Friday, June 23, 2017

Bob Marley & The Wailers - Exodus

It's a dream, sure. But it's a beautiful dream.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

I Was There: Moody Blues

Without a doubt the most boring concert I ever attended.  Zero stage presence, zero charisma, zero audience interaction.

Music was great.  Atmosphere was non-existent.  Saw them at the Pacific Coliseum in Vancouver B.C.  Mine, and I'm sure most everyone else's favourite MB song, Nights in White Satin (oh shit, it just occured to me that that could be interpreted as a hate crime)...

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Exploring Horse Country

The Township of Langley, British Columbia lies about twenty miles east of Vancouver. While the Township is traditionally rural much of it is being built up now as people escape the exorbitant housing costs of the big city. So far, the south part of Langley is still fairly rural with many farms and wineries to be found. South Langley is also horse country. 

Enjoying lunch on a quite day.
There are several private equestrian properties. There is a public equestrian facility. There is a therapeutic riding facility. Much of the area is part of the Campbell Valley Regional Park.
The public equestrian facility
Punchbowl hidden by trees.
While there might be some far-off noise from passing trucks or airplanes, the area is pretty quiet. The south end of 208 Street is narrow with pretty rough pavement, probably a mile long with no exit. Not someplace you would go unless you had a specific destination.

Way back in the woods is a "punchbowl." While there are horse trails in the area, the major hiking trails do not come through this part of the park. Like the entrance from 208 Street, you can find it if you were looking for it.

For thirty-two years the punchbowl was the site of much activity. Horses were run here. Horses by the hundreds. Horses of a different sort.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

I Was There: Norah Jones

Norah Jones first album became a hit around the same time Matt and I first met.  I remember many a Friday night dancing (actually more like shuffling around to) "Don't Know Why".  Nora has a special place in my heart for being part of the romantic music that Matt and I fell in love to.

I saw her in concert in Vancouver, Matt was supposed to be with me but he was scheduled to work and couldn't get out of it.  I offered his ticket to a girlfriend of mine but she didn't show up.  So I set out to the concert alone and ended up selling my ticket to a scalper and getting back more than I had paid for both tickets plus a single ticket in a better seat!  Winning!

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Election Day Open Thread

These are hilarious! I love a good meme.

 I don't know where that bit of text after the second image came from, but I can't figure out how to delete it, so we'll live with it. 

I looked for memes ridiculing Corbyn. I guess google didn't want them circulating on election day. 

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Enough is enough

Thomas Paine wrote, "These are the times that try men's souls." He may as well have been speaking about today. Paine wrote of the American Crisis. Today we have a world crisis.

As we witness yet more terrorist attacks in London, we know what will follow. "We are London." Lights on important landmarks. And, probably, more Brits arrested for having the temerity to say nasty things about the Religion of Peace.

We will be presented with more examples of islamophobic hate crimes such as dirty looks, nasty words, and broken windows. Anything more than that will, more than likely, be self-inflicted actions intended to prove how victimized Muslims are. Meanwhile, as the body count goes up on a weekly basis, the Muslim body count will stay at about zero outside of war zones (which are war zones because of their own actions) and honour killings.

People such the Obamas and Zuckerbergs of this world, speaking from the safety of their walled estates, and Pope Appeaser I, speaking from the safety of the walled Vatican, will tell us that we should accept "refugees" in the name of humanity. Anyone concerned with the safety of young girls going to concerts or people going to casinos, such as in the Philippines, will have to be careful so as not to be arrested on hate speech charges. Meanwhile, "enlightened" nations in the world will have made sure that their citizens are devoid of any meaningful way to defend themselves.

The most important function of a government is the protection of its people. Governments around the world have abrogated  that responsibility. It is time that people stand up and withdraw recognition of those governments. If the elite want a revolution, then it is a revolution they will get. It just may not turn out how they expected.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Look what they've done to my shows, ma.

A number of things happen to old television programs when they are run in syndication: they are manipulated in several ways to the point that they have more in common with chopped liver than the show as originally aired.

TV shows now have more commercials than they did in the past. Because of this, TV stations need to find a way to cram more commercials into the same amount of time as the original program. 

Sunday, May 21, 2017

The original and the remake

Is it that I am necessarily a big fan of old movies? No. It is more a that I am not a fan of new movies. There are some old films that I love. There are some old films that I find interesting. Thinking that you may love or find them interesting as well, I want to bring some films to your attention so that you may catch them some time and hopefully enjoy them as much as I do.

This time around I have an opportunity to discuss an old film that I enjoy – another one that I watch just about every chance I have. It is also a film that was remade in 2015 that is a great example of why I am not a big fan of most newer Hollywood movies.

The old film of which I speak is one that I touched on briefly seven years ago (we’ve been at the Table for seven years already??).     

It is an MGM film from World War II – 1943 to be exact. The film, based upon a William Saroyan novel, was called The Human Comedy. The story concerns a teenage boy named Homer Macauley, played by 22 year old Mickey Rooney. Now don’t roll your eyes when you read the name Mickey Rooney. This film works.

