Monday, April 30, 2007

Great Baseball Trivia

This seems to be a week for baseball posts!

I just caught up with a week-old story...on April 22nd the Boston Red Sox tied a major league record, becoming the fifth team in baseball history to hit four consecutive home runs in a single inning.

The last time it was done was by the Los Angeles Dodgers last September, as chronicled in my post "Back to Back to Back to Back...and Then Some!"

What is really unique about the Red Sox's streak is that the second home run was hit by the very same batter who hit the second home run in the Dodgers' September streak, J.D. Drew. He certainly now holds an unusual place in the baseball record books!

Some People Never Learn...

New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine is lucky to be alive, after being critically injured during an April 12th car accident. At the time of the accident, the governor was not wearing a seat belt and his driver was speeding at 90 miles per hour.

So what happened today when the Governor was driven home from the hospital?

His motorcade drove home at a pace 15 miles over the speed limit, without displaying warning lights or flashers.

Shaking head...

Tony Snow Returns

Tony Snow returned to the White House briefing room today. He'll be starting chemotherapy Friday.

Tony recently said "Don't think about dying. Think about living."

He was also quoted as saying, "I am actually enjoying everything more than I ever have. God hasn't promised us tomorrow, but he has promised us eternity."

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Tonight's Movie: Meet the Stewarts (1942)

Can a girl from a wealthy society family live happily on her new husband's low budget? That's the question in MEET THE STEWARTS, in which William Holden and Frances Dee play the struggling newlyweds, Mike and Candy Stewart.

It's a cute film, with a series of amusing incidents as the couple adapts to married life. Candy has a cooking experience reminiscent of the climactic scene of another 1942 film, WOMAN OF THE YEAR. The funniest sequence involves Margaret Hamilton as an inept maid -- inept is an understatement.

If the film were any longer the characters' constant financial squabbles could become exasperating, but with the movie running a brisk 73 minutes, there isn't much time for it to become too bogged down in the couples' financial difficulties. Holden and Dee are an attractive twosome, and the film provides pleasant entertainment.

MEET THE STEWARTS was filmed in black and white. It was directed by Alfred E. Green, whose best-known film might be THE JOLSON STORY.

MEET THE STEWARTS is not available on VHS or DVD, but it can be seen on cable on Turner Classic Movies. Vote here for it to be released on DVD.

February 2011 Update: MEET THE STEWARTS is now available on DVD-R from Sony Pictures' Columbia Classics.

L.A. Dodgers: What Happened to Gibson's Ball?

Arguably the greatest moment in Dodgers history occurred on October 15, 1988, in Game 1 of the World Series against the Oakland A's. That, of course, was the moment Kirk Gibson limped to home plate with two outs and, after running up a full count, hit a walk-off homer against Dennis Eckersley.

I remember that evening with particular fondness. Not only was it the ultimate in baseball magic, but we like to joke that Gibson's miraculous homerun sent me into labor with our first child, as I went to the hospital just a few hours later. While I was in labor, I watched Orel Hershiser pitch and hit his way to victory in Game 2, and the Dodgers went on to win the World Series within the first days after we brought our little girl home from the hospital. So we had a true World Series baby!

The L.A. Times' Bill Plaschke wonders: whatever happened to Gibson's home run ball?

Saturday, April 28, 2007

"Consumed by Scandals"

John Hinderaker of Power Line has an excellent piece about the liberal and media line that the Bush White House is somehow consumed by scandal.

Hinderaker analyzes some of the supposed "scandals" and writes:

"The truth is that the Bush administration has been extraordinarily scandal-free... The purpose of these faux 'investigations' of faux 'scandals' is to further sully the image of President Bush, and to allow liberal reporters and pundits like Eleanor Clift to write that the White House is 'consumed by scandals.' The fact that there isn't a genuine scandal in the bunch goes unremarked."

Tonight's Movie: Escape From Fort Bravo (1953)

ESCAPE FROM FORT BRAVO is a rip-roaring action film directed by John Sturges, who would go on to direct such exciting films as THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN and THE GREAT ESCAPE.

William Holden stars as a Union cavalry officer responsible for keeping order at Fort Bravo, an isolated desert prison for Rebels during the Civil War. John Forsythe is a Rebel captain who cooks up an escape plan, and Eleanor Parker plays a woman who shows up at the fort to attend a wedding but may have ulterior motives.

ESCAPE FROM FORT BRAVO somewhat echoes John Ford's cavalry movies, particularly RIO GRANDE (1950). Aside from their focus on the cavalry, the films share a red-headed leading lady (although RIO GRANDE was shot in black and white!), Civil War themes, and Stan Jones music. (Ford used Jones's music to great effect not only in RIO GRANDE, but in WAGON MASTER and THE SEARCHERS.) FORT BRAVO lacks Ford's extremely deep casts and attention to detail; it also could have stood being a little longer, with a bit more character and romantic development in the early going. Nonetheless, it's a very entertaining movie which builds to a compelling action sequence at the film's climax.

Holden and Parker offer solid performances in the lead roles; Holden's tough captain raising flowers in his small desert backyard provides a particularly interesting insight into his character. The supporting cast includes William Demarest, Richard Anderson, and Polly Bergen in a bit part as Anderson's bride.

The movie was filmed on location in Death Valley. It was shot in color and runs 99 minutes. According to the TCM website, the film was originally filmed in 3-D but was never screened in that format; shot in a spherical 1:37:1 ratio, FORT BRAVO is also credited as being MGM's first widescreen film.

Another unusual bit of trivia is that character actors Michael Pate and Frank Fenton are among the trio credited with the story and screenplay. Neither actor appears in the film.

ESCAPE FROM FORT BRAVO has been released on video. It has not yet been released on DVD; vote here for it to be released in that format.

It can also be seen on cable on TCM.

The trailer is available at TCM's website.

Fall 2008 Update: ESCAPE FROM FORT BRAVO is now available on DVD.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Edwards, Democrats: No Global War on Terror

Senator John Edwards was one of the Democratic Presidential candidates who announced Thursday, in response to a debate question, that he doesn't believe in a War on Terror.

Edwards also seems to subscribe to the theory that America causes terrorism: "I believe -- and this goes to the question you asked earlier, just a few minutes ago -- global war on terror. I think there are dangerous people and dangerous leaders in the world that America must deal with and deal with strongly, but we have more tools available to us than bombs. And America needs to use the tools that are available to them so that these people who are sitting on the fence, who terrorists are trying to recruit, the next generation, get pushed to our side, not to the other side."

Biden, Gravel, and Kucinich also indicated they do not believe the War on Terror exists.

The candidates who agreed with the War on Terror concept: Clinton, Obama, Dodd, and Richardson.

However, it should be noted that Richardson wants to pull our troops out of Iraq faster than most other Democrats.

And when asked about a military response to a terrorist attack, Obama instead talked about emergency response readiness and intelligence to make sure there aren't more attacks coming -- a pure "defense" response to terrorism.

To her credit, Mrs. Clinton said "a president must move as swiftly as is prudent to retaliate." However, her increasingly strident insistence on pulling troops out of Iraq belies any real seriousness about combating global terrorism.

All in all, the Democrat candidates continue to demonstrate a lack of seriousness about global terrorism and our nation's security.

New Book: Thanks to You by Julie Andrews Edwards

I happened to hear Julie Andrews Edwards today on Hugh Hewitt's radio show, and learned she and her daughter, Emma Walton Hamilton, have written a new book, THANKS TO YOU: WISDOM FROM MOTHER AND CHILD. It sounds like a nice potential Mother's Day gift, which I'll be checking out next time I'm in a bookstore.

