Friday, November 30, 2012
Thursday, November 29, 2012
Charlie Chaplin always gets the credit for satirizing Adolph Hitler in his film “The Great Dictator”, particularly the scene in which he does a ballet with a globe. We were on the verge of war with Germany when his film was released, but before the war even began, there were others who saw the insanity unfolding in Europe, and lampooned it for what it represented. There were very few who were willing to tackle the “elephant in the room” before the war began. Even the Marx Brothers; who were Jewish; didn’t tackle Hitler with “Duck Soup” until after the war began. No one did; except for the Three Stooges.
This is great political satire from the legendary Kings of Slapstick.
New York City Police Officer Helps Homeless Man
Any words here would be superfluous.
Wednesday, November 28, 2012
Let all the world say what they may,
speak of me as you find."
Tuesday, November 27, 2012
Dana Andrews acts with a rare intensity in this film, opposite a sizzling Gene Tierney as they take you back to the days when detectives were “gumshoes” and the gals were “dames”. Round it out with some good old fashioned detective work, and it all adds up to a great viewing experience.
Monday, November 26, 2012
Beginning with a background on the history of Memphis, centering mostly on the days leading up to; and including the Civil War; the author paints a picture of the town, and its inhabitants on the Mississippi River. What little was known about the disease is discussed, and a history of prior epidemics; including the 1873 Smallpox/Yellow Fever outbreak; give the reader a sense of being “in the moment”, armed with limited knowledge about the disease and how it spreads. This part of the book has definite applications today, when some segments of society refuse inoculations for diseases which have been under control for decades; or more; in obedience to a religious or tribal doctrine. They are unwittingly turning back the clock to a time when annual outbreaks of various epidemics killed thousands at a time.
There were many and varied reactions to the outbreak, with both heroes and villains enough to fill several books. The author has chosen the finest examples of both, with an emphasis on what we can all do to help one another in times of crisis. This was a time when Protestant and Catholic were bitterly divided, but the outbreak of the fever called upon all of the different religious sects to act as one to defeat a common enemy. In the Jewish community there had been 3,000 people at the onset of the disease. On Rosh Hashanah in 1878, there were only 18 people at services held jointly by the Orthodox and Reform Congregations.
Sunday, November 25, 2012
"Something In the Air” is one of those songs which linger in my memory from 1969. The band was formed with help from Pete Townshend of The Who, along with Speedy Keen, a musician friend of Mr. Townshend’s, who produced their first album. There is a great jazz piano break near the end of this song, which acts as a bridge. The song itself is fairly radical for the times, and was even used in the end scene of “The Magic Christian” with Peter Sellers and Ringo Starr. It’s the scene at the end, the one which illustrates just how far people will go to have money.
Saturday, November 24, 2012
In this 1949 Daffy Duck cartoon celebrating Thanksgiving, Mel Blanc is at his all-time best providing the voiceovers, as Daffy finds himself the unwitting center of attention after helping a turkey avoid becoming Thanksgiving dinner for a hillbilly family.
Friday, November 23, 2012
Thursday, November 22, 2012
So, Thanksgiving Day approached and George laid in an extra few cases of beer and several cartons of cigarettes; content with watching some football on television. But, his wife Anne; a sweet woman, and great cook; had decided to invite friends and family for dinner. He vowed not to come downstairs and join in the celebration; electing instead; to remain upstairs in his pajamas and watch TV.
Finally, George himself appeared at the top of the stairs, clad in an open robe, wife beater tee-shirt and boxer shorts, shouting, “God damn it Anne, when I ask for a m-f-ing beer I ain’t kidding!” Anne was mortified and tried to soothe him with words, enraging him all the more, until finally; clad as formerly noted, but wearing work boots; he took the turkey from the table and flung it out the door of the house and clear across Benfield Blvd. It landed on the windshield of some poor, unsuspecting motorist, who was last seen staring at the heavens, wondering why he was chosen to receive this gift in the first place; and in such an unusual manner. For that man’s children; who were about 6 and 8 as I recall being told; the holiday has undoubtedly been ruined forever. But I still can’t help but laugh whenever I think of George and the outlandish things he did in the midst of a 30 year drunk.
Eventually, Anne left George and the house on Benfield Boulevard; I bet you didn’t see that coming; and they remained in touch with one another until his death in the late 1990’s. I think of him often, and have not written enough about him. On holidays, which he abhorred, I tend to think of him a bit more. He was a man of many contradictions, and I wish I had a photo of him to post here. But some of the greatest memories in life are not stored on film; or a camera card; they’re in your head, where they can never be erased.
And when Thanksgiving rolls around; year after year; I can see that turkey sailing across Benfield Boulevard, launched by George; bathrobe flapping in the frigid November air; as the guests quietly departed by the side door. And if you think that’s odd; wait ‘til I tell you about the Christmas tree…
Wednesday, November 21, 2012
Tuesday, November 20, 2012
Monday, November 19, 2012
“A Quick One”, performed on “The Rolling Stones Rock and Roll Circus”, was the initial influence for the later creation of the rock opera “Tommy”. The song had been born of necessity as the group had 10 minutes left to fill an album, prompting Pete Townshend to write the 10 minute “mini-opera”. It is largely autobiographical, as were parts of “Tommy.” This was a very fascinating section of the book for me, as I have always been a fan of “A Quick One”, and having its meaning explained in terms of the author’s own experiences growing up makes it even more enjoyable to listen to. The story involves Mr. Townshend’s growing up in a very dysfunctional home, with his mother having an intense affair, which split the family apart and had Pete living with his grandmother, who was also equally dysfunctional. It was during this period of his youth that he was molested. These early years would come to define much of his life and the choices he made regarding his expressions of anger and violence in his work.
