Saturday, March 31, 2007

They Don't Make 'Em Like They Used To

This weekend I've watched two 20-minute Technicolor shorts Warner Bros. made on behalf of the war effort in 1942. The first was SOLDIERS IN WHITE (subject link), about the Army Medical Corps, and the second was MEN OF THE SKY, about the Army Air Force.

These little films are a great time capsule from the early days of our involvement in World War II. They're fairly hokey, yet also extremely effective at stirring patriotic sentiment. They were designed to encourage Americans at a fearful time, and I'm sure they did their share for recruitment, too. Given that our country is at war today, I could perhaps relate to these movies more strongly than I might have a few years ago.

What struck me the most, though, given the P.C. times we live in, was how fearlessly these movies named and spoke against our enemies. These movies could not and would not be made today, when too many people are afraid of giving offense. You just know that today some timid P.C. types would claim that in insulting those who would kill us, we'd be driving them to hate us even more and inciting them to greater violence. After all, we currently live in such a nutty world that our enemies are even using our courts to sue for damages, claiming insult when they were called on their suspicious behavior!

Hollywood played a huge role during WWII, helping to keep morale up both on the homefront and at military bases around the world. (THE FILMS OF WORLD WAR II is a fine photo book on the subject.) Wouldn't it be wonderful if some enterprising filmmakers could produce something today designed to give our country a patriotic boost and encourage us as we fight the War on Terror? To an extent UNITED 93 fits that description, though it was designed as more of a straightforward documentary, which happens to stir patriotic feelings as a natural side effect, but we could certainly use more films to inspire and encourage us. I know there are many wonderful stories about our young men and women in the military, for starters.

Unfortunately, it seems most in today's Hollywood are more interested in dividing our country and criticizing conservatives and the war than in uniting our nation. Exhibit A: Sean Penn. Exhibit B: Rosie O'Donnell. And so it goes.

SOLDIERS IN WHITE can be seen as part of the "Warner Night at the Movies" on the DVD THEY DIED WITH THEIR BOOTS ON, which is part of the first volume of The Errol Flynn Signature Collection.

MEN OF THE SKY is on the ACROSS THE PACIFIC DVD in the The Humphrey Bogart Signature Collection, Volume 2.

Both shorts, incidentally, feature a very young Eleanor Parker, who looked gloriously beautiful in Technicolor. They were directed by B. Reeves Eason.

WKRP DVD Music and Editing Issues

It was expected that the WKRP IN CINCINNATI DVD, due on April 19th, would have background music changes, as expensive music licensing fees have previously prevented the show from being released on DVD.

NORTHERN EXPOSURE, another music-rich show, has faced some of the same licensing issues and had some of its background music changed for DVD, and the problem has come up from time to time with other sets.

However, the changes necessitated in order to prevent paying the licensing fees are a bit worse than expected, insofar as the music and dialogue tracks apparently could not be separated, leading to the episodes being trimmed of dialogue here and there in order to excise the music.

It was particularly disappointing to read today that at least a couple of the episodes in the set are edited versions shown in syndication, and not the full-length original network editions. This problem appears to be unrelated to the music issues, so it's puzzling.

The use of syndicated rather than full-length network episodes was also an issue with 2005's release of Season 1 of THE COSBY SHOW, which led to so many complaints that Season 2, which happily contained only full-length episodes, was advertised with a large sticker on the package assuring consumers the episodes were complete and uncut.

You'd have thought DVD producers would know better by now. In the best of all possible worlds, the DVD producers would put out discs with the full-length versions and offer a disc exchange program, but I won't hold my breath...

Something Old, Something New (subject link) has a detailed rundown of the precise changes for every episode. (Incidentally, this website is new to me and looks like a lot of fun. I'll be returning for further visits.)

My WKRP set is already on order, and I'm going to go ahead and get it as it likely represents the most that may be available of the show for many years to come, but this news is kind of a bummer.

(Hat tip: TVShowsOnDVD.)

Friday, March 30, 2007

Fox News Special on Sandy Berger Theft

Saturday evening David Asman of Fox News Channel hosts "Socks, Scissors, Paper: The Sandy Berger Caper," a detailed look at former National Security Advisor Sandy Berger's theft of highly classified documents from the National Archives.

The program will include an examination of the Justice Department's questionable -- some of us might say inexplicable -- handling of the Berger case.

You sure won't find this story on 60 MINUTES in this day and age...

Tonight's Movie: Joy of Living (1938)

Irene Dunne could do it all: comedy, musicals, and drama. In the '30s she starred in several musicals with Jerome Kern scores; JOY OF LIVING is the last in that series. It's more screwball comedy than musical, but Dunne still gets plenty of singing time. Early in the film, when she launches into "You Couldn't Be Cuter," it's true '30s movie magic.

In a nutshell, Dunne plays a Broadway star who works hard at her career while her unappreciative family mooches off of her earnings. Wealthy Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., has a crush on Dunne and is determined to "free" her from her work and show her what the "joy of living" is all about.

Plotwise, the movie is somewhat reminiscent of the same year's HOLIDAY, in which Cary Grant rebels against work, wanting to enjoy life -- perhaps the ultimate Depression era fantasy. (Jean Dixon, who played Grant's friend Susan in HOLIDAY, here plays Dunne's loyal assistant.) It's an entertaining 90 minutes.

The cast is screwball perfection: Alice Brady and Guy Kibbee as Dunne's parents, Lucille Ball as her sister, and Eric Blore as the family butler. There are a host of familiar character actors in the film, including Franklin Pangborn, Billy Gilbert, Grady Sutton, John Qualen, and Phyllis Kennedy.

The movie was directed by Tay Garnett.

The beautiful sets, filmed in black and white, are by the famed Van Nest Polglase -- particularly notable is the gorgeous streamline decor in the radio studio.

JOY OF LIVING is available on video. It can also be seen on cable on TCM.

Vote here for it to be released on DVD.

April 2009 Update: JOY OF LIVING is now available on DVD via the Warner Archive.

Madame Alexander Dolls Return to McDonald's

This year all the dolls are dressed in a WIZARD OF OZ theme.

I got my Glinda doll tonight. I'll be anxiously searching out Dorothy! :)

Star Wars Postage Stamps Coming to Our Galaxy

15 postage stamps will be released on May 25, 2007, which as STAR WARS fans know is the 30th anniversary of the release of the first STAR WARS film. (OK, I officially feel a little old now...)

You can view all the stamps and vote for your favorite here.

The Han Solo/Chewbacca stamp is my favorite (of course). The Yoda and Princess Leia/RD-D2 stamps are nice too.

I would suspect the USPS stands to make a large sum of money from STAR WARS fans who will buy sheets of the stamps to save rather than use.

My daughter has spotted one of the R2-D2 mailboxes near the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles, but I haven't seen one yet...

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Tonight's Movie: Four Daughters (1938)

FOUR DAUGHTERS is an engrossing domestic drama about the Lemps, a family of musicians consisting of father Adam (Claude Rains), his sister Etta (May Robson), and his four lovely daughters, played by Gale Page and real-life sisters Rosemary, Lola, and Priscilla Lane.

The Lemps' lives are turned upside down with the arrival in town of two young musicians: cheerful, good-hearted Felix (Jeffrey Lynn) and dour, down-on-his-luck Mickey (John Garfield). Romantic complications abound for the four daughters, the two young men, and two other suitors (Dick Foran and Frank McHugh) who aspire to marry into the family.

