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  1. This, this is what my musical identity is rooted in. Los Endos (live) And studio Progressive 1970s rock. And yes, that is Bill Bruford in 1976 touring with the boys. And no, I was 9 years old so I did not get to see it. But MAN!
  2. I don't remember this commercial per se, but I definitely remember the chorus of this song at the end - Zip Codes have only been around for about 50 years (or, at least, that's whey then started marketing the use of them). Call me lifeless, but I've watched this entire video three times.
  3. Don: I think this is the ONLY great 17 year run characterized by a single coach and a single starter. The ONLY one. Simply unprecedented. One other remarkable thing about this run of coach/player/superstar and many many changing parts: Their style of play has changed ...and changed dramatically over this run. In the early years Duncan was the hub of the offense and was a "twin tower" with David Robinson. Robinson, who had been a huge star in his own right graciously moved from being the offensive highlight of the team and put even more effort into defense...and Tim Duncan was the offensive focus. Then over many years the team changed and kept changing in composition...and over the last several years especially as Duncan has aged the focus of the offense changed considerably. Between the Robinson years and the more recent years...a different offensive focus arose as Parker and Ginobelli became stars in their own right and style and partook in 4 of the 5 championships while becoming stars in their own right. Parker significantly evolved as he added passing to his repertoire and his remarkable ability to penetrate, along with developing a reliable jump shot. Ginobelli is a remarkable player in his own right. In the last couple of years the team evolved again. This particular team this year remarkably showed off an exquisite passing attack spread throughout the team. So many players contributed in this thorough passing attack. Really remarkable that an entire team participated. I particularly found it fascinating in that Tiago Splitter, who looked like a big stiff to me, became the recipient and the passer of so many effective incredibly quick "touch passes" that resulted in baskets. Was he capable of this before he joined the Spurs? I doubt it. Finally this article expounded on advanced metrics by stats.com that chart things like "miles run by the team" spacing, and other advanced metrics that work to explain this transformation. The spurs outran the Heat by almost 1 mile in their 3rd and 4th games...and outpassed them by over 100 passes per game in that dominant stretch. Of relevance here: within the world of basketball, and often publicized, Coach "Pop" is well noted as a foodie. Last year, after losing the championship, two long time assistant coaches left to take over other pro teams and two new assistant coaches joined the team. One thing they noted was that at team and group preparatory meetings there diets were going to change from beer and burgers to wine and fish and finer dining. Maybe its Coach Pop's foodie obsession that has helped fuel this extended period of excellence. Were the Spurs that great in this series or the Heat that bad? I'm not sure. But it was a dominant victory during a long stretch of excellence.
  4. Here's an interesting article about Super Bowl Commercials by Tom Shales: Jan 31, 1994 - "Not Even the Commercials Were Super" by Tom Shales on washingtonpost.com
  5. Peter Gabriel left Genesis mainly because he got tired of clashing so much with Tony Banks. He went on to do some pretty good things. "Humdrum" (1977) "Games Without Frontiers" (1980) "Wallflower" (1982) "San Jacino" (1982) This just scratches the surface....Still, I think the tension of Genesis made for something unusual. But I do love what Pete's done on his own.
  6. The second run of "Dragnet" was even better than the first. It was in color, and featured the excellent Harry Morgan as Jack Webb's partner. Very early on in Season One, you'll see the makings of "Adam-12," with two appearances by Kent McCord in the first four episodes (with SE1 EP4 using him as the star of the show). "Dragnet" (1967 TV Series) Main Cast Series created and directed (all 98 episodes) by Jack Webb Jack Webb (Creator and Star of "Dragnet" (1951), Artie Green in "Sunset Blvd.," Creator of "Adam-12") as Detective Sergeant Joe Friday Harry Morgan (Colonel Sherman Tecumseh Potter on M*A*S*H*) as Officer Bill Gannon Webb and Morgan appeared in all 98 episodes of "Dragnet" (1967). 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 (Jan 12 - May 11, 1967)
  7. I remember you were the first person to say this, and then I started noticing what a blowhard he is - it got real old, real fast. The thing is, I agree with much of what Stephen Smith says, and I enjoy his content, but I'm just getting tired of him SCREAMING IN MY EAR !!!
  8. I don't often go back to watch old favorites, because usually they flop. Films I remember fondly for any reason leave me cold and a little sad a decade or two or three later. There are a few exceptions, of course, and after the recent discussion on this site of Blazing Saddles, I feel compelled to mention The Producers. The film has its flaws, but nothing has ever tickled my (often broken) funny bone as much as the epic production number "Springtime for Hitler", a brilliant send-up of Busby Berkeley choreography and probably a bunch of other old Hollywood film tropes and traditions.
