Monday, February 29, 2016
In a true case of "Man, I thought that guy died, like, 8 years ago," George Kennedy popped up today in the news as having had passed at the age of 91.
91. George Kennedy.
I am sorry. I really, sincerely thought he died before 2010.
You essentially have two George Kennedy's. You can go for the one I first encountered, Detective Ed Hocken of Police Squad in The Naked Gun. Or, you can go for his dramatic turns in Cool Hand Luke or The Dirty Dozen.
I always liked George Kennedy. He did good stuff.
Some time ago, DC Comics stated in a letter column that Superman's birthday takes place on Leap Day. No, it's not the date Action Comics #1 went to print or anything. It's all a little muddled, but the Superman Homepage is here to give you details.
Thus, every four years, when February 29th rolls around, we get to wish Big Blue the best of birthdays.
I have to say, this looks like an ideal birthday party, if you ignore the guy who is constantly trying to kill you is hiding in the back of the room (get on that, Batman). After all, who wouldn't want to be at a party with this crew?
While Superman is (sadly) a fictional construct, we consider him a pal and we hope that as he exists in the zeitgeist, he's somehow still able to have cake with all his pals.
Happy B-Day, Superman.
This one has been on my hit list for a couple of years now. I recorded it off TCM way back in December and finally pulled the trigger and watched it.
Sweet Smell of Success (1957) is one of those movies like Sunset Boulevard, The Hustler or On the Waterfront that came out during a certain window of moviemaking that I think people associate with Eisenhower-era positivity, thanks to TV re-runs and a deluge of Disney movies in their youth. Of course, Noir sort of blows the doors off all that. But a lot of Noir gets caught up in incredible situations, with dames on the make, gangsters, long-game scams. But sometimes something like this - stylized though it may be - gets at something a bit beyond the grift or the crime.
Tony Curtis plays Sidney Falco, a press agent for live acts in the Big Apple. Things are falling apart for him as he can't seem to place a story with any of the major columnists, especially J.J. Hunsecker - played with menace usually reserved for dictators and ganglords by Burt Lancaster in a pair of horn-rimmed specs. J.J. wanted Falco to break up a brewing romance between his sister, Susan, and a jazz guitarist, Steve Dallas. With the two planning an engagement, Falco sees doom for his own business and begins wheeling and dealing, going to Hunsecker with his problem and the two pair, their styles different but need to manipulate people and situations spinning into darker and darker territory.
This was one hell of a movie.
Sunday, February 28, 2016
Last year we read Andy Weir's novel, The Martian, and watched the movie starring Matt Damon. So, we're well covered in writing about both movie and book.
I am happy to say that the movie still holds up, and, with many more months separated between book and movie, the details that were different didn't bother me as much. If anything, I'm still confused with the casting of Mackenzie Davis as someone I think we all believed to be Korean-American, and with the benefit of the extras on the BluRay, it's very clear that they cut a lot around Kristen Wiig, who seemed weirdly cast in the movie (she just didn't have much to do).
I'm a little frustrated in my personal life that there is still no model of the Hermes, the amazing spacecraft transporting the crew between Earth and Mars, for me to buy online. What up with that, licensing people?
|This would look great on my bookshelf.|
So, yeah, give me my damn Hermes model.
Saturday, February 27, 2016
Last week I noticed Disney had put out a trailer for a new version of Pete's Dragon starring Bryce Dallas Howard and Robert Redford. "Hey, that's a movie that could stand a re-make," I said to myself. And then I realized - I'm pretty sure I haven't seen the actual Pete's Dragon (1977) since its theatrical release or sometime pretty close to it. Honestly, I only really had a memory of a Disney record and picture book we had around when I was very small, and it's entirely possible that's all I remember, and that I never saw the movie at all.
Here's a link to that new trailer.
As we've been promoting in our sidebar this month, we're supporting Max's efforts to raise some dough for cancer research and treatment.
The way it works is - you donate to one of Max's charities of choice, email him the receipt, and you're entered into a raffle for a wide selection of comics-related goods.
Here's the instructions. Clicky Click.
I have no idea if any of you guys are doing this. I certainly hope you are. It's a good cause, and you aren't just helping to make the world a better place, you've got a chance to win some loot. And, hey, Max has gone to a lot of effort to make this both a good cause and fun.