Garfield made quite a splash when this film came out, playing an unusual character for the day, sort of an early version of the James Dean or Marlon Brando "rebel." However, viewed from today, I had little patience for Garfield or his character. Mickey was self-involved and depressed, and Garfield melodramatically overacted Mickey's climactic downward spiral.

Lynn's role was originally slated to be played by Errol Flynn, who would have been absolutely perfect as the man adored by the entire family. Although he's no Flynn, Lynn acquits himself well. In the '40s Lynn would be absent from the screen for an extended period of time while serving in WWII; his best-known role may be that of Brad Bishop, Jeanne Crain's husband in A LETTER TO THREE WIVES (1949).

The Lane Sisters and Gale Page are delightful as the Lemp daughters. Priscilla Lane is a standout as sweet Ann Lemp, and it's easy to see why she became the biggest star in the family. In 1939 Lane would reunite with Garfield in DUST BE MY DESTINY and with Lynn in YES, MY DARLING DAUGHTER.

When poking around the Internet I discovered that Simpson College in Iowa has a Lane Sisters Collection. That would certainly be interesting to examine.

FOUR DAUGHTERS was nominated for five Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Director, and Best Supporting Actor (John Garfield). Although Garfield didn't do much for me, overall the movie provides excellent entertainment value and is well worth seeing.

FOUR DAUGHTERS was filmed in black and white and is 90 minutes long. It was directed by the great Michael Curtiz. The musical score was composed by Max Steiner.

FOUR DAUGHTERS was followed by two sequels, FOUR WIVES (1939) and FOUR MOTHERS (1941).

The FOUR DAUGHTERS trailer can be seen at TCM's site here. The trailer for FOUR WIVES can be seen here.

Most confusingly, at least 10 members of the cast of FOUR DAUGHTERS reunited in 1939 for DAUGHTERS COURAGEOUS, but that film is not about the Lemp family and is completely unrelated to the FOUR... movies. The trailer for DAUGHTERS COURAGEOUS can be seen here.

FOUR DAUGHTERS was loosely remade in 1954 as YOUNG AT HEART, with Doris Day and Frank Sinatra in the Lane and Garfield roles.

FOUR DAUGHTERS is available on video. It next airs on Turner Classic Movies on April 17, 2007.

Update: Reviews of FOUR WIVES (1939) and FOUR MOTHERS (1941).

May 2009 Update: FOUR DAUGHTERS is now available on DVD via the Warner Archive.

May 2011 Update: The Warner Archive has now released an upgraded remastered print of FOUR DAUGHTERS. It can also now be purchased in the FOUR DAUGHTERS COLLECTION with FOUR WIVES, FOUR MOTHERS, and DAUGHTERS COURAGEOUS; DAUGHTERS COURAGEOUS has also been remastered.

CA Senator Caught With Hand in Cookie Jar...

...yet when Dianne Feinstein was forced to resign from chairing the Senate Military Construction Appropriations Subcommittee this week, it didn't even make the front page of her hometown San Francisco Chronicle.

During Feinstein's tenure as chair, the subcommittee has awarded over a billion dollars' worth of contracts to two companies owned by Feinstein's husband.

Ed Morrissey: "...we have a senior Democrat who made sure that over a billion dollars of federal money got routed through her own checkbook, with her husband as proxy. When can we expect to see a Democratic investigation into this brand of corruption?

"Feinstein never should have sat on subcommittees that hand out federal contracts for markets in which her own family businesses compete. If the Democrats meant what they said in 2006, Feinstein provides an excellent test case for their new sense of ethics. They should expel her from the Senate and have California hold a special election to replace her. If they do nothing, then they have exposed themselves as the party of self-enrichment at the expense of taxpayers."

I'm fairly confident that not only will Feinstein not be expelled, this story probably won't get much play in the mainstream media. As of today's date, the Google News page for "Dianne Feinstein military subcommittee" has a mere handful of articles, most from conservative sources such as Judicial Watch and World Net Daily. I'll be pleasantly surprised if that changes, but I don't expect it.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

"An Authentic Christian in Faith and in Works"

This is how Cal Thomas describes Tony Snow in a particularly moving column.

The news that the tumor is on, rather than in, Tony's liver is somewhat encouraging.

Politico's Mike Allen -- who I recently learned via Hugh Hewitt's show is a Southern California native and alumnus of Valley Christian High School -- wrote a nice piece on Tony yesterday.

The White House has set up a Get Well Tony feature so you can email Tony your best wishes.

Tony will continue in my prayers.

Falling Satellite Nearly Collides with Airplane

Did anyone else think of NORTHERN EXPOSURE's infamous falling satellite episode when they heard this story?

The "satellite" show was the second season finale, "Slow Dance." In terms of riotous black humor, it was almost the equivalent of Chuckles the Clown's funeral on MARY TYLER MOORE. I'll avoid saying more so as not to spoil things for anyone who may be watching the series for the first time on DVD. :)

It sounds as though reality came uncomfortably close to art on Monday. Thankfully, no one was hurt.

Tonight's Movie: The Very Thought of You (1944)

THE VERY THOUGHT OF YOU was one of those wonderful, unexpected viewing treats, a charming and thoroughly absorbing World War II romance.

Dennis Morgan plays a soldier who spends Thanksgiving leave in his old college town, Pasadena, California. While in Pasadena he becomes reacquainted with the girl (Eleanor Parker) who used to wait on him in the soda shop when he was a student, and after a whirlwind courtship, they wed.

Morgan and Parker are both very believable as wartime sweethearts, giving warm, tender performances. Extensive location shooting in Southern California adds to the film's realism; the movie was filmed at the California Institute of Technology and the Mount Wilson Observatory, along with other locations.

The film has a very original feel to it, not least because of its depiction of Parker's family. Parker's character, Janet, is supported by a loving father (Henry Travers) and little sister (Georgia Lee Settle), but the rest of her family is dysfunctional, to say the least. Beulah Bondi, as Parker's mother, was downright scary. Andrea King plays Parker's sister, who dates other men while her husband serves in the war. Janet is sweet-natured but also refuses to put up with her family when their behavior crosses the line, and I appreciated the way she stood up for herself.

Dane Clark and Faye Emerson round out the supporting cast, as Morgan and Parker's best friends.

This film would make a good double bill with TENDER COMRADE, which starred Ginger Rogers and Robert Ryan. Rogers and Parker each play girls working for the war effort in Southern California factories while their husbands go off to war.

There are a couple truly gorgeous large photos from the film at the Official Andrea King website. Someone has created a very impressive tribute to the actress.

THE VERY THOUGHT OF YOU runs 99 minutes and was shot in black and white. It was co-written and directed by Delmer Daves, who also directed THE LAST WAGON, reviewed here in February 2007.

The trailer can be seen at the TCM site, although frankly the goofy nature of the trailer doesn't adequately capture the film's charm and sweet romance.

As is too often the case, THE VERY THOUGHT OF YOU is not available on either DVD or video. It can be viewed as part of the library at Turner Classic Movies. Vote here for it to be released on DVD. This film very much deserves a wider viewing audience.

Yale Comes to USC

My daughter and I spent her high school years gobbling up GILMORE GIRLS on DVD. So it's fairly surreal for her to see Rory Gilmore (Alexis Bledel) walking around the USC campus in a graduation gown this week!

USC stands in for Yale on the series. (In LEGALLY BLONDE, USC was Harvard, so it's an equal opportunity Ivy League "location.") The show was also on campus one day last fall. Lauren Graham (Lorelai) and David Sutcliffe (Christopher) were very kind to the college kids watching them film and even took the time to pose for photos at the end of a very long shooting day. The show's crew also went out of their way to explain things and answer questions for the interested students.

