Monday, March 31, 2014

¡Feliz Cumpleaños, César Chávez!

AKA César Estrada Chávez.

Born March 31, 1927. Died April 23, 1993.

He was one of the most historically influential Mexican-Americans of the 20th century but apparently the only thing conservative Americans find worth remembering about him nowadays is that he hated illegal immigration. Somehow I would like to think there is more to his legacy than that.

Then again, most of Mr. Chávez's critics are not likely to be descended from the type of people who ever had to worry about working with a short-handled hoe.

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Quote of the Week

My father is black and Venezuelan. My mother is Irish and an opera singer. I am me.
--Mariah Carey

My comment:

I suspect Ms. Carey's comment would be more popular if it did not sound so much like the racial equivalent of "me no Alamo." If not "I'm all right, Jack."

Then again writer Matt Ruff expressed the contrary sentiment a lot better with this quote.

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Spanish Vices

1. apatía -- apathy.
2. arrogancia -- arrogance.
3. avaricia -- avarice; greed.
4. cobardía -- cowardice.
5. crueldad -- cruelty.
6. decadencia -- decadence.
7. egocentrismo -- egocentrism.
8. envidia -- envy.
9. gula -- greed; gluttony.
10. ignorancia -- ignorance.
11. inconstancia -- inconstancy.
12. infidelidad -- infidelity.
13. intolerancia -- intolerance.
14. ira -- anger; rage; wrath; ire.
15. lujuria -- lust.
16. misantropía -- misanthropy.
17. pereza -- sloth.
18. soberbia -- pride.
19. vanidad -- vanity.
20. vicio -- vice.
21. vicio oculto -- hidden vice.

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Spanish Virtues

1. autocontrol -- self-control.
2. caridad -- charity.
3. castidad -- chastity.
4. compasión -- compassion.
5. coraje -- courage.
6. diligencia -- diligence.
7. esperanza -- hope.
8. fe -- faith.
9. generosidad -- generosity; kindness.
10. humildad -- humility.
11. inocencia -- innocence.
12. modestia -- modesty.
13. paciencia -- patience.
14. pureza -- purity.
15. prudencia -- prudence.
16. racionalidad -- rationality.
17. sabiduría -- wisdom; knowledge.
18. templanza -- temperance.

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Sunday, March 30, 2014

R.I.P. Kate O'Mara

English actress Kate O'Mara -- most famous for playing the Rani on the first Doctor Who series and the sister of Alexis Colby on the American TV soap opera Dynasty -- took her last bow today at age 74.

She will be missed.

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R.I.P. Lorenzo Semple, Jr.

American screenwriter Lorenzo Semple, Jr., best known for helping to create the 1960s TV series Batman as well as for having written the screenplays for The Parallax View, Three Days of the Condor and the 1976 remake of King Kong -- finished his last project Friday at age 91.

He will be missed.

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R.I.P. James Rebhorn

American actor James Rebhorn -- most famous for such TV shows as Homeland and such movies as Scent of a Woman -- took his last bow on March 21 at age 65.

He will be missed.

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R.I.P. Lucius Shepard

American science fiction author and film critic Lucius Shepard -- best known for his novel Green Eyes and his many short stories about Central America as well as the movie reviews he wrote for The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction -- finished his last story on March 18 of this year at age 70.

He will be missed.

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Saturday, March 29, 2014

Pop Song of the Week: "Bread and Butter (Remix)"

As always, the Waitresses were ahead of their time. Unless you care to believe that it is only a coincidence that a song originally written about the Reagan recession still seems relevant today.

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Movie Song of the Week: "Heigh Ho"

The ideal song for spring break -- or at least for knocking off work. Then again I have not ever worked in a diamond mine.

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¡Feliz Cumpleaños, Patty Donahue!

AKA Patricia J. "Patty" Donahue.

Born March 29, 1956. Died December 9, 1996.