  9. Don't worry - I'm not going to subject you to extensive reviews of "The Mothers-in-Law" any more than I would "Petticoat Junction." But I was a classic, latchkey child growing up, and The Mothers-in-Law is a show that I watched dozens of times, so I thought I'd watch the first episode as a reminiscence. I had no idea the Executive Producer was Desi Arnaz, and this must have been premiered right after the breakup of Desilu Productions (which went defunct in 1967). This aired on NBC, and I read that they aired it on Sunday evenings against "The Ed Sullivan Show," which pretty much guaranteed a short run; I'm pretty sure I only caught afternoon reruns, although I don't remember. I recall, for some odd reason, liking Eve Arden as a child - my son accuses me of being a "hipster," of all things, because I eschew popularity (I dispute this, but that's another subject) - anyway, if it were true, my liking Eve Arden as a young child would be an obvious early example of such a thing. Yes, she was very popular, but not among young children. The most striking inconsistency in this show is the role of Roger Buell, which was played by Roger C. Carmel in season one, and Richard Deacon in season two. Does anyone know if unannounced character changes are as common these days as they were fifty years ago? it used to happen fairly often. "The Mothers-in-Law's" premise is two neighboring families, Eve and Herb Hubbard (played by Eve Arden and Herbert Rudley), and Kaye and Roger Buell (played by Kaye Ballard and Roger C. Carmel / Richard Deacon). Son Jerry Buell (Jerry Fogel) married daughter Suzie Hubbard (Deborah Walley), hence the entanglement of the two families, and the name of the series - Eve Arden and Kaye Ballard being the "mothers-in-law." Considering how silly and unremarkable the show was, there are some fairly big names throughout the cast, and between Desi Arnaz, Madelyn Davis (aka Madelyn Pugh), and Bob Carroll, Jr., it's little wonder that "The Mothers-in-Law" was a screwball comedy in a similar vein to "I Love Lucy." Anyway, what harm is there in watching the first episode? Season One (Sep 10, 1967 - Apr 28, 1968) 1.1 - "On Again, Off Again, Lohengrin" - Sep 10, 1967 - Directed by Desi Arnaz - (Ricky Ricardo on "I Love Lucy."), Written by Madelyn Davis (Writer or Co-Writer of 181 episodes of "I Love Lucy" (2)) and Bob Carroll, Jr. (Writer or Co-Writer of 181 episodes of "I Love Lucy" (3)) [This is a standard sit-com opener where the characters are introduced, the wives get into a fight, they cry and make up (that's the picture), the wedding is announced, and the future mothers-in-law meddle in the wedding - there's nothing special at all here. "Lohengrin" - aside from being a famous opera by Richard Wagner - is also a medieval Germanic legend about a knight (Lohengrin) who comes to rescue and defend a duchess - the obvious reference being to the mothers-in-law and their meddling.]
  10. For several years, I was a Big Brother, until my little brother, Ali, his mom Iris, and his sister, Naimah, moved to San Diego to stake out a better life for themselves. I remember taking his family to the airport, and had to pay for their cat to get on the plane because they didn't have the money. I only saw Ali once more after that, a few years later when I went to visit their family out in San Diego. We drove up to Los Angeles because Ali wanted to go to the Spike Lee Store, where everything was overpriced and of questionable quality. I bought him a T-shirt, and paid twice what it was worth - I didn't want to drive back to San Diego without a momento from his hero. A few years before that, I had flown in from Moscow. Exhausted after traveling the better part of 24 hours, I was ready to collapse into bed, but checked my answering machine first. There was a message from Iris: Ali's best friend Frankie was shot and killed in a drug deal gone bad, and the funeral was in about one hour. Somehow, I found the strength to throw on a suit, and drive to Seat Pleasant, where I was the only white person at the funeral. Frankie's mom came up to me, and asked me to say a few words. To this day, I have no idea why - what the heck was I supposed to say? Fighting lack of concentration because of sleepiness, I fumbled through my speech, turned to Frankie lying in his coffin, and told him we all loved him - that won the audience over, and things went as well as they could have under the extreme amount of pressure I was under. Six years ago, I wondered what Ali had been up to, and I searched his name on the internet, only to find his obituary. I posted this. Frankie and Ali were both the finest young men. I loved them and miss them terribly to this day - their premature deaths are 100% attributable to the neighborhoods they grew up in - even though Iris tried her best to escape, it just wasn't enough. She didn't have the money. I did things with Ali and Frankie about once a week, and remember one day asking them where they went to school. "Taney Middle School," Ali said, which meant nothing to me, or to him, or to Frankie. But a few years later, I did a little research, and found that Roger B. Taney was a Supreme Court Justice. 'Okay,' I thought to myself, they had gone to a middle school named after a Supreme Court Justice. Then, I found out that Roger B. Taney was actually Chief Justice from 1836-1864, and was the person who wrote the majority decision in the Dred Scott v. Sandford case of 1857. These children were going to a school that was nearly 100% black, and the school was named after the Chief Justice who tried the Dred Scott case? I couldn't believe it, but over the years, I forgot all about it. Until recently, when it popped back into my mind, and I Googled to see if that school was really named after the same man who wrote the Dred Scott ruling - the ruling that said, blacks "had no rights which the white man was bound to respect." Fortunately, in 1993, someone had the common sense to change the name of the school from "Roger B. Taney Middle School" to "Thurgood Marshall Middle School": "School May Change Name to Thurgood Marshall" on articles.orlandosentinel.com This column came out today: "Out with Redskins - and Everything Else!" by George F. Will on washingtonpost.com Will mixed up some valid points along with some reductio ad absurdum, as he seems to have a tendency to do - he's a smart guy; I wonder what he would say about Roger B. Taney Middle School educating a nearly all-black student body.
