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Friday, October 14, 2011

Hello Goodbye

Well, it has been a good run, but I think it's time to now wrap this up. I'm still on the web, and I've even started a new blog: The Superfluity.
I suppose that I could have just continued to write here, but I think it was time for a change. I was the Big Bad Wolf before I started writing this blog, and I will continue to be so, but I think One Big Bad Wolf just needs to be something that I wrote and no longer something that I write. Maybe that makes sense, maybe it doesn't, but this is how it is. So long, farewell, and, most importantly, I'll see you over here.

Monday, October 10, 2011


In the category of, "Well, DUH," I am bringing the One Big Bad Wolf blog to an official end within the next two posts. (That will make it an even 700 entries. I like round numbers.)
Obviously I haven't written much in the last couple of months, but that isn't because I haven't had anything to write. I just didn't feel that this blog was the place to write it. However, I didn't write it anywhere else because this blog still exists. I think that One Big Bad Wolf had its run, and I really need to move on to something else. The best way for me to do that is to wrap things up here. I'll leave this up as an archive of sorts, but. within the next day or so, I am not going to write here anymore.
I'm actually starting a new blog, and I will tell you more about that in the next entry. I started One Big Bad Wolf for a specific purpose, and, when I was no longer interested in that purpose, I struggled to keep finding things to write about that seemed to fit within the parameters I had set. I even expanded the parameters, but it never really rang true - not for me, anyway. I've done a few "re-boots" on this blog, but, ultimately, I think what I need is a completely fresh start. I'm planning a fresh start in my off-line life as well, so the timing just seems right.
It's been fun, and I hope that One Big Bad Wolf added something to your lives as readers - even if only a little bit. I'm not exactly going away, either, I'm just starting a new chapter in my blogging.
More on that in the next entry.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Coriolanus Run-down

So, I may have mentioned before that I am directing a staged reading of The Tragedy of Coriolanus.
Tomorrow. (I know. I suck at self-promotion.)
It's been an interesting process, I've only known I was doing it since the first part of July, so we have been working on a very abbreviated schedule - even for a staged reading. Plus, this is one of Shakespeare's plays with which not a lot of people are familiar. I'm not sure why that is. It's a really good play. I'm drawn to it because I personally identify very strongly with the title character. (Come to the reading and see if you can figure out why.)
Before I forget, here are the details:
August 16, 7pm at the Grant-Humphreys Mansion at 770 Pennsylvania. Tickets are $10 cash at the door. (It's a fund-raiser for the Byers-Evans Theatre Company and they aren't set up to take credit cards just yet.)
The cast:
Caius Marcius Coriolanus - Randy Diamon
Menenius - Eric Field
Aufidius - Doug Tisdale
Volumnia - Karen Krause
Sicinius - Matt Channing
Brutus - Russ Nielsen
Cominius - Dave Cuomo
Virgilia - Melissa Huff
Lartius - Paul Stuko
Valeria - Anita Harkess

What a talented and devoted cast! Again, this has been a really different experience. The thing about being fortunate enough to have talented performers for your reading is that, because they're talented, they're in pretty high demand. We have had to rehearse much of the play out of order depending upon who was available to rehearse and when. I have to say, I am absolutely astounded at how well this play is coming together. That speaks to the talent and commitment of this cast, and I really hope that you can come see and hear them tell this story.
Now, last night, I asked the cast members present if there was anything I could do to help make Tuesday's performance go as smooth as possible. Now, the first request of a $2500 stipend I could not accommodate, but the second request of a scene-by-scene synopsis was a really good idea. As I said, we have been rehearsing out of order quite a bit, so a chronological synopsis would definitely help to put things in the proper context. So, I sat down this morning and wrote one, which I e-mailed to the actors. They seemed to like it quite a bit, and even asked if we could make it the program for the reading.
Well, I don't know about that, but I guess I could at least share it here on my blog. (I have no idea if this will read the same for you as it did for them because of the context):

The Tragedy of Coriolanus
Scene synopsis

Act I, Scene 1
Plebians riot over food. Menenius calms them down. Caius Marcius comes in, blows it. Loudly. D’oh!
Messenger arrives with news of war. Goody, goody! Caius Marcius like war!

Act I, Scene 2
Aufidius like war, too! Goody, goody!

Act I, Scene 3
Caius Marcius’s house
Virgilia and Volumnia sew. Volumnia like war. Virgilia no like war.
Enter Valeria. “Woohoo! War! Dead butterflies! Let’s go get ice cream.”
Volumnia: “Rocky Road!”
Virgilia: “Lactose intolerant.”

Act I, Scene 4
Before Corioli
Caius Marcius: “We will defeat the Volsces!”
Roman Soldiers: “What you mean ‘we,’ kemosabe?”
Caius runs into Corioli: “Leeeeeeroy Jeeeenkins!”
Lartius: “Hey, where’s Caius?”

Act I, Scene 5
Corioli. A street.
Roman soldiers looty, loot, loot.
Caius and Lartius are not amused.

Act I, Scene 6
Near Cominius’s camp
Cominius: “Caius did what? That’s awesome!”
Enter Caius
Cominius: “Where ya been?”
Caius: “Kickin’ butt.”
Cominius: “Take a break?”
Caius: “Nope. Gonna go kick Aufidius’s butt.”
Cominius: “Rock on!”
Caius: “Who wants to go with me to go kick some butt?”
Soldiers: “Butt!”

Act I, Scene 7:
The gates of Corioli
Lartius: “We’re kickin’ butt. Still, watch your butt.”
Lieutenant: “Butt watched, sir!”
Lartius: “Go away.”

Act I, Scene 8:
A field of battle
Caius vs. Aufidius
Caius: “I’m gonna kick your butt.”
Aufidius: “No, I’m gonna kick your butt.”
Volsces: “Aufidius is getting his butt kicked. Let’s get in there.”
Aufidius: “Noooooooo!”

Act I, Scene 9:
The Roman camp
Cominius: “Wow, Caius! You walked into Corioli and kicked their anus! Hey, I just thought of a nickname . . .”
Caius: “Please don’t.”

Act I, Scene 10:
The camp of the Volsces
Aufidius: “That guy really kicked my butt. I hate that guy.”

Act II, Scene 1
We kicked their butts! We kicked their butts!
Volumnia and Menenius: “27 scars! 27 scars!”
Virgilia: “You people are so weird.”
Cominius enters with Coriolanus.
Cominius: “Check this guy out!”
Virgilia and Coriolanus: “Islands in the stream, that is what we are.”
Brutus and Sicinius: “Oooooh, I hate that rabbit!”

