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Found 19 results

  1. I know the book has been around for 6 years or so, but I recently read Kitchen Confidential while I was on my trip to Hawaii and it was a great read. Out of curiosity, does anyone know who he is referring to as Bigfoot? Also, has anyone here actually tasted Anthony Bourdain's food? Does he suck per his own self assessment or is he just being self depricating?
  2. Some people know the 1973 film, "Bang the Drum Slowly" which features Michael Moriarty, and Robert De Niro in his first major role. But 17-years before that, an adaptation of the 1956 book was performed on live television, starring Paul Newman and Albert Salmi. Anyone who thinks Newman was just a pretty pair of blue eyes should watch this, as he's on live television, pretty much from start to finish, in this riveting hour of television.
  3. This 1974 episode of the "Dinah!" show just popped into my head, and I found a picture of it - Dinah Shore pronounced the name "Nav-ra-ti-lo-va" veeerrry carefully, reading it from the teleprompter. Martina was only 18, and hadn't lost her baby fat yet!
  4. This video of "The Game of the Century" is easily understandable even to the casual chess player - as long as you have a modicum of understanding (knowing what "castling" is, for example), you'll be able to understand what Bobby Fisher was able to accomplish - there are two moves of such brilliance that I don't see how even a modern computer could have devised them: 1) Fisher's Na4, which came out of nowhere, and is called "one of the greatest moves in chess history." 2) Fisher's insane, legendary, Queen sacrifice, Be6, which resulted in a "Windmill," where the opponent is reduced to spectator status, moving their king back-and-forth to avoid checkmates, and watching their pieces get captured, one-at-a-time. And, it's interesting to see Fisher walking Donald Byrne's King down the bottom row at the end to force a checkmate. Of particular note: Byrne was the consummate sportsman in letting Fisher finish this game, instead of resigning - he recognized the greatness of Fisher's play, and thought Fisher deserved to play it out for the world to see. This is an astonishing video that I promise you'll understand, and you'll be just as awestruck as I am. Well-worth your time to watch!
  5. Just heard that Bourdain was found dead in his hotel room in France of an apparent suicide
  6. You had a senior moment (with which I'm becoming familiar ) with Bernard King (Albert was a star for the Maryland Terrapins - he and Gene Banks (from Philadelphia - played college ball at Duke) were the best two high school players in the country his senior year - rated higher than even Magic Johnson (I was lucky enough to see all three play in the McDonald's Capital Classic (*))); Bernard (his big brother) was half of the "Bernie and Ernie Show" at University of Tennessee, along with Ernie Grunfeld. I thought sure Albert would be better than Bernard, but it didn't pan out that way - he was a star at Maryland, and, I believe, First Team All-ACC, but he just never hit that mega-stardom I was so sure he'd achieve. (*) I distinctly remember the Program from the Capital Classic that year (though I think my brother absconded with it!) - Earvin Johnson (a 6'9" center from Lansing, MI) had a bio-sketch that I remember the beginning of word-for-word: "Great enthusiasm - cheerleader type. Says he would love to play guard one day ...."
  7. "Forbidden Planet" is one of the final science-fiction films from the 1950s I feel an almost-urgent need to see - Gene Roddenberry himself said it was a major influence for "Star Trek" - within the first minute of the movie, you can easily see the inspiration for "Warp Drive." The film introduces the legendary Robby the Robot - a seven-foot-tall robot (interestingly, he makes an appearance in "Lost in Space" where he battles "Robot," for whom he was a major inspiration). The film stars Walter Pidgeon ("How Green was My Valley") as Dr. Edward Morbius, Anne Francis ("The Blackboard Jungle") as Altaira "Alba" Morbius, and Leslie Nielsen ("Airplane!") as Commander John J. Adams. It also features Warren Stevens as Lt. "Doc" Ostrow and Earl Holliman ("Where is Everybody?" on "The Twilight Zone") as Cook. If you listen even half-carefully, you'll easily be able to detect the use of a Theremin in the theme song. Recently, I've watched some important science fiction films from the 1950s: "The Day the Earth Stood Still," "The War of the Worlds," "Kiss Me Deadly," and "Forbidden Planet." Of the four, I thought that "Forbidden Planet" was, by far, the weakest of the bunch in terms of "general quality," although there's no denying the influence it had on making "Star Trek," and that alone is enough to place it in the pantheon of 1950s Science Fiction. Likewise, Robbie the Robot as an influence for "Lost in Space." As a movie? It's the weak link of the four, but there's no denying the film's influence, and you can absolutely see "Star Trek" in it, without even looking very closely. The plot is somewhat difficult to wrap your head around, and the viewer walks away from the film with something of a hollow feeling - the acting is fine, the effects quite good, and the character development is surprising, so why am feeling like I saw something "more influential than great?" I feel like I'm missing something here, and I'm hoping that discussion will help me sort things out. Can anyone out there help?