She was the lead singer of the Waitresses, one of my all-time favorite musical groups. She never wrote her own songs but she always sang them in such a way that it was difficult -- if not impossible -- to imagine them being sung by anyone else.

Unfortunately, she is most remembered for the novelty tune "I Know What Boys Like", the Christmas song "Christmas Wrapping" and the theme song for the short-lived TV series Square Pegs. In an ideal world, she would be remembered for more than that but then in an ideal world, she would still be alive.

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Celtic Mythological Terms in Spanish

1. caballeros de la Mesa Redonda -- Knights of the Round Table.
2. cacería salvaje -- Wild Hunt.
3. druida -- druid.
4. el actual y futuro rey -- the once and future king; King Arthur.
5. El Rey Pescador -- The Fisher King.
6. hada -- fairy.
7. hombre de mimbre -- wicker man.
8. La Dama del Lago -- The Lady of the Lake.
9. la reina del aire y las tinieblas -- the queen of air and darkness.
10. leprechaun -- leprechaun.
11. Rey Arturo -- King Arthur.
12. Santo Grial -- Holy Grail.

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Norse Mythological Terms in Spanish

1. cacería salvaje -- Wild Hunt.
2. doncella cisne -- swan maiden.
3. elfo -- elf.
4. elfo oscuro -- dark elf; black elf.
5. enano -- dwarf.
6. norna -- norn.
7. Serpiente de Midgard -- Midgard Serpent.
8. trol -- troll.
9. troles -- trolls.
10. valquiria -- valkyrie.

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Friday, March 28, 2014

Movie Poster of the Week

Revenge of the Lenten fish?

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Religious Spam Is Still Spam

And I dislike spam.

That is why I deleted the "one-sided sermon" comment that was placed yesterday on one of my posts.

I do like comments though. If you have anything to say about the posts on this site, either positive or negative, I would like to hear from you.

But not if you're going to post spam or endless religious sermons or worse yet, shameless advertisements for your own site. I do not mind reading other bloggers. Indeed, from the size of my blogroll, it would seem quite obvious that I like a great many bloggers.

But a message that essentially says little apart from "read my blog" is not a comment. It's spam. It disrespects the reader because it assumes so little of him or her and gives him or her little incentive to go to a particular site apart from the fact that the spam monger requested it.

It has been my experience that people appreciate being treated like people, even on the Internet. If you're not going to treat them like people, then your site doesn't deserve to have many readers. Indeed, you should consider yourself lucky if you get any.

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Spanish Fish

1. anguila -- eel.
2. anguila eléctrica -- electric eel.
3. arenque -- herring.
4. atún -- tuna.
5. bacalao -- cod.
6. bagre -- catfish.
7. barracuda -- barracuda.
8. caballa -- mackerel.
9. carpa -- carp.
10. carpa dorada -- goldfish.
11. celacanto -- coelacanth.
12. congrio -- conger eel.
13. esturión -- sturgeon.
14. gran tiburón blanco -- great white shark.
15. lamprea -- lamprey.
16. lucio -- pike.
17. mantarraya -- manta ray.
18. mero -- grouper.
19. peces -- fishes.
20. perca -- perch.
21. pez -- a fish.
22. pez ángel -- angelfish.
23. pez cebra -- zebrafish.
24. pez de colores -- goldfish.
25. pez espada -- swordfish.
26. pez marino -- sea fish.
27. pez martillo -- hammerhead.
28. pez pulmonado -- lungfish.
29. pez sierra -- sawfish.
30. pez volador -- flying fish.
31. pez volante -- flying fish.
32. piraña -- piranha.
33. platija -- flounder.
34. raya -- ray.
35. salmón -- salmon.
36. sardina -- sardine.
37. tiburón -- shark.
38. tiburón tigre -- tiger shark.
39. trucha -- trout.

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Thursday, March 27, 2014

¡Feliz Cumpleaños, Mariah Carey!

Born March 27, 1970.

Everyone's favorite half-breed singer celebrates her birthday today. But without go-go boots, alas.

Maybe next year.

