What are You Watching and/or Reading?

Discuss whatever you want here ... movies, books, recipes, politics, beer, wine, TV ... everything except classical music.

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Gary
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Post by Gary » Thu Jul 20, 2006 11:08 pm

Robert wrote:Fisk, Robert; Pity the Nation: The Abduction of Lebanon; Thunder's Mouth Press/Nation Books; New York; 2002.
Welcome, Robert!
"Your idea of a donut-shaped universe intrigues me, Homer; I may have to steal it."

--Stephen Hawking makes guest appearance on The Simpsons

Wallingford
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Post by Wallingford » Sat Jul 22, 2006 2:16 pm

While cooling out here at home, I borrowed a DVD full of Disney Xmas cartoons: link
It's a little bit of a crock: one of the ONLY holiday-oriented cartoons (Michael Eisner's flunkies sure know their research......these are just WINTER cartoons!) is a colorized '91 edition of a '32 classic, Mickey's Good Deed.
If I could tell my mom and dad
That the things we never had
Never mattered we were always ok
Getting ready for Christmas day
--Paul Simon

Madame
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Post by Madame » Sun Jul 23, 2006 11:33 am

At the end of a ghastly hot and humid day, I watched "Walk the Line" -- I thought the beginning was a bit spotty and uneven -- but when they started singing together, it all kicked in. Joaquin Phoenix's stage work and mannerisms were pure Johnny Cash. A bonus for me was when Reese Witherspoon sang "Wildwood Flower", that song brings a lump to my throat. Both of them received 6 months of vocal training from Executive Music Producer, T-Bone Burnett. They did their own singing and also learned to play their instruments from scratch. A surprise was Shooter Jennings playing the role of his father Waylon.

It was a toss-up between this and "Syriana" -- I think I'll see the latter during the day and not right before bedtime.

Gary
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Post by Gary » Sun Jul 23, 2006 8:57 pm

Image
"Your idea of a donut-shaped universe intrigues me, Homer; I may have to steal it."

--Stephen Hawking makes guest appearance on The Simpsons

jserraglio
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Post by jserraglio » Sun Jul 30, 2006 8:23 am

The Burial at Thebes: A Version of Sophocles' Antigone by Seamus Heaney -- lucid, readable, appealing.

King of the Cats: The Life and Times of Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. -- read it strait thru the night. Powell emerges as a three-dimensional figure who accomplished a lot more than he's given credit for. The portrait of Harlem from the 20s-60s was intriguing. Ellison didnt make too much up, it seems, in Invisible Man. Wil Haygood seems to have interviewed everybody--from famous to obscure. I loved the way he had figures like LaGuardia, Carmen de Sapio, & Robert Moses play small but important parts in the background, also the way unknowns like Congressman Vito Marcantonio claim the reader's attention.

Image

My favorite line by Powell from this book is probably unprintable, so here's my second favorite--uttered when someone criticized his lifestyle as unbefitting a "man of the cloth":
  • I am [a man of the cloth] . . . Silk.
Keep the faith, baby.
<div align="left">"That's the way Stravinsky was - bup bup bup - The poor guy's dead now - play it legato."--Ormandy

Haydnseek
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Post by Haydnseek » Sun Jul 30, 2006 8:55 am

I saw the new Woody Allen movie "Scoop" yesterday and can recommend it. Joe Morgenstern's review in the Wall Street Journal had it about right when he wrote "For some time now, Woody Allen's films have been a far cry from his meticulously crafted features of the past. Although "Scoop" won't change that situation, it's full of funny lines and clever inventions."

The "Woody's movies aren't as good as they used to be" complaint is getting a little tiresome. So what? His films are still more interesting than most and I can think of many minor works by other directors, authors and musicians that have given me pleasure even if they aren't among their creator's best works.

