Month: August 2006

You’ve Got Mail….

I am not quite sure what has gotten me on this movie kick all of a sudden but here I go again. I must have had all this bottled up in me over the years and it has just bubbled over.

One of my favorite movies of recent years has been “You’ve Got Mail” released in 1998 and starring Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan. I am reasonably sure that most folks have seen the movie at least once. For me personally, I have lost count I fear. But my passion for this movie unfortunately doesn’t stop with “You’ve Got Mail”.

You’ve Got Mail

While some of you may be aware of this, others may not. But the movie “You’ve Got Mail” is the second remake of the original movie which was titled “The Shop Around The Corner” released in 1940. That movie starred James Stewart and Margaret Sullavan. I should note that this particular version is in black and white.

The Shop Around The Corner

Then in 1949 the first remake of the movie was released titled “In The Good Old Summertime” and starred Van Johnson and Judy Garland. This version was considered a musical.

In The Good Old Summertime

I know that our likes and dislikes of movies is a personal thing but I find myself watching each of these particular movies time and time again as the opportunity presents itself. Even though I own the movies, if it shows up on a TV schedule I will invariably end up watching it even though I own the movie. Each of these movies seem to capture the essence of the plot in their own magical way.

If by some chance you were not aware of this trilogy phenomenon or you have not seen all three versions, I must step out on a limb and strongly recommend them for viewing. Especially if you are a fan of this movie and enjoy watching the older movies.

Found…. A Long Lost Friend!

Long Lost FriendA few weeks ago a blogging friend, Terri, published a post about hoping to find some long lost playmates and soliciting a little help from her blog visitors. I left a brief response noting that we all probably had playmates back when we were children we would like to find again. Little did I know at the time that I was but only hours from finding a long, lost friend myself – if, of course, one may apply the term ‘friend’ to my particular subject matter.

It all began somewhere around 1953 or so which would have made me around twelve at the time. It was early one afternoon when I walked up to the far end of “Main Street” in my hometown to a location where there were a couple of “picture shows” that I was not suppose to frequent. One of them was called the “Main Theatre” while the other was called the “New Theatre”. Now the far end of Main Street was not a desirable part of Main Street in my hometown at the time. There were several pawn shops and run down cafes – you know, every town had them back in those days. Some might call it the “seedy” side of town I guess. Anyway, these two B-type picture shows seem to have always had double features showing and sometimes up to four different movies but they were always the B-type movies of course. I mean, talk about stretching twenty-five cents – four movies. Nothing off-color with regard to the movies they showed or anything like that – just not your mainstream movies that would be shown at the up-town picture shows back the other direction on Main Street.

So this particular day there appeared to be two really good movies playing at the New Theatre. At least that was my interpretation after viewing the ‘billboard posters’ out front. So against standing orders never to go there, I went anyway. Now one of the movies had to do with this man who for some strange reason all of a sudden had these powers where he could “will” almost anything to happen. He could “will” away freckles from a girl’s face who was totally depressed about her freckles. He could move inanimate objects with his thoughts. He could even stop the earth from rotating. I was totally engrossed by the movie and when it was over I left, went home, and never spoke of having seen the movie of course. Not because of the subject matter, rather the fact I had seen it in a picture show which I was restricted from going to. I had no idea at that moment how much that movie had gotten into my mind.

A number of years later, having forgotten all but the more important details of the movie but not the movie itself, I began trying to remember its name and who the actors were but continued to draw a blank. I never forgot the overall plot of the movie because it so intrigued me. And as the years rolled along and at times when conversation invited my story, I would mention this movie which so impressed me as a youngster. As recent as a few weeks ago while over at my sister’s having our weekly coffee get-together I mentioned this movie and the fact that for some fifty years or more I had been trying to remember the name. I figured by now there was no way I would ever know; much less ever get to see it again.