  11. I just noticed to my horror than neither I nor anyone else ever started an Otis Redding thread. Well, now I have. Let me say up front that I don't like, and never have, "Dock of the Bay," Otis's biggest hit which was released just weeks after his death in a plane crash. The plaintive tone of the song and the fact of the singer-songwriter's recent death are what propelled the song to the top of the charts in 1967. I think it's really a ho-hum piece of material, and it has never ceased to bother me that, contrary to what I was taught at home, it uses "dock" to mean "pier" or "wharf" --an eternal no-no, like calling "foot and mouth disease" "hoof and mouth disease", or calling Welsh rabbit "Welsh Rarebit", or saying "My name is Mr. Browne". ("They call me Mr. Browne" would be perfectly acceptable, but "Mr" is part of no one's name.) If someone cares to link to "Dock of the Bay" they may go ahead and do so, but I won't. But among my favorites:
  12. A few years ago, I began a project where I was going through all the 1967 Academy Award nominees, because I feel 1967 was a watershed year in film. I had stopped the project, and the reason is "Barefoot in the Park," an adaption of Neil Simon's 1963 Broadway Play. I've now seen thirteen films that were nominated for various Academy Awards in 1967, and the only one I've seen that's *worse* than this is Dr. Dolittle, which is probably the single worst film ever nominated for Best Picture. At least "Barefoot" only had Mildred Natwick as a nominee for Best Supporting Actress (she didn't win, and she didn't deserve to win - I like Mildred Natwick, but she had nothing to work with here). I suppose I should say that I have a strong dislike for Jane Fonda (as well as her despicably self-centered, immature character in this) and Neil Simon (who is the single most overrated playwright in history that I can think of). It isn't hard to guess how this movie might have been marketed: "A joyously flamboyant romp through a spirited, nascent marriage," but it was none of the above (except for nascent) - it just plain sucked. The movie is dated, trite, not funny, not charming, stupid, contrived, and only saved (actually, *not* saved) by some decent acting (which is its one, sole virtue) - namely Natwick, Redford, and Boyer. If for any reason you decide to do a 1967 retrospective, do yourself a favor, and save "Barefoot in the Park" and "Dr. Dolittle" for *last* in the off chance that you should get run over by a train before you finish. "Thoroughly Modern Millie" is much better than this, and that's saying something because that film was pretty awful as well.
  13. A series of posts here in dr.com ( TV piece on Con Thien and a discussion about My Lai with researched comments by Brian R (that I appreciated) about the Vietnam conflict and a recent series of articles in the NYTimes has reawakened me to the Vietnam period: The most recent article in the NYTimes: The Grunts War by Kyle Longley a Professor of History and Political Science at Arizona State University Longley has studied and published extensively on the Vietnam period. I turned draft eligible during the conflict, received a student deferment and by the time the US involvement in the war ended my college years ended. I didn't serve. I was around and affected by the tremendous level of political acrimony attached to that period. In many ways the political environment of that time mirrored the politicization of this period. On top of the politicization around the Vietnam War there were also tremendously violent Urban Race Riots in the 1960's and later. The period was rife with political strife and politicization as it is today. I find similarities between then and now. While currently we are involved in military engagements overseas they are clearly less involving than earlier in the past 15+ years. Our military involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan are far less involved than during the 2000's. Far fewer American soldiers involved and far fewer American soldiers dying in conflict. Going back to the Grunts War, Longley references that almost 300,000 American's entered military service in 1967. He references that they were all drafted. But records from the selective service state that about 220-230,000 were drafted. (I haven't found data to work through that discrepancy.) Additionally Longley refers to the fact at that time that soldiers entered military service with a 1 year or 13 month commitment (Marines). Once their term was up they left service. Clearly some re upped but most didn't. One year of service. One astounding difference between then and now or in the 2000's when the US was fighting in both Iraq and Afghanistan was that during Vietnam a drafted soldier or enlistee has a definitive discreet period of service. During Iraq and Afghanistan and to this day, soldiers and members of the reserves are called up for multiple periods of duty. This could and does go on for years. Prior to Vietnam there were drafts associated with Korea, WWII and WWI and enormous numbers of young men fought overseas. Huge numbers. We live in different times.
