Monday, December 31, 2012
Sunday, December 30, 2012
Saturday, December 29, 2012
The film won the Oscar for Best Performance by an Actor in 1954 for William Holden, who initially refused the part. In addition it also won Nominations for Best Supporting Actor for Robert Strauss, as well as a Nomination for Best Director for Billy Wilder. If you've never seen this one, check it out. Here is a clip from the film;
Friday, December 28, 2012
Thursday, December 27, 2012
Wednesday, December 26, 2012
Tuesday, December 25, 2012
“Kilroy Was Here” has been a part of the American vocabulary ever since World War Two. And the story behind it is not often told. In a way, it involves Christmas, so I figured this was a good time to tell the story behind the words.
During the Second World War, when the United States was turning out ships and planes at a rapid rate, "checkers" were required to make the rounds of the shipyards and factories, inspecting the work. When they were done they placed a mark, with chalk, on the item to show that it had passed inspection. The appropriate riveter/welder would then get credit for the work, and hence, paid accordingly.
Soldiers began to see these marks, along with the words "Kilroy Was Here", wherever they went during the war. Wherever they went, they assumed they were the first, only to be greeted by the words that had become a slogan. There were now several Kilroy’s from coast to coast. But only one was the original.
The photo above, from the Boston American, dated December 23, 1946 shows the Kilroy family with a trolley car in their front yard. They had won the trolley in a radio contest put forth by The Transit Company of America, offering the trolley as a prize to the individual who could prove that they were the "real" Kilroy. Of the forty odd men who made that claim, only James Kilroy was able to produce officials from the shipyard, and even some of his fellow riveters, to prove his claim. Having won the prize, he now had to get it home! And there was a blizzard coming! So, the real story involves how it almost didn't make it on time.
But, with the help of the Transit Company of America, and a local railroad spur, along with a truck and a crane, the trolley was delivered on time, where it served many years as a playhouse for James Kilroy's children. It was a Christmas they would never forget. And that, as Paul Harvey would say, is the rest of the story.
Monday, December 24, 2012
When Clement C. Moore wrote the poem “Twas the night before Christmas”, or,“A Visit from St. Nicholas" in 1822 he could hardly have envisioned the impact which his poem would have upon the world for years to come. This year marks the 190th Christmas since the poem was first published anonymously in the New York Sentinel. It wasn’t until 1844 that Mr. Moore allowed his name to be associated with his creation. And I wonder what he would have thought of this animated adaptation of his poem? We’ll never know, so let’s just say, “Thanks, Mr. Moore!” and hope that he would have enjoyed it. Watch this with a grandkid and then read them the poem. Neither one of you will ever forget the experience.
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St Nicholas soon would be there.
And mamma in her ‘kerchief, and I in my cap,
Had just settled our brains for a long winter’s nap.
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a miniature sleigh, and eight tiny reindeer.
More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name!
To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!
Now dash away! Dash away! Dash away all!"
So up to the house-top the coursers they flew,
With the sleigh full of Toys, and St Nicholas too.
As I drew in my head, and was turning around,
Down the chimney St Nicholas came with a bound.
A bundle of Toys he had flung on his back,
And he looked like a peddler, just opening his pack.
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
And the beard of his chin was as white as the snow.
He had a broad face and a little round belly,
That shook when he laughed, like a bowlful of jelly!
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head,
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread.
And laying his finger aside of his nose,
And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose!
But I heard him exclaim, ‘ere he drove out of sight,
"Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night!"
Sunday, December 23, 2012
Saturday, December 22, 2012
Friday, December 21, 2012
Thursday, December 20, 2012
This 1940 film by Ernst Lubitsch, starring Jimmy Stewart and Magaret Sullavan is one of the most beautifully crafted films ever made, and is based on the play by Miklós László. The story is simple, in the weeks leading up to Christmas in Budapest, the department store of Matuschek and Company, is gearing up for the holiday season. The owner, Hugo Matuschek is played brilliantly by Frank Morgan, known to millions worldwide as the Wizard of Oz. His right hand man, Alfred Kralik, is played by Jimmy Stewart. The two are very close, Mr. Matuschek values the opinions of his manager. Things are going very smoothly, with Kralik expecting a promotion by Christmas. Enter Margaret Sullavan as Klara Novak, an unemployed, and high strung young woman. Through a bit of trickery she lands a job at Matuschek and Company, which in turn drives a wedge between Mr. Matuschek and Kralik.
