Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Homeschooling Horror Story

The Germans sound quite, the way they today enforce his 1938 law outlawing homeschooling. Parents who attempt to homeschool are arrested and jailed, and the most notorious case currently has a homeschooled young girl locked in a psychiatric ward due to "school phobia." No, this is sadly not a joke.

As detailed in the linked article, the United Nations also frowns on homeschooling.

The facts recited in this Washington Times article should be a cautionary tale for all Americans.

In an age when some Supreme Court justices like to cite foreign and international law rather than rely on the United States age when a Texas governor feels free to mandate that all girls get a vaccine for a sexually transmitted age when the 9th Circuit Court rules that parents do not have a "fundamental right" to direct their children's age when a Massachusetts school refuses to obtain parental consent before teaching kindergarten children about homosexuality...

...all American parents need to be on their guard.

Welcome to Socialist California

A bill pending in the California Senate would give every child born after next January 1st $500 to start a personal savings account.

What on earth gives the state the right to hand my money -- anyone's money -- to someone else's child?

Whatever happened to working hard to benefit one's own family?

Of course, the government has been "transferring income" from one class of taxpayers to another for years, but this really takes the cake, handing out "free money" that really isn't free, but comes from the hard work of this state's taxpayers.

Why stop the giveaway at $500? Why not $5000?

The Democrat who introduced the bill calls it "the essence of equal opportunity."

No, sir, it's the essence of socialism.

Maybe He Can Buy the Team

A young Dodgers pitcher is possibly on the road to being a billionaire -- thanks to owning a rock quarry.

Lawmakers With Too Much Time on Their Hands

The Drudge Report highlights a story about a Florida legislator who has introduced a bill to ban the term "illegal alien" from state documents.

The poor offended woman says "An alien to me is someone from out of space." Perhaps she needs an English course.

And so we have one more example of Nanny State lawmakers who want to ban everything that could possibly offend anyone.

This lawmaker prefers "undocumented immigrant" in official in this matter we also have someone who wants legislation banning the state from telling the truth.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

The Lie That Proved the Point

Rich Lowry points out that during the David Geffen-Hillary Clinton-Barack Obama dust-up of last week, Hillary Clinton's staff referred to David Geffen as Obama's "campaign finance chair."

This, it turned out, was a lie -- it's hard to think anything is an innocent oversight when it comes to the Clintons -- probably deliberately calculated to more closely link Geffen to Obama.

Lowry writes that this aspect of the incident illustrated Geffen's very point about the Clintons: "Everybody in politics lies, but they do it with such ease, it’s troubling."

Lowry goes on to describe "...the corruption at the core of the Clinton team — Bill’s heedlessness and the need to cover it up. It created a political ethic that has a rottenness at its heart, and Hillary has deeply partaken of it."

With Mrs. Clinton running for President, this is a point we can't afford to forget.

Confirm Them Interviews Supreme Conflict Author

Confirm Them has conducted a very interesting interview with Jan Crawford Greenburg, author of SUPREME CONFLICT.

Greenburg suggests that if President Bush has another opportunity to name a Supreme Court justice, chances are good it will be Janice Rogers Brown or Maureen Mahoney.

Greenburg's assessment of the role of Confirm Them and NRO's Bench Memos in the Miers debate is also quite interesting.

(Hat tip: Patterico's Pontifications.)

Prince Charles Opposes Freedom

Britain's Prince Charles has been quoted as advocating the banning of McDonald's Big Macs because of their ostensible health dangers.

Rolling eyes...

Wednesday Update: Like Al Gore, Prince Charles has issues with hypocrisy.

Monday, February 26, 2007

"Do As I Say, Not As I Do"

You've gotta love the hypocrisy of someone like Al Gore, whose mansion uses more energy in a single month than most families use in a year, while he's meanwhile lecturing all the "little people" that we're causing global warming and the end of the world and we need to sacrifice, sacrifice...while he uses all the energy he wants and makes himself feel better about it by purchasing "carbon offsets."

I love Ed Morrissey's term for the nonsensical concept of purchasing carbon offsets -- Ed calls it "a modern form of indulgences." That is so apt! Mr. Gore refuses to sacrifice, so he tries to assuage his guilt buying "offsets."

More good stuff at The Anchoress, who notes that President Bush's Texas home is ecology friendly, and largely ignored by the media.

Thomas Sowell Reviews Supreme Conflict

Thomas Sowell reviews SUPREME CONFLICT, which I first wrote about in January.

Sowell says of the author, Jan Crawford Greenburg, "Although she is a journalist, the scholarship that went into this book is of a higher caliber than many academic scholars achieve in writing about the law or about the Supreme Court."

I recently purchased the book and look forward to reading it soon. (I'm in a bit of a work deluge right now, hence light blogging and little pleasure reading!) It sounds like a fascinating read.

Patterico reviews the book here.

Conflict of Interest?

Cal Thomas raises interesting questions about the unusually large income earned by former President Clinton since leaving office -- nearly $40 million, most of that from speaking fees.

Thomas suggests "It ought to be a concern, though, when so much money is paid to a former president by foreign governments, foreign entities and corporations with interests in U.S. foreign and domestic policies. While Bill Clinton is no longer in a position to determine such policies, his wife, the junior senator from New York and Democratic presidential candidate, is and she may soon be in an even more powerful position. Given the Clintons' history of questionable political, business and personal relationships, can anyone say with certainty that the providers of this largesse are uninterested in influencing a President Hillary Clinton through her husband?"

"While other ex-presidents have spoken for money, there has been nothing on this scale and none of their spouses served as elected officials."

More on the Clintons and money at Betsy's Page. Her post reminds me of something I mused about early in the Clinton Administration, when the Clintons were sailing on some new wealthy "friend's" yacht off Martha's Vineyard: Didn't the Clintons realize that their rich new friends only cared about them because he was President? Would the yacht owner be their friend if the Clintons were just lawyers in Arkansas?

According to the New Republic article Betsy links to, it doesn't seem that the Clintons care all that much about motivations, as long as their friends have money, and plenty of it.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

"Two for the Price of One" Lives

The Clintons were (in)famously advertised early in the first Clinton Administration as "two for the price of one."

That concept seems to be alive and well, as Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton said Friday that she would rely on her husband, whom she called "the most popular person in the world right now," to act as a diplomat in her administration if she is elected.

She cites the "tradition" of former Presidents acting as diplomats, but it's hard for me to imagine publicity-loving Bill, serving any sort of public role in a new Clinton Administration, as being anything other than a recipe for trouble.

It's going to be interesting for Mrs. Clinton to walk the line during the campaign between appealing to her husband's fans while keeping him -- and memories of his problems -- out of the limelight.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Barone on Hillary vs. Rudy

Michael Barone breaks down a potential Hillary vs. Rudy race statewide with the kind of detail that only Barone can provide.

His conclusion: "National upshot: Rudy's electoral vote position against Hillary is much stronger than Bush's against Kerry. Rudy puts almost the whole East into play and is significantly stronger in several target states in the Midwest and West. Hillary puts some states into play in the South but with many fewer electoral votes than Rudy does elsewhere. Even if you assume that Hillary is stronger against Rudy today than she was in July, the pairing does place the Republicans in a stronger position than Bush was in '04."

Dodgertown to Become a Ghost Town?

Having spent much of my life enjoying the March games the Dodgers play in Vero Beach, Florida -- thanks to radio and TV broadcasts -- it makes me rather sad that the Dodgers are planning to move spring training to Arizona in 2009.

By the time they make the move, the Dodgers will have conducted spring training in Vero Beach for over six decades. USA Today has published an interesting story on the history of Dodgertown.

