things up with the FedEx guy one day when he came in and asked me if our office was going to be open on Friday. "Why," I said, "is it a holiday or something?" He literally recoiled, with a look of sheer horror, and then I realized that he was talking about Good Friday. Whoops! That company was all workaholic atheists, and while not the former I was very much the latter. And so I tended to lose track of holidays (especially the religious ones) when I worked there.

I tried to cover but it was too late. It was never the same with the FedEx man. From then on he acted polite but uncomfortable around me. Today he was distant, though of course I have no idea if he remembered me beyond being one of the thousands of people he has met in his years with FedEx. He told me that he works in Durham now, and he seemed friends with the people at Backyard Barbecue.

Georg said the FedEx man should have gotten over that Good Friday thing, and maybe so. Then again, yesterday someone on my Facebook friends list posted their beliefs that 1. this week's cold weather proves that global warming is a joke; 2. the Rapture is real; 3. evolution is not. Because they "never saw a monkey turn into a man." And the look on my face when I read that was probably the same as the FedEx man's reaction when I didn't know when Good Friday was.

footsteps in the dark

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January 4 movie: Footsteps in the Dark. Errol Flynn stars as an upper-middle class businessman living a double life: his conventional, proper wife and mother-in-law have no idea that's he's secretly a detective novelist and amateur detective. Flynn's character is kind of a smug asshole. The kind of guy who isn't satisfied with running circles around the hapless police chief (Alan Hale); he has to be a jerk about it, get in Hale's face and make fun of him in front of his staff. Come to think of it, there's a touch of smug asshole in all Flynn's romantic comedies. It makes me wonder how much of that was the real him.

Plotwise the movie was enjoyable enough. The secret identity of the killer was completely obvious because a minor character with no apparent purpose in the movie was played by an actor too big for such a trivial part.

honeymoon for three

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January 4 movie: Honeymoon for Three. Completely forgettable comedy starring Ann Sheridan and George Brent. In fact, I've already forgotten it.

one life to live: a year of days

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It was a pretty good year for One Life to Live, at least from my point of view. My least favorite character in the history of the show, Antonio Vega, left. And they finally resolved the dead baby swap storyline. I really, really hated the fad for dead baby swaps, which All My Children and One Life have both done in the past couple of years. And the kookiest villain of all time, Mitch Lawrence, came back from the dead again.

Maybe I'm feeling optimistic about the show because of something that's happening right now: a groundbreaking gay romance. One Life has tried to do gay storylines before & have always mucked it up: the first time was notable just for being the first (and was a really long time ago, in the late 80s I think) and the gay character was a teen who was completely chaste, and the storyline was all about other people's homophobia, not so much about the gay kid himself. Then a few years ago they had a villain who was married to a core character and was secretly schtupping his teenage son's best friend. And he was a murderer. That was kind of a disaster.

This time I feel like they're doing it right. The couple, Kyle and Oliver, are treated like any other soap couple: the romance has built over the months, giving people a chance to get to know them and root for them; each one has a life & friends besides each other, so they're part of the whole canvas; they've faced obstacles which are wacky in that soap way, but not completely over the top (in that soap way).

Kyle and Oliver had their first love scene last week and it was just like any soap love scene. Candles in the room, cheesy music (they have their own theme song!), the whole thing. I didn't realize it was such a big deal but it was reported in Huffington Post and on Andrew Sullivan. Apparently it's the first gay love scene ever on daytime. (I thought for sure Bianca and Reese had had a love scene on All My Children, but maybe they just snuggled a lot.) This may sound corny but One Life is "my" soap, the one I will always keep tabs on. And I'm proud of my soap.

Behind the scenes, when All My Children moved to California, One Life inherited AMC's studio in New York. AMC's space is much bigger so I hope this will be a good change. The move is happening right around now and I don't know when episodes filmed in the new space will start to air. I don't expect we'll see a difference, except that maybe we'll start to see sets AMC left behind, redressed for One Life. We may also see some actors who declined to move with AMC showing up on One Life. I fear this means Patrick Thornheart, who I hated almost as much as Antonio, will come back. The actor just left AMC because he preferred to stay in NY with his wife, who plays Marty on One Life.