  14. Unlike "Stay Alert, Stay Alive," which was not distributed to the general public, "The Ordeal of Con Thien" was shown on television as a 30-minute CBS News special with Mike Wallace. For that reason, it goes in the TV Forum instead of the History Forum. In the past day, I've begun three threads dealing with non-fiction, short films: "Stay Alert, Stay Alive" (police), "Stay Alert, Stay Alive" (army), and this one, which may not exist forever, as there's a clear disclaimer written at the opening - however, this video is duplicated on numerous websites - I even found one in color. The other two videos have different purposes (the police film is a Ned Beatty novelty, the army film is more to raise soldiers' spirits than anything else), and if you're only going to watch one of the three, and you wish to actually *learn* something factual and important about the Vietnam War, make it this one. Example: I had *no* idea that B-52s could haul and drop as many bombs as they can - the bombs coming out of the bomb bays looked like it was raining confetti at a ticker-tape parade. Another interesting thing about Con Thien (also called "The Battle of Con Thien") is that, although the report makes it sound like a slaughter, the statistics say that 1,149 Americans were killed, and 7,563 Vietnamese were killed - almost a 1:7 ratio. In terms of statistics, that's a pretty good trade-off, but our country simply didn't have the belly for this war, as so many people thought it wasn't supported by a noble cause (such as fending off Adolph Hitler from taking over the entire world). Thus, those 1,149 dead American soldiers might as well have been a million, and the number of Vietnamese killed wasn't even relevant to the American public - our boys were being killed for no good reason, and we needed to get them the hell out of there. The Vietnamese communists were being invaded by a foreign country, and were determined to defend their turf until the last man fell. A poem composed and recited by a soldier at Con Thien (properly spelled Cồn Tiên): "When youth was a soldier, and I fought across the sea, we were young and cold hearts, of bloody savagery. Born of indignation, children of our time, we were orphans of creation, and dying in our prime." Two extremely important leaders were interviewed, Lieutenant-General Robert E. Cushman, Jr. and General William C. Westmoreland: One fascinating thing that General Westmoreland said is essentially what I said just above: North Vietnam was fighting a psychological war at Con Thien, designed to weaken the will of the American public, and that's the only way they could possibly win this war. Well ... that statement is supported by the statistics I quoted up above, and ... the North Vietnamese's tactics worked. For those who don't know, Westmoreland Circle, on the border of Washington, DC and Maryland, is named after General Westmoreland. CBS War Correspondent John Laurence's brief report was perhaps the most interesting and revealing moment of the entire show, which demonstrates just how important it is to have an independent press; it is a polar opposite description of the situation from Westmoreland's, and the juxtaposition of the two is the highlight of the entire news report - the words are both riveting and chilling, and reveal two very legitimate viewpoints that are completely at odds with each other. Although this is merely a news report, it was presented in a way that made it thirty of the saddest minutes I have ever watched on television, and it is absolutely *no* coincidence that 1967 was such a pivotal year in Hollywood. And to think that this came the year *before* the election of Richard Nixon, the assassinations of RFK and MLK, the Tet Offensive, and Operation Neutralize (which was *directly* related to Con Thien) - 1968 was arguably the most historic post-WWII year in our nation's history, but in many ways, it was set up by 1967. Do yourselves a favor, and watch this entire film - you'll be somewhat unaffected during the first fifteen minutes, but those fifteen minutes set up the final ten minutes, which will rip your heart out.
  15. I recently came across a police training film from (most likely) 1965 called "Stay Alert, Stay Alive," which instructed officers on proper arrest techniques. While searching for this on YouTube, I came across another instructional film with the same title ("Stay Alert, Stay Alive"), this one intended for soldiers about to deploy in Vietnam, and made in 1967 - it is completely unrelated to the above police video. This 28'32" training video gives an interesting glimpse into the mentality of the American "brass" when it comes to conditioning soldiers for the rigors and realities of Vietnam, and will present you with words with which you're familiar, such as brigade (the chart on the right side of the page shows a "brigade" to be the only unit with four-figures (i.e., 1,000-9,999 ) of soldiers), division (the smallest unit consisting of greater than 10,000 soldiers), Brigadier General (the general who controls the brigade, in this case, William Pearson), Viet Cong, booby traps, and will show them to you in a way where they'll "stick" in your brain. I understand people have strong feelings about the Vietnamese war, but it is an important part of American history, which is why I've chosen to put this in the History Forum rather than the Film Forum (its worth is primarily historical; not cinematic). As you're watching, try and imagine the stress these children (perhaps "young men" is a better term) are being placed under, listening to the Brigadier General demonstrate what can happen to them with booby traps - they're being told to literally watch every step they take; when I was their age, I was mentally preparing for my next keg party, which is why I unashamedly call these unwilling participants - who would rather be *anywhere* but here - "heroes," because that's what they are in my eyes (I am in the minority, and would be considered unpatriotic by some, because I consider the young enemy soldiers to be placed in an equally heroic position - they didn't want to be there any more than our young men did). Towards the end of the video, as a soldier is walking around peering into drains bored into the ground, I was thinking just how easily the enemy could be waiting to ambush him in any of a dozen other places. Maybe this permitted us to have an Eden Center, but at what cost? Yes, maybe one day we'll be friends with Iraq, North Korea, and other countries we've clashed with - is this what it takes to gain friendship? One generation tears countries apart, and the next makes amends? Perhaps this "strategy" (and, yes, I'm cynical enough to think it's a long-term "strategy") will work, but it isn't worth it, at least not to my eyes, which have become both jaded and wise, as I've watched tragedy-after-tragedy unfold through the decades. My antipathy towards bureaucratic "hawks," sitting in their cozy confines inside the safe boundaries of the United States, most certainly does not extend to the unfortunate soldiers who were forced into combat. And it most certainly *does not* include people such as John McCain, who is a legitimate hero to me - how dare anyone criticize that man for being captured and tortured? Don't like his politics? Criticize away (just not here ), but to condemn him for being captured is simply immoral.