Save Us From the Nanny State

As I posted here recently, a California legislator wants to ban traditional incandescent light bulbs, forcing everyone in the state to buy only "energy-efficient" fluorescent bulbs.

The L.A. Times reports today that the director of the University of California Energy Institute in Berkeley says that the fluorescent bulbs "don't work as well as incandescent bulbs with recessed lighting fixtures, spotlights and ultra-low dimming switches."

My home is filled with recessed lighting and dimmer switches.

I have visions of Californians having to order incandescent bulbs from out of state, or a black market developing of "real" light bulbs...

Why don't people like this legislator realize that if the fluorescent bulbs really are as great and cost-effective as he believes, the market will work and people will be happy to buy them without being forced to do it by the Nanny State?

Friday, February 23, 2007

Vaccine Mandate Lawsuit

Several families have filed a lawsuit to block Texas Governor Rick Perry's mandate that their daughters must receive the Gardasil STD vaccine in order to attend school.

The lawsuit says, in part, "The school-age girls of Texas are not guinea pigs who may be subjected to medical procedures at the apparent whim of Texas' governor."

Girls can be exempted from the vaccination, but only if their parents sign a waiver opting out.

Today at Disneyland

After a rainy night last night, Southern California was in the 50s but beautiful today:

I enjoyed my first ride on Rockin' Space Mountain, which will be available at the park till April.

I really liked the different music and effects. The music wasn't as good as Florida's Rock 'n' Roller Coaster, but it was a nice change of pace.

Not too much longer to wait for the return of the Submarine Voyage!

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Perry the Clueluess

I was struck by one of Governor Perry's defenses for his decision to mandate the controversial STD vaccinations in Texas. According to his spokesman:

"...after spending a lot of time thinking about it, talking to folks, not the least of which was Mrs. Perry, who feels very strongly about this issue, I think the governor felt so strongly that it was the absolute right thing to do to protect life, that when we had an opportunity like this to prevent a cancer in young women, that he needed to put the weight of the entire executive branch behind it."

Well, isn't that special. Mrs. Perry feels strongly about it, so she gets to decide for every parent in Texas that their little girl will have the vaccine, unless the parents make the effort to fill out paperwork to "opt out"?

I think many reporters tend to get sidetracked in issues such as the controversy over whether this vaccine could encourage promiscuity. The real issue, as I see it, is that this is the first step on the slippery slope toward governors everywhere making parental decisions. I'm a bit of a broken record on this one this week, but I find it such a sad commentary on the state of our country that a Republican governor thinks he's being "noble" by forcing every parent's daughter to have this vaccination, and by forcing parents to proactively sign waivers if they don't want it.

"Noble" would be informing parents that the vaccine exists, its side effects and the pros and cons, and offering it to parents.

Instead, the governor is angry and acting wounded because parents and lawmakers just don't understand that he knows what's best for their children. And oh, yes, how dare anyone question the contributions he took from Merck when he is just trying to save lives?

First it's Gardasil, next it's going to be an executive order preventing you from feeding your child foods with trans fats, or who knows what else.

Update: Hmmm, I wonder if Governor Perry is interested in mandating circumcision for all boys entering school. A new study shows that circumcision reduces the risk of contracting HIV -- which, like other STD's, can lead to a fatal illness -- by as much as 60%. After all, the governor would be "protecting life," just as he claims to be doing by mandating Gardasil. Parents could sign "opt out" forms. What's to stop him, and why is this any different from forcing young girls to have the Gardasil vaccine unless their parents protest?

Lieberman Threatens Switch

Independent Senator Joe Lieberman says that a Democrat Party vote to cut off funding of U.S. troops could prompt him to switch to caucusing with the Republicans, which would effectively shift control of the Senate back to the Republicans.

More from Time.

(Hat tip: Power Line.)

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Follow the Money

Last night I suggested that Texas Governor Rick Perry's mandate of the HPV vaccine for young girls might have something to do with his former chief of staff being Merck's lobbyist.

It transpires that the governor's current chief of staff met with "key aides" about the vaccine mandate on the very same day Merck donated $5000 to Governor Perry and $5000 apiece to eight other Texas Republicans.

A Perry spokesman brushed this off as "coincidence." He also charged "The Associated Press has tried to create a conspiracy where none exists, and they have offered not one shred of evidence to their baseless accusations that the governor's office has done anything wrong."


Frankly I'm not buying it. It's all just a little too cozy, including at least three meetings between Perry's current chief of staff and her predecessor, who is now Merck's lobbyist.

A House health committee in the Texas state legislature has voted to reverse Governor Perry's order. The reversal is expected to be passed by the entire House.

Democrat Cat Fighting

The Clinton and Obama campaigns have been busy hurling insults back and forth. It's rather interesting -- and a sign of how politics is changing -- that some of this is taking place in the blogosphere.

Maybe Obama won't be Hillary's V.P. pick after all...

Ed Morrissey thinks "Hillary looks about ready to self-destruct," and goes on to say "Hillary apparently felt that the 2008 primary campaign would be little more than a coronation, and the general election a Restoration. Instead, she finds herself in the first tough election of her life, and she's starting to crack under the pressure. This reaction seems very much like the disillusionment of arrogance."

Interesting theory.

For Grey's Anatomy Fans

Missy reports some interesting news at Missyisms (linked above)...a spinoff pilot is being created for a possible series which would star Kate Walsh as Dr. Addison Montgomery.

I have mixed feelings about the news. Addison is my favorite female character and I'd like to see more of her, but I think GREY'S would be negatively impacted by her absence.

For Disneyland Fans

Al Lutz of MiceAge always does a great job covering the latest behind-the-scenes park news, but this week's new update is particularly fascinating in its breadth and depth.

Al's latest article includes news and great photos on the forthcoming Finding Nemo Submarines and Midway Madness ride (the Mr. Potatohead barker sounds amazing); a possible update to the Peter Pan ride vehicles; Pirates additions to Tom Sawyer Island; changes coming to River Belle Terrace; and a forthcoming Mine Train Ride to circle the Grizzly River Rapids at DCA (can't wait!).

Given that our family has nicknamed DCA "Pixarland," it was amusing to learn that Disney-MGM Studios in Orlando is going to be renamed Disney-Pixar Studios.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Merck Suspends Lobbying for Vaccine Mandates

Merck & Co. is immediately suspending its lobbying efforts for state legislatures to make the Gardasil STD vaccine a requirement for school attendance.

It's good to see Merck responding to public opinion in this way.

Texas Governor Rick Perry, who may have seriously damaged his standing with conservatives due to his unilateral mandate that girls receive the vaccination in order to attend school, continues to defend his decision. He says he believes "with all his heart" he made the right decision and he doesn't understand "why we as a people would not take this opportunity to use this vaccine ... to the benefit of our children."

Because, Governor Perry, you're not running a dictatorship, and you don't get to tell parents how to raise their children. It's one thing to offer the vaccine to the children of consenting parents who "opt in," another thing entirely to require their children to use it or sign papers "opting out."

Vaccinations for diseases which can be easily transmitted in the classroom are a reasonable requirement for attending school. But if we allow Governor Perry and others to decide for parents what must be done to "protect life" -- one of the Governor's defenses -- parents will eventually find the state making other medical decisions for children (this is already an issue in some areas vis-a-vis birth control), mandating what they may or may not eat, and who knows what else.

I have previously related my own experience pushing for parental consent before our local school conducted medical examinations for scoliosis. Once again, the cause may be noble, "for the children," but the state's attempt to usurp parenting, rather than actively working to partner with informed and consenting parents, is never appropriate.

I believe this is a very, very significant issue in terms of our society's relentless creep into Nanny State-ism. The time to insist on freedom is now.