In 2009 there were 46-47 days (once it was unclear whether a new day had started or not). They had the following holidays: New Year's Eve, Valentine's Day, Halloween, Election Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, New Year's Eve again.

Click here for the crazy goings-on in Llanview in 2009

if i had a million

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January 4 movie: If I Had a Million. A dying millionaire who hates his family decides to give his money to eight random people, a million to each. This premise sets up a series of eight vignettes showing what people do when offered a million dollars.

The movie features tons of stars of the day: Gary Cooper, Charles Laughton, George Raft, W.C. Fields, Gene Raymond, May Robson, and Mary Boland among others. Each segment had a different director, including Ernst Lubitsch who directed the Charles Laughton segment, which is the shortest and maybe most effective of the bunch. It's uneven, as you would expect. My favorite segments were the funny ones where the new millionaires take revenge on people who had power over them in their old lives. In particular one with W.C. Fields and Alison Skipworth: they play a married couple who have saved their whole lives to buy a new car, which gets totaled on their first spin around the block. They buy a whole fleet of cars and hire drivers to follow them, so they can spend the entire day on the road seeking out "road hogs" to crash into.

Another favorite featured May Robson as the resident of a group old folks home which is run more like a prison. She uses the money to convert the facility into a fun, homey place for all the old ladies. Then she rehires all the staff, pays them a salary so high they don't want to leave, and then makes them sit in rocking chairs all day with nothing to do but rock silently. Revenge is sweet!

I also really enjoyed one of the not-funny ones, where the money goes to a prostitute. She checks into an expensive hotel and methodically puts away one of the pillows before going to bed: all she wants is to sleep in a nice, clean bed with only one pillow.

recapping the recap

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I think the show today went well! Surprisingly so considering how ill-prepared I was. All I did beforehand was make a list of all the theme shows & events from 2009, then made sure I had all the CDRs I'd made for those shows in my case. During the show today I just pulled up the flowsheets for all those shows, and picked out the songs I wanted to play. These were the theme shows I covered this afternoon:

  • January: memorial tribute to Eartha Kitt
  • January: interview with Sammy Davis impersonator
  • January: "Latin a la Lounge" all Latin music
  • February: memorial tribute to Blossom Dearie
  • February: birthday tribute to Harold Arlen
  • April: "Jungle Madness" all lounge/exotica
  • May: birthday tribute to Bing Crosby
  • May: Memorial Day
  • June: birthday tribute to Richard Rodgers
  • August: memorial tribute to Les Paul
  • September: birthday tribute to Mel Torme
  • October: "Let's Misbehave" all sweet dance band music
  • November: birthday tribute to Hoagy Carmichael
  • November: birthday tribute to Billy Strayhorn

The only themes I skipped today were the July 4th and Christmas shows, which I do every year. Ahh! I just remembered that I was going to promote 2010 and mention all the great theme shows I have planned for the upcoming year, and I totally forgot. Dang.

It's going to be a good year too, with theme shows for Valentine's Day, July 4, Halloween, and Christmas, plus birthday tributes to Ella Fitzgerald, Benny Goodman, Dinah Washington, George Gershwin and Frank Sinatra. Plus I'm working on an interview with a lady who attended Duke in the 1940s and sang with Perry Como in the Duke Chapel. I hope that works out!

the year that was

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On air today from 2-6 pm, I'm planning a recap show with a set for each theme show I did during 2009. I didn't plan a flowsheet in advance, just going to wing it, which I may regret. Especially since I just found out one of the 3 CD players is randomly malfunctioning. It's never a dull moment at WXDU!

shalako

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January 2 movie: Shalako. A Western starring Sean Connery and Brigitte Bardot? Why not?

