Tuesday, July 31, 2007
HERE'S TO THE SUMMER OF '91. That's what that Indigo Girls video is up there for. That hot, HOT, bright sunny summer. Working days at Sizzler and partying nights at The Guppy's -- who had nothing in her fridge except vodka and lemons. Hell . . . here's to when I could DRINK! And here's to Maureen for getting Cheeks and I into the Indigo Girls. Yeah, she was definitely my type. No, nothing ever happened -- other than the two of us becoming really good buds. Of course, there was the Tiffer to monopolize my attention. Here's to the Tiffer -- beating the crap outta Cheeks on the balcony -- because of ME. And here's to Maureen again for hovering nearby while the Tiff and I had our "heavy" conversation on the couch -- and for fixing me a bucket-sized alcoholic beverage the MINUTE Tiff stepped out the door. Here's to lemon drops in the walk-in - and here's to me for allowing Baby Bot to get drunk while working Pit! Here's to Missy and her suicidal bulldog. Here's to that booze with the gold flecks in it and to Bad Company. Here's to "Lonely" by Janet Jackson and "I Want Tomorrow" by Enya. And here's to Metallica's "Black Album". Here's to cheese toast. Here's to "pastry runs" for Cindster at Zagara's. Here's to the puke-coloured Camaro. Here's to the Indigo Girls' song of hope: "Love Will Come To You". Even though it was nothing but a lie. And speaking of Indigo Girls -- here's to Galileo. And the last 4 songs on the last disc of Elton John's box set "To Be Continued. . ." And here's to "looking for something" in the armrest of said Camaro in the Sizzler parking lot. No, not me. It was two OTHER people.
Thursday, July 19, 2007
DUST MOTES BLOWING ACROSS THE FLOOR. So, it's been a little quiet in this here blog lately -- owing to the fact that the establishment for which I work has finally blocked blogger. As I did 95% of my blogging at work (hey, gotta do SOMETHING during all that down time) and I practically NEVER go online at home, this means that postings here will be a lot fewer and far-er between-er. This also means that I won't be able to visit all your blogs on a daily basis -- as was my wont. But fret not. This only means that I'll probably be blogging on a weekly basis instead of nearly daily. And since you all are getting older and older (and slower and SLOWER) by the minute, I hope that this minor adjustment will not be too jolting for you or cause any irreparable damage to your psyches. It only means that the posts I finally DO put up will all be just that much more polished gems of pure gold, now doesn't it?
Thursday, July 12, 2007
Monday, July 09, 2007
MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ME!!! That's right, Hookin' Pickers! It was a proud day today when Cheekies gave me my Christmas presents. That's right, TODAY. July 8th. But scoff not a whit because it was certainly worth it; owing very much to the observant thoughtfulness of his better half: the fair Faere as well. For it was SHE that apparently crystalized the idea for the presents. And what presents, you may well ask. Well, a little while ago I posted my list of shame which included some major films that your truly (the movie buff) had never yet seen. Well, the spectacularly good idea for my present was for Cheekies & Faere to buy me five of 'em on DVD. Now, wasn't that a fanfriggintastic idea for a gift?!?!?!? I think so.
And those five movies are: Stagecoach (which, if you'll look over there to the right, you'll see I've already managed to watch before beddy-bye tonight), One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Casino, The Thomas Crown Affair and Cape Fear. Oh yes, Cheekies also gave me two new DVDCerpts (don't ask if you don't know). Of course, it would be nice if they played in my DVDplayer but they don't. . .um, didja forget to FINALIZE the discs, Alexandre Dumbass?!?! But I digress. The points are still yours.
But yes, as for finally seeing STAGECOACH. . .I pretty much like every John Ford movie I've ever seen and this is no different. Rightly considered a classic (and I'm not what you'd call a "Western Fan"). I'm also not what you'd consider a John Wayne fan; but put him in the hands of John Ford (or Howard Hawks, for that matter) and I just might consider it. The beginning of the film was fine but didn't really grab me as anything special. The weird thing about the movie, though, is that it slowly creeps up on you until, before you know it, you're riveted. Ford handles the quiet, character-driven moments with just as much expertise as the action sequences (and let me tell you the action scenes are white-knuckle impressive even after all these years). But what REALLY sells the movie is the incredible ensemble cast. STAGECOACH made John Wayne a star but he's surrounded with expert character players all. Claire Trevor as the (ahem) fallen woman Dallas is absolutely fantastic; I think I like her more in THIS role even than her Oscar-winning turn in KEY LARGO!!! And perennial king of the character actors Thomas Mitchell also well-deserves his Oscar for this performance as a drunken doctor who still manages to function when called upon to do so. Add in southern gambler John Carradine, stagecoach driver Andy Devine and milquetoast hooch salesman Donald Meek and all the stock, potentially-stereotypical characters take on a depth and emotional weight that's surprising for 1939; there's not a cardboard character among 'em. In fact, even the cameos are first rate with Tim Holt (of THE TREASURE OF SIERRA MADRE) as a Cavalry lieutenant and Tom Tyler (Kharis the Mummy of Universal's THE MUMMY'S HAND) as black-hatted killer hombre Luke Plummer.