It seems that Julie Andrews' books have been a part of my life nearly as long as her movies and albums. When I was growing up, MARY POPPINS and THE SOUND OF MUSIC had more of an impact on my childhood than any other movies, and at the same time her book MANDY was a particular favorite of mine, which my daughters in turn have read.

Andrews Edwards' THE LAST OF THE REALLY GREAT WHANGDOODLES, first published in the mid '70s, has been recently published in a 30th Anniversary Edition.

LITTLE BO (1999) and its sequel have been favorites of my youngest daughter since she was a first grader.

It is really rather remarkable that aside from her brilliant acting and singing career, Julie Andrews Edwards has made contributions to the world of children's literature which have stood the test of time.

CA Schools: Homosexual Indoctrination Bill Returns

Last year I wrote about a bill which would have required the deletion of gender-specific terms such as "Mom," "Dad," "husband," and "wife" from California textbooks.

Governor Schwarzenegger vetoed that bill, but the same plan is once again working its way through the state legislature. The bill, SB777, passed the Senate Judiciary Committee earlier this week.

The bill was authored by State Senator Sheila Keuhl, a lesbian activist.

As I wrote last year, this is not simply a California issue. California is one of the largest textbook purchasers in the nation, and textbook publishers often design their textbooks with California requirements in mind. As California textbooks go, so goes the nation.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

How Low Will They Go?

The crass, mean-spirited remarks of Chris Matthews and Elizabeth Edwards, suggesting that President Bush visited Virginia Tech sooner than Hurricane Katrina victims because Virginia Tech was a "prettier picture," are so far beyond the bounds of good taste or good manners it's hard to know how to react.

One could start with the fact that Virginia Tech wasn't underwater, nor would the President's entourage have gotten in the way of rescue and recovery efforts.

One could add that to suggest the "picture" at Virginia Tech, where so many innocents were murdered, is in any way "prettier," just because the campus is nice, is beyond the pale and completely lacking in sympathy for the victims' families.

Edwards also plays the race card, suggesting there were racial issues involved in the timing of travel decisions made by the President, ignoring the fact that some of the victims at V Tech were black.

Wouldn't it be nice if just once a politician -- I refer to Mrs. Edwards -- would refute the premise of a question like Matthews', speak of our nation's President with respect and try to unite rather than divide?

Unbelievable

The Bush Administration today extended free subsidized housing for Hurricane Katrina victims an additional two years, until March 2009.

In March 2008 those living in the government-provided housing will need to begin contributing rent -- beginning at a whole $50 per month.

However, "low-income people, including the disabled and elderly, who are unable to afford to pay a portion of their housing costs will receive financial assistance from the federal government when the rents kick in next March." So the "rent," such as it is, is really meaningless.

This means Hurricane Katrina victims will be eligible to live in free government-provided housing for over three and a half years after the date of the hurricane.

Katrina, with a lot of help from our government, seems to have created a special class of American citizens. There's you, there's me, and then there's the Katrina victim, who is entitled to live in taxpayer-funded housing for years at a time.

If I lost my home in an earthquake, do you suppose the government would still be paying for my housing nearly four years later?

Of course not.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Hope for Free Speech?

Reports indicate that, during oral arguments today, several members of the Supreme Court appeared skeptical of the McCain-Feingold restrictions on free speech.

More reporting and analysis from SCOTUSblog.

20 Years of Dirty Dancing

Has it really been 20 years since the release of DIRTY DANCING?

The occasion is being marked with the release of a 20th anniversary DVD on May 8th.

Fans share their love for the film in a fun USA Today article at the subject link. But I had to shake my head when I read in the article about girls seeing the movie for the first time at ages 5, 8, and 12. The movie, which is rated PG-13, has some very adult themes, including abortion. It's an entertaining movie with some great music and dancing, but a kids' movie it's not.

Unfortunately, I don't think the exposure to this kind of film at a young age is unusual -- I am continually amazed when I hear which films certain of my children's acquaintances have seen. This is just one symptom of a trend to blur the line between childhood and adulthood, prematurely exposing children to adult issues, and I don't think the consequences are good for the children or society in general.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

New on DVD: Jane Eyre (1943) and More

Today there are some terrific DVD releases of all kinds, including classic movies, new movies, and classic television.

The release which interests me the most is JANE EYRE, which stars Joan Fontaine as Jane, Orson Welles as Mr. Rochester, and a trio of wonderful child actresses, Peggy Ann Garner, Elizabeth Taylor, and Margaret O'Brien.

Amazon's listing of the film's extras is deficient; according to various sources, including this listing at DVD Empire, there are two commentary tracks, including a track with Margaret O'Brien and film historian Joseph McBride. That should be a real treat. Additionally, a discussion thread at TCM indicates there is an isolated track to listen to Bernard Herrmann's musical score.

(As an aside, Warners really needs to think about an O'Brien boxed set with movies like JOURNEY FOR MARGARET, OUR VINES HAVE TENDER GRAPES, THE CANTERVILLE GHOST, and THE SECRET GARDEN. If marketed properly, I think it would be popular with families as well as classic film fans.)

Today also sees the release of THE QUEEN; a review of the DVD can be read at Digitally Obsessed. I'm really looking forward to finally seeing it. My longtime interest in the history of European royalty will add an extra dimension to viewing this film.

NIGHT AT THE MUSEUM was a hit with my children; I haven't yet seen it. The cast includes Dick Van Dyke and Mickey Rooney.

Finally, today is also the release date for WKRP IN CINCINNATI; my copy arrived in today's mail.

The issues regarding WKRP's musical soundtrack and editing have previously been covered in posts here and here. I decided it was worth buying, but WKRP fans should be aware of exactly what they're getting before making the purchase.

Legalities

Jan Crawford Greenburg is writing a consistently interesting blog, Legalities, at ABC News. I recently bookmarked it to check out on a regular basis.

Legalities, as one might expect, covers legal issues, particularly Supreme Court news.

Yesterday Greenburg took on the disconcerting, bigoted criticism from some quarters -- including "legal expert" Rosie O'Donnell and Geoffrey Stone, former dean of Greenburg's law school at the University of Chicago -- that five justices arrived at last week's partial birth abortion decision because they are Catholics.

Last week Greenburg offered interesting analysis of Anthony Kennedy's role in the same decision.

I've read many good things about Greenburg's Supreme Court book, SUPREME CONFLICT, although at the rate my schedule is going lately I sometimes think I'm not going to have a chance to read it until summer vacation...

Heartwarming

If this video of a little boy's surprise reunion with his father, who had just arrived home from Iraq, doesn't make you tear up, nothing will.

The soldier's wife crying "I'm just so proud of him" got me too.

This video serves as a poignant and heartwarming reminder that we owe all of our military families a great debt.

Monday, April 23, 2007

I Really Like...

...the prompt, articulate, and respectful way Fred Thompson engages on the issues.

Happy St. George's Day

Some in England are pushing for St. George's Day to be a national holiday.

One supporter of making St. George's Day a national holiday predicts it will happen in two or three years.

One MP says, "Why should England be one of very few countries in the world that doesn't have a public holiday to celebrate their national day?"

Sunday, April 22, 2007

That's One Way to Keep Him Out of the House...

"Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton said yesterday that if she were elected president, she would make her husband a roaming ambassador, using his skills to repair the nation's tattered image abroad."

I can't imagine voting for a President who actually believes our image is "tattered" and in need of repair. It doesn't speak well of her if she thinks so little of our nation.

Meanwhile, Al Gore may attempt the comeback trail. Those who think he really has a chance might want to look at his 2000 debate tapes again...

Finally, check out this Presidential trivia from The Corner.

California's "Mother Road"

The L.A. Times ran a good article today on Highway 395, which we travel most summers to the Eastern Sierras.

This year we hope to stop in Lone Pine and visit the Museum of Lone Pine Film History.

