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Found 13 results

  1. There are several nice pieces about readers favorite ballplayers. Mine was "the Mick". Mickey Mantle. I know I share that memory and perspective with many many of a certain age and time. In fact Bob Costas who gave the "official" eulogy at Mickey Mantles funeral used these words: You can read the eulogy here You can see it on video here: In the late 1950's and early '60's television had been around for a while but the volume of sports broadcasting was limited, sports broadcasts were simply rare, but living in the New York area we got to watch the Yankees and we got to watch the Mick. Nobody ever filled out a uniform so well, took a more powerful swing, and crushed more tape measure home runs than the Mick. At those moments when the meat of the bat hit the center of the pitch it was bye bye baseball!!! He looked damn good doing it: the All American boy. Mickey played at a time with phenomenal outfielders: Mantle and Mays in Center Field. Frank Robinson, Hank Aaron, Roberto Clemente, and Al Kaline in Right Field; all of them were sublime outfielders who were awesome 5 skill players. They are the ones that come to my mind. You might suggest others. As the 60's evolved and more baseball hit TV one got to watch more of them. Each was spectacular. Mantle always looked the best doing the same things as all of them. He was naturally strong and incredibly fast. He was timed at 3.1 seconds batting lefty from Home to First, still considered the fastest time in baseball. He did that with injured legs. And he crushed home runs. Crushed them. If you search on the web for "who hit the longest home runs" you'll find two articles referencing 10 long home runs. One is exclusively about Mantle's 10 longest. The other is a Sports Illustrated article featuring long home runs by a variety of players. Mantle is first on that list...and they reference two of his mighty shots. He could club them. Mantle's career was annually short circuited by injuries. He was injured in his rookie year in '51, and it is suggested he played with a torn ACL ever after. He was timed at 3.1 seconds to first after that injury and other leg injuries. Recently Mickey Mantle came to mind for me on several fronts. Albert Pujols just passed Mickey on the all time home run list. Pujols now has 540. Mantle has 536. Pujols is 16th on the list of all time home runs and Mantle now 17th. Above them are at least 6 cheaters who are tied to steroids. On a list of who hit the most home runs per at bat. Mantle is tied for 15 at one every 15.11 at bats. Above him are ranked at least 5 known steroid cheaters. Besides Pujols passing Mick, a short while before my old town classmates had a reunion. It was fun and relaxing. Among the "jockish" guys I heard more than once, phrases such as this" "crushing the ball like the Mick". One guy had posted a nice FB picture of him hitting a golf shot. Responses included...."you look like the Mick". Mickey Mantle and making the perfect swing go hand in hand and is deeply imprinted in a generation's mind. Mickey Mantle was beyond sports. He was truly mythological. I suppose he ranks with the first TV Superman; The Adventures of Superman. It ran from '52 to '58. That roughly coincides with the start of Mantle's and Mays' careers. What wonderful synchrocity At the start of that show Superman would be described: Faster than a speeding bullet (I reference 3.1 seconds to first one more time ). More powerful than a locomotive (I think of that as more of a football basketball analogy: Jim Brown, Earl Campbell in football and Charles Barkley come to mind). Able to Leap tall buildings in a single bound (Mickey Mantle could put baseballs at the top or over huge stadiums.) Mickey Mantle was the living sports analogy to Superman. Now we learned way later in life that Mick was a drunk, a philanderer and womanizer, he was not great with his wife and kids, and had flaws up the kazoo. Regardless as a child and a teenager Mick was a one and only idol...for myself and I suppose millions. Here is to you Mick. Take another swing at a pitch....the greatest swing in the history of baseball.
  2. Mackin was a basketball factory which produced greats such as Austin Carr (1968), Keith Herron (1974), Duck Williams (1974), Jo Jo Hunter (1976), Johnny Dawkins (1981), and Dominic Pressley (1982). The school closed in 1989, but not before spending twenty years alongside Dematha, Dunbar, St. Johns, and Eastern as the elite basketball school of DC.