Update: According to an article in The Washington Times, it's statistically useless to vaccinate 11- to 13-year-old girls, as the vaccine may "wear off" within five years, and most women don't contract the cancer-causing STD it protects against until they're in their 30s. "Requiring Gardasil for sixth-grade girls, as nearly all the legislation does, would not prevent the overwhelming majority of cervical cancer cases in the U.S."

This article is highly informative and certainly causes one to wonder why so many people are in such a rush to order young schoolgirls to have this vaccination. In the case of Texas, Governor Perry's former chief of staff acting as Merck's lobbyist may be one answer. Follow the money?

Monday, February 19, 2007

Tonight's Movie: The Hucksters (1947)

I've watched a number of Westerns and romantic comedies of late, so tonight I went for something completely different: Clark Gable in the advertising drama THE HUCKSTERS. Gable plays a WWII veteran looking to get back into the ad business, but finding his values and self-respect compromised as he tries to get ahead. Deborah Kerr and Ava Gardner play the women in Gable's life.

Many of the topics covered in the film are still relevant today, including business ethics and the roles of the media and advertising. This film would make an excellent double bill with 1949's A LETTER TO THREE WIVES; the Kirk Douglas-Ann Sothern sequence addresses some of the same issues raised in this film.

The film has a deep supporting cast. Sydney Greenstreet memorably plays the tyrannical head of the ad agency's biggest client, a soap company. Adolphe Menjou, Edward Arnold, and Keenan Wynn costar.

If you look quickly, there are some interesting unbilled faces in the film. A dark-haired girl glimpsed on a train is Marie Windsor, who would go on to have a busy career, including starring in many Westerns. Virginia Dale, who five years earlier had partnered Fred Astaire in HOLIDAY INN, is relegated here to the role of a receptionist. And deep-voiced John McIntire, who had a leading role in last night's BACKLASH, had his first film role in THE HUCKSTERS -- heard as a radio announcer.

The telegraph boy on the train is played by Sammy McKim, a child actor who would go on to a great second career as a Disney artist. Much of his work can be glimpsed today on display in the Disney Gallery above the Pirates of the Caribbean at Disneyland. Sammy's brother David also has a small part in the film as the assistant to Clinton Sundberg's photographer.

THE HUCKSTERS was filmed in black and white and runs 115 minutes. It was directed by Jack Conway, who had previously directed Gable in SARATOGA, BOOM TOWN, and HONKY TONK. Conway had started in the silents and headed many great MGM pictures (my favorite is LIBELED LADY) before his last film was released in 1948. He passed away in 1952. IMDb offers a fun piece of trivia: a street in Pacific Palisades, Jacon Way, is named for the director.

The movie is available on VHS.

It's shown periodically on Turner Classic Movies.

2011 Update: This film is now available on a remastered DVD-R from the Warner Archive.

Cookies for a Rainy President's Day

It's been a rainy holiday here in Southern California, so it seemed like the perfect time to try a new cookie recipe. We made Ginger Crackles from THE WEEKEND BAKER by Abigail Johnson Dodge. The cookies are pictured here on the book's cover.

The cookies were wonderful. The recipe was simple, and Dodge recommends time-saving steps throughout the book; for instance, she points out which recipes freeze well either as dough or after being cooked.

The book contains many tempting recipes, and I'm looking forward to trying more. Next up: Classic Crumb Cake?

Sunset for Studio 60?

We've devoted a couple past posts to analyzing what went wrong with Aaron Sorkin's STUDIO 60 ON THE SUNSET STRIP.

Since last fall I've continued to record the show; as a devoted fan of SPORTS NIGHT and THE WEST WING I've been hoping STUDIO 60 might turn around for the better. However, given the absence of word on positive developments, I haven't been in much of a hurry to catch up with viewing my tapes.

The rest of the country hasn't been very interested either, and after tonight STUDIO 60 goes on hiatus...perhaps permanently.

More here.

Be Afraid, Be Very Afraid...

Here's a scary prospect: Bill Clinton being appointed to complete his wife's Senate term if she were elected President.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Tonight's Movie: Backlash (1956)

BACKLASH is well-executed but fairly standard Saturday morning shoot-'em-up fare. The film begins and ends with a gunfight, and the pace doesn't let up much in between.

Richard Widmark and Donna Reed, searching for his father and her husband, become mixed up with gunfighters, a hunt for missing gold, battles with Apaches, and a range war. There's a fairly abbreviated love-hate romance between Widmark and Reed, and that's pretty much the plot of this fast-paced film, which runs 84 minutes.

It's not a great movie, but it's entertaining, and particularly worth seeing if you're a Widmark fan.

The supporting cast includes John McIntire, Harry Morgan, Edward Platt, and Barton MacLane.

BACKLASH was directed by John Sturges and filmed in Technicolor at Old Tucson, which I visited a handful of times over the course of the 1980s.

The movie has been released on video in the past but does not appear to be easily available. It can also be seen on cable on AMC.

November 2012 Update: BACKLASH will be available on DVD in the Western Horizons collection from the TCM Vault in February 2013.

July 2020 Update: BACKLASH will be released on Blu-ray by Kino Lorber in August 2020.

August 2020 Update: My review of the BACKLASH Blu-ray may be found here.

The Political Market

Two columns today, by Kevin Rennie (linked above) and George Will, assert that the "political market" is working and this is why, despite pundit predictions to the contrary, Rudy Giuliani has zoomed to the top of the short list of Republican prospects.

Rennie includes an interesting reminder about Rudy and conservatism:

"The other candidates talk about social issues and seek to placate suspicious conservatives who've heard their sweet songs before. Giuliani showcases pelts on his belt. The most sumptuous comes from his 1999 battle with the Brooklyn Museum of Art. The museum, which enjoyed some public funding, booked an incendiary exhibit that featured a portrait of the Virgin Mary caparisoned in elephant dung and vulgar photos. Giuliani cut off the museum's public funds. That's something religious Republicans in South Carolina can understand. And who can forget Giuliani's rejection of a $10 million donation to a 9/11 fund from an Israeli-hating Saudi?"

More food for thought.

Incidentally, is anyone else having trouble believing we're discussing all this in February of 2007, rather than February 2008? It's going to be a long couple years of Presidential politics...

Monday Update: Captain's Quarters suggests that McCain and Romney's excessive flip-flopping benefits Giuliani...and maybe Gingrich.

Happy Daytona Sunday!

The NASCAR Nextel Cup season starts again today. Looks like a beautiful day in Florida.

The weekly Free Republic NASCAR thread, linked above, is always fun to follow the action. There are usually excellent TV "screen captures" posted, as well as commentary.

In my humble opinion, the commercials for the Daytona 500 are usually far and away better than Super Bowl commercials, featuring ads which are both funny and touching. I just got a tear in my eye watching a Goodwrench tribute to No. 3.

Let's go racing, boys!

Update: has a nice feature, a constantly updated leaderboard. Great to have if you're not near a TV.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

This is News?

I'm not sure that it really qualifies as "news" that conservatives are mobilizing to oppose Hillary Clinton, but that's the way the L.A. Times reports it.

What I find most interesting is the sympathetic pro-Clinton way the Times frames the story.

The article is breathlessly headlined "GOP Hawks Circling Clinton's Campaign," with the subheadlines "Conservative attacks come early. She says she knows how foes think and how to defeat them."

In other words, the GOP's "hawks" are the "attacking" bad guys, but the Times' Girl Hillary is on the case and can win.

Buried deep in the article we learn the Clinton campaign has employees "monitoring enemy blogs" (gotta love that phrasing) and that she has "spent lavishly to hire a large team of opposition researchers."

In other words, she's doing at least the same as those who are working against her. She's campaigning.

