Thursday, September 29, 2005

punting the pundits

This kid knows more about the weather than the pundits

I have tried to hold my tongue- er, typing about this for a while. But the spectacle is too much. I am truly sorry to those who have lost loved ones and their homes in the hurricanes. It is painful to watch and my heart and prayers go out to them. However, watching the news outlets the past week or so is making me sick. I believe that some of them are exploiting the situation for their own gain.
Jim, you are da' man
Didn't you find it somewhat curious that last year the big cable news outlets started cutting into what was once Weather Channel Territory? Round the clock storm coverage used to be the Weather Channel's hallmark. It was a bit much at the time- but at least you could rely on them for information and accurate reporting in a somewhat calm manner. Jim Cantore notwithstanding. I like Jim- in fact I think his "stand in the middle of the street during wind gusts of 75 miles per hour" routine has yet to be duplicated. Oh- Anderson Cooper has tried. Matt Lauer has been there. But it all started with Jim.

And that's what I'm getting at. Where did all these reporters come from? It is a Holiday Inn boon. Previously, people were checking out early prior to the storm. Now, this mass of reporters has swooped down trying to get the room near the aluminum sign - that you just know will blow over. A sign coming apart is high drama.
This year the major networks got in on the act. NBC, CBS, ABC, and the cable networks apparently have wondered why summertime ratings have slipped over to the Weather Channel in August and September. It couldn't be that people turned up their collective noses at the less-than-palatable summer fare they dished up for us. Heavens no! And it couldn't be the fall schedule is more of the same. Heavens forbid!

That's when the "Man" decided that the Weather Channel should monopolize the weather game. It's almost as if they thought they could just name the channel after the weather and people would tune in because they thought they could learn about - get this- the weather. Sheesh.
Why do I rant? Simple- it's precisely because these same networks have taken a serious topic of great concern and have done what they have usually done to topics of great concern. They have turned a tragedy into political hay, a ratings worthy scandal, and a circus free-for-all resembling a game of one-up-manship. They have pretty much taken a vestige of actual news and crapped on it. Sorry, mom, for the language.

The day after Hurricane Rita, CNN posted an article on the effects of Rita :
"Rita failed, however, to significantly damage the nation's largest oil refinery and about 200 other facilities near Houston, Texas, according to an official who monitors the region."

Failed? Which correspondent was it that sent Rita out on a mission? It is as if he was either weeping or bitterly disappointed when he wrote about Rita's failure. The pundits are acting like some kind of throw-back Bond villain. It's almost as if they have some sort of underwater CNN base that they plan these world domination schemes from. You know what I'm talking about- the weirdly futuristic, yet still kind of retro looking fortress where some guy named Brassmonkey or Silverpuss or something is watching the giant viewfinder looking thing with his minions.

Minions: Sir, Rita didn't turn into Houston- she missed the refineries!
Platinumnuts: Curses! I thought we had it this time. All that money we paid the Japanese Mafia for their cursed machine! Well, boys- looks like we'll have to cripple the economy for our radical environment policies and therefore our political gain next week.
Minions: Murmur, murmur.

Oh, yes- I went there.

Please, don't get me started on the Idaho weather guy and his "theories". Can you really imagine the Mafia in America using a weather machine, much less the Japanese? Are store owners being threatened with this thing?: "If you don't pay up, Big Tony here will be sending a Hailstorm to break out all the windows!"

Pure geniusLast week, anticipating Rita's arrival, Hardball's Chris Matthews was interviewing a meteorologist on his show. Chris asked the guy "Does Rita stem from Katrina?" The guy kind of stared at the screen for a minute - not sure if he really heard what he just heard, I think. Chris re-worded the question, "Did Katrina cause Rita?" 10 points to the weather guy for reminding Chris that, though products of nature Hurricanes be, they "don't know nothin' about birthin' no babies". I'm not sure if Chris got that during science class back in middle school, but then again he may have been too busy yelling over the teacher and badgering him about how the class elections weren't fair! You know what, Chris? Go ahead and take your Hardballs home - we'll find another game to play.

And what rock did all of these meteorology professionals crawl out from under all of the sudden? Do these guys have agents now? I haven't heard this much to do from Meteorologists since... well, never. I imagine a typical call from his agent went out to Meteorologist Brad the week of the Hurricane.
Brad: (Answering phone with Dy-no-mite coolness) Chello?
Phil: Brad-o..... this is Phil. I just got off the phone with MSNBC? We are talking huge here, Brad baby. H-U-G-E. They want to sign you for the week with a potential week pick-up contingent on the ratings and aftermath.
Brad: Phil, Phil, Phil. You know what I want to hear...
Phil: Whoa, Brad I couldn't get Prime Time. You know they got that babe from the East Coast under contract. But I got a primo deal, Brad. We are talking magazine article and full color maps.

Brad: What?!!?!! I'm hot now, Phil! They need to bump that Florida hack and put me under contract! And no magazine- I want a book deal!
Phil: Brad baby- take it easy. They won't budge on East Coast - the Florida gal has been primo with them since two years ago. Got the director under wraps. She's the now girl. You may be hot - but we gotta work up to 5 figures. Besides- the magazine is good. No one is buying the weather books yet, maybe next year.
Brad: Did you at least tell them about the counter-offers from CNN and FOX?
Phil: Of course I did.
Brad: And?!?!
Phil: They were willing to match - the maps were the topper. Hey, at least you aren't going on Hardball!
Brad: Do I at least get to do on-the-scene?
Phil: Heh- Brad, come on. You've been in this game too long to know that they don't send the weather people out to where the weather is happening. That's what the anchors and hot-shot reporters are for. Nobody wants experts in the field when the actions is going down!
Brad: I should've took Larry King up on his deal when he offered at the Emmy party!
Seriously- what the heck is Anderson Cooper doing on the beach at Galveston showing us how the tide is actually an inch above where it was on the rock the day before? Why is it necessary for us to watch a reporter follow a celebrity on a boat so we can see him or her shake his head at the devastation? What good does it do? You may say it raises awareness- I say malarkey. If it raises awareness, why was New Orleans the topic de jur during and after Rita? I haven't seen too many commercials about helping out the victims of Rita. They tell us night after night that something stinks, and you know as well as I do- he who smelt it, dealt it.

