Monday, December 31, 2007

Tonight's Movie: Skyjacked (1972)

Last year we spent New Year's Eve watching a fairly silly disaster movie, TWISTER, so we decided to follow suit this year and watch another disaster film of sorts. This year we chose SKYJACKED. How could we resist one of our favorites, Charlton Heston, as the captain of a skyjacked 707? The DVD box says "All that stands between the terrified passengers and doom is the steely resolve of Captain O'Hara..." Sold!

This movie isn't great art, but it is great entertainment, even in its sillier or less logical moments. (Those filmy flashbacks with syrupy '70s music...!) It's hard to resist the cast: besides Heston, we've got Rosey Grier as a cellist, James Brolin as a soldier, Mariette Hartley as an expectant mother (of course she gives birth during the highjacking, what did you expect?!), and Walter Pidgeon as a Senator.

Then there's Jeanne Crain as a housewife, Susan Dey as a rich teenager in first class, and Nicholas Hammond (THE SOUND OF MUSIC, TV's SPIDER-MAN) as the Senator's son. John Hillerman (MAGNUM P.I.) is an air traffic controller, and Claude Akins has a terrific turn as the sergeant who talks the plane down out of horrendous weather in Anchorage. The stewardesses are played by Yvette Mimieux and Leslie Uggams.

It's a particularly curious thing watching a movie of 35 years ago in a post-9/11 world. After the flight crew receives the skyjacking threat note, they constantly waltz in and out of the unsecured cockpit -- always taking care to put on their uniform jacket and hat before leaving the cockpit, no matter how much stress they're under. And the shot of Heston piloting the plane during takeoff with a pipe clenched in his teeth is classic -- that's probably a firing offense nowadays.

And how'd the very pregnant woman and the guns make it on the plane, anyway? Of course, if they hadn't gotten on the plane, there wouldn't have been a movie!

If you like Charlton Heston or airplane suspense movies that don't need to be taken too seriously, this is the movie for you.

The film runs 101 minutes and was directed by John Guillermin.

SKYJACKED is available on DVD as part of the Terrorized Travelers Cult Camp Classics set, or as a single title release. It's also available on VHS.

A good time was had by all. Happy New Year!

August 2017 Update: SKYJACKED is being reissued on DVD this month by the Warner Archive.

Tonight's Movie: They Call It Sin (1932)

Tonight we continued our mini pre-Code festival of the last week with THEY CALL IT SIN, starring Loretta Young and George Brent. Although I'm still not sure what exactly was sinful (grin), I thoroughly enjoyed this movie. It's predictable and at times downright hokey -- George Brent reviving a comatose patient at the film's climax is the kind of scene that invented medical cliches -- but also very entertaining.

Marion (Loretta Young) is a church organist in a small Kansas town who is romanced by Jimmy (David Manners), who is in town on a business trip. Business concluded, Jimmy returns to New York and his fiancee, thinking he'll never see Marion again. Surprise! Sudden changes in Marion's life send her to New York in search of Jimmy and a career in music.

Marion receives the shocking news of Jimmy's engagement and, moving on, she finds work thanks to a new friend (Una Merkel). Soon Marion is courted by a nice, upstanding doctor (George Brent) and a womanizing theatrical producer (Louis Calhern). What kind of man -- and life -- will Marion choose?

Young is beautiful and charming, Brent is stalwart and admirable, Merkel is fun, and Calhern is slimy. Manners' bug-eyed style of overacting, also seen in MAN WANTED, would be more appropriate for silent movies. It's not a particular surprise to me that his film career ended by the mid-'30s.

The movie was directed by Thornton Freeland. The run time is approximately 70 minutes (references vary).

THEY CALL IT SIN is available on video. It can also be seen on TCM.

Other Loretta Young pre-Code movies seen this week: MIDNIGHT MARY and EMPLOYEES' ENTRANCE.

2012 Update: THEY CALL IT SIN is now available on DVD in the Forbidden Hollywood Vol. 4 Collection from the Warner Archive.

The Latest Republican Campaign News

Mike Huckabee pulled a move this afternoon that was too cute by half: he called a press conference to announce he was pulling a negative anti-Romney campaign ad, and then showed the ad to the assembled press -- obviously hoping he would get mileage out of the ad while taking credit for being a "nice guy."

As I mentioned in a comment at Holy Coast earlier today, I was curious about a Jonathan Martin article posted yesterday at Politico which included the news that blogger Joe Carter has left the Huckabee campaign. Carter joined the campaign to much fanfare just about a month ago, so this news was certainly interesting. I'd love to know more.

David Limbaugh came out strongly in favor of Fred Thompson today. Beltway pundits and the media have already written Thompson off. We shall see. As I mentioned last night, I loved Fred's video message to Iowans.

USA Today had an excellent editorial today calling for the end of Iowa and New Hampshire's "special" status in the primary system, suggesting rotating regional primaries instead. I completely agree, as I wrote here last May. More on this from Captain's Quarters and John Fund.

January 1st Update: Welcome, FReepers!

New Year's Eve With Fred and Ginger

If you have Turner Classic Movies, you can celebrate New Year's Eve in style with a Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers festival.

Six of their movies will be shown tonight: THE GAY DIVORCEE, SHALL WE DANCE, TOP HAT, SWING TIME, CAREFREE, and FOLLOW THE FLEET.

Happy New Year!

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Fred Thompson's Video Message to Iowans

I sure like this man. This is worth taking the time to watch.

Reagan speechwriter Peter Robinson writes: "While the other contenders are frantically saturating the Iowa airwaves with 30- and 60-second attack ads...Thompson has sat himself down, looked into a camera, and spoken for a quarter of an hour, calmly and straightforwardly making his case. I myself find this impressive — in a way, moving. Thompson seems to have stepped out of the eighteenth century. He trusts voters to think... Politics as, from time to time at least, they really ought to be."

I hope there's hope for Thompson's candidacy. He's the only candidate who is conservative across the board.

I've been following the lead-up to the primaries closely all through 2007, and at this point I'm ready to say that Thompson's got my vote.

We received an election pamphlet yesterday; I knew the California primary was much earlier than in the past, yet I was still surprised to realize it's coming on February 5. We used to vote in June, after the primaries were effectively over.

Food Review: Starr Ridge Bread Sticks

While shopping the clearance sales a few days ago, I picked up some Starr Ridge bread sticks at Williams-Sonoma. We tried the Olive Oil with Sea Salt flavor.

We thought they were so good I wanted to give them a thumbs up here and pass on the word. They were well worth the price.

If you find them, enjoy!

"The Inner Workings of Hearst Castle"

An interesting peek behind the scenes at Hearst Castle in San Simeon, California.

We visited the Castle a couple of years ago for the first time in many years and thoroughly enjoyed it. The article prompted me to revisit my photos of the trip, and I thought I'd share a few of them here. Click any of the photos to enlarge for a closer view.