Act II, Scene 2
Rome, The capitol
Cominius: “Let’s talk about how awesome Coriolanus is!”
Coriolanus: “I’ll be outside.”
Cominius: “ When the Boogeyman goes to sleep at night, he checks under his bed for Coriolanus.”
Senators: “Ooooooo.”
Cominius: “Coriolanus doesn’t read books, he stares them down until he gets the information he wants out of them.”
Senators: “Ooooooooo.”
Cominius: “Coriolanus counted to infinity – twice.”
Senators: “Oooooooooooooooo.”
Coriolanus: “Are you done?”
Senators: “Coriolanus for consul! Coriolanus for consul!”
Coriolanus: “Yeah, okay, whatever.”
Menenius: “Now you just have to show the plebes your scars.”
Coriolanus: “Awww, man.”
Sicinius and Brutus: “He is so going down.”

Act II, Scene 3
Rome, The forum
Coriolanus: “Hey, plebes, like, make me consul, okay?”
Citizens: “Yeah, okay.”
Coriolanus: “Cool. Laters.”
Citizens: “Nice guy.”
Sicinius: “Really?”
Brutus: “We think he’s a butthead.”
Citizens: “Hey, you’re right. He is a butthead. Kill the butthead! Rabble, rabble. . . ”
Sicinius and Brutus: “Awesome.”

Act III, Scene 1
Rome the street
Coriolanus: “So, does the consul get a hat?”
Rabble, rabble . . .
Menenius: “Uh, oh.”
Citizens: “Coriolanus is a butthead!”
Coriolanus: “I’m not a butthead. YOU’RE the buttheads. Stinky, mouth-breathing, assistant principal buttheads!”
Menenius: “Bro! Harsh.”
Citizens: “Kill the butthead!”
Coriolanus: “You cockaroaches wanna play rough? Okay, say ‘ello to my little frien’ . . .”
Menenius: “Whoah! Everybody, chill! We should all take a break.”
Lartius: “This sucks. I think I will leave and never come back.”


Act III, Scene 2
Coriolanus’s House
Volumnia: “I love you, but sometimes you’re a butthead.”
Coriolanus: “But they’re STINKY buttheads.”
Menenius: “Be the bigger butthead.”
Coriolanus: (sigh) “Fine.”

Act III, Scene 3
Coriolanus: “I’m here to apologize to you buttheads.”
Citizens: “Rabble, rabble, inconsolable rabble!”
Brutus and Sicinius: “You suck!”
Coriolanus: “You suck MORE!”
Brutus and Sicinius and citizens: “Banish him!”
Coriolanus: “I banish YOU!”
Citizens: “Whatever. Don’t let the door hit you in the Coriolanus on the way out.”

ACT IV, Scene 1:
Volumnia: “This sucks.”
Virgilia: “This sucks.”
Menenius: “This sucks.”
Cominius: “This sucks. Shotgun!”
Coriolanus: “I’ll be back.”

ACT IV, Scene 2:
Sicinius: “That worked out well.”
Brutus: “Yeah, I just hope we don’t run into his mom.”

ACT IV, Scene 3:
This scene is cut. Don’t anybody say any lines from this scene.

Act IV, Scene 4:
Antium. Before Aufidius’s house.
Coriolanus: “Well, this is an interesting turn of events.”

Act IV, Scene 5:
Aufidius’s House
Aufidius: “Dude?”
Coriolanus: “Dude.”
Aufidius: “Dude?”
Coriolanus: “Duuuude.”
Aufidius: “Dude!”
Coriolanus: “Dude!”

Act IV, Scene 6
Brutus and Sicinius: “Coriolanus is gone! Yay!”
Messenger: “The Volsces are going to attack us now.”
Brutus and Sicinius: “Shoot.”
2nd Messenger: “Coriolanus is going to team up with the Volsces and attack us.”
Brutus and Sicinius: “Double shoot.”
Menenius and Cominius: “Idiots.”

Act IV, Scene 7
Volscian camp before Rome
Lieutenant: “Wow. The Volsces really love Coriolanus.”
Aufidius: “I know.”
Lieutenant: “Even more than they love you.”
Aufidius: “I KNOW.”
Lieutenant: “That must make you feel inferior.”
Aufidius: “You do know I outrank you, right?”

ACT V, Scene 1
Brutus and Sicinius: “You can talk to him, right?”
Menenius: “Oh, I don’t know . . .”
Brutus and Sicinius: “Auuuuuuugh!”
Menenius: “You guys are too easy. Of course, I’ll talk to him. Relax I got this.”

ACT V, Scene 2
Volscian camp before Rome
Menenius: “Hey, yo, Coriolanus, buddy-”
Coriolanus: “Nope.”
Menenius: “Uh oh.”

ACT V, Scene 3
Volscian Camp before Rome
Mom lays out a guilt trip. Coriolanus folds.

ACT V, Scene 4
Menenius: “We are so screwed.”
Messenger: “Telegram for Menenius: Rome is saved. Stop. Volumnia succeeded where you failed. Stop.”
Menenius: “Smartass.”

ACT V, Scene 5

ACT V, Scene 6
Aufidius: “This guy just can’t stop screwing me over. I want to kill him.”
Coriolanus: “I can’t believe I caved like that. I wish someone would just stab me in the belly.”


There is actually a bit more to this show. Come see.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

A Bit Punchy

So, I finally got around to watching Zack Snyder's film/vanity project Sucker Punch.

I'm not entirely sure how I would describe it, apart from taking us all on a little trip in the Way Way Back Machine to a junior high school sleepover in which you and your twelve-year-old friends are sharing your twelve-year-old versions of sexual fantasies trying to out-do one another and then one of your friends shares something that's just a little too weird. You know that awkward silence right after that revelation? That's kind of how I felt through all of Sucker Punch: like I had inadvertently wandered into one of Zack Snyder's wet dreams. There are machine-gun wielding, pig-tailed, waifish, inmate-hooker-schoolgirls, who swing samurai swords at steampunk zombie Nazis, dragon hordes, and shiny metallic robots. Oh, and they dance. Supposedly. They do a lot of stretching.
Still, I can't fault the skill with which Snyder executes his fantasy. The steampunk zombie Nazis are pretty cool. The dragon battle is exciting. The machine-gun wielding, pig-tailed, waifish, inmate-hooker-schoolgirls are. well, you know. (Kind of awesome!)
I don't really want to give any spoilers, but the title itself is kind of a spoiler:

sucker punch (skr-pnchn. Slang An unexpected punch or blow.

