Sunday, August 17, 2014

A Few Words About Robin

Robin Williams was our Jack-in-the-box.  He'd pop out all energetic to entertain us and we would laugh and laugh.  We never thought about the times between his appearances when he was back in the box all alone in the dark waiting to be called upon.  Reasons behind his death are being guessed.

Rob Schneider claims that Robin recently was diagnosed with Parkinson Disease and the medication to combat it has side effects that include suicide.   I gather Schneider is a pharmaceutical wiz.

My neighbor says that Robin was broke.  The ex-wives took all his money.  That can be depressing.  He must have been down to his last few million.

A few news articles stated that Robin was depressed because he was aging and his TV series was cancelled. It's harder to find work the older you get.

It has also been hinted that the current wife was withholding sex.  She last saw him at ten p.m. the night before his body was found.  Did they not share a bed?  They hadn't been married that long!

The truth is something we will never know.  But I guarantee you that very soon we be besieged by Robin William biographies who's authors will definitively declare Robin's last thoughts and reasons for his taking his life.  For examples of author audacity, try reading "The Lives of John Lennon" by Albert Goldman or "Wired: The Short Life and Fast Times of John Belushi" by Bob Woodward.  I can picture Clifford Irving typing out a tell-all book right this very minute.

If you don't know who Clifford Irving is, I am not going to tell you.  You will have to look him up on Wikipedia for yourself.

Next time, we shall discuss how Humphrey Bogart's death caused Lauren Bacall's fatal stroke.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

The New Man

I have nothing to say, and yet, I am fearless enough to say it.

Anybody else wonder why the human race developed arms with hands instead of tentacles with suckers?  With tentacles, you could really wrap your limbs around your sweetie.

Yes, if it were up to me to redesign the human form, I would chose tentacles for arms, and wheels instead of feet.  Also, I would give humans a radar system, like bats have.  I would put a back-up stop in throats, like that on a gas pump, so once you ate a proper portion of food, you could not consume another bite until more energy was needed.  This would rid the planet of the heavy and the obese.  And the females will have four...  No, make that, six... Six breasts that encircle her rib cage.  After all, we men will want to use our long tentacles.  And on top our heads, we will have a propeller, like on a helicopter, so we can have hover and fly anywhere we wish. And inside our lungs we will have flora and fauna, so when we exude carbon dioxide, the flora and fauna will turn it back into oxygen.  Thus, we never will need a breathing tank in outer space or to swim deep underwater.  We can stay in space and underwater forever if we so desire, with our new head apparatus propelling us through the skies and the seas.  And our eye will emit a bright light on demand.  We could control our eyeball flashlights, so we never have to worry about being in the dark again.

Yes.  I would like to redesign the human form.  I would use a strong rubber for our bones.  That way, if we fell out of a tree, or got run over by a bus, we would not break.  We would flatten and bend before snapping back into shape.  And I would make our blood cherry flavored.  That way if you cut your finger, you'll have a tasty refreshment while waiting for the bleeding to stop.

If I could redesign the human form, aging would stop after twenty-five years.  Death would not be mandatory.  It would be merely an option.  The same as reincarnation would be an option.  If you chose, you could die and restart, either in the same body or that of something else.  Any and all past lives will be stored clearly in your memory, so you can learn from past mistakes.

If I redesign the human form, I would have a volume control in our ears.  We could increase the volume of the things we wish to listen to and mute out what we don't.  Both at the same time!  So you can completely mute out the wife while hearing the sportscaster announce that baseball or football game.  Your brain will record her words, so later, you can selectively scan them when she insists on quizzing you.

Yes.  I would like to redesign the human form.  How about you, any ideas for improvements?

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

The Rest of Rest

James Garner is dead.  This saddens me.  Not because I will miss him, I rarely think about him unless an old episode of Rockford Files or Maverick happens to be showing on TV.  It saddens me because an era is at its end.  The golden age of television.  Within the last few years, the stars of the TV shows I watched as a youngster have been relocated several feet below soil.  All of the Nelsons are gone, Ozzie, Harriet, Ricky and David.  Every actor and actress of I Love Lucy has succumbed to oxygen depletion.  The entire Bonanza family is all gone.  So are other western heroes such as Gunsmoke's James Arness and Dennis Weaver.  Have Gun no longer Travels after the mortal departure of Richard Boone.  Although Wagon Train only lost half of its acting staff, the ones left alive are in their mid-eighties. Both of the Beaver's parents are pushing daisies (and Lumpy and his dad are right there with them).   Jethro and Ellie May may still be kicking but Jed, Granny, Mr. and Mrs. Drysdale and Miss Jane are kickless.  Gilligan's Island is now a cemetary being tended by the Ginger and Mary-Jane.  (Anyone else ever wonder why Ginger brought so many changes of clothes for a three hour trip?)

Basically, I cannot think of single show I watched as a child that still has the entire cast above ground.  I shall list many of my old favorites and tell me if I am wrong.  These are the comedies: Green Acres, Petticoat Junction, Beverly Hillbillies, Bewitched, I Dream of Jeanie, Get Smart, Hogan's Heroes, Gomer Pyle, The Andy Griffith Show, Laugh-In, The Smother Brothers, Red Skelton, Dick Van Dyke, Jackie Gleason,The Odd Couple.  These are the dramas: Perry Mason, Route 66, Alias Smith and Jones, Wild Wild West, 77 Sunset Strip, Star Trek, Laramie, Rawhide, Alfred Hitchcock, Twilight Zone, The Man From Uncle, The Fugitive...   and Maverick.

James Garner is dead and this saddens me.  The reason is because I am now closer to that age group which this planet refuses continued habitation.  The weekly episodes of Rockford feels as if it were not that long ago. Today, I am older than when Garner portrayed him.  This brings to mind one of my favorite adages; Life is like a roll of toilet paper. The closer to the end, the faster it goes.