If you plan a trip, I recommend the Captain's Cove in Cambria, a charming, immaculately kept small inn:

The California coastline across the road from Captain's Cove:

Hearst Castle's pools are perhaps its finest feature.

The Neptune Pool:

Another view:

The Roman Pool:

And one more photo:

In conjunction with the trip, we read about pioneering woman architect Julia Morgan.

Hearst Castle is well worth the visit. I'd love to take the nighttime tour at some point in the future.

Tonight's Movie: Employees' Entrance (1933)

EMPLOYEES' ENTRANCE is notable as a pre-Code Depression era curiosity, although I didn't find it especially enjoyable.

Kurt Anderson (Warren William) runs a giant department store as a cruel, amoral dictator. Anderson has good business sense but no shred of humanity or decency. He thinks nothing of forcing a young woman (Loretta Young) to spend the night with him in order to obtain the job she badly needs. And that's just for openers. Before the movie is over, Anderson's actions have people jumping out of windows and downing bottles of poison. As the end credits roll, Anderson's as firmly in command as ever. No punishment for bad deeds needed in a pre-Code movie!

Although the film is somewhat interesting, particularly because the plotline is so unusual, William's unsympathetic character has most of the screen time, and after a while watching his Machiavellian machinations and hearing him drone on about how superior he is to other mortals grows tiresome.

Loretta Young and Wallace Ford play a nice young couple who work for the department store. Young is lovely, but the role as helpless victim doesn't give her much to do.

Ruth Donnelly and Alice White head the supporting cast. The minister is played by Neal Dodd, an Anglican priest who over a couple of decades played ministers in many films, including IT HAPPENED ONE NIGHT and MR. SMITH GOES TO WASHINGTON. You can read more about Dodd here (scroll down to the entry on Dodd).

EMPLOYEES' ENTRANCE was directed by Roy Del Ruth. It runs 75 minutes.

This movie is available on video, as well as on Turner Classic Movies.

The trailer can be seen here.

April 2013 Update: EMPLOYEES' ENTRANCE is now available on DVD-R in the Warner Archive's Forbidden Hollywood Collection, Vol. 7.

April 2014 Update: I had the wonderful opportunity to see this movie at the 2014 TCM Classic Film Festival. Like an old-style melodrama, this film plays really well with a packed house gasping at Warren William's every dastardly move!

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Tonight's Movie: Midnight Mary (1933)

MIDNIGHT MARY is a remarkable example of pre-Code cinema, starring Loretta Young at her most beautiful. (For more on pre-Code movies, see this post on MAN WANTED.) This sometimes startlingly adult melodrama, directed by William A. Wellman, moves along at a lightning pace, keeping the viewer engrossed throughout.

As the movie opens, Mary (Young) is on trial for murder, awaiting the jury's verdict. In a series of quick flashbacks, we learn that Mary was orphaned as a very young girl; Wellman daringly had the 20-year-old Young play herself as a child, omitting makeup and using clever camera angles. Mary's teen years include a stint in reform school and, it's hinted, prostitution. Facing starvation during the Depression, Mary ends up in a criminal gang headed by Leo Darcy (Ricardo Cortez). And that's just in the first few minutes of the movie (grin).

Mary is really a good girl at heart, and when she falls in love with a nice lawyer (Franchot Tone) she'll go to any lengths to save his reputation -- and his life.

I consider this one of Young's best performances. She's simply terrific portraying every aspect of Mary's life, from teenager to gangster's moll to a desperate woman in love. As Mick LaSalle notes in COMPLICATED WOMEN, the "Drinking-Smoking Loretta" of pre-Code films is very different from her more sedate image of the '40s and '50s. The climactic scene, in which Young uses her feminine wiles to distract Cortez from leaving to kill Tone, is quite something. Mary is said to have been one of Young's favorite roles.

According to the TCM website, the only actress to make more movies with director Wellman than Loretta Young was Barbara Stanwyck. Wellman and Young's other collaborations, HEROES FOR SALE, THE HATCHET MAN, and CALL OF THE WILD, are happily all in my movie library for future viewing. (CALL OF THE WILD is the film which resulted in Young and Clark Gable having a child, as written about here.)

The supporting cast of MIDNIGHT MARY includes Andy Devine and Una Merkel, whose performances are more restrained and enjoyable than in MAN WANTED. Halliwell Hobbes provides comic relief as Tone's butler.

This black and white film runs 74 minutes.

MIDNIGHT MARY can be seen on Turner Classic Movies. Vote here to indicate interest in a DVD release. Loretta Young is an actress whose work very much deserves a boxed DVD set.

The trailer is available on the TCM website.

Another pre-Code Loretta Young film, LIFE BEGINS, is reviewed here.

January 2009 Update: MIDNIGHT MARY will be released on DVD on March 24, 2009, as part of the Forbidden Hollywood Vol. 3 set, which spotlights the work of director William Wellman.

Friday, December 28, 2007

New Film Book: The Golden Age of Cinema

USC professor Richard Jewell has published a new book on film history, THE GOLDEN AGE OF CINEMA, 1929-1945.

Leonard Maltin, also of USC, has details about the book posted on his site.

Jewell is familiar to many film buffs due to his regular appearances in DVD featurettes on classic movies. His commentary tracks include G MEN, LITTLE CAESAR, I AM A FUGITIVE FROM A CHAIN GANG, and THE BIG STEAL.

Rolling Eyes...

Not only is Hillary Clinton a victim of sexism who suffered growing up because of "the schools I couldn't attend, the sports I couldn't play, the jobs I could never have," she promises to be a President who "will prioritize the policies that matter most to women."

Just what we need, a President whose priority is putting one gender ahead of another, rather than working for all Americans.

Her comment seems particularly shallow in light of the tragic events in Pakistan this week.

I suspect what matters most to women -- as well as men -- is that we not be killed by terrorists or unsecured Pakistani nukes.

(Hat tip: American Thinker.)

Jane Austen Festival Coming to PBS

A three-month Jane Austen festival begins on PBS January 13th, with the airing of a new version of PERSUASION.

For further details, click on the subject link and then scroll down the page.

In related news, Gillian Anderson was recently named as the new host of MASTERPIECE THEATRE.

Perhaps more surprising to me was the news that MASTERPIECE THEATRE'S familiar brass fanfare is being removed!

Bette Davis Featured on 2008 Stamp

The post office has announced that its 2008 stamps will include a Bette Davis stamp as part of its ongoing Legends of Hollywood series.

The stamp features Davis as she appeared in one of her best-known roles in ALL ABOUT EVE.

Other stamps will feature the Art of Disney, writer Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, and state flags.

As previously mentioned here, another 2008 stamp will feature Frank Sinatra.

Tonight's Movie: The Women (1939)

I've always been a particular fan of MGM movies, but I had never seen THE WOMEN until now -- perhaps because Joan Crawford is my least favorite actress. However, the film also stars a number of fine actresses I enjoy very much, including Norma Shearer, Rosalind Russell, and Joan Fontaine, so I decided the time had come to give it a try, and I'm glad I did. It's a very entertaining movie.

