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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.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

India's Missing Girls

Where are India's missing girls? Check out my Hero Worship blog.

Tuesday Tunes: Dylan and the Diva

Happy Birthday to one of the original divas, Patti Labelle!
Here's one of my personal favorites from the lady:
I dare you not to tap your feet along with that song.
You may remember that tune from the Beverly Hills Cop Soundtrack in the 80s, back when Eddie Murphy was still . . . oh, Eddie. What happened, man?

Naturally, I cannot forget that today is also the birthday of one of America's most prolific songwriters, the incredible Bob Dylan. Hard-pressed to pick just one Bob Dylan tune for today, I've decided to pick two. First up, Dylan's "cubist" anthem "Tangled Up in Blue." Come on, everybody, mumble along!
Next, I had to pick the oft-covered "Knockin' On Heaven's Door" which Dylan wrote (along with a number of other songs) for the 1973 Peckinpah Western Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid featuring James Coburn, Kris Kristofferson, and, in a small role, Bob Dylan himself. If you haven't seen the movie (and I suggest that you do), this song is featured in a powerful scene with the great Slim Pickens.
(By the way, see the 1988 director's cut. The original version, taken from Peckinpah and "re-edited" by the studio, was pretty much disowned by both cast and crew.)
In the interest of symmetry, here's the wonderful Ms. LaBelle again, singing "Forever Young" written by Bob Dylan.
Have a great Tuesday, everybody.

The Return

Okay, that break was a little longer than I had planned, but it was good for me to go offline (sort of) for a bit. I have missed writing the blog a little, though. (I won't ask if you've missed me.)
A couple of changes:
I'm going to abandon the 7-day-a-week format for a 5-day-a-week format. That gives me two days per week off. that's not to say that I won't ever post anything on the weekends; I just won't feel compelled to do so. That means the Save-the-World Saturday and Sunday Superhero go away, but I'm going to cover all of the Save-the-World Saturday type stuff on my other blog A Little Hero Worship, and I will link to those posts here. As for the Sunday Superhero posts, well, those will probably pop up from time to time as wild cards.
Also, on Mondays, I'm going to double-up. Mondays will feature both a Monday Motivator and a new feature, the Monday Money-Saver. I don't know about the rest of you folks, but money has been pretty tight for me lately, and I'm always looking for ways to make my dollar go just a little further. What I find out, I'll share with you all on Mondays.
My hope is that there will be more podcasts in the future and even an original video feature or two. We'll just have to see how it goes.