I have taken this writing in a complete different direction than I originally intended.  The idea that was in my head when I began, was to question the phrase "Rest In Peace."  James Garner is dead and countless condolences contain the words "Rest In Peace" or simple "RIP".  What puzzles me is the meaning of the word rest. Rest can mean a period of respite, which in turn implies that Jimmy Garner, after an indeterminate period of rest, will resume the stage and entertain us again.  Or rest may refer to the remainder, such as the rest of time.  Do people want James Garner's corpse to go undisturbed until the end of eternity.  This is highly unlikely.  Decay will occur.  And what if he's cremated?  Being transformed into a pile of ash does seem a very peaceful way to rest for the rest of evermore.

I understand the phrase "Rest In Peace" seems a proper way to bid farewell.  But only if you're planning a nights sleep.  "Hey, I'm going to bed now."  "Okay, rest in peace."  This is correct because I am only taking a temporary leave from my rigorous active life.  From rest will I return.  If I was dead, people wishing for me to rest in peace are wasting their wishes.  I will not rise from dead in the future and say, "Now that was a nice little rest."

Okay, I'm done writing for now.  Until my next endeavor being a wordsmith, I shall rest in peace.

Friday, July 4, 2014

The Greater Escape

Fifty-one years ago today, "The Great Escape" debuted.  In the following weeks, since none of us were old enough to own a motorcycle, the boys of Center Line were busy digging tunnels in every vacant lot and field available.  At first the tunnels would collapse because they were barely under the surface, then we children smartened up and became human moles by digging deeper before burrowing off perpendicular.  We used scraps of lumber to sheer up the walls and ceilings.  The lumber was acquired from local construction sites.  When the adults caught on and we were warned off the sites, we resorted to dismantling our tree forts for the much needed wood.

There is a lot of work that goes into digging a tunnel, but when you have a dozen determined boys devoting all their free time to labor, then the improbable becomes inevitable.  At first, the boys were groups of two or three, each working on their individual tunnels, but when one group failed, they would latch on to another group that was succeeding.  And there was failures.  Looking back, it is amazing that no one was buried alive.  The worst injuries were blisters from using shovels.  So as tunnel after tunnel collapsed, there was one tunnel that remained strong.  It was located about a half block from my home, on a corner lot.  There were trees on the lot, and it's my belief the roots of the trees is what kept the tunnel from collapse.

In between the trees on a corner lot was our tunnel.  It went from a hole about four feet deep, under the ground for around twelve feet, and exited into another hole.  There was an offshoot in the middle of the tunnel that had been abandoned.  Once the tunnel was complete, the beginning of the offshoot was widened and deepened into a three by three box.  The tunnel itself was a tube that was less than two foot across and even less from top to bottom, barely enough room to crawl through.  But it was a working tunnel with a small room in the middle.  Two boys could enter the tunnel at one end.  Boy 1 could cuddle up in the middle room allowing boy 2 to pass and thus exit the tunnel in reverse order from their entrance.  We could re-enact the Bugs Bunny cartoon where Elmer Fudd chases Bugs through a hollow log only to have bi-passed Bugs somewhere in the tight quarters.

And for a short while the tunnel was our secret!  Only us boys who dug it, knew about it.  Then one day Ronny showed his little sister, trying to impress her I suppose, and she ran right to their father and snitched us out.  Ronny's father collapsed our tunnel that same afternoon.  He had us watch and claimed it was for our own safety and welfare.  I thought back then, and I still do, that some adults just do not want to see kids have fun.

So that is how I spent the last summer of John Kennedy's presidency.  In case you're quizzed later.

Saturday, June 28, 2014


I'm the type of person who would invest in a horse leasing business a week before Henry Ford started mass production of the Model T.

I have about thousand DVDs, which I had bought at 15 to 20 bucks each.  I would buy two or three a week, every week for about 4 or 5 years.  Most of them I only watched once.  I quit buying them in 2007, so I don't have any current releases.  I had thought they may have depreciated, so I figured if I sold them, I should get 2 or 3 dollars a piece.  The other day I saw an ad for an online site that bought DVDs, so I thought I would check it out and see what my collection would be worth.  I grabbed a handful and entered the information.  Only about half was wanted, and for those they would pay 25 cents each.  There goes my retirement fund.  The discs, which I had spent 15 to 20 thousand dollars, will bring back a hefty 125 bucks. And that value will lower as time goes on.  Damn you, Blu-Ray!

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Coca-Cola Memory

I was telling Linda a story from my youth about a Coca-Cola vending machine. She had no idea the machine I was describing, so I had to go online and find a picture of it.  Here is the picture:

...and here is the story.
The year the St. Louis Gateway Arch was completed, my parents and I took a vacation to Missouri.  I had fake relatives there.  I had fake relatives everywhere.  I was raised to call the friends of my parents "aunt" or "uncle" depending on their gender.  And those old enough, I was instructed to call "gramma" or "grampa."  I could fill a cemetery with all the fake relatives I had.  That's if I were so inclined to dig them all up and rebury them in one place.

So in 1965, I found myself being introduced to another aunt and uncle who lived on the outskirts of St. Louis.  They owned a bottle factory.  They specialized in making brown glass bottles, the kind you find beer and certain whiskeys inside.  (I still have a couple of the half-gallon size bottles taking up room somewhere in my basement.)  I must admit, it was fascinating to watch molten glass being turned into bottles.  Then again, at that age, I was fascinated watching a swarm of ants devour a rotten apple.

Almost fifty years later, I cannot remember the names of that aunt and uncle, yet I remember their son, Ricky, who was a couple years older than I was.  Ricky taught me how to masturbate, but that's another story.  The story I was telling Linda was about Ricky taking me to the local gas station for a pop.  The gas station was down the street from the bottle factory.  My mother had given me a couple dimes to get pop for Ricky and myself.  So Ricky and I walked down to the gas station.  When we got there, on the side of the station was the pop machine.  It looked like the one pictured above.  Ricky asked me for the dimes and I gave them to him.  He put them in his pocket and asked what flavor pop I wanted.  I said Coke, naturally.  Ricky opened the top of the vending machine, took a bottle opener from his pocket, uncorked a Coca-Cola, and handed me a straw.