Quote me as saying I was misquoted.

yeah, hold on...I forgot to put in the crystals

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

just a quickie...

A new post will follow later today or tomorrow- but I just wanted to let all the shelf'ers know that tonight is the 2 hour premeire of The Amazing Race: Family Edition at 9est/8cst on CBS. Check it out! The Mighty Phil K. (sorry Joe Young) was on the Early Show this morning and waxed eloquent about this upcoming season. We don't normally endorse TV shows per se, but I'll make an exception with this one. Pop some corn.

Quote me as saying I was misquoted.

i ain't so tough

Friday, September 23, 2005

how do they do that? part 2


Magazines, magazines, magazines. They are probably the worst pilferers of political pipedreams ever. Well, close to it anyhow. There's your Kennedys and Kerrys but mags are at least a close third. At any rate, what I'm driving at is that they are about as useful for info as ear muffs to a deaf man. They are the surreal. They print anything they want and stand behind it as factual and pertinent to current events. They do all of this while continuously claiming their "journalistic integrity" is as strong and true as ever. Yet to the common sense type person with a nose for B.S., they are transparent. Some how. Some way. They continue to sell. How on earth do they do that?
This is mind boggling to me. I guarantee you that 9 out of 10 people do not like being lied to or misled, but for some reason we allow magazines to do just that. What makes it worse is that we pay for it! Now I'm not talking about entertainment magazines or gossip rags. If that's how you get-down then, by all means brotha, get-down. I'm talking about these so-called "news magazines". Somehow they've been getting a large amount of the public to believe their stories as if they were weekly epistles from Paul himself. The lies aren't the most astonishing things about it though. It's the things they choose to sympathize with or report on.
Case-in-point: for the July 4th 2005 issue of Time, a suicide bomber was interviewed( bomber interview ). A meeting was arranged, by whoever does that sort of thing, and a cordial interview was conducted with a future murderer of innocent people. Then when our soldiers are interviewed, they only print statements made about wanting the war to be over. Any statements made about the need for us to see the mission through or that our cause there is just end up drowning in white out. Could this be a trend?
It's not just about the current war. All aspects of contemporary life are delivered to us with a left-sided slant. It's as if we are being recruited to their cause. Anyone with common sense could see what is being done here. So if common sense could ferret it out and most people do not like Loopybeing lied to then how do they continue to sell? Let's face it. Most people are stupid. Then there are those who are just as "loopy" as the authors of this drivel (see photo at right for the perfect example of someone who is loopy). I guess it is more exciting to find out about a "cover-up" than the boring truth. People tend to be more interested in a conspiracy theory than knowing that the government is not out to get us and it is what it is.
I liken the magazines to old time carnival freak show barkers. They know the man in the tent isn't a werewolf, but they swear he is because that's how they get your money. The public abandons rational thought for a few moments and believes in the wolf-man because the barker has sold the idea so well. The public does this to leave reality for a moment to get an adrenaline producing, albeit brief, scare. The difference is that if you were to so see the barker on the street he would say, "Of course the Wackywolf-man isn't real. It's just a show." The magazines continue to tell you it is real and do so under the banner of truth and not the flag of opinion. The worst part is that the scare in the public lasts for more than a few moments.
This is not harmless. It borders sedition. This is not a time for the citizens of our country to allow themselves to be duped for the sake of someone's political philosophy or preference. This is a time for our country to live up to it's noble track-record and truly bond together. Whatever happened to the days when a President, no matter his political affiliation, was treated as our leader by the print society? Where are the newspapers and magazines who once printed articles and pictures solely for the purpose of raising our country's morale? That's what we lack right now. Our current media practices are part of the reason why our country isn't as one. Who do you know these days that gets their knowledge on policy or practice from anywhere but the boob-tube or printed media?
Where has our great country gone? It's still here. It's weaker and in need of a resurgence but it is here. Our country is not controlled by the President or congress. It is controlled by the opinions of the public and how we act upon them. The problem is that a majority of our country allows our opinions to be formed and controlled by those with less than our best interests in mind. Revolutions were started by free thinkers who found what is right on their own and banded together for the good of the people. They were not started by the people being persuaded by a few individuals to make change. That's how dictatorships begin.
I'm not saying we need to rise up out of the fields and start hunting down the evil-doers. What I'm saying is that what this country needs is an intellectual revolution. It can begin with the people refusing to accept the rubbish handed to us by print and televised media. We should require nothing less than the truth from the media and not allow our intelligence to be insulted by the freak show barkers. We can take our country back and make it what it once was. We just need to let those who feel they know what's good for us know that we can figure that out on our own.

Please feel free to comment if the need strikes you.

I never forget a face, but in your case I'll make an exception.

"You call this a party? The beer is warm, the women are cold, and I'm hot under the collar!"