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Movie Quote of the Week

It is easy to understand why the most beautiful poems about England in the spring were written by poets living in Italy at the time.
--George Sanders, The Ghost and Mrs. Muir (1947)

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TV Quote of the Week

Clearly you don't understand anything about defeating trolls.
--Donald Glover, Community, "Remedial Chaos Theory"

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Spanish Catholic Words

1. Ave María -- Hail Mary.
2. católico -- Catholic.
3. Catolicismo -- Catholicism.
4. comunión -- communion.
5. confesión -- confession.
6. Cuaresma -- Lent.
7. culpa católica -- Catholic guilt.
8. dogma -- dogma.
9. Domingo de Ramos -- Palm Sunday.
10. Inmaculada Concepción -- Immaculate Conception.
11. Jueves Santo -- Maundy Thursday; Holy Thursday.
12. Martes de Carnaval -- Mardi Gras; second and last day of Carnaval.
13. Martes Graso -- literally, "Fat Tuesday"; Spanish for "Mardi Gras".
14. Miércoles de Ceniza -- Ash Wednesday.
15. oblea -- wafer.
16. Pascua -- Easter.
17. pecado -- sin.
18. pecado original -- original sin.

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Wednesday, March 26, 2014

The Catholic Seven Virtues in Spanish

1. Castidad -- Chastity.
2. Temperance -- Templanza.
3. Charity -- Caridad.
4. Diligence -- Diligencia.
5. Patience -- Paciencia.
6. Kindness -- Generosidad.
7. Humility -- Humildad.

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Tuesday, March 25, 2014

The Seven Deadly Sins in Spanish

AKA siete pecados capitales.

1. Lujuria -- Lust.
2. Gula -- Gluttony.
3. Avaricia -- Greed.
4. Pereza -- Sloth.
5. Ira -- Anger.
6. Envidia -- Envy.
7. Soberbia -- Pride.

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Monday, March 24, 2014

Quote of the Week

Whether I understand women or not, however, is beside the point of these columns.

The point is I like them, on the whole more than I like men.

I am an incurable male chauvinist by the standards of the radical feminist. I admire women's bodies greatly.

I also enjoy their minds.

And their attention and their affection and their concern.

I like them strong, I like them smart, I like them pretty (and that need have little to do with age).

And, God help me, I like them Irish.

I like them a lot.

So that's why I write about them.
--Andrew M. Greeley, A Piece of My Mind... on Just About Everything

My comment:

Well, I don't necessarily like my women Irish but apart from that, I'm more like Mr. Greeley than I care to admit sometimes. It must be a Catholic thing...

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Sunday, March 23, 2014

Spanish Easter Words

1. Conejo de Pascua -- Easter Bunny.
2. Cuaresma -- Lent.
3. Domingo de Ramos -- Palm Sunday.
4. Jueves Santo -- Maundy Thursday; Holy Thursday.
5. Martes de Carnaval -- Mardi Gras; second and last day of Carnaval.
6. Martes Graso -- literally, "Fat Tuesday"; Spanish for "Mardi Gras".
7. Miércoles de Ceniza -- Ash Wednesday.
8. Pascua -- Easter.

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Saturday, March 22, 2014

Movie Poster of the Week

The ideal movie to watch for Lent?

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Friday, March 21, 2014

¡Feliz Cumpleaños, Benito Juárez!

AKA Benito Pablo Juárez García.

Born March 21, 1806. Died July 18, 1872.

He was the first Mexican president of Indian blood and he was also known as the "Abraham Lincoln of Mexico" due to his efforts in the 1860s to free his country from French rule.

Apart from having a border town named after him, Juárez is rarely mentioned nowadays. It seems like the last American TV show to mention his name on a regular basis was The Wild, Wild West and that was in the 1960s.

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A Few of My Favorite Billy Joel Songs: Part I

Apparently Samurai Frog and Chuck Klosterman aren't the only ones who like Billy Joel. I have always liked him too -- though there have been times when my affection seemed more of a love/hate thing due to the number of times Billy Joel's latest tunes have been overplayed on the local radio stations.