Her spokesman even says -- perhaps somewhat menacingly, given the Clintons' history -- "One thing people know about the Clintons is they know how to fight back." And we're told she'll be relying on the "street-fighter instincts of longtime political aide Harold M. Ickes."

What, no "attack" headline from the Times about Mrs. Clinton? I guess she's strictly going to play defense, huh?

So much for a fair and balanced perspective from the Times on the rigors of the election trail.

Sunday Update: Welcome to readers of Patterico.

"Silver Bells" Lyricist Dies at 92

Ray Evans, lyricist of the classic Christmas song "Silver Bells," has passed away.

Evans and composer Jay Livingston wrote the song for the Bob Hope film THE LEMON DROP KID (1951).

The team cowrote many other hit songs, including standards such as "Mona Lisa" and "Que Sera, Sera."

Livingston died in 2001.

More from the L.A. Times.

"Silver Bells" is my favorite non-religious Christmas song, along with (of course) "White Christmas." We are all fortunate to be able to enjoy Evans' and Livingston's many contributions to the Great American Songbook.

Tonight's Movie: The Proud Ones (1956)

THE PROUD ONES is a solid, absorbing Western with echoes of HIGH NOON. Robert Ryan plays Marshal Cass Silver, whose town is visited by old enemies just as his vision is going bad. The marshal's fiancee (Virginia Mayo) begs him to leave town with her, and the townspeople would just as soon not have any "trouble," but Marshal Silver is determined to meet his responsibility and face the men who would see him dead.

The marshal is backed only by a hotheaded new young deputy, played by Jeffrey Hunter (in somewhat of a variation on his fiery Martin Pawley in the same year's THE SEARCHERS). The deputy once had a grudge against Silver, blaming the marshal for his father's death. Can the younger man be trusted to back the marshal up?

Ryan is always an interesting actor to watch, and the gradual growth of his character's relationship with Hunter's deputy is perhaps the most entertaining aspect of the film.

Walter Brennan costars in a scene-stealing role as the marshal's faithful jailer, a role somewhat similar to the one he would play in 1959's RIO BRAVO. The supporting cast also includes familiar faces such as Arthur O'Connell, Edward Platt, Rodolfo Acosta, and Richard Deacon.

THE PROUD ONES runs 94 minutes. It was filmed in color and shot in CinemaScope. The director was Robert D. Webb. Like THE LAST WAGON, THE PROUD ONES has a distinctive score by Lionel Newman.

THE PROUD ONES is available on DVD. The DVD includes both widescreen and pan and scan options.

Levin and McCarthy on Giuliani

Mark Levin (subject link) and Andrew McCarthy of National Review weigh in on Rudolph Giuliani.

Levin urges conservatives to view Giuliani with caution, while McCarthy gives Giuliani his early endorsement.

Meanwhile ABC reports praise for Giuliani from Newt Gingrich, which brings to mind once more the possibility of a Giuliani-Gingrich ticket, with Newt helping to appease conservatives wary of Giuliani's social views.

In terms of political ideology, that seems to be a good idea -- but is America ready for a Presidential ticket where the candidates have six marriages between them?

Never Again

A brilliant ploy by the pilot of a hijacked Air Mauritania plane this week saved those on board from further danger. The passengers did their part, too. Read the whole story.

I suspect that since 9/11, airline crews and passengers will never again simply let themselves be hijacked without resistance. Hopefully this incident will have a great deterrent effect on future would-be hijackers.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Romney Voted for Paul Tsongas in '92 Primary

Presidential candidate Mitt Romney says he voted for Democrat Paul Tsongas in the '92 Presidential primary -- with the current explanation that he was voting for the weaker Democratic candidate in an attempt to aid then President George H.W. Bush.


Twelve years ago, he gave quite a different explanation. Read the story and decide for yourself whether or not you buy Romney's latest "evolution"...

Tonight's Movie: The Last Wagon (1956)

THE LAST WAGON is a highly entertaining Western yarn which finds Richard Widmark playing Comanche Todd, who has been unjustly arrested for murder and is being escorted to his trial in a small wagon train. After the Apaches attack the traveling party, it's up to Todd, who was raised by Comanches, to use his outdoors know-how to save the half-dozen teenage survivors.

Many of the young people start out fearing or disliking Todd due to his prisoner status or his Indian association, but over the course of their dangerous journey they all learn important life lessons.

I thought Widmark was terrific in this film. I've acquired quite a liking for him, having seen him in recent months in PANIC IN THE STREETS and YELLOW SKY. He seems equally at home playing heroes and villains. THE STREET WITH NO NAME, BACKLASH, TUNNEL OF LOVE, and TWO RODE TOGETHER are Widmark movies in my "watch soon" pile.

Felicia Farr -- who a few years later would marry Jack Lemmon -- plays the oldest of the survivors, who eventually falls in love with Todd. The youngest is played by Tommy Rettig, who played Widmark's son in PANIC IN THE STREETS. Susan Kohner, Nick Adams, James Drury, and Stephanie Griffin round out the cast. It's interesting to note that Griffin would not appear on film again for over three decades, until the 1989 TV-movie THE KAREN CARPENTER STORY.

The film has gorgeous scenic vistas filmed near Sedona, Arizona. It also boasts a lovely score by Lionel Newman -- and, one might add, a memorably romantic love scene. The film's violence is conveyed in a muted, tasteful fashion, often offscreen, but viewers should be forewarned that certain aspects of the story could be disturbing to young children.

THE LAST WAGON runs 98 minutes. It was directed by Delmer Daves, who also cowrote the screenplay. Daves' screenplays include LOVE AFFAIR, YOU WERE NEVER LOVELIER, AN AFFAIR TO REMEMBER, and A SUMMER PLACE; he also directed the latter.

It's available in a beautiful widescreen DVD. A pan-and-scan version is included in the set, but who would want to watch it with big chunks of those breathtaking Arizona vistas cut off?!

It can also be seen on TCM; their site reviews the film here ("a gem which deserves rediscovery") and here.

Wow (Grey's Anatomy Does It Again)

I just watched last night's GREY'S ANATOMY. I was gasping for air so loudly at the end I must have sounded as though I had whooping cough (grin).

It wasn't exactly a dream, but for GREY'S fans, the last 30 seconds has to be right up there with Bobby stepping out of the shower on DALLAS, or Bob waking up next to Emily in the last episode of NEWHART.

SPOILER ALERT: The subject link will take you to Grey Matter, the official blog of the GREY'S ANATOMY writers. The surprise is blown in the very first line of the entry, so please do not click if you haven't yet seen the show. There are already over 3000 comments. I wonder if that's a record...

The episode may have been slightly manipulative, jerking the chains of Derek-Meredith fans one more time, but perhaps this experience will help yank Meredith out of the self-pity she's been feeling as a result of her "parental abandonment" issues. And it was so rivetingly done.

While I'm on the topic of GREY'S ANATOMY, I continue to be impressed with the gradual maturation of the former and still occasional jerk, Dr. Alex Karev. Whoever would have thought the Alex of old would have more than a passing interest in...obstetrics? I suspect that what Alex is going through in this three-parter will continue to impact him for the better.

We now return you to your regular programming...

Kurtz Profiles Malkin

Howard Kurtz has written a piece on tireless blogger and columnist Michelle Malkin.

Hot Air's See-Dubya, Ed Morrissey, and Power Line critique Kurtz.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

TV Guide Acquires

The site is expected to continue operating "as is." Details at the link.

Disney Legend Peter Ellenshaw Dies at 93

The great Disney artist and special effects designer Peter Ellenshaw has passed away at 93.