Warning: Here there be spoilers. Kind of. Not really.
About fifteen minutes into the film (maybe ten) you realize the meaning of the title and that you're probably going to get a Terry Gilliam Brazil ending, so then it's just about how exactly we're going to get there. If you haven't seen Brazil, then I haven't spoiled anything for you. Unless, of course, you've seen Sucker Punch already, in which case I just spoiled Brazil for you. (Not really. Maybe sort of.)
Predictable ending or no, Sucker Punch is really mostly about the eye candy, and I don't mean just the lovely young actresses (though they are quite lovely). Cool visual effects, great battle sequences, and lots of explosions make Sucker Punch a bit of a teaser for what Snyder will likely do with the beloved Man of Steel in 2013.
Sucker Punch is escapism. If you look for more than that, you'll likely be disappointed. I enjoyed it for what it was, and everybody involved sure looked like they were having fun - especially Scott Glenn.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

A Charmed Life

I found a treasure the other day.
Miss Moneypenny?
I had heard many years ago about a CBC television production of MacBeth starring the world's most famous Scotsman, Sean Connery, in 1961. This would have been just before he became a huge international star as James Bond in Dr. No (1962). however, since it was a television production and I hadn't even seen so much as a production still with Connery in the role. In fact, for all I knew, he didn't even play the title role. After all, his most notable role up to this point had been as Michael McBride in Disney's fantasy-musical Darby O'Gill and The Little People. Also, there existed the possibility that he wasn't very good. Why else would it be so difficult to come by, right?
I dismissed it as one of those things that I would never get the chance to see unless someone who was a much bigger movie nerd than I had a recorded copy on VHS or something.
Well, recently I stumbled across a collection of old movies on DVD while I was at a Ross department store. (And when I say "stumbled," I mean it. Why does that store always look like it's been hit by a tornado?) These films are usually ones that have fallen into public domain, but are not necessarily bad films at all. In fact, this collection contained Of Human Bondage (1932), which, if you haven't seen it, I highly recommend. Anyway, this collection also contained the elusive 1961 MacBeth starring a bearded Sean Connery as - if the packaging was to be trusted - Mackers himself. So, for a couple of dollars I had solved my dilemma of some years ago. There, in my hand, was the film I had resigned to obscurity.
I really have no idea what I'm doing.
However, my earlier concerns about the quality of Mr. Connery's performance arose again, and I did not watch it right away. Why had this been kept from public eyes for so long? Connery had a huge resurgence in popularity in the 90s. People were voraciously consuming his performances from other eras like Zardoz and Outland. How had the iconic notion of the famously Scottish Connery in the Scottish play not been immediately offered up to the new generation of Connery fans? Had a younger, less-experienced Connery struggled with the Bard's verse? Surely the CBC would not have cast him in the lead if that were so. It wasn't like he was a big name at that point.
Well, I am happy to report that Connery was more than up to the task. His approach is unexpected at times and even a bit jarring at points, but ultimately satisfying. During the dagger speech, I was baffled at first, but soon realized that he was approaching it very naturalistically, and I think it added another dimension to the scene. I found myself thinking that many of the elements that make Connery such a great action hero added to his performance as Mackers. Connery is a man of great passion and charisma and his heroes are led more by their hearts than their intellect. Let's face it, Bond wasn't exactly a planner. He usually got caught by the bad guy at some point, he seldom used the high-tech gadgetry as it was intended, and women in bikinis are his Achilles, um, heel. Also, James Bond is incredibly lucky. That's what makes Bond so much fun. The bad guys are smarter and more organized, but 007 still always manages to somehow get the better of them. So, portraying a man whose ambitions exceed his machinations winds up being near-perfect casting for Connery. Also, it's fun to hear those lines spoken in a true Scottish brogue.
But not stirred.
The production itself is a bit of a curiosity. I would describe the set and costume design as art-deco-meets-middle-ages. It suffers from some of the limitations of television in the 1960s (including the occasional visible boom mic), and yet it presses against the conventions of television as well. Murders occur out of frame, but the moments leading up to them are quite harrowing - particularly the murder of MacDuff's family. (Oh. Spoilers? If you've read this far, surely not.) Banquo's ghost is a bit gorier than one might expect from 1960s televison, too. With a running time of only 85 minutes, it is also curious that not the knocking scene nor either of the scenes with the the three murderers were excised for time.
I think the real treat here, however, is not even Connery's performance. It is the rare filmed performance of the legendary stage actress Zoe Caldwell as Lady MacBeth. The four-time Tony-award-winning actress has a long and varied career, but has made very few appearances on the silver screen, and she does not disappoint as the conniving Queen-to-be.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Back To It

I know. I know. I have been neglecting my blog lately. Well, that is not without some design. You see, updating my blog was beginning to feel like something of a chore, and I decided that I shouldn’t write anything else until it stopped feeling like a chore. I also needed to examine why it wasn’t much fun anymore.
Well, call it a confidence issue if you want, but I just wasn’t feeling like I was doing much with the blog. Posting videos of my favorite movies or of songs by music artists on their birthdays was starting to feel a little trite. As far as wildlife conservation and charities go, it’s as effective to just link to the cause in question with a few words of introduction – say, 140 characters or less. And on Twitter it’s a lot more likely to be seen and shared. I don’t know how many people read my blog – I mean honestly read my blog. I can see how many people visit it, but I don’t know if they were led there by a particular keyword or one of the many photos of Kristin Chenoweth and then went surfing on their merry way without pausing for my prose.

Without having any real sense of who’s reading, writing on my blog was beginning to make me feel like I was one of those guys who tweets about what he’s having for dinner (picture attachment and all) or one of those women who posts twenty new pictures of herself to Facebook every week (all in the same pose).
Well, I don’t want that, so I decided to take a break. Now I’m back, and here’s how things are going to go forward. For now, the daily format is gone. Instead of hunting for topics to fill each day, I’ll write about whatever interests me that day – with the hope that it will be interesting to you, too. I’m still interested in theatre and movies and music and wildlife conservation and saving the world, so you’ll still see all of those topics, but just when I feel like it. I originally thought that the daily format would get me film buffs dropping in on Fridays, wildlife proponents dropping in on Wednesdays, etc., but I don’t have any evidence to suggest this happened, so I really see no need restrict myself to that format anymore.
Which brings us to Thursdays. Ah, yes, theatre – the whole reason this blog began in the first place. Well, that’s a bit of a sticky wicket. I’m still a big proponent of theatre, I still know an awful lot about it, and I still like to talk about it, but I have become a bit disenchanted with the Denver theatre scene. And, in all fairness, it with me as well.
Oh, I’m still involved in theatre here, in fact, I’ve got a staged reading of Coriolanus coming up in August, but I just don’t really feel as though I belong here anymore – if I ever did – and I haven’t felt that way in quite a while, which makes it a little difficult to write about theatre in this town.
Sometimes a project comes along that I get very excited about, like BREACH, and it was actually a lot of fun putting that podcast together for you. If something else like that comes along while I’m still in Denver, then I’ll see if I can’t do something like that again.
Oh, right. Yes, I have decided that I will be leaving Denver. I moved here in November of 2001, and, by coincidence, my apartment lease ends in November of this year. So that’ll be ten years, and I think it’s been a pretty good run. In a decade I’ve held two Artistic Directorships, directed and performed in dozens of shows, and, most importantly, a large number of very attractive actresses are inclined to hug me on sight.
I can’t complain.
To stretch an analogy, there are lots of round pegs to fit the many round holes here, and I’m really content with being a square peg. The few square holes that exist here are already adequately filled. So, it’s time I went looking for someplace with more square holes. This is not intended as a slam against the “round pegs,” it’s just not my thing.
Do I disagree with what some companies are doing here? Yes, and I’ve gone into that before, so I don’t see the need to do so again  . . . at the moment. However, that’s more of a philosophical issue, and has more to do with the way some companies are using their nonprofit status. I don’t begrudge anyone wanting to get his or her art on, so to speak. (Though I still insist that we could do it a bit more cooperatively without disenfranchising the limited audience. But I’ll stop there.)
So, anyway, the blog is back again, with changes again. I do not expect that any future entries will be as long as this one, though. I did feel that I had some ‘splainin’ to do.

