Tuesday, June 30, 2009

we interrupt this broadcast...

It's been busier than usual at Chez Shelf, what with teach two courses now in addition to everything else. So that may explain some of the light posting around here. That doesn't mean I am not paying attention to things- including the passing of several celebrities and the whole Sanford debacle. I know, because I've read them, that many other fellow bloggers have been keeping teh interwebs informed and topics thoroughly discussed. However, the things that have concerned me the most are things that we don't often discussed here on The Shelf, and like my friend Laura, we haven't focused on politics at all, as it seems so dark and discouraging of late. We do try to focus on Classic films, culture and history on The Shelf, but we do like to take a general congenial tone, as you can encounter bluster and doom elsewhere. However in the last few days, indeed weeks, things have occurred that concern me- and what is most troubling is the inattention being given to these topics; Iran, Honduras and North Korea.

Sure- you can definitely see it on news sites and the regular political sites- but what about the general public? We are plastered by MJ tributes, Spencer and Heidi (god, I wish I had never found out who those two were), wall to wall celebrity death watch, and Sanford peccadillo debates. I conducted a casual poll among students, not asking or giving opinion- but more asking about general recognition. Out of the 35 students asked, 2/3rds of them knew more or less "something" was happening in Iran, 2 of them knew just what that something was. The rest "hadn't heard." (Again- this is very unscientific- just a casually polling) None of the students asked knew anything about North Korea missile tests aimed at Hawaii or our following their shipping boat and had no clue about Honduras. Sad to say, several students didn't know Honduras was a country. In fact one person was sure she went there on a student trip to Europe during High School. Sigh. Geography issues aside (and I did correct them), this illustrates several things, but chief among them is that despite this being the most tech and internet-savvy generation, people still either don't seek out information or facts, or still rely on television to provide them with news. If they don't pick it up in passing on CNN on their way to E! Entertainment Network or as a scrolling blurb during some Reality show, they may not pick it up at all.

I think the topics of North Korea and Iran are very troubling and we should all pay attention. We should be mourning the loss of freedoms and the death of protesters in Iran. We, and by we I mean our Leaders, should have taken a strong position from the get go- not a wait and see who will win attitude. The most recent item that has me paying rapt attention is the issue of Honduras and their Constitutional and legal excise of power in depowering their former President. If you haven't been paying attention, Mel Zelaya was attempting to micromanage and push through a referendum to ensure eliminating the Constitutional term limits law, which would allow him to pull a "Hugo" and basically become yet another tin-pot dictator. Hugo Chavez was even "helping" by providing the ballots and promising to make sure things went "smoothly."

So what happened? Well, allow me to quote Mary O'Grady in her piece in the Wall Street Journal:
"The Supreme Court ruled his referendum unconstitutional, and it instructed the military not to carry out the logistics of the vote as it normally would do.The top military commander, Gen. Romeo Vásquez Velásquez, told the president that he would have to comply. Mr. Zelaya promptly fired him. The Supreme Court ordered him reinstated. Mr. Zelaya refused.
Calculating that some critical mass of Hondurans would take his side, the president decided he would run the referendum himself. So on Thursday he led a mob that broke into the military installation where the ballots from Venezuela were being stored and then had his supporters distribute them in defiance of the Supreme Court's order.
The attorney general had already made clear that the referendum was illegal, and he further announced that he would prosecute anyone involved in carrying it out. Yesterday, Mr. Zelaya was arrested by the military and is now in exile in Costa Rica."
(O'Grady, Honduras Defends Its Democracy, The Wall Street Journal)

OK- first thing to understand- this is the Honduran Constitution, laws and process. Second thing is: THIS WAS NOT A COUP. This was how their government dealt with an elected official seeking to grab power and considering himself above the law, and perhaps engaging the assistance of a foreign power to do so. The other branches of the Honduran government followed the constitution to the letter, and even people in his own party were telling him not to try and circumvent their constitution. This is what our own Founders themselves were talking about in terms of where the power resides, and laying down rules and laws and ways to remove those who would circumvent them from office. There was no "military coup" like the press and the other leftist thugs like Chavez and Fidel would want to make it out to be. The Legislature and Supreme Court of Honduras instructed the military in what they are to do and instituted an interim President.

