Tuesday, March 21, 2006

hello, children

Hey Chef! What's on the menu for today?
Well children, it's a big helping of Media roundup.

Television (check local listings for times)
Top Shelf Pick of the Week-
On Comedy Central Wednesday night: The Season premeire of South Park. This season 10 opener promises to tackle the whole Chef/Issac Hayes/Scientology controversy. Top Shelf Pick of the Week. Must viewing! If you need a little taste- Southparkstudios.com has a trailer for the first ep on their site.
Tonight of course is NCIS/The Unit/The Amazing Race night. Looks like those TARers are headed to Germany and the autobahn tonight. Last weeks episode in Moscow was classic TAR Russia. Language and weather problems, great roadblocks and challenges, and surprise! the race didn't have a pitstop- just the Mighty Phil K. on what all thought was the-end-of-the leg-mat and their next clue. Good Stuff. (Image is from The Amazing Race website at CBS.com)

Shelf picks on TCM this week:
March 21st: San Francisco (1936) with Clark Gable, Spencer Tracy, and Jeanette MacDonald in pre-earthquake Frisco. Then TCM gets decidedly grand with a triple feature from William Powell and Myrna Loy: Shadow Of The Thin Man (1941), I Love You Again (1940), and Love Crazy (1941)- all topped off with an extra dose of Powell in The Ex-Mrs. Bradford (1936). Will the last three be part of the Powell-Loy box set due later this year?
March 22nd: The Out-of-Towners (1969) features Jack Lemmon as a man in town for interview and winds up with the worst night of his life. Camille (1936) is a Garbo romance classic.
March 23rd: Two Japanese films which influenced American Westerns. Seven Samurai (1954) is the influencial movie to several film makers and spawned some American Classics including The Magnificent Seven. Also Yojimbo (1961) which influence Sergio Leone in the Clint Eastwood western, A Fistfull of Dollars
March 24th: Detective comedies Murder by Death (1976) and The Cheap Detective (1978) are the docket for this night, and later you can catch Jack Benny in the movie which became the butt of a thousand jokes on his own radio show: The Horn Blows At Midnight (1945).
March 25th: Make room for the Film Nior classic D.O.A. (1950) and an early Hitchcock, The 39 Steps (1935). Later on see if you can fit in Lawrence of Arabia (1962).
March 26th: See another side of Bogart in Sabrina (1954).
March 27th: The Bogie we all know and love is falsely accused of his wife's murder in Dark Passage (1947).

DVD
For the classic film fan, several releases:
The Ten Commandments (50th Anniversary Collection). You may have purchased the Collector's edition about a year and a half ago; if so, you might want to pass on picking this new 3-disc 50th Anniversary set. All of the previous features are present and the print and transfer are the same, so you'll probably be happy with what you have - with no real reason for the upgrade. The only thing new is the inclusion of Cecil B. Demille's previous 1923 Ten Commandments silent epic. If you don't have The Ten Commandments in your DVD library yet- well what are you doing reading this? Go get it. One question: Where is DeMille's 1949 classic Samson and Delilah 50th Anniversary DVD? We've been due for about 7 years now.

The Busby Berkeley Collection features the film work of groundbreaking choreographer Busby Berkeley, whose fantastic and glamourous numbers became a stereotype of the early Hollywood musical and made Berkeley an icon. The Collection features the films Footlight Parade, Gold Diggers of 1933, Dames, Gold Diggers of 1935, and the famous 42nd Street.

Stalag 17 Special Collector's Edition. Billy Wilder's black WW II comedy set in German POW camp provided much of the setting for television's Hogan's Heroes, but the tone is certainly darker. A solid performance by William Holden as the cynical loner Sgt.Sefton, while having his hand in most contraband material schemes in the camp, still isn't quite what he seems. Look for a performance by a young Peter Graves of Mission Impossible and Biography fame. And yes, Stalag 17 has it's very own Sgt. Schulz.

Also out today:
Bewitched - The Complete Third Season
South Park - The Complete Seventh Season (featuring some of the Shelf's favorite episodes like Krazy Kripples, Raisins, Lil Crime Stoppers, and the great Casa Bonita.)
Chicken Little (somewhat panned by critics- I thought it was not as bad as they claimed. Definitely worth a rental.)