While Kralik has been exchanging letters with an unknown "friend" through the classified ads, Ms. Novak has been doing the same. Without knowing, they have been exchanging letters with one another, stretching the truth a bit where necessary. So, neither one has any idea that their co-worker is the object of their affections. In fact, the opposite is true, as they grate on one anothers nerves, and the Christmas holiday approaches. And to top it all off, they are both thinking about marriage to their prospective "pen pals", although they have never met.
At the same time, a subplot is taking place as the shops "dandy", Ferencz Vadas, played exceptionally by Joseph Schildkraut, does all he can to make life unbearable for his fellow employees.
With a cast of character actors such as Felix Bressart, who plays Kraliks friend and fellow employee Pirovitch, and William Tracy as Pepi, the stores delivery boy, this movie will easily call you back year after year for a look at Christmas in Hungary in the days before all the madness began.
The movie has at least 3 endings. By that I mean there are 3 seperate times when the movie could end, leaving the audience happy, but Ernst Lubitsch, being Ernst Lubitsch, has so many tricks up his sleeve, that you will find yourself enjoying 3 endings, each one wrapping up a portion of the film that you may have forgotten about. This is the art of Ernst Lubitsch. Just when you think it's over - it's not.
One of the all time great Christmas movies, this film was remade in the 1990's with Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan as "You've Got Mail." I have never been able to sit through that entire film. Simply because this 1940 version by Ernst Lubitsch captured my heart so many years ago.
Here is a scene from the beginning of the movie;
Wednesday, December 19, 2012
My Dad had always had a Christmas tree except for the last 2 years while living with my Mom and Grandma. This was going to be my Mom's first Christmas tree. Naturally, she was very excited and went downstairs to Apartment 3-B to invite Grandma, Uncle Irving and their maid, Mary, up to apartment 4-A to see it.
Tuesday, December 18, 2012
This is one of the all-time greatest of Christmas movies, and also one of the most overlooked. It involves a wealthy widow who lives in Manhattan during the late 1940's, which is when the film was made. Aunt Matilda Reid's nephew is seeking to have her judged incompetent in order to become the sole trustee of her wealth. Her three wayward adopted sons have been gone for years, with not a word from any of them. One is a bankrupt playboy (George Brent), the other a rodeo rider (Randolph Scott), and the third son (George Raft), is a very mysterious man involved with hunting Nazi war criminals in South America.
Monday, December 17, 2012
Sunday, December 16, 2012
This episode was first aired on December 19, 1960 and was episode 11 of the first season.
Saturday, December 15, 2012
Friday, December 14, 2012
Several things “pop” out at me in this photo, the first being that the buildings are still there. Fulton Avenue is in the extreme background; with the “dry docks” and the river behind the photographer.
Thursday, December 13, 2012
I was about 13 years old when this recording was released. The country had been in a Snoopy craze for about a year and a half when the Royal Guardsmen released their first hit “Snoopy and the Red Baron”, which gave many kids my age their first taste of the legendary World War One flying ace Baron Manfred Albrecht Freiherr von Richthofen. Snoopy had been fighting him for several years from atop his doghouse, which served as his plane. Snoopy made it through the war; the Baron did not. He was shot down over France on April 21, 1918 after having had his picture taken pre-flight with a stray dog. The pilot’s wisdom back then was to not have your photo taken before a mission. It was considered to be a bad omen, and for the Baron, it was.
For me, the record brings back a vivid memory each year when I hear the song played on the radio at Christmas time. (The video above is not "Snoopy’s Christmas", but their earlier record, “Snoopy vs. the Red Baron”, from 1966. The video player would not allow me to upload “Snoopy’s Christmas”.) I had saved up all of my money from the paper route I worked after schools to buy Christmas gifts for my parents , Uncle and brother, as well as a few friends. So, with my money bulging in my pockets; I had about $30, which may seem small now, but was a tidy sum for a 13 year old back then; I boarded the “D” train at Kings Highway in Brooklyn, headed for “the city”;which is Brooklynese for the Borough of Manhattan.
