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Found 22 results

  1. This world needs more people like Robert F. Smith. The donation may sound small in relation to his worth, but it is fully 1% of his wealth - that is substantial and meaningful by any measure. "Who Is Robert F. Smith? Learn More about the Billionaire whose Generosity Shocked a Graduating Class" by Alejandro de la Garza on time.com
  2. Cant help it folks. I'm a Yankee fan but I gotta get behind the Mets here. Finally looks like they got a good team. Until Wright comes back and spoils it of course.
  3. To anyone attending Clemson University during the glorious 1981-1982 season, when Clemson defeated Nebraska 22-15 in the Orange Bowl to become undefeated national champions, the name "William Perry" is universally beloved and just as famous as the name Brooks Robinson is in Baltimore. The Fridge has fallen upon unspeakably hard times, and barring a miracle, his best days are behind him, but he will always be remembered with fondness and affection. Thank you, William, for enriching all of our lives - we all love you. And I can personally vouch for any and all anecdotes you might hear about Perry's athletic exploits as being 100% true - he was a physical specimen unlike any other. Jan 6, 2016 - "How William 'The Refrigerator' Perry Changed Betting Forever" by Adam Chandler on theatlantic.com
  4. I don't know why I've always loved "Whaam!", a pop-art, comic-style diptych by Roy Lichtenstein, a New York pop artist born in the same year as my parents, 1923 - but I have, and I guess it's the comic-book-reading little boy of my youth that loves it. "Whaam!" is based on the story, "Star Jockey," from the DC Comics comic book "All American Men of War," issue #89 (Jan-Feb, 1962), and the panel was drawn by Irv Novick. Lichtenstein merely reproduced the panel: This is Novick's work, and Lichtenstein took no credit for originality (or, at least, none that I know of). I went to the Tate Modern in 2003, and stumbled across the original of "Whaam!", and was absolutely thrilled to see it - I don't even think I knew it was there, and all of a sudden: Whaam! - it was staring me in the face, *much* larger than I imagined it would be, at over five-feet high and over thirteen-feet wide! "Whaam!" means enough to me - even though it's most certainly *not* any sort of masterpiece - that I looked into purchasing the finest non-original copy I could find for Matt's bedroom when he was a boy. Unfortunately, there are no signed lithographs, and the only things available are posters (nice posters, but posters nonetheless, and unsigned by Lichtenstein). Even they run into the hundreds-of-dollars - maybe I should try and hunt down a copy of that 1962 comic book, but that might cost even more. Well, anyway, I present to you ... "Whaam!" For those of you who recognize the name Roy Lichtenstein, but can't quite place who he is, one of his works is in the National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden in Washington, DC (the modern one, on the north side of the mall, where the ice rink is). "House I" (1996-1998) is the work by Lichtenstein - one of his final pieces, it was modeled in 1996, and constructed posthumously in 1999 (Lichtenstein passed away in 1997).
  5. The great Russian baritone, Dmitri Hvorotovsky, known primarily in America through his recordings of Tschaikovsky and Verdi, passed away this week after a 2 1/2-year struggle with brain cancer. The Metropolitan Opera's loving tribute to Hvorotovsky is here: "Dmitri Hvorotovsky." (Do take a few minutes and watch the videos - the second video was when Hvorotovsky only had about six more months to live.) Nov 22, 2017 - "Dmitri Hvorotovsky, Silver-Mained Baratone from Siberia, Dies at 55" by Anthony Tommasini on nytimes.com
  6. Considering their relative lack of big-name talent over the decades, the Astros have one of the most interesting *team* histories in all of baseball: * From 1888-1961, the only professional baseball in Houston was the Minor League Houston Buffaloes - a (mostlly) Texas League team affiliated (mostly) with the St. Louis Cardinals * They began their life as the Houston Colt .45s (after a "neam the team" contest - the Colt .45 was "the gun that won the West"). Their National League counterparts were the expansion New York Mets, and the two teams alternated draft picks from unprotected players from other Major League teams. * Several Houston Buffaloes personnel were allowed to continue working for the Astros, and some of the players made the team as well. * The Colt .45s played in the temporary Colt Stadium - very impressive for a structure meant to last three years. * In 1963, they picked up Rusty Staub and Joe Morgan. Incidentally, Staub is a known connoisseur of fine wine. * In 1965, they became the Astros (Houston being the "space capital" of the U.S.), and began playing in the "8th wonder of the world," the Astrodome. * There's plenty more about their history on Wikipedia - it's an interesting read if you're a baseball fan.