Books
Several releases this month have caught our eye at The Shelf. If only they had a Netflix for books. Oh! They do - it's called a library! And get this- it's free!
The Scratch of a Pen : 1763 and the Transformation of America by Colin Calloway.
Calloway is a History professor at Dartmouth and the author of last year's excellent One Vast Winter Count: The Native American West Before Lewis and Clark. This time Calloway takes a look at the cultural and geographic transformation in North America that followed the signing of the Treaty of Paris in 1763, which ended the French and Indian War. You may vaugely remember from history class that the although the seeds of the American Revolution in many ways go back further, the French and Indian War and its consequences and results had much to do with the events of 1775 and 1776. Calloway examines the cultural and geographical changes in America as whole tribes and groups of people move across boundaries decided by, as the title suggests, the scratch of a pen. Highly recommended, this book is part of Oxford University Press' fantastic Pivotal Moments in American History Series. One of last year's entry in the series was David Hackett Fischer's Washington's Crossing is an essential read. The Scratch of a Pen may end up right next to it on the Shelf.

The Merchant of Power : Sam Insull, Thomas Edison, and the Creation of the Modern Metropolis by John Wasik.
Infamous Scribblers: The Founding Fathers and the Rowdy Beginnings of American Journalism by Eric Burns
Sometimes my own professional and personal biases get in the way when I see a journalist publishing a work of history or biography. However, I do try to accord a benefit of the doubt attitude. Sometimes I am well rewarded. Sometimes, I am not. I tend to see some "journalists" who try to make history either fit into a meticulous philosophical and political construct, or they give no thought to history and its contexts, content merely to apply modern ideas and notions to the people of the past. Having provided this disclaimer, if you will, I do intend to read these two books, both written by individuals who work in the media. In the case of John Wasik and The Merchant of Power, he couldn't be on more familiar ground as a "consumer correspondant" and author of works on personal finance. Wasik's subject is the little known Sam Insull, a man who became a personal secretary to Thomas Edison and eventually built up a corporate empire worth $150 million, only to loose it all during the great depression. In Infamous Scribblers, journalist and Fox News Anchor Eric Burns tackles what should be a familiar topic for him: American journalism and politics. Don't hold that against Burns- neither should you assume anything just because his previous juant into history was a social history of alcohol. (sorry- just poking fun- any connection, living or dead, between journalism and alcohol is purely unintentional and the result of your own conclusions. ) Anyway- Burns examines the tempetous and fledgling relationship between the press and the newly formed government of the USA. Bought and paid-for journalists? You got it here. Wealthy individuals, even politicians, supporting and financing newspapers and journalists for their own agenda? Yup- it's right there. Fact is, many complaints that we make about the media today (The Shelf included), however warrented have been around for awhile. The press did not emerge, wholey formed and pristine, out of Zeus's head, much like Athena. More so - it emerged in many ways as it has before - in reaction to the events, people, and wealth of the day. And like anything or anyone else, it can and has succumed to those self-same weatlh, people, and events. The subject itself warrents a read... as well as further study.

The Accidental President of Brazil: A Memoir by Fernando Henrique Cardoso
I lived in Brazil (opa brasileiros- tudo bem?) in the early 90's when President Fernando Collor de Mello was in office. Collor was impreached on charges of corruption by the Brazilian Congress and his vice president, Itamar Franco. The largely ineffective Franco did little of lasting import, other than naming Cardoso as finance minister in 1993. Cardoso had the thankless job of trying to turn Brazil's inflation-ridden economy around. Cardoso implemented a strategy and finance plan dubbed Plano Real, or the Real Plan, after the new currency, the Real. Success of this plan and the stabilization of the Brazilian ecomony led to Cardoso's election to two terms of the Brazilian Presidency. This memoir not only tackles that subject - but also his many years of political and academic life, which in turn chronicals the story of Brazil in the 20th (and into the 21st) century.


Well children, that's all. Don't go get into any more trouble or I might have to sing you a song!



Oh, I know it's a penny here and a penny there, but look at me. I worked myself up from nothing to a state of extreme poverty.


I've learned something too: selling out is sweet because when you sell out, you get to make a lot of money, and when you have money, you don't have to hang out with a bunch of poor asses like you guys. Screw you guys, I'm going home.

1 comment:

Christian Johnson said...

I'll have more to say to this very detailed post later, but...

My wife, Jody, and I recently purchased the complete collection of Thin Man movies. Needless to say we didn't watch anything else for the next two days.

On a sidenote, doubly interesting given the Thin Man connection, as you said, "Also Yojimbo (1961) which influence Sergio Leone in the Clint Eastwood western, A Fistfull of Dollars." But did you know that Yojimbo was inspired by Dashiell Hammett's book Red Harvest? Bruce Willis' Last Man Standing is the closest to the source material of the filmic versions.

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