"Scoop" is a nicely paced comic murder mystery with elements of fantasy set in London. It features a charming performance by Scarlett Johannson with good support from Woody, Hugh Jackman and Ian McShane. Enjoy it for what it is and stop yourself if you begin to whine about it not being as good as "Annie Hall."
"The law isn't justice. It's a very imperfect mechanism. If you press exactly the right buttons and are also lucky, justice may show up in the answer. A mechanism is all the law was ever intended to be." - Raymond Chandler

Lark Ascending
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Post by Lark Ascending » Sun Jul 30, 2006 3:17 pm

I am reading Fresh-Air Fiend by Paul Theroux, a collection of his travel writings spanning the years 1985-2000.
"Look here, I have given up my time, my work, my friends and my career to come here and learn from you, and I am not going to write a petit menuet dans le style de Mozart." - Ralph Vaughan Williams to Maurice Ravel

Corlyss_D
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Post by Corlyss_D » Sun Jul 30, 2006 5:11 pm

Madame wrote:At the end of a ghastly hot and humid day, I watched "Walk the Line" -- I thought the beginning was a bit spotty and uneven -- but when they started singing together, it all kicked in. Joaquin Phoenix's stage work and mannerisms were pure Johnny Cash. A bonus for me was when Reese Witherspoon sang "Wildwood Flower", that song brings a lump to my throat. Both of them received 6 months of vocal training from Executive Music Producer, T-Bone Burnett. They did their own singing and also learned to play their instruments from scratch. A surprise was Shooter Jennings playing the role of his father Waylon.
I thought it was an excellent movie. The depression scenes at the beginning keep recurring in my mind. Oddly reminisent of O Brother Where Art Thou?
It was a toss-up between this and "Syriana" -- I think I'll see the latter during the day and not right before bedtime.
It's not particularly gruesome but it will make you think. I had to see it 4 times before I got all the interrelatedness. When the trailer says "Everything is connected," it's borne out by their attention to detail, which is remarkable indeed.
Corlyss
Contessa d'EM, a carbon-based life form

Madame
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Post by Madame » Sun Jul 30, 2006 5:43 pm

Corlyss_D wrote:
Madame wrote:It was a toss-up between this and "Syriana" -- I think I'll see the latter during the day and not right before bedtime.
It's not particularly gruesome but it will make you think. I had to see it 4 times before I got all the interrelatedness. When the trailer says "Everything is connected," it's borne out by their attention to detail, which is remarkable indeed.
Yes, I'm going to watch it with that in mind, based on your feedback. I like movies that make you work a bit to get it.

Ralph
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Post by Ralph » Sun Jul 30, 2006 7:57 pm

It's a hot summer. "Superman Returns" was fun and I laughed a lot with "You me and Dupree." Tomorrow "My Super Ex-Girlfriend." Tuesday "Scoop."
Image

"Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former."

Albert Einstein

Gary
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Post by Gary » Thu Aug 17, 2006 9:28 pm

Watching Lon Chaney (aka "Man of a Thousand Faces") in The Hunchback of Notre Dame.

Image
"Your idea of a donut-shaped universe intrigues me, Homer; I may have to steal it."

--Stephen Hawking makes guest appearance on The Simpsons

Ralph
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Post by Ralph » Thu Aug 17, 2006 9:36 pm

Gary wrote:Watching Lon Chaney (aka "Man of a Thousand Faces") in The Hunchback of Notre Dame.

Image
*****

One of the greatest all-time cinema comedies.
Image

"Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former."

Albert Einstein

lmpower
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Post by lmpower » Sun Aug 20, 2006 5:51 pm

We recently watched "The Pirates of Silicon Valley." This is the dramatized story of Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and their associates. Noah Wyle played the part of Steve Jobs. I never realized what an obnoxious character he was. It seems that many successfuly people are that way. At least Jobs was gracious enough to let Wyle come to one of his meetings and do an impersonation though.

Madame
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Post by Madame » Sun Aug 20, 2006 8:20 pm

lmpower wrote:We recently watched "The Pirates of Silicon Valley." This is the dramatized story of Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and their associates. Noah Wyle played the part of Steve Jobs. I never realized what an obnoxious character he was. It seems that many successfuly people are that way. At least Jobs was gracious enough to let Wyle come to one of his meetings and do an impersonation though.
Reviews I have read are generally favorable, though they recognize departures from historical accuracy. Jobs and Gates of course have totally different personalities, but both are driven to succeed. Jobs' strength is in his technical and visionary genius, but he was not a leader of people, which was Gates' strength early on.

I think the word "pirate" leaves an incorrect impression -- they were both opportunists who cashed in on companies like IBM, Xerox PARC and HP's slowness to recognize and/or market to the home computer user, a sort of "paradigm paralysis".