  7. Recently, I introduced a friend to David Foster Wallace, and he asked me what about his writing strikes me to the point where I say, without hesitation, that he was a genius. And quite frankly, I didn't know how to answer - unless you read his work, he's almost impossible to describe. One of the things I said was that reading his work is like reading a perfectly written Lisp program, his language being almost function-like and polyphonic - you're not really "finished" with one of his books until you read the final word, and only then does the entire thing mesh together. I was listening to this 1996 interview with Christopher Lydon on "The Connection": I was struck by what Wallace said about entertainment and the internet starting at around the 30:00 point - let me qualify this by saying he's *very* hard to quote, because he changes gears and shifts back-and-forth when he speaks, so this won't be perfect: "The book [infinite Jest] is strategically set in the future. It's not really supposed to be a reflection of the way things are now, but a kind of extrapolation on trends ... I remember seeing Terry Gilliam's "Brazil," where everybody sort of has TVs ... on rods coming out of their foreheads and everybody's watching TV all the time. It's not quite that ... when you think about it, first, HDTV's going to come out, and then there's going to be virtual reality, and then the prospect of things like virtual reality porn ... We're going to have to come to some sort of understanding with ourselves about how much of this we're going to allow ourselves because it's probably going to get a lot more fun than real life is." and then: "The idea that improved technology is going to solve the problems that technology has caused seems to me to be a bit Quixotic. For me, I understand there's a certain amount of hope about the internet democratizing people ... The fact of the matter is, if you've still got a nation of people sitting in front of screens pretending ... interacting with images rather than each other, feeling lonely and so needing more and more images, you're going to have the same basic problem. And the better the images get, the more tempting it's going to be to interact with images rather than other people, and I think the emptier it's going to get. That's just a suspicion and just my own opinion."
  8. With Hollywood westerns, a little bit of research goes a long way - in my lifetime, I've had more success with this genre of movie than perhaps any other, all because I do a little research before choosing what to watch. "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance" (1962) is the twelfth of fourteen collaborative westerns with John Ford and John Wayne (the first and ninth, respectively, being "Stagecoach" (1939) and "The Searchers" (1956)). It is perhaps the most beautiful western I've ever seen. Loaded with famous actors, every single major and minor star outperforms in this deceptively sad meditation upon grief, love, and any of a half-dozen other basic human traits, all attending a costume party in what is most likely mid-19th-century Colorado, and cloaked as a moral dilemma involving the death of another human being. Never have I seen John Wayne play a more important part with less screen time than in this film. Jimmy Stewart is clearly the star - he has to be - but it's Wayne who completes this movie, and who transcends himself in a role so touching that you may feel your eyes moisten in what is one of the most poignant endings of any film I've ever seen. A death itself cannot be considered tragic (everyone who has ever lived, has died), but certain deaths are inherently more tragic than others, and when a piece of history is buried alongside an anonymous hero, lost forever to the earth, and made known only to an audience who desperately wants to jump inside the screen and construct a proper memorial - that cannot be considered a romance, or an action film, or even a western; it can only be classified as a full-blown tragedy of Shakespearean proportions. The next time you and your date are hunting around, looking for a movie to watch, remember this thread: "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance" is required viewing for everyone who cares about great film.