  16. Ha! I will have you know that I LOVE Jethro Tull, and just the other day was practicing "Too Old To Rock and Roll, Too Young to Die" for future karakoe opportunities. I am especially fond of the faux-Robert-Burns era. Someday I will refine and publish my explanation of how you can tell a lot about a 50-ish white USAian man by what proggish rock group he will admit to having loved. Rush people, Tull people, Yes people, King Crimson people ...
  17. The opening of "Divorce American Style" is *very* witty - I had no idea what that man was doing conducting on the hilltop; then, it dawned on me: This is one of the most amusing first-four minutes of a movie I've seen in quite awhile (not surprisingly, it was produced by Norman Lear), and even if you don't watch the entire movie, it's worth just watching the first four minutes (assuming you can find a free copy - I paid $3.99 on Amazon Prime (has anyone else noticed that these movie services all performed a simultaneous bait-and-switch, offering "free" movies with a membership fee, then deciding to charge the membership fee *and* $2.99-3.99 per movie?)) Anyway, if someone knows of a better option, I'd be interested in knowing - I've been watching quite a few movies on my Walking Dead Diet, and they're becoming sneaky-expensive. In resuming my quest to watch all the Academy Award nominees from 1967, this is - I believe - the thirteenth nominee I've seen from that year. It stars Dick Van Dyke and Debbie Reynolds as Richard and Barbara Harmon (just remember "There's no harm in saying that barb was rich!"), a stereotypical couple who - after seventeen years of marriage - seems to have it all, but of course they don't. (I'm assuming this is the case - as with all my other recent write-ups, I'm writing this one as I go, and only reading the plot synopses up until the point that I've watched.) Speaking of Debbie Reynolds, I woke up last Friday morning only to find this on my cell phone - a top-o'-the-morning birthday present. It's kind of hard not to have a good birthday when it starts out like this: And as of this writing, I'm happy to say that Dick Van Dyke (brother of Jerry Van Dyke), Debbie Reynolds (mother of Carrie Fisher, wife of Eddie Fisher (who left Debbie to marry her "best friend," Elizabeth Taylor (something tells me Debbie did that very same dance on Eddie's grave (although Debbie later took an incredibly gracious first step in reconciling her friendship with Taylor)))), and Norman Lear (producer of "All in the Family") are all very much still with us, 49 years after Divorce American Style was released. The title is a riff on and homage to the 1961 Italian film, "Divorce Italian Style" starring Marcello Mastroianni which I thought might have been a parody of mafia killings, but isn't (wouldn't it be funny if it was?) I remember on one episode of "All in the Family," Archie Bunker is doing a crossword puzzle out loud, and says to himself, "A four-letter Italian word meaning 'Goodbye.'" After thinking about it for a second, he says, "Bang. B-A-N-G." A second, very funny scene happened when Richard and Barbara were having a shouting match just before a dinner party - the doorbell rang, and they opened the door, full of smiles - the acting was executed to a tee, and who was one of the dinner guests? "Old Leadbottom" himself: Captain Binghamton! One second: The next second: When I was a child (and I was a latchkey child, so I watched a *lot* of TV), my two favorite shows were, in order, 1) "The Dick Van Dyke Show" 2) "I Love Lucy" (I know that I Love Lucy has become more popular, but I always liked The Dick Van Dyke Show more, for whatever reason). Anyway, it's almost disturbing seeing Dick Van Dyke fighting with his wife, because he was *such* a nice man in his series - no, I take that back: It *is* disturbing to see Dick Van Dyke fighting with his wife. I also just found out, for the first time in my life, that there was no overlap between when these two shows ran: I Love Lucy (1951-1960), The Dick Van Dyke Show (1961-1966). Wow, I Love Lucy was *really* ahead of its time: To think that television - and I mean the entire concept of TV sets - just went into mass production only *three years* before that series started ... I Love Lucy is historically important, no doubt about it. Quick! Think of another show from the 1950s that's more popular - I suspect you can't, and I can't either. People make fun of "Leave It To Beaver" as being Artificial America, but the ones who do forget that I Love Lucy came long before that. How did I get so far off-topic? Ha! Ha! Ha! When the argument was going through the vents, and the camera cut to the children, I was prepared for some little kid to be sobbing listening to mommy and daddy screaming at each other; instead, we get the highly amused teenager with a scorecard! Yes, it really *is* Champagne, Mumm (from Reims): If Fern looks familiar (you'll meet her about 35 minutes into the picture), it's because you used to watch "I Dream of Jeannie" (and what guy between the ages of 50 and 70 didn't?) - she's none other than Amanda Bellows (Emmaline Henry). It's pretty funny: The primary antagonist in I Dream of Jeannie was Dr. "Bellows," and the divorce attorney in Divorce American Style is Mr. "Grieff." The scene at the bank was a wonderful comedic moment - a miniature story in itself: Both the music and the freeze-frame, accusatory pointing were perfect. And *oh my