Wednesday 12 May 2021
I watched a new-to-me movie every other day in April, and that count might have been higher if I hadn't also re-watched several not-new-to-me movies. The Back to the Future series never gets old.
41. (1900.) Son of Kong (1933)
This is the original sequel to King Kong which is not nearly as popular or well known for the obvious reason that it's not nearly as good. Spoiler alert: Kong's son dies, too. Great apes should stay the hell away from humans.
42. (1901.) Mrs. O'Malley and Mr. Malone (1950)
This screwball comedy-slash-murder mystery is a pleasant enough waste of time, but I cannot imagine sitting through it twice.
43. (1902.) Voltaire (1933)
This is almost kind-of a fictional biography of the French author Voltaire's later years. I got a kick out of it, but I was already a Voltaire fan going in. Given how often Bill Shakespeare appears as a character in films, there should definitely be more Voltaire movies.
44. (1903.) Henry V (1944)
Unlike Voltaire, I happen to like the writing of Bill Shakespeare, especially when it's performed as well as it is here by Laurence Olivier and company. The speeches! The comedy! The color! The horrors of medieval warfare! I still like Branagh's (grimmer) version better, but this is still a great film.
45. (1904.) Here Comes the Navy (1934)
James Cagney plays James Cagney in a love triangle on a blimp. Sorry, a rigid airship. (The U.S.S. Macon, in fact, which was a real U.S. Navy ship until it fell out of the sky about half a year after the movie was released.) I enjoyed it, and not just because we get to see the inside workings of a doomed airship.
More to come.
Monday 10 May 2021
Saturday 8 May 2021
Thursday 6 May 2021
Stuffed animals often become a comforting, reassuring presence for their owners, and 2020 was a terrible year. Put those two things together, and you might have predicted a stuffed animal boom in 2021. But did you realize what form they'd take?
If you said teddy bears or puppy dogs, you haven't been paying attention to pop culture lately.
That last one there is a tie-in with the unmemorable Emoji Movie, which reminds me that back in the day my brother had a stuffed, vinyl E.T. doll that I found particularly unattractive. I owe you an apology, 1982 E.T.
Tuesday 4 May 2021
My father's aging (10+ year old) DIRECTV satellite receiver finally died, so he called AT&T for a replacement. That was the easy part. The new receiver came within 3 days, and Dad installed it (correctly!). He then visited the url the device displayed on screen for remote activation. That link re-routed to a page that told him to call a telephone number, so he did.
The first customer service representative he spoke to tried to remotely activate the receiver and failed. Repeatedly. Dad ultimately had to abort this attempt for a pre-scheduled doctor's appointment. Afterwards, he had me try again in the hopes that I would be better able to communicate with the technician. The customer service representative I spoke to also tried to remotely activate the receiver and failed. Then she hung up on me. I don't think it was her fault. She was using AT&T phone service, after all.
At this point I stopped waiting for a customer service representative to suggest what I suspected: that the problem might be in the receiver's access card. The receiver was reporting an on-screen ID number of "0000-0000-0000", which happens to be the default number if there is no card installed. When I opened the panel, I did indeed discover that whoever had inserted the card before shipping had installed it upside down. The old receiver model took cards face down; the new model required face up. I pulled the card, turned it over, plugged everything back in, and called DIRECT a third time. This time, the customer service representative was able to activate the receiver on the first try.
The terms for the new receiver required the old receiver to be shipped to DIRECTV for recycling. Again, the url that DIRECTV provided for generating a label was outdated, redirecting to *another* page that returned a 404 page error. After a little creative Googling, I found an AT&T electronics recycling link that appears to do what the suggested link was supposed to have done. By this time I was not surprised when the website instructions (and generated label) made it clear the receiver was to be mailed via USPS but the downloaded file called it a "FedEx Shipping Label." AT&T seems to have a real problem with modernization.
Hopefully, Dad will get credit for returning his receiver as instructed, though given how hard it was to do almost everything else, I'm not holding out strong hope. I'm starting to feel like I'd have a better chance if I sent a telegraph to the company to tell them it was coming and personally handed the box to a Pony Express rider.
Sunday 2 May 2021
Somehow I didn't finish March movies in April, so let's correct that oversight. March movies watched part 3 of 3:
36. (1895.) The Show of Shows (1929)
No, really, they don't make them like this any more. This is what they call a revue, essentially a series of vaudeville-type skits and musical numbers with no structural narrative adapted from Broadway productions like the Ziegfeld Follies. This one promotes Warner Bros' sterling roster—including an early color appearance by a singing, dancing Myrna Loy!
37. (1896.) Blood on the Moon (1948)
This is a nice, taut Western story of how greed and corruption ruins lives. The highlight is the quickly souring relationship between Robert Preston and Robert Mitchum, both playing to their strengths.
38. (1897.) The Host (2013)
This movie wants to be Twilight so badly that it's sometimes painful to watch. (I didn't realize until after watching that it was based on a book by Stephenie Meyer, the author of Twilight. So I really don't know if the film's failures are the fault of the director or source material, though I suspect mostly the latter.) I watched it only because I like Saoirse Ronan, who turns in a typically game performance working with very thin material.
39. (1898.) The Killer That Stalked New York (1950)
Part police procedural, part medical drama, part film noir. The story concerns a jewel thief who unwittingly starts a smallpox pandemic in New York City. I enjoyed it very much.
40. (1899.) Inside Daisy Clover (1965)
I did not enjoy this much, but I knew I wouldn't because I don't like Natalie Wood, the titular, shallow Daisy Clover. The movie is ostensibly about how Hollywood squeezes its stars until they are pulped and discarded, but Wood's needlessly surly attitude made me feel she was, to a large degree, getting what she deserved. There's not a moment of joy in the entire film. (If you hate Hollywood so much, why did you make a Hollywood movie about it, Natalie?) The only redeeming value in the film is its deification of Myrna Loy. Damn straight, people.
More to come.
Friday 30 April 2021
Wednesday 28 April 2021
Good news for the NFL draft tomorrow night. From NFL.com:
But more importantly, do they want to hug him? No means no, Roger.
Monday 26 April 2021
As any good head doctor will tell you, the best treatment for depression is keeping yourself distracted by doing something creative.
Walt Builds a Family Fallout Shelter, sponsored by the National Concrete Masonry Association, 1960
Bomb shelters for everyone!
Saturday 24 April 2021
A regular op-ed columnist in the local newspaper — a former police officer — recently decried potential firearm regulation legislation using the justification that more people die annually drowning in swimming pools (2,616) than in mass shootings (446). That's a great point.
His argument convinced me. I mean, who cares how many innocent people are shot to death when there are people drowning? Obviously, if you don't want to drown, don't get in the water. And if you don't want to get shot to death, don't go to the grocery store. Problem solved!
You know what else kills people? Falling down. According to the CDC, falling killed 39,443 people in 2019. It'd be ridiculous to outlaw gravity, right? Handrails and walls are for pussies! If I want to wear shoes made from banana peels and K-Y Jelly tubes, that's my God-given right.
The next time someone assaults someone in a massage parlor or movie theater with 10,000 gallons of chlorinated water, I promise I'll support swimming pool control legislation.
Remember, kids: It's not guns that kill people. It's swimming pools.℠