  9. I loved watching "The Saint" when I was in high school - I felt like I'd snuck into a movie theater, and was watching James Bond for free. Last night, I watched Season 1, Episode 1, "The Talented Husband" for the first time ever, and I can honestly say it was one of the single finest hours I have ever seen on television. If you're a Hulu subscriber, I *urge* you to watch this first episode - you will not regret it. I remember the series as being really good, but not *this* good. Sometimes, people have one, great idea, and that's what they use for the pilot in order to sell the show - I suspect that's what happened with "The Talented Husband." It's really extraordinary television, and it's on Hulu here (subscription required) - do *not* watch the version on YouTube: The background of that version is awful; the free version on Vimeo looks like it's of good quality, but I haven't watched it, so I'm not sure. More than Wikipedia, I highly recommend this website - The Saint - as your home base for each episode. Unfortunately, it's set up so that each episode doesn't have its own URL, so I can't link to them - if you want a real, dedicated, fan-based website, this is the one for you: I'd link to it if I could. "The Saint" car: a 1962 Volvo P1800 with license plate ST 1 - Season One (Oct 4, 1962 - Dec 20, 1962) 1.1 - "The Talented Husband" - Directed by Michael Truman (Director of "Girl in the Headlines"), Written by Jack Sanders Featuring Derek Farr as John Clarron (John Whitworth in "The Dam Busters"), Shirley Eaton as Adrienne Halberd (Jill Masterson in "Goldfinger"), Patricia Roc as Madge Clarron (Caroline Marsh in "Canyon Passage"), Norman Mitchell as Mr. Smith (Gunner 'Parky' Nigel Parkin on "It Ain't Half Hot Mum") 1.2 "The Latin Touch" - Directed by John Gilling (Director of "Shadow of the Cat"), Written by Gerald Kelsey (Writer of 43 episodes of "Dixon of Dock Green") and Dick Sharples (Writer of 35 episodes of "In Loving Memory") Featuring Suzan Farmer (Diana Kent in "Dracula: Prince of Darkness"), Warren Mitchell (BAFTA Television Award Winner for Best Actor on "Till Death Do Us Part") 1.3 - "The Careful Terrorist" -
  10. Everybody needs to start somewhere. I'm not saying this to be mean, but Paula Abdul sings no better than I do, and I have the type of voice where I'm embarrassed to sing the National Anthem at sporting events, or hymns in church - my voice is *that* bad: It's very-much-below average. She's not quite singing out-of-tune (although who knows what technical corrections were made?), but there's absolutely *no* talent behind that voice. What does that tell you about technology in pop music? Next time you watch a music video, see if there are any shots of people dancing for longer than 1/2 second, without the camera cutting to a new scene - if there are, and the dancers manage to keep up good moves for 3-4 seconds, then they're a step-above the norm. Paula Abdul became famous because she has a set of core attributes (she's pretty, she sings somewhat on-key, she dances well enough to keep rhythm, she somehow learned how to choreograph), and most importantly, because she had the personality willing to turn herself over to her advisers. She had enough raw material so that the Suits could take technology, and make this very average teenage girl into a false talent. I will add: This is not a knock on Paula Abdul, the person - she had enough smarts to do this, and to reap the benefits from doing it.
  11. I won't be issuing any spoilers in this post, but I would urge any-and-all science-fiction fans to watch one of the greatest science-fiction films I've ever seen: "La Jetée" ("The Pier") - a 30-minute French short (translated into English) - the only place I found it was Amazon Prime (*), and it was $3.99 - yes, it hurt paying that for such a short film, but once I watched it, it was worth every penny. For me to say anything about the film would be to ruin it, other than this: It is an art film - absolutely for the art-house cinema folks - and is unlike anything else you've ever seen (with the possible exception of one modern movie which it directly influenced). It is disturbing, riveting, and sobering - if you're a science-fiction fan and *haven't* seen this, there's a gaping chasm in your repertoire. (*) At 15'40", there is a direct homage to Alfred Hitchcock's "Vertigo" - the influence Hitchcock had on the French New Wave simply cannot be overstated.
  12. When I was in my mid-20s (maybe in the late 80s), "The Manchurian Candidate" made a revival on the big screen, and I saw it, and really enjoyed it while also thinking it was something almost campy. Now that I've seen it a second time, I realize that I was too uneducated to appreciate the film - this was an incredibly well-done movie, somehow able to take the absolutely unbelievable - bordering on the ridiculous - and make it seem positively realistic and possible. For me, The Manchurian Candidate is almost like a "Greatest Hits" album of actors, and I cannot imagine how Frank Sinatra - and for that matter, Lawrence Harvey - weren't nominated for Best Actor (the great Angela Lansbury was nominated for Best Supporting Actress, which is reasonable, but she was outperformed by both of these men). It says a lot that The Manchurian Candidate would speak louder and more clearly, and also be more believable, to an educated 55-year-old man than an enthusiastic, but ultimately ignorant 24-year-old boy. Back in the 1980s, I considered myself very knowledgeable about film for an amateur; what I wasn't knowledgeable about was life itself. Back then, I distinctly remember talking with a Vietnam Veteran, who made an off-the-cuff remark to the extent of, "I really have trouble watching that stuff, because it messes with my mind," and I can easily see how he thought that ... now; back then, I didn't really understand. I just cannot get over how this movie managed to make something so utterly implausible seem so incredibly realistic and possible. Although I had no memory of how the film ended, I did manage to guess the ending sequence with a high degree of accuracy, but though I knew what was coming (or thought I did), nothing was ruined or compromised - the film ended exactly how it needed to - it was a heart-wrenching, but beautiful, ending to a heart-wrenching film. The Manchurian Candidate is a *big* film, with *big*, *bold* ideas and messages, and it succeeds on that level, but what makes it truly great is the individual-level, human tragedy that unfolds before our eyes. The irony of a sabotage-themed work invoking such strong feelings of patriotism - all without overtly manipulating the viewer in that regard - is amazing in-and-of itself. I'm not sure how "good" this film is rated by critics, but this is absolutely one of the most important Cold War movies I've ever seen. Sadly, people who are any younger than I am will simply not be able to relate to this in the way that I can, as my formative years were spent during the apogee of the Cold War - in elementary school, we'd crawl under our desks to simulate how we'd act in case of a nuclear-bomb attack. Although I suppose this generation of children has their own cross to bear, with being trained how to deal with school shootings - the more things change, the more they stay the same. There is a *ton* of symbolism in this movie - much of it obvious, some of it more subtle, but it's probably nearly impossible to pick it all out. You could watch this film a second time, just looking for symbols, and not waste your time. An absolutely classic film in several regards, and the best work I've ever seen from both Frank Sinatra and Lawrence Harvey.