Friday, February 26, 2016
This week I was in Houston for a short conference at which I presented. A nice, friendly little conference we have once a year with folks that have known each other a while, and where new folks are usually made to feel very welcome.
I was staying at the hotel on campus, a Hilton commissioned by the late, great Conrad Hilton as part of the hotel management school at the University of Houston that bears his name. During the conference, the candidates for the Republican party were slated to have a debate on the other end of campus, but CNN had set up adjacent to the library. So, yes, yesterday I saw the back of Anderson Cooper's magnificently silver head.
Tuesday, February 23, 2016
So, a while back I scheduled myself to be at a conference at the University of Houston. It's a small, local conference and important to my professional community.
And, ha ha, that is the same campus at the same time where the Republican Party has scheduled it's next debate. That's right. As I'm eating the most-food like substance librarian money can buy and talking about the excitement of Thesis and Dissertation workflow over a glass of iced tea, somewhere on that same campus, Trump, Rubio and Cruz will be hollering at each other.
It's gonna be a disaster.
I was working at Arizona State University when President Bush and Senator Kerry had a debate on campus, and it was one of the worst days at that job. And that was a job where I pulled all-nighters and 100 hour weeks. Basically, it was super loud and crazy on campus, and I failed to leave early (because I was working. Like a chump.) and it took me two hours to get home as a post 9-11 Secret Service thought it wise to shut down all the useful roads.
So, we'll see what's up. Could be fine, but I'm staying at a hotel on campus that I assume will be filled with press and party faithful, so, if I get no sleep Wednesday or Thursday night, I blame the free-wheeling ways of an overly-excited bunch of political conservatives loaded up on Pixie Sticks and too many sodas.
Basically, I'm saying - I may go dark for a few days. Unless, of course, I see a news camera. In which case - LOOK FOR ME. Then, send bail. Because I have a LOT to say about this election cycle. Also: workflow for theses and dissertations.
Monday, February 22, 2016
Sunday evening, our own SimonUK - who moonlights as a server at The Alamo Drafthouse near my house - was given the opportunity to take it up a notch with their "Staff Presents" program, wherein a member of the staff not usually in programming selects a movie and the Alamo shows it.
You like movies. I like movies. We all like movies. Simon LOVES movies. He lives amongst piles of them and may well have underwear made of celluloid taped into a rough briefs shape. I don't know. And, no matter how many movies you think you've seen, Simon has seen more. During the Alamo pre-shows when they're showing clips of deep-cut obscure 1970's horror flicks, Simon has seen them all.
Simon is from some far-flung part of England I can never remember, so he had access to movies we really didn't in the U.S., and he's seen a goodly chunk of American movies we all watched growing up, too. Every once in a while I'm surprised he hasn't seen something from a typical American kid of the 1980's heyday, but not all that often. He's been responsible for me seeing a lot of flat out great stuff the past several years, gotten me out of the house for Planet of the Apes marathons, etc... and for all that and more, and making me eat a Full English Breakfast only once, I am forever in his debt.
So, while I had previously seen The Italian Job (1969), when I heard he was showing and introducing the movie, I couldn't not go. Plus, I really like the movie. It's good, cheery fun and a great heist pic. Plus: Michael Caine.
I've seen a few adaptations of the Richard Stark-penned series of crime novels starring heist-man, Parker. Point Blank (great), Payback (not so great), Parker (really not so great). Maybe another one or two. But The Outfit (1973) was maybe the closest to an actual Parker book in spirit and execution. I won't dwell on the differences, because they're many, but the movie does use scenes from the book in whole and in part (it's been a while since I read the early Parker books, and I think they pulled a scene or two from other Parker books, but I may be wrong).
The movie captures a lot about the world of Parker. It's a lot of backroads, hiding or waiting in cheap motel rooms, the people you try to work with are unreliable and dangerous, and the people who are the closest thing to something you'd call "friend" tend to wind up dead, in prison or both.
I really didn't know much about the movie before SimonUK brought it over Sunday morning for a view, other than that it starred Robert Duvall in the Parker role - here named "Macklin" (author Richard Stark wouldn't let films use the name "Parker" - I suppose until they made a straight adaptation). The film co-stars Karen Black and Joe Don F'ing Baker.