Based on a look at Gilmore Girls Spoilers, the episode filming this week will be airing on May 8th.

Michelle Malkin: The John Doe Manifesto

Where do I sign?

More here and here.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Tonight's Movie: He Married His Wife (1940)

HE MARRIED HIS WIFE is a fairly dull divorce comedy. It starts promisingly enough, as Joel McCrea and Nancy Kelly celebrate the first anniversary of their divorce with dinner and dancing, but the film soon sinks into far too much talk about alimony and horse racing. The four screenwriters and two story writers in the opening credits were perhaps a bad sign...the film attempts to be a breezy screwball comedy but instead it comes off as a lot of talking that doesn't go anywhere.

In a nutshell, the plot finds McCrea, tired of paying ex-wife Kelly alimony, seeking to marry her off to another man, with predictable results. The film picks up the comedic pace in the final 15 or 20 minutes, but it's not enough to salvage the movie.

McCrea has always been one of my favorite actors, and I've also enjoyed Nancy Kelly in films such as FRONTIER MARSHAL and JESSE JAMES. Kelly plays her role overly broadly and isn't a very sympathetic character, and McCrea doesn't have much to do but complain. I have to assess this movie as one of their minor efforts.

Cesar Romero breathes some welcome life into the movie when he comes on screen. The supporting cast also includes Roland Young, Mary Boland, and Elisha Cook, Jr. The film was directed by Roy Del Ruth. It was filmed in black and white and runs 83 minutes.

It's not available on VHS or DVD, but can be seen on cable as part of the Fox Movie Channel library. It next airs March 29, April 3, and April 20, 2007.

New on DVD: The Errol Flynn Signature Collection, Vol. II

Today sees the release of the Errol Flynn Signature Collection, Vol. II.

Volume I, released in 2005, included THE SEA HAWK, several Flynn-DeHavilland movies, and a new documentary.

The titles in the new collection are THE ADVENTURES OF DON JUAN, DIVE BOMBER, GENTLEMAN JIM, THE DAWN PATROL, and THE CHARGE OF THE LIGHT BRIGADE.

THE ADVENTURES OF DON JUAN has a commentary track with the great film historian Rudy Behlmer and director Vincent Sherman, who passed away last summer at the age of nearly 100.

There are numerous shorts and cartoons included in the set, including GIVE ME LIBERTY, a Technicolor short on Patrick Henry, and CALGARY STAMPEDE. A radio production of GENTLEMAN JIM with Flynn, Alexis Smith, and Ward Bond is also included.

Upsetting News

Tony Snow's surgery yesterday showed that the growth found was not benign as hoped.

Tony's cancer has returned and spread to his liver.

I don't mind saying I teared up at this news. Tony seems to be one of the truly good guys out there. I've enjoyed him since the days he was a vacation sub for Rush Limbaugh and was always particularly charmed by the stories he told about his family.

My prayers are with Tony and his family.

Hang in there, Tony, and fight hard. We're all with you.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Tonight's Movie: Rawhide (1951)

RAWHIDE is a solidly made Western in which a band of outlaws, led by Hugh Marlowe, take over a remote stagecoach station with the intent of robbing a gold shipment scheduled to be on the next day's stagecoach. The outlaws need to keep the station manager alive to service a stagecoach due to arrive that night, and a tense hostage drama ensues.

Tyrone Power plays the station employee, and Susan Hayward and little Judy Ann Dunn play the woman and baby girl the outlaws believe to be Power's wife and child. In reality, Power and Hayward's characters have just met, but they go along with the outlaws' assumption as it seems to better their chances of staying alive. Of course, this being a movie, Power and Hayward have fallen in love for real by film's end.

Tyrone Power has always been a favorite of mine, and he is excellent in this as a resourceful man up against tough odds. Hayward plays a much harder-edged woman here than she played in THE PRESIDENT'S LADY a couple years later. Viewing the two Hayward films back to back provided an interesting contrast. The portrayals in these two films are so completely different, down to Hayward's manner of speaking in each film, that it gave me a new appreciation for Hayward's talents as an actress.

The outlaw gang includes Dean Jagger, George Tobias, and scary-looking Jack Elam. Edgar Buchanan is also in the cast. Gary Merrill provides the opening and closing narration.

RAWHIDE was directed by the fine director Henry Hathaway, who had previously directed Tyrone Power in BRIGHAM YOUNG, FRONTIERSMAN and THE BLACK ROSE. (Dean Jagger, who plays the most sympathetic outlaw here, played the title role in BRIGHAM YOUNG.) The script is by Dudley Nichols, who wrote the screenplay for the great STAGECOACH. Nichols' many other credits include BRINGING UP BABY and THE TIN STAR.

As was the case with so many other Westerns, the movie was shot outside Lone Pine, California. Dave Holland's book ON LOCATION IN LONE PINE says that lumber from the RAWHIDE stagecoach station was later used by a doctor and his wife to build a cabin on Lone Pine Creek. A stagecoach from RAWHIDE is now on exhibit in Lone Pine.

The film was shot in black and white and runs 86-89 minutes, depending on the reference source. Over the years it has also been shown on TV under the title DESPERATE SIEGE, apparently to prevent confusion with the TV series of the same name. The movie is a loose remake of a gangster movie which was melodramatically titled SHOW THEM NO MERCY!

RAWHIDE is available on VHS. It can be seen on cable as part of the library on Fox Movie Channel.

A set of Tyrone Power Swashbucklers is due on May 1st. (The Power-Hathaway film THE BLACK ROSE will be included in the set.) Perhaps RAWHIDE will be in a future volume of Power DVDs.

March 26, 2008 Update: One year to the day after I posted this review, I'm happy to say that RAWHIDE is coming to DVD on May 13, 2008. It will be in a three-film set of Fox Western Classics along with GARDEN OF EVIL and THE GUNFIGHTER.

Update: Here's a post from June 2007 with a photo I took of the RAWHIDE location outside Lone Pine, CA.

DVD Release For Song of the South?

Disney fans were hopeful SONG OF THE SOUTH might receive a DVD release last year for its 60th anniversary, but it didn't happen, apparently due to fears on Disney's part that there would be a politically correct backlash.

Song of the South.net has the latest news, which is that Disney President Robert Iger has indicated a willingness to revisit whether or not to release SONG OF THE SOUTH. Iger recently stated: "We've decided to take a look at it again because we've had numerous requests about bringing it out. Our concern was that a film that was made so many decades ago being brought out today perhaps could be either misinterpreted or that it would be somewhat challenging in terms of providing the appropriate context."

The Disney Treasures set ON THE FRONT LINES did a good job placing some of the more "controversial" cartoons in historical context, and I'm sure that they could do the same for SONG OF THE SOUTH if they feel it is necessary.

I saw a reissue of SONG OF THE SOUTH in a movie theater as a young child and the mix of live action and animation made quite an impression on me, along with the famed Oscar-winning song "Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah." I also remember what a positive impact the Uncle Remus character had on the young children in the film. Indeed, a reviewer at IMDb suggests that the film's politically incorrect reputation is unfair.

It's a shame that to date Disney has prevented my children from seeing anything more than a scene in a sing-a-long video. The movie is very significant in terms of both animation and Disney history, and hiding it in the vaults because some portions of the film may seem dated or make current audiences uncomfortable is wrong. I don't believe it's appropriate for Disney to make those kind of judgments on behalf of its audience. Today's audiences should have the right to view this classic and make their own assessments.