Thursday, September 22, 2005

how do they do that? part 1

That's what I ask myself on a daily basis. How do periodicals like Time, The Washington Post, and other rags of their ilk continue to sell? The left-handed tilt and sensational accusations seem more like Poe or "The Brother's Grimm" than an honest portrayal of current events and the goings on of our world.
First off, I feel the newspapers are worse than the periodicals because they have been long trusted by the public to give us just the facts (shout out to Mr. Friday). Magazines, even though they call themselves "news magazines", are expected to have more opinion. In the case of newspapers, though, to quote Malcolm X " We've been hoodwinked! Bamboozled!" I know, I know, it's a free country. They can print whaterver they want...Yada, Yada. I guess it is the fault of those who read it if they take the shady articles at face value; but don't you think the newspapers have some responsibility to be impartial. I mean they are the only source of "News" that a lot of people get.
Don't get me wrong. Not all print articles I see are so blatant, but newspapers in general seem to pick and choose what they sensationalize. It's easy to spot. Some articles are very brief and almost coldly relayed, which I suppose is somewhat like Bill and Hilary's aniversary festivities these days. Other writings are much more opinion of the writer, however nutty it may be.
We still have to be weary of the so-called "straight facts" that are written. True, a fact is a fact, but a fact can be couched with opinion and slant quickly changing a fact into a little truth within a big lie. I know. I've been involed in or witnessed some events that were later written in the local paper. When I eventually read the write-ups, often-times it did not resemble my first-hand knowledge. We've all seen it done. These purveyors of poppycock give a story a certian tone in order for it to come across in a way that supports their cause, whatever that may be.
In short, I suppose newspapers have devolved from the window through which we see the world into a filter through which the world is shown to us. This causes the opinion of the unaware (most of the country) to be formed by someone elses thoughts. Those same people, if they only new more, would hopefully be able to come to a more thoughtful and sometimes even better conclusion. Basically if you had to make a bet on where to find truth in the newspaper, put your money on the obituarys. What's the solution to this problem? Suprisingly enough, there are three: 1. Research topics that are important to you before ariving at a conclusion. 2. Don't believe every thing you read. 3. Save your fifty cents for a can of Dr. Pepper and use the brain God gave you.

Please comment if the need strikes you.

"Z-V-B-X-R-P-L. I had that same horse when I had my eyes examined."

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

(reality) T.V.

I’m going to tell you right off- I don’t love reality shows. To be fair I like a few, and pretty much hate the rest. This is about the time of year where the crappy shows exchange places with other crappy shows. And even more crappy shows see the light of day for the first time, and other crappy shows get to continue on life support for another year. Some of those include reality shows. Now- as I may have mentioned- I don’t like most of them. For the most part they are exploitive, trite, and scripted or edited to cater to a producers whim. A few have better producers or involvement from genuine entertainers that tend to keep things going in a good direction. The rest aren’t so lucky. To even call them "reality" is an insult to our collective intelligence. They will give anyone a T.V. show. Even the Reverand Al. Do you really want to watch that? What follows is my take on some of the current crop.

American Idol: Who likes watching a bug die a slow, squirmy death? Sadistic people, that’s who. If you watch this show, you’re a dying bug watcher. How many superstars has this thing delivered? Zero. How many annoying and unenduring pop singers has it delivered? Several. How many losers? Too many to count. I mean really, if the best you can brag about is Clay Aiken, some blonde girl who makes a Kit Kat commercial, and William Hung- well, I think it may be time to pull the plug.
Queer Eye for the Straight Guy: I guess five gay guys could help you out with the ladies. But do you want them to? I guess it's a quality of life issue. And the fact that "you are such a loser that 5 gay guys had to help you out with a women" is pretty bad. And that, my friends, is a direct quote from my gay friend.
The Bachelor: Hate it.
Biggest Loser: Loser says what?
Apprentice: You can only make fun of the Donald for so long, before you start to think, "Didn’t we do this in the 80s? Why are we doing this again? Anyone want some pizza?" - OK, I added the last part- but ever since I saw the Trump Domino's commercial, I think about pizza when I see that hair. And Martha? Well, let’s just say, it’s encouraging to see a convicted felon become a useful member of society. I hope Martha can find one to follow as an example.

Super/911/mega-nanny/wife/trading spouses: OK, people - here’s a tip. If you’ve got horribly behaved kids and you fight with your spouse about everything, your next move shouldn’t be: "Hey, let’s go on national television and let everyone see what horrible parents we are and what a charade our suburban lifestyle is. We'll bring in someone with a British accent to expose our faults and remind us that being indulgent, seeking after wealth, and scheduling every activity under the sun so we don’t actually have to spend time together are bad things and will destroy our family. The British are so smart." As Napoleon Dynamite would say : "Gah!" Hey people- go to church or something, get counseling, spend time together- it just might work. Just don’t do it in front of the rest of us.
Extreme Makeover/Plastic surgery stuff: Um, do I really have to answer, or can you figure it out?
Survivor- Unwatchable. I know I am incurring the wrath of untold millions, but the stuff is pretty much tripe. I don’t really care. The reality show I would watch- Unsurvivor. Take some lawyers and politicians and drop them off in the jungle or on a deserted island and then leave. Don’t come back. The one who makes it back without filing a lawsuit or encouraging new public policy is the winner. What does s/he get? A different job.
Extreme Makeover Home edition: OK- kinda torn- I think that they get a little too sappy for good TV's sake, but I think they are helping some families who need it. Can’t slam 'em, sorry. I watch with the wife every once in while. P.S.- Ty? A little help over here?

Big Brother: OK, confession time. I watch. I like it most of the time. When they put these egos in a house, it gets very interesting. From a social experiment angle, it confirms a lot of what I think about how people respond and act towards each other in certain situations. What is great is if you watch or keep track of the live feeds on the net, it is a very different show than what the editors give us, which pretty much sums up all my pet peeves with reality shows. At least with this one we get to see or check out the raw events and interactions as they happen. This year’s winner, as in years past, totally did not deserve it. She coasted in on everyone else’s coat tails and let them take the fall for her. She was also the villain that the editors did not portray her to be. This is the show I love to hate and hate to love.
Rock Star INXS- guilty pleasure. Hey, I’m an INXS fan- I’m invested. The guy they picked last night is a bit of a jerk, but he’s very talented, he has humbled quite a bit over the course of the show, and he looks right performing with the rest of the band. Tim, Kirk, and the guys have been missing Michael Hutchance and his vibe. I think J.D. has a bit of that Hutchance vibe. They debuted a new song last night "Easy Easy." They looked good up there, and the song was great. Good luck, guys. We’ve missed you.

