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Death Of The Cinema

dvdI remember as a child, the whole fam damly (as it was sometimes described) being shuffled into the station wagon, and off to the movies!  Usually, a drive in theater.  They were ubiquitous, and readily available in the Arizona weather.  Much of the time, they were an extension of the TV-as-babysitter, translation:  put the boy in from of a moving picture and he’ll go out like a light!

Then later in my youth, being dropped off at a Saturday afternoon matinee, with a friend or two, and funds for goodies – what a way to get them out of the house and from under foot.  The only rule was call when the movie let out (translation:  make certain you had a dime left from that fiver!)

Being a self-described child of TV, when gadget-addict friend Bob P. (one of the many Bobs) announced he had a videotape player/recorder, I knew something was beginning to change.  This Magnavox machine took VHS tapes, but no standard had yet to be decided upon, and tapes made upon it wouldn’t play on later standardized VHS machines!  It also had vacuum tubes as part of it’s construction, weighed a ton, and cost about $1000 (in 1975 dollars)!

Thus began the slow decline as technology continued to develop, and people began renting Beta and VHS tapes, (remember Laserdiscs?) then DIVX, then DVD, and now can see many movies/TV shows via the Internet and BlueRay.

And the audience figured out that while the kids used to hang out in the back of the Vista Cruiser in their jammies, and the adults dressed up to go to the theater, it was just more convenient for all to stay in the living room in their jammies.  (Or boxer shorts, in the case of my Dad.)

And cheaper.

And you didn’t have to trudge across a gravel-laden parking lot in the dark to a grimy snack bar restroom, either.

And while the drive ins have mostly faded away, now the indoor theaters are as well.  Few want to pay $15+ each for a seat, plus another $20 for drinks and snacks, when they can watch Netflix or Amazon at home in their skivvies.

Another childhood dream of a secret agent meeting place in an nearly empty theater is going away.

And teenaged fantasies of making out (or more) in Dad’s station wagon now have to be redirected.

Declining Theater Attendance @ a 20 Year Low

h/t Flavorwire

(FTC – Magnavox, Amazon and Netflix have given me nothing!)

Stepin’ Fetchit Meet Myra Breckinridge

from Never Yet Melted (in part):

Rodrigo Kazuo and Meg Perret found their classroom environment at Berkeley hostile, even when their professor was lecturing on Karl Marx (!), because the Western canon is exclusively composed of works by dead, white, European males, not a single person of color or transgendered individual makes the cut.

Because a majority of founders of Western thought were gay, Black women…

Sigh.

BTW, have you noticed more ‘persons of color’, homosexual, transgendered or perhaps gender-confused folks in your favorite television shows of movies?

I have.

NOT THAT I CARE, PARTICULARLY.

I remember my Father (who had some bigotry issues) railing against the infusion of Black folks in 60’s and 70’s TV in much the same way.  He said it was much the same in the 40’s and 50’s with Jewish people.  They went from being 3% of the population, to a significant minority of those in entertainment media.  (He, of course, forgot that the only work many Jewish folks could get was in the entertainment field!)

And it was much the same with Black folks.  13% of the population, but represented numerically larger in the entertainment media in the 70’s.

NOT THAT I CARE, PARTICULARLY.

My questions are these:  Does the actor bring quality to the role, or further the plot?  Or were they just added because of political correctness?

And now we have this infusion of gay/transgender etc. folks.  Some are quite entertaining, but in my humble opinion, some are just over-the-top.  And included for shock effect and/or political correctness.

Which does a disservice both to them in their sexuality or color, and to the audience by their inclusion for political reasons.

Stepin’ Fetchit meet Myra Breckenridge.

Don’t get me wrong, there are some folks I find clever, and entertaining, regardless of ethnicity or bent.  Others are just plain annoying.  I won’t give you specifics – you probably have your own.

A couple generations ago, Black people were largely invisible, or stereotyped, and gays (etc.) were just flamboyant characters.  No mention was made of their sexuality.

But now it seems we’re out of the box, for certain.

There’s a popular cable series about polygamy.

What’s next, pedophilia and bestiality?

Where do we go from here?

We should be inclusive of different cultures and sexuality.  As long as it reflects percentages and social mores.

Of course, I’m a libertarian.  (Until mandated) I can always change the channel.

Opinions Have Consequences

Back when I worked @ TMCCC, I befriended a guy I’ll call Batman.  Why Batman?  Well, he liked the Batman persona, dressed as him for Halloween and even his license plate was DRKNITE.