You can sign an online petition to help campaign for the movie's release at the Song of the South site linked above.

(Hat tip for the Orlando Sentinel article at the subject link: Holy Coast.)

Wednesday Update: Here is an AP article which is a much longer version of the article at the subject link.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Barone on Gore and Global Warming

Michael Barone offers his usual sharp analysis, zeroing in particularly on Al Gore's claims about global warming being a matter of faith, rather than science.

Sharia Law Invading the United States

Katherine Kersten in Opinion Journal sums up recent conflicts over Islamic law in Minnesota, where Islamic taxi drivers are refusing to transport passengers carrying alcohol and store clerks are refusing to handle pork.

The critical point regarding both these stories and the lawsuit by the imams who were removed from a U.S. Airways flight: "By piggy-backing on our civil rights laws, Islamist activists aim to equate airport security with racial bigotry and to move slowly toward a two-tier legal system. Intimidation is a crucial tool. The 'flying imams' lawsuit ups the ante by indicating that passengers who alerted airport authorities will be included as defendants."

The bold type emphasis above is mine; I believe we all need to be aware of exactly what is going on and what may well continue to develop in the years to come.

(Hat tip: Power Line.)

Curtains Opens on Broadway

My college-age daughter saw CURTAINS in its pre-Broadway run at the Los Angeles Music Center last summer and enjoyed it very much.

CURTAINS is a backstage murder mystery/musical starring the great David Hyde Pierce of FRASIER. It opened on Broadway last Thursday evening at the Al Hirschfield Theatre.

The show received mixed reviews, with many reviewers calling the show "likeable" and "old-fashioned" but not giving it raves. Bloomberg News liked it pretty well, as did The Hollywood Reporter and The New York Daily News.

The New York Times gave the show a somewhat tepid review, but nonetheless wrote that Hyde Pierce "steps into full-fledged Broadway stardom."

Clive Barnes of the New York Post didn't care for it.

43 Cars in a Blender

I love the NASCAR races at Bristol...

Happy Sunday!

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Tonight's Movie: The President's Lady (1953)

When I was in junior high school I read Irving Stone's historical novel THE PRESIDENT'S LADY for a report. The book chronicled the love story of our seventh President, Andrew Jackson, and his wife Rachel.

Until now I had never caught up with the movie of the same name, which stars Charlton Heston and Susan Hayward as the Jacksons. The film version of THE PRESIDENT'S LADY was a real treat, especially as I'm a Heston fan.

The first half of the movie, in particular, is a crackling good frontier romance and adventure which I found completely delightful. Heston and Hayward are in fine form as the tempestuous Jacksons, whether they're escaping her abusive first husband or various encounters with hostile Indians. Heston is the essence of the adventurous, can-do American, and Hayward is delightfully spunky as the lovely Rachel.

The second half of the film is more melodramatic, as Rachel endures not only Andrew's absences serving our country, but the public censure that resulted from Rachel's divorce and the Jacksons inadvertently marrying before the divorce from her first husband was final. Hot-tempered Andrew at one point insists on fighting a duel to defend his wife's honor. Heston and Hayward are still wonderful as the aging Jacksons -- though I felt the makeup in the final scenes unfairly aged her more than it did him -- but I would have enjoyed the film even more if it had focused more on their early years and contained a little less angst. That said, I thoroughly enjoyed the film and am very happy to have finally seen it.

While the film depicts the broad outlines of the Jacksons' lives accurately, it perhaps necessarily condenses the time frames of certain things -- one in particular I will forgo mentioning here as it's a plot spoiler -- while omitting other significant events, such as the adoption of Rachel's nephew, who was named Andrew Jackson, Jr.

The film's supporting cast includes Fay Bainter and John McIntire. It was directed by Henry Levin. Heston said in his autobiography IN THE ARENA that when playing "great men" he always tried to remember a piece of direction Levin gave him on how to play a scene more believably: "Just remember: you don't know you're going to be President yet."

In a nice coincidence, a few years later it was Susan Hayward who presented Charlton Heston with the Best Actor Oscar for his performance in BEN-HUR.

Screen shots from the film can be viewed here and here. The original New York Times review can be read here.

THE PRESIDENT'S LADY was filmed in black and white and runs 96 minutes. It is not currently available on video or DVD, but can be seen on cable on the Fox Movie Channel. It next airs on April 3, 2007.

Republicans Propose Bill to Protect Flying Public

In light of the threat to sue citizens who reported suspicious behavior by imams on a U.S. Airways flight, House Republicans have introduced a bill which would protect those who report their concerns from legal retaliation.

The Protecting Americans Fighting Terrorism Act of 2007 was introduced Thursday.

It is to be hoped this is a bill the Democrat majority will support.

"Silver Bells" Singer Carol Richards Dies, 84

Carol Richards, who sang with Bing Crosby on my all-time favorite Christmas track, "Silver Bells," has died at age 84.

The song's lyricist, Ray Evans, passed away just last month.

The "Silver Bells" recording can be found on Crosby Christmas CDs including WHITE CHRISTMAS (also released on LP as MERRY CHRISTMAS) and THE VOICE OF CHRISTMAS.

Richards, who was sometimes billed as Carole Richards, was also known for dubbing Cyd Charisse's singing voice in BRIGADOON, IT'S ALWAYS FAIR WEATHER, and SILK STOCKINGS, as well as Vera-Ellen's singing in CALL ME MADAM.

She retired for marriage and motherhood; she and her husband had a combined 11 children (another source says the total was 15).

Friday, March 23, 2007

Julia Child Was Wrong?

Julia Moskin in the New York Times put Julia Child's commandment not to cook with cheap wine to the test, with surprising results: dishes cooked with less expensive wine sometimes turned out better than those made with much more expensive bottles.

My husband and I are nondrinkers but a couple years ago, when I began a serious effort to improve my cooking skills, I began cooking with wine. I was inspired, in part, by a fabulous red wine reduction sauce served at Disneyland's Club 33, plus Rachael Ray assuring me repeatedly on TV that the cooking process kills the alcohol (grin). (My research since then tells me that may not be entirely true, but close enough.)

Bewildered by the many unfamiliar choices in the grocery store's liquor department, I started out with nonthreatening Holland House cooking wine, but a friend who is a gourmet cook encouraged me to move up to some $8 bottles, with which I've enjoyed great success. There is nothing like red wine for instantly deglazing the bottom of a pan.

Roast Beef with Red Wine Pan Juices is a favorite recipe which includes wine.

Nice to know that perhaps I don't need to consider one day graduating to more expensive bottles!

The 9th Circuit Strikes Yet Again

The far-left 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, infamous for its hardline, goofy rulings against everything from the Boy Scouts to the Pledge of Allegiance to parental rights to determine what children learn in public school, has ruled against allowing a church to use a library meeting room for its services, saying that "mere religious worship" (you have to love the disdain) is not protected by the First Amendment.

Funny thing, though, the same 9th Circuit ruled that Muslim prayers are acceptable in California public schools.

Tony Snow to Have Surgery

White House spokesman Tony Snow, who has battled colon cancer, is having surgery Monday to remove what is believed to be a benign growth from his abdomen. The surgery will hopefully confirm the initial positive assessment.

Sending best wishes and prayers Tony's way. This has been a rough week on the medical news front.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Howard Fineman: Inappropriate Exuberance?

Was anyone else struck by the strangely exuberant note with which Howard Fineman began his article on Elizabeth Edwards?