THE WOMEN, filmed with an all-female cast, concerns a nice upper-class wife and mother, Mary (Norma Shearer), who discovers her husband is having an affair with a salesgirl (Joan Crawford). Unfortunately, most of Mary's friends are more interested in gossiping about this sad turn of events than in lending her support.

Shearer and Fontaine are the film's "good" women, while Crawford is hissably nasty as the bad girl. (My aversion to Crawford thus turned out to be no problem!) Russell plays her cruel, catty character for laughs in a memorably over-the-top performance, with an eye-poppingly exaggerated wardrobe to match. Paulette Goddard lends sparkle to the last section of the movie as a "homewrecker" who lends Shearer unexpected support. Shearer herself gives a warm, dignified performance; she has a particularly expressive face capable of conveying a wide range of emotions without dialogue.

The cast also includes Marjorie Main, Virginia Weidler, Mary Boland, Phyllis Povah, Hedda Hopper, and Lucile Watson. Even small one-scene roles are filled by actresses such as Ruth Hussey and Virginia Grey.

Aside from the fun of watching so many wonderful actresses working with some great dialogue, the movie is also an interesting reflection of its time -- for instance, Mary's mother (Watson) counsels her to turn a blind eye to her husband's infidelity. Hard to imagine that being advised in this day and age.

One of the curiosities about the film is that there is a Technicolor fashion show plopped into the middle of the otherwise black and white movie. It's fun to look at -- the costumes were designed by Adrian -- but it has nothing to do with the plot. Given the film's lengthy run time of 133 minutes, it probably would have been better to omit the fashion show, but director George Cukor said in an interview that the studio insisted on including it.

Joan Fontaine credited Cukor with teaching her more than anyone else about acting. Fontaine has a lovely solo telephone scene near the end of the film, and Cukor said that scene convinced Fontaine that she was really capable of acting; it probably helped her land the lead role in her next film, REBECCA, for which she received an Oscar nomination. Fontaine recently turned 90 years old.

Coincidentally, it was just announced that THE WOMEN is one of 25 films being added this year to the National Registry, ensuring that the film will be preserved at the Library of Congress.

This movie is available on DVD and VHS. (March 2018 Update: The DVD has been reissued by the Warner Archive.)

THE WOMEN can also be seen on TCM. The trailer can be seen here.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

"The End of the Primary's Holiday From History"

John Podhoretz: "American politics would dearly love to take a holiday from history, just as it did in the 1990s. But our enemies are not going to allow us to do so. The murder of Bhutto moves foreign policy, the war on terror, and the threat of Islamofascism back into the center of the 2008 campaign. How candidates respond to it, and issues like it that will come up in the next 10 months, will determine whether they are fit for the presidency."

Tonight's Movie: Man Wanted (1932)

My DVR and VCR have been working away in December, as Turner Classic Movies has shown a large number of "pre-Code" titles from the early '30s which are seen relatively infrequently. The movies I've recorded have starred a large number of terrific actresses, including Loretta Young, Ginger Rogers, Carole Lombard, Irene Dunne, Myrna Loy, Frances Dee, Barbara Stanwyck, and Kay Francis.

Pre-Code films, predating the active enforcement of moral standards in films starting in 1934, are often characterized by strong roles for women, frank treatment of adult subject matter, racy humor, and sometimes scandalous plotlines or scenes, such as the infamous sequence showing Jane skinny-dipping in TARZAN AND HIS MATE. LIFE BEGINS (1932), reviewed here in 2006, is a good example of a pre-Code film, daringly, for the times, taking on the subject of childbirth.

While some film historians mourn the imposition of the Code, I believe the Code was in most cases a very positive force in American cinema in the following decades. That said, pre-Code films increasingly intrigue me, simply because they are often so very different in tone from later movies. It's an area of film I've recently enjoyed exploring more, along with film noir.

Tonight I caught up with MAN WANTED, which has a charismatic performance by Kay Francis as a workaholic magazine editor. Lois Ames (Francis) works all hours on her beloved magazine while her playboy husband (Kenneth Thomson) occupies himself with polo. Although they're affectionate, they don't have a compatible marriage, which Lois gradually realizes after hiring a dedicated male secretary (David Manners) who shares her passion for the magazine.

The supporting cast, including Manners, Thomson, Andy Devine, and Una Merkel as Manners' possessive fiancee, can frankly be a bit grating. Manners' acting isn't particularly subtle, and Devine and Merkel are allowed to be loud and annoying for too long. However, the film is well worth investing the 62-minute run time to enjoy Francis's confident, glamorous performance as the magazine editor who knows what she wants and gets it.

MAN WANTED was directed by William Dieterle.

A good companion guide to exploring pre-Code cinema is COMPLICATED WOMEN by Mick LaSalle, which I've recently been reading. There is a documentary by the same name which airs on Turner Classic Movies.

A sequel, DANGEROUS MEN, is high on my reading list.

MAN WANTED airs on TCM; you can see the trailer here.

2012 Update: This film is now available on DVD in the Forbidden Hollywood Collection Vol. 4 from the Warner Archive.

Tonight's Movie: Christmas in Connecticut (1945)

Christmas Night I watched CHRISTMAS IN CONNECTICUT for the very first time. (I've nonetheless titled the post "Tonight's Movie" for blog organizational purposes...the last couple days have been too busy to write about it!) I found it very enjoyable, and of course I fell in love with the Connecticut farmhouse, as I suspect many other viewers also have!

The film reminded me quite a bit of the much later MAN'S FAVORITE SPORT? (1964) starring Rock Hudson. In each film, a writer poses as an expert in a field the writer actually knows nothing about. In the case of CHRISTMAS IN CONNECTICUT, Barbara Stanwyck plays an early version of Martha Stewart, who in reality can't boil water. She's in a pickle when her publisher requests that she host a war hero for Christmas, along with her mythical husband and baby, at her mythical farm.

Dennis Morgan plays the war hero and Sydney Greenstreet is the magazine editor. The cast also includes S.Z. Sakall, Reginald Gardiner, Una O'Connor, and Joyce Compton. Compton (and her Southern accent!) seems to keep popping up in movies I've seen in the last year, including SPRING MADNESS, BEDTIME STORY, and PILLOW TO POST.

CHRISTMAS IN CONNECTICUT is a fun film -- not a great one, but a very pleasant way to spend a December evening. The performers are pleasing and the film is well paced. In many ways the movie is still quite topical -- for instance, six decades later visions of the perfect home are still being sold by lifestyle magazines.

According to TCM's Robert Osborne, Bette Davis was originally discussed for the lead, but turned it down; a couple years later Davis would star as a magazine writer in JUNE BRIDE. CHRISTMAS IN CONNECTICUT and JUNE BRIDE, with their home magazine themes, would make a nice June-December double bill. JUNE BRIDE was reviewed here nearly a year ago.

