Along with the holiday of Thanksgiving comes socializing with family and friends, watching some football, good meals and cheer, plus I generally try to watch the Macy's Thanksgiving parade, the tree lighting at Rockefeller Center (which actually comes on TV tonight).
I also like to watch my fair share of Christmas movies. Here's a few of my favorite ones:
1. A Charlie Brown Christmas--I like how the Peanuts gang get together and share Christmas carols, that Christmas means more than just presents, and a great score by Vince Guaraldi.
2. Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer--I like the 1964 stop-motion version with the Burl Ives narration, and the dreaded Abominable Snow Monster!
3. A Christmas Story--a kid wishes for a Red Ryder carbine-action, 200-shot Range Model air rifle with a compass in the stock and a thing which tells time. But his parents fear he'll shoot out his eye with it. I haven't ever read the book, but have always wanted to.
4. It's A Wonderful Life--Clarence the angel will get his wings if he can help out George Bailey, a timeless classic.
5. National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation--still one of my favorites, and I'll generally find a scene or two to laugh at.
6. A Miracle on 34th Street--When Santa falls down drunk in the Thanksgiving Day Parade, reluctant Macy's supervisor Doris Walker (Maureen O'Hara) offers the job to a bearded Kris Kringle. Look for a six year old played by Natalie Wood.
7. White Christmas--Bing Crosby & Danny Kaye team-up as war buddies turned entertainers who fall for a pair of sisters (Rosemary Clooney and Vera-Ellen). The boys follow the girls to a resort, which is owned by their former commanding officer, and he's in danger of losing the place. What better reason to stage a show than to keep the resort out of hock? Maybe not my favorite Christmas movie, but good songs etc., and it you haven't seen it, it's worth a watch.
8. The Polar Express--animated tale of a boy taking a train ride to the North Pole.
9. The Bishop's Wife--been a while since I've seen this, but an angelic Carey Grant steps in and uses a little magic refresh the bishop's wife and save her husband from ruin.
10. Home Alone--it coined the phrase, Yes..., who knew? At any rate, I do enjoy it. Did I miss any you enjoy? Let me know.
this blog is about SF, fandom, film, music, life, the arts, etc.
Tuesday, November 30, 2010
Sunday, November 28, 2010
Hal: Dave...Is that you Dave? Is that you?
Dave: No, Hal, Dave's not here man... Dave's not here.
(A little riff on 2001 & a Cheech and Chong comedy routine.)
Thanksgiving was a nice time to decompress a little. We got a cold front, which chilled things down and made it feel like November (although I had been enjoying our balmy winter weather before it--it allowed me to get out and run by the stores). My brother came down from Plano, and I'd cooked a brisket one day and turkey breast the next day. I had ambrosia salad, a mixed lettuce salad, stuffed celery sticks, a green bean cassarole with fried onions, some green and regular tea, and we had apple pie for dessert with ice cream too. So we were nicely fed and I'll have to say, it all came out cooked pretty darn well to my surprise. I got a few of the recipes off the allrecipes.com site for those wanting them. The meats I just cooked in the crock pot, which is my favorite method for cooking them. It seems that way is the easiest, healthiest, and so forth, and I'm all for that.
I had two aunts that celebrated their birthdays that Friday, and we went by there for a visit. Many of our cousins were there as well. One aunt was 90 and the other turned 95, so continued good health to them. We had some birthday cake and just visited a little bit.
We later came back home and surfed the TV for a bit watching some of the Home & Garden network, and watched some of Rick Steeves travel shows, some Sienfeld, a bit of this and that, and the Cowboys game and a bit of the UT vs. Texas A&M game. We watched a movie called Winter's Bone, which was okay, but I didn't think it was great enough to recommend, and the documentary, Gram Parsons: Fallen Angel, which actually I enjoyed, but dozed a bit, not that it was boring, but we'd watched it after eating a big meal.
Here's a film review for 2001: A Space Odyssey that I did some time ago on Netflix, I thought I'd post it here just for grins:
2001: A Space Odyssey--Great space opera, that goes from the stone age to the space age. (Note all the great sci-fi, fantasy, and horror classics that were made during this era and spilled over into the 70's.) Maybe it was because all the psychedelic drugs were starting to kick in. Kubrick's attention to detail makes space look totally believable. The computer HAL (IBM letters moved back a space) steals the second half, with the seductive plead: Dave, don't do that Dave. Incredibly heady stuff. Also check out Planet of the Apes (the original & the second sequel), Barbarella, & Logan's Run for other fun SF fare of that era.