Now- here is the kicker: our fearless Leader- he who shall be OBAyed, has now gone on record to defend Zelaya and say there was a coup. Our own President is taking the side of these leaders- guys who were in the vein of say, leaders from the era of the 80s in Chile for example. So let me get this straight: when hundreds of people fighting for their freedoms, that our country emulates, you can't make a statement or take a position of strong support- that's meddling. But when a leader is circumventing the supreme court, people, legislature, and constitution to ensure lifetime rule like Hugo Chavez - we've got to step right in and make sure that leader doesn't get LEGALLY ousted by his government- That's statesmanship. OK- I've got it now. Do you?Why is that other countries of the world are now better at demonstrating the freedoms and Constitutional ideals that we claim to cherish?

And today the story has taken a further turn: The UN is demanding that Zelaya be restored. In fact President Obama is quoted in the story also as saying: "It would be a terrible precedent if we start moving backwards into the era in which we are seeing military coups as a means of political transition rather than democratic elections." While on the face of the statement, it seems reasonable, however he is utterly and completely wrong about one thing- there was no military coup as such. This was a Constitutional means of ousting an over-reaching politician. the Honduran people and their representative legislature and their Supreme Court displayed the whole checks and balances thing in action. They are the ones who directed the military to act or not act. There is no military leader in charge, nor was there ever one in charge- they've elected an interim President.

But why should we be surprised? Leftists not only have a fondness for power, but also for overlooking it's own over-reaching politicians and leaving them right where they are as to not loose power. But this is getting ridiculous. So now it's ok for the UN to tell a democracy that their Constitution needs to be circumvented? So if Zelaya goes back- does that mean that the UN or Castro and Chavez will "enforce" his return? Or worse- "enforce" his bypass of their constitution to eliminate the constitutionally imposed term limits? Now the UN is in the position of promoting "hyper-presidencies" as the left is beginning to call democratically elected leaders who get into power and then do everything, legal or illegal, to stay in power. Again- in a Democracy- does the power reside with the people or the Executive? Since he was removed by Constitutional means, by another of the Constitutional branches of government and according to their law and process- he no longer holds any power. I am so sick of the idiots in the world who pass off their raw grabs for power under the guise of populism. And even more, I am sickened by the naked ambition of our own leader who is aligning himself with the thugs of the world and thereby opposing the freedoms and the peoples of the world.

But what do you think? I suppose after a break here at The Shelf, it may have been coming on strong to rant this way, but I decided to no longer be silent. Years ago, when Wolf and I started - we had a simple motto: Think for yourself. It's time to remind myself and others of that motto that has never changed here. Perhaps it's time to speak up about these things again when occasion warrants and to ask questions. Oh, we'll continue to have fun and focus on Classic films and culture and history, but we can't forget that sometimes politics needs to take a back seat to our own basic freedoms and the laws and principles that we, as Americans, say we emulate and cherish. Freedom, as I believe and as our Founders verbalized is not a particular thing only allowed to those ready for it, culturally conditioned for it or given by a government. Rather it is a basic Human right, or as someone else better expressed it:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed...

Do we believe those words? I do. And no amount of economic disaster, leftist chic populism, fear, or trendy socialistic policy will EVER change that. SO why do we decide to adapt or reverse engineer these rights to fit someone else's idea of power or public policy. The Founders may have lived several hundred years ago, but if you know anything about them, you know they reached far back into history and weighed out the best and worst of civilizations and governments to provide us with not only the farsighted enumeration of rights we have today, but the means to continue to right wrongs against the rights of our citizens. And in the case of our nations history, make sure that those rights should not be abridged by slavery, gender or race.

So tell us what you think in the comments thread and forgive the rant. We return you to regularly scheduled episode of "So You Think my Fat Ass can Groom Dogs, Dance, Date, Lose Weight have Talent and Survive the Jungle," already in progress.