Jacqueline at Another Old Movie Blog has a good descriptive post on the movie which helped convince me it was finally time to see it.

CHRISTMAS IN CONNECTICUT was filmed in black and white. It runs 102 minutes and was directed by Peter Godfrey.

CHRISTMAS IN CONNECTICUT is available on both DVD and VHS. A review of the DVD can be found here.

It can also be seen on Turner Classic Movies.

Pacific Coast Highway Sunset

We spent today celebrating Christmas with my husband's family in the Santa Barbara area.

Below are photos taken as we drove from Santa Barbara toward Malibu.

These are the first photos taken with the camera my husband gave me for Christmas.

I graduated from 3.2 megapixels to 7.1.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Coming to DVD: Lillie (1978)

The British miniseries LILLIE, which aired in the United States on MASTERPIECE THEATER, comes to DVD on February 19th.

The miniseries stars Francesca Annis as Lillie Langtry, a role she also played briefly in the classic 1975 miniseries EDWARD THE KING.

LILLIE is a show I'd like to see again, although I'd rank it as a "Netflix" rather than a "have to own" show. It's an engrossing slice of British history, but the amoral heroine is not especially sympathetic; her life is interesting but also more than a bit depressing.

LILLIE was previously released on VHS.

Sportscaster Stu Nahan Dies at 81

Sportscaster Stu Nahan, an L.A. institution for decades, passed away today.

For me, Nahan was most memorable for his role as the ringside sportscaster in ROCKY and its sequels. Nahan's call of the bout between Rocky Balboa and Apollo Creed in the first film is one of the things that made that movie so effective.

2008 Rotary Rose Parade Float

Our oldest daughter worked on the Rotary Club's Rose Parade float during her four years of high school. It was always fun to see the float on New Year's Day and know that she was a part of its creation.

This year our oldest son continues the tradition; he spent the day working on the float. Watch for it on January 1st!

Monday, December 24, 2007

In Remembrance

Two of the greats have left us.

Michael Kidd, choreographer of my all-time favorite film, SEVEN BRIDES FOR SEVEN BROTHERS, died Sunday. He was 92.

I couldn't begin to describe the joy Mr. Kidd and his company of 7 BRIDES dancers have given me over the years.

Jazz pianist Oscar Peterson has passed away at 82.

Their contributions to the arts will always be with us.

Merry Christmas to All

Best wishes for a very happy Christmas!

NORAD Santa Tracking 2007

Follow Santa's travels over the next day with the good folks at North American Aerospace Defense Command!

NORAD has been tracking Santa's travels for over half a century now.

Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Best Buy Computers Not Connected to Internet

If you shop at Best Buy, you should read this story.

If you go to Best on an in-house computer in a Best Buy store, you are not actually looking at the same Best you'd see at home, and you will not see the same prices.

Let the buyer beware...

Johnie's Broiler: An Update

Last January I wrote about Johnie's Broiler in Downey, a famed example of Googie architecture which was illegally demolished.

The L.A. Times updated the story today. There is currently a battle over whether to rebuild the restaurant or complete the demolition.

The tenant who conducted the demolition pleaded guilty to three misdemeanors.

A related post can be found here.

Weekend Fun: El Cholo and the Galen Center

Yesterday afternoon we met relatives at my favorite restaurant, El Cholo in Los Angeles. El Cholo has been a Los Angeles institution since the 1920s. (We also like the El Cholo in La Habra, which opened in 1962.)

I have many happy memories of meals at El Cholo over my lifetime. When I was a teenager, a visit to El Cholo was often part of a trip to see a classic movie at places such as the County Art Museum's Bing Theater, or the now-gone Vagabond Theater on Wilshire Boulevard.

You can take a video tour of El Cholo online. Just off the lobby there is a room which is a shrine to nearby USC:

The other side of the room:

After dinner we adjourned to USC's beautiful Galen Center, which opened last season:

The USC men's basketball team beat Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, 78-55. A photo gallery of the game is at the L.A. Times.

A great start to a long holiday weekend!

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Now This is a Classy Christmas Ad

Fred Thompson's ad makes all the other candidates' ads, of either party, look pretty silly and self-absorbed.

Friday, December 21, 2007

TCM Remembers 2007

A very nice video montage paying tribute to film industry contributors who passed away in 2007 is available at the Turner Classic Movies site.

Click on the subject link and then choose "Our Picks" in green at the top of the righthand column. Next choose "TCM Remembers 2007" to start the video.

(Hat tip: DVD Savant.)

A Tuba World Record?

My husband took the day off work today to perform in Tuba Christmas at Downtown Disney in Anaheim.

Although he's a trombonist, he can play the tuba in a pinch, and he borrowed one from an acquaintance.

627 tuba performers from around the world gathered to play Christmas music. The performance may qualify for the Guinness Book of World Records for the largest number of tuba players performing together. Although 748 tuba players performed at Disney World's Epcot in 1995, the performance did not submit the necessary paperwork to qualify for the Guinness Book.

The Anaheim group which played today had submitted the paperwork just in case they had enough performers show up to set the record.

A nice slideshow of today's event was posted by the Orange County Register. An audio slideshow was also posted; you can hear 627 tubas playing "O Little Town of Bethlehem" while looking at photos of the concert.

Video is here.

Saturday Morning Update: My husband is in a photo on the front page of today's L.A. Times, but so far it doesn't appear to be on the Times website...

Sunday Update: Here is a scan of the front page of Saturday's L.A. Times (photo by Lori Shepler). Click to enlarge. My husband is the one wearing glasses in the second row, one of the two players behind the righthand "Santa hat" player:

The Annual Barney White House Christmas Video

It's that time of year again! This year's Christmas video publicizes our national parks along with wishing everyone a Merry Christmas.

As usual, the cast includes some fun surprises, and the views of the White House Christmas decorations are always enjoyable.

Click on the subject link and then click "Barney Cam" on the right side of the page, or click on the "Holiday in the National Parks" title on the right side of this page.

Frank Capra Jr. Dies at 73

The son of the famous director, who was a filmmaker in his own right, has died.

In recent years Capra headed a film studio based in Wilmington, North Carolina. The studio is said to be the nation's largest film production center east of California.

It's rather poignant that the younger Capra passed away at Christmastime, the setting for what might be his father's most famous movie, IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE.

London's Daily Telegraph, coincidentally, published a nice essay today on WONDERFUL LIFE.

Regarding WONDERFUL LIFE, I also highly recommend this thoughtful column by Glenn Erickson at DVD Savant.

Edward and Sophie Name Newborn Son

Queen Elizabeth II's newest grandchild, who was born Monday, has received his name: James Alexander Philip Theo.

James, whose title is Viscount Severn, could one day become the Duke of Edinburgh; it has been speculated that Prince Edward, the Earl of Wessex, will inherit the Edinburgh title upon his father's death, and in due course it would be passed down to James.