Exploring the early work of bands such as The Small Faces; later The Faces with Ronnie Wood and Ronnie Lane; Mr. Townshend is able to paint a vivid picture of the arts scene in England at the time, and which would then reverberate around the world. His work on his solo albums, as well as the story behind his all too brief collaboration with Ronnie Lane on “Rough Mix” was of special interest to me. That album, which is one of my favorites, encompasses folk, country, rock and even a wonderful number called “Street in the City”, in which Mr. Townshend accompanies an orchestra with his acoustic guitar to create a musical portrait of a city street on a “working day.” I was surprised at the many characters in that song who come from the author’s own childhood.
In so many ways The Who enabled the arrival of bands such as Led Zeppelin, and even Jimi Hendrix, who first came to Pete Townshend for help in creating his sound using the Marshall Stack system. But the music scene was a two-way street, and Mr. Townshend freely admits his admiration for groups such as The Kinks, and their early attempts at rock operas such as “The Village Green Preservation Society” and their later album “Arthur-The Fall of the British Empire”, as influences on his own work.
Sunday, November 18, 2012
Saturday, November 17, 2012
Bugs Bunny takes on more than he can handle when he attempts to escort a lost Penguin to his home in the South Pole. Of course, it’s all a misunderstanding on the part of our floppy eared friend, but then again, that’s his charm, isn’t it?
Friday, November 16, 2012
Thursday, November 15, 2012
Wednesday, November 14, 2012
I was very interested with how I might view it differently after all these years; as well as my own personal experiences. Not much has changed in my interpretation of the film. Basically it is the story of 4 men who work for an oil company in South America. They are tasked with the most dangerous mission of all; they are to transport the nitroglycerine which is needed at an oil field located in the jungle. To get there they will have to transport the volatile cargo over some very rough terrain.
Filmed using 4 different languages; including English in the appropriate parts; lends a reality to the film, as that is the way it is when working overseas. You either learn to communicate with one another; using a variety of methods; or you fail at your assignment. In the end it’s all about teamwork, and the desire to prevail. This film captures; perfectly; the grit of the do or die nature inherent in some of the hardest jobs on earth, as well as the motivations behind those who take on those tasks.
Note: I have aged since I last saw this film; and though I can still pick out parts of the foreign languages, I found the English sub-titles to be very helpful.
Tuesday, November 13, 2012
Monday, November 12, 2012
Sunday, November 11, 2012
We have just had an election, and a lot of people may be grumbling. But, put it behind you; just as you once did in the service; in order to help move the “machine forward”. Let’s all play on the same team for the next four years and see what we can do, just as we did as ship’s crews, infantry units or air wing members. Without one another, then, as now, we are no-one.
Saturday, November 10, 2012
I’m one of those people who believe that everything has feelings. Even inanimate objects can elicit feelings of sympathy from me. Take a car as an example. We use it all day, and then leave it alone in the night, subject to the cold of winter and the sweltering heat of summer. It may sound crazy, but this has always made me feel kind of bad for whatever car I have owned. They serve me so well, yet they get treated just like any other tool; used for a purpose and then tossed aside until needed again.
Friday, November 9, 2012
As a kid I always had a transistor radio close at hand, along with a wristwatch, and I would tune into Paul Harvey at noon; and if my memory serves me correctly, he was also on another station at 4 PM, which I also managed to listen to regularly.
Thursday, November 8, 2012
Artie Shaw performed this iconic rendition of Cole Porter's classic masterpiece “Begin the Beguine” in 1938 for a short film. His swing version has become the most familiar; it topped the charts at #3; and many people even think he wrote it. When Cole Porter met Artie Shaw he is said to have quipped, "I'm glad to finally meet my collaborator." Shaw asked him, in return, "Does this mean I get half of the royalties?"
A bit of background on the song itself; the term Beguine derives from the 13th century, when it denoted a Christian woman living in a religious community without taking the ordinary vows. The term was somehow corrupted to mean a “white woman” in the Creole communities of the Caribbean on Martinique and Guadeloupe. After that it became the term for a slow style of “couples” dancing, which was a staple of Latin and French ballroom dancing. When Cole Porter used the term in song, and Artie Shaw made the song popular, the term became a part of ordinary language.
And here are the beautiful lyrics from Mr. Cole Porter;
It brings back the sound of music so tender
It brings back a night of tropical splendor
It brings back a memory ever green.
And even the palms seem to be swaying
When they begin the beguine.
And there we are, swearing to love forever
And promising never, never to part.
What moments divine, what rapture serene
The clouds came along to disperse the joys we had tasted
And now when I hear people curse the chance that was wasted
I know but too well what they mean.
Let it sleep like the dead desire I only remember
When they begin the beguine
Till you whisper to me once more, "Darling, I love you"
And we suddenly know what heaven we're in
When they begin the beguine.