The article also mentions our favorite stop, further north along the 395, Schat's Bakkery in Bishop.

However, author Hugo Martin missed another fun stop, Gus's Really Good Fresh Jerky located in lonely Olancha, although he does refer to it in passing.

And Martin stops chronicling the 395 at Bodie, missing the gem of the 395 just a little further on: beautiful Bridgeport, California, our home away from home one week each summer. We camp along Robinson Creek a few miles outside Bridgeport.

To the right, the 1880 courthouse on Bridgeport's Main Street, which is a part of the 395.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Coming to DVD: Film Noir Collection Vol. 4

Warner's Film Noir Classic Collection, Volume 4, coming on July 31st, looks like a great candidate for DVD set of the year.

The set includes a whopping ten titles: ACT OF VIOLENCE, MYSTERY STREET, CRIME WAVE, DECOY, ILLEGAL, THE BIG STEAL, THEY LIVE BY NIGHT, SIDE STREET, WHERE DANGER LIVES, and TENSION.

The set is chock full of terrific extras, with commentary tracks from film historians including Eddie Muller, Alain Silver, James Ursini, Drew Casper, Richard Jewell, Glenn Erickson, Richard Schickel, and Patricia King Hanson.

Actors contributing to the commentaries are Farley Granger, Audrey Totter, and Nina Foch.

Original featurettes and trailers are also included.

The fabulous artwork for these titles can be viewed at the subject link.

NASCAR Honors Virginia Tech

Several NASCAR drivers, including Virginians Elliott Sadler, Jeff Burton, and Ward Burton, will display Virginia Tech logos on their cars for the next three races.

Ward Burton's sponsor, State Water Heaters, asked that their ad be replaced by the Virginia Tech logo on the hood this weekend. Ward will visit the campus on Monday.

Friday, April 20, 2007

WKRP DVD's Music Issues (Continued)

I recently wrote about music licensing issues causing some major alterations to the soundtrack of WKRP IN CINCINNATI on DVD. Season 1 of WKRP will be released on April 24th.

The Minneapolis Star Tribune has interviewed series creater Hugh Wilson and Fox Marketing executive Peter Staddon about the controversial changes.

Music alterations include Jennifer's doorbell no longer playing "Fly Me to the Moon." Licensing fees for WKRP would likely have run to hundreds of thousands of dollars for a single episode, which would have made releasing the series as it originally aired an economic impossibility.

A number of TV series have had their soundtracks altered for DVD due to licensing issues, but it's probably been most noticeable for NORTHERN EXPOSURE and WKRP, as both shows feature radio stations.

The Fox executive said, "Some fans are going to look at this and say, 'Well, this isn't the show I saw on television.' It's not, but it's the only show we could bring out on DVD."

Series creator Wilson is hopeful he "created a show with likable characters and funny scenes that can withstand any music alterations."

(Hat tip: TVShowsOnDVD.)

Monday Update: An expanded article on this topic by Randy Salas, who also wrote the article for the Star Tribune.

Media Continue to Defend Airing Shooter Video

Jon Klein of CNN said, "Information these days is like steam. It escapes through the tiniest cracks. The notion that any piece of information ever can be sealed away, I think, is a relic of the past."

So the mainstream media needs to contribute to the coarsening of our culture and encouraging copycats by making a murderer's dreams come true?

Things may leak out onto the Internet, but there's no reason for the networks to make a murderer's "manifesto" instantly available to millions of people.

Steve Capus of NBC said, "I did not want to do anything to cause greater pain. We worked as journalists to present the matter in the proper light, and I think we did."

There seems to be an oxymoron there. Capus claims not to have wanted to cause the bereaved greater pain, yet he deliberately did that very thing, presenting "the matter in the proper light," whatever that might be. Meanwhile, his network scored a huge ratings victory.

Capus put being "first" and making money over ethics, common sense, and compassion. There's no other way around it.

As the L.A. Times quotes a comment left at MSNBC, "What is the standard? Will we next be seeing beheadings and full-length terrorist propaganda films?"

An apt question. NBC has been justifying airing the video by claiming they cannot withhold "news" about the case. So how could they withhold terrorist propaganda in future? The murderer's video and photos are no different from any terrorist's video.

A victim's father asks: "I want to issue a direct personal plea, to all the major media. For the love of God and our children, stop broadcasting those images and those words. Choose to focus on life and the love and the light that our children brought into the world and not on the darkness and the madness and the death."

Previous posts on this topic: April 18th and 19th.

Update: A round-up of quotes about NBC's decision by Hugh Hewitt.

A forensic psychiatrist was quoted on ABC yesterday as saying NBC's decision was a "social catastrophe."

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Backlash Hits NBC

Today NBC's Brian Williams defended NBC's airing of the Virginia Tech shooter's tape: "We decided what of it we could air as a news organization. I do not know of a reputable news organization that would have stopped after that first step ... and put the contents into a drawer."

Maybe that kind of thinking is a big part of what's wrong with TV news.

Victims' family members cancelled appearances on NBC today. Amidst strong criticism from many quarters, NBC also tried to defend airing the tape by stating that as of today they were restricting it to 10 percent of their airtime.

Are we really supposed to be comforted that the tape will "only" be shown six minutes per hour?

The damage has been done, whether it's to grant the murderer his dying wish -- I deliberately do not give him further publicity by using his name on my blog -- inspire potential copycats, or cause pain to grieving families.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Should NBC Show the Video?

There are those tonight who are stoutly defending NBC and other networks for showing the video of the Virginia Tech murderer in the name of "journalism."

TV Newser quotes a correspondent: "People do not understand the journalistic obligation to do so... All of us who are serious about journalism need to defend a news organization's right and obligation to do what NBC did."

My take is that it would be sufficient to tell viewers about the tape and describe some of the contents. Airing the tape not only plays into the hands of the murderer, giving him exactly what he wanted, but it could encourage other nutcases who would like to have similar notoriety.

In related news, the level of malice the murderer displayed in advance of the shooting is disturbing. Rich Lowry writes at The Corner that only 7 of the 70 students in his poetry class showed up at one point, as most of the class had become afraid of him. A professor who decided to then work with him one on one -- because the university said there was nothing they could do without overt threats -- was concerned to such an extent that she and her assistant agreed in advance on an emergency code word to signal the need to call law enforcement.

The coming days should be a time to focus on bereaved families and friends and those who were terrorized and injured. However, in due course, as further facts become known, I think there should perhaps be a public discussion about how universities should handle students who are obviously disturbed. Universities may fear legal difficulties or lawsuits if they expel or otherwise address the problems of such students, and there may well also be an element of political correctness which could prevent university employees from addressing issues regarding someone who is "different." I suspect it would be wise for most universities to review and, if necessary, update their policies for handling such students.

Update: Hugh Hewitt asks if NBC made "the single worst editorial decision in the history of broadcast news" and calls airing the video "shameful." Hugh's editorial on this subject is right on.

The New York Times has a good article on the legal difficulties facing universities when dealing with mentally ill students.

Thursday Update: Welcome to readers of the Real Clear Politics and Fox News Buzz Tracker.

Saturday Update: For more on this topic, see my posts of Thursday and Friday.

New Movie: Waitress (2007)

Today's New York Times ran an interesting article in its Dining & Wine section about a new movie called WAITRESS, which opens nationwide May 2nd.

The film stars Keri Russell as a pregnant waitress who specializes in baking pies (27 kinds per day!) at a diner whose owner is played by Andy Griffith.

The film was written and directed by Adrienne Shelly, who also plays one of the waitresses; sadly, Ms. Shelly was murdered last fall by a construction worker.

I very much enjoyed Russell in the Hallmark Hall of Fame movie THE MAGIC OF ORDINARY DAYS. I'm not sure if WAITRESS will turn out to be my kind of movie, but given the focus on baking, it sounds promising.

