Wednesday, May 31, 2006
Yeah, Tina- I think we could always use more. Real heroes that is.
Sorry about the lack of a post this weekend... usually Memorial Day would be a prime candidate for a post from us, and in truth we were working on one. However, Wolf was on duty and I spent the day with two of my greatest heroes, my Dad (former Air Force, Vietnam Era) and my Granddad (former Army- WWII). We watched a great western, McLintock!, with some of the family (who weren't bored with it) and ate some grilled burgers. I talked about some of my Granddad's friends whom he served with during World War II in North Africa and Italy. He told me a bit about Audie Murphy, who was in the company ahead of him during the push into Italy. We talked about a friend who didn't make it home, and how he went to visit his family after the war. That being said, we didn't talk much about that. He never really does.
So Shelfers, I hope you will forgive our brief absence, but I'm sure that my time was well spent- I hope yours was as well. In the meantime visit thankavet.org. The are working on bringing up a guestbook in which you can thank thousands of men and women who have served. You may not know them, but they don't know you; and that never stopped them from serving you. Take some time and thank a vet.
By the way: take a minute to read this post up at Maggie's Farm about Algore and his rationalization of why "over-representation" of the facts in his fictional film "An Inconvenient Truth" is a good thing. You see, to the left, lying is good if it achieves their goals. Hmmm... see what Dr. Bliss has to say about it.
Media roundup to follow later.
The thing that's always worried me about being one of the few is the way we keep on getting fewer.
Thursday, May 25, 2006
Why do we get excited to learn that we can watch some old television shows for free? Can't anyone with a TV do that? Yeah, but now we can do it on the internet! Yee Haw! I think it's pretty strange that we get excited about something we can do already- but now it's on a different medium. I think the big attraction has to do with being on demand- being able to watch what we want when we want. Well, even thought the DVD set of the complete series is set to come out on July 18th, you can watch episodes of Shelf Favorite The Adventure of Brisco County Jr. on AOL. In addition you can watch episodes of Wonder Woman, Head of the Class, and Spenser for Hire. Not only that, but AOL has "channels" or other sections for cartoons (Pinky and the Brain anyone?) Vintage TV, Sci-fi, etc. It's a wonder anyone gets any work done. Heck you can even listen to complete albums on AOL. What are you waiting for, check it out?
DVD Times has news about the Henry Fonda Signature Collection coming out September 19th of this year. The titles included in the box set include: Mr. Roberts, The Wrong Man, Advice and Consent, and Battle of the Bulge- all previously available and will be separately available also.
Someone is producing a documentary about Back to the Future and it's impact on popular culture. Hopefully a television premeire or DVD is in the works. Check out lookingbackatthefuture.com.
Also please be sure and go over and visit Greenbrier Picture Shows today. John has a great post up about the making of the last "Marx Brothers" film- Love Happy. The film is probably the least in the house of Marx, but worthy of watching - Marylin Monroe makes her debut and there are some good scenes and bits. The film was originally intended to be a Harpo solo effort, but Chico's debt and the need for Groucho to secure financing brought all three together. Go over and read the post and learn the story behind the final film.
Be back later with another post.
You gotta excuse Comet. He still doesn't realize he's a horse.
Tuesday, May 23, 2006
It is less than a week away from Memorial Day, and we are working on a special post for that day and look forward to honoring our vets and current fighting men and women overseas. In the meantime today is a special edition of media roundup, for there are some great releases and re-releases that hit the Shelves today- some of which are perfect for memorial day viewing. So sit back relax, and take notes; because surely there is something here for you that you will want to get before the weekend comes.
Top Shelf Pick of the Week:
Double Pick! The Dirty Dozen: Special Edition & The Cecil B. DeMille Collection
The Dirty Dozen; Special Edition
Alright, now this is what I'm talking about! DD has been out on DVD before, but in a paltry release. This is a vast improvement and worth the double dip. Normally, I am wary about double dips- but this set offers more bang for your buck. Among the new special features are: 2 new documentaries on the making of the film and real stories that inspired the original novel (yes, it was a book and there was a second book), a vintage (since when is '67 vintage?) feature on the movie and a recruiting film with Lee Marvin, and new commentary by castmembers Jim Brown, Trini Lopez, Stuart Cooper, and Colin Maitland, producer Kenneth Hyman, author E.M. Nathanson, film historian David Schlow, and military advisor Capt. Dale Dye. The set also features the (less worthy but still fun) made for TV sequel The Dirty Dozen: The Next Mission. This is a gritty, action filled guys war movie the way they used to make them. Nothing about it is glamorous or heavy laden with politics or western guilt. These guys were low rung on the military later, and very expendible. They undertake a dangerous mission from which most of them won't return, and in the process reclaim a little of their own dignity and honor. Lee Marvin, Charles Bronson, Ernest Borgnine, Jim Brown, Donald Sutherland, Telly Savalas, George Kennedy, John Cassavetes, Richard Jaeckel and the rest are all there. Pick it up and call the guys over for a great movie that everyone probably remembers with fondness.
The Cecil B. DeMille Collection
Before I begin- let me say that this set will not be for everyone. If you are expecting Cecil B. DeMille epics of the late 40s and 50s- its not here. What is here is some Pre-Code, and 1930s DeMille. Some good stuff that hasn't been available on DVD, this set features 5 films: Cleopatra, The Crusades, Sign of the Cross, Four Frightened People, and Union Pacific. There really isn't a bad one in the bunch and the fact that these five are in the set is a boon for classic film fans and armchair film historians. Sign of the Cross had some of the more heady things cut from the film when it was released in 1947 and even more so when it was on television; and the original cut was thought lost. The original film was found and restored and is now a centerpiece of this set. John McElwee over at Greenbrier Picture Shows has a great post, along with some great pictures up today about this film and all the ins and outs. Can't wait to see this film. Check it out. The one I'm looking forward to the most is Barbara Stanwyck and Joel McCrae in the western Union Pacific. Highly recommended.