It's interesting to note where the two of them are today -- Gates is moving on, obviously having satisfied his goals; Jobs is still alive and innovative, his forays into the music business and iPod successes are revolutionary.

As far as obnoxiousness -- I don't think successful people have a corner on that attribute, in fact I've found the ones still scrambling toward the top tend to be more that way than those who have arrived, exceptions noted. I've never heard of or seen Gates behaving obnoxiously.

Brendan

Post by Brendan » Sun Aug 20, 2006 11:00 pm

Just FYI, Jobs was never technical - Steve Wosniak (sp) was the technical mind at Apple, squeezed out by Jobs when making the Mac and Lisa proprietry instead of open-source and nearly put the company down the gurgler by refusing to change once the PC took off. Jobs' refusal to change as the market and technology did meant Apple almost went under (and Jobs was replaced by the ex-CEO of Pepsi, showing just how technically oriented the company was) until the iPod saved their bacon.

Apple should have owned the PC market, considering where PC technology was when the Mac was first released. No one wanted to touch the thing, particularly at the price.

Now that Macs run all kinds of software and are reasonably priced they are starting to eat into the PC marketshare. Just as Linux is becoming the system of choice for many into the future.

lmpower
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Post by lmpower » Mon Aug 21, 2006 1:19 pm

My son thinks Macs are the best computer on the market. He wouldn't own any other kind. He was the reason we watched the movie. Steve Wozniak and Paul Allen came across as the nice guys in the film. Jobs and Gates didn't fare so well.

paulb
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Post by paulb » Tue Aug 22, 2006 2:02 pm

Just finished a book recommended to me from Werner, All But My Life: A Memoir/Gerda Weissmann Klein. Gerda gives her account of being captured by Nazis in spring/1942, age 17/north poland and all the horrors she endured til her final release in 1945. An amazing heroic woman with a heart wrenching story. I think this book should be required reading for all high school students.
Thanks Werner for the suggestion, has affected my life in a positive way.
Psalm 118:22 The Stone that the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone.
23 This is the Lord's doing , it is marvelous in our sight.

Werner
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Post by Werner » Tue Aug 22, 2006 9:34 pm

Glad to hear that you read it, Paul, and that, as you say, it has affected you in a positive way.

As you may emember from the excerpts from my memoirs I sent you, I first met Gerda on the day of the Armistice - her 21st birthday. You may remember her story about how she met the Fifth Infantry Division Lieutenant who would become her husband, on ther same day.

She now lives in Arizona, and I - having been out of touch for fifty-seven years until a coincience renewed our contact - am in quite infrequent touch with her. I know she addressed the United Nations General assembly on the sixtieth anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz in a very moving address.
Werner Isler

Madame
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Post by Madame » Tue Aug 22, 2006 9:46 pm

Werner wrote:Glad to hear that you read it, Paul, and that, as you say, it has affected you in a positive way.

As you may emember from the excerpts from my memoirs I sent you, I first met Gerda on the day of the Armistice - her 21st birthday. You may remember her story about how she met the Fifth Infantry Division Lieutenant who would become her husband, on ther same day.

She now lives in Arizona, and I - having been out of touch for fifty-seven years until a coincience renewed our contact - am in quite infrequent touch with her. I know she addressed the United Nations General assembly on the sixtieth anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz in a very moving address.
Thank you Paul and Werner for bringing up this book and Gerda's experience, I definitely plan to find it.

Gary
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Post by Gary » Tue Oct 24, 2006 2:40 am

Lon Chaney in Shadows (1922)

Image

Lon Chaney portrays Chinese laundryman Yen Sin who is shipwrecked by a raging storm and tossed ashore in a small New England town. Sin is viewed as a heathen and treated as less-than-human by the majority of the "good Christian" town-folk. The exceptions are the minister (Harrison Ford) and a lovely young widow (Marguerite De La Motte) of a cruel fisherman. Yen Sin plays matchmaker for the young couple, and then defends them when plans of ill-intent come to light.