  3. I've been heavily into podcasts lately. One of my favorites is Radio Lab and this story blew me away. I had never heard of Henrietta (Henrietta Lacks), but evidently, there's a best-selling book about her life and HBO will soon premier a movie based on her life starring Oprah. In a nutshell, it's the story of scientists trying to make human cells live and reproduce outside the body. They failed over and over again until they got a hold of Henrietta's cells from a cervical cancer biopsy. The resulting "HeLa" cells marked the beginning of BioTech by serving as the catalyst for all kinds of major medical advancements including vaccines and chemotherapy. The story goes on to tell us about her family and how this impacted them. To check out the podcast: "Henrietta's Tumor" on radiolab.org Movie Trailer on rollingstone.com
  4. Eddie Gaedal is one of the few players in MLB history with a 1.000 OBP, having walked in his only major-league at-bat. A slash line of .300/.400/.500 (Batting Average / On-Base Percentage (OBP) / Slugging Percentage) represents a superb season; an OPS (On-Base Percentage + Slugging Percentage) of 1.000 represents a Hall of Fame-caliber season. Gaedal had both an OBP of 1.000, and an OPS of 1.000, both Hall of Fame-level numbers, had he been able to maintain them for a career. He also holds (or shares) the all-time Walks / Appearances mark of 1.000, and I believe him to be a legitimate Hall of Fame candidate.
  5. "Strangers on a Train," is regarded by many critics as one of the top five or six films by Alfred Hitchcock. Roger Ebert, in this review, says only three or four Hitchcock films are superior to it. Having seen most of the other films lauded as his "best," as well as some more obscure Hitchcock movies from his earlier days, I wanted to see for myself how this film stacked up against the others. The movie, based on the 1950 novel of the same name by Patricia Highsmith, tells the story of two strangers who meet on a train and discuss "swapping" murders. While I found this film flawed, there were some things I really enjoyed about it. ***SPOILERS FOLLOW*** There is stunning camera work in this film. I love the shot of the shadows as Bruno follows Miriam and her beaus through the "Tunnel of Love." Miriam's scream, as they exit the tunnel, enhances the suspense even more. Miriam's demise, shown through the reflection of her discarded eyeglasses, is brilliantly done. This is Hitchcock at his finest. When Bruno arrives at Guy's gate with news of what he has done, we see his face obscured by the shadow of the gate, while Guy stands on the other side, fully lit by a street light. Once Guy hears the news, and begins to feel complicit in the crime, he joins Bruno on the other side of the gate, both of their faces masked by prison-like bars. Another wonderfully shot scene is when Guy spots Bruno in the crowd at this tennis match. All of the spectators' heads are moving in unison, watching the match, except one. The camera locks onto Bruno's face, staring creepily ahead--at Guy, and at us. Another fun thing about this film is that much of the story takes place in the D.C. area, with several beautiful shots of the city. The plot, however, is quite implausible, which made it hard for me to get emotionally involved in the story. Some of the acting is top-notch, including a fine performance by the director's daughter, Patricia Hitchcock. Laura Elliott (also known as Kasey Rogers) is great as the unlikeable Miriam, and Robert Walker does a fine job portraying the creepy Bruno. Ruth Roman, on the other hand, a gives a one-note performance as Guy's girlfriend, displaying her full range of emotions by wiggling her lower jaw and exposing her bottom teeth. The film is melodramatic and dated, but I think any fan of filmmaking and of Alfred Hitchcock will find some things to enjoy in "Strangers on a Train."
  6. "Dragnet" (1951 TV Series) Main Cast Series created and directed by Jack Webb Jack Webb as Detective Sergeant Joe Friday Ben Alexander as Officer Frank Smith The theme song, with its well-known four-note opening, is from the 1946 film, "The Killers," and was composed by Miklós Rózsa. Season 1 (Dec 16, 1951 - Jun 19, 1952) (available in the public domain) 1.1 - "The Human Bomb" - Dec 16, 1951 - Written by Jack Webb and James E. Moser (Emmy Nominee for "Best Written Dramatic Material" for "White Is the Color" on "Medic") Featuring Barton Yarborough as Sergeant Ben Romero (Doc Long in "The Devil's Mask"), Raymond Burr as Deputy Chief Thad Brown (Lars Thorwald in "Rear Window," Perry Mason on "Perry Mason," Robert T. Ironside on "Ironside") , Stacy Harris as Vernon Carney (Jim Taylor on "This is Your FBI"), Herbert Butterfield as Lieutenant Lee Jones (The Commissioner on "Dangerous Assignment"), Barney Phillips as Sam Erickson (Haley in "Will The Real Martian Please Stand Up?" on "The Twilight Zone") [In the opening, Sergeant Friday is describing Los Angeles, and mentions that it has two-million people. A particularly cruel note: three days after this episode aired, and the day after the second episode was filmed, Barton Yarborough died of a heart attack (Yarborough did spend three years co-starring in the radio version of Dragnet, which aired from 1949-1957). Yarborough's character, Ben Romero, is the first name ever mentioned in the televised Dragnet series. "The Human Bomb" is the first of 448 televised episodes of the "Dragnet" franchise (to go along with 314 episodes on the radio, for a total of 762). Furthermore, it influenced the terrific Adam-12 series (174 episodes). This was a star-studded, exciting half-hour of