Among the most obvious favorites of mine from this artist:

1. "A Matter of Trust". I sent a copy of this video to my girlfriend yesterday by text message because I not only like it enough to want to share it with her but because it also reminds me of our relationship. We have been both burned in the past by former loves and yet we both keep trying to get along and thrive without getting hung up on the past. Plus it turns out that we both like the beat of this song...

I never noticed prior to yesterday how much Billy Joel's outfit in this video seems like a parody of Bruce Springsteen's traditional concert outfit. Deliberate or unintentional? You decide.

Plus there's the whole irony of Billy's relationship with Christie Brinkley at the time this song was recorded but then it's not Billy Joel's fault he's not psychic.

2. "Tell Her About It". One of the first CDs I ever owned was Billy Joel's An Innocent Man album, which, of course, had this song on it. And this was also one of the first music videos I recorded off cable TV back in the days when music videos were still a novelty.

I have always loved this song's video (see above) but I also liked the song's message. When my youngest brother first bought me the CD this song was on, I joked that he was trying to send me a message about the girl in my Catholic Singles group on whom I had had a crush at that time. And maybe he was. That still doesn't dilute the truth of the song's message. After all, if I had never told that Catholic girl about my feelings for her, I would have regretted it far more than her actual rejection. And of course part of the reason I was able to tell that girl about my feelings despite being usually very shy around women at that time was because I used this song to psych myself up.

As for the video, that Billy Joel really gets around, doesn't he? And I just love the Rodney Dangerfield cameo at the end.

3. "Laura". I actually have a cousin named Laura. In fact, I have two cousins named Laura and they're both on my father's side of the family. And fortunately -- as far as I know -- they're nothing like the title character of this song.

I have always thought it ironic that though Billy Joel comes right out and tells us the nature of his true relationship with "Laura" halfway through the song, the lyrics for the most part are ambiguous enough that I once thought the song was about an old girlfriend of Joel's. Then I thought it was about a platonic acquaintance. I was surprised as heck to realize that it was ultimately about his mother but then I have known enough "Lauras" in my lifetime who weren't related to me to understand the many reasons I would not have equated the title character with a mother even if Billy Joel had been more explicit in his lyrics.

For what it's worth, Blue October went for a similar hat trick with their song "Hate Me" but for some reason, they didn't pull it off as well as Billy Joel did with this song. But then it's hard to be human and not identify with the obviously mixed emotions Billy Joel describes in this song.

Edited to Add:

Just when I had the whole "what does this song really mean?" question answered to my satisfaction, I came across this video.

Then again I must confess that I find this "official" answer more convincing than Mr. Joel's.

As for the lines "Laura/ Calls me/ When she needs a good fix", I'm guessing we should not take that line too literally. Billy Joel never seemed like he was that plausible a drug dealer -- even in the context of the song -- and while I suppose a more charitable interpretation would have him being Laura's Narcotics Anonymous sponsor, that does not quite ring true either. Then again that just could be my own anti-drug biases speaking since I never played those roles with any of the Lauras in my life. For that matter, I never considered my own mother to be a Laura but that's a subject for another day.

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Cuento de Mi Id


As he looked out between the gray metal bars of his current residence and stared at the lady he adored, he could not help noting how much more attention she seemed to pay to the apple on her desk than she did to him.

Apparently, what the bards of old had said was true. Sometimes it was not so easy to be the teacher's pet.

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Thursday, March 20, 2014

¡Feliz Cumpleaños, Henrik Ibsen!

AKA Henrik Johan Ibsen.

Born March 20, 1828. Died May 23, 1906.

He was a Norwegian playwright who was responsible for such plays as Hedda Gabler, A Doll's House and The Wild Duck. He is also said to be the most frequently performed playwright after Shakespeare.

If you wish to celebrate his birthday today, please feel free to wear a few vine leaves in your hair in his honor. But I would resist the urge to shoot any wild ducks if I were you.

