Wednesday 9 December 2015
Monday 7 December 2015
From the Going Down Department:
I'll give this to Superior City: their criminals are inventive. The mob in Hit Comics #20 focuses their criminal extortion racket exclusively on elevator manufacturers.
Twenty people have died in three elevator failures in ten days, and only the District Attorney suspects foul play. The Red Bee has no intention of getting involved until the owner of the Skinner Elevator Company asks for help. We'll never know why Skinner didn't go to the police, as the "fat little man" soon becomes victim twenty-one.
Hit Comics #20, February 1942
The Red Bee only has six pages to solve this mystery, so it's a good thing that the elevator cable clipping hoods drive him straight to the palatial home of Albert Twist of the Twist Elevator Company. One punch loosens Twist's tongue, and he confesses to trying to ruin the business of his corporate rival.
Wow. I guess Skinner was right to go to the D.A. The police never would have figured that out. Thanks, Red Bee!
Saturday 5 December 2015
I watched 9 movies in November. Here's the first batch of 5.
173. (920.) From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler (1973)
This movie (based on a book of the same name) is also known as The Hideaways, which is a much more accurate name. Either the children's book or movie was the inspiration for character backstories in The Royal Tenenbaums (which, I will point out for the thousandth time, is one of my favorite, favorite movies). This movie is a little light on story, but does successfully manage to convey a child's impression that the world is a big, amazing place, which is the point. Not at all bad.
174. (921.) Whipsaw (1935)
Ah, Myrna Loy. She's perfect in this film as a mob moll on the run, trying to stay a step ahead of her rival (and love interest!), G-man Spencer Tracy. Very enjoyable.
175. (922.) The Prisoner of Zenda (1937)
This is an old-school adventure story, with princesses and attempted regicide, star-crossed romance and sword fights. These days, the sword fights would all be done with CGI. Douglas Fairbanks Jr has a smallish role, but he steals the screen with an evil smirk. Totally worth watching if you like Victor Hugo-style adventure.
176. (923.) Shanghai Express (1932)
TCM host Ben Mankiewicz told me that this movie was considered equal to Grand Hotel when it was released, and in fact it was nominated for a Best Picture award. I have a hard time understanding why. Putting aside the fact that it hasn't aged well — it's unfair to judge 80-year-old attitudes by standards of modern culture — the story and characters are still paper thin caricatures. I think that my disappointment with this film may have more to do with the many movies (mostly westerns) made in the decades since that treat similar material much better. I didn't love it, but I don't regret having watched it.
177. (924.) Hud (1963)
I regret having watched this. It reminded me of Five Easy Pieces in the fact that the cinematography was masterful, and the west Texas scenery never looked better on film. (It deserved the Best Cinematography award it won.) But like Five Easy Pieces, the protagonist was a waste of character study that completely failed to entertain me or enrich my life. Once again, I blame Paul Newman. I think he only plays people I would never want to meet. Even in my favorite Paul Newman movie, The Hudsucker Proxy, Newman plays a complete dick. Maybe it was an all an act, but I'm still not inclined to buy his salad dressing.
More to come.
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Thursday 3 December 2015
I hadn't even gotten around to contributing my two cents here on the University of Georgia firing Mark Richt this past Sunday, and already he's been hired to lead another marquee program at the University of Miami. Good for him.
I would not have minded if UGA had given Richt another year to try and correct the mess he'd let his program devolve into. The failure to recruit or develop a quarterback prior to the season was a gamble that failed to pay off. When Chubb was lost for the season, Richt was too tolerant of Offensive Coordinator Schottenheimer's inability or unwillingness to restructure his offence for the, uh, "differently abled" QBs he had to work with. There were too many games this year where Georgia's offense was unwatchable. The team never beat an opponent with a winning record, and was woefully unprepared in every game that counted. That UGA finished with 9 wins says more about Athletic Director McGarity's ability to gimmick a schedule of cupcakes than the football team's ability to actually play football.
Still, I think the fault of the season lies more with the fans than the coaches. Every year, UGA fans desperate for a little success and national recognition buy into the hype that this will be the year. When UGA was nearly unanimously picked before the season to win the SEC East, the Sword of Damocles was hung above Richt's head. By failing to live up to the hype, Richt fell victim to his own past success.
Is UGA being short-sighted in dismissing the second-winningest coach in school history? Probably. But sometimes a change will do everybody good. Richt returns to his alma-mater with new motivation to win in a weaker conference. UGA gets a new coach to blame if we don't win the SEC East every year. It may not be a win-win, but as the old adage goes, when action is necessary, do something even if it's wrong.
We'll see how quickly I change my tune if Richt take Miami to the Bowl Championship Series before UGA wins another SEC title with his successor. Sour grapes never fall too far from the vine.
Tuesday 1 December 2015
Monday 30 November 2015
Saturday 28 November 2015
On Wednesday, while working in the kitchen to prepare for Thanskgiving — Mom's out of town and somehow I became responsible for feeding Those She Left Behind — I accidentally stepped on July's paw. As ususal, she was laying in the middle of the kitchen floor, and I didn't see her. It's proving a costly oversight.
She limped throughout the evening Wednesday and resolutely kept the paw away from me. I assumed at the time that I'd simply stepped on her paw. An inspection on Thursday revealed that I'd actualy stepped on the claw, breaking it at the pad. Yee-ouch.