The Amazing Race: Alright, this is the one I love. I don’t really care what you think- it is pretty darn competitive, and it tends to bring out the best and worst in people. If you have never been to a foreign country, its hard to understand that once you get away from touristy places, it can be tough going if you don’t know the culture and the language. On the show we also get to learn about such unfamiliar things like, history, geography, and cultures. You know- the stuff they don't teach in school anymore? All the while, teams are competing in everything from extreme sports to regional and culture-specific rituals. And the host Phil Keoghan, is a cool cat. He travels to all the same places. Many times over. He’s got common sense and seems to be very intelligent. He also doesn’t cotton to nonsense from the teams. He has called them out on stuff before- and you know he’ll straighten them out again if he has to- he’s just nice about it. The Amazing Race- Family edition starts next Tuesday, Sept. 27. Watch it.
Any others that I didn’t mention: they suck.

You know what? TV can be entertaining, it can also be educational. I like some TV. It’s not all bad, if you keep it in perspective. Like with the news, reality TV and other shows need to be taken for what they are, not as the end all, be all. All things are to be enjoyed in moderation, folks. Don’t just sit there and flip around the idiot box complaining that nothing is on. At least put on a good movie, for pete’s sake. Read a book. Play with your kids. Spend some time with your significant other. Work in the yard. Help a friend or a neighbor. It’s your time. It’s only as valuable as the worth you give it. Besides, do you really want a Rev. Al reality/talk show? All because you were too lazy to turn the TV off and find something else to do. The networks will think we want all this crap. Do you really want to carry the blame for that? I didn't think so.

Quote me as saying I was misquoted.

the customers go for it - it's so old, it's new. we got the television too. we run movies. what can I offer you?

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

lanky brunettes with wicked jaws, part 3

For years, the absence of The Thin Man set was a glaring pox upon the DVD crowd. In the Should be on DVD section of the movie buff's mind, The Thin Man was right up there with the Marx Brothers, The Jazz Singer, and Looney Tunes. The absence of The Thin Man was even more glaring when the Marx Brothers and Looney Tunes finally started to receive the box set treatment they richly deserve. That list became revised yet again on August 3, 2005 with the release of The Complete Thin Man Collection DVD box set. Warner Brothers has been the movie buff's savior in the past several years. Their box sets and special editions have given a loving, respectful treatment to many classic films. They have partnered with Turner Classic Movies to produce and include great biographies (such as the recent Errol Flynn documentary that came with the Errol Flynn - The Signature Collection anpremiereded on TCM) and documentaries that feature movie historians, as well as critics, archivists, and directors and stars. The print and sound qualities of the films have been exceptional, as they have gone to lengths to find the best source prints.

This set received no-less of a great treatment from Warners. The Complete Thin Man Collection is a 7-disc affair, including all 6 films plus a 7th disc entitled Alias Nick and Nora. The 7th disc contains two bio-documentaries on William Powell and Myrna Loy, plus the Lux Radio Theater adaptation of the film featuring Powell and Loy reprising their roles and director W.S. Van Dyke serving as narrator. Also on the 7th disc is the pilot episode of The Thin Man television series, starring Peter Lawford and Phyllis Kirk. The episode is fairly weak, but Peter Lawford showed some promise in his characterization of Nick. It's hard to judge, without having seen the rest of the series, but it is difficult to enjoy a half-hour mystery without the charm and banter of Powell and Loy.

The first disc contains the same makeup as the previous DVD release of The Thin Man, but each of the remaining discs contain both the film and other special features. In Warner Brother's DVD special editions of their films, the DVDs are rich in special features, including the favorite: Warner Brothers Night at the Movies. Night at the Movies are a feature which allows the viewer to sample a typical night at the movies in the year it was debuted; including newsreels, cartoon shorts, comedy and musical shorts, and trailers. Since these films were MGM releases, Warner's (which is a subsidiary of Time-Warner, along with TCM and owns some MGM back catalog) doesn't provide the same, but instead has some MGM shorts and cartoons on each disc. Some highlights include several Robert Benchley comedy shorts and several MGM Tex Avery cartoons, Screwball Squirrel and Slap Happy Lion. Each disc is a pleasant way to spend an evening.

The 7th disc documentaries are quite well done. William Powell- A True Gentleman is narrated by Michael York, and is an excellent portrait of Powell's start and career. Very little is touched on about his private life, but Powell was a private man. His character, charm, and talents are put forth in this feature and some excellent photographs of Powell over the course of his career take center stage. Several film historians and an archivist are interviewed in the feature. Myrna Loy- So Nice To Come Home To is hosted by Kathleen Turner. It is a somewhat lengthier examination of Loy's career and takes a closer look at her private life. It is a celebration of sorts of Loy as a strong independentnt women who was a wonderful actress and humanitarian.

The films themselves are what the fans are flocking to, and a quick look at the comment sections around DVD websites and retail sites confirm this. Most all agree: "It's about time!" The first two films, which have been discussed in previous posts, are wonderful classics, with the rare case in Hollywood that the sequel is as strong as the first. After the Thin Man also features Jimmy Stewart in an early role. Another Thin Man introduces the Charles's son, Nicky Jr. and set the couple back in New York on solving the murder of a former business partner of Nora's father. A instant classic as well, with some great supporting performances by Sheldon Leonard and Shemp Howard! Shadow of the Thin Man, is a somewhat weaker installment, but no less enjoyable. Nick and Nora solve a series of murders centering around a race track. The Thin Man Goes Home finds Nick and Nora (sans Nicky Jr.) going to Nick's hometown to visit his parents. While there, Nick gets involved in a murder case, involving industrial espionage and shaking skeletons out of the small town's closets. Some have panned this as the weakest of the series, but this is one of my sentimental favorites. Nora takes more of center stage in this one, and it features some wonderful bits of physical comedy. Lastly, Song of the Thin Man rounds out the list. It is perhaps the weakest of the series, as it is starting to show age. A still enjoyable effort, and it features a young Dean Stockwell as Nicky, Jr. Al, how little we knew ye!