Ellenshaw created matte paintings and special effects for many Disney movies, including 20,000 LEAGUES UNDER THE SEA, DARBY O'GILL AND THE LITTLE PEOPLE, and THE ABSENT-MINDED PROFESSOR. He received an Academy Award for his work on MARY POPPINS; he created 102 paintings for that film.

Ellenshaw also helped design rides for Disneyland and painted the first map of the park.

Ellenshaw's son, Harrison Ellenshaw, is also a well-known special effects artist who made significant contributions to the original STAR WARS (A NEW HOPE) and THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK.

You can visit the official Ellenshaw family site,, to see examples of their work.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

State's Rights Trump Parents' Rights?

That's what lawyers for a Massachusetts School District are arguing to a judge.

I've posted before about a disturbing situation in Lexington, Massachusetts, where the school district seems to practice "tolerance" toward everyone but traditional Christians. The district is rigidly pursuing the indoctrination of children as young as five to regard homosexual relationships on an equal footing with heterosexual marriage.

The district has argued "Once I have elected to send my child to public school, my fundamental right does not allow me to direct what my child is exposed to in the public school."

With an "our way or the highway" attitude like that, is it any wonder that homeschooling is growing so quickly?

That Mormon Question

Mark Davis bravely asks something I've been wrestling with regarding the oft-mentioned question of Mitt Romney's religion: "...are objecting voters revealing religious bigotry or a natural predilection for candidates more spiritually similar?... Are they religious bigots who should be scolded for intolerance, or is their requirement for a candidate who shares their faith no different from criteria on other matters?"

In recent weeks I have often heard pundits, including Hugh Hewitt and Sean Hannity, scold those who would consider Romney's religious views, let alone consider them to be a negative factor. We are told voters should not consider a candidate's "deeply held personal religious views," just their competency to serve. We are reminded that there is no "religious test" to hold office, and of course there is no such actual test under the Constitution. But is it completely illegitimate for a voter to consider a candidate's religion as a factor in deciding who would best represent the voter's views?

Along similar lines, in coming months voters likely will be pondering whether or not Rudy Giuliani or Newt Gingrich's three marriages apiece say anything important about their character and their competency to serve in office. We may consider whether or not they have lived up to the religious or moral values we would like to see in the leader of our nation, or whether those are personal issues which will have little impact on their ability to carry out their role as President. We may be considering John McCain's legendary temper -- or his being twice married, for that matter. We may be considering which politicians' changes in political views are an authentic "evolution" or positions taken for political expediency, in which case that may impact how we assess their character. We may consider whether a candidate agrees with our position on when life begins, which in some ways is inextricably bound with religious views.

To go on to a hypothetical issue, I think it would be reasonable to ask, for example, whether a Muslim candidate's religious views, in Davis's words, "harbors the possibility of guiding his or her actions in a way I would disapprove of." Not to consider that issue in this particular day and age would be, I think, irresponsible and unrealistic.

Is it thus also fair for a voter to consider whether he believes a candidate shows wisdom in his choice of religion, and what the choice does or doesn't say about the candidate?

I've been moving to the conclusion that this isn't bigotry, but a reasonable issue to consider -- along with similar factors as mentioned above -- as one assesses a candidate.

This is a very difficult topic to broach, as in some quarters one is automatically labeled a bigot for even raising the issue for consideration. But it's something that voters are going to have to grapple with over the next year and a half, and the time to think about it is now.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Tonight's Movie: Merrily We Live (1938)

MERRILY WE LIVE is a fine example of escapist Depression-era screwball comedy, featuring a silly rich family and their equally silly servants, against a backdrop of stunning sets and gorgeous gowns. The film, which bears more than a passing resemblance to MY MAN GODFREY, centers on the effect a mysterious new chauffeur (Brian Aherne) has on the wealthy Kilbourne family, particularly oldest daughter Geraldine (Constance Bennett).

Billie Burke was nominated for Best Supporting Actress for her portrayal of the incomparably giddy Emily Kilbourne, and it's a dizzingly memorable performance. "Airheaded" doesn't begin to describe Emily, and Burke pulls off the role in grand style. It would be interesting to know how the real-life Burke compared with a role such as this!

The other actors are all fine, including Bonita Granville as the youngest Kilbourne, Marian, whose dogs are named Get Off the Rug and You Too. Alan Mowbray and Patsy Kelly portray the Kilbournes' long-suffering butler and cook.

The movie was a little light on the romantic angle -- it seemed as though Aherne actually spent more screen time with the Other Woman, Ann Dvorak, than Bennett -- but otherwise it's good fun.

The only clinker is a brief sequence near the end with Willie Best as a half-witted black man, which seems uncomfortably stereotypical to the modern viewer.

The movie runs 90 or 95 minutes, depending on the reference source, and was shot in black and white. The director, Norman Z. McLeod, started working on cartoons in the '20s. Over the course of his career he directed other light fare such as TOPPER, THE CANTERVILLE GHOST, THE SECRET LIFE OF WALTER MITTY, and THE PALEFACE.

MERRILY WE LIVE is available on video, though it may be difficult to obtain. (2018 Update: This film will be released on a restored Blu-ray and DVD by ClassicFlix in August 2018. My September 2018 review of the Blu-ray is here.)

It's also available on cable on Turner Classic Movies.

The Magic of Red Velvet Cake

The New York Times has a fun Valentine's Day article on Red Velvet Cake. Dare I confess I've never, ever had Red Velvet Cake? I'm going to have to rectify that...

New on DVD: Beauty and the Beast

The post-Christmas DVD drought is ending, and there is a great release today, just in time for Valentine's Day: Season One of BEAUTY AND THE BEAST.

I'm greatly looking forward to revisiting the magical world of Catherine and Vincent for the first time in two decades. The show eventually went off the rails in its final season, but I remember the first year, in particular, as television magic.

BEAUTY AND THE BEAST stars Linda Hamilton and Ron Perlman. Sadly, semiregular Edward Albert passed away last year, at far too young an age.

If anyone is looking for a last-minute Valentine's Day gift, this DVD set is a great idea. :)

Monday, February 12, 2007

Giuliani and School Choice

Brendan Miniter at Opinion Journal writes on Rudy Giuliani's appeal thus far to conservatives. School choice may be an issue of common agreement:

"One woman who attended told me she wonders whether electing a president who successfully took on the mob in New York is what it will take to finally break through the entrenched education political culture. Christian conservatives make up the core of the school-choice movement in the state. If they come to the conclusion that Mr. Giuliani is on their side and has the leadership qualities to achieve lasting and meaningful change, he may prove a surprisingly strong contender."

And don't miss Rudy's great comments on the worthlessness of non-binding resolutions:

"In the business world, if two weeks were spent on a nonbinding resolution, it would be considered nonproductive... Presidents can't do nonbinding resolutions. Presidents have to make decisions and move the country forward, and that's the kind of president that I would like to be, a president who makes decisions."

No, I'm not sold on Rudy, but as regular readers can probably tell, I'm paying close attention...

Tonight's Movie: Yellow Sky (1948)

YELLOW SKY is a terrifically atmospheric piece starring Gregory Peck as the leader of a band of outlaws who stagger across Death Valley as they escape after a bank robbery. Near death from thirst, the outlaws stumble into the windswept ghost town of Yellow Sky, which is inhabited only by an old prospector (James Barton) and his feisty granddaughter (Anne Baxter). Soon the outlaws are tangling with each other over gold and the girl.

The film is in the tradition of Western films of the era such as ANGEL AND THE BADMAN (1947), FOUR FACES WEST (1948), and BLOOD ON THE MOON (1948), in which an outlaw or gunslinger with a conscience is redeemed by the love of a good woman. Anne Baxter's gun-toting heroine calls to mind Barbara Bel Geddes in BLOOD ON THE MOON, released the same year as YELLOW SKY. That said, each of these films has a unique look and mood, and YELLOW SKY is no exception.