A 3-star review is available from the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Thank God

The U.S. Supreme Court has today upheld the federal ban on partial birth abortions.

Ed Whelan has excerpts from Justice Kennedy's majority opinion. The court ruled 5-4, with Kennedy once again the "swing" vote.

More commentary from Captain's Quarters and posts at Bench Memos.

So far the analysis which I'm reading and hearing (via Rush Limbaugh) is that it's a narrow, carefully worded decision which leaves room for further challenges of the law in future. Much more analysis to come in the next hours and days, I'm sure.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Tonight's Movie: Detective Story (1951)

I approached DETECTIVE STORY with great interest. It was directed by the legendary William Wyler and has a fine cast headed by Kirk Douglas as a hard-nosed detective and Eleanor Parker as his wife. I was recently charmed by Parker's performance in THE VERY THOUGHT OF YOU, and I've enjoyed watching some police dramas of that era in recent months, including CROSSFIRE and THE RACKET.

I have to admit, though, that despite DETECTIVE STORY's reputation as a classic, it really didn't work for me. At all.

The film's police station set felt quite "stagebound," and although the grungy, gritty police station may have been somewhat groundbreaking in its day, that kind of setting has been done a million times since then, such as in HILL STREET BLUES. Normally I would still appreciate the film's style in the context of its times, but I was so (unexpectedly) disinterested in the film's plot that it was hard to appreciate much else about the film.

The episodic storyline, weaving a bunch of oddball crooks' tales around the problems of Detective McLeod and his wife, left me flat. Douglas and Parker offer fine performances, but when I got to the end of the movie, which has to be one of the most depressing in Hollywood history, I thought "I sat through this film in order to get to this?!" I was pretty much thunderstruck by the ending's one-two punch.

Longtime readers know that I'm normally someone who focuses on whatever good a film has to offer, as I love movies so much. But this movie really struck me the wrong way. I don't know if it caught me on a bad day, or if this kind of dark film -- with a total lack of uplifting themes or redemption -- just isn't my thing. I was frankly surprised, as I was expecting to enjoy it quite a bit.

DETECTIVE STORY was filmed in black and white by cinematographer Lee Garmes. It runs 103 loooong minutes. It received four Academy Award nominations, including Eleanor Parker as Best Actress.

The DVD print is beautiful. Unfortunately, the DVD contains no extras whatsoever, not even a trailer.

The film can also be seen on TCM. The trailer can be seen at TCM's site.

Behind Durham-in-Wonderland

Canada's National Post has an excellent profile of Brooklyn College Professor Robert Johnson, aka KC Johnson, the proprietor of Durham-in-Wonderland.

Johnson's work played a key role in exonerating the Duke lacrosse players and shining a light on the railroading techniques and lies of prosecutor Mike Nifong.

Incidentally, last weekend Johnson wrote a piece on the case for ABC.

This Is Journalism?

A headline on Drudge caught my eye: "Parents Demand Firing of Virginia Tech President, Police Chief Over Poor Handling of Mass Shooting."

If you click on the actual Fox News.com article -- which has no byline but notes that Fox News' Liza Porteus and the AP "contributed" to the article -- you find that it is an interview solely expressing the opinions of one set of parents. Out of 26,000 students?

Of course, the parents interviewed had an opinion that fit with the agenda that seems to have quickly developed in the media, which is to cast blame on the university and law enforcement.

Rush Limbaugh said this morning that he felt actual facts were slow to develop in the TV coverage yesterday, because early on the media were so focused on casting blame (seemingly more on the school and law enforcement than the shooter) and on feeding a gun control agenda. Finding information which fit the agenda, rather than developing all the facts, seemed to be the priority.

I happened to see some of Paula Zahn on CNN last night and was struck by the unmeasured way she attempted to stoke anger against the school and police in each interview she conducted. There was no balance to her questions, taking into account that the campus and its population are the equivalent of a small city. She was not attempting to get the full picture and let fact-based judgments be made later -- it seems she had already made her judgment and was asking the questions that fit her point of view. There seemed to be some odd "anger displacement" going on with the media, blaming just about anyone but the murderer.

As I noted yesterday, "The question which seems to be on everyone's minds is why the campus wasn't locked down in the hours after the initial shootings. I suspect it is too early yet for all the facts to be clear, let alone consider whether or not that is a fair criticism."

It will certainly be fair in future to calmly analyze what happened and why and how things could have been handled better, particularly so that all universities can assess how to better handle emergency situations. But hindsight is always 20/20, and the immediate casting of judgment in the emotion of the moment does not serve anyone well.

We saw the same emotion-based rush to judgment during Hurricane Katrina, only to later find that much of the media "reporting" was either inaccurate or downright fraudulent. What I later termed Katrina Freeway Overpass Syndrome was a large part of the problem, as reporters at the scene were so close to the emotions of the story they lost all perspective or ability to see the facts in front of them in context of a larger picture. (We saw this emotion-driven coverage again following the mining accident in January 2006.) As the saying goes, rumor is out the door before truth gets its shoes on, and even today many of the myths of Hurricane Katrina live on, continuing to feed the agenda of many against the Bush Administration.

Unfortunately, it doesn't seem many in the media have learned from those past experiences, and I fear we're going to see more "Katrina style" reporting this week, driven more by emotions and an agenda than the facts. I hope I'm wrong.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Sadness

There isn't much that can be said about the terrible events today at Virginia Tech.

As the parent of a college student, I particularly relate to what the families in this situation are suffering. My daughter says the news is the talk of her own campus today.

Free Republic, linked above, has a live thread with continuous updates; an ongoing summary of this afternoon's press conference starts with posts around the 1800s.

The question which seems to be on everyone's minds is why the campus wasn't locked down in the hours after the initial shootings. I suspect it is too early yet for all the facts to be clear, let alone consider whether or not that is a fair criticism.

More updates from Pajamas Media, Hot Air, and Google News.

Update: I agree with Dennis Prager...the University President almost immediately announcing plans to "begin the healing process" struck me as inappropriate. Given the timing, it sounded self-centered and insensitive to the bereaved.

Such a sad day. My prayers and sincere condolences to all who were affected by today's events.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Tonight's Movie: On the Waterfront (1954)

It was an Elia Kazan weekend here. Last night I followed Kazan's BOOMERANG! with the interesting documentary ELIA KAZAN: A DIRECTOR'S JOURNEY (1995) which is part of the DVD Special Edition of A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE. The documentary chronologically covered all of Kazan's films and was quite well done.

Tonight I watched ON THE WATERFRONT, which I first saw when I was 15. I remember it that well as the occasion was a bit unusual, a marathon of Academy Award winning movies at the late, lamented Filmex festival in Century City, CA. (During the previous year's musical marathon, my father and I literally stayed up all night watching OKLAHOMA!, WEST SIDE STORY, and MY FAIR LADY. Classic movies were so relatively inaccessible in the '70s that you had to grab any opportunity you could to see them...and besides, the marathon was fun!)

I recently picked up the Special Edition DVD as my college-age daughter and a friend decided it would be fun to work their way through any movies they hadn't seen on AFI's 100 Greatest Movies list, and ON THE WATERFRONT falls in the Top 10 films on the list. I decided to watch it myself before shipping it off to the dorm. I hadn't seen it in many years so it was a treat to view the film with fresh eyes. It was as gripping and engrossing as I remembered. You don't want to take your eyes off the screen for a second or you might miss a look, a gesture; every moment of the film has significance.