The Clinging Vine & Age Of Ballyhoo
Also from DeMille is the film 1926 The Clinging Vine, and as a double feature the documentary The Age of Ballyhoo. Let me say that I'm really going for the documentary here, rather than the film, although that should be interesting as well. Suffice it to say that is perhaps why this is a double feature DVD to begin with. The Clinging Vine is about a young women played by Latrice Joy who has a successful career in a "man's world" - one that has stifled any chance at a love life. She decides to make herself over as an extreme case of femininty to win her man. The documentary The Age of Ballyhoo was made in 1973 and won several awards, including 3 Emmys. Gloria Swanson (yes, that Gloria Swanson) narrates this look at the age of the Roaring Twenties in all it's excess and glory. The documentary is worth the price of the disc. Or at least a rental, but good luck in finding that.
Also available this week 3 special editions of some important and great war films:
The Longest Day
Tora! Tora! Tora!
Each of these films have been available on DVD previously (I saw them as recently as a couple of months ago at my local big box electronics store. Now they have been re-released as Special Edtion sets. Again, this is - to me anyway- a situation where the double dip is worth it. If you don't have the films- well then, you've got no excuse. The Longest Day is a 3 hour epic about the alied invasion at Normandy and stars just about every working male actor they could get their hands on: John Wayne, Rod Steiger, Robert Ryan, Peter Lawford, Henry Fonda, Robert Mitchum, and Richard Burton just to name a few. The 2 disc affair contains plenty of new to DVD commentary, documentaries and bonus features. Patton is bio-flick starring George C. Scott in a legendary performance. The 2 disc special edition feautres commentary by Francis Ford Coppola, who was the screenwriter, as well as a plethera of documentaries and bonus features. Tora! Tora! Tora! is the recreation of the events leading to and the actually bombing of Pearl Harbor as viewed from the Americans and the Japanese. The 2 disc edition also features commentary and several feature length historical documentaries. Fox Studios is finally doing right by these three films, and if this and the Film Noir collection are any indication, perhaps the studio has now realized it pays to take care of your classic library.
Other Classic DVDs and Box sets worth looking into:
The Immortal Sergeant
You're in the Navy Now
Guns at Batasi
Classic Crime Collection: Street Justice
Classic Western Collection: The Outlaws
I'm always a little leary about CD box sets. You end up getting a lot of gems, but also a lot of fodder that only a hardcore fan would appreciate. This may be an exception. Jazz fans, both serious and casual, know about Miles Davis. Musicians, in many genres, have been influenced by his work. Now here is a chance to own four discs of his famous quintet, featuring Davis, sax maestro John Coltrane, pianist Red Garland, bassist Paul Chambers, and drummer Philly Joe Jones. This group recorded this discs in three different several lengthy sessions in 1956, in order to fullfill Davis' contract with Prestige Records and be released from it. The result are recordings of a road-tested, tight, cohesive, and in sync group recording tracks in one take. Other than jam sessions or the road, it doesn't get more raw than that. On the fourth disc in this set are radio and television apparences and performances. Among the highlights: When I Fall in Love, Trane's Blues, 'Round Midnight, My Funny Valentine, There's No Greater Love, and Blues By Five. This set is highly recommended.
Douglas Brinkley is an excellent historian, and in some ways is picking up where Stephan Ambrose has left off. Which is very appropriate considering that he worked with Ambrose in academics, the D-Day museum, and in other projects. Brinkley tells the story of the 225 members of the US Army 2nd Ranger Battalion, who were assigned to scale and secure the cliffs at Pointe du Hoc on the beaches of Normandy, where allied leaders believed Germanys had powerful batteries that could twart the D-Day invasion. The Rangers didn't find the big guns, but found enough guns and German troops instead and fought them off with only 99 survivors. The Rangers secured the cliffs at a great cost, but ensured a great victory. Brinkley then takes the story forward 40 years to the Presidency of Ronald Reagan and his honoring of the Rangers on the 40th Anniversary of D-Day. Brinkley argues that Reagan's speeches during those memorial services helped to spark a greater interest in the heroes of WWII and especially of the boys at Normandy. This book is now available in paperback and a good read in anticipation of Memorial Day. The best way to honor our vets is the learn about them and remember them with gratitude.
Shelf Recommendations for TCM:
May 24th: Bette Davis finds a new lease on life and a new love in Paul Henreid in Now, Voyager (1942).
May 26th: It's a John Wayne marathon to begin Memorial Day weekend: The Long Voyage Home (1940), Rio Grande (1950), The Quiet Man (1952), Donovan's Reef (1963), and Sands of Iwo Jima (1949). Stay later for Gary Cooper as the legendary WWI hero Sergeant York (1941).
May 27th- May 29th: It's a Memorial Day weekend with more classic war films Sat: The Red Badge Of Courage (1951), The Fighting Seabees (1944), The Bridges At Toko-Ri (1954). Sun: They Were Expendable (1945), Objective, Burma! (1945), Wake Island (1942), Flying Leathernecks (1951). Mon: The Bridge On The River Kwai (1957), In Harm's Way (1965), The Longest Day (1962) and Destination Tokyo (1943).
May 30th: Don't miss Paul Muni in Howard Hughes' classic Scarface (1932). Stick around for a Bogie and Bacall double bill: To Have And Have Not (1944) & The Big Sleep (1946).That's all for today Shelfers. Quite a lot of stuff to enjoy and help us to remember and honor those who fought and those who fell in protecting our country. Let's make sure we don't forget what Memorial Day really memorializes...
Pfc. Al Thomas: That's war.
Pfc. Charlie Bass: What's war?
Pfc. Al Thomas: Trading real estate for men.
Monday, May 22, 2006
We take a look at some of the news items from the weekend that make us sit back and just scratch our collective nogins. You know the kind of stories I'm talking about- the ones that you just got re-read to make sure you really read that. Since it was the weekend - some media outlets release potentially harmful (to them and their causes) stories in hopes you missed them, because you were out enjoying your life. If you missed 'em- don't worry. The Shelf is on top of the situation. We'll find 'em, link'em and let you digest 'em- all in Monday morning coffee break time. So hang on- it's going to be a bumpy morning.
I'm totally serial...Al Gore treated like some kind of celebrity guru. Considering the marriage between Hollywood and Gore-- what else would we expect. Actual, intellectual critique of his ideas rather than blind devotion. Nah...that would be inconvenient.