Well, after reading Terri’s post that same day I decided to make one more effort to identify and find the name of this film and later that day I found out everything I wanted to know about the movie. The movie was titled “The Man Who Could Work Miracles” and starred Roland Young, Joan Gardner, and Ralph Richardson to mention a few. It is an English movie and was released in 1937. That is four years before I was born. And get this! The movie is based on a book written by H.G.Wells. And years of wondering have now been simply washed away. What a great feeling.

Huh? How did I find out? Well, I guess I could share that….

I usually visit the TCM website at least once a week for one reason or another. I knew that they had a Message Board/Forum but never had an interest to join and never gave posting the question on the message board the slightest thought – until today. So I registered and did my best to describe a bit of the plot as I remembered, never really expecting a definitive response because it was so long ago. I mean really, I had never seen or heard of the movie since 1953. Well, I kid you not! Within thirty minutes of posting the question someone from Brooklyn, NY posted my long awaited answer noting that it sounded a whole lot like a movie called “The Man Who Could Work Miracles”. Once I googled it and did a few minutes research, the search was over for indeed, I had found at last my long, lost friend.

Now I know….it was only a movie. It’s not like it’s a human, breathing thing but because the memory of this film had been with me for so long, it had taken on a life of its own and truly played out in my mind like a long, lost friend.

Further checks revealed that the movie is available on VHS and even DVD from one overseas vendor. Will it be as good as I remember? Always a scary thought of course. Just like a long lost friend, will they be the same as we remember them? TCM also has the movie in their vault of available films so I will keep a watchful eye on their upcoming movie schedule.

The Man Who Could Work Miracles

Below is a portion of the review of the film by Frank S. Nugent which appeared in the New York Times on February 22, 1937….

By FRANK S. NUGENT Published: February 22, 1937

H. G. Wells, who has been baring his round British head to the lightnings of the universe for forty years or so, appears to have reached the stage where he dares admit that the cosmic may also be comic. “The Man Who Could Work Miracles,” which he wrote for Alexander Korda’s London Films, is a delightfully humorous fantasy with an undertone of sober Wellsian philosophy. Like his “Things to Come” of last Spring, it is a reiteration of Mr. Wells’s belief in the godlike quality and sublime destiny of man; unlike it, his new film contains the rueful admission that we earthbound people are not yet ready for Utopia and probably would get ourselves into a dickens of a mess if we tried to speed up evolution.

Mr. Wells, whom we have long suspected of wanting to Stakhanoffize progress, invites us, at the Rivoli, to consider what would happen if some average, everyday chap suddenly was invested with the power of performing miracles and set out to change the world. For his celestial experiment he has invented George McWhirter Fotheringay, a draper’s clerk in the village of Dewhinton, Essex. Roland Young has described the character perfectly, drawing him as a fumbling little man with a rabbity soul, a limited imagination and other characteristic human frailties and virtues.

Discovering his unexpected gift one night in the taproom of the Long Dragon Inn when he makes a hanging lamp turn upside down and continue burning (for which, parenthetically, a not-to-be-put-upon proprietor tosses him out), Fotheringay abandons himself at first to a carnival of music-hall tricks. He materializes cats and rabbits and tigers; he raises tables and snuffs out candles; he removes freckles and cures a sprained arm; he sends a bobby to blazes and then, bethinking himself, banishes the scorched constable to San Francisco instead. He even tries to make a pert shop girl fall in love with him, but there he fails, for he has no influence over the human mind.

And that is the hitch in the great Fotheringay experiment. For, no matter where he turns in his ambitious efforts to reform the world, he runs into the problem of recalcitrant human nature. He finds it won’t do to make every one wealthy because that would take away the profit motive which, a banker insists, is the foundation of our civilization. When he thinks of banishing disease, he must consider what would happen to the unemployed physicians and nurses. When he casually tells a pompous land owner of his intention of launching the Golden Age that afternoon, the old boy takes down his elephant rifle and goes gunning for the dangerous lunatic.