If you’ve made it this far, let me reward you with this video to celebrate the birthday of guitarist, songwriter, and astrophysicist Brian May of Queen.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Tuesday Tunes: The Heart of Rock and Roll

Happy Birthday today to Huey Lewis . . . of the News.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Monday Money-Saver: Shop Smart

I'll give you a two-fer today since I skipped last week. Both of these tips involve your trips to the grocery store or even a superstore like Target or Wal-Mart.
Tip #1: Shop with a list.
Take a few minutes and make a list of the things you need before you head to the store. This will not only get you in and out of the store faster, but it will also focus your shopping. Unfocused shopping can lead to impulse buying. So make a list and stick to it.
Tip #2: What's in a name?
TV commercials may try to convince us that one brand is better than another. The question is: how important is it to you that it's better? For some items it matters significantly, and this will vary from person to person. maybe you only like one brand of catsup or you use a lot of paper towels and require the most absorbent brand. Fine. Buy that brand. However, when it comes to items that are less important, go ahead and get the generic, or store brand, or even just whatever happens to be on sale at the moment.
Brand loyalty is for times when you have more money than you can spend. I'm guessing that's not right now for most of you. It certainly isn't for me. With few exceptions, these brands aren't dropping their prices out of loyalty to you, so what exactly do you owe to them?

Monday Motivator: A Nation's Strength

On this day marking the 235th year of American Independence we will celebrate in ways both reverent and inconsiderate, grateful and thankless, cognizant and obtuse. All of these are our wont and our right as Americans, but I would encourage everyone to spend at least a little time today focusing on the former quality in each of the above pairings as it is perhaps the best way to ensure that this country can enjoy another two centuries of the same.

A Nation's Strength
by Ralph Waldo Emerson

What makes a nation’s pillars high
And its foundations strong?
What makes it mighty to defy
The foes that round it throng?

It is not gold. Its kingdoms grand
Go down in battle shock;
Its shafts are laid on sinking sand,
Not on abiding rock.

Is it the sword? Ask the red dust
Of empires passed away;
The blood has turned their stones to rust,
Their glory to decay.

And is it pride? Ah, that bright crown
Has seemed to nations sweet;
But God has struck its luster down
In ashes at his feet.

Not gold but only men can make
A people great and strong;
Men who for truth and honor’s sake
Stand fast and suffer long.

Brave men who work while others sleep,
Who dare while others fly...
They build a nation’s pillars deep
And lift them to the sky.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Friday Film Buff: A Frayed Knot

Since today is Farley Granger's birthday, I thought I'd share one of my favorite Farley Granger movies. It's also one of my favorite Jimmy Stewart and Alfred Hitchcock movies.

Rope was shot in long,  up-to-ten-minute takes,  and cleverly edited to give the appearance that everything happened in one single shot. Some of this was accomplished by putting some of the set pieces - including the walls - on wheels, so that crews could roll them out of the way of the moving camera and then roll them back in time for them to be in the shot. This also meant that if somebody flubbed a line at minute nine, they had to do it all over again. It must have been a pretty arduous process, but it achieves a chilling effect.
Rope is based on a stage play itself inspired by the real-life case of Leopold and Loeb, two brilliant but disturbed young men who committed murder in an attempt to pull off "the perfect crime" and who held the belief that the notion of the Nietzche "Superman" made them above the law.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Theatre Thursday: Frankly . . .

On this day in 1936, Margaret Mitchell's bestselling novel, Gone With the Wind was published in New York City. A few years later it would be made into an epic film that many claim is the greatest movie ever made. (I'm not one of them. I don't think it's a bad movie, but I don't even think it was the greatest movie of 1939.)
Musical versions of the show have not fared as well. A Broadway version starring Pernell Roberts and Lesley Ann Warren never opened. A West End version in 1972 was not well-received, and the recent Trevor Nunn production, also in the West End, was pretty widely panned. It closed after 79 performances, but still managed to have a happy ending for some talented kids in L.A.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Wildlife Wednesday: Cool Down

Photo Credit: Sheri Horiszny
Zooborn's post today about the new otter pups at the Santa Barbara Zoo reminded me of this video from the Columbus Zoo about otter swim lessons:

This is a nice video for us to watch in Denver where the temperature is supposed to be 99 degrees today.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Monday Motivator: Good Morning, Captain!

Today is the birthday of the late Bob Keeshan - better-known as the soft-spoken, grandfatherly Captain Kangaroo of the children's program of the same name that started off mornings for kids from the 1950s into the 1980s (with re-runs into the 90s).

Good Morning, everyone. Happy Monday!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Friday Film Buff: Sound and Fury

You do not have to be a samurai film buff to enjoy the intricacies of feudal Japan portrayed in Akira Kurosawa's Throne of Blood.
You do not have to be a Shakespeare nut to appreciate that Toshiro Mifune's portrayal of a lord driven to madness by ambition and paranoia is, in fact, the story of MacBeth.
However, if - like me - you are both, you are really going to love this film.

The three witches become one evil spirit, and Birnam Wood becomes the eerie Spider's Web Forest. Though not using the actual dialogue of the script, and moved to feudal Japan, Throne of Blood is celebrated as one of the best film adaptations of the Bard.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Theatre Thursday: Snap!

Well, it's Theatre Thursday, and it also just happens to be Bob Fosse's birthday. (Sometimes I get an easy one.)
The Tony-winning, Oscar-winning director and choreographer of stage and film - both musical and non-musical - did also, on occasion grace us with some of his own footwork.
In addition to re-staging his own choreography for  the film version of Damn Yankees, Fosse also danced to the memorable (if puzzling) number "Who's Got the Pain" with the fiery femme fatale of the film, Gwen Verdon. A couple of years later, Ms. Verdon would become the third Mrs. Fosse.