  8. *** SPOILER ALERT *** After watching the indescribably wonderful documentary, "Hitchcock/Truffaut," last night, I leapt into the film "The Wrong Man," which is the one film by Alfred Hitchcock about which then-critic Jean-Luc Godard wrote his longest-ever piece of criticism - Both Godard and François Truffaut, pioneers of the "French New Wave" of Directors, were then working as critics for the legendary French publication, "Cahiers du Cinéma." so this film fits right in with the Hitchcock/Truffaut documentary, and was mentioned in it as well. This is the only Hitchcock film where Hitchcock himself came out and addressed the audience at the beginning, assuring them that it was a true story, and that the facts that went into the tale were just as fantastic as most of what he's written about as fiction in the past. "The Wrong Man" stars Henry Fonda as a respectable, but struggling musician in New York City, Manny Balestrero, and his wife, Rose, played by Vera Miles. Rose has an impacted set of wisdom teeth, which can only be fixed to the tune of $300, which is money the two don't have - the next day, Manny goes into the bank and asks to borrow on Rose's insurance policy, but three female tellers are certain that he is the same man who came in recently and robbed the bank - they pacified him, and told him to come back in with his wife, while putting the authorities on full alert. In a scene which came shortly afterwards, I was certain I recognized the lady who played Manny's mother, Esther Minciotti, and sure enough, Minciotti had played the wonderfully endearing role as Marty's (Ernest Bourgnine's) mother in the 1955 Academy Award-winner for Best Picture, "Marty." If you watch the Hitchcock/Truffaut documentary first, you'll remember very well the scene in which Manny first gets thrown into his jail cell. He looks around - not at the locked door - but at all different angles, and it gives the viewer a real sense of being locked up. This is his very first experience in jail, and his fear is palpable. Halfway through this movie, I am awestruck at how realistic it is - there's no fluffing anything up; it's as if we're watching a real story unfold (which we are). I'm a little surprised that Manny is so stoic about everything, but he seems completely shell-shocked to this point - almost like he's unable to get hold of his facilities. Hitchcock *really* takes his time setting this plot up - Manny doesn't even meet his attorney, Frank O'Connor (a real attorney, played by Anthony Quayle), until about two-thirds of the film is over. Fortunately, O'Connor - seemingly a decent man - accepts the case. Some interesting notes: Shortly after meeting with O'Connor, Manny and Rose run into two giggly girls living at an apartment: One of them is a twelve-year-old Tuesday Weld (of "Looking for Mr, Goodbar"), and the other is an eleven-year-old Bonnie Franklin (of "One Day at a Time"). It's noteworthy how many known actors and actresses are in this film - when Rose has a mental breakdown, she sees a psychiatrist, Dr. Bannay, and it's none other than Werner Klemperer - Colonel Klink on "Hogan's Heroes." During Manny's trial, one of the jurors is Barney Martin (Jerry Seinfeld's father on "Seinfeld"), and finally, Harry Dean Stanton (Brett in "Alien") plays a Department of Corrections employee, though I couldn't find him when I looked. I believe none of the people mentioned in this paragraph are credited, and for some, it's the debut film of their career. This is about the closest thing to being a "non-fiction" film I've seen without actually being one - it's "based on a true story," and is so faithful to it that it doesn't seem right labeling it a "crime movie" or a "suspense movie." It's clear that Hitchcock took great pains to stay as true to the base story as he possibly could have, so I'm going to go ahead and label this movie "non-fiction" even though that may not be technically correct. A magnificent film. Apr 17, 2013 - "History of Film Criticism: Godard on 'The Wrong Man'" on torontofilmreview.blogspot.com