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Movie Quote of the Week

What do we do now?
--Robert Redford, The Candidate (1972)

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TV Quote of the Week

Smart chicks are soooo hot.
--Nicholas Brendon, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, "The Gift"

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Spanish Biblical Place Names

1. Belén -- Bethlehem.
2. Edén -- Eden.
3. Gólgota -- Golgotha.
4. Gomorra -- Gomorrah.
5. Jerusalén -- Jerusalem.
6. Sodoma -- Sodom.

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Spanish Biblical Words

1. apocalipsis --apocalypse.
2. arca -- ark.
3. Arca de Noé -- Noah's Ark.
4. ángel -- angel.
5. ángel caído -- fallen angel.
6. biblia -- Bible.
7. bíblica -- biblical.
8. en traje de Adán -- in his birthday suit; naked.
9. en traje de Eva -- in her birthday suit; naked.
10. filisteos -- Philistines.
11. hoja de higuera -- literally, "fig leaf".
12. hoja de parra -- literally, "leaf from a grape vine"; figuratively, "fig leaf".
13. La Caída -- The Fall.
14. manzana de Adán -- Adam's apple.
15. marca de Caín -- mark of Cain.
16. nuez de Adán -- Adam's apple; literally, "Adam's nut".
17. pecado de Adán -- sin of Adam.

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Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Quote of the Week

The central conservative truth is that it is culture, not politics, that determines the success of a society. The central liberal truth is that politics can change a culture and save it from itself.
--Daniel Patrick Moynihan

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Spanish Female Biblical Names

1. Asenat -- Asenath.
2. Dalila -- Delilah.
3. Eva -- Eve.
4. Jezabel -- Jezebel.
5. Lea -- Leah.
6. Magdalena -- Magdalene.
7. María -- Mary.
8. Marta -- Martha.
9. Raquel -- Rachel.
10. Salomé -- Salome.

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Spanish Male Biblical Names

1. Abel -- Abel.
2. Adán -- Adam.
3. Caín -- Cain.
4. David -- David.
5. Goliat -- Goliath.
6. Herodes -- Herod.
7. Jonás -- Jonah.
8. José -- Joseph.
9. Juan -- John.
10. Judas -- Judas.
11. Lázaro -- Lazarus.
12. Marco -- Marcus; Mark.
13. Mateo -- Matthew.
14. Miguel -- Michael.
15. Noé -- Noah.
16. Pablo -- Paul.
17. Pedro -- Peter.
18. Salomón -- Solomon.
19. Saúl -- Saul.
20. Simón -- Simon.
21. Tomás -- Thomas.

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Spanish Female Classical Names

1. Artemisia -- Artemisia.
2. Aspasia -- Aspasia.
3. Cleopatra -- Cleopatra.
4. Friné -- Phryne.
5. Lais -- Lais.
6. Mesalina -- Messalina.
7. Roxana -- Roxana; Roxanne.
8. Safo -- Sappho.
9. Tais -- Thais.
10. Thais -- Thais.
11. Teodora -- Theodora.

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Spanish Male Classical Names

1. Alejandro -- Alexander.
2. Aníbal -- Hannibal.
3. Antonio -- Anthony.
4. Aristóteles -- Aristotle.
5. Arquímedes -- Archimedes.
6. Augusto -- Augustus.
7. Calígula -- Caligula.
8. Catulo -- Catullus.
9. Claudio -- Claudius.
10. Constantino -- Constantine.
11. Cándido -- Candidus; Candide.
12. César -- Caesar.
13. Esopo -- Aesop.
14. Espartaco -- Spartacus.
15. Homero -- Homer.
16. Juliano -- Julian.
17. Julio -- Julius.
18. Marcus -- Marcus; Mark.
19. Ovidio -- Ovid.
20. Platón -- Plato.
21. Porfirio -- Porphyry.
22. Sócrates -- Socrates.
23. Tiberio -- Tiberius.
24. Virgilio -- Virgil.