Homer Macauley (Mickey Rooney)

Homer's mother, Mrs. Macauley is played by Faye Bainter. Homer’s older brother Marcus (Van Johnson) is in the army. Homer also has an older sister, Bess (Donna Reed – yes, that Donna Reed) and a little brother Ulysses (Jack Jenkins). The dead father, Matthew (trust me, it works in this film) is played by Ray Collins (yes – Lt. Tragg from Perry Mason). Oh, keep your eyes open for a young Robert Mitchum.

Matthew provides some narration from time to time. In a nutshell, Homer gets a job as a telegraph messenger to help with the family finances now that Marcus is off in the war. The telegraph office is run by Tom Spangler (James Craig). The head telegrapher in the office is Willie Grogan (Frank Morgan). 

Willie Grogan (Frank Morgan)

Mary Arena (Dorothy Morris) is Marcus’s girl next door. Tobey George (John Craven) is Marcus’s best friend in the army and was an orphan who never had a family or a home or home town.

Tobey George (John Craven) and Marcus Macauley (Van Johnson)

The two central relationships of the film are between Homer and Willie Grogan, and between Marcus and Tobey George.

Willie Grogan is an old-timer whom the company would just as soon put out to pasture. He has seen a great deal in his 67 years, much of it painful. He has a tendency to drink away his pain. He is a warm person and Homer forms a tight bond with Willie.

Marcus takes Tobey under his wing. Tobey learns all about the Macauley family and of their hometown of Ithaca, California (a fictionalized Fresno). From afar, Tobey falls in love with Bess. Tobey and Marcus plan on settling in Ithaca after the war raising families with Bess and Mary, respectively.

This is not a film without pain. One of the first telegraphs Homer has to deliver is to an Hispanic woman whose son was killed in the war. Homer is distraught. In a very touching scene, the mother of the dead soldier ends up comforting the young Homer.

It is a film about people facing those things they have to face. It is also a film about love and compassion. Being a 1940’s MGM film, you know the schmaltz is laid on with a trowel – but it all comes together. It even turns a sad ending into a somewhat happy, hopeful ending. As I said seven years ago, “Watch this film, but buy an extra box of Kleenex before you do.“

Now lets us move to the 2015 version, Ithaca. This film marks Meg Ryan’s directorial debut. I suffered through this film. And I mean suffered. I must admit that often it is hard to see a remake of something when you loved the original. While granting that, I can point to specific issues about it that detracted from it.

First of all, there is a strong “this war is useless” attitude. While I can certainly understand a sentiment of “I wish we didn’t have to fight this war,” or a pacifist's “war goes against the word of G-d,” I do have problems with a modern “this war is stupid” masquerading as 1943. People in 1943 may have hated the war, but they generally would have recognized why we were at war.

If I had not seen The Human Comedy first, I would not have really had any idea of who some of the characters were. Tobey is almost a throwaway. Mary? Alfred Hitchcock almost left bigger impressions in his cameos than Mary did in this film.

Ithaca is a dark film. While The Human Comedy is a film full of love, there is no love in Ithaca. Worse, none of the characters the film does focus on are at all likeable. I can see why Rooney’s Homer is drawn to Morgan’s Willie. However, if I were Jack Quaid’s (Meg Ryan’s and Dennis Quaid’s son) Homer I would have done what I could to spend as little time with Sam Sheppard’s Willie as possible. And I didn’t give a rip about Quaid’s Homer. I also get the impression in this version that Matthew (Tom Hanks) committed suicide.

So: watch the 1943 version, skip the 2015 version.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

The Usual Suspects

I don't know how it is now, but in the past radio stations were expected to spend a certain amount of their time playing programs that were in the public interest. That's why radio stations would have public affairs programs early on Sunday mornings and late on Sunday evenings. Religious programs also fit into that category.

Back when I was a young lad and working in radio, one syndicated program was called Rock and Religion, or something to that effect.

I had known that show for a few years. One day, we received a promotional record (many programs were syndicated on vinyl back in the day -- including Casey Kasem's American Top 40) from the producers saying that they were going to revamp the show and change the name. My program director wanted me to listen to the record with her to get my feedback.

At one point during the show, the announcer said "And we will have more than just Christian artists. We will also have popular music artists as well."

At that point I interjected, "...such as Roger McGuinn, Barry McGuire, and Leon Patillo -- formerly of Santana."

Then the record continued,  "...such as Roger McGuinn, Barry McGuire, and Leon Patillo -- formerly of Santana."

The program director looked at me with amazement. If California had a lotto game back then, she would have asked me for the next week's winning numbers.

"How did you know that?" she asked incredulously.

"Because whenever they have a popular music artist, it is always Roger McGuinn, Barry McGuire, or Leon Patillo -- formerly of Santana."

I remembered this after hearing some of the news stories of the past few days. How many times have you heard recently a news story that said, "Even some Republicans are critical of President Trump."

After you hear that, you say to yourself, "Hmmmm, let me see. I don't suppose John McCain would be one of them, now would he?"

And Roger McGuinn, Barry McGuire, and Leon Patillo -- formerly of Santana, wondered how you knew that.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

There I Was

Saw Simply Red in a small theatre venue in Vancouver a gazillion years ago. Great show very intimate, which suited the music.  Enjoy.