  9. Okay, so you're saying to yourselves, "What on earth is Rockwell doing reading a book aimed at children?" One day last year, I was in Sacramento, CA, and visited the State Capitol Building, a beautiful, Classical Revival building that is considered one of our nation's loveliest state capitols - and it is, too, especially when taken as an ensemble with its stunning grounds. Sacramento is not all that far from the bay area, and taking a day trip to see the State Capitol will be a day well-spent - it is a truly stunning building, and the grounds alone are easily worth an hour or two - an abundance of restaurants are within a mile. Anyway, my guide had earlier mentioned the California Gold Rush - a topic about which I know precious little - and also told me of The Donner Party <--- SPOILERS ABOUND: a pioneering excursion out to Sacramento which ended in great tragedy and suffering for many, and a very famous local legend (which also happens to be true). I hadn't even heard of The Donner Party, and when I stumbled across the State Capitol Gift Shop, I saw this little book: "Patty Reed's Doll - The Story of the Donner Party." It looked like a relatively new printing, as it was originally written in 1956 by Rahel K. Laurgaard - then, an English Literature graduate student at what is now Sacramento State. Does that sound obscure enough? Well, apparently, *someone* thought highly enough of this book to print it and sell it, and at least one copy now resides in the Washington, DC area - let me tell you something: I'm glad I read this. It was about 140 quick pages - maybe a 3-4 hour read with charming black-and-white illustrations - and written at a teenage, perhaps even an elementary-school level (many comments that you see about it online are fond reminisces of ladies reading it to their granddaughters - it's that kind of book). So why am I reading a book written for teenage girls? (I confess also, when I visited Prince Edward Island, I bought, read, *and enjoyed* Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery) I have no problem whatsoever with teenage literature if it's *good* teenage literature, and there was nothing condescending at all about "Patty Reed's Doll" other than it was *clearly* toned down, and written by a woman, for young girls (and I suppose also young boys) as its target audience - but it was done so intelligently. SPOILERS FOLLOW FOR THE REST OF THIS POST --- There's one word that isn't mentioned, or even hinted at, in this entire book, and it's a five-syllable, ultra-taboo word which begins with the letter C. The Donner Party, you see, became stranded in the Sierra Nevada Mountains during the winter of 1846-1847 (*), having been given (if you'll excuse the pun) one bum steer after another, especially from Lansford Hastings who wrote a little book about Hasting's Cutoff, a route that was supposed to take 300 miles off the arduous voyage for these brave pioneers, and which ultimately led to this disaster - the book also does not mention that, aside from reports of cannibalism, 48 of 87 people died during passage. The book is told from the fascinating perspective of "Dolly" - 12-year-old Patty Reed's 4-inch-tall, wooden doll which she secretly kept inside her pocket for the duration of the voyage. This ingenious perspective gave Laurgaard the exact literary device she needed to conceal the more gruesome aspects of this tragic voyage from the reader, and to spare children details of consuming human flesh. The fact that Dolly belonged to the Reed party - instead of the Donner party - also gave her one more level of concealment from the horrible fate which befell many of the parties, as the Dinner (I keep accidentally typing that word) ... the *Donner* Party wasn't staying in the same cabin - it was easy to use these conveniences to forego the more taboo subjects of the story. Most people might tell you that this isn't a good "first book" to read about the issue, but I disagree. Going into the book, I knew about the snowstorm, and I knew that accusations of cannibalism had been made, and apparently, because of the sensationalism, these two bits of information are the only things that most people know. Since this book doesn't touch on the latter, you get a real feel for what it must have been like to be a pioneer. In fact, you felt as if you were actually one of the party members, taking part in the passage - you really got the whole story of the trans-continental journey, and a real feel for what the life of a pioneer must have been; if you want the gory details, just click on the Donner Party Wikipedia link at the top - it has extensive references to all the gore and misery you care to handle; personally, I'm glad I read the toned-down version, as there are only so many "disaster stories" I can endure during my lifetime - I just do not enjoy reading about human suffering, and this book conveys the essence of the voyage while sparing the reader the awful realities that accompany