So round one is a resounding success for STAGECOACH. And for Cheekies and Faere for such a well-thought-out gift.
Friday, July 06, 2007
FAVE FOTO FRIDAY!
Yes, I finally came up with one! This is a photo taken by my good friend Ernest in Braughing, England. Now, Ernest doesn't live in Braughing but he lives close enough that's it's only a day trip for him to get there; whereas poor schmucks like me would have to take an 87 year plane flight to get there. Braughing has a population of approximately eight hundred-something and looks to me like the kinda place Agatha Christie would've bumped somebody off in. Will someone tell me once again why I'm stuck in Souf Joisey when there are idyllic places like THIS for me to live in?!?!?!? So nice I posted it twice: here, have ANOTHER look (click on 'em for a closer view). . .
Sunday, July 01, 2007
Now that it is July and the summer is now upon us in earnest (Hi Ernest!), I thought this was a good time (and after all I have nothing BUT time) to mention some of those movies which I particularly regard as summer movies; that is, movies which really mean summer to me. Many of these films I watch ever summer; but all of them in some way epitomize summer to me. When the mercury is rising. . .when the fish are jumping and the cotton is high. . .pop these movies into the DVD player:
12 ANGRY MEN (1957) - 12 jurors locked in a hot room trying to decide a murder case. Electric fan spins. Handkerchiefs wipe brows. Tempers flare as hot as the outside temperature.
1776 (1972) - This is exactly how the founding fathers came up with the Declaration of Independence. Yes, they really sang! And it's hot as hell in Philadel-phia!
THE BLOB (1958) - Could there be a more summery 50's monster flick with Steve McQueen (and, don't forget, a cast of exciting young people!) drag-racing at stoplights . . . backwards. Steve and Aneta (who couldn't STAND each other in real life) necking out under the summer stars. Oh yeah, and there's that carnivorous jelly falling from the sky inside a meteorite.
DAZED AND CONFUSED (1993) - Technically this starts in the Spring since it depicts the last day of school. But the last day of school means SUMMER -- so what if it hasn't OFFICIALLY the summer solstice by the calendar. This movie really gets the feel of the beginning of summer vacation. Alice Cooper's "School's Out" blares on the soundtrack and I'm transported right back to 1976! That summer breeze makes me feel fine.
DEATH ON THE NILE (1978) - My perfect idea for a summer vacation: a trip down the Nile on a riverboat with Belgian detective Hercule Poirot and the bodies piling up around me. Of course, the cocktails continue to flow. . .including that infamous drink The Crocodile. Barman! This crocodile's lost it's croc!!!
THE DEVIL'S REJECTS (2005) - I can't think of many more movies that convey the sweltering heat better than this dry and dusty bloodfest from Rob Zombie which VASTLY improves on his previous House of 1000 Corpses. Truly unsettling enough to give you goosebumps in a heat wave!
DR. GOLDFOOT AND THE BIKINI MACHINE (1965) - The perfect summer cinematic cotton candy from that quintessential summer party studio: American International Pictures. Vincent Price camps it up with Frankie Avalon and a bevy of bikini-wearing robots. This movie goes down as smooth as a soft serve ice cream cone -- with just the same amount of nutritional value!
THE DUNWICH HORROR (1970) - I'm not sure exactly WHAT time of year this movie is supposed to take place but it's not winter or fall and has always felt like summer to me. Particularly the end with the (what feels to me like) hot summer wind whipping through the trees as Wilbur Whateley's demonic (and invisible) half-brother terrorizes the local populace (as well as Sandra Dee). Listen for the whipporwills. . .
THE FLESH EATERS (1964) - This sleazy b&w horror takes places on a tropical desert island under the blazing sun. The island plays host to an ex-Nazi mad doctor (the ALWAYS Nazi-portraying Martin Kosleck) and swarms of. . .SOMETHING. . .that will eat the flesh right off of you.
THE GHOST OF DRAGSTRIP HOLLOW (1959) - Sure, I could have picked any number of AIP's Frankie & Annette Beach movies but that would've been too easy. Besides, this silly SILLY B&W bit of fluff has been more a favourite of mine for years and features kids out of school, hot rodding, beach-bumming, slumber-partying and sock-hopping! Why look any further than right here?
JAWS (1975) - OK, maybe too obvious but I remember vividly the furor caused by this book and movie the summer it came out. I was just a kid and didn't get in to the theater to see it. This was also the first summer blockbuster film.
JAZZ ON A SUMMER'S DAY (1960) - Speaking of firsts, this was the very first concert film EVER and it depicts the Newport Jazz Festival of 1959 with stellar performances from Louis Armstrong, Anita O'Day, Dinah Washington, Mahalia Jackson, Chuck Berry and many more. All this interspersed with the summer activities going on around the festival in gorgeous technicolor.