I leaned into the vending box and drank my coke through the straw, never once thinking I was doing anything wrong.  How was I to know Ricky never paid and intended on keeping the dimes for himself?  To this day I look back and wish that sneaky bastard would have split the loot with me.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Doctor's Orders

The scale in my doctor's office is an outright liar.  Either that or the nurse was putting her foot on it behind my back.  I am thirty-one times heavier than my lowest weight.  So if you know how much I weighed at birth, then you can figure out my current weight.  I am not going to reveal my current poundage.

The doctor has had me take several tests.  The ultra-sound test claims I have a cyst on my kidney.  I ask if this is bad, but the doctor says I need to be further tested to find out.  So I have to go next week for more testing.  In college I always did well on tests.  Those tests did not rub jellies and instruments on my belly or stab my arms with needles to drain my blood supply or inject radiation into me.  They also want to stick a Polaroid or some sort of camera up my ass.  Haven't had the photos done yet and I am not looking forward to it.  I wonder if they will give me wallet-sized pictures to hand out to my friends and relatives?

My blood pressure was up and I was prescribed pills to lower it.  This I do not mind.  Here's something you should never ask your doctor when you are told you have high blood pressure:  "Can you prescribe some morphine to lower it down?"  Well, hey, what do I know?  I thought morphine would slow everything down, my blood pressure, my balding,  my aging.  It might even make me drive at slower rate.  Less chance for an accident.  But no, you have to be in excruciating pain to get morphine and I started saying "OW" way too late for the doctor to believe that one.

I seen a web site where crack addicts had before and after pictures taken over a short period. These were people in their twenties that looked ready for social security.  Crack ages people incredibly fast.   Since morphine is the exact opposite of crack, wouldn't people live longer and stay young if they used morphine on a regular basis?   Just a thought.

The doctor also wants me to diet?  At first, when I heard that I should dye it, I asked if the doctor meant my hair?  No, no, no, I have to change my eating habits.  I have to swap my Big Macs and Whoppers and pizzas for fruits and vegetables and grains.  I asked about chicken and was told to boil it.  That seems like it would ruin the coating, but I'll give it try.  I'll get a bucket from KFC and plop it into boiling water. It better still taste good.

The reason for the diet is to lose weight.  I had asked the doctor about cereal.  I said I like to eat Cheerios, Rice Krispies and Special K.   Doc said those were fine.  Yay.   Special K advertises that if you eat a serving for breakfast and lunch, you can lose six pounds in two weeks.  Well, six pounds doesn't seem like much to me.  I plan to eat three servings each for breakfast and lunch.  That way I will lose eighteen pounds.  I'll still have to suffer through my dinner of boiled extra-crispy KFC, but it should be worth it in the end.  I will keep you appraised.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Found This and Just Had To Share...

This is Rachel Williams.  
She is supposedly the bounciest .gif in internet history.
This is all I got for now.  

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Movie Revue (65 years in the Making)

I enjoy old movies.  When everything was black and white.  Linda always yells at me, "Will you put something on that's in color!"  But that is not the black and white I mean.  If you watch a western, the guy in the black hat was bad, the white hat good.  There was always a definite dividing line between good and evil.  Not true today.  It hasn't been true for the past 50 years.  Watch "Clockwork Orange" from 1971 and you'll be rooting for Alex, the charming bad guy.  Go back to 1969 and you'll be cheering for Butch and Sundance. 1967 had us rooting for death row inmates in the Dirty Dozen.

Yet, in the 1950's and earlier, we knew who was bad and who was good on the silver screen.  And we responded accordingly.  We cheered Charlton Heston in 1958's "Touch of Evil" and booed when Orson Welles pulled his underhanded tricks.  When William Holden tricked Gloria Swanson into hiding him and his car in 1950's Sunset Boulevard, we knew his dead floating body (which started the movie) was his just rewards.  Even a little underhanded deserved the ultimate punishment. I cannot recall any 1940, or earlier, movie  where someone is killed accidentally and the person responsible does not end up on death row. "I was driving and this guy jumped in front of my car."  To which the law says, "Too bad, he died, it's the chair for you!"

Help any bad guy and by the end of the movie you will be dead.  Even if you did not know he was a bad guy.  Drop a nickle in a fake blind man's cup and a safe will fall on your noggin.  Drop a nickle in real blind man's cup and the love of your life is waiting around the corner.   It don't matter if you knew he was legitimately blind or not, you will pay the appropriate price.

That's why I love those old movies.  Sex hadn't been invented yet.  Everyone slept in a single bed only by themselves, except for the Three Stooges.  Children were really brought by storks.  Even innuendo was so vague you needed a microscope to see it.

Today I watched "Act of Violence" starring Robert Ryan, Van Heflin, Janet Leigh and Mary Astor.  The story was after WWII where Ryan and Heflin had been in a POW camp, and Ryan wants revenge for Heflin telling the Nazis about an escape attempt.  Right in the first few minutes, when this was revealed, I knew Heflin would die by the end of the flick.  It didn't matter that Heflin was trying to save the POW's lives.  Talking to the Nazis is a movie death sentence.  This was a first time viewing for me, and I enjoyed the premise.  It was every POW's responsibility to try and escape.  Heflin sees the British try an escape and sees the Nazis kill a British POW for every escaped man.  He then finds out Ryan and nine others are planning an escape.  Heflin knows that the Nazis would kill ten of the remaining POW's when this occurs.  He cannot talk Ryan out of the escape, so he tattles to the Nazis where they agree not to punish the men attempting the escape.  Of course, the Nazis do not keep their word and when the escape happens, the Nazis are waiting and kill nine of them, Ryan is the tenth and is crippled in the escape attempt.  It is then three years after the war and Heflin is with his wife, Janet Leigh, and their baby when Ryan finds him and wants revenge.  So Heflin runs away and Ryan pursues.  So what do you think should happen?  Should Ryan gun down Heflin to avenge his fellow escapees?  Should Heflin stop Ryan and be permitted to live out a post-war life with Janet Leigh?  If Heflin does stop Ryan, should it be with Ryan's death?  Ooh, the suspense!