Monday, November 22, 2010
20 Great 60's Films
1. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
2. Easy Rider
3. 2001: A Space Odyssey
5. Planet of the Apes
6. Cool Hand Luke
8. Fantastic Voyage
9. Rosemary's Baby
10. Midnight Cowboy
11. The Graduate
12. The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly
13. Lawrence of Arabia
14. From Russia With Love
15. Bonnie and Clyde
17. The Birds
18. The Night of Living Dead
19. A Hard Day's Night
20. Dr. Strangelove
Certainly hard to pick just twenty from such a brilliant decade of films.
Labels: 20 Now and Happening 60's Films
Saturday, November 20, 2010
So anyway, me, The Atomic Slob, and Dr. Sixpack, were headed over to Mickie D's to woof down a couple of hot Double Quarter Pounders, with an extra size fries, and a tall boy drink. Unlike most super heroes that work out in some specialized gym, like the ominous X-Men in their "Danger Room", we just figure, hey, we'll never be able to compete with them, and all those diabolical villains that they defeat. No, we prefer the road to least resistance for super heroics, yes, we're known as the Human Couch Potatoes. Meanwhile...
Saturday I woke up to another power outage. Where's a super hero when you need them? I was awakened when the answering machine started making noise about how to leave a message or something. I hate outages like that. You get up and it's cold, there's no light, no TV, you feel pretty helpless. I got up to see what was going on, and since this past week or so, we've had similar power failures, I figured it out what was going on, and climbed right back into bed to stay warm, hoping that it would fix itself pretty quickly. But at the same time, I worried over the fact that no one would call it in, so put on some clothes, and found the phone book to call Oncor. I sat down for a minute, and thought, what the heck, I'll go over to McDonalds and grab breakfast. I needed coffee, and there was nothing I could do around here.
McDonalds was really busy. The woman up at the counter was doing her best, but when she gave me my meal, she didn't give me any plastic ware to eat it with, no pepper or ketchup, or cream for my coffee...so it was a bit trying for a little bit. While eating breakfast I found an interesting estate sale to go look at. It was off Broadway and I knew the location, so after I ate, I went by there. It was in a nice house and nice area as well, but I didn't get anything. So after I looked around at the sale, I walked around in the neighborhood for a bit. I was lucky though, when I got home, they had the power restored. I think I'm going to go outside in a bit and mow the yard, probably the last time for the year. It's a pretty balmy day outside, but if you sit around inside you need a sweater on. At any rate. I found a couple of interesting web sites. One has an interview with Joe Matt, the creator of the comic Peep Show.
You can find that here: http://www.inkstuds.org/?p=262#comment-1140
And then keeping with the comic theme, if you are interested at all in writing scripts you can find some here that you can download and take a look at.
I was interested in the ones pertaining to Warren Ellis, and there's some by Jason Aaron, who has worked for Marvel, and does a comic called Scalped, among others. You can also download the first issue of Scalped there as well on a PDF file. It's sort of crime comic. At any rate, lately, I've read a few comics. I started reading a couple stories out of my Essentials Fantastic Four Vol. 2 which contains issues 21-40. It starts out with a story about The Hate Monger, who is in NYC spreading his hateful, Klan-like philosophy. He sprays the Fantastic Four with a hate ray and they start bickering among themselves--more than they normally do. I like the solid Jack Kirby art, and Stan Lee plotting. I agree with what they were saying on the Ifanboy.com site about the early Fantastic Four books, in that, the early FF included a lot of the cannon of the Marvel Universe. You get to see the Skrulls, Doctor Doom, Namor, Nick Fury, Silver Surfer, and many other characters made an early appearance there.
Also reading the second book to Jeff Smith's Bone. It's sort of an all ages book with some Walt Kelly, Pogo-like characters in it. The stories are rather fantasy driven, so if you like fantasy you might want to check that out.