Adding to the mystique of my trip was the “local”, which made stops at every station along the way. I can still remember, as anyone who grew up in Brooklyn can, each of the stops along the entire “D” line from Brighton Beach to 59th Street and Central Park, at the very least. The “local” which I was on was one of the older subway cars which dated back to the 1930’s. They had lacquered straw seats and overhead fan blades which resembled the old fashioned ice cream parlors from the turn of the century. They also had the smell from almost 40 years of commuters making their way to and from work each day.
Wednesday, December 12, 2012
And, finally, as you get further up in elevation, the ground of Central North Carolina boasts the first large scale gold find in the United States. We even had a U.S. Mint here during the 1800’s. Much of the gold came from Reed’s Gold Mine in Cabarrus County; which is where I live today. We also boast the largest emeralds in the world, some of which have been dug up as recently as last year. As for me, the only thing of value I have picked up in the area was a gold hoop earring which sold for $50 as scrap.
Tuesday, December 11, 2012
It is fitting; in a way; that he was named Abraham, for he too would lead his people to freedom, just as Abraham had led them from Ur to Canaan in the Old Testament. In a way, this is the story of two Abrahams; one a slave; the other the President of the United States. That the two would meet in person, at the White House, in the midst of the Civil War is not surprising, as they were both exceptional men, and both would die far too young.
Abraham Galloway was a firebrand for freedom. He breathed it, spoke it and fought for it. He took his grievances all the way to the White House in 1864; and in between he organized African-American troops who would fight the Confederate army in the slave state of North Carolina. And when the war was through, he embarked upon a political career, becoming one of the first black men ever elected to the Legislature in North Carolina.
Monday, December 10, 2012
In this brief glimpse into the lives of the Nolan family on Christmas Eve are all of the same lessons contained in Dicken’s classic holiday tale. The realities which we live are largely of our own making. And, just as Jacob Marley forged each link of his own damnation in “A Christmas Carol”, we are all capable of undoing those links as well. As you read this, remember that about the tree-seller.
There was a cruel custom in the neighborhood. It was about the trees still unsold when midnight of Christmas Eve approached. There was a saying that if you waited until then, you wouldn’t have to buy a tree; that “they’d chuck ‘em at you.” This was literally true.
She pulled Neely forward. The man looked at them — a thin girl of ten with starveling hollows in her cheeks but with the chin still baby-round. He looked at the little boy with his fair hair and round blue eyes - Neeley Nolan, all innocence and trust.
Sunday, December 9, 2012
Happy Chanukah! Tonight is the first of eight nights of celebration commemorating the Miracle of the Lights. Literally, Chanukah means a re-dedication. This always takes place on the 25th day of the Hebrew month of Kislev. The story behind the holiday is, of course, like Christmas, biblical in it's origins. The actual events took place over 2,000 years ago in Judea amongst the Hebrew people of the time.
Saturday, December 8, 2012
When Chip and Dale are rudely awakened from their winter nap by Donald Duck cutting down a nearby tree for Christmas, they follow him home to see what all the fuss is about. Peering inside the frosted windows they spot all kinds of goodies. So, naturally, they find their way inside and begin to play with the things they encounter, infuriating Donald Duck, who just doesn’t seem to understand the Spirit of Christmas. Naturally, a battle of wits ensues, with Donald looking like he will be the “Grinch” for Christmas.
Friday, December 7, 2012
Sergeant Boyle is the type who loves confrontation, lives with his dying mother and has a penchant for prostitutes. He could care less about the International drug smugglers. Paired with the very professional and uptight FBI Agent produces some very funny moments as the two learn to accept the fact that they have been thrown together. For better, or worse, the two begin to know each other a bit better as they tray their best to identify and ensnare all the players in this rapid fire comedy.
This is the USS West Virginia on the morning of December 7, 1941. Negotiations for peace with Japan were underway in New York with the Japanese at the time of the attack. Remember this as you read today’s newspaper; sometimes there can be too much negotiating. The attack on Pearl Harbor is proof of the old adage that “the only thing new is the history we don’t know.”