Well, I already told you ending.  Black and white, remember.  When Heflin talked to the Nazis, he signed his own death warrant.  Heflin dies saving Ryan's life.  A predictable ending yet still a fascinating movie.  It is worth a watch.  One last note:  Janet Leigh was twenty at the time and had a three year old baby.  This means she was sixteen when Heflin impregnated her.  Another big Hollywood no-no demanding a death sentence.  I was surprised Janet did not die also.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Modern Music and Me

Imagine if Marlon Brando and Burt Reynolds had a psychotic child together and you would have the lead singer from a band called Future Islands.  Don't take my word, view the clip from Letterman and judge for yourself (

I no longer listen to the radio, so the only input I have for the current music makers is from Letterman.  He's the only talk show I watch.  I DVR the Late Show and on the weekend I will watch the past week's shows.  I like it this way.  I can fast forward over the parts I dislike such as much of the opening monologue (he can be very repetitious with his jokes) and the guests I find boring.  I erase the shows after viewing.  All except the one with Future Islands.  I can listen to their song "Seasons" over and over, and enjoy the lead singer's angry dance each and every time.  So far no plans for erasure.

I also will notice interesting songs that are played in the background on other programs, but these are not necessarily new releases.  They feel new to me because I never heard them before.  As an example, I was watching "Legit" the other day and I really liked the song that ended the episode.  So thinking I made a new discovery  I hop on the internet and Google what lyrics I could remember.  I find the song, go to U-Tube and play it, making a note of the band name, and look up the band on Wikipedia.  Turns out the song was recorded ten years ago: "I Miss You" by Blink-182.  To me, this is a new song by some new band, but in reality it is well-known song by well-known band.  God, I am so old!

I can still name most of the bands from the 60's and 70's, and good amount from the 80's, but when it comes to the 90's and the 2000's, I get stymied. (Yes, Stymie was a little rascal but I mean stymied as in perplexed.)  It's like my mind can only hold so many band names and I reached the limit 20 years ago.  I can rattle off names like "13th Floor Elevators," "Blues Magoos," and "Bob Seger and the Last Heard" without breaking a sweat and give you their songs ("You're Gonna Miss Me," " We Ain't Got Nothing Yet" and "Persecution Smith"), but to give a name of a current band that I enjoy, I keep screwing up the band name. Is it "Toxic Airborne Event" or "Airborne Toxic Event?"  (I had to just go look that up, its the 1st one.)  I like their song about the graveyard... (hold on)

(okay, just got back from U-Tube) ...called "The Graveyard Near Your House" and the song "Changing."  (I recalled the "Changing" title without help!  Yay for me!)

I guess I should end this now.  I think I said all I intended.  I'll leave you with a old saying that I just made up: "You have to be an asshole to enjoy sodomy."

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Star Trek: The Next Grievance

Star Trek Holodeck Doorway

Lately I've been watching the Star Trek Next Generation episodes.  I enjoy them very much but there are a few things about this future that bother me.  If we have advanced four hundred plus years into the future, why is the doors to the Holodeck a lawsuit waiting to happen?  Don't they have safety regulations in the future?  Look at the edges of the doors.  You can poke out your eye or badly cripple your knee on those protrusions.   Who the hell designed these things?

And speaking about Star Trek doors, they open automatically when you approach.  Shouldn't hallway foot traffic be constantly opening all the doors?  I can't count the number of times I unintentionally opened super market doors while trying to finish a cigarette before going inside.

I also noticed the future has done away with seat belts.  I hope, in the least, the bridge will have air bags. We have seen Picard and his underlings being jerked back and forth on sharp turns.  Can you imagine the horror of the Enterprise crew being flung willy-nilly as they have a head-on at warp speed?

Another thing that upsets me is that the men in the future can no longer cut their sideburns properly.  Have these guys no eye for the horizontal.  Has centuries of living with synthetic gravity warped man's sense of perspective where he is no longer capable of detecting true up or down?

Getting back to the Holodeck, there is one other thing that I must point out.  It has been stated that objects created in the Holodeck cannot exist outside the Holodeck.  There is an episode where a Holodeck produced man walks out into the Enterprise corridor and is instantly dissolved back to nothing.  Yet when Wesley falls into a Holodeck created river, he remains wet when leaving and is still in wet clothes a while later on the bridge.  This wetness, which is Holodeck constructed water, should have dissolved upon exit.  It did not.  And, has man evolved so much that he no longer wants bodily pleasures?  The Holodeck can fulfill desires, but not in one episode has anybody created and enjoyed a perfect sexual partner.  I understand these scenes would not be filmed, but they could be implied.  They never were.

Finally my last grievance (not really, but I'm tiring of this) involves Captain Picard.  In over four hundred years, why hasn't "Hair Club for Men" cured baldness?  This is so unfair of the future.  Today we have the capability to restore hair by means such as Rogaine, a regrowth ointment, or surgically implanting hair plugs.  In the next four hundred years, Star Trek is telling us we can go no further curing baldness and perhaps we may have even lost the knowledge we had in the twenty-first century.  Woe is me.

Friday, February 21, 2014

No News Like New News

The "Fantastic Four" movie has been cast, and the big argument is over Johnny Storm's color.  How can a white Susan Storm have a black brother?  To find the answer you can ask Angelina Jolie's kids.  As long as Sue doesn't need a kidney transplant, there should be no problem.   There are also rumor's that Doctor Doom will be a Victoria instead of a Victor.  AND.. the filming will be done in Louisiana, a fine substitute for New York City.  None of this matters.  The important thing is that the licensing for the Fantastic Four remains in the hands of Fox Studios and not revert back to Marvel Comics. So anyone hoping to find an "Avengers/Fantastic Four Team-Up" movie in the future can begin their disappointment now.  Enough about that.  Back to other news...