All in all, The Complete Thin Man Collection is a must have. It belongs on the shelf of any movie buff. After a three-part look at the series and review of the set, it is no surprise that The Shelf rates the Box set as a Must Buy!

whaddaya mean "illiterate"? My father and mother were married right here in the city hall!

but what does Katrina say about all this?

Certainly nothing good. For the last couple of weeks, all we've been seeing and hearing is the talking heads working on getting a nod for next season's Emmy Awards, politicians working on re-election, and various other whackos just giving their interpretation of what Katrina has done and why she did it. My question is: What does Katrina want us to realize in all this? I heard someone say last week that Katrina "attacked New Orleans because of all the wickedness that goes on down there". RFK Jr. wrote an essay shortly after landfall saying that George Bush caused Katrina because he failed to sign the Kyoto treaty allowing global warming to continue, thereby creating the hurricane. RFK JR.'s craziness. Last week, while in Columbia, SC Louis "Calypso Louis"Farrakhan said that Katrina was "god smiting a nation involved in a wicked war." Farra-"gone".

Are any of these explanations correct? Could they all be correct? Well let's see. There are some wicked things that went on in New Orleans. It was warm when the Hurricane hit. God did create nature which in-turn created the hurricane. These are interesting theories but most assuredly not correct. Looking through my special B.S. filter, I have been able to notice the facts that actually were reported about this occurrence by the media.(In case you are wondering where to purchase a B.S. filter, I'm sorry but you can't. Most people are born with them in their heads but you have to activate it for it to work properly) 1.Grown men and women were stupid enough not evacuate a city that is below sea level when a category 4 hurricane was on it's way for a visit, 2. The state and local government failed to do anything to help evacuate those who could not do so on their own, and 3. All of the aforementioned dummies(Writers note: "dummies" should be pronounced here as Fred Sanford did many times describing Lamont and Rollo) blame everyone but themselves. Knowing these things I begin to see a different picture that Katrina may or may not have purposely painted for us. A picture I have eloquently titled: "If Our Country Continues On It's Current Path, We Are All In Deep Doo-Doo". (It's a bit long I know, but art should not be confined by conventional wisdom.)

Having been to New Orleans, I witnessed the extreme Liberal mindset of that place. That's not the only problem. The government is more corrupt than the average bunch of crooks we usually elect. No-one knows where any of the money goes and when the citizens do find out, they are typically embarrassed. As he has been so unabashedly showing the rest of the country, Mayor Nagin of New Orleans is nothing but a talker. His words are a mere collection of wonderfully positioned smoke and mirrors that entrance the public, but in times like these, leave them shocked as the beautiful assistant pulls them away only to reveal the cranks and pulleys where a true leader and "man-of-the-people" should be. Do I really need to describe here how inept the "do-nothing" Governor of Louisiana is? I didn't think so. Just read the article in this link for just one example of her administration's culpability:Levee Money Allocation. And don't forgot all of those people who voted for these shysters.

Yet still, how could this happen in the greatest country on earth founded on two of the greatest documents ever composed?(That's the Declaration of independence and the Constitution for all you far-left liberals and far right fanatics who have buried these priceless works in your pursuit to build a foundation for whatever money-making, power-gaining project your partners in politics have been struggling to build over the years.) I hate to say it but, several things happened. The "New Deal" happened. Welfare abuse and welfare fraud happened. The ACLU happened. The Southern Poverty Law Center happened. Frivolous lawsuits happened. Activist judges happened. "Politically correct" happened. Major media happened. And amongst many more things, the idolization of Hollywood elite and musicians happened.I watched news coverage of Katrina's aftermath and saw a woman standing there shouting "Who's going to pay my bills?". I have the answer for her: The same people who most likely paid your bills before. The government. Here is a city (and most of that state) where a majority of the citizen's main source of (legal) income is government assistance. The popular thought about the federal government is that they are ,instead of a loving and strong father standing by to protect them and do what's not easy but for their own good, but a mother who does nothing but wait on them and cave to their whining with a bottomless "teat" ever-ready to be suckled.

The majority of New Orleans is an example of a rising group of our nations citizenry with the mindset of a people who always have the government's "safety net". They always know that once offended, a simple lawsuit will help anything. They know that in today's American society, it is not unusual (shout out to Tom Jones) for the self-made, independent, strong willed American of any color equipped with common sense to be ferreted out and destroyed for these qualities. A simple slip of the tongue or disagreement of philosophy can put these Americans in jail or shame them into becoming one of "Them". "Them" ,as they are here-after referred, rely on the Feds and vote for the candidates who keep the handouts coming. Then when things go sour for them, the bite the hand that feeds "Them". They want the the government to control every aspect of their lives but at the same time, stay out of their lives. They bark at the government for punishing "Them" for wrong-doing, and bark louder to wonder why they don't punish those who wrong "Them". "Them" are made up of all races and both genders. It is not a nationality or a bloodline. It is usually but not always a tradition passed down from parent to child. It's a culture and a dangerous mentality. This mentality causes an "every man for himself and the government all for me" society. This is where our country is headed. If we don't get back to the basics of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence and what they stand for then our country will be over-run with "Them". Those documents and their purposes must be resurrected and "P.R" must be enforced. No, I'm not contradicting myself. By "P.R." I mean "personal responsibility". "Them" react to that phrase like Superman would react to a Kryptonite suppository.
It's good 'ole elbow grease and self reliance that will save us. You know, all the things we are taught is right but encouraged by popular culture not to do. Katrina has exposed to us a possible future.I have seen New Orleans' ordeal as a small example of what could happen to us if our country becomes what the majority of that city is............................"Them".