Mr. Wells insists that Fotheringay keep on trying, but it is no use. The bewildered clerk finally wills away his power and returns to his small beer in the Long Dragon Inn. Inertia was too much for him. He agrees with Mr. Wells that, much as we all would like Utopia, we cannot be rushed into it, miracles notwithstanding. Of course, Fotheringay doesn’t say that. He just drains his glass, scratches his head and wonders what on earth happened.

And the answer is that most of what happened was fantastically comic or vice versa. Ned Mann’s trick effects and Harold Rosson’s photography worked some cute miracles, and the players, from Mr. Young on down, have done a generally satisfactory job. Ralph Richardson may have been guilty of burlesquing the feudal Colonel Winstanely, but he probably felt he was playing the rôle to suit the American conception of a titled Englishman. Joan Gardner, Sophie Stewart, Ernest Thesiger and Wallace Lupino were better. Lothar Mendes’s direction has achieved a sound balance between the jocund and the profound. Mr. Wells, in brief, is doing well in his new medium.

So….Terri I guess it goes without saying that I owe you some measure of thanks since it was your post that spurred me into successfully putting to rest on of my life’s unanswered quests. So indeed, thank you very much!

******* NEWS FLASH *******

I am happy to report that as of 8/30/06 I have ordered my long, lost movie friend and should receive it within the next week or so. I can only hope the reunion goes as well as I want.

The day country music died in Los Angeles….

Sorted - 195

There is little music that I truly dislike but I was completely shocked day before yesterday when I ran across some breaking news from Los Angeles. Their only country music station has changed formats leaving that city and the country music fans there without a radio station. That is totally shocking to me. I’m not sure what is more shocking….the fact that they no longer have any country music stations or the fact that they only had one to begin with.

And to add to my bewilderment is that while reading this story I find out that New York City has not had a country music station for some period of time now.\r\nThe Country Music Association notes that the Los Angeles area ranks either Number 1 or Number 2 almost every year in country music album sales.

Now whether country music does it for you or not, I was raised in the South so it is a given that country music is a part of the southern culture. Over the years it has grown tremendously in popularity and now many country music stars are some of the most recognizable names in the music industry as a whole. So for two of the largest cities in the United States to not have country music stations….well, I just had to publicly verbalize my disbelief.

I have linked to a few of the new articles on this item below….

New York Times: With a Change at KZLA-FM, Country Radio Says Adios to Los Angeles
The Washington Post: L.A. Loses Lone Country Music Station
San Francisco Gate: L.A. Radio Loses Its Twang – Last Country Station

Dental Visit Number 154….

dentist_working_on_pa_a_lc

Seems just a few weeks ago I was sharing with you folks my passion for my favorite sweet treat Sweet Tarts never knowing that my world was soon to come crashing down. Now I have a stranger than normal relationship with ‘sugar’. I do not like it! I hate the taste of sugar and have all my sixty-four years. My taste buds can pick up on sugar in an instant. I even have a hard time finding bread I like because I am so sensitive to the taste of sugar. If I dip the end of my finger into some sugar and touch the end of my tongue I will have that “yucky” taste in my mouth all day long. I have never eaten any sort of deserts or sweets including soda or ice cream – anything with sugar that can be detected by my taste buds. It is not due to any sort of health issue – I just hate sugar and think it is the most awful tasting stuff on this earth.

Now many folks don’t understand why I like Sweet Tarts because they say it is loaded with sugar. But sweet tarts taste ‘tart’, not sweet so my taste buds don’t pick up on the sugar. Anyway, I have surely missed out on some obviously great tasting treats in my lifetime. So sometimes I am disappointed about that. On the other hand, I have never had a cavity in my entire life which brings us to my latest dental visit of a couple of weeks ago. Went something like this….

During my teeth cleaning the following brief conversation takes place:

Hygienist: You seem to perhaps have a little enamel loss around one of your top teeth here. We should have the dentist take a look at that just to be sure there’s no problem in that area.

Alan: No problem – I have plenty of time.