Obama meeting the Dalai Lama is getting China upset.  Hope they don't get so mad as to call in their loans.  I doubt if we have the bucks to pay them back.  I'd hate to see America foreclosed.  I don't have anyplace to sleep in Canada and Mexico is too far away.

Steve Jobs will be commemorated on a postage stamp.  It's too bad that he was one of the people responsible for making snail mail obsolete.  Putting Jobs face on your letters, is like the American Lung Association endorsing Camel Filters.

Hope you don't have any Detroit Municipal Bonds.  Their value will be reduced up to 80%.  Also former Detroit employees collecting retirement benefits can look forward to a big reduction.  Detroit has an eighteen
billion dollar debt and this is the plan to get people to invest in the city again.  Well, you can't say Detroit doesn't thrive to be number one.  In the 1950's Detroit was the wealthiest major city in America.  In the 2010's it is the poorest.   Way to show those extremes!

The Winter Olympics in Sochi surprised me when the gold for curling went to Canada.  I had thought the Zimbabwe sliders and sweepers would take it until I found out Zimbabwe only had one Olympic participant.  Come on, Zimbabwe, you can do better!

(Okay, let's see if I covered everything...  Entertainment?  Yep!  Politics?  You betcha!  National and Local News?  Got both!  Sports?  Yessirree!  Weather?   Oops....)

Today we will have some weather, whether you want it or not.  Most of the weather will be outside.

So that's it.  Goodbye, until the next time.

Friday, February 14, 2014

More Oscar Stuff

My Academy Award homework is complete.  I have seen the last two movies, "Nebraska" and "Philomena," and my predictions have not altered, they remain the same.  (click here for that posting: My Oscar Prophecy  ) I shall now review the two additional films for you.

"Philomena" is a true story about the search of an elderly woman, Philomena played by Judi Dench, for the child she gave up for adoption 50 years earlier.  Her daughter gets hold of a former BBC newsman, Martin Sixsmith portrayed by Steve Coogan, and convinces him that her mother's story is a book worth writing.  Martin and Philomena make a sweet and sour investigative team.  They start by setting focus on the convent that is still in operation.  This particular Catholic convent takes in expectant girls, helps deliver and then find parents for the babies, and then have the girls work off the accrued debt.  It takes five years of seven day, twelve hour, work weeks to clear the debt.  While the babies still reside in the convent (before adoption) the mothers are allowed to spend one hour a day with them.  Adoption could take place anywhere from a few weeks after birth to years later.  Philomena's boy was almost 5 when the convent found parents.  The qualifications for adopting a child is to be able to pay two thousand pounds.  For this reason, many of the adopters came from America.  The actress Jane Russell was one of these.  As the movie progresses, varied discoveries come to light.  Not only do we find out about the fate of Philomena's child, and secrets of the Catholic convent, but also Philomena and Martin peel back the layers of each other revealing their inner selves, much to their own surprise as to ours.  It is very good movie but I don't believe it will be taking home any statuettes, for Best Movie or Best Actress.  I thought Steve Coogan had the standout performance, though he was not nominated.  He is exceptional playing a serious role.   Before this I can only think of him in comedies.

"Nebraska" is what I consider a dramady, but is classified as an adventure drama.  Bruce Dern plays Woody Grant, a retiree who receives in the mail a chance to win one million dollars from Publishers Clearinghouse.  He neglects to understand the "chance to win" portion and believes he is the winner of one million dollars.  Not wanting to trust the mail with delivering his winnings, Woody wants to pick up the prize in person.  This is a 850 mile journey from his home in Billings, Montana, to Lincoln, Nebraska, the office of Publishers Clearinghouse.  He keeps starting this trip on foot several times only to be picked up by one of his two sons, or the State Troopers and returned to his home.  David, Woody's youngest, played by Will Forte, finally agrees to take time off from his job in an electronics store and drive his father to Nebraska.  He knows Woody did not really win, but he figures he can use the time on their trip to get to know his father better.  Along the way, the two stop at Woody's brother's house in Plainview, Nebraska.  The majority of this movie happens in Plainview.  This is where Woody grew up and most of the residents know him.  The people of Plainview find out about Woody's winnings and no matter how hard David tries to convince them that it is not true, the more they are convinced it is.   Soon everybody is looking to Woody for a handout.  The comedic situations of "Nebraska" are equal to the drama slash adventure.  I would recommend seeing this flick.  I don't think it will win the Best Picture Oscar, and Bruce Dern, in my opinion, is second only to Matthew McConaughey for the Best Actor prize.  That is a shame.  In any other year, Dern would be a shoe-in.  And I doubt many Oscar worthy scripts will be coming Bruce Dern's way in the near future.  Although, we may be shocked and see Bruce take home the gold trophy by being the "sentimental" favorite.  I don't like seeing Oscars awarded this way, but it does happen.  (i.e.: Martin Landau, Christopher Plummer and Henry Fonda)

After watching "Nebraska" and "Philomena" I stay firm in my previous predictions.  No changes other than Bruce Dern taking a strong number two spot for Best Actor.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

It's Bad Luck To Be Superstitious

I am eighteen hours away from completing a 60 year journey through the universe.  I have spun on this orb 21,913 (soon to be 21,914) times and I still maintain my balance.  I have traveled 35,100,000,000 miles around our Sun.  It is no wonder I am short winded.  Also, keeping pace with the Sun, I fly through the galaxy at 140 miles per second, which means tomorrow at 5:55 am I will have flown 9,304,018,214,400,000,000,000 miles. (...and boy are my arms tired... {rim shot})

I came onto this planet on Thursday the twelfth, making Friday the thirteenth my first full day of existence.  Good thing I am not superstitious (knock on wood).   I recall being born and how badly I wanted a cigarette.  I was quite the smoker in my youth.  I averaged a pack and half per day.  My brand was Old Gold and I saved the coupons.  When I had accumulated enough for a chest x-ray, I decided to keep collecting until I could get an iron lung.  Unfortunately, they quit making iron lungs before I had enough coupons, so I had no choice but to extinguish my smoking habit.