goodness*! That teenager who was so entertained by writing down that argument scorecard? It's Otter from "Animal House!" Tim Matheson! He was twenty years old, and looks like he's about fifteen. This was his first-ever film ... and who knew that he was also the voice of Jonny Quest?! Remember that cartoon with Hadji and Bandit the dog? This is a seriously star-studded film: Lee Grant (Academy Award winner for Best Supporting Actress in "Shampoo") plays Dede, a prostitute; and although they haven't made appearances yet, Jason Robards (eight Tony Award nominations - more than any other male actor) plays Nelson Downs, and Tom Bosley (Howard Cunningham on "Happy Days") plays Farley. There are other, more esoteric performers that I recognize, but most people probably wouldn't; still - there's a surprising amount of famous people in this movie: Does anyone remember "When Things Were Rotten?" You'll laugh at the "uranium mine" line. A new divorce litigation partnership: Scrotusky, Cockburn, Uberdung, and Muffton (SCUM). Their motto: "Why do we charge twenty grand for a divorce? Because you'll pay it." Double cheeseburger, french fries, and a Coke: 67 cents! And product placements for both Coca-Cola and McDonald's: And then the people driving up after him also mention Coke, and the guy says to the girl, "... and you want your hamburger rare, right?" Really? Did McDonald's cook to-order in the 1967? Boy, I'm now about twenty minutes from the end, and this movie has lost a *lot* of its luster - ever since the part (at the bowling alley) where Jason Robards entered the picture, it has turned from being genuinely funny, to mostly just plain dumb - it started out with such enormous promise, but it's like the writer ran out of gags halfway through the movie, and in order to make it 1:40 in length, had to think of *something* to fill in the time - the plot has gotten really stupid, slow, and drawn out, and I haven't even cracked a smile in the last thirty minutes. Essentially, as soon as Richard and Barbara split up and started dating other people, the film has no longer been funny. And unfortunately, that lack of comedic value extended all the way until the end of the movie. The first half: funny! The second half: not funny.
  18. I've mentioned before that I have a "thing" for 1967 films (especially from Hollywood, but we'll ignore that inconvenient detail) - it was a watershed year in American cinema, and I decided to watch "Torture Garden" preimarily because it was from 1967, secondarily because I had just watched "Requiem for Methuselah" (an *excellent "Star Trek (TOS)" episode which actually premiered in 1969, two years later than this), and that got me in the mood for some cheap escapism, and most 60's British Horror was indeed cheap escapism. "Torture Garden" - and pretty much anything with Peter Cushing in it - is B-level horror - pulp horror. And in this instance, the movie follows the tried-and-false formula of a central narrative weaving together completely separate short stories (it's not a spoiler for me to be saying any of this). Burgess Meredith is the common root of this tree, starring as Dr. Diablo, a huckster who runs a carnival act called "Torture Garden," luring patrons in, and Luring (capital "L") them in to a second-level, more expensive show which features a wax-like figure which connects with patrons, telling them cautionary tales about what may come to pass ... or not. It's similar to Vincent Price's "Theatre of Blood," the genuinely scary 1963 Italian film; "Black Sabbath" narrated by Boris Karloff (horror fans: take note of this one, and go out of your way to find it); and to some lesser degree, believe it or not, "Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory." with Gene Wilder which, if you think about it, is very much of a riff of this classic format. I had never even heard of "Torture Garden" before browsing the internet about an hour ago, and pretty much flipped a coin between this and "Berserk!" with Joan Crawford, and even though I'll surely watch both, I'm glad I picked this one - it really is *cheap* *escapism* (emphasis on both words). It has the same feel as ''The Abominable Dr. Phibes" (without being as avant-garde or campy), and also "The Pit and the Pendulum," both starring Vincent Price, and this is precisely the type of movie you'll often see Price starring in (a total waste of a fine actor's talent, but hey, ya gotta make a living). This is a moral tale about people who either did bad things (eventually realizing they've died and they're in Hell), or might do bad things in the future (getting a glimpse of the Hell that awaits them), and in that sense, it resembles "A Christmas Carol," which, having been released in 1938, makes me wonder if that's the first of this genre - the cautionary-tale, moral-fable, welcome-to-Hell genre that may (or may not) give people a chance to redeem themselves ... if they're still alive. Pre-Mortem and Post-Mortem examples of this class of film abound, and it's up to you to determine which it is ... or maybe it's neither. For those among us who enjoy gleaning the intellectual from the banal, Atropos, the eldest of The Three Fates, plays a central role in this film. Balthazar, one of the The Three Wise Men, also makes an appearance, as done Euterpe, one of The Three Muses. Amicus Productions also produced the cult classic, "Tales From the Crypt," and several other cult favorites.