Filmed in a period when Asian characters were only villains or comic relief, this movie dared to have an Asian protagonist. Although it was originally poorly received, it was later awarded a special commendation from the National Board of Review. Lon Chaney received international acclaim the following year for his portrayal of Quasimodo in The Hunchback Of Notre Dame.

http://www.oldies.com/product-view/4101D.html
"Your idea of a donut-shaped universe intrigues me, Homer; I may have to steal it."

--Stephen Hawking makes guest appearance on The Simpsons

Madame
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Post by Madame » Thu Oct 26, 2006 7:02 am

I watched 'Zelig' the other night -- comments from another threat were spot on! This was a brilliant film, a work of art, very funny, and most thought-provoking. It gave me exactly what I was hoping for, and it will be a treasure. Great one-liners.

Lilith
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Post by Lilith » Thu Oct 26, 2006 7:23 am

Zelig- one of my favorite Woody Allen flicks, although he made many extraordinary films.

Ted

Post by Ted » Thu Oct 26, 2006 7:39 am

Zelig: (To Mia Farrow’s Therapist Character)
”When I misbehaved as a kid my parents would lock me in the closet. When I was really bad they would get in with me”

Mia Farrow’s Therapist Character to Zelig: “Do you think sex is dirty?”
Zelig: “Only when you do it right”

Madame
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Post by Madame » Thu Oct 26, 2006 4:06 pm

Zelig: My deepest apology goes to the Trochman family in Detroit. I...I never delivered a baby before in my life, and I... I just thought that ice tongs was the way to do it.

miranda
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Post by miranda » Thu Oct 26, 2006 8:25 pm

Madame----hahaha! I need to re-watch Zelig--it's been many years since I've seen it.

Tomorrow night, I'm going to the American Film Institute to see F.W. Murnau's original 1922 version of Nosferatu, with keyboard and percussion accompaniment. It's just the sort of movie I want to watch around the time of Halloween; I can't wait.

Image

I do love living just down the street from the AFI; one night, I got to hear Jeanne Moreau speak, among other things, about her experiences working with Orson Welles, and how she became an actress.
Nolite te bastardes carborundorum.

anasazi
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Post by anasazi » Fri Oct 27, 2006 12:55 am

I just receieved the first season of "Columbo" on DVD. It's great seeing some of these again. And a few that I missed seeing at the time. The second pilot eposide, co-starring Lee Grant was terrific!

I'm reading "Seabiscuit" when time allows.
"Take only pictures, leave only footprints" - John Muir.

Gary
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Post by Gary » Sat Oct 28, 2006 12:36 am

miranda wrote: Image

His brother perhaps? Haven't yet seen this one starring Lon Chaney--The Phantom of the Opera.


Image
"Your idea of a donut-shaped universe intrigues me, Homer; I may have to steal it."

--Stephen Hawking makes guest appearance on The Simpsons

miranda
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Post by miranda » Sat Oct 28, 2006 8:27 am

Gary, as far as I know, Max Scheck was no relation to Lon Chaney, although they both belonged to the brotherhood of great early horror films.
Murnau's Nosferatu is amazing--it's much, much better and has a greater intensity than Herzog's version; if you ever get the chance to see it on the big screen, don't miss it. Very dreamlike and surreal, and the live music that accompanied the showing I saw was fantastic. I can only hope that the AFI will continue showing silent films with live music--I would love to see them do this with some Buster Keaton flicks.
Nolite te bastardes carborundorum.

Gary
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Post by Gary » Sun Oct 29, 2006 3:44 am

miranda wrote:Gary, as far as I know, Max Scheck was no relation to Lon Chaney, although they both belonged to the brotherhood of great early horror films.
Miranda, sorry, I wasn't being clear. I was referring to the resemblance of the characters' grotesqueness.
miranda wrote:Murnau's Nosferatu...if you ever get the chance to see it on the big screen, don't miss it.
Thanks. Will do.
"Your idea of a donut-shaped universe intrigues me, Homer; I may have to steal it."