In my beginning, I had very little control of my limbs, which made it impossible to turn on a radio or TV.  I couldn't even hold a book for reading.  So those first few months were boring as hell.  I tried to sleep as much I could.   Also, I was toothless.  You think my folks would have sprung for a set of dentures, but no.  They preferred to use their money for housing and utilities... and food.  Which was very mean of them, taunting me with their meat and potatoes knowing full well it would be quite some time before I could enjoy a burger and fries.

One thing I had, that today's babies do not, is a diaper pail.  Today, a soiled diaper gets thrown away.  Diapers were not always a paper product.  They used to be made of cotton cloth and reusable.  Before I was potty trained, my soiled diapers were deposited into a diaper pail kept next to my crib.  It is said only other people's feces reek of odor, but that is untrue.  Try living in a room with a few days worth of your own excrement.  It can be very unpleasant.  Moms was not always in a rush to wash the diapies.

While in the process of learning English, my first messages were not always understood.  I would be yelling for Dad to turn off the bowling program and put on "The Pinky Lee Show."  This usually resulted with me getting a pacifier crammed into my mouth.  The folks had to dip into their savings to procure a pacifier because they got tired of me pulling paint chips off the wall to suck on.  Not that they were worried about the damage lead paint could cause, but because I was ruining the decor of the room.

This is it for now.  At a later time I may continue writing about my starting out as this particular life-force, the thrills and spills of it all, or I may not.  But I will leave you by revealing that I had no brothers or sisters and the family motto was "Go to your room, Johnny."

Saturday, February 8, 2014

And In This Corner, Mia

A divide has happened.  Females 40 and younger vs. Males of all ages.  In the 1950's is was Elvis or Pat Boone.  In the 1960's it was the Beatles vs. Rolling Stones.  In the 1970's it was Coke or Pepsi.  In the 1980's it was Mac or DOS.  1990's had O.J., a framed innocent or a murderer.  The 2000's George W or anybody else.  Which brings us to today.  Today we have Mia vs. Woody.  If you are a female 40 years or younger, chances are you on the side of Mia and Dylan.  Older men are on the side of Woody and Dylan.

What?  How can both sides be for Dylan?  Well, if her accusations are true, then good for her for speaking out.  If her accusations are false memories implanted by Mia Farrow and Dylan believes them to be true, then good for her for speaking out.  Child molestation should never be kept secret.

I've been digging up old articles from the 1990's when this crime supposedly was committed.  From all that I have read, I am apt to think that Mia subjected her child to brain washing.  We will never know 100% either way.  But there is one article that I want to bring up. Did you know that because of Woody and Mia's joint adoptions, it has made it possible for unmarried people (both straight and gay) to adopt children  So they did do something good together.  Who would've thunk?

The following is a quote from the attorney who put through the adoption.  It comes after Woody and Mia called it quits.

Because the court did not write and publish a decision, the magnitude of the case was not immediately appreciated.  At the time, attorney Weltz had ambitions no greater than to legalize the care of two children in a solid, if unconventional, family. "It was the happiest day I ever had in court," he says. "A wonderful event. The judge gave the kids lollipops." But ask Weltz how he feels now, after the family has been riven by charges of betrayal and abuse, and he sounds like a morose King Solomon -- one who cunningly offered to split a child in two only to hear both putative parents say that was fine with them. He muses, "I knew not what we had done."

As far as Mia vs Woody, Woody may try to leave it in the past but it looks to me like Mia will keep jumping on that crusted up dog crap to release the pungent odor anew.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

My Oscar Prophecy

I was browsing through this weeks Entertainment Weekly and decided to try my hand at fortune telling.  The latest EW is mostly about the Academy Awards; "TheOscars."  I shall predict what I feel will win and what I feel should win.  There is a difference.

First, before my previsions, let me illuminate you on the Oscar.  The following Oscar information is from Wikipedia:

Official Name: Academy Award® of Merit, Material: Britannia metal, plated in copper, nickel silver, and 24-karat gold; Height: 13½ inches, Weight: 8½ pounds, Number of Awards Presented: 2,809, First Recipient: Emil Jannings, named Best Actor for his performances in The Last Command and The Way of All Flesh in 1929, Design: A knight holding a crusader’s sword, standing on a reel of film. The film reel features five spokes, signifying the five original branches of the Academy (actors, directors, producers, technicians and writers), Designer: Cedric Gibbons, chief art director at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Sculptor: Los Angeles artist George Stanley, Manufacturer: R. S. Owens & Company in Chicago, Manufacturing Time: 3–4 weeks for 50 statuettes.

The name (Oscar) has a hazy origin. Bette Davis, Walt Disney,  Academy's Executive Secretary Margaret Herrick, Columnist Sidney Skolsky, and Oscar Wilde all have claims to the naming.  Nobody will know definitely the source of the name, yet we do know the naming officially occurred in 1939, over a decade after the first statuette was presented.