Ray Nagin re-elected. Regulars have read our diatribes about ragin' Nagin. New Orleans- seriously - you deserve whatever you get from this fiasco.
Speaking about nawlins' - remember Rep. Jefferson, he of the National Guard movers? Well, guess who's hand was caught in the cookie jar? Despite this, he will probably profess innocence and then at a later date stage a press conference in which he will recount difficulties and hardships with tears in his eyes. If he manages to get away with this, the people of New Orleans will probably re-elect him.
Murtha is now claiming that Iraq is now worse than pre-war Iraq. This guy is getting worse everyday. Pennsylvania - I don't want to tell you what to do- but consider your options carefully before voting day. This chowderhead can't be worth it. Perhaps he ought to ask a few Iraqis instead of sniffing his own gas, a la South Park. Gateway Pundit has the story.
Next on the merry-go-round... It turns out that the badges story we linked to last post may be false- the original news link is now running an article in which Iranian officials deny that the law was even brought up. Some still believe it was passed. Allahpundit over at Hot Air has the back and forth. This will remain on the "watch" list.
Lastly - we would like to call your attention to a new addition to The Shelf community... Stop the ACLU. Perhaps you are no stranger to STA, neither are we, and they stay on top of the pulse of what's happening out there- not just with the ridiculous machinations of the A.C.L.U.. If you heard about the High School Graduation prayer incident this weekend- you'll understand why this political advocacy group that refers to itself as the A.C.L.U. is none to concerned with real liberties. Go on over and visit Stop The ALCU and tell 'em Loophole sent ya'.
Tomorrow is media roundup day. Some great stuff hit the Shelf ...stay tuned.
I never went in for embroidery, just results .
Friday, May 19, 2006
We can't ignore things and hope they will go away.
You can't buy into the cultural elitist byline that we have to feel guilty and are guilty because we are Western and worse, American.
We can't be ashamed of freedom or capitalism.
We can't sit on our collective butts and wring our hands and give into some perceived "guilt" that in actuality doesn't exist.
A political leader who votes and pretty much campaigns against his own country needs to be voted out, the way our system allows, and someone who believes in our country and standing up for it needs to be given a chance. We have people in office who DO NOT have their countries best interests at heart- only their own.
Something is wrong when a journalist gets a tip about an impending attack and their first thought is "That would make a helluva story." Worse is when the editor won't even let them run with the story.
We can't afford to bury our head in the sand. It makes us powerless to do anything useful.
We have to stand up for freedom, democracy, and our way of life. We have to stand up for it abroad and especially at home.
We have to draw that line in the sand. We need heroes, we need sacrifice. We need to stop whining and carping and pointing the finger.
For our children's sake, at least.
Do you remember us telling you that we need to study history to both learn from it and to prevent repeat it's mistakes? Well then, if you can stomach it, you need to read this. Iranian Parliament wants to pass a law requiring Jews and Christians to wear identifying badges. Where have seen this before? How long do can we ignore the fact that there are enemies out there that want us defeated and dead, just because of who we are? We can't make them our friends- they don't want to be our friends. We can't make them happy by leaving things alone and ignoring crimes and atrocities and say "Oh, well- not my problem."
If you need more evidence- it abounds over the internet. Victor Davis Hanson has some reasoned thought on this whole subject. Print it off, pass some to your friends. Read it, internalize it, make it yours.
Don't be afraid to be American. Don't be afraid to love freedom. Don't be afraid to defend and stand up for what you hold dear. I believe that our country is the best in the world and is the best chance for the world. We aren't perfect, but we sure have the freedom to try hard to be better.
Republic. I like the sound of the word. It means people can live free, talk free, go or come, buy or sell, be drunk or sober, however they choose. Some words give you a feeling. Republic is one of those words that makes me tight in the throat - the same tightness a man gets when his baby takes his first step or his first baby shaves and makes his first sound as a man. Some words can give you a feeling that makes your heart warm. Republic is one of those words.
For now just wanted to call your attention to a few things.
We have added a site the Shelf Links section and one to the Shelf Community section.
DVD Times. This is a British-based site, but they also have a lot of news and reviews about US R1 releases as well. In fact here are a couple of links about some upcoming box sets that we are excited about here at the Shelf. They feature high-res artwork and detailed info about what's expected on the discs. Along with Digital Bits, DVD Times is one of those great sites to get a heads up on DVDs that the other guys just don't have. Check it out.
These links feature details about the discs as well as box and dvd cover art. Great quailty pics. The John Wayne/John Ford Box Set is looking like a serious contender for DVD release of the year.
John Wayne/ John Ford Box Set: June 6th
James Stewart Signature Collection: August 15th
The Comics Curmudgeon. This is a blog/site that I have visited regularly for while. Snarky, witty, and downright curmudgeonly - the author Josh Fruhlinger calls to your attention everything that is ripe for satire, everything that is disturbing, and everything that is just downright wrong with the daily comics. This is a site for the comic strip lover (like me) who has a sense of humor. Mary Worth ever get on your nerves? Funky Winkerbean not to funky anymore? Something just not right about Family Circus today? Well- go check it out! Lots of interaction from the comment community as well. Today is a particularly good day to check it out, because Josh has up a "metapost" about the site and all that goes on there for "newbies."
Lastly - We just wanted to call to your attention that we have our email address up. You can contact us at email@example.com. We will have linkage on the sidebar soon.
Stay tuned for more Shelf madness later.
Pour me a drink of that scripture.
Wednesday, May 17, 2006
At the time that I post this it will be 48 days until Independence Day, and I've noticed that there is something amiss. I've seen no Independence Day decorations on the shelves at the local retail stores. I've also yet to see or hear any advertisements for events or celebrations surrounding this holiday. No Independence Day greeting cards on the racks... No stories in the local paper about the history of this day..... No one is counting down... No homemaking magazines with teasers on the cover about Independence Day recipes.... I may sound crazy to you, but there is something wrong. If it was 48 days until Christmas we wouldn't be having this problem. The same goes for Easter, Halloween, and Valentine's Day. Why Shelfers? Why is it that there is an excess of product and excitement surrounding other holidays and only a barely audible 'Huzzah!' for Independence Day? It's our fault America. We have all done this, me included. The American retailer, advertiser, and TV programmer are only responding to the public. Think about this: What do you do to prepare for Independence Day? Do you hit the store the night before to get soft drinks or hamburger buns? Is your holiday ruined if it rains or the charcoal won't light? I confess. That's what I've done in Julys past and it's disgraceful. Not the grilling out part of it, but the lack of observance.
