Archive for June 2020

Flashdance

June 30, 2020

Last night was movie night, again. This time we went back to the “dancing” theme and watched “Flashdance” starring Jennifer Beals and Michael Nouri.

This is the story of a young woman named Alex (played by Jennifer Beals) who works as a welder during the day and dances in a bar/night club in the evening. Her dream is to become a professional ballet dancer. So the manager/owner of the construction business (played by Michael Nouri) recognizes her when he sees her perform in the bar.

So it is a simple story. He meets her and tries to ask her out. She initially refuses but eventually gives in. Then he uses his contacts to facilitate getting her an audition with the local ballet organization. So she eventually does the audition and nails it. She gets the ballet gig and they live happily ever after.

So here is a little that Roger Ebert has to say about Flashdance:

I have a friend who has a simple test for a movie: Is this movie as interesting as the same things would be, happening in real life? A lot of movies aren’t, and “Flashdance” sure isn’t. If this movie had spent just a little more effort getting to know the heroine of its story, and a little less time trying to rip off “Saturday Night Fever,” it might have been a much better film.

See RogerEbert.com

So a manager/owner dating one of his employees is a BAD thing. He shouldn’t have done it and she shouldn’t have agreed to go out with him. But that would have ended the story, wouldn’t it.

So the film runs for about 1 hour 35 minutes and is rated “R” for nudity. Once she gets the ballet gig the show is done. Not much else to say. In comparison with the other “dancing” movies that we’ve seen over the past weeks, Flashdance looks decidedly light weight. We enjoyed it but not the best we’ve seen recently

The movie won the Oscar for Best Music, Original Song and had a few other Oscar nominations. The film was released in 1983. That being said, the movie has a fairly decent sound track. Click here for the Amazon entry.

So this was filmed in 1983. I was amused to see many articles of the time, like pay phones or desk phones. Like when was the last time you used a pay phone? Or not see someone with a cell phone in their hand? The film was filmed in Pittsburgh. Nothing much to say about that. Never been there. Not on my bucket list.

Back to baseball movies in a few days.

Hamilton

June 28, 2020

So last Christmas, our son Neil gave us tickets to see “Hamilton” here in LA. We were ecstatic, up until COVID-19 showed up on our doorstep. You see the tickets were for June 9th at the Pantages Theater in Hollywood. So back in April we were thinking. Oh, Oh, this doesn’t look good. Not good at all.

Indeed, the show was cancelled. No big surprise. Neil got his money back from TicketMaster.

So then we heard that Lin-Manuel Miranda was producing a show to be broadcast on Disney-plus, starting on July 3. So we hurried up and added Disney-Plus to our streaming line up on ROKU. Click here for the official trailer

The production will be a filming of a live performance on Broadway. The filming was done over the period of 3 days and edited accordingly.

Today we read an article about the show today’s newspaper. The writer suggested taking a look at a couple of books to get a better understanding of Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr.

We also downloaded the soundtrack of the show. Started listening while we were driving this morning.

The first book is titled “Alexander Hamilton” by Ron Chernov. This is a long and very detailed (and exhaustive) look at Alexander Hamilton’s life and career in politics.

The second book is titled “Hamilton-The Revolution” and written by Lin-Manuel Miranda and Jeremy McCarter. This is more of an explanation of what is happening during the show, including words to the music, etc.

A League of Their Own

June 27, 2020

Okay, another baseball movie. Paula got her fix of dancing movies. So now we did another baseball movie. So last night we watched “A League of Their Own” starring Tom Hanks, Madonna, Geena Davis and Rosie O’Donnell

It is the story of the AAGPBL, ie the All American Girls Professional Baseball League. The league was created during WW2 to fill the need for people wanting to watch baseball games while male players were serving overseas in the armed forces. The league eventually grew to sixteen teams, The league mostly operated in the Midwest where people hungered to watch baseball games.

One of the things that caused girl’s baseball to end was the development of TV coverage of baseball games. Ie. People no longer had to go to a ball park to see a game.

Tom Hanks plays the manager Jimmy Dugan who was a former pro ball player. Slowly he manages to get his life under control and stops drinking. Indeed, many of the managers were ex-professional ball players.

So Jimmy was the manager of the Rockford Peaches. He has one of my all time favorite quotes. One of the players started crying when she was coming off the field. Jimmy says to her “There’s no crying in baseball”. This is rated #54 out of the top 100 movie quotes.

Here’s the link to the American Film Institute’s top 100 movie quote list. No. 1 on the list is “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn”.

Field of Dreams

June 25, 2020

So last night I was thinking about how I was missing baseball. So we figured that the next best thing would be a movie about baseball. There are plenty of “Baseball” movies. So we decided to start off with “Field of Dreams” starring Kevin Costner. The film was released in 1989.

We’ll probably watch a few more baseball movies during the next couple of weeks before the 2020 baseball season starts on July 24.