After the teeth cleaning, I am sent to the dentist’s chair and he comes in to have a look at my teeth just to be safe and sure there are no problems. Then the following transpires:

Dentist: My God Alan…what have you been eating. You have ‘soft decay’ around every one of your top front teeth.

Alan: Uhhh…nothing out of the ordinary I don’t think.

Dentist: Your teeth look like a lot of these teenagers who come in here with there teeth rotting out of their head who eat two and three boxes of Tic-Tacs during the day. Are you eating a bunch of Tic-Tacs?

Alan: No-sir. I can’t stand the taste of those things.

Dentist: Do you eat any sort of hard candy?

Alan: I eat my Sweet Tarts.

Dentist: How many do you eat in a day?

Alan: I probably don’t go over an hour or so without throwing one or two in my mouth. I always carry a bunch of them in my shirt pocket.

Dentist: Do you chew them up and swallow them or suck on them.

Alan: Oh no….I don’t chew them up. I like to suck them to death. (little chuckle from me)

Dentist: You must have just started doing this recently because your teeth have been fine up until now. And sucking on candy is the worse way in the world to eat candy from your teeth’s standpoint.

Alan: I guess I did start eating them more regularly over the past few months. They came out with a new version that I really like. It is the only candy I have ever eaten my whole life.

Dentist: Loose the candy….or loose the teeth. Or have even more fun with a root canal here and there. Lay back, I am going to have to grind off all that ‘soft decay’ and then build up the loss. Let’s hope that will stop the degeneration.

Well, you can’t imagine the shock I was in over all this. Oh….there was one more shock. Instead of a normal $70 cleaning bill, my bill for the visit was $1140. Correct me if I am wrong but that is about half an Alaskan Cruise isn’t it?

So I am now in withdrawal. This is the only candy treat I have ever eaten in my whole life and now I have to give it up. Just doesn’t seem fair does it. Perhaps I have over-indulged a little bit during the past few months but they’re so good. Oh, and did I mention that the dentist visit I have related here was on a Tuesday. The day before I had gone to Sam’s Club and purchased a three-month supply of Sweet Tarts.

Chewy Sweet Tarts

Damn…This old life can be cruel sometimes! 🙁

Dance of the Northern Sea….

Dance of the Northern SeaI know that a lot of you who happen to visit my blog also visit “Blogging In Paris” which is owned by Claude Covo-Farchi. Well, a couple of days ago Claude was sharing thoughts about her recent holiday’s ferry trip across the North Sea in a post titled “From Zeebrugge to Hull on the ferry” and posted a wonderful sunset photo she had captured during the trip. This all immediately reminded me of a song I had written back in 1993 about that particular body of water titled “Dance of the North Sea”.

Now you may be wondering how in the world does a hillbilly from Arkansas end up writing a song about some ocean gazillions of miles east of Arkansas? Well, that does seem a fair question. Back in 1993 I had volunteered to teach a friend of mine the ends and outs of the word processing software WordPerfect. Now with the young lady having the last name of Kelley, I suppose one could make certain suppositions about her ancestry. And in this case you would be correct.

Now…during that time she went on holiday and took a trip to Ireland. Now, I have always liked Irish music but her return and the subsequent tales of her adventure seem to stimulate what were surely some Irish blood droplets in me. As is the case sometimes with music, it seemed to take on a life of its own in the sense of making me think of boats, seas and the like as the composition progressed. When it came time to affix a title to my Irish ditty, one look at a map and there the biggest of clues lay….the North Sea!

That’s it! You thought it was going to be a long story didn’t you?

Anyway, I left Claude a comment on her post noting that I would try to post my little Irish ditty in the next couple of days. So without further chit-chat on the subject I have posted the musical selection below….

“The Dance of the Northern Sea” – The Electric Key Orchestra

Of the Rich & Famous….