Fosse also appeared in the intriguing and odd Stanley Donen-helmed musical adaptation of the French children's book, The Little Prince. Fosse, naturally, played a very ssssmooth ssssnake.

Now, this movie came out in 1974 - almost a decade before Michael Jackson's ground-breaking "Billie Jean" video.
My favorite movie featuring Bob Fosse dancing is the little-known musical version of the popular play and movie, My Sister Eileen. Fosse choreographed, and he dances throughout, but never so memorably as in the "dance-off" scene with Tommy Rall. I wasn't able to embed the scene here, but you can see it over here.
Instead, here's a very cute scene between Fosse and the lovely Janet Leigh.

I love that movie.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Wildlife Wednesday: Splash Dance

You may have already seen this video as it has gone viral, but, in case you haven't, this is Zola, a 9-year-old Lowland Gorilla at the Calgary Zoo having a bit of fun playing in some water.
In other Lowland Gorilla news, a new baby was born at Zoo Miami on Father's Day, and you can read more about that (and see pictures) over at

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Tuesday Tunes: Down in Old Soho

Today is the birthday of Ray Davies, founding member and front man of the legendary rock band The Kinks.
Formed in 1963 (and originally calling themselves the Ravens), the band (now as the Kinks) broke through big time in August of 1964 with their third single, "You Really Got Me."

The group's rowdy on-stage behavior may or may not have contributed to the Kinks being banned from touring in America during the latter part of the sixties. (No official reason has been given publicly.) This is probably why they did not enjoy the same level of notoriety stateside as many of the other bands that were part of "the British Invasion." Nevertheless, Davies and company were much admired by and highly influential upon their much more popular peers, especially for songs like "Waterloo Sunset."

And, of course, "Lola" put the Kinks right back on the pop music map both in the UK and the U.S.

The Kinks continued to record and tour together until 1996. While not always in the mainstream of popularity, the Kinks have always been on the cutting edge musically and are now considered one of the most important bands of the 1960s.
Happy Birthday to Ray Davies, CBE.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Monday Money-Saver: Wait for it . . .

Today's money tip is to combat that impulse-buying, um, impulse.
We all have things we have to buy: gas, toilet paper, bread, peanut butter, whatever. Then there are those things we maybe don't really need. When it comes to those purchases, try instituting the 30-day rule.
A motorized beer cooler on wheels.
What could possibly go wrong?
Make yourself wait 30 days before you even consider the purchase again. If 30 days goes by and you still really want it (if you even remember it) well, then go ahead. Odds are you won't.
It's certainly a better alternative than buying it now and looking at it in thirty days trying to figure out why you thought it was so important at the time.

Monday Motivator: What a Sensation

Happy Birthday, Brian Wilson!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Friday Film Buff: City of Gold

Hollywood loves disaster films, and, mostly, audiences love them, too. The drama that happens between characters when nature (or something else) raises the stakes is compelling, and it's a great opportunity for some CGI wizardry. If there's one thing that modern films have over classic films, it's the ability to make a great disaster movie.
Guess again.
The 1936 film San Francisco directed by W.S. "Woody" Van Dyke (with help from D.W. Griffith) and starring Clark Gable, Jeanette MacDonald, and Spencer Tracy has all the elements of a great disaster film: colorful characters, a complicated love triangle, and lively music, all leading up to the early morning hours of April 18, 1906, when the city was rocked by the most devastating earthquake in the city's history.
D.W. Griffith directed many of the earthquake sequences, which, of course, utilize no CGI whatsoever - just a lot of camera tricks and a whole lot of great stunt work and effects.

Many people refer to this as a musical, since it is filled with lavish musical numbers in the Barbary Coast club owned by Clark Gable's character Blackie Norton, as well as some great opera scenes featuring Jeanette MacDonald. Jeanette also gives us a memorable rendition of the title song.
(Sorry about the colorization in this clip. It's all I could find. I recommend seeing this in the original black and white. Ted Turner is nuts.)

By the way, Van Dyke was known as "One Take Woody," for his quick film-making style, completing most scenes in just, well, one take. Spencer Tracy has a little bit of fun with this in one scene by throwing in an ad lib in a scene where he and MacDonald are in his rectory. (Tracy plays a priest and childhood friend of Blackie Norton. He's not part of the love triangle. That would be weird.) Tracy makes reference to "that Rooney kid" - referencing young Mickey Rooney (who isn't in this movie, but with whom Tracy had worked before) - and Jeanette MacDonald was not expecting it. The look on her face is priceless. And, of course, since the scene only had one take, it's in the film.
Fun movie. Check it out.
In black and white, preferably. (Ted, Ted, Ted . . .)

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Theatre Thursday: Bare Necessities

This week in 1969, a very unusual show opened on Broadway that would ultimately become one of its longest-running shows. In fact, even now it still holds sixth place. The critics were not terribly fond of it, but audiences loved it. It was the work of several authors including Sam Shepard, Samuel Beckett, and John Lennon. The show takes its name from a painting by reluctant surrealist Clovis Trouille, itself a pun on the phrase, "O quel cul t'as!" something a bold Frenchman might say to, say, Jennifer Lopez.
The show is Oh, Calcutta!

There is actually not very much of the musical that I can show here as the avante-garde production featured sketches of a highly sexual nature including full nudity from the cast, which was also a major factor in the show's popularity.
This is also why it is not often produced by local theatre groups. However, if you want to see it, a filmed version of the show was made in 1972 and it is now available on DVD. I saw it some years ago on VHS and, while it is clever at times, I do think that it's popularity was a product of its boldness at the time.
Of course, it is worth noting that no musical production since has really attempted to be so bold in its subject matter or the nature of its production, so maybe it isn't so dated after all.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Wildlife Wednesday: Put Me Down, Dude

"Also, I'm just gonna pee all over your North Face jacket."
So, here's a scenario for you:
You're out hiking in the wild and you come across a cute baby fawn all by itself, and you don't see any sign of the mother anywhere. Do you pick it up and take it to the nearest forest ranger?
Here's why: The odds are that the fawn (or other baby animal) is not abandoned. It's not at all uncommon for animals to leave their babies alone while they go out and forage for food. In the case of the fawn, mom is probably hiding away out of your sight, hoping you will go away. Don't expect her to come running out to say, "No, it's cool. I'm here."
Fewer species than you think will actually aggressively try to protect their young. Most wild young have natural camouflage for this reason. In fact, mom standing too close to the baby in an area where she is unsure of predators is a sure way for the predator to locate the baby. It may not seem logical to us, but there are different rules in the wild.
If you pick up the fawn or the kit raccoons or other wild baby critter and take it away, it's extremely difficult to reunite them with their mother.
Odds are, unless it's an obvious situation where the babies are orphaned, you're better off leaving them right where they are. Raccoons, deer, elk, fox, and all of the other animals have got this parenthood thing down. It's we humans who seem to have parenting issues.