The first line is: "Is this a great Democratic presidential campaign, or what?" Fineman continued "The number of candidate 'firsts' keeps growing..." and went on to discuss Senator Edwards' wife's illness and how the Edwardses chose to discuss it today.

When someone announces she has cancer which has metastasized to the bone, I hardly think chirping "Is this a great Democratic presidential campaign, or what?" appropriate. But then, given that Fineman had gone on TV today to assess the Edwards press conference "politically" as a "ten strike" and responded to the news that Edwards' campaign was continuing with "It's always great when something unexpected happens around here," maybe it's not surprising.

Howard needs to get out of Washington for a while and regain a sense of proportion in how he looks at the world.

Best Wishes to Elizabeth Edwards

I was very sorry to learn today that Elizabeth Edwards' battle with cancer goes on.

My best wishes and prayers to Mrs. Edwards and family.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Fred Thompson: The Ingraham Interview

A recording of Laura Ingraham's radio interview today with former Senator Fred Thompson has started making the rounds of the Internet and is generating quite a bit of "buzz" among conservatives.

The Corner, linked above, has a link to listen to the interview. I'll be listening to it for the first time later myself...in the meantime here it is for anyone interested. It runs a little over 14 minutes.

Cathy Seipp Has Passed Away

The news (above) posted by Kathryn Jean Lopez at National Review. Cathy wrote a column for National Review titled "From the Left Coast."

A tribute by Susan Estrich at Fox News.

An obituary is posted at the L.A. Times.

My condolences to Cathy's daughter Maia, her family and friends.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Gore and Global Warming

Former Vice President Al Gore testifies about global warming on Capitol Hill Wednesday.

Steven Hayward writes in National Review about the growing skepticism toward Gore's alarmism, and in particular the public's growing awareness of the contempt those who engage in "Gulfsteam liberalism" hold toward the general public: "...middle-class citizens understand that Gore wants them to use less energy and pay more for it, while he and his Hollywood pals use as much as they want and buy their way out of guilt, like a medieval indulgence."

Hayward also notes: "In the companion book to An Inconvenient Truth, Gore writes that 'a good way to reduce the amount of energy you use is simply to buy less. Before making a purchase, ask yourself if you really need it.' Gore decided that he does need it — for all four of his homes and his pool house."

Gore is perfectly entitled to his homes (and his pool house...and his huge electric bill), but he's not entitled to have them while hypocritically lecturing the rest of us about our consumption of energy.

The Washington Times suggests questions that Mr. Gore should be asked on Wednesday. I won't hold my breath.

Spring, Spring, Spring

Our friend Cathy at Sunday Morning Coffee has a lovely post up about my all-time favorite movie, SEVEN BRIDES FOR SEVEN BROTHERS. She's even got a YouTube link to the movie's trailer.

As I commented at Cathy's site, the film's songs "June Bride" and "Wonderful, Wonderful Day" were played by the organist before our wedding. Framed sheet music for "Spring, Spring, Spring" hangs in the same room as the computer I'm using to write this post.

I was fortunate to briefly meet many of the cast members -- including Russ Tamblyn, Julie Newmar, Ruta Lee, and Tommy Rall -- at a special tribute at the Academy's Goldwyn Theater a number of years ago. A few weeks ago my husband scanned a couple of my autographed stills from the film, but Blogger doesn't like the format and won't let me upload them, so I'll have to try again soon. I have a very extensive collection of stills, lobby cards, and posters from the movie, painstakingly collected over many years from movie memorabilia shops in Hollywood.

Be sure to read this post from last December at The Shelf...a great SEVEN BRIDES story.

Film fans of a certain age know what it was like in the days before video, cable, and DVD, when "old" movies were mostly shown in the middle of the night, edited and filled with commercials. (KABC in Los Angeles used to show SINGIN' IN THE RAIN with most of the songs cut out!) I still can't believe I can watch this movie any time I want. Don't miss the 2-Disc Special Edition DVD. SEVEN BRIDES is one of those rare films that was actually shot twice (OKLAHOMA! is another), using two different photographic processes, and the set includes both versions. For a SEVEN BRIDES fan it's great fun to compare the minor differences.

Trivia: Did you know that Richard Dean Anderson of MacGYVER and STARGATE SG-1 played Adam in a one-season TV series very loosely based on the movie? I still have the pilot on a Beta tape stashed away in my video cupboard. The other brothers were all renamed (no more Bible names) and were played by actors including Peter Horton (THIRTYSOMETHING), Drake Hogestyn (DAYS OF OUR LIVES), and River Phoenix.

Arnold to Guest on Rush Limbaugh Show Wed.

California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger didn't endear himself any further to many conservatives today when he undiplomatically told TODAY host Campbell Brown "Rush Limbaugh is irrelevant. I am not his servant."

Rush responded today, saying "I like Arnold! He's an engaging, friendly, nice guy." (Note: link may require subscription.)

Rush then went on to say that Arnold was a political "sellout," concluding:

"He obviously didn't have the leadership skills to articulate conservative principles and win over the public as Reagan did, because if he had the leadership skills to articulate conservative principles and win over the public as Reagan did, then he would have stayed conservative, but he felt like he was unable to do that and so in order to get reelected and become popular and be liked and so forth, he broomed conservatism and became a liberal while calling himself a Republican."

Governor Schwarzenegger has requested time on Rush's show and will appear Wednesday at 10:06 a.m. Pacific Time.

Monday, March 19, 2007

"I've Seen the Daylight, But Then the Politicians Took It Away"

Melana Zyla Vickers of National Review says pretty much everything I think about this year's early change to Daylight Saving Time.

I never enjoy the time traveling back and forth each spring and fall, but this year I found the forced clock-changing and sleep disruption more annoying than ever.

I can't figure out how Congress can claim we're saving energy if we're turning on lights in the early morning hours instead of the evening. Aren't we just trading using energy at one time of day for another? (Check out this study.) But then, the folks in Congress aren't always the brightest bulbs. :)

I don't care if we're on Daylight Saving Time or Standard Time, but I wish Congress would just pick a time and stick with it...permanently.

Congress, leave my clocks alone!

Byron York on Valerie Plame's House Testimony

Byron York analyzes Valerie Plame Wilson's testimony last Friday in front of the House, including its significant omissions and departures from the record established by the Senate Intelligence Committee.

Sad News

Cathy Seipp, proprietress of the blog Cathy's World, is in Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles with the final stages of lung cancer.

Please keep Cathy and her daughter Maia, a college student, in your prayers.

(Hat tip: L.A. Observed.)

A Repulsive Obama Editorial in L.A. Times

David Ehrenstein has written an amazingly offensive editorial, in which he charges Senator Barack Obama is popular with voters due to white racism and fear of blacks; he depicts Obama as projecting a sort of Uncle Tom-like personality, replacing the term "Uncle Tom" with "Magic Negro."

Ehrenstein: "...it's clear that Obama also is running for an equally important unelected office, in the province of the popular imagination — the 'Magic Negro.'"

"He's there to assuage white 'guilt'...over the role of slavery and racial segregation in American history, while replacing stereotypes of a dangerous, highly sexualized black man with a benign figure for whom interracial sexual congress holds no interest."

Ehrenstein says that "most white Americans...desire...a noble, healing Negro" and continues "as with all Magic Negroes, the less real he seems, the more desirable he becomes. If he were real, white America couldn't project all its fantasies of curative black benevolence on him."