"If at first you don't succeed...Keep on suckin' 'til you do suck seeds."

Monday, September 19, 2005

lanky brunettes with wicked jaws, part deux

The Thin Man series was captivatingly cool. The films centered around Detective Nick Charles who had married wealthy socialite Nora, and retired to manage her family's assets. On paper it almost sounds like a set-up for a film noir feature. However, Nick and Nora weren't gunning for each other over who would keep the loot. They were a charming couple in love, enjoying each others company while overlooking each other's faults. They found themselves in situations that, to Nora, looked ideal for Nicky's detecting abilities. Nora prodded Nick to get involved. Nick generally tried to stay out of the mess, until he realized that the police were on the wrong trail. Nick, Nora, and Asta uncovered the clues, sometimes with the help of some of Nick's former "associates." Then all of those involved in the crime were gathered together so Nick could sort out the whole affair. Once found out, the guilty party often tried to make a break for it, but ended up in the hands of the police who were around for the show.

While the general formula of the films seemed standard, the execution was anything but. The films incorporated certain elements like running gags, intricate plots, and Nick and Nora's relationship that elevated the series above all else. The films could have been described as detective yarn, screwball comedy, or romantic adventure; in reality the films were all three.
Running gags kept the series light. Nick's drinking was one. The certain appearance of Nick's former associates was another. These associates were either in law enforcement, or were former cons that Nick had collared at one time or another. Most of Nick's "associates" had nothing but admiration for Nick and some had somewhat reformed. Kind of a running gag within a gag, most of the "associates" assumed that Nick was with a "ladyfriend" instead of the missus. Nick always told them Nora was his wife, and proudly so. But that didn't prevent the guys from winking and muttering "I get it! I get it!" But when you are introducing your wife to men called "Fingers", "Lefty", and "Wacky", whaddya expect?

While comedy and plots were essential to the films, they would not have been the same without William Powell and Myrna Loy; or, quite frankly, without the Director, W.S. Van Dyke. Van Dyke had just directed the two, along with Clark Gable in Manhattan Melodrama. (Which, trivia fans, was the film that John Dillinger had just finished watching when the FBI ambushed him outside of the Biograph Theater in Chicago.) Van Dyke had watched the natural friendship that had blossomed between Powell and Loy, and having recently read The Thin Man, thought them perfect for Nick and Nora. They began work on the film immediately after wrapping up Manhattan Melodrama. MGM was originally hesitant to cast Loy in the film, but Van Dyke secured her part after agreeing to shoot the film in two weeks. The result was a classic. The easy banter, comedic acting and chemistry between Loy and Powell carried all six films. Even after watching the films several times, you may not remember the complete in and outs of the suspects and murders, but you always remember Nick and Nora, and the lines.
Nick: I'm a hero. I was shot 2 times in the Tribune.
Nora: I read where you were shot 5 times in the tabloids.
Nick: It's not true. He didn't come anywhere near my tabloids.
Nora: How did you find me here?
Nick: I saw a great group of men standing around a table. I knew there was only one woman in the world who could attract men like that. A woman with a lot of money.

The film series also inspired a long running radio show. Several different actors portrayed Nick, while Claudia Morgan held down the fort as Nora. When T.V. came along, Nick and Nora were along for the ride. Peter Lawford and Phyllis Kirk portrayed the couple for 3 seasons from 1957-1959 in the television series aptly titled, The Thin Man. The NBC show was less entralling than the radio series or, of course, the film series. Although Peter Lawford made a decent enough Nick, Phyllis Kirk didn't give Nora enough... well, Nora. Powell and Loy own the roles. The various incarnations of The Thin Man created a path for other married sleuths to follow such as Television's McMillian and Wife and Hart to Hart. And Nick and Nora were marvelously spoofed by David Niven and Maggie Smith as Dick and Dora Charleston in Neil Simon's Murder By Death.

A few facts about the series:
The six films: The Thin Man, After the Thin Man, Another Thin Man, Shadow of the Thin Man, The Thin Man Goes Home, and Song of the Thin Man were made over the course of 13 years. The running title does not refer to Nick; the Thin Man actually refers to the murder victim in the first film. W.S. "Woody" Van Dyke directed the first four films, but died before the filming of the fifth. The Thin Man Goes Home was directed by Richard Thorpe who had previously directed William Powell and Myrna Loy in Double Wedding. The last film, Song of the Thin Man, was directed by Edward Buzzell, who also directed the Marx Brothers in At the Circus and Go West . Myrna Loy and William Powell both had careers in silent films, but both also had roles in important films in the transition to talkies. William Powell starred in Paramount pictures first talkie, 1928's Interference, and Myrna Loy had a small part in 1927's ground breaking The Jazz Singer from Warner Brothers. Just for some perspective on how much they worked, in the years between the first and second Thin Man films (1934-1936), both Loy and Powell were in 14 films each, 6 of which they starred in together. The Thin Man was nominated for 4 Oscars, including Best Picture. The sequel, After the Thin Man was also nominated for a Best Picture Oscar, making it the first film sequel to be so honored.

Later, in Part 3, a review of the DVD set, The Complete Thin Man Collection, new from Warner Brothers.

Come on. Let's get something to eat. I'm thirsty.