Yesterday Queen Elizabeth became Britain's oldest reigning monarch, breaking the record previously held by Queen Victoria.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Bill Clinton: Hillary's a World-Class Genius

According to Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton is not only the most gifted person of her generation, she is a "world-class genius in making positive changes in other people's lives."

Try telling that to the travel office employees she smeared and fired.

And that's just the tip of a very, very big iceberg.

Does anyone else think that Bill is overselling Hillary to such an extent that it seems more like insincere sabotage than support?

OK Attorney General Bans Free Speech

The Attorney General of Oklahoma recently issued an advisory opinion to Southwestern Oklahoma State University, directing that the college's state employees may not use the word "Christmas" in oral or written form.

The directive specifically said that words "Merry Christmas" were not to be spoken by any state employees, even if they did not initiate the greeting.

Were I an employee of that school, I would take great pleasure in violating the Attorney General's edict as frequently as possible.

Thursday Afternoon Update: Ed Morrissey checked with the Oklahoma Attorney General's office and they say the story isn't true, although it wasn't an unequivocal denial -- they are "checking with" assistant AG's to see if such an advisory was issued.

Mark Tapscott of the Washington Examiner, whose story is at my subject link, reports receiving a call from the university denying the story, but again the denial was somewhat equivocal. However, Tapscott has confirmed that employees at Southwestern Oklahoma State University received the "no Merry Christmas" order from their boss -- who in the original story had issued the directive based on legal advice from the Oklahoma A.G.

Tapscott's update does not, however, directly confirm that the policy originated with the Oklahoma Attorney General. Check the subject link for further updates.

Thursday Evening Update: Mark Tapscott continues to update his blog with new developments. His source, Liberty Counsel, has issued a statement naming names and giving more specifics about the "Christmas" ban. Tapscott has tried to contact the university provost, one of those named by Liberty Counsel as confirming the ban.

Friday Morning Update: A press release from Southwestern Oklahoma State University raises more questions for me than it answers: "An attempt to be respectful of the diverse religious population at Southwestern Oklahoma State University has been misinterpreted as an attempt to ban Christmas on the Weatherford campus. The rumor of this ban is not true. The university attempted to prevent the appearance as a state agency of endorsing any particular religion." did the university "attempt to be respectful of the diverse religious population" and "prevent the appearance...of endorsing any particular religion"?

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Energy Bill Outlaws Traditional Light Bulbs

The new energy bill signed by President Bush includes provisions mandating that traditional incandescent light bulbs be phased out of use in our country in the next five years.

Somehow I don't think the Founding Fathers envisioned a free country forbidding citizens from using lighting methods not approved by Congress.

Because Congressionally approved compact fluorescent light (CFL) bulbs contain mercury, U.S. News and World Report suggests, in all seriousness, that in future homeowners put drop cloths under lights which are being changed, to make cleaning up the hazardous waste from possible light bulb breakage easier.

You've got to love it when the simple act of changing a light bulb turns into a construction-type project involving drop cloths and fears of hazardous waste.

The up side is that comedy writers will have a lot of new material for "screwing in a light bulb" jokes.

Unfortunately, the new "light bulb law" included in the energy bill is a joke, too. I'm disappointed that President Bush has signed the bill.

If the CFL bulbs are truly as good -- and good for us -- as Congress insists, the free market would have naturally gravitated to adopting the light bulbs. Instead we have the nanny staters wagging their fingers and insisting we use the light bulbs they think are best...and ironically, there have been plenty of questions raised about whether the CFL bulbs are truly the environmentally friendly bargains they're supposed to be.

Previously: February 2007.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Three Cheers for the USS Ronald Reagan

The crew of the USS Ronald Reagan likely saved the life of a 14-year-old girl whose appendix ruptured while she was on a Mexican cruise.

The Reagan, 500 miles away, answered a distress call and picked the girl up using a tricky helicopter maneuver, as the helicopter couldn't land on the deck of the cruise ship.

Once aboard the Reagan, the girl was rushed into surgery, which was successful. The ship's surgeon said, "She was a very sick girl. She had gone septic. Untreated for another 24 to 36 hours, it could have been a lot worse."

"The Incredible Disappearing Border Fence"

Is it any wonder so many Americans didn't believe Congress when it promised it would really, really enforce the borders along with handing out amnesty to illegal aliens?

More here.

Thoughts on Fred Thompson

The Beltway types have had it in for Fred Thompson from the outset of his candidacy; as long ago as August I noted the panel on SPECIAL REPORT WITH BRIT HUME derisively referred to the accomplished Thompson merely as "an actor."

More recently the same pundits like to joke that Thompson peaked before actually entering the race.

But I wonder if perhaps Thompson has played it just right, letting the other candidates slug it out and also letting the public tire of the candidates who have been overexposed for the past year.

I believe Mike Huckabee's boomlet is going to peter out. Many conservatives have never warmed up to Mitt Romney, due to his flip-flopping and adopting positions for political expediency, and it's hard to imagine that these same voters will stay with Huckabee once they realize he's a socially conservative liberal (or a "right-wing progressive statist," as Jonah Goldberg termed him). Are the voters who flocked to Huckabee, hoping for a true conservative candidate, likely to turn back to Romney?

Or might Fred peak at just the right moment and scoop up the votes of dissatisfied conservatives?

Rich Lowry wonders the same thing.

David Yepsen of the Des Moines Register (subject link) says not to rule Thompson out. More from Time and California Conservative.

Thompson, incidentally, shocked the Romney camp by picking up the endorsement of influential Iowa conservative Rep. Steve King yesterday.

Wednesday Update: The Evans-Novak Report writes that Thompson "has far more upside potential than any other Republican...he could make a spectacular surge" in Iowa.

Time-Shifting Holidays

USA Today ran an interesting article in today's Life section about families celebrating holidays when it's convenient, rather than being tied to a specific day.

I think there is much to be said for this approach. When I was young I used to feel down when December 25th passed and Christmas was "over." (I still find it annoying to see trees out for garbage collection the morning after Christmas...what's the hurry?) Over time I've come to appreciate Christmas more as an entire season rather than as one single day. For instance, we usually celebrate Christmas with my husband's family up north on a day other than Christmas...but when I look back on those times, in my memories it is "Christmas," every bit as much as what we do on the 25th.

I also like the liturgical church calendar, where Christmas is merely the beginning of a new church season...I play Christmas music right up until Epiphany!

When we were newlyweds, one particular Christmas my husband and I traveled two hours to the north in time for brunch with his family, then traveled back two hours just in time for Christmas dinner with mine! It's much more fun and relaxing to enjoy a holiday spread over a period of time, rather than trying to cram everything into a single day.

Best Cookbooks of the Year

It's that time of year for newspapers to run their lists of the best cookbooks of the year, just in time for Christmas gift ideas.

The L.A. Times list is at the subject link. I'm quite interested in James Peterson's COOKING; I really like his books ESSENTIALS OF COOKING and WHAT'S A COOK TO DO?

The Washington Post's list (via the Las Cruces Sun-News) includes Peterson's COOKING and the new Martha Stewart cookbooks.