In writing such drivel Ehrenstein reveals himself as the true racist. He is unable to see blacks as individuals capable of achievement on their own terms, while at the same time he portrays whites as a monolithic entity who only engage in groupthink; he believes whites are incapable of being colorblind and only view blacks as groups or "types."

You've got to wonder how writing like this makes it into the L.A. Times in the 21st Century. Unfortunately this says more about the paper than it does about the modern state of race relations.

Tuesday Update: More commentary on this editorial from Captain Ed and Holy Coast.

A Blessed St. Joseph's Day

Today is St. Joseph's Day, when legend says that the swallows return to Mission San Juan Capistrano here in Southern California.


SONG OF THE SWALLOWS, which tells the story of the birds returning each year, is one of my youngest son's very favorite books. It has beautiful watercolor illustrations, which won the Caldecott Medal in 1950.

More photos of the mission, as well as further historical information, can be found here.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

"Thompson Could Fill the Missing Slot"

A thoughtful article by Peter Brown posted at Real Clear Politics.

"Thompson's candidacy is intriguing to some because of his potential to appeal to independents and moderate Democrats, like McCain and Giuliani. But unlike they, his background and charisma could fire up the GOP base, which is searching for a champion."

At this point I don't think either McCain or Romney can win the nomination, and Romney in particular would not be strong in the general election. I think it could well come down to Giuliani or Thompson, and either of those men has strong potential to beat Clinton or Obama.

USC Trojans to Sweet 16!

The Trojans soundly beat Texas today, 87-68.

USC next plays North Carolina this Friday evening.

Beat the Tar Heels!

New on Food Network: Chefography

Tonight the Food Network debuts a new series, CHEFOGRAPHY, profiling the stars of the network's various programs.

I'm particularly looking forward to Monday evening's programs on my favorite Food Network cooks, Ina Garten and Nigella Lawson.

Other shows airing this week will feature Rachael Ray, Bobby Flay, Emeril Lagasse, Paula Deen, Sandra Lee, Mario Batali, Tyler Florence, and Giada DeLaurentiis.

All the shows will be run as a marathon on Sunday, March 25th.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Tonight's Movie: The Irish In Us (1935)

THE IRISH IN US is a somewhat creaky mid-'30s vehicle for James Cagney and Pat O'Brien, who play brothers vying for the hand of beautiful Olivia DeHavilland. A third brother is played by Frank McHugh.

O'Brien is a policeman and McHugh a fireman, while Cagney is his mother's spoiled darling who dreams of being a fight promoter but doesn't hold down a job in the meantime. O'Brien dreams of marrying police captain's daughter DeHavilland, and trouble begins brewing when he brings her home for dinner and Jimmy gets a look at her.

It's not a particularly good movie, but it's mildly entertaining thanks in large part to the star power involved, and it makes very appropriate St. Patrick's Day viewing. I especially enjoyed the set decoration; when I wasn't watching the actors, I was examining the furnishings of the O'Hara family's working-class apartment.

This black and white film runs 84 minutes. It was directed by Lloyd Bacon, whose most notable films include 42ND STREET, FOOTLIGHT PARADE, and KNUTE ROCKNE, ALL AMERICAN, which of course starred Pat O'Brien and Ronald "The Gipper" Reagan.

This movie is not available on VHS or DVD. It's a relatively minor film in the careers of its stars, but perhaps it will eventually be released on DVD so that Cagney and DeHavilland completists can see it.

As with so many movies, film fans are fortunate that this title is still available via TCM. The trailer can be seen at TCM's website.

USC Basketball Team Wins First Round

Congratulations to the USC Trojans, who last night convincingly beat Arkansas, 77-60, in USC's first NCAA tournament game in half a decade.

Sunday afternoon the Trojans play Texas.

Fight on!

USPS Celebrates Star Wars' 30th Anniversary

Has it really been nearly 3 decades since that magical summer when we first saw STAR WARS?

May 25, 1977, is the 30th anniversary of the release of the original STAR WARS. In honor of that event, the U.S. Postal Service will be turning mailboxes in 200 cities into replicas of R2-D2.

The Post Office will have a further announcement regarding STAR WARS on March 28th. You can submit your email address to the USPS here in order to receive an email announcement on that date.

A Plot By Terrorist Sympathizers

Those imams kicked off a U.S. Airways plane are not only suing the airline, they're threatening to sue individual passengers.

The longer this goes on, the more convinced I am that the imams were engaging in a terror plot probe, an attempt to use the legal system to weaken our defenses, or both.

The imams obviously want to try to turn Americans back into meek sheep who will be afraid to report fellow passengers' suspicious behavior for fear of being sued.

It is critical for our future security that the airline and those involved do not settle in order to get rid of this lawsuit. There is a strong case against the imams, based on their behavior reported by multiple sources, and fighting this lawsuit is part of the fight against terrorism.

John Fund Interviews Fred Thompson

Fund notes that Senator Thompson is "shaking up the GOP field, and he's not even running yet."

Commentary on this article can be found at Captain's Quarters.

The more I read, the more I wonder why someone didn't think of Thompson sooner...

Happy Birthday, Nat King Cole

Scott Johnson at Power Line notes that Nat King Cole was born on St. Patrick's Day in 1919.

Nat King Cole is one of my favorite singers. I have a fairly large number of his albums as well as some LP's from my dad's collection. One of my favorites is LOVE IS THE THING. I first heard this album recommended on Nora Ephron's commentary track for SLEEPLESS IN SEATTLE, as the album contains Cole's recording of "Stardust," used on that film's soundtrack. The other tracks include "When I Fall in Love" and "Stay as Sweet as You Are." The album was arranged and conducted by Gordon Jenkins.

Other favorite Cole albums include PENTHOUSE SERENADE, NIGHT LIGHTS, and MY FAIR LADY.

It's hard to choose favorite Cole songs, but the top of my Cole list includes "The More I See You," "Fly Me to the Moon," and "At Last."

Whether he's singing, playing piano, or both, nothing says "mellow" better than the wonderful Nat King Cole.

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Best wishes to all for a Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Having watched THE QUIET MAN on countless St. Patrick's Days, I'm going to try a change of pace this year and watch James Cagney and Olivia DeHavilland in THE IRISH IN US.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Stressed Japanese Royals

Marrying into the ultra-traditional, cloistered Japanese Imperial Family is not, it seems, a bed of roses.

Empress Michiko is currently said to be suffering from stress-related ailments. She has previously had other stress reactions, including losing the ability to speak for a period of time.

Harvard-educated Crown Princess Masako has been suffering from depression or a stress-related illness for the last few years, which may be related in part to pressure to give birth to a male heir.

To date, the Crown Prince and Princess have one child, a daughter, Aiko. Political efforts to change succession laws so that Aiko could one day be Empress were put on hold after the Crown Prince's brother and his wife somewhat unexpectedly had a son last September, over a decade after the birth of their last child.

PRINCESS MASAKO: PRISONER OF THE CHRYSANTHEMUM THRONE by Ben Hills attempts to discern what Masako's life has been like as a royal. The book has received mixed reviews and drawn criticism from the Japanese Foreign Ministry, but is of interest in part as so little is known about the real lives of the Japanese royal family. Attempting to understand the dynamics behind the walls of the Imperial Palace is a bit like Kremlinology of old.

The Crown Prince's family looked happy to be out and about today on a vacation trip to Nagano.

Sunday Update: More from last month's London Daily Telegraph.

Exciting News From Ed Morrissey

Ed Morrissey of Captain's Quarters has interesting career news...he will be moving full-time into blogging and serving as Political Director of a new venture, Blog Talk Radio.