It was especially interesting seeing ON THE WATERFRONT having recently seen both BOOMERANG! and PANIC IN THE STREETS, earlier Kazan films which also made great use of location photography and authentic-looking extras. I was struck that ON THE WATERFRONT has so many of the same elements as the film noir movies I've watched in recent months. An (initially) morally ambiguous hero, a crime boss, bad men in trenchcoats and fedoras, a crime investigation...the gritty look and location filming, scary night scenes, shadows, murder, etc. Has anyone ever called ON THE WATERFRONT film noir? I suppose it transcends the genre, but the comparisons kind of intrigue me.

I'm sure it doesn't need to be said that ON THE WATERFRONT stars Marlon Brando, Eva Marie Saint, Karl Malden, Lee J. Cobb, and Rod Steiger. All give towering performances. The film won eight Academy Awards, including Best Picture -- beating out my all-time favorite movie, SEVEN BRIDES FOR SEVEN BROTHERS.

ON THE WATERFRONT runs 108 minutes. The striking black and white cinematography was by Boris Kaufman. The music was by Leonard Bernstein, who a few years later composed the score for another great New York tale, WEST SIDE STORY.

The DVD mentioned above has a beautiful print, a commentary track, photo gallery, and a very interesting 25-minute featurette centering mainly on the famous taxi scene.

ON THE WATERFRONT has also been released on VHS. It can be seen on cable on TCM. It next airs on TCM on May 2 and June 23, 2007.

April 2013 Update: I had the wonderful opportunity to see this film introduced by Eva Marie Saint at the TCM Classic Film Festival.

Thank You...

...to Cathy at Sunday Morning Coffee for her very kind words about this blog. What a great way to end the weekend.

And I love the Disneyland Castle photo she has linking to my blog. :)

The Growth of the Nanny State

Mark Landsbaum of the Orange County Register cites several examples of new "nanny state" laws in California.

His conclusion: "If we justify government coercion based on what's good for us, where do we stop? Our nation's founders had a different idea. What's good for us ought to be each person's decision, not an assemblyman's or a governor's. Or a Nanny's."

Coming to DVD: Esther Williams Collection

July 17th will see the release of a DVD collection of five Esther Williams movies. The films in the set are BATHING BEAUTY, ON AN ISLAND WITH YOU, NEPTUNE'S DAUGHTER, EASY TO WED, and DANGEROUS WHEN WET.

The beautiful box art can be seen at the above link.

Unfortunately there is no "new" content, such as commentaries or featurettes, included in the set. However, two of the films will include deleted musical numbers, which is exciting news. Esther's PRIVATE SCREENINGS interview with Robert Osborne will also be part of the set.

Cartoons and shorts round out the extras.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Tonight's Movie: Boomerang! (1947)

BOOMERANG! is an excellent early example of the "procedural" or "documentary" style of film noir. Released in 1947, BOOMERANG! predates the somewhat similarly themed CALL NORTHSIDE 777 by a year. The director of BOOMERANG!, Elia Kazan, also helmed 1950's PANIC IN THE STREETS, another film in the genre. All three of these movies employed extensive location shooting and a close-up look at an investigation; to varying degrees, they used non-actors in the cast. Two of the three films mentioned here were based on true stories.

In BOOMERANG! Dana Andrews plays Henry Harvey, a State's Attorney under enormous political pressure to prosecute a suspect in the murder of a kindly Episcopal priest in a Connecticut town. The only problem is that the more Harvey looks at the evidence, the less convinced he is of the suspect's guilt. Harvey adheres to a prosecutor's ethical code of conduct, requiring that he seek justice rather than a conviction, and presents his doubts about the evidence at a preliminary hearing.

BOOMERANG! is based on an actual murder which took place in Bridgeport, Connecticut; as the city was not happy to cooperate in putting the story on film, the movie was filmed on location in Stamford, Connecticut. Henry Harvey was inspired by Homer Cummings, who after a similar case went on to become United States Attorney General.

The cast of BOOMERANG! is superb. Dana Andrews, one of my favorite actors, is excellent as Attorney Harvey. Lee J. Cobb plays the police chief, who is similarly pressured to quickly find and prosecute a murder suspect. Jane Wyatt is Harvey's supportive wife, Arthur Kennedy plays the murder suspect, and a young Karl Malden is a police detective. The top-notch cast is rounded out by Sam Levene, Ed Begley, and Cara Williams. A fun piece of casting trivia is that the playwright Arthur Miller is one of the suspects in a police lineup.

BOOMERANG! was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Screenplay. (The winner was MIRACLE ON 34TH STREET.) Elia Kazan was awarded Best Director by the National Board of Review and the New York Film Critics Circle in recognition of both BOOMERANG! and GENTLEMAN'S AGREEMENT; Kazan won the Oscar as Best Director that year for GENTLEMAN'S AGREEMENT.

The movie runs 88 minutes and was filmed in black and white.

BOOMERANG! was produced on DVD as Fox Film Noir No. 16. However, just before the DVD was to be released it was recalled, apparently due to copyright issues. Film noir expert Eddie Muller recently wrote in the Noir City Sentinel newsletter "From what I've heard, BOOMERANG is dead in the water. Those who got a copy before the recall have collector's items."

Some copies did indeed make it into the marketplace, despite the recall, and can still be purchased from Amazon vendors or on eBay. I was fortunate to be able to view the DVD. The print is beautiful, and extras include a commentary by film noir scholars Alain Silver and James Ursini. I hope the copyright issues are somehow resolved so that this DVD can one day be more widely available, as it deserves.

Glenn Erickson reviews both the film and the DVD at DVD Savant.

This movie has also been released on VHS.

It may be of interest that references vary as to whether an exclamation mark should be used in the film title. I followed the style of the film's actual opening credits, which include the exclamation mark. Curiously, the film's advertising poster, seen here, does not use it, nor does the DVD cover -- although the DVD's main menu does.

Update: Many thanks to J.C. Loophole of The Shelf for letting us know in the comments that the DVD can also be seen via Netflix. Coincidentally he just received it from Netflix in today's mail!

October 2008 Update: BOOMERANG has now finally had its official DVD release in the Fox Film Noir series.

Fred Thompson: The Weekly Standard Interview

Stephen Hayes interviews Fred Thompson, who is sounding better to me all the time.

(Hat tip: Power Line.)

What Makes Chocolate?

See's Candies and Guittard Chocolate are fighting an attempt by some in the chocolate industry, including Hershey, to persuade the FDA to allow chocolate to be made with vegetable oil rather than cocoa butter.

According to an analyst quoted by the L.A. Times, "The proposed rule change is part of a strategy by Hershey and other large producers to segment the industry, lowering the quality and expense of everyday candy bars while marketing high-quality, high-priced premium chocolate."

An artisan chocolatier warns that chocolate made with vegetable oil would have "a waxy taste."

Personally I think Hershey and others in favor of the change should do the honest thing and simply market a product called "imitation chocolate" if they want to make it with vegetable oil. :)

If you would like to express your opinion to the FDA, visit Don'tMessWithOurChocolate.

Friday, April 13, 2007

"Is Climatology a Science?"

An excellent column by Robert Tracinski: "Those who claim the authority of science for speculations about human-caused, catastrophic global warming are abusing the reputation earned by established, mature sciences. They are attempting to steal that reputation on behalf of a premature hypothesis put forward by practitioners of a science still in its infancy."

The entire essay is definitely worth a read.

Looking for Deals at Disney World

USA Today ran a good story today with some ideas for keeping costs down for a trip to Disney World.

The author left out the most important suggestion, however: buy an annual pass for one person in the party. If you plan your trip in advance, in most cases the savings on your room and meals -- annual passholders can buy a dining discount card -- will be worth far more than the extra cost for the annual pass. If you're able to return the following year before the pass expires, your savings are even greater.


I don't know how long it will be until we are able to return to Disney World, but in the meantime I dream regularly of my favorite place, the Beach Club, and sitting alongside Stormalong Bay while enjoying ice cream from Beaches and Cream...