--Stephen Hawking makes guest appearance on The Simpsons

Bogey
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Post by Bogey » Mon Oct 30, 2006 12:24 am

Image

Gary
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Post by Gary » Fri Feb 16, 2007 7:08 pm

Image

Image

Image

burnitdown
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Post by burnitdown » Fri Feb 16, 2007 9:56 pm

The Clash of Civilizations, Samuel Huntington

Haydnseek
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Post by Haydnseek » Fri Feb 16, 2007 10:21 pm

The Conspiracy of Pontiac by Francis Parkman

A masterful account of the rebellion against British rule led by the Ottawa chief Pontiac in the Great Lakes region in the 1760's. My edition is from the Library of America and also includes Parkman's The Oregon Trail, a fascinating account of the young historian's journey on horseback across the plains and mountains of western America in the 1840's.
"The law isn't justice. It's a very imperfect mechanism. If you press exactly the right buttons and are also lucky, justice may show up in the answer. A mechanism is all the law was ever intended to be." - Raymond Chandler

piston
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Post by piston » Fri Feb 16, 2007 10:31 pm

The Unredeemed Captive, by John Demos. A captivity narrative centered on the Native American- New France attack on Deerfield, Massachusetts, on 29 February, 1704. The story focuses on the fate of one Eunice Williams, young daughter of a prominent Protestant minister from Deerfield. Eunice was adopted by the Mohawk people who lived near Montreal. She married a Mohawk man. Notwitstanding considerable efforts on the part of her father, her brother, even the Commonwealth of Massachusetts (offering her a generous pension to return in their midst), Eunice Williams became a Mohawk in heart, mind, and soul. My spouse's maternal side are descendants of Eunice Williams. The Demos story is a fascinating account of how there did not exist a single ethnic heritage in the Northeast.
In the eyes of those lovers of perfection, a work is never finished—a word that for them has no sense—but abandoned....(Paul Valéry)

burnitdown
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Post by burnitdown » Sun Feb 18, 2007 3:21 am

piston wrote:My spouse's maternal side are descendants of Eunice Williams. The Demos story is a fascinating account of how there did not exist a single ethnic heritage in the Northeast.
I reject your bigotry.

piston
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Post by piston » Sun Feb 18, 2007 12:13 pm

burnitdown wrote:
piston wrote:My spouse's maternal side are descendants of Eunice Williams. The Demos story is a fascinating account of how there did not exist a single ethnic heritage in the Northeast.
I reject your bigotry.
From one of your websites: "In this section we will present resources and articles meant to inspire the individual, into adopting a more healthy lifestyle in modern society".
Have you tried transcendental meditation? Yoga? A spiritual retreat in a monastery? Bhuddism? A sweat lodge?
Soooo sorry. I should have read your manifesto more carefully. There! That's the lifestyle you advocate:
"Ultimately fascism is a philosophy for the future of modern civilizations. Not until we dare to face the inherent problems with democracy and its ways of creating moral illusions, can we find a political system based on natural reality. Fascism recognizes the potentials in the order of people working towards shared goals and avoids the kind of political slogans that today have driven us into foreign wars of unknown intentions, the slow decay of once great and noble cultures, the exchange of value in ideals to value in the material and money-centred, the great tyranny of the unsuspecting masses, hiding behind a political façade of collective irresponsibility. Fascism is a brave and honest hope for the future of Western civilization and its potential in cultural as well as idealistic development. "
From "The Will of the Gods" (one of your signatures) http://www.corrupt.org/articles/fascism/ Image
Last edited by piston on Mon Mar 05, 2007 9:44 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Wallingford
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Post by Wallingford » Sat Feb 24, 2007 4:10 pm

I've just returned to the library a 2-DVD set (Kino Video) of THE STAN LAUREL COLLECTION......a very edifying look at his solo career, in & out of the Hal Roach studio--before Roach teamed him up with Oliver Hardy.
link
VERY instructive--shows Laurel's acumen for direction (for most intents & purposes, even though there's a titular director on the L&H films who simply moved the cameras around, LAUREL was the director), his unbeatable flair for sight-gags, & his gift for guiding other comedians, like Jimmy Finlayson, in their solo films.

