PBS ran a Memorial Day weekend marathon of Downton Abbey. I know I'm really late to this party, but let me say it's a damn good show.

I've now seen most of the fourth season, the series finale, and the movie, though mostly in reverse order. I think maybe I should watch the rest of the series back-to-front so I can see all the characters live their lives backwards.

I've still never seen an episode with Mary's oft-mentioned first husband, Matthew, or Thomas' oft-mentioned first wife, Sybil. It's kind of nice to see characters who live on past their expiration date like real influential people do.

Now that the marathon is over, I guess I'll go back to my previous quarantine stand-by, The Golden Girls. To think that there was a time when people lived naturally into old age. What a wonderful world!

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Fifty-six movies and counting since the start of March. It's almost like something has been making me stay inside and watch movies....

67. (1721.) Floyd Norman: An Animated Life (2016)
A documentary of Floyd Norman, an animator on The Jungle Book among many other interesting things. He's even been named a Disney Legend, a title conveyed by the company on people of its choosing "for the significant impact they have made on the Disney legacy," which might be more impressive if they hadn't given the same award to Barbara Walters after Disney bought ABC.

68. (1722.) The Group (1966)
On more than one occasion I thought "why am I still watching this dishwater dull soap opera?" The answer, I guess, is because it was Candice Bergen's first film role. She's okay, though the role really doesn't ask much from her. Larry Hagman is more interesting in his trademark role as "the Asshole."

69. (1723.) Sunrise at Campobello (1960)
The true inspiring story of how FDR overcame polio to become president! It was very clearly a stage play first, and as it strongly relies on characters standing still and making speeches, it doesn't actually get good until Franklin is strong enough to consider a return to politics.

70. (1724.) Nickelodeon (1976)
This is close to a being a good movie, but it's badly let down by weak characters and a lack of overall story direction. (What's the point of it all? Is it a history? A romance? It's definitely not a comedy.) I watched it in the director's intended black-and-white format on TCM, and I can only imagine how much worse it would be as originally released by the studio in color.

72. (1726.) The Great Buster (2018)
Another documentary, this time about Buster Keaton, who oddly is not a Disney Legend despite the fact his genius movie Steamboat Bill, Jr — that's the one where the building facade falls on him and he narrowly escapes harm because he's standing in a window — was the inspiration for the title of Mickey Mouse's first talkie, Steamboat Willie. I guess they have to draw the line somewhere.

More to come.

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My Memorial/Independence Day yard art:

America still needs your help!

And a closer image from his inside stand (each painting so far has it's own foot so that it can be displayed in the house between visits to the yard):

Based on art by Marvel Comics

I created Captain America about two feet taller than Santa Claus because he's someone everyone should look up to. (Santa Claus, on the other hand, is a dirty socialist.)

Happy Memorial Day!

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I wanted to use a curse word here

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If you don't watch TCM because you don't care for "old" movies, you're watching during the wrong hours. I saw most of these during the wee hours of Monday mornings in April during the TCM Imports programming.

59. (1713.) Lone Wolf and Cub: Sword of Vengeance (1972)
Based on the critically acclaimed manga comics, I found the live action adventures to actually be better than the source material. Beware that there's a completely gratuitous semi-consensual rape scene (oddly used to demonstrate how honorable the protagonist is), but if that's the strangest thing you've ever seen in Japanese cinema, this might be your first Japanese movie.

62. (1716.) Lone Wolf and Cub: Baby Cart at the River Styx (1972)
Gotta love that title. The first movie is the origin story, but this one sets up the formula that the others will follow: wandering, wronged protagonist (and his infant son, Daigoro!) takes up odd jobs as stepping stones on the path to vengeance. The highlight here is the the establishment of the cub as an independent character worth cheering for.

64. (1718.) Lone Wolf and Cub: Baby Cart to Hades (1972)
The climactic fight at the end of this episode is so over the top ridiculous that it rivals anything you might see in bigger budget American action blockbuster fare. "A rip-roaring good time!"

66. (1720.) Lone Wolf and Cub: Baby Cart in Peril (1973)
Did I mention the gratuitous nudity earlier? They finally worked it into the story in this tale of a disgraced sword-mistress who uses her feminine charms (read: tits) to distract her opponents.

73. (1727.) Lone Wolf and Cub: Baby Cart in the Land of Demons (1973)
Maybe my favorite of the bunch. For one thing, it's beautiful. For another, the themes of honor and responsibility at the core of the series resonate strongly in separate tales for both father and son.

79. (1733.) Lone Wolf and Cub: White Heaven in Hell (1974)
If the James Bond influence was notable back in Baby Cart to Hades, it's written on the surface of this one as the baby cart becomes a Q Branch snowmobile to fight zombies. Not that this is all exactly bad, it just doesn't live up to the bar set by its immediate predecessor.

All six of these were very watchable, and I'd recommend without hesitation to fans of action movies or Tarantino films.

More to come.

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While we're dealing with the double whammy of toilet paper and beef shortages, it's important to remember that there are still some silver linings to our current situation. For example:

Normally preferring to keep no more than $10 worth in at a time, I fully fill up the gas tank in my Jeep less often than once every half-a-dozen blue moons. But market-crash induced gas prices have been so good lately, I couldn't pass up the opportunity.

What disaster will lead to the Jeep's next full tank? I guess we'll find out when we get there.

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To be continued...

 

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