it. Yes, you could say it was whitewashed, and it was, but that's because it was purposely written for a young audience. Undoubtedly, in Sacramento, this story was already widely known - certainly by the parents who bought the book for their children - and to rehash its cruelest aspects would be, if you'll forgive the phrase, beating a dead horse. Unless you go to Sacramento - where Laurgaard ended up being an English Professor for over 15 years at the university - or unless you call somewhere out there and ask where to find the book, you're likely never to see it. But you can find it if you look for it; unfortunately, this is something of a "charming relic" from a more innocent era - one in which it wasn't necessary to graphically show or describe every gruesome detail for the viewer or the reader. I appreciated its restraint very much, and *now* I can choose to go in and read about the more difficult realities (I still haven't, and I might not, although now that I'm thinking about it, I probably will). Using the wooden doll as the narrator was brilliant, and afforded the author an elegant solution to a difficult problem. It may surprise you to hear that, despite the "prim and proper" language used throughout (think: the five daughters in Jane Austen's "Pride and Prejudice" (whom I can still name in descending order of age: Jane, Elizabeth, Mary, Kit, and Lydia (JEM KILL - that's how I remembered)), I didn't feel like I was reading some Victorian moralist child's tale; I just felt like I was reading a well-written book for teens learning about California history - teens who were spared the gory details of one of the worst possible conundrums human beings can find themselves facing. I recommend "Patty Reed's Doll" for just about anyone, and you certainly will not regret the three-hour investment of your time in learning about this distinctly American tragedy. The actual Patty Reed's Doll is on display at Sutter's Fort in Sacramento (visitor information): 11/13/12 - "Sutter's Fort Offers Visitor Enhancements and Return of Patty Reed Doll" by Tracie Rockefeller Cusack on sacramentopress.com I'll be happy to lend a copy of my book to anyone not able to find it. (*) When you think that this was less than 10 generations ago, it's no wonder we're still so primitive. We've had a lot of industrial and technological advances, sure - too many for our feeble minds to deal with - but we had no electricity, we had slavery, we were fighing the Mexican-American War, the Civil War wouldn't take place for another generation, the western frontier of the U.S. was Independence, Missouri, we had no automobiles, no telephones ... we're not that far removed from all of this.
  10. When I was a pre-teen, I got a new, bright orange, Schwinn Chopper: which, despite dating me, remains the coolest bicycle I've ever had. Like a good boy, I went up to the Glenmont Police Station and registered the bike (I had it set in my mind that you were absolutely required to do this), and noticed on the precinct bulletin board a warning sign about Blasting Caps, something which I'd never heard of before and knew nothing about. Sure enough, the next day, I noticed some "Blasting Caps" in our driveway, and scared the crap of my mom, who called 911. The police arrived, and 10-year-old me explained to them what I had found in the driveway (a wire that had fallen from our car, no doubt). Anyway, I just stumbled upon this 1956 documentary short film produced by the "Institute of Makers of Explosives" about "Blasting Caps." It's a somewhat interesting 50s-America educational short, warning people about Blasting Caps, and no doubt inspiring other well-meaning pre-teens to call 911 and report fallen car parts in their driveways to the police. "Blasting Cap Danger" by the Institute of Makes of Explosives on archive.org As an aside, the film implies that there were *no* female commercial airline pilots in the United States in 1956 (this is implied in the first five minutes). People think we're such an advanced species; we're nothing but a bunch of primitives (I won't even mention that this was just two years after the Brown v. Board of Education case).
  11. This car, now sixty years old, is really interesting: May 19, 2014 - "Ghia-Built 1956 Plymouth Plainsman Concept Returns to the Auction Block" by Kurt Ernst on blog.hemmings.com I doubt this is the original music, although I could imagine Barry White stepping out of one of these things: (You've got to love the trail of exhaust at the end.)