The 1919 Chicago White Sox were significant in that eight members of the team were accused of accepting bribes to throw the 1919 World Series to the Cincinnati Reds. The occasion has been known as the “Chicago Black Sox” scandal.

So here is the story line. An Iowa farmer (Ray Kinsella, played by Costner) has a dream that he interprets to mean that he should build a baseball park on his corn field. Then the 1919 Chicago White Sox show up to play in the newly built park.

The players wander in from the corn field beyond left field area in the ball park. Ray Kinsella is nagged by his brother-in-law (Mark) to stop the lunacy. Ray stubbornly refuses to give it up.

The movie received three Oscar nominations but no wins. Nominated for Best Picture, Best Writing (screenplay based on another medium (book) and Best Music.

We watched the film on Amazon Prime.

Dances with Wolves

June 23, 2020

Last night we decided to catch up on some some movies that we’d seen a long time ago. We decided to watch “Dances with Wolves” starring Kevin Costner and Mary McDowell. This movie was released in 1990. It almost swept the Oscars that year, winning almost every award except for Best Actor and Actress.

One of the reasons that we decided to watch “Dances” was that we had plenty of time. The film runs a little over 3 hours and we had sat down to watch just a little after 8 PM. That’s 3 hours with no intermission. Luckily, we could pause the picture while we took bathroom breaks. When we watched Ben Hur last week, there was an actual intermission. With Wolves, no intermission. You have to make your own intermission.

So we got a new 43” TV last week that has built in ROKU support. That makes it easier to select any of the many streaming services. It’s so much nicer to watch the movie on a large screen. It’s not like a real theater, but it’s better than small screens.

One of the shows we are anxiously awaiting is “Hamilton” which will be July 3 on Disney +. Click here for the trailer. We actually had tickets to see Hamilton in LA in June, but got cancelled due to the COVID-19. This will be the next best thing.

So the story goes as follows. Lt. John Dunbar recovers from a leg wound in a battle in the Civil War. He then leads a charge that wins the skirmish. He is offered any post that he would like and he chooses to go a lonely outpost in the western wilderness.

Then he meets up with the local Sioux tribe and manages to make friends with them. And eventually is treated as a member of the tribe.

This movie was considered a personal triumph for Kevin Costner. We hope to see him again in an earlier film of his, “Field of Dreams

Then he discovers a white woman who was captured by the tribe when she was a young girl. The woman (”Stand with Fists”) becomes the avenue for Dunbar to learn the Sioux language and eventually become Dunbar’s love interest. What is a movie without love and sex?

So it’s streaming on Amazon Prime. Go watch.

Father’s Day – (in)Action Report

June 22, 2020
Bacon and Eggs

Well, I had a great day. First, I got a call from our son Neil and his wife Laura. We talked for about half an hour. Nice to hear from them.

Then we watched our church’s Sunday online service.

Finally, we headed down to the Pacific Diner to have brunch with our son Mike and his family. Jonathan did the drawing on the top of the post. The drawing goes up on the refrigerator. As usual, I had my bacon and eggs.

Finally, a quiet afternoon. I did a few more Sunday crossword puzzles. It was a wonderful day.

Mr. Iglesias

June 18, 2020

So we started watching a comedy series called “Mr. Iglesias” on Netflix last night. This is a comedy series about a high school teacher who is working with gifted but misfit students at a high school in Long Beach, CA.

The series stars Gabriel Iglesias who is a stand up comic who portrays a high school teacher. I think he teaches history, but I’m not quite sure. We binge watched three episodes last night. The series just started its second season this week.

Supposedly, Iglesias is a super star standup comic. So apparently he is also known as Fluffy. Hmmm. Why have I never heard of him? Iglesias’ costumes are always shorts, a polo shirt and a hat (Google calls it either a “flat” hat of a “newsboy” hat). Back in the day, I tried my hand at teaching middle and high school math. If I had come to work dressed like him, I would have been fired on the spot. Click here for his Wiki entry. Click here for his personal web site.

Season 1 has ten episodes and season 2 has twelve episodes. I am not sure I will be managing to make it through all 22 episodes. Meh. Can’t see myself spending the time to grind through all the episodes.

Laurel Canyon

June 14, 2020

So we heard about a new documentary the other day titled “Laurel Canyon” on Epix. Epix is a streaming tv channel that is connected to cable tv services. ie. You need to be a cable customer to get Epix.

Laurel Canyon is located north of Hollywood along Laurel Canyon Blvd. in the Hollywood Hills. It is a nice secluded area with lots of trees and greenery.

First, I had never heard of the streaming channel called “Epix”. So I had to see if our Roku box could get it. It does, though it took some doing to get it enabled.

