Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Some Ramblings

This past week saw the passing of some heavyweights of the small screen: Don Knotts and Darren McGavin.
I can't write enough good things about Don Knotts, particularly his work on The Andy Griffith Show. He was the David Hyde Pierce of his generation; meaning that the "sidekick" on the show was so much more than the lead actor ever was. Knotts won a Best Supporting Emmy in a Comedy series each of the 5 times that he was nominated (Hyde Pierce only won 4 times). While Knotts' later work as Ralph Furley on Three's Company lacked the nuances of Deputy Barney Fife, Knotts was still able to wring actual laughs out of the usually trite scripts. In all things, Don Knotts was the consummate comedian.
I will only say two things about Darren McGavin: Kolchak,The Night Stalker and Fra-Gee-lay. If you don't know what either of these references mean then shame on you.
May they both rest in peace.
In other news...
Katie and I enjoyed a well-deserved afternoon of movie watching on Sunday. Our choice - Brokeback Mountain. Heath Ledger completely disappears into the skin of Ennis Del Mar, who is instantly a classic, iconic character. I am man enough to admit that I was verklempt at the end of this wonderful movie. Sure, it's the "Gay Cowboy Movie" but it is also the most beautiful love story that I have seen in years.
Now to the weather desk...
It's FREAKING cold out.
Back to A&E news:
Did you watch Bleak House on PBS for the past 6 weeks? If not, you missed out on a truly great production. Katie and I have never read Dickens' novel but we will now. A cast of dozens brought Victorian England in all its splendor and decay to glorious life. Catch it again on Masterpiece Theatre or add it to your Netflix list now - you won't be disappointed.
Finally, Back to the Future is most worthy of its status as a classic movie over at TCM, at least according to myself, Cynthia Robinson and Summer Ryan Doyle, who explains her position in this matter quite wonderfully over at The Wyrd Sisters.
Stay warm!

Thursday, February 23, 2006

The Enchantment Under the Sea Post

I was scanning through my favorite channels on the cable menu the other night. Network channels have sucked since the Olympics started. Actually, they have sucked MORE than usual, since most every one is airing repeats against the Olympics. So I jumped over to check out what was on Turner Classic Movies - my dependable standby.
All 6 of you who read this blog regularly know that I recently declared "DVR + TCM = Great Television" and this is still true today.
On this day, I was pleasantly surprised (almost shocked) to see that TCM was airing Back to the Future.

I LOVE this movie!
I remember seeing it at the Westgate Mall in Brockton when it was first released in 1985. Later, Ben Edlund, Bridget Young and I went to see the Boston premiere of Back to the Future III at an event called Back to Back to Back to the Future which showed all three films with a 15 minute intermission between each. That was a great, geeky night.
I think that the sequels are okay but in my mind they failed to meet the charm of the original. I will always stop and watch a rerun of the original; I have never gone back to watch the sequels after my 2nd viewing of each. The original rocks!
But Back to the Future on TCM?
Granted, TCM does spotlight Oscar-winning films in February. During the Oscar campaign of 1985, Back to the Future won nominations for Best Original Screenplay, Best Sound, Best Song, and Best Sound Effects Editing (the only Academy Award it won). So it is an Oscar winner - but is it a classic?
Back to the Future is an acknowledged 4 star movie. As I said, I love it and I totally support its 4 star rating. Katie, on the other hand, is not a fan. She finds it "trite". So seeing Back to the Future on TCM started a debate between us on the merits of this film being considered a "classic". I won't bore you with the details. Suffice to say, we do NOT agree on this issue; specifically is Back to the Future a "classic film"?
So I am looking for opinions - your opinions - on this topic. Will future generations look upon this film the same way they do as Casablanca, Gone With The Wind and Citizen Kane? Is it a worthy successor to North by Northwest, Gaslight and It Happened One Night? Just what is a "classic" movie, anyway?
And, whatever your definition, is Back to the Future a classic film?