I saw a pretty interesting movie about the rock star Harry Nilsson this week, titled Who Is Harry Nilsson? He was pretty esoteric, and not widely known back in the late 60's and 70's, so it was an interesting watch. He became pretty famous when they used a song of his for the film Midnight Cowboy, and he also sang the lead song, Everybody's Talking from the same film. Midnight Cowboy has a special meaning to me in that the beginning to the film were shot in Big Spring, Tx., where I lived while growing up in my last two years of high school. I enjoyed seeing the Dustin Hoffman film, The Graduate, it was a very pop oriented and "now & happening" film, and made a pretty big hit critically during that year. So when I heard that they were planning on shooting some of Midnight Cowboy in Big Spring, AND looking for extras for the film, I had to go down to the Ramada Hotel and check it out. The guy that was conducting the screenings and interviews I remember looking like a movie star himself. He asked me a few general questions (which I don't remember), and I stumbled over an answer, and mumbled some dumb reply. But in the end, I didn't get the part, because I think what they were needing was some extras that looked like "rural" people that they used at the beginning of the film. Had I known that beforehand, I would have dressed down and ugly, maybe worn some overalls--such is hindsight. And such is my brush with greatness :)
At any rate, the film Who Is Harry Nilsson is pretty interesting. I wish they had commented a bit on how he learned to play guitar and piano, but I have to say, it's amazing how some artist just happen to hit it big, and everything falls into place for them--not to discount his talent.
Well, heck, I guess I better get up and do a few things around here.
Monday, November 15, 2010
The weekend seemed to have flown by. Saturday I didn't have much momentum, although did get out to walk for a bit, but otherwise just seemed to hold that pattern. I cleaned house for a little bit, went and got a burger at Dairy Queen, then later that night, it came a good rain storm, which cooled things off for a bit. Since I didn't feel like getting out into that I just watched some DVDs I'd gotten from Netflix.
I'm on my second disc to Dexter Season four, which I seem to be enjoying over the third one for some reason. I also like watching a British TV series called Doc Martin, and then finished that off by watching a couple of episodes of Faulty Towers. The next day I got up and watched the documentary on Vietnam called Hearts and Minds. It's an interesting and thought provoking film.
I talked with my brother about some Thanksgiving plans: keep it simple :) I'm thinking about cooking a brisket, and have a few trimmings.
This Monday I had an email in my box that told me there was a live chat sponsored by a paid service I subscribe to on personal finance with the Motley Fools. They also offer a free service with advice and information over at fool.com At any rate, with the live chat they provided a window with which you could ask them questions, which I asked a few, but otherwise, I felt like it was a lot of reiteration, but still got something out of it. When someone asked David Gardenr, one of the founders of Motley Fools a question about politics, his response was:
I root for lower government spending no matter which party is in power. I think most Americans do -- I truly believe our country was started based on a real skepticism about the nature and character of government, and a belief in private citizens. I'm pretty apolitical otherwise -- I think most of us are centrists that aren't super-served by either party (I say "most of us," not all of us -- this is only my supposition). I root for every politician to avoid lobbying money and PACs, but I hate to say that most from both parties are driven by these monies. I hope our country will change, in this regard. It will only do so if you and I show that we care. As far as the stock market goes, even if our government doesn't manage its capital well, we can find many companies that DO manage theirs well, and we can become part owners of them. That is the great truth of America, and always has been. ::exiting soapbox::
Yeah, I think that's my philosophy too pretty much in a nutshell.
Thursday, November 11, 2010
Happy Veterans Day to all our veterans, and thank you for your service. Below is a picture of my Dad while he served in WWII over in Europe somewhere. I don't think he ever told me where this picture was taken. He served campaigns in Africa, Sicily, and Italy. He didn't mind talking about the war, which he would share time to time. Some of his stories shed some aspects of the war in a different light. I won't go into them here. Most veterans will talk about them if you start talking to them. Recently over the net I met a navy guy that was in WWII as well. He lives out in California. He sent me an email that said, thank you for the well wishes, and added:
To all.. As a W.W.2 VET United States Navy.. Thanks for the Veteran,s day messages.. But !!! If you really want to thank a Veteran... Go to a National Cemetery,and thank the ones there !! I gave service.. They gave the greatest gift of all.. They gave all their tomorrows.. For your today !!! PEACE !!! Chuck B.