“Laurel Canyon” is a two-part documentary about a neighborhood in Los Angeles of the same name. Laurel Canyon is located just north of Hollywood off of Laurel Canyon Blvd.. It happens to be an area where several recording artists took up residence in the late 60’s/early 70’s. Here is a map:

Episode 1 covers the bands “The Doors”, “Crosby Stills and Nash”, Joni Mitchell, “The Birds”, “Buffalo Springfield”, Frank Zappa (Mothers of invention), “The Monkees”,etc. I loved the music.

Episode 2 adds stories about Jackson Brown, The Eagles and more. It talks about how the various bands grew to be major stars such that they could no longer perform at Hollywood venues like The Troubador or Whiskey-a-Go Go. Too many fans.

Then the show talks about the eventual decline of the groups. First came the death of Jim Morrison in 1971 in Paris (cause unknown), then the death of Mama Cass Eliot in 1974 (due to heart failure). Of course, heavy heroin use didn’t help much.

I’ve got my playlist on my iPhone set for the next month. Such a short time but a huge amount of music.

Countdown 1945

June 10, 2020

So I have to stop watching late night TV. There’s always some author on pitching their latest book. Then, I decide that I have to read it.

So last week I was watching CBS Sunday Morning. Also, saw him on Stephen Colbert. They were interviewing Chris Wallace (reporter for Fox News). The book has nothing to do with Fox News (If it did, I wouldn’t be reading it.).

So the book is titled “Countdown 1945” and it covers the time from when Harry Truman becomes president on April 12 1945 until the dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945.

So Truman was going down to a room in the capitol called “The Board of Education” that was operated by Speaker Sam Rayburn. It was a room in the Capitol would go at the end of the day to have a drink and hang out.

He headed from the main public floor of the Capitol down to the ground floor, downstairs to House Speaker Sam Rayburn’s private hideaway, Room 9, which was known as the “Board of Education.” It was the most exclusive room in the Capitol—entry by Rayburn’s personal invitation only. Most afternoons, members of Congress met here after official business hours to discuss strategy, exchange gossip, and “strike one for liberty,” enjoying a drink, or two. Truman was a regular. And his drink of choice was bourbon and branch water.

The book starts with Truman being summoned to the White House in April 1945. There he was informed FDR had died. A couple of days later he is told about the project to develop an atomic bomb to be dropped on Japan. This is the story of the days leading up to the eventual dropping of the bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

One last quote:

But Truman confounded the conventional wisdom. He campaigned relentlessly and effectively, often making speeches from the back of trains as he barnstormed across America. At almost every juncture he was greeted by enthusiastic crowds shouting: “Give ’em hell, Harry!” In one of the biggest comeback victories in American political history, Truman defeated Dewey in November 1948.

While Truman had notable achievements—he issued executive orders banning racial discrimination in the military and the government—he continued to face problems at home and overseas. He introduced what he called his “Fair Deal” program, designed to build on FDR’s New Deal. It included proposals for universal health care and more funding for education. He couldn’t get it through Congress.

I couldn’t put the book down. You know what the ending is but that doesn’t matter. Go ahead and read it.

Ben Hur

June 3, 2020

So last week Ben Hur was mentioned at our weekly Bible study as an example of adult adoption. We were discussing the idea of Jesus being the adopted son of Joseph, a carpenter in Nazareth.

So we decided to watch the movie “Ben Hur” this week. The movie was released in early 1960. It is the story of Judah Ben Hur. The film runs about 3 hr and 45 minutes, so we decided to watch it over two days. Indeed there is an intermission half way. You don’t see that in films anymore. So we watched it in two sessions.

The movie is available to rent/buy from Amazon Prime streaming video. Click here for the Amazon Prime site.

“Ben Hur” won 11 Oscars, including Best Actor, Best Actor and Best Director. The movie stars Charlotte Heston, Jack Hawkins and Stephen Boyd. The movie was directed by William Wyler.

The movie starts with a parade of Romans bringing the new Roman governor to Judea. As Judah is watching from the rooftop, a tile is dislodged and falls right by the governor. Then the soldiers rush in and take Judah prisoner and send him to off to row in one of the Roman galleys.

So the galley sinks in a battle. So Judah manages to save Quintus Arrius, the captain of the galley. After they are rescued from the sea, Quintus Arrius repays Judah with his adoption.

The movie has several allusions to Jesus. The film is set in Judea. Judah Ben Hur is given water to drink by Jesus during his forced march to the fleet of galleys where he was put to work as a galley slave. Once again, he encounters Jesus during Jesus’ crucifixion march up Golgotha hill. This time Judah is the one providing water to the fallen Jesus.

In the end section of the movie Judah Ben Hur is seen searching for his Mother and sister. He finds her living in a leper colony not far from Judea. He brings her home where he cares for her and she is cured. Not clear how she is cured, perhaps a miracle. Click here to learn more about leprosy.

So we are watching many movies during the pandemic. Next up are “Dirty Dancing” and “Footloose” (Paula’s request). These are two of Paula’s faves.