The first movie Oscar was for "Wings," the only silent movie ever to win best picture.  In 2011, the best picture winner was for a nearly-complete-silent movie called "The Artist."  "The Artist" is roughly 90% without dialogue.  This year, 2014, the nominations for Best Picture are:
  • American Hustle
  • Captain Phillips
  • Dallas Buyers Club
  • Gravity
  • Her
  • Nebraska
  • Philomena
  • 12 Years a Slave
  • The Wolf of Wall Street
I have yet to see "Nebraska" and "Philomena," yet I feel I have a firm enough grasp on the selections to choose a winner.  According to articles I have read, the choice for best picture will be between "Gravity" and "12 Years a Slave."   Being a true story, "12 Years" should take home the Oscar.  This is what I believe will win.  What I think should win is "American Hustle."  I enjoyed all the nominations (with the two exceptions I have yet to see) and the one that held my interest for the entire movie, no weak spots, and had  me reflecting on for many a day after viewing was "American Hustle."  This was a true story changed slightly (poetic license) that was presented magnificently.  I still cringe when I recall the story and think how corrupt our government had been 30 years ago.  In a similar matter from the same time period, I still shudder when I remember the footage of John DeLorean being set up for a cocaine deal.  How disgusted I was with our government for attempting to corrupt DeLorean into being a drug smuggler.  If you ever get a chance to watch the filmed "drug buy," it is obvious that DeLorean knew nothing of what was happening around him.

Anyway, my choice for Best Picture: "American Hustle" and my prediction for winner: "12 Years a Slave."  

Next up is best actress.  The following is the list of women who are nominated for the gold statuette.

  • Amy Adams
  • Cate Blanchett
  • Sandra Bullock
  • Judi Dench
  • Meryl Streep

Once again I have seen all but one, "Philomena."  And once more my personal favorite and who I believe will win the Oscar are two different women.  The actess who stretched her acting chops to a new and unique level is Meryl Streep.  Meryl, the golden guy should be yours but since this is your 18th nomination, I do not think you will win.  The person whom I believe will take home Oscar will be Sandra Bullock.  Even though I think Sandy will be the worthy recipient of the Academy's choice (this was tough because it was a toss-up betwixt Sandy and Cate Blanchett), in my heart I still feel Meryl has the stronger performance.  Way stronger.

My choice for Best Actress is Meryl Streep although my crystal ball proclaims Sandra Bullock as winner.

My prognostications in this post will be for best actor, actress, and picture.  I cannot go further at the moment. Mayhap in the near future I will reveal more of my soothsaying.  At this point I shall relay who I feel will win best actor and who I believe will win.  The nominations for best actor are:

  • Christian Bale
  • Bruce Dern
  • Leonardo DiCaprio
  • Chiwetel Ejiofor
  • Matthew McConaughey

This time I have seen all movies except "Nebraska."  Unlike my previous four predictions, this time I believe who I think will win and who I think the Academy will select will be the same man.  To forego any further suspense I now will divulge my personal choice, and my choice of who I believe will actually receive the Oscar; Matthew McConaughey.  "Dallas Buyers Club" is a great story, a true story, of a man's infection, fight to survive, and death sentence, from an incurable acronym.  Matthew plays Ron Woodroof, a hetero-sexual told of his impending death.  In 1985 Ron has contracted AIDS (we never find out from who) and refuses to give in to the Doctors 30 day estimate of life.  He goes against medical advice, checks himself out of the hospital, and begins a search for a way to halt the disease.  If not a complete stop, then at least a slowing down of the destruction.  And he is partially successful.  Being not the only one who is dying from AIDS, Ron decides to share his secrets and drugs (at a profit) with fellow sufferers.   He partners with Rayon (portrayed by Jared Leto), a flaming transgender, who has the friends and acquaintances in the gay community who are, Rayon too, all HIV positive.

Well, I don't want to reveal too much of the movie.  Lets say that the government, once again, tries to interfere with Ron, to halt someone who is actually doing good (be it at a profit for him), and force him to withdraw from his own working cure and go back to a government approved treatment that does more harm than good.  

I sidetracked here.  The portrayal of Ron Woodroof by Matthew McConaughey is seamless.  For this role, Matt went as far as to lose 50 pounds for showing the devastation of AIDS.  He became almost unrecognizable by the weight loss.  The only other actors I can think of that have physically put themselves in harms way to portray a character, are:

  • Shelly Winters - gained weight for "Night of the Hunter" and continued to gain weight to match character description in her upcoming films. "The Poseidon Adventure" asked for an additional 25 pounds.
  • Robert DiNiro - in "Raging Bull" intensily worked out to strengthen his body as the younger Jake LaMotta the boxer, and then gained 60 pounds to portray the older LaMotta, the nightclub owner.
  • Donnie Wahlberg - cast as Vincent Grey in "The Sixth Sense" lost over 40 pounds to play the pivotal character of the movie.
  • Tom Hanks - for "Cast Away" he gained weight to appear as the pudgy Chuck Noland in the first half of the movie and then lost over 50 pounds to shoot the second half as the healthier trimmed down and muscled version of his character.
  • Christian Bale - lost over 70 pounds, to be skin and bones, for his portrayal of Trevor Reznik in "The Machinist." This is supposedly the record for extreme weight loss for a movie role.

There has to be more than these, but this sampling is an example how far an actor will go for his art.  Matt McConaughey went this extra step for his art, and  I believe the Academy will also reward him with this year's Best Actor Oscar.

So these are my choices.  If you disagree with me, you can check back to this post after the March 2nd ceremony to see who was right.  At that time one of us will get to scoff at the other. 

Friday, January 24, 2014

The Latest on Groucho Marx

In case you are unaware, I am a Groucho Marx fan.  Back in 1977, Groucho had the misfortune to die the same week as Elvis Presley.  Thus the covering of Groucho's passing was overshadowed by that fat toilet guy.  I remember reading a paragraph on his death in Time magazine.  The following is Time's milestone:

DIED. Julius Henry ("Groucho") Marx, 86, doyen of American comedy; of pneumonia; in Los Angeles. A wizard of wisecracks and a prince of puns, Groucho began his nearly seven-decade-long career in vaudeville with his zany brothers Harpo, Chico, Gummo and Zeppo. They reached the pinnacle of Broadway in the mid-1920s and went on to hilarious movies, such as Horse Feathers (1932) and A Night at the Opera (1935), that still enjoy a huge cult following and invariably feature Groucho as an appealing rogue capable of fast-talking his way out of any difficulty. On his radio and TV quiz show You Bet Your Life, he was able to deploy all his famous trademarks: the loping gait, arched eyebrows, lecherous leer and emotive cigar. He was, above all, the master of the rapid-fire wisecrack. Examples: While accepting a medal from France, he quipped, "Can it be hocked?" When asked why he was always accompanied by beautiful women, he retorted, "They're very useful at night and frequently during the day." When being wooed by a club, he sniped, "I wouldn't want to belong to a club that would have me for a member." Observed Steve Allen: "You can start laughing at Groucho when you're very young, and never stop."