  12. Let me address this first: There is overt racism in "The Searchers," manifesting itself the most in the lead character, Ethan Edwards, portrayed by John Wayne. If you can't look past Wayne's hatred of the Comanche nation, you will not enjoy this film - for you to watch "The Searchers," you *must* look at the Comanches as "a bear" (you can pick your own bear, but you absolutely must be able to think of them as, simply, "the bad guy"). If you are able to do that, then you're faced with one of the greatest Westerns I've ever seen in my life. You know, maybe I've gotten lucky, because the first Western I ever saw (which was also the first "M-rated" movie I ever saw), was "Two Mules for Sister Sara," in the movie theater, when it was released in 1970. Since that time, I've seen maybe a couple dozen, most of which have been really good, and the older ones I've seen have *also* been really good because I've gone back in time and cherry-picked. I keep hearing about the tremendous number of awful Westerns there are, and there must be, because there really were a slew of them (for example, one of the actors in The Searchers, William Steele, was in *seventeen* Westerns in the year 1917 alone! These must have been what's referred to as "Western Quickies.") Co-Starring with Wayne is none other than Captain Pike himself: Jeffrey Hunter, and boy does he look young! Keep in mind, this is fully ten years before "The Cage" showed as the pilot of "Star Trek." While Hunter clearly is the second-leading character, this film also co-stars Vera Miles ("Mrs. Bates? Is that you?"), Natalie Wood ("West Side Story" (1961)), and features several other famous-but-not-as-famous actors such as Ward Bond, Natalie's younger sister Lana Wood, Harry Carey, Jr., and Henry Brandon in a well-acted but undeniably cringe-worthy portrayal as Comanche Chief Cicatriz (it's almost as difficult for me to look at Caucasians made up to look like Native Americans as it is seeing Blackface). The plot of this film is leisurely, and makes the movie seem longer than its 119 minutes - it's a genuine epic, complete with hero, voyages, subplots, and adventures along the way. Wayne's character is extremely nuanced and complex - perhaps as much as any other Western lead I've seen, right up there with Clint Eastwood's William Munny in "Unforgiven." There's enough action to satisfy the circle-the-wagon fans, but it all takes a secondary role to moral tension and character development, just as it does in various other John Ford westerns. When people say, "They don't make 'em like they used to," or pine away for "the good ol' days," I believe they're talking directly about - as an example - The Searchers' portrayal of a brutal gang-rape and murder. There's no blood, there's no screaming, there's no woman, there's no rape to be seen, there's no mention of the word "rape," and everything is left up to the viewer's imagination and ability to perform some very basic extrapolation based on Wayne's reaction to what he witnessed. It was - and I can't believe I'm saying this about a gang rape - "beautiful," in that the entire thing is implied (albeit obvious), and to watch such finesse and restraint on the screen is a thing of beauty. Yes, the incident is staying with me, but there will be no graphic images to relive, no horror to lose sleep over, no gore to visualize - just an unspeakably sad event that happened in the film. And believe me, in this age of explicit, graphic violence, this scene stands out to me more than if there were bloody close-ups of a girl being violated - if you see it, you'll understand what I'm talking about. That is but one, five-minute moment in an extensive, complex, winding, two-hour, heroes' journey. The Searchers is a great movie, and has been lauded even more than I would personally laud it. For example, in 1963, the pioneer "Nouvelle Vague" French director, Jean-Luc Godard, went so far as to say the film was the 4th-greatest American talking picture in history. More accolades: Named "The Greatest American Western" by the "American Film Institute" in 2008. Ranked #12 on AFI's "100 Greatest American Movies of All-Time" in 2007. Named "The Best Western" by "Entertainment Weekly." The British Film Institute's "Sight & Sound" magazine ranked it the #7 Film of All-Time in 2012. In 2008, the Cahiers du Cinéma ranked it #10 in their list of the "100 Greatest Films Ever Made." That is some pretty high praise. I'll stop here and leave you with a recommendation to see "The Searchers," along with these postcards: :
  13. After viewing the 1956 version of Alfred Hitchcock's "The Man Who Knew Too Much," I decided to watch the 1934 film by the same name, also directed by Hitchcock. Not satisfied with his earlier work, Hitchcock decided to remake the film. While the basic plot remains the same, I was surprised at just how different the two films are. I liked parts of both films, but loved neither. Jimmy Stewart and Doris Day are endearing in the 1956 version in their roles as a Midwestern doctor and his wife on a Moroccan holiday. But the film felt too long as it went on-and-on beyond what I considered the climax of the movie. *** MILD SPOILERS FOLLOW *** The 1934 version felt too long as well, with an unsatisfying shootout scene near the end that felt oddly out of place in the film. There was more humor in this version (the dental office scene in this film being more entertaining than the taxidermist scene in the 1956 version), but there were a lot of flaws throughout the film which made me understand why Hitchcock would want a mulligan.