KEY LARGO (1948) - What could be more summery than a group of people trapped by gangsters in a hotel in the Florida Keys during hurricane season? I mean. . .I ask you!
LONG DAY'S JOURNEY INTO NIGHT (1962) - My my but the air is stifling in here. Perfectly fitting for the single hot summer day depicted in this often harrowing (and brilliant) film version of Eugene O'Neill's play starring Katharine Hepburn, Ralph Richardson, Jason Robards and Dean Stockwell.
THE LOVE LETTER (1999) - Events take place around the 4th of July in the mythical New England town which is in reality filmed in my most beloved areas of Massachusetts. . .and THAT'S why I love watching this film. . .because I recognize each place in each scene. Oh and there's actors doing stuff in front of them apparently.
ROCK 'N' ROLL WRESTLING WOMEN VS. THE AZTEC MUMMY (1964) - Summer isn't summer without a film starring Las Luchadoras -- those rockin' Wrestling Women who fight monsters in between bouts in the ring.
ON GOLDEN POND (1981) - The story of an aging couple's last summer on Golden Pond with enough skinny dipping, fishing, sailing and strawberry picking to make the summer feeling come alive.
THE PETRIFIED FOREST (1936) -- I also don't know precisely WHEN this movie is supposed to take place but the dust-storm dryness and heat say summer to me. Bette Davis working the counter of a "last chance" greasy spoon with drifter Leslie Howard and wanted criminal Humphrey Bogart (in the role that made him a star).
THE PHANTOM FROM 10,000 LEAGUES (1955) - A new addition to my summer viewing list, this dopey grade-Z monster movie (where the monster is mostly an afterthought) takes place mostly at the beach and groups of beach houses. While there are other (and better) aquatic monster movies, I'm choosing this one over such candidates as Creature From the Black Lagoon or The Monster of Piedras Blancas because the summer vibe is stronger (at least for me) in this one.
REAR WINDOW (1954) - The perfect summer Hitchcock film. Ask me what the perfect Autumn Hitchcock film is when we get there.
SAY ANYTHING... (1989) - Yet another final day of school. However, unlike Dazed and Confused, the movie only STARTS on the last day of school and depicts the entire summer following. Oh, and kickboxing . . .the sport of the future.
THE SEVEN YEAR ITCH (1955) - I try to watch this one EVERY summer. From the moment Marilyn Monroe gets her fan caught in the door, this is a hot one. This is also one of those films where you can practically FEEL the summer heat (as well as the deliciousness of air conditioning).
STAND BY ME (1986) - That nostalgic summer when a group of boys go looking for a corpse. If only MY boyhood summers were this good!
SUMMER STOCK (1950) - OK, I suppose I had to have a summery musical and this is it. It's summer and Gene Kelly convinces Judy Garland to put on a show in the barn. Come on, this is summery as lemonade, folks!
SUMMERTIME (1955) - OK, I guess this one WAS too obvious but the depiction of spinster Katharine Hepburn's summer trip to Venice is yet another perfect summer vacation.
THIS PROPERTY IS CONDEMNED (1966) - The wet, southern summer comes alive in this favourite from my youth. . .but ALL the heat's not coming from the season. Natalie Wood and Robert Redford make things sizzle even more.
TREASURE OF THE SIERRA MADRE (1948) - That desert heat again. And that desert greed. Again, another classic "hot" movie that belongs in every summer movie marathon. Like this one.
TWISTER (1996) - I can't begin my summer without watching this craptacular cheesefest featuring a raging Bill Paxton. Dontcha just love tornado hunters?
THE WAR OF THE WORLDS (1953) - the perfect 50's summer science fiction invasion movie which begins on a warm summer's evening during a country square dance. For some reason, I always recall watching this on TV during the summer as a kid.
THE WARRIORS (1979) - A favourite of my parents, this one features the events (extremely WACKY events) of one summer's night where all the gang's come out for a meeting across town and the head gang guy is murdered. Our gang (the Warriors, natch) are framed and have to hightail it BACK to their own turf -- through all the other rival gang's turfs -- who are now out to kill them. Oh warriors.........come out to plaaaaaaaaaaaaaaayyyyyyyy. . .
WATTSTAX (1973) - The Black Woodstock indeed. This summer music festival to commemorate the anniversary of the Watts riots features a bevy of great 70's Stax artists including the Staples Singers, Rufus Thomas and Isaac Hayes.
THE WHALES OF AUGUST (1987) - Two elderly sisters (Bette Davis and Lillian Gish) spend the summer at their summer house waiting for the appearance of the whales and coming to terms with their own mortality. Ably assisted by a touching performance by Vincent Price and welcome appearances from Ann Sothern and Harry Carey, this is a gentle screen farewell from a quartet of movie greats.
So there you have it. Grab a nice cool drink and program some summer movies of your OWN into your DVD. Or better yet -- grab the extension cord and plop your TV on the hood of your car and pretend you're at a drive-in. It works every time!