Director William Wellman and cinematographer Joe MacDonald make great use of the film's Death Valley and Lone Pine locations, with many striking black and white shots of cloud-filled skies over the Alabama Hills. The line of outlaws riding toward the camera across Death Valley is another memorable scene. MacDonald also filmed MY DARLING CLEMENTINE, and this is right up there with CLEMENTINE in terms of beautiful visuals. Alfred Newman contributes a memorable score, though it is sparingly used; often the only thing heard on the soundtrack is the wind.

Gregory Peck is excellent as Stretch, the handsome antihero outlaw leader with a streak of fairness running through him, while Richard Widmark is also memorable as Dude, the well-dressed villain who constantly tests the other outlaws' loyalty to Stretch. (According to a book on Peck by Tony Thomas, Peck considered YELLOW SKY to be among his finest roles.) Charles Kemper, Harry Morgan, a young John Russell, and Robert Arthur comprise the rest of the gang.

Anne Baxter's "Mike" (aka Constance) is an interesting character; Baxter doesn't play a typical beautiful heroine, but Mike is courageous and mighty good with a rifle, and the lonely girl's attraction to Stretch is believable, particularly once he develops a healthy respect for her shooting ability.

YELLOW SKY runs 98 minutes. It's available in a fine print on DVD. The disc includes a nice selection of production stills and publicity materials, as well as the trailer.

I love discovering wonderful movies for the first time, and this was definitely a film I'll be revisiting in the future.

June 2015 Update: Here is a post about seeing the film at UCLA, introduced by William Wellman Jr., with a photo gallery of stills from the movie.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

"Protecting Life" -- At the Cost of Freedom

Texas Governor Rick Perry is attempting to defend his unilateral decision ordering young Texas schoolgirls to be immunized against a sexually transmitted disease which leads to cancer, saying that he is "protecting life."

Perry defends forcing parents to "opt out" of the vaccination, rather than "opt in," as more girls will thus be vaccinated. In doing so, he is deliberately making it more difficult for parents to personally make medical decisions concerning their minor children.

If we use Perry's "logic" requiring children to be vaccinated for a disease they will not catch in the classroom, what is to stop the governor from usurping other parental decisions in the interest of "protecting life"? This is a very slippery slope.

What's even more disturbing is that some parents are happy to turn their parental rights over to the state, rather than taking responsibility for making reasoned, informed decisions on their own. One mother is quoted as saying she likes that the new law will make it easy to explain the shot to her child: "If she wants to know why, it's because the state mandates it."

Big Brother lives, and some folks are, sadly, happy about it.

Tonight's Movie: Princess O'Rourke (1943)

A full decade before ROMAN HOLIDAY won the Academy Award for Best Writing, another tale of an incognito princess finding love won the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay. PRINCESS O'ROURKE, written as well as directed by Norman Krasna, is not as well-remembered as ROMAN HOLIDAY, but it is a delightful movie which has been rather overlooked in the years since its release.

Olivia de Havilland, at her loveliest, plays European Princess Maria, forced into exile by WWII. Maria lives a secluded life in a New York City hotel, shadowed by the American Secret Service wherever she goes, and fussed over by her uncle (Charles Coburn) and secretary (Gladys Cooper, in a miniscule role). When Maria's planned solo airline trip to San Francisco goes awry, she meets Eddie, the pilot (Robert Cummings), and, as "Mary Williams," she enjoys a day on the town with him free of the usual royal protocol and restraints. They fall in love, of course, but duty calls for each of them -- Maria must return to her secret life as a princess and Eddie has recently enlisted in the Air Force. As one might expect, true love wins -- with a little help from FDR and his dog Fala.

Jack Carson gives one of his more low-key, appealing performances as Cummings' co-pilot and best friend. Carson and Jane Wyman, playing the girl Carson had married after a whirlwind courtship, have the best scene in the film. During a meal with Cummings and de Havilland in a Chinese restaurant, they explain in a half-joking, half-combative way how they'd met and quickly married; their verbal jousting is belied, however, by the moving way they hold each other when dancing. This one scene was to provide a major break in Wyman's career; she had spent many years in random second female lead roles, but Charles Brackett and Billy Wilder decided to cast her as the leading lady in THE LOST WEEKEND on the basis of her performance in PRINCESS O'ROURKE, in particular the restaurant scene.

Just a few years later Wyman would be vying with de Havilland for a Best Actress Oscar -- de Havilland's performance in TO EACH HIS OWN beat out Wyman in THE YEARLING that year, but within a couple more years Wyman took home her own award, for JOHNNY BELINDA.

Charles Coburn is always entertaining; his best moment here comes as he rhapsodizes over the dynastic possibilities when he learns that Cummings comes from a family which has produced large numbers of boys. It's also a treat to see Harry Davenport turn up in the last sequence as the Supreme Court Justice, who is rousted from his bed in the middle of the night.

A side note of interest: Nan Wynn, who sings "Honorable Moon" in the Chinese restaurant scene, is best known to some as a singing double in various musicals, notably dubbing Rita Hayworth in MY GAL SAL and YOU WERE NEVER LOVELIER. In the latter film she introduced the Jerome Kern standard "Dearly Beloved."

Writer-producer-director Norman Krasna specialized in writing "fairytale" romantic comedies, which also included BRIDE BY MISTAKE, BACHELOR MOTHER, and THE DEVIL AND MISS JONES. He also wrote the screenplays for Hitchcock's MR. AND MRS. SMITH, with Robert Montgomery and Carole Lombard, and for the beloved WHITE CHRISTMAS. Krasna focused mainly on writing and producing; PRINCESS O'ROURKE was the first of his three directorial efforts.

It's interesting to note that while the film may be unknown by many today, PRINCESS O'ROURKE was so highly regarded by some American soldiers during WWII that a plane was named for the film; de Havilland's picture was painted on the nose. The PRINCESS O'ROURKE was part of the 32nd Bomb Squadron. The plane's history can be read here.

The original New York Times review of PRINCESS O'ROURKE can be read here.

PRINCESS O'ROURKE runs 94 minutes and was filmed in black and white.

PRINCESS O'ROURKE is, unfortunately, not yet available on video or DVD. We can only hope that one day it will be part of a DVD set of de Havilland films -- hopefully including a featurette on the plane! In the meantime, it can be viewed occasionally on Turner Classic Movies. 

May 2009 Update: PRINCESS O'ROURKE is now available on DVD via the Warner Archive.

More from Steyn on Global Warming

Mark Steyn follows up on his recent column on global warming with a response to Ellen Goodman of the Boston Globe, who this week compared those who question global warming to Holocaust deniers.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Getting Around Proposition 209

Heather MacDonald has written a lengthy and interesting article on the effects of California's Proposition 209, which bans gender and race preferences, on the University of California. Much of her article is about how the UC schools are attempting to circumvent Prop. 209 and employ affirmative action in less obvious ways.

Among other things, she discusses UCLA's plans to implement "holistic" admissions methods due to all-time-low enrollment by blacks.

It would apparently be too much to ask (and too logical) to instead work on solutions for raising achievement by black students...

Meanwhile on the Giuliani Front...

John Podhoretz, posting at the Corner, follows up his column of last week with more thoughts on a Giuliani candidacy and the conservative right:

" is the profound problem facing us in 2008: If social conservatives decide to run a third-party candidate out of disgust with Rudy (or even John McCain, who could cause the same sort of schism on, say, immigration), they will ensure the election of Hillary or Barack or John Edwards.