And he was something like 30 years of age.

He was one of the few ‘company’ friends who came and visited me in the hospital, after the accident.  He brought me a stuffed Marvin the Martian.  I still have it.  I honor his kindness.

Then, Life separated us; he went to Australia, and I did not.

Years later, I discovered he had repatriated, and we became friends on Facebook.  And made noises about getting together for lunch, or a drink.

Then, he started posting on FB about the nasty Second Amendment, and how none of us should be able to possess firearms.  Obviously, his couple of  years as a faux-Aussie took it’s toll.

I tried to dissuade him, first by posting about Our Constitutional freedoms, then, more directly in debate.  But to no avail.  He kept posting vile ideas about us being forced to give up our Rights.  Me giving up mine.

So, I unfriended him.  It was all I could do.

Now comes another foreign-influenced man, an actor, Liam Neeson.  From Ireland, I believe.

Of late, he been making popular movies regarding his wife (and/or daughter) being kidnapped.  And he rescuing them – being some-kind of agent/operative, and all.

Then this news story appears:

Speaking at the ‘Taken 3′ press conference in Dubai on Monday, the Irish-born star of ‘Schindler’s List’, who once again plays Bryan Mills in the final film of the trilogy, responded to a question about the Charlie Hebdo attacks in Paris last week, which he linked to gun violence in the US.

“There are too many fucking guns out there, especially in America,” said the 62-year-old. “I think the population is, like, 320 million? There are over 300 million guns. Privately owned, in America. I think it’s a fucking disgrace. Every week now we’re picking up a newspaper and seeing, ‘Yet another few kids have been killed in schools.’”

Reported by the Washington Post, Neeson added that there is a distinction between the violence of the movies and reality.

He said: “A character like Bryan Mills going out with guns and taking revenge: it’s fantasy. It’s in the movies, you know? I think it can give people a great release from stresses in life and all the rest of it, you know what I mean? It doesn’t mean they’re all going to go out and go, ‘Yeah, let’s get a gun!’”

Now, I’m all about the First Amendment, too, but, just like with Batman, I can take action.  We were not friends on Facebook (so I couldn’t unfriend him) but I can not support him by refusing to see-rent-buy his movies.

It was all I could do.

Fortunately, some others stand with me:

PARA USA, the company that rented the guns used by Neeson in “Taken 3″ (2014), his latest action film, has responded to the movie star’s recent anti-gun, anti-Second Amendment remarks by stating publicly that they will no longer be providing the weapons for his cinematic fantasy roles.

There is strength in numbers. people!

Listen up, Michael Douglas, Sylvester Stallone, Stephen King and your ilk.  I’m not against YOUR rights – why are you against mine?

h/t Never Yet Melted, HuffPo

You Remember How I Love Character Actors?

I also love to hear when they are still alive, and kicking!  So often when I hear about them, it’s in an obit, or an almanac mention of years ago, when they passed young.

Then, last night I came across THIS on Facebook:

l storch 92Ladies and gentlemen, I give you a birthday photo (yesterday, with cake) of LARRY STORCH at age 92 (today)!  Those unfamiliar with Mr. Storch by name might remember Corporal Agarn in F-Troop, or the Maharishi presiding over the funeral in Blake Edwards’ S.O.B., or a wonderfully inept criminal in an episode of the Alfred Hitchcock Hour.  Or the voice of Mr. Whoopee in his life long friend Don Adams’ cartoon Tennessee Tuxedo.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, LARRY!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, LARRY!

So glad you are still with us, Larry!  And such a rich life…(link)

Ode To Dumb Blondes Everywhere

It was reported yesterday that Donna Douglas, most famous for her portrayal of Elly Mae Clampett on The Beverly Hillbillies, had passed away January 1, at 81.  Or 82.

Except for the ubiquitous TV show, she never made her mark in Hollywood.  She chose to embrace her typecasting because people loved the show and her role in it.  After the show was cancelled, she got involved in real estate, and reverted to her first loves of gospel singing and charity work.

Unlike so many of the blonde bombshells who descended on Hollywood after WWII, she stayed true to herself, and was obviously not the dumb blond stereotype.

Marilyn Monroe (the most (in)famous for the dumb blonde, who wasn’t) tried to parlay her talents into a serious acting career.  Her insecurities and need for love from (in)famous politicians did her in.  Ms. Douglas avoided those pitfalls.

If there ever was a model for ‘stay true to yourself’, it was Donna Douglas.