  13. Please don't remember John Glenn only for his partisan politics - the man was, is, and always will be a great American Hero - just look at those tags in this thread, and there could have been more. I have total respect for this great American, and I hope everyone else does, too. Senator Glenn left us earlier today at the age of 95 - we lost a giant today: What a great man.
  14. "What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?" is one of "those" movies that I never saw because I'm the youngest child - I've seen small clips of the film, and heard it mentioned enough when I was young, to the point where I honestly thought that I had seen it, but I hadn't, and I had, and I hadn't. "What Ever Happened to Baby Jane" received five Academy Award nominations, with Norma Koch winning the award for "Best Costume Design - Black and White." This was Produced and Directed by Robert Aldrich, and is a classic tale of sibling rivalry (that's something of an understatement) between Jane and Blanche Hudson (Bette Davis and Joan Crawford, respectively). This movie is made more diabolically delicious by the fact that Joan Crawford and Bette Davis actually hated each other in real life. And isn't it ironic that this most legendary of cat fights was caused by a dog? Of note is an important role played by Maidie Norman as the family's maid, Elvira. Norman, a woman of color, was often reduced to playing roles as domestic servants, but she refused to play them subserviently: "In the beginning, I made a pledge that I would play no role that deprived black women of their dignity," she said. About the role of Elvira, on Wikipedia: "Norman recalled that the character was originally written as a 'doltish, yessum character.' She rewrote the dialogue which she called 'old slavery-time talk' in an effort to dignify the character." Compare the role of Elvira to that of Mammy played by Hattie McDaniel in "Gone with the Wind" - as lovable and funny as Mammy was, she was only one small step away from being a House Slave (in fact, she *was* a House Slave), and the dialog - and the attitude - in these two roles, written only 23-years apart, could not be more different. If you're going to remember a third person from "What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?" why not make it Maidie Norman? (It's easy to remember "Maidie," since she always portrayed maids - and then there was the Norman conquest.) In one very subtle, inconspicuous scene, Jane (Bette Davis) - who had previously shown abusive behavior towards Elvira - was in the early stages of keeping people out of the house at all costs. Jane gave Elvira "the day off with pay," to which Elvira replied: "See you next Tuesday ..." - think about that one for a moment ... #CUNx Look at these two screen-shots, captured less than 1/2 second apart from each other: Remember Denzel Washington's "Ultimate Eat Shit and Die Glare," while he was being whipped, in "Glory?" Or Sidney Poitier's "Slap Heard 'Round the World" during "In the Heat of the Night?" Neither of these scenes exist without Maidie Norman. Sidney Poitier was born in 1927, and I fervently hope this somehow reaches him - I believe Poitier would be the first to agree, and that he could add many more examples: The importance of his wisdom and experience cannot be measured. My only regret is that Maidie Norman will never have a chance to see this. Incidentally, the actor receiving third billing, Victor Buono, made his debut in this film, and went on to play the villain King Tut on "Batman." Great, ingenious film - every bit as Hitchcockian as "Charade," with twice the horror: I thought I had it all figured out ... just like they wanted me to think, but I hadn't, and I had, and I hadn't ....
  15. "D.L. Menard's 'Back Door' Makes Rolling Stone List" (Of Top 100 Country Songs)" by Herman Fuselier on theadvertiser.com And here is the 1962 Cajun hit by Badeaux and the Louisiana Aces!