This popped into my head a few moments ago and I'm sickened at my actions. Why have I been acting like a second-rate American? I usually consider myself a decent American and a true patriot. I question that now. How can I claim to be such when I don't even properly celebrate the American holiday? Many of you may not be concerned with this, but I beg you to humor me for this one. Though the proper celebration of Independence Day may not be tops on your list of concerns in our country right now, I strongly believe it could help us all on our way to progress in aiding our homeland's other problems. On the subject of the other holidays that I've already mentioned, I certainly have nothing against them. Oh, I occasionally let out a 'Charlie Brownism' every once in a while murmuring something about over commercialization but I embrace the holiday hoopla to a degree. The Fall and Winter holidays have always been my favorites, owing much to the fact that they arrive during my favorite time of year. I don't plan to change that for myself or anyone else today. I merely want Independence Day to be promoted in the holiday rankings back to where it was meant to be.
Honestly, if you were to conduct a poll of "the most important holidays" you would almost always get Christmas, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Easter, and Valentine's day as the top 5. As I said before, I have nothing against these holidays. As a Christian, Easter and Christmas have obvious importance to me. Non-Christians have understandable alliances to other holidays as well. Thanksgiving is a great holiday with a great message. Halloween is wonderful for the kids and Valentine's Day is great for the ladies. Well, by now it's quite obvious that I want to make the case for Independence Day. First of all, what makes a holiday a holiday, and what makes it effective? First, you need a date or specific time of the month like December 25th or the first Sunday of April. Next, you need a reason to celebrate such as a religious purpose or even a celebration of a significant event or person. The last major thing typically aligned with holidays is a representative of some type; St. Patrick or the Easter Bunny for example. I'm here to tell you that Independence Day qualifies in each of these 3 areas.
Specific Date: -It is, of course, celebrated on July 4th (Which is the day before my birthday. Nudge, Nudge. Wink, Wink.)
Purpose: - It is celebrated for the purpose of remembering what the founders of this nation did long before we were ever thought of, which laid the foundation for the liberties we enjoy today. It is also a time to reflect on all of those who sacrificed so much to maintain the freedoms that we seem to think are guaranteed. I believe Independence Day has a true purpose that we should be more than happy to celebrate.
Representative: - Yes, Independence Day has a representative. It has several to be exact. I'm not talking about the flag. The flag is definitely part of it, but there are others that always seem to be missing. There are other elements that are major parts of the holiday. Two of them are the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. These documents are kind of like the mission statements or mantras of our country. If someone were to ask what America is all about, all you have to do is direct them to these two parchments penned by men of great vision and tenacity. These men are also great representatives of Independence Day. The men and women that got the ball rolling for this country also kept it rolling for a long time amidst much opposition.
Now I know this may not be a very popular idea, but I feel that if the citizenry were to celebrate this holiday properly and thoughtfully as we do most others we would be working our way to having one mind as a nation concerning our future and ideals. Those people who are listless around election time or are careless with their vote may take it more seriously. Those who couldn't care less about laws, our military or public safety officials may even become grateful for our country's standards and those who defend them. I'm going to put forth 3 suggestions that may help all of us to better celebrate this underrated holiday. You should have noticed by now that I continue to type 'Independence Day'. I have not once used 'July 4th' to describe this particular date. That's because July 4th represents a square on a calendar and Independence Day represents courage, longsuffering, freedom, and promise. I have committed to myself that I will try to always say 'Independence Day' so that I am reminded of its purpose. This is my first suggestion to you as well. The second is that as we start creeping towards the end of May every year; pick up a book about the birth of our nation. If not a book, then do something that may help throughout the end of May and June to learn more about the pivotal years before and after the establishment of our country. The book I plan to pick up is '1776' by David McCullough which has been featured here at The Shelf. If you already know a great deal about that time in history, then just challenge yourself to learn something new. Lastly, I suggest everyone join with me in starting an Independence Day tradition. Before the burgers are served and the kids go crazy....Before we say a prayer to thank God for our meal....How about say a little something about liberty. This year will be the first time I've been off for Independence Day in a few years. When I attend the family bar-b-que, I plan to kick things off by reading aloud the preamble of the Constitution or maybe I'll tell a quick story about something I learned from what I'll read in the coming month. What I'll try to do is to touch the hearts of my family with thoughts of liberty and the importance of it. I encourage you all to try and do the same. Tell your friends and spread the idea of celebrating this holiday with a new sense of gratitude. Hopefully we can all put these suggestions to work. If we do it right, then on that day just after we speak on freedom.....While we pray to thank God for our food....We can all thank Him for the freedom that allows us to do it.
Please feel free to comment if the need strikes you.
My God! How little do my countrymen know what precious blessings they are in possession of, and which no other people on earth enjoy!
Tuesday, May 16, 2006
This is one of those weeks where everything seems to be going by in a blur. Calm down- sit and relax. That's it, just breathe a little. We're here for you. In fact, we've scoured all that is happening in the media-space, so that we can give you the highlights, the best of the best, and even some of the good stuff. You just take it easy and let us do the heavy lifting.
Top Shelf Pick of the Week
And this one might surprise some of you- but if you have paid attention to the "On the Shelf " on the sidebar, you shouldn't be: This Sunday marks the Series Finale of a show I have grown to love: Charmed.