Next to Laurel, "Mr.Bean" himself's not even a rank amateur.
Last edited by Wallingford on Mon Feb 26, 2007 9:20 pm, edited 3 times in total.
If I could tell my mom and dad
That the things we never had
Never mattered we were always ok
Getting ready for Christmas day
--Paul Simon

Corlyss_D
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Post by Corlyss_D » Sat Feb 24, 2007 5:54 pm

Murder She Wrote, Season 1

Mann and Ornstein's The Broken Branch
Corlyss
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Daisy
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Post by Daisy » Mon Feb 26, 2007 6:25 pm

I'm afraid I haven't been doing too much reading lately since I've been sick quite a bit this winter, and have spent a lot of time in bed. I that don't read much when I feel bad. But I've had time to catch up on a lot of good DVDs I've bought and not had time to watch.

I loved watching "Rome" and I aquired a lot of Gilbert & Sullivan DVDs over the last 3 or 4 months.
Last edited by Daisy on Mon Feb 26, 2007 6:32 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Post by Daisy » Mon Feb 26, 2007 6:31 pm

miranda wrote:Gary, as far as I know, Max Scheck was no relation to Lon Chaney, although they both belonged to the brotherhood of great early horror films.
Murnau's Nosferatu is amazing--it's much, much better and has a greater intensity than Herzog's version; if you ever get the chance to see it on the big screen, don't miss it. Very dreamlike and surreal, and the live music that accompanied the showing I saw was fantastic. I can only hope that the AFI will continue showing silent films with live music--I would love to see them do this with some Buster Keaton flicks.


No, they weren't related. Scheck was a German actor and director, and Lon Chaney was an American from Colorado who had no theatrical people in his background. However, he was an expert mime because he had deaf-mute parents and was a master of sign language and related communications. He was also of Irish descent, not German.
"Your notions, though many,
are not worth a penny."
Image
(...Thank you, KoKo)

John F
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Post by John F » Thu Mar 29, 2007 7:30 am

Calvin Trillin, "Feeding a Yen: Savoring Local Specialties, from Kansas City to Cuzco." Not a new book, but I'm rereading it, and it's out in paperback now. Trillin is as funny as always, and an educator too in his own way. I'd never heard of pimientos de Padrón ("Pepper Chase"), let alone eaten them, but now I'm starting to obsess about them.
John Francis

Brendan

Post by Brendan » Thu Mar 29, 2007 11:19 pm

I've been watching Life on Mars, which is just brilliant (I can barely remember people smoking in hospitals etc) in highlighting social differences from the 70s to the 00s. So I wanted to get a copy of the old school-social classic Ballroom Blitz by Sweet, as heard in the show.

Instead, I walk out with a stack of movies: Cyrano de Bergerac, Queen Margot, The Last Metro, The Scar, Blind Chance, Camera Buff, No End, Downfall, Twin Sisters and Joyeux Noel.

Plans to order The Shield Seasons 3, 4 and 5 must wait as a result.

As far as reading in concerned, finishing Harriet O'Brien's Emma, Queen of the Vikings as I'm getting started on The Eusebians by David Gwynne and getting to work on volume 6 of von Balthasar's theological aesthetics.

karlhenning
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Post by karlhenning » Fri Mar 30, 2007 8:17 am

Re-reading Crime & Punishment, at long last.

Cheers,
~Karl
Karl Henning, PhD
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Boston, Massachusetts
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piston
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Post by piston » Fri Mar 30, 2007 8:28 am

Just turned to Jeremy Dibble, Charles Villiers Stanford. Man and Musician (Oxford University Press: 2002), 535 pages.

BWV 1080
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Post by BWV 1080 » Fri Mar 30, 2007 10:34 am

A biography of our greatest founding father:

Image[/img]

Madame
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Post by Madame » Sat Mar 31, 2007 4:29 pm

My latest DVD is a little 'different' -- Jeff Dunham's 'Arguing With Myself'. I watched it 3 times and laughed myself sick.

Kevin R
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Post by Kevin R » Sun Apr 01, 2007 3:30 am

Not watching anything interesting, but playing a great game, God of War II. It is just as gory and violent as its superb predecessor. It always fun to disembowel evil adversaries!
"Free trade, one of the greatest blessings which a government can confer on a people, is in almost every country unpopular."

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Gary
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Post by Gary » Thu Apr 05, 2007 2:44 am

Watched a PBS movie adaptation of Ursula K. Le Guin's sci-fi novel The Lathe of Heaven.