If it makes you feel better, take note of the location and notify Fish and Wildlife, but don't touch the baby or try to take it someplace else. You're just creating a problem where there probably wasn't one. You could even be issued a citation - and not the good kind.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Tuesday Tunes: Local Flavor

Today on Tuesday Tunes I thought I'd do something that I haven't done in a while, and that is introduce you to a talented band here in the Denver area. The band is foma*. Yes, all lowercase and the asterisk is included. I never bothered to ask why or what "foma" stands for, though I'm pretty sure it's not the Florida Osteopathic Medical Association. The next time I run into frontman Jace Smykil, I'll try to remember to ask him. Why, yes, as a matter of fact, that would be the same Jace Smykil who appeared in Evolution Theatre Company's world premiere musical BREACH at the Avenue Theater last month, as mentioned here on this blog. Thanks for remembering.
Whatever the meaning behind the band's name, foma* rocks.

I'm not sure exactly how I would classify foma*'s sound (nor can I adequately express how bizarre it is for me to follow an asterisk with an apostrophe), but here is the description from their Facebook page:
"Their sonic palette combines a blend of rock-alternative, funk, blues, and is lightly peppered with a pinch of country twang."
Yeah, I'd agree with that. I've been listening to the band's album, Songs for the Surgeon General, which is available for sale at or downloadable from iTunes. If you want to hear a few more tracks before adding foma* to your music collection, you can check out their MySpace page, or right now you can check out this live performance of "Timid Tigers," the first track on the album.

Happy Tuesday, everybody.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Monday Money-Saver: Change is Good

Today's money-saving tip is literally about saving money. Many banks have options for using your debit card that will put a portion of your money automatically into savings. Some will round up to the nearest dollar and put the difference in your savings account, and others will transfer $1 for every transaction into your savings. See if your bank has an option like this, and if they have one, use it. (You can always transfer the money back if you really need it.)
However, one of the simplest ways to save money is to use paper - paper money, that is. Less convenient, well, yes, but that's kind of part of it. Businesses have figured out many ways to make it more convenient, simple, and easy to spend your money because - brace yourself - they want your money. They call all of those items for sale by the cash registers "impulse buys" because they are designed to appeal to the reptilian part of your brain. (Ooooh shiny!)
Rose made from feathers? Want!
All I'm saying is that maybe you don't always have to make it so easy to access your money.
Here's the thing about using cash. You have to touch it to spend it, and, in touching it, you can more easily see and feel how much less of it you have after each purchase. It's a lot easier for your higher brain to reason with your reptilian brain. (No shinies. Not enough moolah, see?) It's also a little easier to track your spending. You started out this morning with $40 in your wallet. It's 3 p.m. and you're down to $4.67. Did you really plan on spending over $35 today? Hmmm.
One of the best things about spending paper is that you get coin back as change. If you make yourself a rule that you will only spend paper and then put the coins into a jar at the end of the day, you'll have a little extra at the end of the month to put in the bank or, yes, if you want, buy some shinies.

Monday Motivator: Always Room for Cello

The thing about motivation, is it's different for everybody, so I want to be sure that I'm mixing things up here. Today, I want to share with you the latest video from cello gods Luka Sulic and Stjepan Hauser. This dynamic duo went viral with their "dueling cellos" arrangement of Michael Jackson's "Smooth Criminal." This time they take on Guns n' Roses' "Welcome to the Jungle" and show that the instrument long-missing from the rock band stage may well be . . . the cello.
Check it out:

Friday, June 10, 2011

Friday Film Buff: Pure Imagination

Tomorrow is the birthday of one of my favorite actors: Gene Wilder of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, Young FrankensteinBlazing Saddles, Stir Crazy, and married-to-Gilda-Radner fame.
Wilder's first big break in the film business was in a small, but memorable role in 1967's Bonnie and Clyde. he then went on to originate the role of Leo bloom in Mel Brook's 1968 film The producers which would later spawn a musical and then a musical movie, neither of which quite reach the level of the original, in my opinion.
(Yes, I know. I'm an arrogant intellectual elitist. I'm always supposed to think the original is better. Well, I like the remake of The Thomas Crown Affair better than the original, so there.)
Wilder really broke out to wider audiences with his portrayal of the enigmatic Willy Wonka in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. He only accepted the role on the condition that he could create this memorable scene. Wonka's grand entrance/cane walk/fall/somersault was Wilder's idea, and he insisted upon doing ibecause, in his words, "from that time on, no one will know if I'm lying or telling the truth." Brilliant!
What would follow would be two of Gene Wilder's biggest hits, both with director Mel Brooks: the bawdy Blazing Saddles lampooning classic Hollywood Westerns and Wilder's own scripted spoof of classic horror films, Young Frankenstein.
Right around this time, Wilder also made a quirky little TV movie with Bob Newhart called Thursday's Game, which is one of today's Friday Film Buff recommendations.
Here's the premise: two married guys (Newhart and Wilder) regularly kiss their wives goodnight early and head off to their weekly poker game with the boys, a tradition they've participated in for years. One night, an argument causes the game to break up, and the two guys don't know what to do with their Thursdays. Accustomed to having their weekly night out, the two men decide to keep the ruse of the poker game going and instead get together every Thursday and do, just whatever they feel like doing. 

It's a simple story, but it is sold by the strong performances of Newhart and Wilder. Unfortunately, I don't think it's out on DVD and even a VHS version can be hard to come by, but, if you snoop around the internet a bit, you might just find some way to watch the movie. (Ahem.)
In 1976, Wilder took the role of the protagonist in Arthur Hiller's action-comedy-thriller Silver Streak, which would begin the on-screen partnership between Wilder and comedian Richard Pryor (one of the writers on Blazing Saddles). They would make three more films together.

We'll call Silver Streak today's second recommendation. Maybe you've already seen it, maybe you haven't, but you should.
Wilder met comedienne Gilda Radner while filming Hanky Panky directed by his friend Sidney Poitier. Radner and Wilder became fast friends and eventually their friendship grew into something far more. The two were married in 1984. Heartbreakingly, Radner would lose her three-year battle with ovarian cancer in 1989.
Wilder made a few more movies with Richard Pryor (whose health was also deteriorating due to MS) and even regular TV appearances. He remains active as an author and an advocate for cancer research, and tomorrow, he will be a spry 78 years old.
Happy Birthday, Mr. Wilder. 