  19. It's hard to believe, but up until six months before "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner" was released (June 12, 1967 to be exact - see Loving v. Virginia), interracial marriage was still illegal in 17 states. People automatically assume we're such an advanced species, but in reality, we're one small step removed from being cavemen (of course, with the nail bombs and automatic guns people are killing each other with these days, we put cavemen to shame - all they had at their disposal were sticks and stones). Putting it bluntly: We, as a species, suck. Back to the movies. I had watched "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner" a few years ago, but I'm unsatisfied at how well (or rather, how poorly) I remember it, so I decided to watch it again - I remember at the time thinking how utterly, completely *wrong* it was for Katherine Hepburn to have won the Best Actress Academy Award over Dame Edith Evans, who deserved a unanimous vote that year: Anyone who *didn't* vote for Evans was either incompetent, dishonest, or both. Back to the movies again. I hate the fact that "message movies" (and this is a message movie) need to be made - not only are they lazy and pompous, but they shouldn't be necessary; yet, they are, because we, as a species, suck. Worse, message movies aren't always correct (refer to "Reefer Madness"), turning the entire process into quite the little farce. But here? Of course it was necessary. And I'm *so* glad the film took place in San Francisco - one of my favorite cities to see and to be in. The cinematography - especially in the 40th anniversary edition, available on Amazon as a $3.99 48-hour rental - is beautiful. Even something as simple as watching a taxi drive through the streets is a lovely sight to behold. Spencer Tracy died 17 days after the film was completed. This was his ninth (and obviously final) screen pairing with Katherine Hepburn, and Hepburn was so devastated by the loss of Tracy, that she never once watched the movie - the two were romantically involved, secretly, for 26 years. Hepburn played art gallery owner Christina Drayton, the mother of Katherine Houghton (Joanna "Joey" Drayton) in the film, which was Houghton's Hollywood debut, and in real life, they were aunt and niece - I did not remember that at all until just now (as usual, I'm writing about the movie as I'm watching it, so expect some chronological progression and random comments in this post - it certainly will not be a well-conceived piece of writing, but if I discover something I think will interest you, you can be sure I'll mention it). Spencer Tracy, for those of you who don't know, was the inspiration for the character Carl Fredricksen in the 2009 Pixar animated film, "Up," and his character in "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner," newspaper publisher Matt Drayton, is the "look" they were trying to achieve (successfully, I will add) when animating Carl - if you're looking to have a good cry, go rewatch "Up" and the famous "Carl and Ellie" love scene. Sidney Poitier (Dr. John Prentice) was Hollywood's hottest commodity in 1967, starring in "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner," "In the Heat of the Night" (both nominated for the Best Picture Academy Award, with "In the Heat of the Night" winning), and also "To Sir, with Love" - not a bad year! I've sometimes looked at Poitier as Hollywood's version of Jackie Robinson - "the perfect Negro" to break into the good ol' boys' club of Hollywood. His appearance, demeanor, and countenance all make him look like an almost-perfect person - much more easily acceptable by the white community than someone with a huge Afro, tie-dyed shirt, and jive accent. This aside, he is one of my very favorite actors from the 1960s, or any other era for that matter (does this mean the strategy worked?) Putting all racial and "perfect man" aspects aside, what would possess a 37-year-old man - especially someone as successful as he is - to marry a 23-year-old girl who he just met ten days before? I know, the correct response is, "love," but my reaction, had I been Joey's parents, would have been, "We don't care that he's a negro; we care very much that you met just ten days ago - why don't you wait six months, and if you still want to get married then, you'll know you were right all along." The brief dance scene between the meat deliveryman and Dorothy (Tillie's drop-dead gorgeous assistant, played by Barbara Randolph) was eye-rollingly ridiculous, especially because there was no music playing except as background music. Was this supposed to be some sort of comic relief? If so, it really wasn't needed, and it was incredibly silly in execution. Meh, it was probably some sort of symbolic representation that went over my head. It's probably just coincidence, but there's a disturbing similarity between Katherine Houghton's role as Joey, and Jane Fonda's role as Corie Bratter in "Barefoot in the Park" - both of them play "spirited dimwits," who ignore the consequences of reality, and try to get by on their "oh-so-cute personality" (and, consciously or not, their good looks). I don't like it - it makes women look stupid. Granted, Fonda's role is twice as blatant, but I see some of the same traits in Houghton here. Why is it that the man in both movies is perceived as the "stable stuffed-shirt" (when, in fact, the men engaged in behavior that was equally reckless and foolhardy)? Well, it has been almost fifty years, and I guess I'm looking at this through 2016 