Goodbye Donna D.*

Though I never knew you at all
You had the grace to hold yourself
While those around you crawled…

More than just our Elly Mae

donna douglas

*borrowed from Elton John’s Goodbye Norma Jeane

The Bill Cosby Thing

cosI love Bill Cosby.  The public persona of him.  Funny, kind, charitable, good to children.  He took a segregated world of us and them and made us we.  He understood that people are people, have children, they act like kids and parents act like parents.  No matter what color you are.

He made a lot of money doing this, and got a doctorate along the way.  And, was a good friend of his co-star in I Spy, Robert Culp.  They spoke every day after they met initially to do the show.   And for the rest of Culp’s life.   Culp taught Cosby about acting and how Hollywood works.

I disagree with Bill Cosby about guns.  His son was murdered.  That could color your view.  I agree with him regarding self-respect and education.

I love his comedy.

As to these allegations that have surfaced.  At first, I was shocked, surprised.  I didn’t want to believe.  I mean, this is BILL COSBY, not Al Sharpton!?

But then I remembered Michael Jackson.  And Bill Clinton.  People in famous and monied positions are easy targets for predators.

And sometimes ARE predators.

Jackson paid some folks off.  Whether it was easier than a trial or simply efficient, I do not know.  Cosby paid some folks off.  Clinton used his power and influence to intimidate folks into silence.

And there was more physical evidence regarding Clinton than Cosby!

Bill Cosby has yet to have his day in court.  And THAT’S what we’re supposed to be about.  Justice.  The women who have come forward (16 17 by this morning’s count) have no physical evidence and have nothing to gain.  Those who allege payment were already paid.  And concerts have been cancelled and reruns excised from TVLand.  The testimonial evidence appears damning, but…

Innocent until proven guilty

I read that somewhere.

Being tried in and by the media is the price of fame.  Mel Gibson and Lindsay Lohan know this.  So do Bill Clinton and President Obama.

It helps to have them on your side.

The Trouble With Tribbles

(As the election is FINALLY over, and it’s been a while since we shared a Guffaw!)

As told in LOLtrek GIF style!

Tribbles-Gif_zpsmq6l3lx1

Click to play whole episode, if it doesn’t work right!

When it comes to television entertainment, many times I’ve been behind the 8-ball!  For example, I liked science fiction as a child (must have read Bradbury’s Marooned on Mars 20 times in the 4th Grade, and watched Forbidden Planet and The Outer Limits whenever they were on).

But most 60’s TV, sci-fi wise was lacking.  Lost in Space?  Puleez!

I kept hearing about this show Star Trek from my geek friends.  “Gotta watch it!”  So one night when my parents were out for the evening, I turned it on.  The episode, unfortunately, was ‘The Trouble with Tribbles’.

I thought it was the stupidest thing I’d ever seen – right up there with the Adam West Batman show.  Of course, I didn’t understand ‘camp’.

Fast forward a few years and Star Trek went into syndication.  And I started picking it up by default.  Except for Tribbles, I never watched it in prime time.  Later, I learned to appreciate it.  Great stuff!

It was as if I determined I didn’t like all grapes because the one I picked was sour!

Of course, since that time, I became a minor trekker (not trekkie) and have seen most of the later TV permutations and movies.

(I even dated a beautiful sci-fi nerd who had Star Trek porn – but, that’s another post! :-) )

My career as an (unsuccessful) television critic continued when it was announced M.A.S.H. would become a TV show.  I’d seen the film, and read the book, and decreed there was no way they could do those things on television!  Of course, they softened and rebranded it, and it lasted (I think) eleven years!

This from the kid who was profoundly annoyed when they replaced The Man From U.N.C.L.E. with Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In!

The times (and me, apparently) were a’changin’!

Not All Hollywood Types Are Collectivist, Anti-Gun Rights Morons!

Dean_Cain_2014(From Fox News, in part…)

Two decades after skyrocketing to fame with his role as superman in the hit series “Lois & Clark,”  Dean Cain is still busy acting and making his own films. But these days, Cain is more than just an entertainer. The single father is now a regular guest on Fox News and is not afraid to open up about politics and social issues.

“I’ll discuss things,” Cain told Fox News. “You know, just because someone is an actor doesn’t mean they’re a blithering idiot — although sometimes,” he joked.

Cain said he is stepping into the cable news arena because he isn’t afraid to speak his mind and hopes he might encourage others to do the same.