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

Those who deny freedom to others deserve it not for themselves.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

the classic film union is open for business...

Hello fellow TCM fans, I just received an email announcement from a friend at TCM telling me that the new TCM social networking site: Classic Film Union is now online and open for business. Here is the gist of the announcement:

"Fans Can Connect and Share Photos, Blogs, Movie Reviews and More at TCM Classic Film Union:

Turner Classic Movies (TCM), which is celebrating its 15th anniversary this year, has launched a first-of-its-kind social network that links fans online. The site, called the TCM Classic Film Union, can be found at tcm.com/fan.

“TCM fans are devoted to the world of classic film, and they want to connect with others who share their passion,” said Molly Battin, senior vice president of brand development and digital platforms for TCM, TBS and TNT. “TCM has long been a forum for these fans, but this new fan community takes it to the next level.”

The TCM Classic Film Union is an easy way for fans to set up personalized profiles and link to friends. The film union features unique, in-depth ways to express movie and film preferences.

TCM also has taken the concept of a social network in a completely new direction. The TCM Classic Film Union allows users to connect to their favorite movies and stars, all in vast, media-rich, classic film universe set up by TCM. Using the networks’ database, TCM has added more than a million people (including actors, directors, producers and more), plus hundreds of thousands of films. The TCM Classic Film Union allows anyone to immediately add these links to their personal network and begin sharing ideas and media with others. For a serious movie fan, there is no bigger repository of materials about films and filmmaking.

While the TCM Classic Film Union is in its beginning stages, early adopters have already built extensive profiles. Some users have posted rare photos and video clips. Others have created blogs or developed groups to discuss celebrities, genres and favorite classic film subjects.

Unlike other social networking sites, the TCM Classic Film Union is targeted at movie lovers. “The great thing about this new community is that it lets fans get together in ways that have never been possible before,” said Richard Steiner, vice president of digital platforms for TCM. “We’re amazed at the excitement we’ve already seen, even though the film union is just getting started. The ability to find stars and movies from such a deep library is clearly a huge draw for fans. And they are creating connections and finding new friends.” "

I have already begun to set up a profile and you can look me up once you create one and invite me as one of your Union "friends" if you wish. I would be glad to talk and connect with fellow classic film fans and Shelfers, just search JCLoophole and you should see my familiar mug there. It's a new site, fairly easy to set up, but there are perhaps a few kinks to iron out still. Overall I think it's a great way to continue this conversation and for classic film fans to connect. In addition to your profile and friends, you can post pictures, select favorite films and stars, create lists (I believe) and join discussion groups. Great TCM graphics, photos, and the powerful TCM database are at your disposal as well.

So what are you waiting for- head on over and sign up today! And don't forget to look for your dear old pal JC Loophole!

Also - don't forget that this month TCM celebrates Directors throughout June. You can learn more and see a full schedule at TCM.com. In particular, they have also named who they consider the 15 Most Overlooked Classic Hollywood Directors and will focus on them as well. Here's their 15, do you agree?:

Jack Arnold
Frank Borzage
Clarence Brown
John Cromwell
Allan Dwan
John Farrow
Edmund Goulding
Henry King
Gregory La Cava
Mitchell Leisen
Fred Niblo
Robert Rossen
Robert Stevenson
W. S. Van Dyke
Sam Wood

Learn more about these directors and more daily lists and fun features at TCM Dailies.

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

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

Saturday, June 06, 2009

repost: hell on a beach

In honor of this day, in which we should never forget the sacrifice given, we present this popular essay from a couple of years ago.

not exactly a vacation

... Today marks that remarkable day in history, once described as "hell on a beach": D-Day. On this day, are we thinking about the heroes who gave their true last full measure? Have you read anything about it lately? There are numerous books out there, as well as various web sites with good information to tell the tale of that morning of June 6, 1944. Please go and pursue read that material, but for now I want you to think about the following:
Map found on War-birds.comAllies knew they would have to conduct an invasion of France and press on to Berlin from the West in order to defeat the Germans. Normandy became the most likely location for the invasion in 1943, and later that year the plan for Operation Overlord was submitted to Allied leaders and approved. The men (and women who may have not been on the front lines, but served in vital areas nonetheless) trained for almost a year prior to the invasion. Since 75% of the invasion forces would be American, the Allies choose as leader of the operation, General Dwight D. Eisenhower.