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Wildlife Wednesday: Under Fire

As the Wallow Fire is now larger in size than the city of Phoenix, I have been wondering about the impact on the Arizona wildlife in the Apache Forest area. I, by no means, wish to diminish the human loss to this fire in person and property, it's just that, well, it's Wednesday, and on Wednesday I write about wildlife.
Here is an excellent eHow article about the impact of a forest fire on wildlife in general. Larger mammals and birds can usually outrun the flames, but smaller animals - whose instinct is to burrow when danger arises - may not be able escape the heat and smoke. The after effects of a fire are, of course, largely negative. Loss of habitat is good for neither flora nor fauna, but there are some species that can flourish on the charred remains of trees, such as hares and beetles.
I don't have much else I can offer here. Until the fire is contained, rehabilitation of the habitat is still a way off, I'm afraid.
I wish much luck to the firefighters and the people of Arizona, and to any little critters who read my blog: run, fly, swim as fast as you can.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Tuesday Tunes 2: Sex Bomb

No, I didn't forget. Dino takes priority, but I also want to make sure that I remember that today is also the birthday of Mr. Tom Jones, OBE.

Tuesday Tunes: Ain't That A Kick In The Head

So, it Tuesday Tunes on June 7th. Do you know what that means? Do you know what that means?
It's Dean Martin's birthday!!!!!
Strap in.

I always say that I want this next song to play at wedding, but who am I kidding: if I find some gal who wants to spend the rest of her life with me, she can play REO Speedwagon if she wants.

A little-known fact: Dean was very seldom ever actually drinking on stage, and he was almost never drunk. He sipped ginger ale while the rest of the Rat Pack drank, and his boozy lounge singer persona was really just an act. Here he is performing the song which would become his signature tune. Well, one of them.

I'll give you the rest of these videos without much ado. Enjoy:

Happy Tuesday, everybody.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Monday Money-Saver: Enough is Enough

I'm talking gasoline again today, because, hey, that's what's on a lot of minds at the moment. Here is another simple tip for saving money at the pump:
When the pump clicks off, your tank is full. Yes, you can get a little more gas into the tank after that click - something we all call "topping it off," but that gas is basically going to be wasted. First, it may simply feed back into the gas pump's vapor recovery system. You see, that extra gas is going to evaporate very quickly, and the pumps are equipped with pollution-saving systems that are going to keep the gas from releasing into the air. When you top off your tank, you're sending a lot of that extra gas right back into the station. That's very generous of you, but I wouldn't expect to see gas prices drop because of your unknowing fuel philanthropy. Actually, it's not that simple. The recovery systems can become overloaded, causing the pump to malfunction for the next person and a lot of the excess gets released into the air anyway as a result. Not good.
What little gas you manage to actually get away with isn't going to do you much good, either.
That extra space in your tank is too allow for room for the vapor to expand. If it doesn't have that room , it has to expand somewhere, and in modern cars that is into the vapor collection system. This sounds like it's right where it's supposed to go, but too much all at once can cause the system to become fouled. This can cause expensive repair problems, and, again, a lot of that gas vapor is just going to go right into the air. None of it is actually being used to make your car move, but you paid for all of it and then some.
Topping off the tank is bad for your car, bad for the station pump, bad for the environment, and bad for your wallet. When the pump clicks off, it's telling you that you've got as much as your car can use.
Bonus tip: There's always going to be some evaporation during fill-up, but you can minimize the amount of gas that you pay for that doesn't actually go into your car by filling up before the sun is at its hottest. Plan your trips to the pump in the early morning or after dusk.

Monday Motivator: Bill Moyers on Learning

Today I give you one of my favorite quotes from journalist Bill Moyers, who turned 77 on Sunday:
"When I learn something new - and it happens every day - I feel a little more at home in this universe, a little more comfortable in the nest."
-Bill Moyers

Friday, June 3, 2011

Friday Film Buff: Wacky Racers

Do you remember the Way-Out Wacky Races from Hanna-Barbera on Saturday Mornings? I only saw it in re-runs myself, many years after its original airing in the late 60s, but it did make an impression:

Anyway, the Wacky Races was undoubtedly inspired by today's Friday Film Buff selection, The Great Race, a Blake Edwards film itself inspired by the real-life 1908 around-the-world race. The film starred Tony Curtis (whose birthday it is today) as the larger-than-life hero Leslie Gallant III and Jack Lemmon as the villainous and conniving Professor Fate. Like a live-action cartoon, The Great Race is filled with Laurel and Hardy-like sight gags, and plenty of absurdism.

The film also features Keenan Wynn and Peter Falk as the hero's and villain's respective sidekicks and the beguiling Natalie Wood as the intrepid and independent lady newspaper reporter chasing her story.
Henry Mancini, a frequent collaborator with Edwards, provides the music. It's one of Edwards's more overlooked films, which is a shame, because it's great fun.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Theatre Thursday: The Entertainer

Award-winning composer Marvin Hamlisch is 67 today, and when I say award-winning, I mean he's won them all - all the big ones anyway. He is one of the few people to have one an Emmy, a Grammy, an Oscar, and a Tony. They call that an EGOT. I tell you that because I just found that out and also to confirm that people in the entertainment industry have a tendency to be really silly at times. Hamlisch has also won  the Pulitzer Prize and Golden Globes.
The Pulitzer is for the ground-breaking A Chorus Line:

Sorry for the jump cuts. It's an equity rule that a number can't be filmed in its entirety. (This is, of course, before everyone was carrying a cell phone with a video camera.)
If you're trying to remember why you recognize Kelly Bishop, she is recently famous as Lorelai's overbearing mother on Gilmore Girls.
Hamlisch was in a relationship with fellow songwriter Carole Bayer Sager in the 1970s. Their romance was the basis for another hit Broadway musical, They're Playing Our Song.

One very interesting bit of trivia about Hamlisch is that he was the youngest person (at age six) ever accepted into Julliard.

Happy birthday, Mr. Hamlisch, and thank you for many years' worth of hummable tunes.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Wildlife Wednesday: Flightless Wonder

Since today is actor Morgan Freeman's birthday, it seemed appropriate for Wildlife Wednesday to feature the subject of the 2005 documentary to which Freeman lent his distinctive voice as narrator: March of the Penguins. If you haven't seen the film yet, I definitely recommend it.