Monday, November 08, 2010
I need to get up and go get a haircut. I'm slow going in the mornings anyway, but had a bit of a headache this morning, which makes it that much worse. I love it when I wake up in the morning and just feel rested. The headache I think comes from my allergies. At any rate, life is fraught with pitfalls, so why complain.
Style...they come and they go. This is a hip look today. I call it the bedhead look. It is cut short, but really not combed. For me this looks good on some men, but really, why bother...
During the hot days of summer, I could actually go with something like this. It's style conscious, easy to keep, and no grooming. (note to self...)
I've seen this look, which I'm sorry, but to me is a little ridiculous. It's more for younger men/boys anyway. I think the pop star, Justin Bieber, is responsible for the look, but who knows where these looks evolve from? Really it's just long unmanageable longer hair. So it could have evolved as far back as the Beatles with their famous mop tops. Or how about Moe Howard, from the Three Stooges fame, he had a similar bowl haircut. Wherever it came from, I'm sure Bieber will change his looks by tomorrow. So goes pop...
The long haired look is still fashionable. Dave Grohl of the Foo Fighers fame has a similar look. As I've grown older, I can't stand to deal with this much hair, and facial hair too to some extent. But hey, at least you save some dough on haircuts.
This would be the nerd or geek look. Who knew that they'd have their own look? Better still, I can't imagine wanting this look either. Isn't this the equivalent of wearing a "Kick Me" sign on your back, or if your are in high school, a magnet for bullies. If I were getting more than one "weggie" a day, I think I might want to try a different "do."
Pretty normal hairdo, just go get some used womens sunglasses. Perhaps this is what happens to one that has been reading too many GQ magazines. But hey, if it works for you...
The psycho look. Also known maybe as sociopath look. Are you looking at me?
Which is actually, closely associated maybe with this look, which is a bit scary, but also the, "do you have any spare change" look.
Which is also closely associated with this, "I've got a problem" look.
Who am I kidding? I'm sure it will just be, take some off the top, and off the sides for me, and I'll call it a day.
Saturday, November 06, 2010
Well, the midterm elections came and went this week like an ill wind blowing over a cattle lot. Sorry, I'm not that much into politics. I will go out and vote, but all the hot air and mudslinging from everyone involved is a turnoff to me. I'd like to see candidates debate each other, and some of the people on the ballots I'd never heard of--so why would I vote for them? So I voted straight Democratic ticket, and to heck with the rest of them. I feel like I'm independent at times, but since I'm not against abortion as I think that's an individual's own personal issue nor do I feel that the whole gay issues are anything to get excited about. Hey, if you are gay and want to service your country, why not? And why would they have to conceal and hide that fact? As far as gay marriage I don't know how that could be accomplished, perhaps it could be made into some contract. I can understand the issue, but calling it a marriage might offend some people, so I don't know, but I don't know about a lot of stuff--no disclaimer needed there :)
The marijuana thing almost passed in California, which actually I was hoping it would. I'm not a user, but would if I thought I could get legal access and needed it for some malady or whatever. Right now though, I'm healthy and generally happy. But in California it seems like they could use the tax revenue, and hey, there's almost legal weed out there right now with all that medical hooch being smoked. Medical, right? It's not like there's not a huge demand for it here in the ole USA. Maybe it might stop some of the Mexican trafficking and ease up some of that violence across the border if we grew our own over here. Either way, I doubt unless we do dicriminalize it, things won't change much.
As far as all the Tea Baggers and right wingers going on and on about less government, less taxes, I hear a lot of complaining and finger pointing and smoke screening, but not much SOLUTIONS. Do they want to do away with social security (which is what Gov.Rick Perry seems to hint at)? While we're at it let's also do away with Medicare and Medicaid, welfare, and I guess any of those government programs. I got mine, if someone needs a helping hand, screw up, let them starve and die on the side of the road like roadkill, hahaha. I've tried to get a handle on this and understand their whole agenda on that, but until I do, and it's spelled out as to what the heck they really mean, I consider it hot air & politics. As far as less taxes, yeah, guess what, I don't like paying taxes either. I guess we can go live in LalaLand and not have them, but if you want some semblance of an infrastructure: bridges, roads, schools, etc., you're probably going to have to pay some taxes. And if you want to get the USA back on its feet again, you'll probably have to spend some money to do that too otherwise, like President Obama said, it's not going to add up with the math. I don't think everything President Obama has done was the right way to go about it, but at the same time, the only thing he's done that a Republican president wouldn't have done, is pass the health care reform. I have misgivings about that too. It's too long winded to write about, and there's already plenty of it on the web, but unless it were a package that was more specific and spelled out, I would have dropped it and move along with our economy and the jobs situation. At least he allowed people under age 26 to still be carried on their parent's insurance, and at least that's something. Nuff said.