The New York Times lists 11 titles to consider. A second NYT list is here.

THE ESSENTIAL BAKER, listed by the El Paso Times, looks wonderful.

More cookbook lists from the Hartford Courant, the Orange County Register, AM New York (THE BACON COOKBOOK by James Villas gets a thumbs up), and the Knoxville News.


Monday, December 17, 2007

Nanny Staters Chipping Away at Freedom, a Tax at a Time

The Mayor of San Francisco, Gavin Newsom, wants to heavily tax sugared sodas, using the standard excuse that sugar leads to obesity, which leads to increased healthcare costs for the city.

A spokesman said the tax would only affect large stores, not "mom and pop" stores. To which I ask: why? If the mayor really believes in his tax, why be hypocritical and only charge the tax at bigger stores? (Because he believes he can soak evil "big corporations," I'm sure...)

The spokesman also assured "The mayor has no intention of imposing a fee on pizza."

Uh-huh. Believe me, folks, that's coming. If you're going to tax sugary sodas, what's to stop the taxation of doughnuts, candy bars, pizza, french fries, or anything else that's considered "unhealthy"? It's a slippery slope, and we're already well on the way down the hill.

Before it's all over, we may need a new version of the Boston Tea Party to end the ever-increasing desire of politicians and bureaucrats to control every aspect of our lives.

Countess of Wessex Safely Gives Birth to Son

Sophie, the Countess of Wessex -- wife of Queen Elizabeth II's youngest son, Prince Edward -- has safely given birth to a boy via c-section today.

It was initially said in the press that the baby would be born this Friday, but perhaps that information was put out to throw the press off the track.

Sophie came close to losing her life when she suffered a placental abruption just prior to prematurely giving birth to daughter Louise in November 2003.

The baby boy's name has not yet been announced. He will have the title Viscount Severn.

Friday Update: Here are photos of the happy parents leaving the hospital with their newborn son.

Busiest Mail Day of the Year

I was at the post office 45 minutes before it opened today, using the automated machine to buy postage for the last couple boxes I needed to mail. I was sure glad I'd done that when I drove through the same shopping center later in the morning and saw that the line extended out into the parking lot!

275 million cards and packages are expected to be mailed today in the United States.

Goose for Christmas Gains Popularity in U.S.

I've never eaten goose, which is described as "strong, greasy, all dark meat" and "gamy" in this L.A. Times article.

I love turkey for Christmas, but I'd be curious to try goose sometime, on another occasion, just to see what it's like.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Wreath Laying at Arlington

We can never thank our nation's fallen soldiers and their families adequately...God bless those who express our gratitude in such a beautiful, tangible way.

"We make it our business to never forget."

Tonight's Movie: Mostly Martha (2001)

MOSTLY MARTHA -- also known as BELLA MARTHA -- is the German film which provided the original source material for the Catherine Zeta-Jones film NO RESERVATIONS, reviewed here last summer. Martina Gedeck plays Martha Klein, an uptight chef whose world is turned upside down first by her orphaned niece, Lina (Maxime Foerste) and then by a free-spirited Italian chef, Mario (Sergio Castellitto).

I caught the movie this weekend thanks to Netflix, and enjoyed it very much. The film struck me as a bit darker in tone than NO RESERVATIONS -- perhaps because of the storyline concerning Lina's Italian father, which was completely dropped from NO RESERVATIONS. I also felt that the little girl's character was not developed as fully as in NO RESERVATIONS.

That said, it's a very well-done movie which is definitely worth seeing. Gedeck does an excellent job portraying the gradual unraveling of the tightly wound Martha into someone capable of expressing love and having a life outside a restaurant kitchen. Along with the drama there are some very funny scenes -- don't turn the movie off too quickly at the end or you'll miss a delightful postscript with Martha and her therapist.

The film runs 109 minutes. It was written and directed by Sandra Nettelbeck, who also has an uncredited cameo as Lina's mother in a home video.

MOSTLY MARTHA is available DVD and VHS. It has a German-language soundtrack with English subtitles. I was interested both in how many random German words were understood by me, despite not having studied German since high school, and in how many English terms have worked their way into German -- they used the English word "babysitter" rather than a German translation, for example.

NO RESERVATIONS, incidentally, comes to DVD on February 12, just in time for Valentine's Day. Extras include the episode of the Food Network show UNWRAPPED which focused on the movie.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

David Limbaugh on Mike Huckabee

David Limbaugh writes about "Single-Issue vs. Comprehensive Conservatism" and says regarding Huckabee: " main anxiety about Christian conservatives is their seeming willingness to turn a blind eye to Christian pastor Mike Huckabee's decidedly liberal instincts and either his acceptance of or desire to pander to politically correct conventional wisdom."

Hopefully as the "new" wears off and more voters become aware of Huckabee's track record and viewpoints, he'll burn out as quickly as Howard Dean did in '04.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Just a Nice Story

15 years ago Don Feinstein, a doctor at the USC/Norris Cancer Center, was able to save the life of a patient, Larry Kelly. Other doctors were having trouble properly diagnosing Kelly's cancer.

This year Jane Anne Nohl, a friend of Kelly's, passed away. She surprised USC with a $60 million bequest in her will, in appreciation for Dr. Feinstein's work saving Kelly's life.

It's the largest gift the USC cancer center has ever received, and the sixth largest in USC history.

Dr. Feinstein, incidentally, "retired" last July...but still works six days a week.

Today at Disneyland: Christmas Visit 2007

Today we made our annual all-day Christmas visit to Disneyland. It was a brisk but sunny day, and the park was filled with Christmas cheer.

Our college daughter was able to take a day off from finals and come home for the Disney visit. She'll be home for Christmas break in a few more days!

River Belle Terrace is not quite done with its refurbishment -- rumor has it the restaurant reopens on Saturday, December 15th -- so no Mickey Mouse pancakes today. Instead we had breakfast at the Blue Ribbon Bakery:

River Belle, incidentally, looks beautiful inside, based on a peek through the windows. They opened it up a bit by removing some of the walls that previously separated the food stations from the seating area, but it still has the classic cozy River Belle "look." It appeared that training sessions were going on in the restaurant this afternoon.

A Christmasy view of the Matterhorn:

Sleeping Beauty's Winter Castle by day:

One of the beautiful wreaths in It's a Small World Holiday (shot without flash):

We saw Giselle from ENCHANTED at Disneyland for the first time; she came down Main Street in a carriage prior to the start of the Christmas Fantasy Parade.

Speaking of the Parade, I can't count how many times I've seen the Christmas Parade, but it's always a particular thrill to see the wooden soldiers marching down the street. Over the years a number of musician friends have performed as the soldiers.

We called it a day after 11 hours, without seeing the fireworks, but it's a good thing, as we later learned tonight's fireworks were cancelled halfway into the show due to wind.

Another year, another happy Christmas memory at Disneyland!