You know you've got a good vet when he takes time out of his Thanksgiving Day vacation to respond to your desperate texts for treatment advice. He was in South Carolina for the holiday, but he told me how to treat it until the clinic reopened for business on Saturday. Those two days felt like an eternity.
This morning, the vet that I saw (my vet still being out of town) told me that the break was as bad as I'd feared. July was prescribed a proactive course of antibiotics to begin immediately and has been scheduled for surgery to remove the nail and the dead tissue around it on Monday.
So that's latest holiday horror story: I stepped on my child's foot and broke it. You're up next, Christmas. Hit me with your best shot.
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Wednesday 25 November 2015
What is this "Star Wars" I keep hearing about?
I see advertisements for "Star Wars" batteries from Duracell, "Star Wars" jewelry from Kay, "Star Wars" makeup from Covergirl, and "Star Wars" telephone coverage from Verizon. What the hell is "Star Wars" telephone coverage?
Could all this "Star Wars" nonsense happen to have anything to do with a movie coming out in December? A movie so greatly anticipated that it had shattered ticket pre-sales a month before its release date? A movie franchise so valuable that Disney paid four billion-with-a-"b" dollars for the rights to make more? Does the public really have no saturation point for this film franchise?
Hey, I was a kid once, and I liked Star Wars. I really wanted Star Wars toys so I could re-enact my favorite scenes. I don't recall ever wanting "Star Wars" Campbell's Soup or "Star Wars" Coffee Mate or "Star Wars" Trojans that glow in the dark like a stubby little lightsaber.
I'm left wondering if there is anything that Disney won't license the "Star Wars" name to? I looked. Pepsi, Kraft Macaroni & Cheese, Jelly Belly, Duck Tape. Guitars, underwear, furniture, waffle irons. About the only thing I couldn't find were official Star Wars-licensed condoms (although some clever marketers are exploiting this oversight).I guess Disney has to withhold something for the inevitable sequels.
Thank the maker.
Monday 23 November 2015
October movies, round 2 of 2.
169. (916.) The Heavenly Body (1944)
I'm generally ambivalent about the screwball romantic comedies of the '30s and '40s, but this one I hated. Just to get the script moving, the female lead, Heady Lamar, improbably behaves without a brain in her head so that there will be tension between her and her husband played by William Powell. William Powell should never be treated this poorly. Seriously, if any dame ever treated me that way, I wouldn't shed a single tear as the door hit her on the way out.
170. (917.) Morning Glory (2010)
Rachel McAdams is, as always, a delight, but this movie has no depth. What, old people resent being sidelined by youth? Deep, man, deep.
171. (918.) Modern Problems (1981)
Have you ever seen Zapped? This film is like that, but with adults acting like teenagers instead of teenagers acting like teenagers. Not Chevy Chase's best movie. And Chevy Chase has had a lot of "not best" movies.
172. (919.) How to Steal a Million (1966)
Audrey Hepbrun and Peter O'Toole make a great couple in this heist/romance hybrid. One of my pet peeves in movies is when the plot seems to take a right turn sometime during act 2 for no good reason (Terminator 2 springs to mind), but I'll forgive it here. Because Audrey Hepburn and Peter O'Toole.
More to come.
Saturday 21 November 2015
After the way the 2015 season has gone, I didn't think it was possible for the UGA coaches to outcoach anyone. I didn't account for the Georgia Southern staff.
After trying and failing to find anyone to accompany ("I'll be out of town" and "I'd rather spend time with my girlfriend" were common excuses), the only reason I went to this game alone was to see the seniors introduced and see Que officially named Uga X. I got to the stadium 17 minutes before kickoff, and I was too late. I should have just turned around and gone back home.
I suppose if you judge by the final score, it must have been a pretty good game. Some of the crowd seemed to enjoy it, especially the apparently 50,000 Georgia Southern fans in attendance. (The picture above was taken at the start of the 4th quarter when the fans turned on the lights on their cell phones in place of the usual "four finger" signal.) I did not. Greyson Lambert was his typically terrible self, and Georgia Southern only lost because... honestly, I'm not sure why.
Tied 17-17, the GaSo coach kicked a late punt in an obvious attempt to reach overtime. I guess he'd heard that his team was a 13-point underdog, and maybe he had placed money on his team covering the spread. His kicker had easily scored a field goal from the UGA 31 to take a lead in the 4th quarter, but after reaching the UGA 16 in overtime, he went for it with a "wildcat" run up the middle that was doomed to fail.
Why not kick to extend overtime? Typically, the answer is because underdog coaches feel they have to take a chance on the win rather than lose a protracted battle against a deeper team. However, that strategy only applies if you're playing catch-up (say, going for a two-point conversion as opposed to kicking). Maybe the GaSo players were out of gas. Maybe their kicker had broken his ankle. In overtime, if you can take a lead on your opponent, you should. Georgia Southern didn't and lost. All UGA had to do was kick a field goal on their first overtime play, and they would have won. The fact that they ran up the middle for a touchdown doesn't excuse the Georgia Southern decision. Bad strategy is bad strategy.
If only we could get the Georgia Southern coaches jobs at Florida.
So now Georgia has 8 wins on the season, and I couldn't care less. "There's always next year" they say. Here's to 2016.