“I think it’s important as an American, as a citizen, to go and talk about things, to try and educate yourself because the general public wants to be educated on these things and maybe if it’s a face they’ll recognize, they’ll pay attention,” Cain said.

The actor is particularly vocal about gun rights. He said a frightening experience at his home in Los Angeles helped shape his opinion on the topic.

“I was terrified. I’m a big, strong guy and my knees were buckling like ‘Oh my gosh,’” Cain said of a night when he awoke to a stranger pounding on his door. “I’m armed to-the-teeth now. At 4 o’clock in the morning come bang at my door, my knees won’t buckle.” (…)

Take THAT Liam Neeson, Sylvester Stallone, Bill Maher, ad infinitum – ad nauseum.  (To be fair, Bill Maher admits to gun ownership – while railing against the Second Amendment!)

h/t John Lott

Miami Vice Redux?

I LOVE(D) MIAMI VICE! (the TV show – the later movie, not so much)

The girls, the guns, the music, the gritty (for then) plot lines.  Being a young married guy at the time, who was shooting I.P.S.C. on Thursday nights, Friday evening was just right for kicking back and imagining my suburban life rebooted as Sonny Crockett.

NBC program director Brandon Tartikoff had put out the request for a new show with the memo:  Give me MTV Cops!

I’d admired the lead actor Don Johnson since A Boy and his Dog, and the fact Michael Mann (the producer/creator who had done the film Thief) hired experts to show the actors proper gun handling and techniques made this TV show too cool.  The Galco custom holster, the Bren 10 pistol (used by Johnson one year, until they could no longer get magazines!), the ubiquitous Weaver stances, Jan Hammer’s music…

Now. Johnson (@ age 64) is himself envisioning a Miami Vice reboot!

The stubbled star talks about being showered with women’s underwear and why the Reagan-era series is ready for a reboot (Rolling Stone)

I loved the show, but, what are they going to call it – Geriatric Vice?

h/t Jerry the Geek

Ethics

We have been watching Madam Secretary, a new TV show this season on CBS.  At first, the idea of the show distressed me, because I was thinking it was a stalking horse for you-know-who, especially if it was produced in the manner of The West Wing (a show some years back with Martin Sheen as the Prez).

Fortunately, it doesn’t appear to a stalking horse.  However…

Episode 3 (shown last week) dealt with ethical issues.  In short, the Secretary’s husband, a university professor, was placed in the middle of a diplomatic crisis when an American (who was caught spying for the U.S. in Pakistan, from info from a Snowden-like leaker) was scheduled to be executed.  The professor could stop the execution by giving a Russian diplomat’s daughter an ‘A’ instead of her earned ‘C’, so the Russian would be convinced to give their version of an American missile to Pakistan (under the table, of course).  (Ah, diplomacy!)

The professor’s course was (ironically) in Ethics, and he said he would be violating all he stood for by giving this bribe so the spy’s life would be spared.

The Secretary of State (who was trying to manipulate the Pakistanis, the Russians and her husband) finally convinced her husband he would not violating his ethics if he allowed the Russian’s daughter to take an incomplete (after the approved time for grades), thus her grade point would not be affected, and she could retake the course.

And ultimately, the American would be freed.  And he was.

Now, I recognize this is only a television show.  And I recognize in the real world, many times things are shades of grey, rather than black and white.

But, this is being sold as okay?  Ethical?

At least we know where the ‘real’ Madam Secretary’s ethics stood.  She was fired as an attorney on the Watergate Committee for “lying and unethical behavior”.

And the second episode of the TV show was entitled “Another Benghazi”.

Hardly a stalking horse!

"One morning I shot an elephant in my pajamas - how he got in my pajamas I dunno!" - Groucho Marx as Captain Spaulding in Animal Crackers

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The Four Rules

1. ALL GUNS ARE ALWAYS LOADED.

2. NEVER POINT YOUR MUZZLE AT SOMETHING YOU ARE NOT WILLING TO DESTROY.

3. KEEP YOUR FINGER OFF THE TRIGGER UNTIL YOUR SIGHTS ARE ON THE TARGET AND YOU ARE READY TO SHOOT.

4. KNOW YOUR TARGET AND WHAT'S BEYOND.

Certified EVIL!

FEAR

"I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain." - Bene Gesserit, from Frank Herbert's Dune

Penn Jillette

“F**k Civility. Hyperbole, passion, and metaphor are beautiful parts of rhetoric. The marketplace of ideas cannot be toned down for the insane.” - Penn Jillette

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