  14. "The Red Balloon" is a sweet, simple and visually appealing film. Just 35 minutes long, it tells the story of a young boy who finds a shiny red balloon in the streets of Paris. The boy takes the balloon everywhere he goes. It soon becomes apparent that the balloon has a mind of its own. It follows the boy everywhere, and hovers outside his window when his mother won't let him bring it inside. It is a lovely little tale of friendship, love and devotion. It captures the innocence of childhood, and highlights the fact that children can also be quite cruel to one another. There is virtually no dialogue and a lovely score. The little boy wears all gray, and the streets of Paris are shown in muted shades of bluish gray. The shots of the shiny red balloon against this backdrop are stunning. This film was made by someone with an artistic eye. I read some reviews that saw a deeper meaning in the film. Perhaps there were religious or political messages to be found. I enjoyed "The Red Balloon" on its most basic level. It made me feel like a child again. A balloon to a child is the world! Can you imagine having one that follows you around and waits for you outside your school?
  15. The 1956 live broadcast of "Requiem for a Heavyweight" is one of the most amazing live broadcasts I've ever seen, no, make that *the* most amazing live broadcast I've ever seen on TV. It is so complex that it seems almost unbelievable that this was broadcast live - there were virtually no mistakes at all that I'm aware of. This is pre-Twilight Zone Rod Serling, and is the work he said he was most proud of in his entire career. You can probably find this in higher-quality video, but you can also watch it here for free: They remade the teleplay into a movie in 1962 starring Anthony Quinn, Jackie Gleason, Mickey Rooney, and Julie Harris - and if you've ever wondered what it must have been like to fight Muhammad Ali in his prime, this is probably about as close as you'll ever come to knowing. <--- Click on this and watch the first few minutes of the video, trust me.
  16. I suspect very few people here remember "Eres Tíº," a Spanish song from 1973 performed by the group Mocedades - it made the Top 40 charts when I was 12 years old, and I distinctly remember my Spanish teacher playing it for the class. Anyway, for those of you who don't know it, or want to take a stroll down Memory Lane: Anyway, it popped into my head, and I found it on YouTube, but then discovered it had been entered - and took second place - in the 1973 Eurovision Song Contest, and based on its success there, it was released as a single, and was a minor hit in the United States (it was very rare, if not unprecedented, for a Spanish-language song to crack the Top 40). But there was a controversy: The group was accused of plagiarizing the 1966 Yugoslavian song, "Brez Besed" performed by Berta Ambrož - you can decide for yourselves, but there isn't much doubt in my mind that at least some of Brez Besed was "borrowed":
  17. Another of my favorite 20th-century chanteuses, Peggy Lee, sings "Fever" (1958), probably her most defining and recognizable recording. Compare and contrast with the original recording by Little Willie John (1956). I love them both.
  18. Here Lena Horne sings a delightful and rather ribald little number called "A New-Fangled Tango." This appeared on an RCA stereo-demonstration record in 1958 called "Bob and Ray Throw a Stereo Spectacular", which my father bought to demonstrate the stereo effects of the Heathkit stereo system he had built, either in 1958 or 1959. The LP eventually passed into my possession, and I owned it until I jettisoned my entire LP collection at the end of 2013. I remember loving this as a child, although I couldn't have quite understood it. For you kids, Bob and Ray were a matchless comedy team, whose work you should seek out.
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