I was raised by strong women (and a great dad too, of course). My mom is a strong independant and intelligent women- and my grandmother and great-grandmother were along the same lines. Perhaps one of the smartest people I ever knew was my great-grandmother, and I was blessed to be around her almost every week of my life until I was about 19. I also married a very intelligent, strong and fantastic women- so I guess you could say I respect them (I was taught to) and am drawn to them. It should be now surprise if you are familiar with the show, that I like Charmed. Yes, the ladies are very pretty (Piper's my fav) and yes the show's plots and mythology is sometimes complicated- but a sustained viewing rewards you with a deep and continued story line. This season has been a weak one in my opinion, but considering that the show was picked up for another season last year, at the last minute they have done well. They had to work themselves out of plot hole that was designed to be the series finale last year. My favorite characters are Piper and Leo and the story of the strength in family, fighting and preserving to keep those relationships close, and the sacrifices and obstacles that the husband and wife Piper and Leo have made to stay together throughout the years is pretty inspiring. And I really identified with Leo and his relationship with his two boys- being a dad can be tough- be he has done everything he can to be a good dad to them. The show, at it's heart, is about family; and it's supernatural mythology, its heart and humor make it a show I have really enjoyed. This Sunday is the last episode. If you a regular viewer or fan, I don't have to tell you anything- I think you may know what's on the line in the show's finale and what's at stake. Spoilers abound on the internet, but we won't deal in them here. Just take our word for it - don't miss it. And if you have, seasons 1-4 are available on DVD. Season 5 comes out June 6th.
Some more "Can't Miss" Season Finales.
First Up tonight on CBS: The Season Finales of NCIS (Pt.II) and The Unit (Two Hours) NCIS: Gibbs got in the middle of a nasty explosion last week and lost his memory. Naturally, he's the one with the info about the terrorist plot that the rest of the team is trying to prevent. We have learned some things about Gibb's past and I believe we will continue to do so. What is maddening to me, someone who watch since it's spin-off debut on JAG- will they ever tell us who the mystery woman with the car is? You know, the one that picks Gibbs up sometimes at the end of an episode- even though we don't see Gibbs make a phone call or otherwise call for a ride. What kind of GPS does this women have anyway?
The Unit: Here is another favorite of mine that I have watched since the first episode. I have thought the writing was intelligent, the acting and production top notch, and I think, despite some misteps early on, that the show has struck a decent balance between the missions of the Unit and the things going on at home. If you haven't seen it, this summer will be an excellent opportunity to catch. In the meantime don't miss tonight's two hour finale.
Tommorow don't miss the Season finale of The Amazing Race: This is it! The final three teams compete to be the first to hit the finish line...inaracearoundtheworld (that's Philspeak for the uninitiated). The Might Phil K. and crew have outdone themselves with perhaps one of my favorite seasons of all time. Maybe not as much drama and contention as past seasons, but the competition has been fierce and sustained. Don't miss it.
PBS: American Masters:
The World of Nat King Cole
I may get heckled a little bit about picking a PBS show again this week, but if you saw last week's episode of American Masters (last week's Top Shelf Pick) then you know I am right. This week's episode is all about the King- Nat King Cole, that is. I am a huge fan of Nat King Cole, and if you'll check out our music section today, you'll see it's a great week for fans. The velvet tones of his voice are only part of his talents- he was a gifted and amazing jazz pianist. He was also the first African American host of a Television show (his own), but later forced off the air when a sponser could not be found. If you only remember this talented and courageous man from The Christmas Song- well, get the chance to learn about a true American Master Wednesday night on PBS. By the way, this season of American Masters looks great. Upcoming episodes will feature such people as: Preston Sturgess, Muddy Waters, Leonard Bernstein, Aretha Franklin, Ray Charles (next week), and Judy Garland.
TCM (check local listings for times)
Shelf recommendations for TCM this week:
May 17th: The Thin Man (1934) William Powell and Myrna Loy star as Detectives Nick and Nora Charles in this Shelf Favorite. Also see Johnny Weissmuller and Maureen O'Sullivan as him, Tarzan and her, Jane in Tarzan, The Ape Man (1932).
May 18th: Stardust: The Bette Davis Story (2005) a wonderful documentary about the life and career of Bette Davis. And talk about synergy: the reason the film is titled Stardust is because that was Ms. Davis' favorite song. Well, it's my favorite Nat King Cole song. See, we're all connected.
May 19th: Sailor Fred Astaire attempts to win back performer and former partner Ginger Rogers in Follow The Fleet (1936). Later Irene Dunne (any relation to SNL's Nora Dunne?) and Cary Grant star in the screwball classic, My Favorite Wife (1940) . And don't forget James Stewart and Marlene Dietrich in Destry Rides Again (1939).
May 20th: It's a Fred Astaire trifecta: Top Hat (1935) with Ginger Rogers and the hilarious Edward Everett Horton, Anchors Aweigh (1945) -with Gene Kelly, and Royal Wedding (1951) with Jane Powell. Then stay up for Gene Kelly, Donald O'Conner, and Debbie Reynolds in another Shelf Favorite: Singin' In The Rain (1952).
May 21st: It's a night for Rudolph Valentino fans- several films including Moran of the Lady Letty (1922) and The Young Rajah (1922).
May 22nd: We might be biased, but this will be required viewing this week; the under-appreciated At The Circus (1939) with the Marx Brothers. "You know what I say. Whenever you got business trouble the best thing to do is to get a lawyer. Then you got more trouble, but at least you got a lawyer." And don't miss Tod Browning's classic film Freaks. It was a Top Shelf "Old School" Halloween pick!
May 23rd: Don't miss Danny Kaye in The Kid From Brooklyn (1946) and Wonder Man (1945). Later be sure to see Sidney Poitier in A Patch Of Blue (1965) and the bio-doc, Sidney Poitier: One Bright Light (2000).
The Very Best Of Nat King Cole
Sure you could watch the American Masters episode, but then that would be it. Kaput. Get yourself this CD, which would allow you to pop in some memorable and classic Nat anytime you wish. Starting off with my favorite, Stardust and winding up the 28 tracks with a live version of I Wish You Love, this CD is an excellent retrospective of Nat King Cole as a solo performer. For more of Nat King Cole with his jazz trio check out The Best of the Nat King Cole Trio.