"No one should surrender their deepest beliefs on the altar of political expediency. But American politics is most often a matter of choosing the lesser of two evils. That's the real choice social conservatives may have to make in 2008 — between a principled stand that leads to a terrible result or a more pragmatic stand that requires some real bending."

Who Is Obama and What Does He Believe?

I don't think anyone has much of an idea, other than the standard Democrat positions he's taken...

Ed Morrissey of Captain's Quarters: "He's rushing towards his destiny, instead of patiently building the experience that would make him irresistable. It's a mistake, but apparently one he refuses to acknowledge. The American electorate will hopefully see it more clearly."

Kathryn Jean Lopez suggests Hillary will ask Obama to fill her V.P. slot early.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Edwards Not Getting Any Smarter

Presidential hopeful John Edwards is standing by his foul-mouthed bloggers.

The bloggers have also bashed Christians, particularly Catholics, which Edwards excuses as they assured him "it was never their intention to malign anyone’s faith." All he has to do is read the words, which speak for themselves. References to Jesus as "Jeebus," references to Christofascists, rude comments about Jesus's conception...

Edwards says he wants to give the bloggers "a fair shake," yet he doesn't seem to realize how poisonous it is to have people with these "personal" views working as part of his campaign. His poor judgment continues to show that he's not Presidential material.

I don't think this is going to go away...

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Hillary vs. Rudy?

That's Dick Morris's prediction. Morris is hardly a flawless prognosticator, but it's always fun to see what he thinks.

Morris also notes that Mitt Romney is fading in the polls, while Newt Gingrich is climbing, an interesting development. I've never taken Romney seriously, and it will be interesting to see how he fares over the long term. Newt has a great deal of personal baggage and the left loves to demonize him, but this may be the year of the "baggage" candidate...there isn't one major candidate who doesn't have personal "issues" to varying degrees, including Obama's past drug use and McCain's legendary temper. Philosophically, Newt is probably the man who most clearly articulates conservative political principles.

I don't believe John McCain can make it through the primaries. He's got too many negatives, as summarized here by Paul Mirengoff. McCain burned his bridges with conservatives a long time ago.

This week I'm feeling rather like Morris...and John Podhoretz, for that matter. I have an increasing feeling that Giuliani may be the only candidate with a real chance to beat the combined army of the Hillary machine and the mainstream media, who probably aren't any more likely to insist she answer tough questions than they were in her two campaigns for Senate. I believe when voters measure Giuliani's calm and thoughtful -- Presidential? -- demeanor versus Hillary's bug-eyed, vindictive screeches ("I want to take those profits...") the difference will be stark.

Giuliani is not going to win over everyone -- Ann Coulter, for instance, stated on Tuesday's HANNITY AND COLMES that she could not vote for Rudy -- but as others have pointed out this week, many Republicans want to like Rudy and are open to giving him a chance. We know he's a leader capable of handling a crisis, we know he's solid on the War on Terror; and he has a history as a tax-cutter who believes in school choice.

The big question for me is judges. As I wrote in November, if the law and order side of Rudy dominates his social liberal side, his judicial picks might be acceptable. He pledged this week to nominate strict constructionists, and surely he knows that if he fails to do that in a first term, he won't be elected to a second term.

As I recall, one of the things President Bush did his first week in office was withdraw federal funding for international abortion programs. Giuliani pledging not to restore that kind of funding would be a significant way to build bridges with pro-life conservatives.

After our experience with Governor Schwarzenegger here in California, I'm definitely wary of being burned by another pseudo-Republican. But I do want Rudy to give me reasons to believe, as conservatives may be faced with a California-style conundrum in 2008: socialist wannabe Hillary (with Bill: The Sequel hovering in the background), or gambling on Rudy? Not a difficult decision for this voter. If that ends up being the choice, conservatives will hopefully be happier with Giuliani as President than we are with Schwarzenegger as governor.

It will certainly be interesting to see where we're at one year hence. Wouldn't it be fascinating if these "hot" candidates fade and we find ourselves discussing completely different choices in February 2008?

Tonight's Movie: Bride By Mistake (1944)

BRIDE BY MISTAKE is an overlooked little romantic comedy gem. Norah (Laraine Day) is a never-photographed, billiards-loving, Santa Barbara ship-building heiress ("500 ships a month!") who is wary of fortune hunters and sends her best friend and secretary Sylvia (Marsha Hunt) to impersonate her at public events. Sylvia, however, is a newlywed whose husband (Allyn Joslyn) is anxious for the charade to end so Sylvia can accompany him to Washington, D.C., where he will be a Persian translator for President Roosevelt. Throw into the mix a captain (Alan Marshal) stationed nearby who would like to marry a rich woman -- but only if he really loves her -- and you have the recipe for some bubbly good fun.

The great Edgar Buchanan appears as Nora's exasperated guardian, while Slim Summerville plays the caretaker of her beach house who is mystified by the romantic goings-on.

The bright screenplay is by Henry and Phoebe Ephron, parents of Nora Ephron (SLEEPLESS IN SEATTLE). The story comes from Norman Krasna's script for the 1934 film THE RICHEST GIRL IN THE WORLD, which starred Joel McCrea and Miriam Hopkins. (Krasna also wrote the screenplays for BACHELOR MOTHER, THE DEVIL AND MISS JONES, and WHITE CHRISTMAS, among other classics.) Intriguingly, in the original film the title character's name was Dorothy, while the other lead characters' names remained the same in the remake. Is the character Norah of BRIDE BY MISTAKE named for the Ephrons' daughter Nora?

BRIDE BY MISTAKE is 81 minutes long and was shot in black and white. It was directed by Richard Wallace.

This movie is not available on VHS or DVD, but is part of the Turner Classic Movies library.

Update: Here's a review of the original version, THE RICHEST GIRL IN THE WORLD (1934).

February 2011 Update: Good news for fans of this delightful movie: it's just been released on DVD-R by the Warner Archive.

Star Wars Exhibit Opening in L.A.

Attention STAR WARS fans in Southern California: The California Science Center, located in Exposition Park across the street from USC, will soon be hosting a STAR WARS exhibit, STAR WARS: WHERE SCIENCE MEETS IMAGINATION.

The exhibit is described on the museum's website as "...the first exhibit of its kind that combines costumes and props from all six Star Wars films with real-world technologies, video interviews with filmmakers, scientists and engineers, and two large Engineering Design Labs, where visitors can build and test speeders and robots. Visitors will explore prototypes, learn about the engineers and designers who are creating new technologies, and discover intriguing similarities between how scientists and filmmakers think."

The exhibit opens February 11th and will run until the end of April. More information is available here.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Nanny State Republicans

Texas Governor Rick Perry, a Republican, has personally mandated that all 6th grade girls must be vaccinated against a sexually transmitted disease that causes some forms of cervical cancer.

Parents can "opt out" for philosophical or religious reasons, but otherwise the vaccinations are mandatory for school attendance.

In issuing his executive order, Perry has thus bypassed not only parents (an "opt in" program would be more appropriate), but the parents' locally elected state representatives, some of whom are very unhappy with Perry's decree.

This is not an illness which can be caught merely by attending school, and Perry has no business unilaterally weighing the risks and benefits of a relatively new vaccination in place of each child's parents. If Perry is allowed to mandate vaccinations for a disease that cannot be acquired in the classroom, it's a short step from there to Big Brother making countless other medical decisions in place of parents. It's "for the children," of course. It always is.

Governor Perry obviously thinks that he, rather than parents, knows what's best for the state's 11- and 12-year-old girls.

And that mentality is one of the things that's increasingly wrong with politicians (and, I might add, many educators) in the United States.

P.S.: Look out, Florida, this school vaccination requirement may be coming to your state, too.