Previously posted at Laura's Miscellaneous Musings: Christmas trip visits in 2005 and 2006.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Cookie Memories

A nice essay from the Boston Globe, accompanied by a few tasty-looking cookie recipes.

Maybe I'll finally have time to do some Christmas baking this weekend...

Historic Googie Restaurant Reborn

The Parasol coffee shop, a classic example of "Googie" architecture located in nearby Seal Beach, California, was slated for demolition a couple of years ago.

The demolition plans fell through and instead the restaurant was remodeled. It is now a Mel's Drive-In with great '50s decor.

Hundreds of people turned out for yesterday's grand opening.

A happy ending for both classic California architecture and those of us who will be able to enjoy the new restaurant.

This Sounds Familiar

An Orange County history teacher has been sued by a student for continually making anti-religious, anti-conservative comments in an AP European History class.

Quotes from one of the teacher's rants were published by World Net Daily.

Among his idiotic comments: "What part of the country has the highest murder rate? The South. What part of the country has the highest rape rate? The South. What part of the country has the highest … church attendance? The South. Oh, wait a minute. You mean there is not a correlation between these things?"

Our oldest daughter ran into a couple teachers of this ilk at our local high school. They weren't as bad as alleged by this student, but a history teacher's factual distortions -- including making up Bible history -- were bad enough we had a meeting with him. And she walked out on the Civics teacher's Michael Moore movies...

After taking a freshman class with the history teacher, our daughter skipped taking his AP Euro History class. It wasn't worth the extra point on her GPA (for taking an Advanced Placement course) to spend another year in his classroom.

A postscript -- she "homeschooled" herself in European History and passed the AP exam anyway!

"So You Want to Be a Sommelier?"

I have no interest in wine, other than occasionally cooking with it, but I found this article from the L.A. Times Food section quite interesting.

The article details the arduous process required to become a Master Sommelier. There are only two Master Sommeliers in Orange County; one works at Disney's Napa Rose restaurant at the Grand Californian Hotel.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Here's The Sinatra Stamp

The Frank Sinatra stamp design was unveiled today, on Sinatra's birth date.

The design was adapted from a '50s photograph.

Looks great!

Update: Detailed info on the stamp's unveiling ceremony from the L.A. Times.

The Pope Takes On the Religion of Global Warming

From London's Daily Mail: "Pope Benedict XVI has launched a surprise attack on climate change prophets of doom, warning them that any solutions to global warming must be based on firm evidence and not on dubious ideology.

"The leader of more than a billion Roman Catholics suggested that fears over man-made emissions melting the ice caps and causing a wave of unprecedented disasters were nothing more than scare-mongering.

"The German-born Pontiff said that while some concerns may be valid it was vital that the international community based its policies on science rather than the dogma of the environmentalist movement."

He went on to say that it is important to care for the environment, but not to place a higher value on plants and animals than mankind.

That point is particularly significant given the loony ideas suggested by global warming alarmists, such as heavily taxing children in order to reduce births and "save the planet."

It's a fascinating article.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Hobby City to Remain Open

Orange County's 52-year-old cluster of hobby stores, Hobby City on Beach Boulevard in Stanton, won't be closing after all, at least for the foreseeable future.

Hobby City, which is located not far from Knott's Berry Farm, was to close this month and be razed to make way for condos. The condo deal has fallen through due to the soft real estate market, and Hobby City will remain open indefinitely.

The miniature children's amusement park, Adventure City, will also remain open.

This is particularly good news for the boys in my family, who have happily bought model airplanes and gecko supplies at Hobby City over the years.

Proposed Bill May Eliminate Coliseum Commission...

...or give USC seats on the Commission.

If the Commission is dissolved, the master lease would be assigned to USC.

Interesting developments.

More from the L.A. Daily News.

The Coliseum Commission holds a closed-door meeting about USC on Wednesday, December 12th.

Thursday: The Coliseum Commission is believed to have offered USC a long-term contract this morning, but the terms are unknown at this time.

Too Much Homework

Here's a good column about the negative impact of too much homework on young students, which prevents them from excercising -- either their bodies or their imaginations -- and negatively impacts family life.

When my children were in public elementary school I found that their homework was usually either pointless busywork or something that the teachers wanted the parents to teach; that was one of the things that gave me the idea to homeschool. If the teachers wanted me to do the teaching anyway, why not just do it during the day and not go through the agony each night?

One of the things I love about homeschooling is that, with one-on-one interaction between parent and child, it's possible to study a subject intensively in a relatively small amount of time, with plenty of free time left for enrichment, leisure time, and family life. (My youngest son has been learning woodworking in the shop with his dad of late and jokes that he's "taking an elective.") And no more homework ruining Christmas vacation!

"Two Presidents in the White House?"

Sally Bedell Smith, the noted biographer who recently wrote a book on Bill and Hillary Clinton titled FOR LOVE OF POLITICS, has written an essay for Opinion Journal about the prospect of the Clintons returning to the White House.

Smith: "We now face the extraordinary possibility of having two presidents in the White House who are married to each other. That prospect is something that never occurred to our nation's founders...

"Imagine being asked to serve as her running mate, knowing that her husband would be far more influential than any vice president. What would a potential secretary of state face now that Sen. Clinton has already said she would use her husband as ambassador to the world?"

Because of anti-nepotism laws, former President Clinton could not serve in a formal appointed job, which raises its own problems: "His role would be necessarily ambiguous. At a time when voters are crying out for more openness in government, such an arrangement raises questions about transparency and accountability."

Smith raises an issue previously explored here: "While Mr. Clinton's return to the West Wing wouldn't directly violate the 22nd Amendment--designed to limit a president to two terms in office--it has significant implications..."

Her conclusion: "The concept of two presidents in the White House poses one of the biggest conundrums of this political season, and is an issue that can only grow during the general election campaign if Hillary Clinton is the Democratic candidate."

Be sure to read the entire column, it's a worthwhile read by a woman who has spent a great deal of time studying the Clintons.

Monday, December 10, 2007

O Christmas Tree

Back in December 2005 I mentioned two very interesting books by Robert Brenner, CHRISTMAS, 1940-1959: A COLLECTOR'S GUIDE TO DECORATIONS AND CUSTOMS (subject link) and CHRISTMAS, 1960-PRESENT: A COLLECTOR'S GUIDE TO DECORATIONS AND CUSTOMS.

These books are great fun to pull off the shelves at this time of year. As I wrote then, the books "each contain hundreds of photographs of everything from record album covers to cardboard manger sets to Christmas ornaments and candles. It was fun to recognize some items handed down from my grandparents (such as the aforementioned cardboard manger set) among the pages."

The books come to mind as we've been busy setting up and decorating our tree over the last couple days. While in the past we have always had Monterey pines for our trees, the quality of the trees from the tree farm we have long used really declined over the last few years. They were weak and ended up looking terribly misshapen when decorated. This year we took the plunge and got a Noble fir instead -- from a Home Depot, no less. So far, so good, although I miss the pine smell which says "Christmas"!