The Complete Peanuts: 1959-1960 by: Charles Schulz
If you haven't been keeping up with Fantagraphic Books project of reprinting the entire run of Charles Schulz's classic strip, Peanuts in hardbound books- well what's your problem? The series is first rate and they have included forwards, interviews, and essays with all editions. Each book is a beautifully designed hardback in a short and wide form. This is book 5 so far- so jump on the bandwagon. I do have one complaint: The Sundays are not reprinted in color. Even with that caveat, I'll take it.
The Marx Brothers Encyclopedia by: Glenn Mitchell, forward by Leonard Maltin.
I was excited to discover this book, of course. If you seen Mitchell's previous The Laurel and Hardy Encyclopedia or The Chaplin Encyclopedia you know what to expect. I haven't got a copy, yet (What a Father's Day present this would be! hint, subtle hint!), but once we do, we'll let you know what we think. Either way- it's a cinch for a spot on The Shelf.
Revolutionary Characters : What Made the Founders Different by: Gordon Wood
One of my favorite Historians working today is Gordon Wood. His books are excellent, well researched, and his writing is impeccable. Two books in particular, The Radicalism of the American Revolution and The Creation of the American Republic 1776-1787, are essential reading for anyone who studies or wishes to learn more about the period around the American Revolution. Simply put on my required reading list- they hold a prominent spot. This new book gathers some of Wood's previously published essays about some members of the Founding Generation. This book is recommended to the person wanting to know more about that generation, their character, and why they did what they did; as well as for an introduction to Gordon Wood's works. Highly recommended.
The Big Bam : The Life and Times of Babe Ruth by: Leigh Montville .
Sir Christian Johnson, Knight of the Cinerati Table might appreciate this one. This is a biography of one of the more larger than life figures of Baseball. The legend in some ways has outgrown the man, but Montville takes a more intimate look at the man and legend that surrounded him- even in his own lifetime. Montville, author of the bestselling biography of Ted Williams, includes some newly discovered sources that hopefully will add something useful to the story of the Bambino. Pair it with a read about a more modern Baseball hero: Clemente : The Passion and Grace of Baseball's Last Hero by David Maraniss.
Washington's Spies : The Story of America's First Spy Ring by Alexander Rose.
This story of espionage during war in America, might cause you to think about modern times. But think on this, warfare throughout history has employed espionage in one form or another. Perhaps more associated with the 20th century, spying was used by both sides in an effort to gain an advantage, tactical, stragical, and pyschological. You may be surprised to learn just how much Washington encouraged and worked with espionage. It was an essential advantage to the Contenential Army, which always seemed to be on the cusp between success and ruin. This book by Rose tells the story of an intelligence network known as the Culper Ring, which found and brought information to George Washington while based in New York. More well-known spys and traitors- John Andre, Nathan Hale and Benedict Arnold are included as well.
Some interesting DVD news, via Bill Hunt's My Two Cents column over at Digital Bits. Seems as if Warner Brothers will be releasing James Stewart: The Signature Collection on August 8 of this year as well as Ronald Reagan: The Signature Collection. This will be a great opportunity to finally own The FBI Story, The Spirit of St. Louis, and Knute Rockne: All American; all making their debut on DVD. Start saving now.
Well that's all for today's update Shelfers. What's that you say? What about the DVDs? Well sure the DVD section has always been an update essential, but this is one of those weeks where you are just better off not worrying about it. Not much to speak of, but in the coming weeks, more classic movie DVDs and box sets than you can shake a stick it; assuming that shaking sticks is your thing. You'd just better forget about them this week and rest up for what's ahead. Til then- excelsior, er... live long and... I mean, may the for... oh, never mind. See you soon.
I bet your father spent the first year of your life throwing rocks at the stork.
Saturday, May 13, 2006
This is something we have not done yet on this site, but JC and I are always willing to try something new (however tame it may be). So without further adieu, here is that dangerous new "thing": I'm going to pose a question and have you , the reader, post your ideas and answers in the comment box as sort of a round table discussion.......... Oh what madcap scamps we are! Seriously folks, if you've kept up with our little piece of the net here you've realized that even though we tend to ramble and hop on and off of our soap boxes, we are very much into audience participation. Oftentimes our request for comments goes unanswered for various reasons (the main one being that there aren't very many readers of our dribble). I hope that this time is different. We know that our readers are intelligent and independant thinkers and the comment section on our site is solely for the purpose of nurturing those qualities in all of us through comment and response, so as you all think of the question I will pose to you, please let us know your thoughts. After all, that's the whole reason for this entry. This is something I was thinking about just the other day while riding around at work. It is a fact that our country as we know it today was shaped in a large part by immigrants. (I know that the founding fathers were technically immigrants as well, but humor me a little and for the purposes of my question just think of the Ellis Island style immigrants that commonly come to mind when the word is used.)
How are the immigrants of today different than the immigrants of yesteryear? and What is this doing to the America of today and the America of the future?
We've all heard the debates about their strain on the healthcare and welfare systems and so forth, but when it comes down to the future of our country's culture and well being: what is the affect? I've had a lot of different thoughts about this topic running through my mind and amid all of the debates I keep hearing the same old thing. I know the Shelfers can come up with some origional thoughts and we'd like to hear them. If there are any immigrants out there we would certainly encourage you to chime in. Of course, this may be a silly thing for some of you or just uninteresting to others, but my two young boys will be greatly affected by our country's response to the current situation. I am greatly affected by the situation right now due to my line of work and the fairly large amount of ILLEGAL immigrants in the areas that I work in. I've found that I have no problem with most of the illegals that I come in contact with and most are very nice, but their methods of immigration are causing major changes in our society right now and have for the last couple of decades. Up until now the changes have been gradual, but it seems that we are suddenly sitting on a teeter-totter and we are not sure if our side will go up or down. If it goes up, will we be left screaming with our legs kicking in the air? If we go down can we stay grounded and in control of the tempo of our next move? These are things that worry me. Let us know about your thoughts. I mean, we keep this site going for our reader's sake anyway so go ahead and take the floor. If no one responds then I guess I am alone in my consternation. Hopefully I'm not and if I'm not , maybe my companions and I can draw strength of knowledge from each other.
P.S.- As Mr. Loophole informed you all, I am working on getting up another post and hope you will all bear with me as my newborn has my wife going crazy and myself typing between diapers.
Your thoughts are requested.