On Global Warming Mythology

First, another gem from Mark Steyn (linked above). Among other highlights:

"About 1,000 years ago, the Arctic was warmer than it is now. Circa 982, Erik the Red and a bunch of other Vikings landed in Greenland and thought, "Wow! This land really is green! Who knew?" So they started farming it, and were living it up for a couple of centuries. Then the Little Ice Age showed up, and they all died. A terrible warning to us all about "unsustainable development": if a few hundred Vikings doing a little light hunter-gathering can totally unbalance the environment, imagine the havoc John Edwards' new 28,000-square-foot house must be wreaking."

On a more serious note, check out this article from Canada's National Post on the weak scientific "evidence" for global warming.

Monday, February 05, 2007

"Mexifornia, Five Years Later"

Must reading by Victor Davis Hanson, author of MEXIFORNIA. The article is quite lengthy but worth the investment of time; Hanson's overall conclusion is that the impact of illegal immigration on our state has been worse than he predicted half a decade ago.

One of the more shocking statistics Hanson cites is that "...almost one in three Mexican-American males between the ages of 18 and 24 recently reported being arrested, one in five has been jailed, and 15,000 illegal aliens are currently in the California penal system."

In my line of work as a proofreader I regularly read court transcripts, and am often struck, due to that reading, by how heavily our local area has been impacted by Hispanic gangs. I had no idea, however, that the crime statistics were this dire. The picture Hanson paints is sobering indeed.

Hanson closes anecdotally: "Ever since the influx of illegals into our quiet valley became a flood, I have had five drivers leave the road, plow into my vineyard, and abandon their cars, without evidence of either registration or insurance. On each occasion, I have seen them simply walk or run away from the scene of thousands of dollars in damage. Similarly, an intoxicated driver who ran a stop sign hit my car broadside and then fled the scene... Such anecdotes have become common currency in the American Southwest. Ridiculed by elites as evidence of prejudice, these stories, statistical studies now show, reflect hard fact."

I have such an anecdote to tell myself, as a couple of weeks ago I was the victim of a hit-and-run accident when I was rearended into another car; the driver who caused the accident, a young Hispanic man, fled the scene, leaving behind a few thousand dollars' worth of damage. (Thank God, no one was seriously injured.) In today's environment, it seems chances are fairly high the hit-and-run driver was illegal and uninsured. That's not prejudice, but simply "how it is" living today in Southern California. Our state's infrastructure is strained to the seams, while at the same time society is burdened with increasing crime and the breakdown of conventions which keep society running smoothly -- such as stopping at the scene of an accident.

Too Dumb to Be President?

John Edwards has hired a campaign blogger with a long history of "expletive deleted" posting. (See links above and here.)

In my humble opinion, anyone who would hire someone for such a role without spending five or ten minutes Googling their writing doesn't have the commonsense smarts to run the country...

And isn't it lovely that he wishes to raise taxes to pay for national healthcare?

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Today at Disney's California Adventure

Since our Friday visit to Disneyland the temperature went up by at least 20 degrees. Today on our visit to Disney's California Adventure we enjoyed beautiful California winter weather, sunny and warm. Below, Paradise Pier this afternoon:

California Screamin' is temporarily re-themed Rockin' California Screamin'.

We took in the High School Musical Pep Rally and Aladdin, rode Monsters, Inc. and had an all-around lovely afternoon.

Giuliani and Judges

Rudy Giuliani in a speech yesterday: "On the Federal judiciary I would want judges who are strict constructionists because I am. I'm a lawyer. I've argued cases in the Supreme Court. I've argued cases in the Court of Appeals in different parts of the country. I have a very, very strong view that for this country to work, for our freedoms to be protected, judges have to interpret not invent the Constitution. Otherwise you end up, when judges invent the constitution, with your liberties being hurt."

A recent comment at Power Line's forum suggested that a January op-ed co-authored by Rudy Giuliani and Newt Gingrich could portend a future alliance. Between them they cover a lot of bases while doing an end run around the man many conservatives can't stand, John McCain. Intriguing idea.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Summer Movie: Becoming Jane (2007)

Jane Austen fans will be intrigued to learn of BECOMING JANE, in which Anne Hathaway plays the young Jane Austen.

The movie has an impressive cast, including James Cromwell, Maggie Smith, and Julie Walters.

The trailer can be viewed here. As is often the case with trailers for films which have not completed post-production, the trailer "borrows" its score; if I'm correct, in this case music from both Paltrow's EMMA and Thompson's SENSE AND SENSIBILITY is used. Can other Austen film fans confirm? (Update: I think the trailer soundtrack may include a bit of Ryder's LITTLE WOMEN as well...)

While the film will not be released in the United States until August 3rd, it will be out in Britain next month.

My Husband Makes YouTube

For the past few months my husband has been playing trombone with Bones West, a volunteer trombone group founded by the great George Roberts.

Roberts, it so happens, was the solo trombonist on my all-time Frank Sinatra track, "How Deep is the Ocean?," which appears on Sinatra's Nice 'n' Easy.

Last month Bones West played at the National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) convention in Anaheim. My husband had quite a thrill when the group played an arrangement of "Blues in Hoss' Flat" which he'd transcribed for trombones, and trombone legend Bill Watrous soloed.

Lo and behold, but that number has turned up on YouTube. My husband is playing in the front row; he's got brown hair and glasses, a couple players to the right of the conductor.

YouTube contains at least one other clip from the show.

Technology is a wonder!

Friday, February 02, 2007

Today at Disneyland

It was a cold but sunny day at Disneyland today. The flowers greeting us on Main Street U.S.A. looked beautiful, as always:

The park is now decorated for the "Year of a Million Dreams" theme (click on photo to enlarge):

Some in our group tried out the temporarily re-themed Rockin' Space Mountain and really enjoyed it. I'm looking forward to visiting it on our next trip.

We also had an excellent dinner at the French Market and concluded the day with the fireworks show Remember...Dreams Come True, which still manages to bring a tear to my eye no matter how many times I've seen it.

It's Groundhog Day!

If you haven't read it in the past, be sure to catch Jonah Goldberg's 2005 column on the classic movie.

Happy Groundhog Day!

Thursday, February 01, 2007

New Book: Service and Style

I came across a fascinating book while browsing in the USC Bookstore this afternoon: SERVICE AND STYLE: HOW THE AMERICAN DEPARTMENT STORE FASHIONED THE MIDDLE CLASS by Jan Whitaker. The book covers the history of the American department store and is filled with both color and black and white photos of department stores, department store advertising, and more.

It was published a few months ago, in August 2006. It was reviewed in The Washington Monthly. A bit more information can be found in the listing at Powell's Books.

The author herself had a column on this topic last fall in The Boston Globe.

This is just the kind of "slice of American popular history" I find interesting. The book has gone on my "future reading" list.

Today's Field Trip: American Girl Place

Today my youngest daughter and I made our first pilgrimage to American Girl Place at The Grove in Los Angeles.

It was a wonderful experience. Lunch in the cafe was charming. Chairs and a teacup and saucer are provided for each doll. They even have "loaner dolls" for any girl eating in the cafe without her own doll. And the food was truly excellent!

Below, Samantha enjoys her tea while cinnamon bun appetizers are served.

Dessert! Chocolate mousse in a flowerpot along with a heart-shaped miniature cake and a cookie.

The store was a veritable American Girl museum. We had such fun carefully perusing all the displays of the dolls and their outfits -- and of course, making a special purchase or two to bring home. :)

There are only three American Girl Place stores in the country; the others are in Chicago and New York. I highly recommend taking the time to visit if you know a young lady who enjoys American Girls; it is well worth the effort.

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