Great Baseball Trivia

When I heard that last night Tom Glavine won his 292nd career game, I was mildly surprised to realize Glavine is still pitching. He was on the 1st place Rotisserie baseball team my husband and I co-owned back in 1988. We won our Rotisserie league championship the same week the Dodgers won the World Series and our oldest daughter was born. That was an exceptionally good week!

What makes it even more fun is that last night Glavine and Jamie Moyer set the all-time record for the oldest combined age of starting lefthanded pitchers, with a combined age of 85 years, 163 days.

The previous age record for a lefties-only duel was Tommy John (my all-time favorite player) vs. Jerry Reuss, at 83 years, 299 days.

The oldest combined age of starters ever was Charlie Hough (righthander) vs. Frank Tanana (lefthander), at 85 years, 232 days.

John, Reuss, and Hough were all Dodgers relatively early in their careers, and Tanana was once an Angel, though none of them were still with the Dodgers or Angels at the time they set the age records. Maybe there's something about the Southern California weather that contributes to pitching longevity. :)

Thursday, April 12, 2007

"Simple Pleasure, American Style"

Julia Moskin of The New York Times on the pleasures of the chocolate brownie.

The article includes recipes.

I think my favorite brownie recipe is still the one from BETTY CROCKER'S COOKBOOK FOR BOYS AND GIRLS.

Tonight's Movie: Finishing School (1934)

FINISHING SCHOOL is a highly engrossing tale about Virginia (Frances Dee), a girl from a wealthy family who is parked at an exclusive finishing school by her neglectful parents (Billie Burke and John Halliday). After a misadventure with her roommate (Ginger Rogers), Virginia meets a nice young intern who is training at a children's hospital (Bruce Cabot), and they fall in love. As the doctor is not from a "good" family and supports himself with a side job as a waiter, the school's administrator and Virginia's parents conspire to keep the couple apart, with near-disastrous results.

The movie has very appealing lead performances by Dee and Cabot, with Rogers giving one of her typically spirited performances as Dee's wild-but-loyal roommate. Dee was roughly 24 and Rogers 23 at the time the film was made -- perhaps a bit old to be playing boarding school girls, but Dee in particular looks the part, and the viewer is happy to suspend disbelief while watching these ladies act. The high point of the film is an extended Christmas sequence with no dialogue, simply watching the lonely Virginia, who has been forced to remain at school for the holidays.

The movie was made the same year the Production Code came into existence, and it seems to have thus escaped some of the Code's restrictions. The plot takes a somewhat surprising turn of events for an "old" movie -- I was a bit slow to catch on (grin) -- but this being Hollywood, all ends well.

Beulah Bondi and Sara Haden are the dragon ladies running the school; Anne Shirley (then billed as Dawn O'Day) is one of the younger students; and Jane Darwell has an uncredited role as a cranky nurse.

FINISHING SCHOOL runs a quick 73 minutes and was filmed in black and white. It was directed by George Nicholls, Jr. (also known as George Nichols, Jr.), and Wanda Tuchock. Tuchock wrote a number of screenplays but had only two directing credits; her other directorial effort would not come until 1952.

FINISHING SCHOOL has been released on VHS. It can also be seen on cable on Turner Classic Movies.

Vote here for FINISHING SCHOOL to be released on DVD.

2011 Update: FINISHING SCHOOL is now available on DVD-R from the Warner Archive.

Nifong Apologizes to Duke Players

One of the boys' attorneys responded:

"You can accept an apology from someone who knows all the facts and simply makes an error. If a person refuses to know all the facts and then makes a judgment, that's far worse -- particularly when that judgment destroys lives."

Mr. Nifong's career future is not looking bright at the moment. Which is as it should be.

KC Johnson, commenting on yesterday's events, wrote about North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper as follows:

"This case has featured an example of a prosecutor who corrupted the justice system and stoked race and class tensions in his hometown to further his political career.

"Cooper could have taken the easy way out, delivering a milquetoast statement that dismissed the charges but did little else. Instead, he delivered a speech that will define his political career.

"At an early stage of the case, Mike Nifong preposterously asserted that his favorite novels included To Kill a Mockingbird. Yesterday, Roy Cooper provided a reminder that the spirit of Atticus Finch remains alive."

Going in Circles

When I was growing up, paper grocery bags were phased out in favor of plastic. Despite paper bags being biodegradable and made from a renewable resource, we were told we needed to "save the trees." Plastic, we were told, was the environmentally friendly answer.

Now L.A. County is looking at following San Francisco's lead and banning plastic grocery bags, which we're told are harmful to the environment, including marine animals.

This rather reminds me of the warnings on global freezing when I was young, which have morphed into fears of global warming. (I suspect the peach growers of South Carolina and apple growers of North Carolina, among others, would be more inclined to believe in global freezing than global warming right about now.) Back then we were also supposed to be eating margarine, which was healthier than butter. Now, of course, we're supposed to believe that margarine is worse because of the transfats. And so it goes.

The science alarmists just aren't happy unless we're worried about something, it seems.

If there is truly a case to be made for eliminating plastic grocery bags, then I'd like to see the change made through public persuasion and the free market. Oppressive government "bans" on everything from plastic bags to light bulbs to transfats to spanking scare me more than the things from which we are being "protected."

Here in Southern California, our city has a strong recycling program and all our family's plastic bags are recycled. Such a positive option strikes me as far preferable to banning and restricting freedom.

Back on the global warming topic, unfortunately California's Governor Schwarzenegger is now jumping on the latest bandwagon, labeling global warming skeptics "fanatics" who are "in denial."

I'd like to know if Governor Schwarzenegger, whose science credentials are murky to me, honestly thinks that MIT meteorology professor Richard Lindzen is a fanatic who is in denial. Or any of the eminent professors quoted in the recent series on global warming skepticism in Canada's National Post.

I'm sorry to see the governor belittling those with whom he disagrees, speaking in emotional terms rather than calmly assessing all the available facts on this subject.

I suspect that a couple decades from now we're going to look back on global warming as the Alar scare of its day...and I'll also bet we'll be fretting and worrying over something else.

Update: Don't miss today's Opinion Journal editorial, which has the subheadline "How many politicians does it take to screw in a light bulb?"

The main point: "...the environmentalists can't make their case through argument and persuasion. Instead, they immediately resort to state coercion..."

Good for USC

Unlike other major universities, USC refused to allow students to conduct a disruptive sit-in at the President's office this week and swiftly brought it to a close with phone calls to parents threatening the students' expulsion.

If students insist on acting like children -- to the extent of bringing kitty litter to the President's office to use as bathroom facilities -- then unfortunately they have to be treated like children, rather than as young adults.

Of course, that old-time political activitist, Tom Hayden, chided the university as "very insensitive," saying that political activism is part of students' growth and "becoming independent."

I would say just the opposite. These students somehow believed that their protest would help others, but instead their activities -- and whiny reaction when the sit-in was nipped in the bud ("I almost felt violated") -- showed them to be pouting children who believe the world revolves around themselves. It's time they learn otherwise.

There are plenty of ways for students to express their points of view. As the vice president of student affairs said, "Universities are open places and we provide lots of opportunity to protest, to make their concerns known."

You just don't get to do it camping out in Bovard Hall, using the President's office as your dining hall and bathroom.

Over the past year I've been extremely impressed with USC's leadership and the way the university is run, and this further solidifies my positive impressions.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

George Will: "Fuzzy Climate Math"

George Will with a bunch of interesting statistics on global warming.

For instance: "Compliance with Kyoto would reduce global warming by an amount too small to measure. But the cost of compliance just to the United States would be higher than the cost of providing the entire world with clean drinking water and sanitation, which would prevent 2 million deaths (from diseases like infant diarrhea) a year and prevent half a billion people from becoming seriously ill each year."