From time to time there are car shows put on around the world that command the attention of us who have love affairs to some degree or another with automobiles. I have always loved the classics I suppose. There exist such beauty and craftsmanship in those vintage classics that just doesn’t seem to exist on the same level with the automobiles of today.

This post is one which I think goes a long way in justifying such ramblings. A couple of weeks ago in Rochester, Michigan such a car show was held. It was the 28th annual “Meadow Brook Concours d’Elegance”. One event certainly held in esteem by the rich and famous I would think. The show was held at Oakland University on the grounds of the famed Meadowbrook Hall. The event was held from July 30th through August 6th.

I noted several of these automobiles actually appearing recently on e-bay selling anywhere from $250,000 up to around $500,000. Not priced in an affordable range for those of us faint of heart. But hey, one is never to old to dream. Right?

Mouse-over for vehicle name & click to enlarge image.

1927 Mercedes-Benz S George Gangloff Roadster
1930 Cadillac V 16 Cabriolet Sedan

1930 Mercedes-Benz SS Erdmann 8C Rossi Roadster
1930 Pierce Arrow Rumble Seat Roadster

1931 duPont H Merrimac Sport Phaeton
1931 Packard 845 Waterhouse Convertible Victor

1933 Auburn 8-105 Salon Phaeton
1934 Buick Convertible Coupe

1935 Chrvsler C-L Airflow
1935 Mercedes-Benz 540K Cabriolet

1938 Horch 853A Erdmann & Rossi Sport Cabriolet
1938 Packard Coupe Roadster

1938 Talbot Figoni & Falaschi 7-23 Faux Cabriolet
1941 Lincoln Convertible Coupe

If you care to view still more of the many automobiles displayed at this event you may go to the SuperCars.Net website my clicking here. Then click on the “Meadow Concours” link. Photographs were taken by Mike Laney.

Did you know?

I have started a new section under “Categories” on my blog this morning which is titled “Did You Know…” and will normally contain popular music historical information which is a bit of a passion of mine. I use to maintain a similar section on an old website I use to have but over time discontinued it. And for me, the artist I have chosen to present initially is one of my favorite composers and band leaders. Almost everyone loves march music and certainly John Philip Sousa was one of the world’s greatest when it came to composing, arranging, and directing march music.

John Philip Sousa

So much of the music from the late 19th century and early 20th century had its beginnings as popular music. Before I became interested in this area of musical history I just never realized that most of the music I took for granted actually had a beginning just like the popular music we listen to today. I mean, who would have thought that songs like “Take Me Out To The Ballgame” was a Number 1 song back in 1908 and stayed at Number 1 for seven weeks.

So that is a little about this new section and if you happen not to know, let me share some great historical facts about John Philip Sousa who had a total of eight “Number 1″ songs on this nation’s musical Pop Charts which were as follows:

As Director of the ‘U.S. Marine Band’ from 1880 to 1892

August 1890 – “Semper Fidelis”
September 1890 – “Washington Post March”
October 1890 – “The Thunderer”

As Director of his own band ‘Sousa’s Band’ from 1892 until his death in 1932

June 1895 – “El Capitan March”
August 1895 – “Washington Post March” (Newer version of 1890 hit)
July 1897 – “The Stars and Stripes Forever”
February 1901 – “The Stars and Stripes Forever” (Newer version of 1897 hit)
March 1903 – “In The Good Old Summertime”

In all, he had a total of thirty songs that were at Number 10 or higher on the Pop Charts stretching from August of 1890 through January of 1930.

Unknown to me until I researched this information some time back, in 1889 the Washington Post newspaper commissioned John Philip Sousa to write a composition for its newspaper’s annual awards ceremonies and Sousa’s endeavors produced the composition we all know as the “Washington Post March.” I had always assumed that the “Washington Post March” was something he had composed that was a tribute relating directly to Washington, D.C., center and location of this country’s governing authority. Sometimes thinking on one’s own can lead one to miss out on really interesting facts.

Wikipedia Biography: “John Philip Sousa”