Bardot plays a countess, part of a group of European big game hunters. Connery is a outlaw, and it's not specifically explained how a Scottish man got to be a wild west outlaw, but the movie begins with a title card of a quote from Louis L'Amour, saying that there were lots of Europeans who visited the Old West and that some of them stayed and became cowboys, outlaws and what-have-you. So there you go.

The plot is pure cliche. The European big game hunters are assholes who piss off the local Apache, and Connery tries to rescue them. The portrayal of the Apache is pretty bad. I was expecting that a movie made in 1968 would be a little more even-handed -- heck, John Ford made movies in the 40s which portrayed Native Americans as rational people with three whole dimensions -- but no. The Apaches in Shalako are unstoppable killing machines and sadistic monsters. Except the chief, who can't speak English in his first scene, and then can by the end of the movie.

The best thing I can say about Shalako is that I predicted an ending which turned out not to happen. So I can't say it was totally predictable. Also, there's a topless love scene between Connery and Bardot. Which is nothing to sneeze at.

rollerball

| 1 Comment

January 1 movie: Rollerball. First movie of 2010! The first time I saw this, I hated it. Now I think I was being a bit too harsh. Well, just a little. It's still a deeply flawed film. The non-sports scenes are talky and boring, and the ideas driving the plot, which should be thought-provoking, are so vague and poorly developed that it just doesn't come together. Still, a movie that fails to execute good ideas is better than a movie with no ideas. (I think.)

My main criticism of the movie, on this second viewing, is that the movie can't help but glorify the violence it's trying to condemn. You know that saying that there's no such thing as an anti-war movie?* That's exactly the problem with Rollerball. Before the movie started Robert Osbourne said that when a group of investors contacted Norman Jewison about starting a real-life Rollerball league, he was appalled that people had misunderstood his movie so badly. After watching it last night I wondered, why was he surprised? The Rollerball scenes were the only part of the movie worth watching.

On the bright side? Well, it's pretty interesting that it only took 35 years for the science fictional dystopia of Rollerball to seem almost commonplace. Right right, our corporate overlords use violent entertainment to work out any aggression in the population so we'll remain docile and conformist. Bread and circuses, Society of the Spectacle, I get it already. John Houseman's corporate master seems almost benign today. I mean, he's not eating people; he just wants them to do what they're told. So the movie was worth it just to see how fast things have changed (or maybe what I mean is, how cynical I've become). And the Rollerball scenes are well filmed, exciting and easy to follow, especially for a made-up sport.

*if you've ever seen Stalingrad you know that saying is false.

movie list 2009

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I really regret letting the movie list go in 2009. Not only did I stop posting about movies, I even stopped keeping track for two weeks in December. And now I have no idea how many movies I saw. The list (minus those two weeks) has 323 movies. So I'm going to guess the total was somewhere under 350.

Because so many months went by without writing up movies, I'm going to post the whole list. here. Behind a cut, because it's really long. This is my unedited list; here and there are notes on alternate titles, shorts which appeared along with the movie, and quotes which I found amusing and would have included in my write-up, if I hadn't been such a slack-ass and had actually written up the movies.

click here for a very long list which reveals my embarrassing appetite for cheap entertainment

friendship, unity, caring and kindness

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One last thing from the NY trip: on the way back to the ferry, on the subway, we saw a young couple who barely spoke English being given directions by a young family (couple and sleeping toddler). Lots of gesturing and pointing. As it happened we think the directions were wrong -- I heard the New Yorker tell the tourist, "you can get off here with us and walk for five blocks, or you can go one more stop and get off at Fulton Street," and the next stop wasn't Fulton St -- but close enough that we felt pretty confident they would find wherever they were going.

Not a big deal, just a nice little moment. And a far cry from the last trip, when we saw a young tourist couple who barely spoke English being dragged out of the subway car by 5 cops for daring to take photos of the station. (Which is legal.) I still think about those people & wonder what happened to them. They had backpacks and walking shoes and they looked so harmless, and so scared. Welcome to New York!

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This page is an archive of entries from January 2010 listed from newest to oldest.

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