Little House: The Musical

PRAIRIE, a new musical based on the books of Laura Ingalls Wilder, is in the works.

Melissa Gilbert, who achieved fame as Laura in the TV series, will play Ma opposite Patrick Swayze as Pa.

The musical appears to cover Laura's teen years, at least in part, as one of the characters is Mrs. Brewster. Mrs. Brewster, readers will recall, was the scary woman Laura lived with when she was a teacher.

It will certainly be interesting to find out whether Ms. Gilbert can sing. Gilbert continues to act in TV-movies and in recent years has served as President of the Screen Actors Guild. She has been married to Bruce Boxleitner for the last dozen years.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

"10 Questions for Valerie Plame Wilson"

Valerie Plame Wilson testifies before the House Friday.

Byron York, who has closely covered the entire Plamegate matter, has a list of 10 questions he'd like to see her asked.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

More on Fired U.S. Attorneys and Media Coverage

Patterico analyzes the facts behind the non-scandalous firing of eight U.S. attorneys, as well as how the L.A. Times chose to frame its coverage. It's must reading.

Over at Power Line, Paul Mirengoff assesses the Washington Post's coverage of the same matter.

More interesting media analysis at NewsBusters here, here, here and here.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Podhoretz on Thompson

John Podhoretz has written a good column on former Senator Fred Thompson.

Thompson's potential entry into the Republican Presidential race is intriguing.

McCain Consistently Fought Tax Cuts

Another reason not to vote for Senator McCain...

Vaccination Vote Postponed in California

The author of the bill which would require girls to have the Gardasil STD vaccine as a condition of attending junior high school withdrew his bill from a health committee vote today after it received "a cold reception" from legislators of both parties; "even some Democrats expressed concerns about requiring a vaccine that had been on the market for less than a year."

The bill's sponsor, Ed Hernandez, plans to make changes and bring it up again in April.

Hernandez claims "If this was a vaccine to eliminate or reduce breast cancer, we would not be having this discussion. Because it's a sexually transmitted disease, I think it's creating a lot of problems."

I feel that's completely untrue. It is reasonable for the state to require vaccinations for diseases which may be transmitted in class as a condition of attending school. It is not reasonable for the state to require vaccinations for other non-transmittable diseases as a condition of school attendance, or to force parents who wish to "opt out" to jump through hoops such as writing letters or signing waivers.

As I've posted here before in recent weeks, it's a short step from the state making this kind of decision to the state making other health-related choices for children in place of their parents.

More from the Associated Press.

Around the Blogosphere Today

Power Line (linked above) covers an excellent speech by Senator Joe Lieberman, who said in part: "There is something profoundly wrong when opposition to the war in Iraq seems to inspire greater passion than opposition to Islamist extremism."

NewsBusters ran a very amusing piece on the global warming expedition to the North Pole which was cancelled...due to extremely cold weather.

Speaking of global warming, some are calling on Al Gore to cool down his overheated rhetoric.

And yesterday at The Corner, Mark Steyn commented on a British proposal to fight global warming by tightly restricting travel with taxation: "Isn’t this the very definition of totalitarianism-lite? The Soviets restricted the movement of people through the bureaucratic apparatus of 'exit visas'. The Tories are proposing to do it through the crudest form of regressive taxation."

Remember the imams who engaged in "grievance theater" by acting provocatively at the airport and after boarding a flight in Minnesota? Many theorized the imams were on a terrorism test run or deliberately trying to weaken airline security by crying "racism" when none was involved. Well, now the imams are suing.

And so the attempt to weaken airline security goes on. We can only hope, for the sake of all future travelers, that U.S. Airways has the courage to fight this in court and doesn't take the easy way out and hand over settlement money to these extortionists.

New on DVD: The Holiday (2006)

Today sees the release of a film I really enjoyed seeing earlier this year, THE HOLIDAY.

My January review can be read here.

If you haven't caught this one yet, it makes for a very enjoyable couple hours.

Also released today: CASINO ROYALE.

California School District Bills Vacationing Families

A school district is attempting to collect payment from families who remove their children from school for planned absences such as family vacations. California schools do not receive state funding for any students missing on a particular day.

This is the height of absurdity. California families already pay huge amounts of taxes in support of public schools. Attempting to "charge" parents for making decisions for their children as they see fit is not only greedy, it's an inappropriate intrusion into parental decision making and family life.

When our children attended our local schools, our philosophy was that not all learning happens inside the classroom. As long as our children were doing well in school, we saw absolutely no problem with taking them out of school occasionally. For instance, my children still vividly remember all they saw and learned on their trips to Boston, but today they would have no memory of what they would have done in school on the particular days they missed. Learning takes place over the long haul, and there's a much bigger picture than what happens from day to day in the classroom.

Meanwhile the real issue here, the way California chooses to fund its schools, is not being addressed. California provides funding to schools based on daily attendance, not enrollment. This also leads to great pressure from the schools to bring sick children to school, "at least for first period attendance," as I was told by more than one teacher. Needless to say, that practice can start a vicious cycle, exposing even more children to illness and causing further absences.

Media Bias and the Firing of U.S. Attorneys

The current hype by Democrats and the news media about the firing of eight U.S. attorneys provides an excellent example of media bias.

When President Clinton fired every U.S. attorney but one, ABC never mentioned the story.

When President Bush fires eight, the Democrats go nuts and the media blows it into a potential scandal -- commented on at ABC by none other than former Clinton advisor George Stephanopoulos. Very cozy.

More at Power Line and Captain's Quarters.

Update: It's beyond funny that Hillary Clinton would call for the resignation of Alberto Gonzales.

When asked how the firings of eight attorneys differ from her husband firing all but one U.S. attorney, she attempted to justify the difference by saying "When a new president comes in, a new president gets to clean house... It is 'Let's start afresh' and every president has done that."

No, every President has not done that, not when it comes to U.S. attorneys. President Clinton was the first President in history to engage in such a mass firing.

I'm guessing Mrs. Clinton is trying to obfuscate what "is is" and if pressed would claim that she is referring to the general principle that presidents can start over, rather than specifically referring to clearing out U.S. attorneys...because if she's referring to U.S. attorneys, she's lying.

As Robert Bork wrote several years ago, President Clinton followed the firing of the U.S. attorneys by appointing a protege -- a former student -- as the U.S. attorney in Little Rock, where the Clintons had been entangled in Whitewater. "Just as the best place to hide a body is on a battlefield, the best way to be rid of one potentially troublesome attorney is to fire all of them."

Update: Opinion Journal: "Hillary Clinton Knows All About Sacking U.S. Attorneys."

Monday, March 12, 2007

Bill Requiring STD Vaccine in California

Gardasil mania continues unabated, as a California lawmaker has introduced a bill requiring girls to have the Gardasil vaccine before they're allowed to start seventh grade.

Parents who wish to "opt out" would be forced to write a letter or file an affidavit to exempt their daughter.

California Catholic Daily notes that the current bill omits parental notification about the vaccination...which could make it impossible for parents to have the notice needed to write the letters opting out. Randy Thomasson of the Campaign for Children and Families wants the bill amended to require written parental permission for the vaccine.

As the Washington Post recently noted, "Never has compulsory use of a drug been pushed with such breakneck speed."

I'm still wondering when the nanny state lawmakers are going to require mandatory circumcision, which also reduces the risk of contracting an STD. Interesting how selectively the legislators choose to impose measures to "protect life."

Sunday, March 11, 2007

A New GOP Presidential Candidate?