As difficult as the ordeal of mating and breeding is for penguins, their survival is made all the more complicated by increases in commercial fishing, oil spills, and other man-made influences on their natural habitat. Some species of penguin are in serious danger of becoming extinct. You can read more about the threats to penguin populations here.
If you are interested in lending your support to Penguin conservation efforts, you can, of course, rely upon our friends at World Wildlife Fund to to take up the cause of these incredible birds, and you can symbolically adopt an Emperor Penguin (the species in the movie and in the photo above) through WWF.
I also just found out about an opportunity to adopt an actual Magellanic Penguin in South America (like the one in the pic to the left) through the International Penguin Conservation Work Group. It doesn't actually come to live in your bathtub, but you do get to give it a name. (Kind of a cool idea.)

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Bonus Tune: Bonzo

No, I did not forget. Today is also John Henry Bonham's birthday. Hold on to your hats for this one, cherubs:

Tuesday Tunes: Make My Day

Today on the Tuesday Tunes, I thought I'd celebrate the birthday of a Hollywood composer, musician, and singer who turned 81 today:
Clint Eastwood.
"Wha?"you may say. "Clint Eastwood? Oscar-winning director, tough guy actor, box office superstar, former mayor of Carmel, California? That Clint Eastwood?"
The very same.
"No way."
Exhibit A: A younger Clint Eastwood as the young lovelorn Pardner in the 1969 movie version of the Broadway musical Paint Your Wagon. Often times, musical numbers are cut in the transition from stage to screen in the interest of length and because Hollywood actors who were not always known for their singing were cast in place of the Broadway balladeers. In the case of Wagon, the movie bears very little resemblance to the stage musical at all, but about half of the songs are still there. While Jean Seberg was dubbed by Anita Gordon, both Eastwood and Lee Marvin did their own singing.

Sinatra he is not, but, for this movie, he didn't need to be.
Eastwood would also sing in the 1982 film, Honkytonk Man, which he directed and starred in with his son, Kyle.
Moving on to Exhibit B, I offer a short list of the movies for which director Eastwood also composed the score:
Mystic River (2003)
Hereafter (2010)
Changeling (2008)
Flags of our Fathers (2006)
Million Dollar Baby (2004)

Eastwood's last (as of this writing) turn as an actor had him returning both to his gruff, tough guy persona as well as to performing on the soundtrack. This time he co-wrote the title song with Jamie Cullum and Kyle Eastwood.

Video: Gran Torino OST - Original Theme Song na

Happy Birthday, Mr. Eastwood. Thank you for many years' worth of great moving pictures and music.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Monday Money-Saver: Slow Down

I've already expressed by bewilderment at the obsession among drivers to drive as fast as they possibly can, no matter where they are going or who's in the car with them. I've even drawn up some hypothetical scenarios demonstrating that, really, it doesn't save you that much time - if any at all.
Here's another little something you may not have realized about your lead foot: it's wasting gas.
That's right, whether it's blazing down the highway at 85 miles per hour (and endangering yourself and other drivers) or just speeding from stoplight to stoplight in town (and endangering yourself and - okay, you get the idea), you are burning up gas unnecessarily. Here is a terrific eHow article that really explains the science behind it.
Of course driving the speed limit can save you money in more ways than just at the gas pump. There's less wear and tear on brakes, tires, gears, and more; there's less chance of being hit with one of those pesky speeding tickets; and, say, what's blood pressure medication running these days? Let's not forget the worst-case scenario of excessive speed: an accident. Even if no one is hurt, there's still the cost of repairs. Do you have the cost of your deductible just laying around earning interest? I don't. And what about those premiums? Do you think those will stay the same?
So, if you are looking for ways to make your dollar go a little bit further these days, there's one thing that you can do from behind the wheel of your automobile:
Ask yourself, "What's the rush?"

Monday Motivator: In Memoriam

This is a short, poetic Memorial Day essay written in 2001 by a 3rd grader from Madison, Connecticut, named Ali:
As the flowers rest on the decorated graves and the sunlight shines on the beautiful sailboats, Uncle Sam whispers in my ear about how we should care for the soldiers and remember the ones that have died. Swimming pools open, BBQs fry. Today is the day to think of what they have done for us. There are blurs of red, white and blue marching down the street and flags are lowered at half-mast. But we should always remember and never forget what set us free, from this very day on.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Blood of Kings

Happy Birthday, Adrian Paul!
Say have you heard about his charity?

Friday, May 27, 2011

Friday Film Buff: What Happened to Laura?

On today, Vincent Price's birthday, one might recall one of the many villainous, ghoulish, macabre roles for which the tall, debonair actor would become best-known. There are some good movies and bad movies in that mix, but always a memorable performance from the Missouri-born gentleman with the unique voice.

One of Price's earliest roles, and, in my opinion, one of his best films is the 1944 noir mystery, Laura.

It's a little uncanny to see Price play the soft-spoken, ingratiating Shelby Carpenter, the fiancĂ© of the title character, but his charisma is undeniable. Oh yeah, and the rest of the movie is pretty good, too.

I'm going to throw in a bonus recommendation today since it is also Dashiell Hammett's birthday. Hammett's colorful crime-solving couple, Nick and Nora Charles, step onto the silver screen in The Thin Man film series. William Powell and Myrna Loy are brilliant as the witty husband-and-wife team (pre-dating TV's Hart to Hart by roughly half a century) and are proof that they really just don't make movies like they used to. After the Thin Man (1936) might be the best of the series of six films, but I'd start with the first in the series, The Thin Man (1934).

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Theatre Thursday: Arthur Laurents (1918-2011)

Arthur Laurents passed away while I was on my hiatus, so I wanted to make sure to mention him on the first Theatre Thursday when I returned. While he is known for some great screenplays (Rope being one of my favorites), he is probably best-known as the book writer on such great musicals as West Side Story, La Cage Aux Folles, and Gypsy.

Laurents also directed many of his own shows on Broadway, and in 2010, he set up the Laurents/Hatcher Foundation, which awards a cash stipend to produce a new work of social significance by an emerging playwright. The Foundation is co-named for Laurents's partner Tom Hatcher who passed away in 2006. The couple had been together for 52 years.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Wildlife Wednesday: Wolf Hunt

Well, it would appear that the wolf-haters are at it again:

Look, I get that the interaction between wolves and ranchers is touchy, but there are other solutions besides just getting your gun off on some wolves. (Oh, and aerial hunting? How sporting, gentlemen.)
Besides, wolves are hardly the biggest killers of livestock. Coyotes kill more livestock. Domestic dogs kill more livestock. Vultures actually kill more livestock. In fact, the weather and health conditions are a greater predator of livestock that wolves are. Check out these statistics. Now, I'm not advocating going out and shooting coyotes, vultures, the neighbor's weimaraners, or storm clouds, either (though the last one might be funny to watch), but this vilification of wolves seems a bit unfair to me. (I blame Mother Goose.)
If you are interested in learning more about what Defenders of Wildlife is doing about this situation and how you can help, check here.