That was it.  I remember at the time how I was disappointed with Time.  Yet, being one not to hold a grudge, I forgave Time and I still subscribe to their weekly publication.  Because of my subscription, I can access their archives.  This is how I got a copy of Groucho's obit.  I looked up the issue that held the milestones for August 19, 1977 (Time August 29, 1977) to test my memory and sure enough, the issue was crammed full of Elvis and one mere paragraph on Groucho.  I wondered if I was alone in feeling cheated.  I searched the archives in the weeks following for "Letters" to the editor, to see if anyone else would complain, and once again I reiterate "sure enough!"  The following is Letters to the editors from Time's September 19, 1977, issue:

The King of Comedy

Three and one-half pages on Elvis and one paragraph on Groucho [Aug. 29]? Shame on you.
Dennis Staples
Fremont, Ohio

Groucho was the divine king of comedy, and his passing is disheartening to his fans. Your article was far too short to encompass his accomplishments or even to describe the joy he brought to millions. His impact will never be forgotten.
Steven Casper

I can only assume that the Groucho Marx I knew is not the same one whose passing was noted briefly in your Milestones column.
I hope the excuse is not that he chose to die on a weekend. I doubt that TIME would want to suggest that, of all people, Groucho's timing was off.
Dick Cavett
New York City

Is it my imagination, or were you guys a little skimpy with the Groucho Marx obituary?
Woody Allen
New York City

I always liked Dick Cavett and Woody Allen.  I now know why.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Oxford-English Dictionary, New Inclusions On The Way

I have been listening to old music from T-Rex.  Particularly "Jeepster."  I like the song a lot but I have to admit that I do not know what a "jeepster" could be.  "Girl, I'm just a jeepster for your love."  Thus began my quest to discover the meaning behind "Jeepster."  (Be advised, this is a short quest, nothing like the search for the Holy Grail.)

First I requested the meaning from and received this reply:
No results found for jeepster:
Did you meankeester

No, I do not mean keester.

My next stop on the internet highway was Wikipedia, and Wikipedia informed me that I am searching for info about a Willy-Overland Jeepster that was "an automobile originally produced by Willys-Overland Motors from 1948 to 1950. It was the last true phaeton produced by a major automaker."

Did Mark Bolan believe he was this car?  He may have, but I doubt it.

Next stop was where the first meaning quotes the lyrics to the T-Rex song and the second meaning was:

2. Jeepster 
a charming average guy, who is willing to go anywhere for the object of his affection---namely, a "jaguar" (a "jaguar" is a super hot girl).

This I liked.  Yet, it made me think that Mark Bolan (the songwriter of "Jeepster") simply made up the word.  And why not.  New words, or new meanings to existing words have to come from someplace.  Armed with this revelation I turned to Linda and said "I will always pillawfullaw (pē-LAW-fû-law) your beanderbach (BĒ­­­­­­-and-der-bách)."  She may not have understood the words, but I knew she could feel the emotion behind my proclamation.

So, men, if you want to make your lady feel extremely special, you're welcome to plagiarize me.  Tell her you will always pillawfullaw her beanderbach!  And be sure to emphasize passion while saying it. 

Friday, January 3, 2014

Detroit Demons: Morgus the Magnificent, Sir Graves Ghastly, and The Ghoul

I always had a taste for the bizarre. Growing up in a Detroit suburb, my first access to demonic characters was on television.  Whilst I were a mere eleven years old, Morgus the Magnificent left New Orleans and began appearing, via Detroit airwaves, on my television five weekday afternoons and one midnight hour every Friday.  The afternoon broadcasts were five minute weather forecasts.  The reports were at 5:55 pm usually following a Bowery Boys movie.   Morgus on Friday Nights was the emcee for one horror movie or another.

By the time Morgus left Detroit television, Sir Graves Ghastly had taken over.  I don't recall if they overlapped or not.  I know Sir Graves started in 1967.  I know Morgus weather reports had ended a few years earlier but he may still have had his Friday night show.  Sir Graves' movie hosting would not have been a worry to Morgus because Sir Graves was on Saturday afternoons.  No time slot battles.  Also Morgus was a mad scientist and Sir Graves was a vampire.  Which is strange if you think about it.  Saturday afternoon and its sunlight would be a hazard to vampires.  I was not a fan of Sir Graves.

A fan of the Ghoul I was.  The Ghoul came across the boob tube in 1971.  One of his favorite pastimes was to go through his mail and find a model car some adolescent had assembled, customized, painted and sent in.  The Ghoul would take this treasure, stick firecrackers in it and proceed to blow the car into smithereens.  The Ghoul had one lens of his horn-rimmed glasses blacked out, wore black tape for a mustache and goatee, and dressed in t-shirts, lab coat, jeans and sneakers, and topped it off with a fur(?) hat (fright wig?).  A regular Beau Brummel.  He consistently mocked his audience and belittled his biggest fans.  He also was notorious for talking over the movies he showed.  He was unique, warped, and out-of-control.  The budget for his show wouldn't cover lunch at White Castles.  Yet, the Ghoul managed to delight and entertain every week.

I enjoyed the hosts of Detroit's horror movies but I think I would have enjoyed the host more if I lived in California.  After all, they had Vampira and Elvira.