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Must Love Dogs

True story:
Katie and I had been dating for just one week. In this week I had become completely smitten with her and she with me. On Columbus Day we were walking Malcolm in the Arnold Arboretum. It was a beautiful Fall day and we were taking complete advantage of it. We walked up to the top of a small hill where there was alternatively a beautiful view of the city skyline or the green expanse of the Arboretum. Ringing the top of the hill were several stone benches. Choosing to view the greenery we sat down on a bench, I on the left side and Katie on the right side. Quite unexpectedly, Malcolm hopped up between us to survey his surroundings. Then, without provocation, he licked me on the cheek, turned, and eagerly did the same to Katie. Content, he went back to sitting quietly between us.
She told me afterwards that Malcolm had never, ever done that with anyone before. Right there and then she knew that she would marry me someday because Malcolm had given me the Lick of Approval.
And so, in the spirit of the day, I present to you a website designed by a dog lover for dog lovers everywhere so that they might find their own special someone:
And here is an article from The Boston Globe about said website: Boston Globe Article
Happy Valentine's Day!

Friday, February 10, 2006

Who's Paying for This?

Muslim's around the world are clearly annoyed:

Muslim's Hold Big-Ass Demonstrations

For a bunch of countries with infrastructures best described as "antique" there seems to be alot of extra cash to buy flags to burn and a lot of spare time to burn them.

Speaking of extra cash, President Bush is proposing to CUT spending for programs used by low income and middle-class families while he gives even more tax cuts to the wealthiest Americans. Yet, while families are going to have to choose between healthcare and heating oil the war budget is going strong:
Thank God we're spending this money to make Iraq a better place. If only someone, anyone, would create a budget to make America a better place, too.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Couch Potato

I've been sick.
I've had some cold/sinus thinghy that just won't go away. This, in turn, has turned me into a couch potato. No reading or writing for me, no sir! Just the remote and an endless parade of mindless TV shows to calm my aching head. Here is my assessment of my TV viewing for the past week:
Guilty Pleasure: Reruns of "Big Valley" on Encore Westerns. I LOVE this show.
Biggest Disappointment: Reruns of "Friends" after Ross & Rachel broke up (the first time). Just how scary addicted was Matthew Perry, anyway? God he's thin!! And Joey was so much funnier before "Joey".
Most Joy: My DVR. The ability to record shows with the touch of a button and save them until I want to watch them is the best TV invention of this century so far. DVR + Turner Classic Movies = GREAT VIEWING.
Must See TV: Hands down, it's "Battlestar Galactica", "Veronica Mars", "Grey's Anatomy" and "The Office". However, "My Name is Earl" is sneaking in there, too.
The Show that Needs to Die: "That 70's Show". What was once a VERY funny sitcom has become a pale imitation of its former self. Without Eric and Kelso this show just sucks. Its kinda like "Happy Days" was after Ritchie left and Ted McGinley came on board to hang with The Fonz. Total crap.
Aside: Ted McGinley has killed ALOT of TV shows, hasn't he?
Blog Admission: I was so tired on sunday night that I actually watched minutes on end of "Puppy Bowl" on Animal Planet. Cute puppies running around a puppy-sized football stadium playing with toys was counterprogramming to the Super Bowl. It was strangely compelling.
I think that my head is finally starting to clear up. I may actually move off the couch soon...but not until "Big Valley" is over.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Into The Freying Pan

A few weeks ago my buddy Matt turned to me and said, "Dude, you have got to read this book!" In fact, Matt went on for a few minutes discussing the vividness of the novel, a memoir of a two-time loser and drug addict. I agreed to take it on once he was done with it.
The book was "A Million Little Pieces".
If you haven't been living in a cave in Afghanistan then you know about author James Frey's dramatic implosion after www.thesmokinggun.com revealed that many of the "facts" in his memoir were huge lies. The The Times chimed in with this piece:
Needless to say, I no longer plan on reading this book.
And this is a shame, really. I trust Matt's opinions on books and we have had quite a few dicsussions in our work-pod about the novels that we enjoy. I know that a recommendation from Matt means a quality read and given his enthusiasm for this book I knew that I was in for a winner.
I could sit here and type on about the ludicrous nature of publishing and the lack of fact checking. I could go on and on about the double-edged sword that is "Oprah's Book Club" and I'm sure that I could rant on about Frey's inability to see past his own lies and ultimately, tragically, becoming as much of a loser as his biography painted him to be, albeit for different reasons.
Nope, instead I will save my valuable reading time and read my newer than new hardcover copy of "To Kill a Mockingbird"; a novel that I have never, ever read. And then I might put pen to paper and do some more work on my own novel which is a work of fiction and in no way shape or form will ever be held aloft by Oprah for all to see.