Haydnseek
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Joined: Tue May 20, 2003 7:59 am
Location: Maryland, USA

Post by Haydnseek » Thu Apr 05, 2007 11:02 am

I’ve been playing with my new DVD recorder (Code Free, by the way) by transferring some movies saved on the hard drive of my Digital Video Recorder to DVD. These are movies I consider “keepers” and some of them are not available for purchase as DVDs. I’ve been watching them again while recording.

Pennies from Heaven (1936) Produced by Bing Crosby at Columbia, this movie allowed Crosby to get away from the frivolous sort of films he was making at Paramount at that time. This might be the first example of the remarkably natural style of acting he perfected later in Going My Way. It’s a simple story, sentimental but not treacly, of a drifter befriending a poor young girl and her grandfather and it’s a true artifact of the Great Depression. It showcases fine acting, solid direction and superb music with Bing in outstanding voice and one lively performance by Louis Armstrong.

Hollywood Hotel (1937) A wonderful satire of the movie business directed by Busby Berkeley. Dick Powell and Rosemary Lane are charming as the romantic leads but, as in so many Hollywood movies of the 1930’s, the large and talented supporting cast lifts the whole project to a higher level than usual. The script is witty and the songs are by Richard Whiting and Johnny Mercer including the classic “Hooray for Hollywood.” Benny Goodman and his Orchestra appear and perform “Sing, Sing, Sing.”

Zenobia (1939) A not well known little gem of a movie staring Oliver Hardy as a small town doctor in Mississippi around 1870 whose stubborn egalitarian views have placed him on the wrong side of the leading families of the community and are an obstacle to his daughter’s marriage. The situation becomes complicated, and delightfully absurd, when a patent-medicine seller with a trained elephant enters the picture (played by silent-era comic Harry Langdon.) Hardy is in top form employing his familiar comic tricks but not playing the fool. I suspect we are given a glimpse of the real man through this role. Hardy and Billie Burke exhibit a wonderful chemistry as husband and wife. Although I love the immortal Laurel and Hardy, I wish Hardy had made a few more films on his own.
"The law isn't justice. It's a very imperfect mechanism. If you press exactly the right buttons and are also lucky, justice may show up in the answer. A mechanism is all the law was ever intended to be." - Raymond Chandler

piston
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Joined: Thu Jan 04, 2007 7:50 am

Post by piston » Sun Jun 17, 2007 11:05 am

David Laskin, The Children's Blizzard, Harper Collins Publishers.

John Mack Faragher, A Great and Noble Scheme: The Tragic Story of the Expulsion of the French Acadians from their American Homeland, W.W. Norton and Company.

The Laskin book, on the deadly western blizzard of 12 January 1888, offers an intriguing combination of immigration and family history in the Dakotas and Nebraska with a rather unique emphasis on scientific topics in meteorology, biology, and the military's Signal Corps, the body responsible for national weather "indications" (the word "forecast" was not in use, then). The immigration and family segments offer really superb historical sketches on Norwegian, German, Swiss, and Ukranian families (many of them Mennonites), their trials and daily realities. Naturally, he chose families whose members either succumbed to or miraculously survived this deadly blizzard. Some of the individual stories, particularly concerning children caught in unheated schools when the storm "exploded," will send shivers down your spine. Of the scientific segments of this book, I sort of fast-forwarded the meteorological background to the storm, but was really fascinated by Lakin's grasp of hypothermia, which he judiciously embedded at a critical juncture in the narrative. There were numerous fatalities, far too many of them children, with estimates varying between 250 and 500 individuals.

The Faragher book constitutes the most detailed and thought-provoking work I have read on the plight of the Acadians, thus far. Faragher does not hesitate to present this episode of North American colonial history as the first instance of "ethnic cleansing" ( a term first introduced in the 1990s) on the continent. Perhaps half of the Acadian population, as many as 10,000 individuals, lost their lives as a result of their collective desire to remain neutral in ongoing imperial conflicts between the French/Canadian/Wabanaki peoples, on one hand, and the British/New England people, on the other. I wish to remind historically-minded forumists that this episode of "removal" involved their entire population, not simply political rebels, specific localities, or targeted population.
(Was interrupted in the midst of this message/got to go!)
In the eyes of those lovers of perfection, a work is never finished—a word that for them has no sense—but abandoned....(Paul Valéry)

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