television, and was surely one of the first-ever shows working in quasi "real-time" - it has to do with a man wielding a bomb in Los Angeles City Hall, and they have about 25 minutes to stop him. Even though this episode is 66-years old, it provides riveting, never-a-dull-moment entertainment, and you'll get to see Raymond Burr before he went on to great fame in "Perry Mason" and "Ironside," not to mention "Rear Window." Barney Phillips is also a man you may recognize, especially from "The Twilight Zone" episode, "Will the Real Martian Please Stand Up?" Given the historical importance of "Dragnet," watching the first-ever episode will certainly not be a waste of your time - note, however, that there's currently a YouTube video (<--- don't watch this) that's labeled as "The Human Bomb," but isn't; the episode can be found, as of today, on Vimeo (<--- do watch this). Some parting words about the final moments: The lighting as Friday falls down is terrific, inciting a split-second of panic in the viewer; the first line of dialog after he falls is a legendary, "No shit, Sherlock," moment, and the final word spoken in the episode is laugh-out-loud funny.]
  7. Fifteen years before "The War of the Worlds" was released, on Oct 30, 1938, Orson Welles scared the pants off of people with his now-infamous radio broadcast of H.G. Wells 1898 novel of the same name. How many of you knew that this book was actually written in the 19th century? I did not, and that makes me want to read it even more. The movie is available on Amazon Prime, as well as several other sources. Filmed in Technicolor, the film starred Gene Barry (Bat Masterson) and Ann Robinson (the film "Dragnet") as Dr. Clayton Forrester and Sylvia van Buren. The film was narrated by Sir Cedric Hardwicke whom we just saw in "The Lodger." Cecil B. DeMille's first choice to produce this film was Alfred Hitchcock, who declined, so he recruited George Pal ("The Time Machine") as Producer, who chose Byron Haskin ("Treasure Island") as Director, much to DeMille's approval. Hardwicke's opening commentary makes me want to do two things: it makes me want to re-memorize the ordering of our planets (it's ridiculous not to have this mentally available as instant recall (Remember: Outside of Mars, you have - in order of distance from the Sun - Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune, the #1, 2, 3, and 4 planets in diameter, and the only 4 planets bigger than Earth - if you remember that, everything else will fall into place), and it makes me appreciate how lucky we are to exist on planet Earth, with its optimal conditions for human beings. The fact that we're fucking everything up is a side issue which we can discuss in another thread. See this? One day, it isn't going to mean squat. Fifteen minutes into the movie, at the point where the "meteor" crashed, and its lid began unscrewing, revealing a cobra-shaped probe, the special effects of The War of the Worlds are believable and well-done - very impressive for a 1953 work. I guess we're going to see a lot more of them in the near future, so we'll see how that goes. *** SPOILERS FOLLOW *** Well, so much for the three Earthlings' initial overtures of friendship. Mars draws first blood. And I *love* the juxtaposition of 1950's America with Martian technology when a local looked at the deadly Martian heat ray and exclaimed, "What *is* that gizmo?!" Nooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! At 29:20, the town of Saint Julien is wiped out! No more Super Seconds! Léoville-Las Cases - gone! Ducru-Beaucaillou - gone! Gruaud Larose - gone! And I've invested so much time and money figuring out that Léoville-Poyferré is better than all of them. Oh, God! No Léoville-Barton, no Talbot, no Beychevelle, no Branaire-Ducru, no, no, no. Oh, God, I finally understand how Dustin Hoffman felt. No Saint Julien! Oh, Jesus God, NO! This is also how I feel after waiting for two hours at Lucky Strike, when one of the parties hogging the alleys finally leaves: A lane! A lane! 37 minutes into this 85-minute film, I remain impressed, almost dazzled with its 63-year-old special effects - I just now found out that, out of its $2 million budget, $1.4 million was spent on special effects - and it shows, too: They are outstanding. (I reiterate this is a *** SPOILERS *** section.) Boy, how many movies do you see, especially just eight years after it actually happened, when the U.S. President orders the use of the A-Bomb? And I had absolutely no idea there was even a concept of a "flying wing" in 1953, but the Northrup YB-35 began to be developed during World War II. <--- This is a picture from the movie. And the A-Bomb sequence is very, very well done. I'll tell you what: "Five" may have been the first-ever post-apocalyptic movie ever made, but considering that "The War of the Worlds" came only *two years* after that? Well, let's just say the progress made was remarkable: I'm no expert, but I cannot name an earlier film that I've ever seen that has better special effects than this. Today, special effects are generally to a film's detriment, but 63 years ago? They were SPECIAL effects, and these are magnificently done - I cannot think of a single film before "2001: A Space Odyssey" that has *better* special effects - and that came fifteen years later. Wow, what a surprise ending. I will only say that this *excellent* film was very much ahead of its time, and also very much a *product* of its time. Watch it - you'll not be disappointed unless you're an *extreme* cynic, in which case you *might* be disappointed at the ending, but only if you are, well, an extreme cynic.