I'm sitting here watching Rick Steves' travel show. He's in Granada and Cordoba Spain and around those areas. Being an armchair traveler and also when I can get around to it, also a real life traveler, these travel shows have always appealed to me. Rick tends to go to a lot of the more out of the way places and does so on a budget, but I think his main message is however you wish to travel, do it with gusto and enjoy the trip. He'll tell a little bit about the history of the place he's visiting, show what they might have for meals in the region, enjoy a little libation, and hits a few landmarks. All in all a fun travel show.
This past week I watched the Dreamworks animated movie, How To Train Your Dragon. It was fun and had an all ages approach to it, so kids could enjoy the adventure, yet appealed to the kid in us all no matter your age. It was mostly about a young Viking boy named Hiccup trying to gain a little respect from his Dad, friends, and the people in the community they live. There was a lot of humor, and had colorful scenes with different species of dragons, it was pretty enjoyable all the way around.
There was a book sale here in Tyler held by the medical community to raise funds. To my understanding it's an annual thing each November. So I dropped by there to check it out. Here's a small tip: don't do this after drinking a lot of coffee in the morning. I walked around and looked, but with my full bladder couldn't stay long. It didn't matter as I didn't think too much of their book sale. I guess I'm completely spoiled by Midland's gianormous books sales of the past. Now THOSE were book sales, and I loved going to those. This one, not so much to get excited about. Once I got away from there I HAD to find a public restroom, so cruised over to Hastings. I found a couple of deals there though to boot.
I ran across this IDW published copy of William-Messner-Loebs' Journey. It's about the adventures of frontiersman, Joshua Wolverine MacAlistaire and the Fort Miami Settlement populated by both reall-life and fictional characters, and contains the comic issues 1-16, the first of a two volume set. Plus I got it for $5., yay me.
I also found this slim volume #13 of Lone Wolf and Cub by Kazuo Koike and Goseki Kojima on Dark Horse comics for a buck. Yay, me again. Lone Wolf & Cub has brilliant plotting and visual artwork, but they also examine a lot of different aspects of political, philosophical, and social structure of feudal Japan. The story deals with Itto Ogami (Lone Wolf) and his son Daigoro (the Cub). In the ongoing storyline Ogami is the betrayed executioner of the Shogun, and since his setup (or betrayal by his former employer) he is exiled or forced to roam the Japanese countryside with his son. With each new challenge, this masterless samurai (or ronin) takes one step closer to his eventual revenge on the Yagyu clan, and reestablish his good name. In Japan these became a multi-million best-selling graphic novel with it's sweep of epic storytelling, unforgettable characters, and nonstop action.
Last night, I caught another Dreamworks animated film I was wanting to see. It was the Asian influenced film, Kung Fu Panda, and again like the movie How To Train Your Dragon, if you enjoy the Pixar films like Wall-E, or Finding Nemo and such, you'll surely enjoy these two films as well. Jack Black plays the starring role as the panda, and he's mysteriously picked as the hero to save this village. Kung Fu Panda really had some nice scenes in the story, and most of the visuals were outstanding as well. I think the philosophical praise that hit me most was when the old aged turtle tells the panda about life, stating: "Yesterday is history, tomorrow remains unknown, today is the present, which is why it is a gift." Very well said.
Tuesday, November 02, 2010
"Who, who, who shall I see tonight?" said the little owl girl before she turned into her animal familiar. Each year at this time the spell that the gypsy woman put on her would follow her each Hallows Eve and be evoked. Her skin would grow feathers, her face formed a great beak, and she'd take flight into the trees, and watch from above as other children would scatter hither and yond collecting candy and gifts from all over the neighborhoods. Oh to have a normal life like everyone else at this time of year, she thought. Why did this have to happen to me? But as the clouds inked over the silvery moon, she felt the transformation begin to take place. And who, who, who, off she flew.