"In the first place, we should insist that if the immigrant who comes here in good faith becomes an American and assimilates himself to us, he shall be treated on an exact equality with everyone else, for it is an outrage to descriminate against any such man because of creed, or birthplace, or origin.But this is predicated upon the person's becoming in every fact an American, and nothing but an American...There can be no divided allegiance here.Any man who says he is an American, but something else also, isn't an American at all.We have room for but one flag, the American flag...We have room for but one language here, and that is the English language...and we have room for but one sole loyalty and that is a loyalty to the American people."
Theodore Roosevelt 1907
Friday, May 12, 2006
Some Friday linkage for your consideration...
Before we begin- Happy Birthday Tribute to Katherine Hepburn, star of so many things like Bringing up Baby, The Philadelphia Story, Adam's Rib and The African Queen; just to name a few of The Shelf's favorites. I am currently reading (among other things) a fascinating biography about her and her career. Here is the IMDB page with her info. Also a good article on her at classicmovies.org. And mucho info on this great actress at TCM.
I know some of you may be tired of how often we link to Victor Davis Hanson- but the man has a way with words and in our mind is often correct. Here are two important recent pieces that we are assigning for homework. Pop quiz on Monday:
VDH- The Prison of the Present
But why did a poorer, less educated, and more illiberal United States in far bloodier and more error-ridden wars of the past still have greater confidence in itself? Was it that our ancestors, who died younger and far more tragically, did not expect their homeland to be without flaws, only to be considerably better than the enemy's?
Perhaps we have forgotten such modesty because we have ignored the study of history that alone offers us guidance from our forbearers. It now competes as an orphan discipline with social science, -ologies and -isms that entice us into thinking that the more money and education of the present can at last perfect the human condition and thus consign our flawed past to irrelevance.
The result is that while sensitive young Americans seem to know what correct words and ideas they must embrace, they derive neither direction nor solace from past events. After all, very few could identify Vicksburg or Verdun, much less have any idea where or what Iwo Jima was. In such a lonely prison of the present what are historically ignorant Americans to make of a Fallujah or an Iranian madman's threat of annihilation other than such things can't or shouldn't or must not happen to us?
And VDH- In the Eye of the Beholder. You might need a history book for this one if the above excerpt confuses you. Also VDH on Hugh Hewitt's radio show.
Ever wonder if the reason for our energy problems lie with the usual gang of idiots up in the halls of Congress and the wacko special interest groups that ply them with cash and threats? I ain't taking about the Oil companies neither. Mad yet? Gateway Pundit is.
Tired of the press gushing about the letter? Want to know what it really means? Via Maggie's Farm: links to Dinocrat. If you think that the Iranian President doesn't mean business and this is diplomacy, then you have bought the media's hype- hook, link, and sinker. We cannot avoid war or the threat of war by pretending it doesn't exist. That's like avoiding a disease by not getting looked at by a doctor and pretending you don't have it. By the time you start coughing up unsavory things it may be too late.
On a lighter note, this may be the first year in several that I have completely ignored E3. Am I interested in the new games and next-gen hardware and consoles. To a degree, but I am finding that I am not as interested in being ready for next-gen consoles. They'll come- but unless I can get some hologram action or serious VR technology going, they'll just be prettier pictures. Very expensive prettier pictures. Seriously- 600 bucks? For what? Well at least it plays HD- no wait Blu-Ray, I mean... oh never mind. I think they'll just have to count me out this round. Time to fire up some SNES this weekend. Gamespot has some coverage of the upcoming console wars. (Has gaming gone so mainstream as to have analysts? Apparently so.) OK- I guess now I am not completely ignoring E3.
And over at Cartoon Brew- two interesting scans (scroll down) of an article about Disney during WW II. Plus video of a Q & A with Pixar's John Lasseter after the Paris premiere of their latest, Cars. I'm kind of looking forward to seeing it. Are you?
Also Cinerati has an semi-interactive Q & A going on about... Cinerati. Christian has been going over the Blogroll and who they are and why they are there. It's almost like going through a closet you haven't opened in a while... pretty cool. Check them out. (Psst- also Uncle Loophole is working a new post for Cinerati. Stay tuned.)
Well Shelfer- have a good weekend. Wolf is working on post that should be up soon. It will be worth waiting for- stay tuned.
As always your comments and expositions are welcome.
No matter what you think you think, you think the same as I think.
Thursday, May 11, 2006
You might remember our discussion concerning Mr. James Frey and his book of little white lies...,er I mean memoir. From one of those discussions I stated:
I notice that the publisher is not pulling the book anytime soon, and it appears sales have not slowed down. Give it a month- it's too early to tell from sales figures yet. It'll happen.
Well here is an update, from an MSNBC report:
Frey has acknowledged that major sections of "Million Little Pieces," his million-selling memoir of addiction and recovery that Oprah Winfrey endorsed, then ridiculed, were fabricated. Some of the revelations, first reported by the investigative Web site The Smoking Gun, also raised doubts about "My Friend Leonard."
Frey now acknowledges that "significant" parts of "My Friend Leonard," a best-selling story about his friendship with a gangster, were also invented....
"My Friend Leonard" was published last year by Riverhead Books, an imprint of Penguin Group USA that has reportedly dropped the author.
Dropped Frey? That can't be good. That is definitely not headed in the right direction for Frey. I don't bring this up for an I told you so, inasmuch as I want to update you on this ongoing story. Ok- and I told you so. Can you find the book still? Sure. Are there droves of people buying the book. Not so much.
Now add to the list the recent deciet of Kaavya Viswanathan.
She claimed she unintentionally "borrowed" material from the works of author Megan McCafferty. "Borrowed"? I have always taught that ideas and creativity are not "borrowed", but built upon. If a student writes a paper, it is their duty to acknowledge that which they have built upon, and add their own spark of ideas and thoughts to it and make it carry on. That which holds for historical papers- should hold true for fiction, but perhaps in a different manner. I have seen some novels that acknowledge some help or material in author's notes, etc. However, actually lifting the same phrasing, ideas, etc. is different. It's difficult to see any excuse from Ms. Viswanathan, an admitted fan of the works of Ms. McCafferty, that actually hold water without indicating some sort of guilt. Borrowing indicates that there is something that can be returned. Once she lifted the material and claimed it as her own, the material can no longer be "returned." The fame was difficult for Ms. Viswanathan to handle. The infamy will even be harder. The question now, is what will this young women do with this? Will she learn and overcome, or will she continue down the same path?