Also: "Nature designed us as carnivores, but what does nature know about nature? Meat has been designated a menace" (he goes on to explain why), and "Newsweek says most food travels at least 1,200 miles to get to Americans' plates, so buying local food will save fuel. Do not order halibut in Omaha."

As the saying goes, read the whole thing...

Duke Players Innocent

See Durham-in-Wonderland for a summary of the North Carolina Attorney General's press conference.

The Attorney General was very clear that the players are innocent and that D.A. Mike Nifong was a "rogue prosecutor" who may be guilty of criminal misconduct.

My compliments to Durham-in-Wonderland's KC Johnson, as well as John in Carolina and the other bloggers, reporters, and commentators who worked so hard to understand and explain this case to the public. I believe they played a key role in Nifong currently facing charges from the Bar -- and possibly, in future, the State -- and in exonerating these players.

Justice at last.

Update: John in Carolina raises an interesting point I'd wondered about when listening to the press conference: Where was Nifong's staff during the last year? Why didn't one Assistant D.A. come forward and blow the whistle? Did they place career over justice? Did Nifong act completely alone?

Further Update: The transcript of the Attorney General's statement has been posted at Michelle Malkin's site.

Skewed Priorities

(NOTE: My oldest daughter guest blogged this post. She is a freshman at the University of Southern California whose Blogger name is "gategirl.")

The world will be safer once our military takes on global warming.

That, at least, is what is suggested by the new bill being proposed in the Senate, which would require the CIA and the Pentagon to assess the national security risks of global warming. The bill would require that these agencies spend time figuring out which areas would be "at highest risk of humanitarian suffering and assessing the likelihood of wars erupting over diminishing water and other resources."

Let's take a quick breather here, shall we? Let us first consider that global warming as a dire trend hasn't been confirmed at all, as pointed out by the article by MIT Professor Richard Lindzen in the latest Newsweek. Then let's consider that we are currently at war in the Middle East and that a large group of people wish we were all dead.

And a new national military priority is based on the vague idea that the world is about to erupt into civil war due to a little-proven scientific theory? The CIA must spend energy tracking this problem over tracking terrorists?

The logic is baffling.

Update: A humorous response from Ugly Naked Guy.

Sad News for Model Train Fans

My husband collects LGB model trains... Today comes the sad news that Allen Drucker, owner of Allied Model Trains of Los Angeles, has sold the business after 32 years.

Allied Trains has been in existence since 1946 and will continue under new ownership at a new location across the street from its current address. The current building is a mini replica of L.A.'s Union Station.

(Hat tip: L.A. Observed.)

Thompson Has Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma

Former Senator Fred Thompson has disclosed he has non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, a form of cancer.

Senator Thompson said, "I am in remission and it is very treatable with drugs if treatment is needed in the future." He added the disease should not affect his life expectancy.

My best wishes go to Senator Thompson for continued successful treatment.

Three of the leading Republican candidates have been treated for cancer. How Senator Thompson's health will factor in to his decision remains to be seen.

Former Senator Bill Frist has posted that he believes this disclosure indicates that Senator Thompson is serious about running for President.

Update: Paul Mirengoff of Power Line live blogged Thompson's appearance on Sean Hannity's radio show this afternoon.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

President Bush and the Border

Rich Lowry has written a thought-provoking column about President Bush's attitude toward the southern border and immigration policy.

"Not all incremental progress is equal in the eyes of President Bush. When it occurs in Iraq, it is a sign that we need to forge ahead despite all difficulties. When it occurs on our southern border, it is deemed insufficient and a sign that — to use a favorite GOP phrase — we need to settle on a “surrender date” on immigration enforcement.

"And Bush wants to do it just as increased enforcement — like 'the surge' in Baghdad — is showing tentative signs of progress...

"On the one hand, it touts the success of increased border patrols and occasional workplace raids, because it realizes, politically, that it has to be seen as trying to enforce the laws. On the other hand, it argues that enforcement can’t possibly work, so we have to adopt an amnesty and guest-worker program.

"The rational response to the promising signs from enforcement would be to do more of it, and to avoid undercutting its early success."

As a postscript, I've read a number of letters to the editor in various newspapers in recent weeks about our nation's broken system for legal immigration, which leaves those attempting to follow our laws in limbo for years, at a great financial cost. I'd very much like to see the President and Congress focus on improving our legal immigration system, rather than adding a new amnesty and/or guest worker program to the already unmanageable immigration bureaucracy.

P.C. Alert: Hot Cross Buns Banned

Political correctness has reached new heights (depths?) at a British hospital, which refused to allow traditional hot cross buns to be served to patients on Good Friday. According to employees, the catering department manager didn't want to offend non-Christian employees, and so instead decided to offend Christians, not to mention those who simply enjoy a nice treat.

Catering staff emailed a newspaper complaining of the ban.

A hospital spokeswoman, however, claimed the missing buns were simply an "oversight" and that they hadn't been ordered in time. The buns were served on Easter Monday.

Nigella Lawson's recipe for hot cross buns can be found here. The recipe is also featured in her book FEAST.

It's the Contempt

John Hinderaker of Power Line, commenting on today's L.A. Times column by Jonah Goldberg, asks "Why Not McCain?"

Hinderaker writes: "Most conservatives share my indulgence toward Giuliani and Romney, but, for some reason, hold McCain to an entirely different standard."

I can tell you that one of the chief reasons McCain doesn't receive the same "pass" is the level of contempt he regularly expresses towards those with whom he disagrees.

Giuliani calmly communicates "Reasonable people can disagree" about certain issues, but McCain thumbs his nose at conservatives.

McCain has also proven himself untrustworthy, time and time again, whether it's the Gang of 14, robbing our nation of free speech, siding with Ted Kennedy on immigration amnesty ("call it a banana if you want to"), or attempting backdoor machinations to change California's primary system.

For a bit more, see my post of last November.

There are no "perfect" Republican candidates. But I'd at least like to choose one who is trustworthy and treats all members of his party with respect.

In my view, Senator McCain has more than earned the skepticism with which he's viewed by conservatives.

New on DVD: Doris Day Collection, Vol. 2

Today sees the release of a new set of six Doris Day movies on DVD.

The films in Vol. 2 of The Doris Day Collection are ROMANCE ON THE HIGH SEAS (her screen debut), MY DREAM IS YOURS, I'LL SEE YOU IN MY DREAMS, LUCKY ME, ON MOONLIGHT BAY, and BY THE LIGHT OF THE SILVERY MOON.

ON MOONLIGHT BAY and its sequel, BY THE LIGHT OF THE SILVERY MOON, costarring Gordon MacRae, were particular favorites of mine when I was growing up. They are nice pieces of "Americana" which feel somewhat similar to films like MEET ME IN ST. LOUIS or TWO WEEKS WITH LOVE. Leon Ames (who was also in ST. LOUIS) and Rosemary DeCamp play the parents, Billy Gray is the little brother, and Mary Wickes plays the housekeeper.

Extras include shorts and cartoons.

Day's film THE WEST POINT STORY will be released on April 24th as part of the James Cagney Signature Collection.

It should also be noted that Day's films MOVE OVER, DARLING, CAPRICE, and DO NOT DISTURB were released as part of Fox's Cinema Classics Series at the end of last January. We picked up MOVE OVER, DARLING last month. It has nice extras, including featurettes, a photo gallery, and a silent D.W. Griffith movie which shares the same plot.

Day fans may also be interested in a new book, CONSIDERING DORIS DAY, by Tom Santopietro.

"Roberts, Scalia Strike Similar Chords on Court"

USA Today has an interesting read today discussing the questioning styles of Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Antonin Scalia during oral arguments.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Scratching My Head

I've been debating today whether to say anything about Elizabeth Edwards' odd interview about her scary "rabid, rabid Republican" neighbor, who she "wouldn't be nice to...anyway."