Friday, September 16, 2005

lanky brunettes with wicked jaws, part 1

Director "Woody" Van Dyke once said that The Thin Man movies worked because of the chemistry and personalities of lead actors William Powell and Myrna Loy. Although they were playing characters from Dashiell Hammett's famous detective novel, the actors portrayed them with so much of their own charm and a real affection for one another. "Powell was just Powell," he said, "and Loy was just Loy." The Thin Man premiered in 1934, and Powell and Loy began a on-screen partnership that lasted for 14 films. That's one of Hollywood's best records folks, Ginger and Fred aside. Although Powell and Loy were never married, many people thought they were a real married couple. In reality, William and Myrna were close friends, sharing a similar sense of humor and sensibilities. The charm and chemistry was so natural in their films, and you could tell, above all- they were having fun. Loy once said about Powell, "I never enjoyed my work more than when I worked with William Powell. He was a brilliant actor, a delightful companion, a great friend and above all, a true gentleman." And of working with Loy Powell remarked,"We weren't acting, we were just two people in perfect harmony."

Although both are better known for The Thin Man series, their other work, together and apart is superb. One highlight is their film Libeled Lady , which also starred Spencer Tracy and Powell's real-life flame, Jean Harlow. One of Powell's best films was My Man Godfrey , with ex-wife Carole Lombard. And one of Loy's best post-Thin Man comedic roles was in Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House , with Cary Grant. Such wonderful talent and sophistication, combined with a relationship built with mutual admiration and natural affection is what makes The Thin Man one of films best series. Although Powell and Loy top the list, the series is filled some of the best actors and actresses rounding out the supporting cast. Some of them were just starting out and others you recognize the faces and know they have been in many other wonderful films. Names like Jimmy Stewart, a young Donna Reed, Virginia Grey, Cesar Romero, Gloria De Haven, Keenan Wynn & Jayne Meadows were all either just starting or establishing solid careers. The lovely Maureen O'Sullivan appears in the first Thin Man, having already started as Jane in the Tarzan films, and before having played in the Marx Brother's classic,A Day at the Races . Dean Stockwell of Quantum Leap fame, plays Nicky Jr. in the last entry of the series, Song of the Thin Man. Wonderful character actor Harry Davenport also appears, as well as legends Shemp Howard and Sheldon Leonard.

But Myrna Loy and William Powell are why we care. The first few film plots were great and the last few were passable- but the on-screen relationship was the center of all the films. W.S. Van Dyke, who directed the first four films, recognized their chemistry made the films click. This was a married couple, who loved each other and accepted each other, faults and all. They knew each other's weakness and strengths, and rather than patently change other- they worked to make each other stronger- and had great fun in the process. What was conveyed in film was the genuine fun and love in a marriage, with comedy and mystery to boot. This was combined with fantastic dialouge and witty banter. And I just have to say, Myrna Loy was positively beautiful. Ethereal.

Later this weekend, in part II, a look at the Thin Man movies and the lasting impact of the series.

oh, Nicky, I love you because you know such lovely people.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

jumping butterballs!

I would like to welcome a new member of the firm here at The Shelf: Wolf Flywheel, previously of the firm of Flywheel, Shyster, and Fly-wheel. A trusted compatriot and insightful commentator, you are commended to his posts as if they were my own.

either he's dead or my watch has stopped.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

reality (t.v.)

What is real on TV? Is it the latest reality show or the evening news? I would offer that neither represent reality. We all know that much in reality is scripted. That is a topic for another day. A very boring day. I would like to delve into why what you see on the news show not be accepted hook, line, and sinker as unvarnished reality.Why? Mainly because the concept "reality" is often interpreted to mean raw and unfiltered events. The truth, no matter where the chips fall. I would submit to you, humble reader, that reality in that conceptual definition does not exist. Think about it this way, three individuals witness a car wreck, not including the drivers. When police interview all parties and the witnesses, not a single interview will be exact; although the sequence of events and some facts may be similar across all interviews.

Why? Well, first of all- each participant witness the accident from a different perspective physically. The drivers from within their respective cars see the accident from a different place than witnesses who may have seen it from the street or another vehicle. Mentally and emotionally all participants view things from different places within themselves as well. Let's say one of the witnesses had been injured in a car wreck at a previous time. The memories and emotions of their own experience will color their perceptions of the current event. Such is the case with each individual. The facts and events are filtered through a person's past collective history, mental and emotional state, and unpronounced biases and ideas about how life should be. That's a mite wordy; suffice it to say- who you are affects how you see things. Simple really. So, while the fact that Driver A slammed into the back of Driver B at a stop light on a hill on a cold, rainy morning- that doesn't prevent from everyone throwing in their own two cents in the mix. That's why Sgt. Friday asks for "Just the facts, ma'am."

What does this have to do with T.V. ? It has been difficult to watch the "news" in the past few years, because it has been increasingly difficult to filter out the "facts" from the perspective. Cable and network news shows are among the worst offenders. What really gets my goat, if you will, is when the viewers use the perspectives from mass news reporting to back up their own views in everyday conversation or discussion. When you attempt to engage in a little rhetorical tete a tete with such an individual all hope is lost. Once you have run the 5 minutes of material that they have seen and processed, they have run out of safe havens. At that point, everything becomes survival in such discussions. Instead of entertaining the possibilities of other angles, they sputter into anecdotes, "Somebody told me" s, and wishful conjecture.

One must always account for their own filters, and the possibilities that they don't have the complete story as well. Conversational caveats must include the admission that we may not know everything if we weren't there, and that others who have provided us information may have colored things a bit. But please, please don't offer "they said on the news" as substantive proof of anything. Just take the filters into account and be careful as you watch the news. Remember that what you see is what you get... you just don't have to rely on it. Check out all the news stories across the spectrum of news: TV, radio, newspapers, and the internet. And then do what the police would do in the case of our hypothetical accident. Check out multiple sources, and then try and distinguish the facts and events from all the accounts. Once you have done that, then you can kindly return everyone's two cents. Tell 'em to keep the change.

i don't think there's one word that can describe a mans life.