"Aargh!" cried the pirate, "and shivers me timbers." "I's cares not for this holiday, nor do I care's for candy." "Why, gives me all the rum in Jamaica and the wenches of Tahiti, and I'll fare the well." That blasted witch has done this, he thought. She's the one that wove this enchantment, and cursed me, the captain that night and my men. Why, me and me mates weren't meaning no harm when we sailed upon her accursed island, just meaning to take in water and hunt some game, we was. How's we to know, she dint like strangers, and had a chest full of jewels and gold daubloon too boot? Aargh, she cursed us all and put a spell on us that turns us all into children on this cursed holiday, and we have to go trick or treating for candy. "Aargh, me hates candy." "Aargh!" he cried.
Actually, these are pictures of my nephew's two children as they set out for their Trick or Treating activities. I spun a little tale around the pictures. Happy Halloween!
Well, it's election day and I need to get up and go out and vote. I should have done this last week, but I guess it slipped my mind. Some of the issues I'm a little torn on, meaning I could vote either way, so I guess that means which ever way it turns out is fine with me. There's a bond election here, which is over building a new school ( junior high, I think). Stuff of this nature sort of is off putting for me, in that I don't have children. Overall for the community and children at large, I can see that as a good thing, but the way they have the agenda on it is weird and not transparent, which frustrates me--and I hate that type thing. From what I can understand it will take more money to renovate the old school, or they can move it, and build a new one, and it will be quicker to do and more state of the art. My question though: Do we really need to do any of it? Is there a cheaper solution? These are the questions in my mind. Plus a new school and better schools will help the community grow, aids in learning, but it appears the new school is going to be built in a more affluent type neighborhood, which again is good, but leaves out those which might be more in need of funding. At any rate, I smell boondoggle...
The SF Giants won, and I guess that's well and good. I say the best wins. The games were fun to watch, though I didn't watch them glued to the tube or anything. I did watch the game on Saturday night, when the Ranger's barely eked out a win, in-between flipping back and forth over to the UT vs. Baylor football game, wherein the Baylor Bears won, and was an upset, but fun game.
Here's the movies I caught over the Halloween weekend. I watched my share of horror movies, which adds to the season, plus peppered them with some other genre:
The Ape--with Boris Karloff, pretty decent movie moreso than I would have ever thought. Every time I think about a gorilla in films I think of the Steve Martin line in The Man With Two Brains, where he's considering a brain transplant with his girlfriend's brain into a gorilla's body. In The Ape basically Karloff plays a mad scientist obsessed with obtaining spinal fluid to concoct a homemade cure for polio.
The Curse of the Demon--I didn't know what to expect with this one, but I was glad I watched it, and it was interesting on several levels. It's about a psychologist that doesn't believe that several deaths were caused by an ancient curse, and tries to find out the mystery behind them. It was more suspenseful, but had creepy atmosphere, and ended well too.
Curse of Frankenstein & Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed--both were Hammer films. TCM Channel was running four of these Frankenstein films back to back, and in-between fixing some supper to eat, and dozing off after my meal, I enjoyed watching them. Though I mostly remember the first and fourth one. Really a bit of Frankenstein overdose--don't try this at home kids ;)
Doc Martin--off PBS, about a rural English doctor up around the Cornwall area, and the small coastal town and the townspeople that inhabits that area. Typical English-type dramas, quirky characters, but it generally draws me in each time.
Mark of the Vampire--Bela Lugosi and others, this isn't on DVD, but like many others should be, and really had neat imagery, some twist and turns, pretty enjoyable film off TCM. Lugosi plays a spooky old vampire in a spooky old mansion. It has a twist ending.
Saw IV--I'd given up on Saw after Saw II, so I skipped Saw III, but this came on the Syfy channel so decided to watch it. It was pretty good, sort of a nonlinear storyline, but I missed some of what was going by not seeing Saw III as they build on each other, but still found it pretty enjoyable. I can see why this franchise has its followers. In this one, some of Jigsaw and Mrs. Jigsaw's past are revealed.
AMC's The Walking Dead--the start up up this series, pretty closely followed the graphic novels, but with a few changes, but overall off to a good zombie start.
Sherlock--PBS second episode, it was not as good as the first one was for me, but still a series I'll follow.