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.