  16. I think the greatest multi-pro-sport athlete of the modern era (so post Jim Thorpe) was Bo Jackson. Perhaps his two most amazing moments herewith: Bo Scales The Wall In Baltimore Bo Jackson 91-Yard Run vs. Seahawks, Nov 30, 1987 And, this was incredible too: Bo: The Throw Finally, for those interested, ESPN did an excellent "30 for 30" documentary, which covers the entirety of his amazing but tragically truncated career. The documentary has been removed from YouTube, but you can still probably find it somewhere: "30 for 30 Film 'You Don't Know Bo' is ESPN's Highest-Rated Documentary" by Jennifer Cingari on espnmediazone.com
  17. There is an incidence of a 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO selling for $38,115,000, making it the most expensive automobile ever sold at auction: Aug 16, 2014 - "Ferrari 250 GTO Smashes World Auction Record Fetching U.S. $38.1 Million" by Mike Hanlon on gizmag.com Aug 15, 2014 - "1962 Ferrari 250 GTO Hits Record $38 Million Sale at Bonhams' Monterey Auction" by Chris Bruce on autoblog.com I wonder what it is about this particular car that brings such high auction value - obviously, all it takes is two bidders, but there must be something special about it (other than being titanically awesome, of course). Do not be surprised to see this record broken in the very near future.
  18. The 2015 (15th) International Tschaikovsky Competition took place from Jun 15 - Jul 3, 2015, and is available for recorded streaming at this website. Piano - Violin - Cello - Voice To view all the contestants in all the early rounds, go to the website, then click on your instrument of choice, then click on "Replay." Every single performance throughout the competition is available, and it's a real gift that this is available for free streaming. --- The International Tschaikovsky Competition debuted in 1958, and is *the* competition that made Van Cliburn famous (with Emil Gilels and Sviatislov Richter defying the rest of the Soviet judges (when Richter saw what the other Soviet judges were doing - awarding Soviet players higher scores - Richter gave Cliburn a perfect score, and all the other contestants 0 points). Then, Gilels went so far as to approach Nikita Khrushchev and asked permission to award Cliburn first prize (remember, this is in the height of the Cold War, and Soviet propaganda meant everything). Khrushchev responded by asking Gilels if Cliburn was truly the best pianist - Gilels assured him that he was. "If that's the case," Khrushchev said, "then give him the prize!" This story is extremely famous and well-documented.
  19. Those of a certain age will remember live television broadcasts in the 60s from far away being introduced by the incantation "Live via Telstar!" Telstar wasn't a single communications satellite but a whole generation of them, if I understand correctly, although I thought it was a specific satellite at the time. The British group The Tornados had a big hit with this rather odd instrumental in 1962, which I have loved almost all of my life. Telstar: There are two and possibly three different recordings all purporting to the be original 1962 hit floating around out there. I think this is the real one, although I'm not entirely sure.
  20. It's pretty amazing that one single concert from over 50 years ago has its own Wikipedia entry, but this was no ordinary concert. The New York Philharmonic Concert of Apr 6, 1962 Here's a 4-minute video with all the controversy encapsulated: And here's the whole thing: I listened to it all, and I was interested in the 3rd movement in particular. There's a good interview with Gould at about the 57:30 point that's well-worth listening to. Gould is noted for dismissing virtuoso pianists who "show off" as opposed to honoring the composer's intentions to the letter, which makes it doubly interesting. Is he having his cake and eating it too? I know experts who would answer on both sides of that question. The first minute of this video gets to the heart of the matter (after the first minute, it becomes a separate topic, and a beautiful one, to be discussed in another thread - however, at about the 3-minute mark, Gould chimes in with a comment directly relevant to this issue. He also inserts a comment at about 6:10 perhaps even more relevant - if you can stomach a slow Schubert movement (which takes patience), this is worth watching, and even studying - you know, even though this thread has nothing to do with Richter, this entire video is very much on-topic because it really gets into "why" Gould did what he did): Gould, by the way, was "eccentric" to say the least, and people have gone so far as to wonder whether or not he had Asperger's Syndrome.
  21. Carl Tanner's Website {after the intro, click on his picture to get to the actual website with more clips.} If you have never heard of Carl Tanner, he is one of the great tenors in he world {he sings regularly in Vienna, Dresden and in other great halls of Europe, less so in the US unfortunately.} His Calaf in Turandot is amazing. I had the honor of hearing Maestro Zubin Mehta praise Carl's Calaf in person at a cast and friends dinner in Florence after the generale. He also told Carl to sing Othello which he now does. Carl is performing for free at his church on Christmas Eve. If you are in Ballston and want to be amazed at a great voice, go!
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