Eisenhower was a soft spoken man in many ways, never truly given to the political aspect of pushing your military career. He was an organizer, a admirer of the military man, and a natural leader- one who had genuine affection for the men fighting for freedom. Once when visiting with the men before that fateful June day he asked if any of the soldiers were from Kansas. When one soldier raised his hand, Eisenhower replied, "Go get 'em Kansas." He was like that with the men. He was also committed to what needed to happen. Once the course was decided, there was no turning back. And if the invasion was a failure, he also knew that he would take a huge portion of the blame. It wasn't the blame from the press or the political leaders that worried him- he was more concerned with the mothers and fathers and sisters and brothers and sweethearts and children back home who not only desperately wanted the boys to come home alive, but also wanted them to succeed. Aided on the British side by General Sir Bernard Law Montgomery, who commanded the ground troops, and Admiral Sir Bertram Ramsay who commanded naval operations, these three men became the leadership of an invasion that would have little equal in the annals of history. The last word, to go, would remain with Gen. Eisenhower.

The boys themselves knew that many of them would not make it, that despite their training some of them would not set foot on the beach. And those that made it to the beach, may just be buried on it's shores. The boys of D-Day knew what could happen, yet they also knew that it had to be done. The allies knew that the Germans had heavy guns there, and had had time to build up defenses against both an aerial and naval assault. Therefore, both had to occur. The night of Go get 'em, Kansas!June 5 Allied paratroopers were dropped behind enemy lines to try and weaken those defenses and take out some of those guns. If you have read Band of Brothers or seen the mini-series then you know a little of what I'm describing. Many of the guys didn't make it, some units lost almost all of their men. Those surviving units completed their missions and survived because of their comrades and the men who emerged from the ranks as natural leaders to take the place of the fallen.

Then that fateful day of June 5th (that's right, June 5th) the day that was designated for the invasion, weather caused great concern. The leaders, and ultimately Gen. Eisenhower decided to hold off for a day, in hopes of more favorable weather. June 6th came and while the weather was not perfect, a window of opportunity arose and Gen. Eisenhower gave the order- "Ok, we go." On those words an invasion involving over 150,000 men and 5000 naval craft, numerous aircraft began. Some landing boats were blown out of the water. Thousands died just trying to make it to the beach, and then those cliffs. Many more died trying to take those cliffs and quiet those guns. It was a day of sacrifice for the allies, and the people who gave their all did not die in vain. The invasion succeeded. The allies were able to take Normandy, establish supply points and a naval base of operations. Valuable reinforcements came, landing strips for Allied aircraft were secure. Over the next year the Allies pushed ahead to Germany, with the Russians pushing from the East. The hope and the fears of the free world went with them every step of the way.

These boys...these men who gave their all were previously neighbors. Sons. Brothers Husbands. Students. Teachers. Ball players. Butchers. Milkmen. Farmers. Accountants. Shop clerks. Builders. Trash men. They were, in short, the people we knew. And they were the best of us. They were Americans; raised in a country of freedom, hardened during a time a depression, and conditioned to defeat a terrible foe with terrible means. They knew what had to be done. The people back home knew what had to be done. Everyone knew that it came with a price. These men of D-Day paid that price.
Think about that. They knew the cost, and they paid it. Don't we need to remember that and cherish it? Don't we need to thank them for that? What strikes me today is that everytime I talk to a friend, a soldier who is just home from Iraq and Afghanistan is that fact that they also know what is at stake and that the freedom for our futures and for the future of others exacts a price. As the cliche goes, and is true as most cliches are, freedom is not free. The sooner we remember that... the sooner we remember the true value of it, the better off we will be.
Before the men of D-Day left for their missions, General Eisenhower issued his "Order of the Day" to the "Sailors, Soldiers, and Airmen of the Allied Expeditionary Force!" I think to close out today, I would like to quote that extraordinary "letter" to his men, the men of D-Day:

Day for freedom...and sacrificeYou are about to embark upon the Great Crusade, toward which we have striven these many months. The eyes of the world are upon you. The hope and prayers of liberty-loving people everywhere march with you. In company with our brave Allies and brothers-in-arms on other Fronts, you will bring about the destruction of the German war machine, the elimination of Nazi tyranny over the oppressed peoples of Europe, and security for ourselves in a free world.

Your task will not be an easy one. Your enemy is will trained, well equipped and battle-hardened. He will fight savagely.

But this is the year 1944! Much has happened since the Nazi triumphs of 1940-41. The United Nations have inflicted upon the Germans great defeats, in open battle, man-to-man. Our air offensive has seriously reduced their strength in the air and their capacity to wage war on the ground. Our Home Fronts have given us an overwhelming superiority in weapons and munitions of war, and placed at our disposal great reserves of trained fighting men. The tide has turned! The free men of the world are marching together to Victory!

I have full confidence in your courage, devotion to duty and skill in battle. We will accept nothing less than full Victory!

Good luck! And let us beseech the blessing of Almighty God upon this great and noble undertaking.

On behalf of Wolf and myself I would like to say thank you. Thank you, men and women of D-Day. Thank you for your sacrifice. Thank you to those fought and survived and those fought and lay down their lives for me and my family. Thank you to those at home who sacrificed much of their daily comforts to fight the war. And thank you to the families of the fallen- your sacrifice is sacred beyond measure. This American will not forget and will always cherish the courage, devotion to duty, and the freedom for which you fought.
And to our men and women overseas who fight today for our freedoms- Thank you and to quote General Eisenhower, "Go get 'em."

Marriage is a wonderful institution. But who wants to live in an institution?

I treasure my remark to a grandson who asked, "Grandpa, were you a hero in the war?" "No", I answered, "But I served in a company of heroes".

Thursday, June 04, 2009

sad news...

Just found out this sad news via CNN: actor David Carradine was found dead in Bangkok, Thailand. The news is just breaking so there aren't many details yet, but you can go to CNN.com or Foxnews.com later for more details. He was 72.

I remember growing up and watching him on the iconic TV show Kung Fu. I even had a Kung Fu lunch box. But later I watched him and loved him in many films such as The Long Riders, Lone Wolf McQuade and Behind Enemy Lines. He was probably one of the more prolific "guest stars" on multiple television series and was of course part of a large acting family that included brothers Keith and Robert. His father was the legendary John Carradine who was in many classic films such as Stagecoach, The Grapes of Wrath and Drums Along the Mohawk.

David Carradine was perhaps more familiar to modern audiences as "Bill" in Quentin Tarantino's Kill Bill 1 & 2. He had a very long career, as did his father. He will be missed. You can visit the Official David Carradine website here.

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

When this is all over, I'm goin' to write a book; make myself more famous than I already am.

father's day is on the way

It may be several weeks away, but it isn't too early to shamelessly plug...er, I mean, uh...remind everyone that Father's Day is almost here and it's time to start thinking of dear old Dad. Forget the old necktie routine, you need something special to show Dad you really care. Stuck for ideas? Well, we stumbled upon this handy guide, thanks to Rhett and Link, to Father's Day: Rusty and Larnold's Father's Day Advice.

Hmmm...still stuck? Well would you listen to 2 Hot Girls in the Shower? I know I would!

Ok, maybe a gift certificate would work. At least make it to somewhere he likes?

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

Work never hurt anyone. It's good for them. But if you're going to work, work hard. King Solomon had the right idea about work. "Whatever thy hand findest to do," Solomon said, "do thy doggonedest."


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