I question whether our society even really knows what truth is, much less where to find it. We have bent the very definition of truth to suit our own needs, our own vanity, our own slant on life. And at the same time we insulate ourselves from the deceit that hits too close to home. So much so that we fail to recognize it. Deep down- once we get past our own biases, politics, etc.- I think we know where truth lies. Inside we know.
I hold myself in contempt! Why should you be any different?
Wednesday, May 10, 2006
Well Shelfers, it’s that time again- time when we do our thang. The weekly roundup of everything that is worthy of your attention. Brother, can you spare a dime? Got any more? You’ll need ‘em.
Top Shelf Pick of the Week
American Masters (PBS)
John Ford/John Wayne: Filmmaker and Legend. This is a wonderful documentary of the parallel lives and careers of these two old friends. Sydney Pollack narrates this look at two true American artists and the tumultuous friendship and their ups and downs and their career. In the end these two drove each other up and beyond what they are capable of individually, but they fed off of the things they brought to the table to find success on their own: especially Wayne. Politics seemed to put them at odds, and Ford always derided Wayne for not having served in the War, but they respected each other. At the same time this doc shows how the image, mythology, and legends of America and American history seemed to become embodied and amplified in their work. This is not to be missed. Hopefully if you purchase the upcoming John Wayne/John Ford boxset, it will be included as an extra. It’s worth the price of it’s own disc. And guess what? The kind folks at PBS will let you buy one from them! How nice!
UPDATE! 5-11-06. I just wanted to confirm that this documentary will be an extra on the 2-disc Stagecoach special edition DVD that will be part of the John Wayne-John Ford Film Collection. Save your hard earned cash for the Box set... and enjoy the many extras which you can read about here.
The Amazing Race: This is it: the next to last episode- where the rubber meets the road. Will it be the Hippies, MoJo, Frat Boys, or er- Ray and Yolanda? After having been saved by two non-elimination rounds, will the Hippies, BJ and Tyler, be able to make a comeback? What are you asking me for- tune in and find out.
Top Shelf Picks for TCM:
May 10th: Of Human Bondage (1934) Leslie Howard and Bette Davis as a medical student and waitress falling prey to desire. Also, Jezebel (1938)
May 11th: It's Love I'm After (1937) A squabbling stage couple gets mixed up with an amorous fan and her jealous suitor...and later, Satan Met A Lady (1936) In the second screen version of The Maltese Falcon, a detective is caught between a lying seductress and a lady jewel thief.
May 12: Knute Rockne, All American (1940) Biography of the famed Notre Dame coach and his fight to "win one for the Gipper." My Neighbor Totoro (1993) Wonderful animated film about two girls with a sick mother who find escape with the spirits of the forest.
May 13: Cartoon Alley Ah, yes- this is a wonderful series that just keeps getting better and better, This episode features three Barney Bear cartoons: The Bear That Couldn't Sleep (1939), The Fishing Bear (1940) and Heir Bear (1953). Don’t miss The Princess And The Pirate (1944) Cowardly knight, Bob Hope rescues a disguised princess from pirates.
May 14: Ride The High Country (1962) Two aging gunslingers, Randolph Scott and Joel McCrea, sign on to transport gold from a remote mining town. The last film for both actors. Also, The Wagons Roll At Night (1941) Circus manager Humphrey Bogart turns a young farm boy into a star lion tamer.
May 15: It’s a day of classic films from Orson Welles: Citizen Kane (1941), The Magnificent Ambersons (1942), and Touch Of Evil (1958)
May 16:Two great westerns starring Henry Fonda in two different styles and two different co-stars, John Wayne and Terence Hill. Fort Apache (1948) and My Name Is Nobody (1974)
Harry On Broadway Act 1
This is a two disc set of Harry’s original Broadway musical Thou Shalt Not and the original cast (of which he was a member) recording of the Broadway revival of The Pajama Game. I’ve always liked Harry’s music and singing - so this is a no-brainer.
Sgt. Bilko - 50th Anniversary Edition (The Phil Silvers Show)
Sure, kids today saw the crappy remake with Steve Martin- but thats no reason they shouldn’t get to know the real deal. Phil Silvers as Sgt. Bilko is the ultimate con man running the motor pool at a small US Army Camp. He and his crew spend their time bilking (Bilk=Bilko, get it?) every rube recruit out of his extra dough, and coming up with money making schemes that would put Ralph and Norton to shame. The Colonel kind of knows what’s going on, but Bilko somehow manages to stay just a step ahead. This DVD is packed with extras, including a lost audition show, guest appearances of the cast on talk shows, and an audio of a Friars stag roast for Humphrey Bogart. Why is Bogie on this? Who cares! It’s Bogart- besides, my guess is that Phil Silvers was a guest. Worth the ducats I say.
Everybody Loves Raymond - The Complete Sixth Season
I know we haven’t recommend to many modern shows on The Shelf- but this was one of my favorites. I also know that many people derided this show - but I think the writing and the acting was great. The characters of Ray’s dad and mom Frank and Marie, and Ray’s brother, Robert are some of the funniest characters to grace the small screen. I mean, how can you not love Peter Boyle? Holy Crap. Season six was a great season for Peter Boyle's character, Frank. We got a lot of funny bits. Check it out.
Northern Exposure: The Complete First and Second Seasons (1990)
These have already been out on DVD, but this is a second opportunity to grab them if you haven’t got them. I loved this quirky, funny show when it was on TV and have found that most of the episodes have continued to hold up. It plays on the same take that Andy Griffith did in Mayberry. Have a seemingly normal guy hold a position of importance in a town full of eccentric characters. And Cicely, AK has a bunch of 'em.
That’s it for now Shelfers. Stay tuned for more Shelf material in progress.
Some day, this country's gonna be a fine, good place to be. Maybe it needs our bones in the ground before that time can come.