My youngest daughter and I are going to set up a separate tabletop "Barbie" tree again this year. It's possible in the future we might even set up a little "Disney" tree as well, as our collection seems to keep growing year by year!

We bought an ornament for our college daughter who comes home next week:

Fight on, and Merry Christmas!

Power Line on Huckabee

Power Line has more on Mike Huckabee today. Paul Mirengoff writes "Mike Huckabee’s wrong-headed foreign prescriptions threaten to outstrip our ability to report them."

Huckabee demanded that President Bush lift the embargo to Cuba -- apparently because he wanted Arkansas to sell rice to Cubans. However, he also claims he was "really not that aware" of the issues we had with Cuba. Which, if true, sure makes it strange he would then want the U.S. to drop the embargo. Except that he wanted to sell rice in Cuba...

More from Power Line here; National Review weighs in here.

Aside from Huckabee's positions on foreign policy, there's also this: Huckabee pretending to have a phone conversation with God at a meeting of Republican Governors in 2004. I dislike the disrespectful, even crass way Huckabee weaves God and religion into his politics. (I've previously mentioned his comment about "drinking a different Jesus juice" from Republican Christians with whom he disagrees.) No class.

The lineup of Republican candidates doesn't thrill me, but I find it disheartening that Huckabee seems to be running so strongly in the polls. I can't imagine all those voters are yet fully informed about Huckabee's liberal track record.

We can only hope Huckabee is this year's Howard Dean, a momentary flash in the pan.

Coming to DVD: Musicals From The Dream Factory, Volume 3

Great news for fans of MGM musicals. Next April 8 Warners will release a set of 9 -- count 'em, 9! -- MGM musicals.

Most of the films star either Jane Powell or Eleanor Powell. Jane will be represented by TWO WEEKS WITH LOVE (a film I have long hoped would come to DVD), HIT THE DECK and NANCY GOES TO RIO. Eleanor's films include LADY BE GOOD, BROADWAY MELODY OF 1936, BROADWAY MELODY OF 1938, and BORN TO DANCE. The other two films in the set are KISMET and DEEP IN MY HEART.

Debbie Reynolds costarred in TWO WEEKS WITH LOVE and HIT THE DECK; it would sure be wonderful if Warners gives us some new featurettes or commentaries with Reynolds and Jane Powell.

If you'd like to check out the titles included in the previous releases, Volume I is here and Volume 2 is here.

Titles I'm hoping come to DVD in the future: YOLANDA AND THE THIEF (perhaps this will be in an upcoming Astaire set), THE GLASS SLIPPER, LOVELY TO LOOK AT, TWO GIRLS AND A SAILOR, LILI, and more Jane Powell (ATHENA, LUXURY LINER, HOLIDAY IN MEXICO). This latest release of lesser-known titles encourages me that we might see some of these titles in a future Volume 4.

A new two-disc edition of AN AMERICAN IN PARIS is rumored to be a 2008 release, incidentally...

Tuesday Update: Here's a press release with all the details. Extras include outtakes, shorts, a TCM documentary, and radio programs, but apparently there is no new material in terms of featurettes or commentary, which is too bad.

"The Most Gifted Person of Our Generation"

That was Bill's assessment of Hillary, back in the day.

Oh, puh-leeze. Where in her thin resume could he possibly have found anything that correlates with this hyper-inflated opinion of Mrs. Clinton?

He also mentions he'd told Hillary "You really should dump me and go back home to Chicago or go to New York and take one of those offers you've got and run for office."

This is a woman who couldn't pass the Washington D.C. bar exam. Granted, she worked for the Watergate Committee, but I'd be curious to know if those "offers" really existed.

Somehow the Clintons never quite lose their ability to surprise me.

A Remarkable Story

Jeanne Assam, a former policewoman serving as a volunteer security guard, is credited with saving many lives by killing the gunman who invaded her church in Colorado Springs yesterday. The gunman killed two teenage girls and wounded others.

As the gunman fired at Assam, she calmly walked toward him, firing repeatedly. A fellow church member who saw combat in Vietnam and who was wounded by the gunman said it was the bravest thing he'd ever seen.

Assam said simply "I was asking the Holy Spirit to guide me the entire time."

"God was with me. I didn't think for a minute to run away."

Sunday, December 09, 2007

USC Wins First Women's Soccer Title

The Trojans and their first-year coach beat Florida State to win the Trojans' first-ever national women's soccer title.


Golden Compass Flounders at Box Office

THE GOLDEN COMPASS is based on books by an atheist God-hater who wants to be the anti-C.S. Lewis.

It was thus heartening to see that the film took in quite a bit less at the box office than had been expected for its opening weekend.

My children love fantasy films, but this is one they won't be seeing. Ever.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Around the Blogosphere This Week

Odds and ends for your perusal:

At the subject line Captain Ed writes "A Market Free of Consequences Is Not Free." Yep. Another disappointment from the Bush Administration. Sigh...

Episcopal Diocese Votes to Secede: The secession of California's Diocese of San Joaquin is major news, as it marks the first time an entire diocese has voted to leave; previously a number of individual parishes have seceded. This is another positive step forward as Biblically orthodox American churches flee the Episcopal Church's liberal, theologically squishy leadership and continue to realign with the theologically and evangelically robust Anglican churches of Africa and South America. The diocese is now part of the province of the Southern Cone (South America) and remains within the worldwide Anglican Communion.

On Romney's Speech: Jay Cost has some interesting analysis at Real Clear Politics. I don't really have a strong opinion on the was well delivered but I don't think it actually broke any new ground. Savvy voters -- the ones paying attention at this early stage -- are already well aware of our country's history of religious freedom and tolerance. Somewhat bizarrely, Romney fan Hugh Hewitt, an early proponent of the power of the blogosphere and the collective impact of individual small-audience bloggers on public opinion, haughtily announced to Romney or speech naysayers that "Your opinion of who ought to be the GOP nominee doesn't matter beyond your vote." Small wonder I'm not listening to Hugh nearly as often as I used to...

Everyday Math=Junk: More from Michelle Malkin on silly elementary school math programs. Like one of Michelle's commenters, when our oldest was in school she was once told to redo problems the long-form "Mathland way," when she was perfectly capable of quickly calculating the problems using traditional math skills. A previous post on this topic is here.

THE BACON COOKBOOK: A new cookbook entirely devoted to bacon recipes! "More Than 150 Recipes From Around the World For Everyone's Favorite Food."

Bill Clinton in Hillary's Cabinet Meetings?: The mind continues to boggle at the prospect of a co-Presidency, effectively circumventing the 22nd Amendment.

10 Things I Like About White Christmas: A fun post from Jacqueline at Another Old Movie Blog.

Butterscotch Blondie Marble Drops: I recently made these and they turned out pretty well. The recipe is from BIG FAT COOKIES, a beautiful book by Elinor Klivans.

So You Think You Know Carols?: A 25-question quiz. Have fun!

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