The thing that I find puzzling is...let's take it as a given that Mrs. Edwards has these negative feelings about her gun-owning, Giuliani-supporting neighbor.

What I don't get is why would she feel it's constructive, as the wife of a Presidential candidate, to give that kind of interview unloading her negative feelings toward one specific person? What did she hope to accomplish?

What Was That About Global Warming?

The Anaheim Angels and Cleveland Indians have been forced to move this week's games to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, due to snow, which forced the cancellation of the Indians' opening home series against the Mariners. The Indians were leading their first home game last Friday when it had to be called due to heavy snow.

Games at Fenway Park in Boston may also be snowed out.

Meanwhile down in North Carolina, the state is experiencing historic cold, which meant a snowy Easter weekend. Charlotte, NC, experienced the coldest April day in recorded history.

Maybe this is why some global warming alarmists are switching to the phrase "global climate change." That way, any weather at all will fit their dire predictions.

An MIT meteorology professor writes in the latest issue of Newsweek that there is "no such thing as a perfect temperature."

Richard S. Lindzen writes, in part: "What most commentators—and many scientists—seem to miss is that the only thing we can say with certainly about climate is that it changes. The earth is always warming or cooling by as much as a few tenths of a degree a year; periods of constant average temperatures are rare. Looking back on the earth's climate history, it's apparent that there's no such thing as an optimal temperature—a climate at which everything is just right. The current alarm rests on the false assumption not only that we live in a perfect world, temperaturewise, but also that our warming forecasts for the year 2040 are somehow more reliable than the weatherman's forecast for next week."

And he concludes that "The alleged solutions have more potential for catastrophe than the putative problem."

Personally, I'll take the professor's credentials on this issue over those of Al Gore.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Tonight's Movie: These Glamour Girls (1939)

THESE GLAMOUR GIRLS is a soapy melodrama about what ensues when a drunken college boy (Lew Ayres, who seems to have specialized in this "type") asks a dance hall girl (Lana Turner) to visit his college for a weekend of "house parties." Many in Ayres' set are wealthy snobs who turn their noses up when they find out Lana's a working girl, but she ends up teaching Ayres a thing or two about what's important in life.

The film has a large cast, including Jane Bryan and Mary Beth Hughes as "nice" girls, Anita Louise as a witchy type, and Ann Rutherford as a bossy airhead. Marsha Hunt is moving as a girl who's becoming a little too old for college weekends and who is the object of pity as she hasn't yet caught a husband. Richard Carlson plays a young man working his way through college, about the only sensible male in the group.

Later the same year Turner, Rutherford, Carlson, and Hughes would appear together in DANCING CO-ED. THESE GLAMOUR GIRLS and DANCING CO-ED were both directed by S. Sylvan Simon. Although both films feature campus hijinks and romance, the movies are as different as can be; while DANCING CO-ED is a lighthearted, comedic musical romp, THESE GLAMOUR GIRLS concerns "mean girls," family financial calamities, a car parked on train tracks, and other unpleasant matters.

I didn't find THESE GLAMOUR GIRLS as diverting as DANCING CO-ED, but it's still entertaining, and is particularly worth seeing due to the interesting cast.

Jane Bryan, who plays Carol, a girl agonizing between marrying for love or money -- a good financial match would rescue her family's finances -- would later marry Justin Dart and retire from the screen. Justin Dart was one of Ronald Reagan's closest friends and advisors.

THESE GLAMOUR GIRLS runs 79 or 80 minutes and was shot in black and white. The trailer can be seen at the Turner Classic Movies site.

Vote here for THESE GLAMOUR GIRLS to be released on DVD.

Summer 2010 Update: THESE GLAMOUR GIRLS has now been released on DVD-R format from the Warner Archive.

"In A World Where..."

You've heard those words in countless movie trailers.

They were spoken by Don LaFontaine, voiceover artist extraordinaire, who has narrated over 5,000 trailers.

The Associated Press has a brief audio interview, accompanied by photos of LaFontaine at work.

Be sure to check out his personal website. The intro is a kick.

You may not recognize his name, but I can guarantee you'll recognize his voice.

The White House Easter Page

The White House has a lovely web page up marking the Easter holiday, including photos of Easter eggs sent to the White House by each state. I was unaware of that Easter egg tradition, which began in 1994, and enjoyed looking at the eggs. The California egg is lovely!

There is also a page on the history of the White House Egg Roll, which will be held on Easter Monday, April 9th.

President Bush's Easter message can be read here.

(Hat tip: Missyisms.)

Easter Blessings

Best Wishes for a Very Happy Easter Sunday.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Tonight's Movie: Dancing Co-Ed (1939)

DANCING CO-ED is a wonderful trifle about a movie studio holding a contest for a college girl to win a leading dancing role in its next big musical. The studio plants a ringer (Lana Turner) on the campus of Midwestern University, but when Artie Shaw and His Orchestra show up to play for the final dance contest, things don't go quite as planned.

This is the kind of movie that might have been shrugged off as just one more little "B" movie with a flimsy plot closer in time to its making, but viewed from the perspective of today, it's a treasure trove of enjoyable personalities and good music. Watching the film, one also realizes how extensively MGM trained its talent; Turner and Rutherford might not have really been dancers, but they move gracefully and carry off their roles with confidence.

I think Turner was at her most appealing in her earliest roles at MGM, before she started playing harder-edged characters. A very young Richard Carlson plays a reporter for the campus paper who suspects the contest might be rigged. Sweet Ann Rutherford plays the movie studio secretary who becomes a college student alongside Lana. Monty Woolley steals his two scenes as a college professor, and Lee Bowman plays the studio's big dancing star. Familiar faces including Roscoe Karns, Mary Field, Thurston Hall, Mary Beth Hughes, and June Preisser also appear.

Veronica Lake and Robert Walker are said to have bit parts in the film; I didn't spot them on the first viewing, but I'll be looking for them next time I watch it.

Shaw and his orchestra have a couple fun scenes, including one where they shake up a traditional parade with their swinging brand of music. Drummer Buddy Rich gets plenty of screen time in these sequences, and he sure looks like he's having fun.

Turner and Shaw were married briefly in 1940. Shaw's longest marriage, to the last of his eight (!) wives, was to Evelyn Keyes, star of last night's movie DANGEROUS BLONDES. Unfortunately Turner didn't fare any better than Shaw in the marriage department.

In 1939 Ann Rutherford also had a role in the biggest film of the year, playing Carreen O'Hara in GONE WITH THE WIND. Her older sister Suellen was played by...Evelyn Keyes.

DANCING CO-ED was directed by S. Sylvan Simon, who specialized in "B" movies in which MGM trained and spotlighted its young talent. Earlier in 1939 Simon had directed Turner, Carlson, Rutherford, and Hughes in THESE GLAMOUR GIRLS; also that year he directed Rutherford in FOUR GIRLS IN WHITE, reviewed here in April 2006. In 1940 he directed Turner in TWO GIRLS ON BROADWAY. Simon directed Rutherford many times, including KEEPING COMPANY (1940), WASHINGTON MELODRAMA (1941), WHISTLING IN THE DARK (1941), WHISTLING IN DIXIE (1942), and WHISTLING IN BROOKLYN (1942).

The movie runs 84 minutes and was filmed in black and white.

TCM has made the trailer available on their website.

To date this film has not been released on video or DVD. A Lana Turner DVD set is said to be in the works from Warners, and it would sure be nice if they would include at least one of her early "B" movie titles, such as this one, in the set.

Vote here for DANCING CO-ED to be released on DVD.

Summer 2010 Update
: DANCING CO-ED is now available in DVD-R format from Warner Archive.

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