The rumblings are growing that actor and former Senator Fred Thompson may be entering the race for the GOP nomination.

Thompson's support of McCain-Feingold is problematic for conservatives, but Ed Morrissey opines at Captain's Quarters that Thompson may provide Republicans with a more reliably conservative option than the "big three" candidates.

Rick Moore has more on Thompson at Holy Coast.

I don't have a solid opinion on Thompson at this point, but it's a potentially interesting development.

New on DVD: The Alice Faye Collection

February 20th saw the release of a wonderful new set of Alice Faye movies. The eye-catching box includes her films ON THE AVENUE, LILLIAN RUSSELL, THAT NIGHT IN RIO, and THE GANG'S ALL HERE.

THE GANG'S ALL HERE in particular is a must-see, with its vivid Technicolor, plus Carmen Miranda numbers directed by Busby Berkeley, with Benny Goodman on the side. That's entertainment. :)

I don't think I've seen THAT NIGHT IN RIO, costarring Don Ameche and Miranda, so I'm really looking forward to that one in particular.

Extras include commentaries, featurettes, deleted scenes, and samples of Alice's radio shows with husband Phil Harris.

March 16th Update: A review by Glenn Erickson at DVD Savant.

It's Not "Bipartisan"...

...if only one side does the "compromising."

The L.A. Times does a pretty good job addressing Governor Schwarzenegger's claims of a new bipartisan style of governing in California.

The reality, unfortunately, is that the governor has swung left. Democrats in Sacramento sure aren't reciprocating by swinging right.

I think the correct word for the Governor's "new style" is "caving."

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Tonight's Movie: Marriage is a Private Affair (1944)

After a whirlwind courtship and idyllic Vermont honeymoon with a handsome flyer (John Hodiak), young Theo (Lana Turner) learns to adjust to marriage and motherhood in the WWII-era romantic melodrama MARRIAGE IS A PRIVATE AFFAIR.

Theo has no role models of her own to go by -- her wealthy mother has been married multiple times, and Theo doesn't recognize her own father when he asks to dance with her at her wedding -- it's the first time they've met! Although Theo is a bit immature -- her first thought after giving birth is not of her baby, but of her now-flat stomach -- she initially makes a game effort to be a good wife and mother. Then, with her husband busy with his defense job, she finds herself yearning to be part of the social whirl once more...

The film calls to mind other '40s movies about young brides, such as CLAUDIA and APARTMENT FOR PEGGY. Theo is not always admirable, but it's a glossy, highly watchable movie which delivers solid entertainment value, and Turner looks absolutely stunning, with a fabulous wardrobe by Irene.

James Craig, Keenan Wynn, Hugh Marlowe, and Frances Gifford costar, with Tom Drake in a small supporting role. Theo's mother is played by Natalie Schafer, who would achieve a certain fame as another wealthy woman, playing Mrs. Howell on GILLIGAN'S ISLAND.

Greenbriar Picture Shows has a post with some remarkably beautiful black and white stills from the film. Lana Turner Online has more photos.

It's also fun to read the original New York Times review by Bosley Crowther.

MARRIAGE IS A PRIVATE AFFAIR runs 116 minutes and was filmed in glorious black and white. It was directed by longtime MGM director Robert Z. Leonard. His best-known films include the Garson-0livier PRIDE AND PREJUDICE, A TALE OF TWO CITIES with Ronald Colman, and several Jeanette MacDonald-Nelson Eddy films.

At present this movie isn't available on DVD or video. However, a Warner Bros. representative has stated that there is a Lana Turner DVD set in the works, so we can cross our fingers this might be one of the movies included in the set.

In the meantime, this film is part of the Turner Classic Movies library. The TCM website has the trailer available here.

Postscript: I started writing this Saturday but didn't post till Sunday night. Has been a heavy weekend for me workwise. :)

Friday, March 09, 2007

Dems Refuse to Debate on Fox...

...because of the network's supposed conservative slant. The liberals just can't stand it when a network doesn't lean in one direction, and somehow that balance makes Fox "conservative."

If Fox is "conservative," why are they offering airtime for the Democrats to debate?

In bowing out, the Democrats appear once again to be buckling under pressure from the far left side of the party, as MoveOn.org campaigned against the Fox debate.

Can you imagine if the Republicans refused to debate on CBS? Which in reality might be appropriate, especially as this week the network hired Rick Kaplan to produce Katie Couric's newscast. Kaplan is a longtime Clinton friend and advisor who lavishly praised Dan Rather as the "gold standard" -- after the Rathergate fiasco with forged documents used to smear President Bush.

Update: Roger Ailes and Fox respond.

Sunday Night Update: The Las Vegas Review-Journal tells it like it is.

A Special Treat

I've been admiring these teacup-style measuring cups on Nigella Lawson's Food Network programs.

I've had a lot of extra work lately and decided to splurge, and the measuring cups arrived today. They're a robin's egg blue, with the measurements printed on the inside of each cup. The box says they're dishwasher safe but I think I'll want to wash them by hand; they're ceramic and might be a bit on the fragile side.

They'll look beautiful when I display them in my kitchen cabinet.

I'm looking forward to using them this weekend. Our oldest daughter will be coming home from college for spring break, so some baking is in order!

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Parking Tickets Are Just For the "Little People"...

...but not Senator Barack Obama, whose campaign just paid the fines for 15 parking tickets the senator accumulated in Massachusetts between 1988 and 1990.

17 to 19 years later, he finally decides to pay them because he's running for President?

Nice.

I understand that big-city parking can be difficult. But if I had 15 unpaid parking tickets for the better part of two decades, I don't think that would reflect well on me. And I don't think it's very flattering to Senator Obama.

Character is what you do when no one's looking.

Could Meat Be Banned?

Given New York City's ban on trans fats and the push to ban them elsewhere, this question isn't as silly as you might think.

From The New York Times:

"...it would be impossible to rid the nation’s diet of the natural trans fat in meats and dairy products.

"As processed food manufacturers and fast-food restaurants struggle to find new kinds of trans fat-free oils, and some bakers struggle over what to do about butter, the natural trans fat in meat has gone largely unnoticed... But nervous meat purveyors are starting to ask about it, especially as more and more city health officials push through trans fat bans, said Lynn Morrissette, senior director of regulatory affairs for the American Meat Institute.

"'I have to believe that even if it hasn’t happened yet, it’s coming,' she said."

Your Nanny State at work.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

On "Bigotry"

Dan Weintraub of the Sacramento Bee discusses the backlash to the $500-for-every-baby plan proposed in California, and the related dismay that the children of illegal immigrants would qualify for the cash giveaway.

The bill's sponsor attributes Californians' vehement disapproval of the establishment of further taxpayer-funded entitlements for illegal immigrants to "bigotry."

Weintraub then goes on to report on a study which purports to show that illegal immigrants improve Californians' lives, and concludes with a nice swipe of his own at those who disagree with illegal immigration:

"It is easy -- and rational -- to argue that illegal immigration is wrong because it is illegal. But much of the emotion that the issue provokes goes beyond that, to perceptions about cultural and economic change. Many native Californians who are part of the state's shrinking white plurality see immigration, especially illegal immigration, as a threat to their way of life."

It's "easy" to argue illegal immigration is wrong because that's the truth.

And it is far too easy for those sympathetic to illegal immigration to cry "racism," "nativism," or "bigotry" when they don't have the law on their side. Rather reminds me of the old legal maxim that if the facts and the law aren't on your side, then pound on the table and yell.

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