Friday, September 09, 2005

a real live nephew of my uncle sam

Save that 20-30 bucks you would spend at the movies this weekend seeing some flop or forgettable drivel that is showing at your local mega-plex. Invest that money in a true classic that will provide entertainment, spirit, and education. I'm talking about James Cagney's 1942 hit, Yankee Doodle Dandy .

Cagney was one of those irreplaceable stars, forever etched in our national memory as a tough guy. In fact, the stereotypical tough guy talk, banter, and walk that permeates our pop culture is largely due to Cagney's "presence" in the movies (with Edward G. Robinson and Bogey mixed in for good measure). Cagney had something that even Warner's toughest brother Jack couldn't contain. He had a tough, grounded spirit; an actor who liked what he did, but liked his family, people, the land and his country even more. He frequently stood up for the "little guy", even when it meant someone would try to steamroll him. Not that they succeeded. Cagney wasn't a pushover. When Warner Brothers tried to put one over on Cagney and make him work outside the bounds of his contract- Cagney stopped working. One the most popular stars in Hollywood just packed up, went to his farm in Martha's Vineyard and just worked his farm. He loved his farm. Eventually, Cagney made it back to Warner's, thankfully; which is where he made his ultimate song and dance film.

Yankee Doodle Dandy is the musical bio-pic about George M. Cohen, one of Broadway's early stars and composer of such famous songs as "Your a Grand Old Flag" and "Over There". Starring Cagney as Cohen, Joan Leslie, and Walter Huston (John's Dad), the film was a rousing, inspirational movie that gave ample opportunity for Cagney's singing, dancing, and acting talents to shine through. It will uplift you, pull at your heart strings, and make you eager for more old classics. In a bit of trivia for Old Time Radio and TV fans (like myself) the film also features Frances Langford, wonderful singer and actress from radio's "The Bickersons" and the very first Alice on the first installments of the Honeymooners on "The Jackie Gleason Show".

The DVD itself is superb. It is one of Warner Brother's best 2-disc special editions (Jack would be proud, don't ya' know). The picture and sound is fantastic, and the first disc features the movie and one of my favorite features- "Warner's Night at the Movies". The feature provides what a movie-goer might have seen when they went to see Yankee Doodle Dandy in 1942; newsreel, cartoon, and shorts - hosted by the man himself, Leonard Maltin. It is the second disc, however, that will cause DVD features fans to rejoice. Several great documentaries about Cagney and the movie, more cartoons, a special Cagney short subject, many trailers of other Cagney films, and galleries are all included. The documentary hosted by Michael J. Fox, while not complex, is very insightful and compelling. Fox is a great host, and his admiration for Cagney comes through.

Bottom line: Out of four simple choices- pass, rent, borrow, or buy and put on your shelf- Yankee Doodle Dandy deserves to be on your Shelf! Buy and enjoy. Your 20-30 bucks will thank you.

My mother thanks you, my father thanks you, my sister thanks you, and I thank you.

the front line

This weekend marks the 4th anniversary of 9/11. With the post-Katrina cleanup, dust-settling and the blame game going on - some may have forgotten. It is very likely that one of the largest natural disasters in our country will have produced a body count higher than the attack on that September morning. With everything going on, and so many people devastated and affected by Katrina, it may be hard to think back on 9/11. Don't forget. Don't let it go by without a silent prayer- not only for the hurricane victims of today, but another prayer for the victims of 4 years ago and their families.

Our country has been through a lot these past four years. We have been through equally hard times in the past. We will survive. The American spirit will endure, because it is so intertwined with the human spirit. We can and will go from attack or devastation to triumph. It is the in-between times that we need to shape up. We need to act and respond like human beings and responsible Americans. Don't get overwhelmed by footage- get motivated by it. Don't get fooled or sucked in by exploitive news stories, celebrity interviews, or tv shows- do something about it. We've got to stop blindly following or believing everything we are spoon-fed on TV by talking heads who have fewer qualifications other than talking. Do what is right, don't let wrong get the better of us, and don't give up when it does. It is in the giving up where we fail. We can always do something. As long as we don't forget.

Thank you to all the police, firefighters, military, government workers, volunteers, and families who make a difference everyday. Thank you for what you did four years ago, and thank you for today. We don't see you on TV, but we know you. You are our neighbors, our family, and our friends. As for me and my house, we won't forget. I suspect there are many people who won't either, no matter what the idiots on the idiot box say. I know that next Friday is the national day of prayer and mourning for those affected by Katrina. I hope we respect that day and participate. That shouldn't prevent us from remembering today, tomorrow, and especially the day after.

all that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing

Thursday, September 08, 2005

not so fast...

Here's the deal. I will post randomly about stuff I want to; stuff that belongs on the preverbial shelf. Get it? randomshelf? Also- why "The Shelf"? Quite frankly, everyone has a mental "shelf". They either store random stuff there for processing later, to remember to tell someone else at a later time, or to remember to check it out later. We keep the mental images of loved ones, important things, favorite things, and to do lists on this same shelf. It is both the mental work desk and the retreat where things make sense.
So it will be here that you will find things from my shelf. I may review a DVD I like, I may mention something from the news, musings on things I've read, thoughts and discourse on history. Who knows? The only promise is that it's random and it's mine. If you don't like it, keep on walking - nothing to see here. Come back later. You might like what you see then.
If you like what you read- I appreciate your time. I will try not to waste it.

i try to think but nothing happens

in the beginning...

Welcome. I don't really know why anyone would want to check this out- but here we are. In the next week or so - more posts. Expect randomness, musings, reviews, and context. This is just for me to get things off my chest and out there. Thanks for stopping by, and don't forget your coat on your way out.

we can work it out


Blog Widget by LinkWithin