lenses - maybe it's just me, but give me a quietly confident woman any day of the week (Sally Field in "Places in the Heart" just popped into mind - even though she was uneducated, she had a dogged determination about her that made her much more respectable, and quite frankly, "equal," in my eyes - she quietly set out to prove everybody wrong, and she did). Katherine Hepburn's "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner" line addressed to Spencer Tracy was bordering on being laugh-out-loud funny. I guess it's obvious that Spencer Tracy ordering, then rejecting, then deciding he likes, the boysenberry sherbert, was symbolic of the potential of his relationship with Dr. Prentice; what I didn't understand is the significance of him backing into the car immediately afterwards (would someone like to take a stab at explaining this to me?) And to think *that* damage could be fixed for only "thirty or forty bucks?" Even in 1967? Are you kidding me? My, how times have changed. That's a thousand-dollar accident today, minimum. Interleaved between those two scenes, Tillie (the maid played by Isabel Sanford - yes, Louise from "The Jeffersons!") had a scene-stealing moment when she told off Dr. Prentice - you know, I was certain I'd seen Tillie somewhere before, but I just didn't quite place her as "Weezy," even though it was so darned obvious after I found it out - of *course* she's Weezy!) It became even more obvious during this scene when she raised her voice - there was that distinct, "Louise Jefferson" sound in it. How dim of me not to recognize this. Okay, I just this minute finished watching, the film ending with a ten-minute speech by Spencer Tracy. I'm telling myself, over-and-over again, "It's fifty years old, it's fifty years old, it's fifty years old," because that speech felt so damned scripted, and all that mattered is what the white father accepted; it didn't seem to matter what the black father thought. I'm turning a blind eye to this film, and saying that it was probably "necessary," but I'm not going to sit here and say it isn't dated, or that I particularly enjoyed it. And regardless of color, if my child told me he was getting married after knowing someone - anyone - for ten days, and sought my approval? I'd say, "Do whatever you want - and be prepared to learn from your mistakes for round two." The acting was excellent, if overdone in parts, but it was, for the most part, a very strong cast.
  20. Strange, amazing. I love how they play with 3/4 and 4/4 time. "Some Velvet Morning" by Lee Hazlewood and Nancy Sinatra
  21. I may have something more substantive to say about this, but I'd like to clarify a detail in the Washington Post article: Jack Johnson's life and career were the basis for The Great White Hope, all right, but it was originally a play by Howard Sackler that premiered at our own Arena Stage in 1967, starring James Earl Jones and Jane Alexander. I saw it during its run there. The production later moved to Broadway with the same cast. A film adaptation was released in 1970, also starring Jones and Alexander.
  22. Cal Yastrzemski, affectionately (and practically) known as "Yaz" by his fans, was an incredibly durable 18-time All-Star for the Boston Red Sox. Although he played some of his later career at 1st Base and Designated Hitter, he was primarily known as a Left Fielder. Yaz was the first player with both 3,000 hits and 400 home runs. His longevity made him not only a beloved fixture in Boston, but also earned him second place all-time in MLB Games Played, and third place all-time for MLB At-Bats. He is the all-time Red Sox leader in career RBIs, runs, hits, singles, doubles, total bases, and games played, and is third only to Ted Williams and David Ortiz in home runs. What a career this man had, especially in 1967 when he won both the AL Triple Crown and MVP Award. Here is an ESPN "SportsCentury" documentary (a wonderful biography series which ran from 1999-2007) about Carl Yastrzemski, who seems to be unjustifiably fading (along with other great outfielders such as Al Kaline, Tony Oliva, etc.) in the minds of young baseball fans:
  23. It's sad, but true: Josh Ozersky passed away while in Chicago to attend the James Beard Awards. "Joshua Ozersky, Prolific Food Writer, Is Dead" by Pete Wells on nytimes.com
  24. A friend recently brought this beautiful film to my attention, and boy, am I glad he did. It is the story of 76-year-old Margaret Ross, a poor, frail, lonely old woman who struggles to survive and wrestles with delusions. British actress Edith Evans plays Ross, and was a Best Actress Academy Award nominee for the role (she lost to Katharine Hepburn in Guess Who's Coming to Dinner). I think the Academy got it wrong that year. Evans' portrayal of Ross is understatedly poignant and heartbreaking. I was captivated by her performance. She made me feel Ross' pangs of loneliness. I could see the character's strength despite her fragility. I understood that a proud, intelligent woman still existed behind her sometimes confused and clouded eyes. Her no-good criminal son and leach of a husband reappear in her life, and briefly affect the course of events, but in the end, Mrs. Ross is simply a forgotten elderly woman, struggling to survive. Evans' Oscar-worthy performance makes Margaret Ross an admirable person. Despite her pitiable circumstances, she lives her life with dignity and grace. She is a beautiful, old soul, and I am glad to have spent a couple of hours in her company.
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