  8. There are some movies that are so bad, they are good. "Five, isn't one of them. "Five" is simply bad. It is a low-budget film that looks like one. Writer, producer and director Arch Obolor used recent graduates from the University of Southern California film school as his crew, and it shows. Oboler's own home, an unusual Frank Lloyd Wright design, is the setting for most of the film. This interesting house is the highlight of the movie, for me. Five is the number of people remaining on earth following an atomic bomb disaster. It has been written that this film is the first to deal with a post-apocalyptic world, which makes watching it seem less like a complete waste of time. There are huge holes in the implausible plot. The actors seem to have been given very little direction. There is one woman remaining at the end of the world, and four men. Two handsome guys fight for the hand of this mother-to-be, who is committed to learning if her husband survived. She has the personality of a rock, yet the men all want her. I suppose that is what happens when you are the last woman on earth. The other characters are stereotypes. There is one funny scene--the only time "Five" crosses over into the so-bad-it-is-good category--where the evil Russian runs away, bumping into and nearly toppling a large, supposedly solid outdoor mailbox. There is another scene, involving the mother and her child, that was almost good. But one scene a movie does not make. Unless you are interested in the evolution of post apocalyptic films, I would suggest skipping this one.
  9. Robin Williams is one of those people you just think will never die, and when it happens, it's unimaginable. Here's a little tribute to a touching scene of his from Good Will Hunting, for which he won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor in 1997. He was also nominated for Best Actor three times (!), won two Emmy Awards, four Golden Globes, two Screen Actors Guild Awards, and five Grammy Awards. That, my friends, is a career. --- On a personal note, I wish to express my sorrow about my friend from college, Dee Hunter, whose passing I also found out about today. Dee was one of the nicest people I've ever known. You probably can't see that link - which is his Facebook page - but I wrote this there earlier today:
  10. Everyone knows what Mark Harmon looks like - he's now perhaps best known for his role as NCIS Special Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs in NBC's "NCIS." I stumbled across a couple of interesting things about him: His father was 1940 Heisman Trophy Winner Tom Harmon, who was also named the 1940 AP Athlete of the Year. Also, here's an early appearance of him in a 1975 episode of "Adam-12."
  11. I can't tell you how thrilled I was to see an African-American student at 1:34. I lived through this in the late 1960's and early 1970's - yeah, we had drills where we had to crawl under our desks. I'm now 54, and still remember them, plain as day. At 3:50, the batter hit a bitchin'-high pitch. Give that fan a contract! All of this is not unlike telling school-children that a bomb could go off, wherever they are, be it Tysons Corner, or Potomac Mills. They always portrayed it like it *would* happen; not like it *might* happen. The information to "duck and cover" away from glass is good, solid information, but is all this really worth it? Scaring and scarring children for the rest of their lives? Why did they use a cartoon to demonstrate the possible effects of an atomic bomb, instead of actual footage from Hiroshima or Nagasaki? How about, "Here's what happened when we decided to nuke the Japs?"
  12. My high school was McCaskey High School in Lancaster, PA, where an upperclassman took me under his wing when I showed up for football practice in the early '70s as a rough sophomore ... and he showed me how to lift weights properly so I didn't hurt myself ... Doug went on to play for the Cowboys. This was also a time of racial tensions in America, and when our school was experiencing some race riots, "Dougie" made sure I was protected. As the African Americans were barreling out of their assembly area and heading for the school hallways to raise hell, he spotted me walking by, pointed to a side door, and said told me to get out of there before the chaos erupted.
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