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Monday, March 17, 2014

The Weariness of the Mean

Ah, 1993. The same year that The X-Files debuted on TV and proved that there was a market for smart, witty science fiction and horror on the small screen. Unfortunately, it was the same year that saw the release of Leprechaun, a movie that would prove there was still a market for astonishingly dumb horror movies on the big screen.

It would be nice to say that Leprechaun was not as bad as the above poster suggests, and that it was in actuality one of those undiscovered horror classics that was never fully appreciated by the critics of its day. But no, I saw it more than a decade after its release and it was still as stupid as the day it was conceived. If anything, the film itself is even worse than the above poster suggests. The film seems to begrudge its audience any bit of humor that might have made its premise bearable. Even the inevitable reference to Lucky Chains cereal -- which, of course, includes a leprechaun on the cover of its boxes -- goes over as flat as a set of whitewall tires in Carrie Underwood territory. As if that were not enough, the film's title character (played by Warwick Davis) is just plain unlikable. Apart from a few quaint poems recited near the beginning of the film, the Davis character is generally directed to act so mean and nasty that even director Wes Craven of Nightmare on Elm Street fame would find his antics a bit excessive.

The movie is best known today for the feature film debut of American actress Jennifer Aniston, who is best known as the former star of the NBC comedy series Friends. The most charitable thing that can be said about Ms. Aniston's performance is that it is not as memorably awful as a lot of lines given to Mr. Davis. Indeed, this is one of those movies where it seems better for an actor or actress to be merely forgettable than memorable for all the wrong reasons.

Anyway, the story, as slight as it is, revolves around a leprechaun who is tricked out of his pot of gold by a mere human and who swears vengeance on whoever stole it from him. The leprechaun ends up trapped in a crate that has been sealed by the magic of a four-leaf clover. After a decade, the house where the crate has been placed is rented by an unsuspecting family and the leprechaun is inadvertently released by a mentally disabled friend of the family. As if that is not enough, said friend stumbles upon the leprechaun's pot of gold and accidentally swallows a piece of the treasure while biting into it. There is also an unbearably mawkish bit concerning said friend but that is a relatively minor complaint compared to what happens later in the film.

Eventually the leprechaun finds out his pot of gold is missing. Immediately, all Celtic hell breaks loose. The leprechaun ends up killing a lot of people and of course, almost every one who gets killed gets killed in the cruelest way possible. People try to kill the leprechaun but of course, every attempt to kill him fails until the very last, and even then the film makers can't resist leaving room for a sequel.

In any event, this movie eventually produced five sequels, most of which are rumored to be even worse than the first movie. But that seems to be the way with horror film sequels; few of them are rarely ever better than the original. And when you consider how often the original is a bad film to begin with, that is saying a lot. One might even suspect that there was a curse involved. But alas, the only pot of gold to be found inevitably belongs to the people who make these crummy movies.

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Sunday, March 16, 2014

R.I.P. David Brenner

American actor and comedian David Norris Brenner, best known for his frequent appearances on NBC's The Tonight Show, took his last bow yesterday at age 78.

He will be missed.

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Saturday, March 15, 2014

¡Feliz Cumpleaños, Eva Longoria!

AKA Eva Jacqueline Longoria.

Born March 15, 1975.

One of my favorite Latina actresses grows one year older today.

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Friday, March 14, 2014

Movie Quote of the Week

Try as they will, and try as they might, who steals me gold won't live through the night.
--Warwick Davis, Leprechaun (1993)

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TV Quote of the Week

It's Saint Patrick's Day. Here in Scranton, St. Patty's Day is a big deal. It is the closest the Irish will ever have to Christmas.
--Steve Carell, The Office (U.S.), "St. Patrick's Day"

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Cuento de Mi Id

“The Surprise Party”

It was a scenario that Ashley had seen in a thousand sitcoms; the hurried single woman rushes home to take a quick bath, undresses in her darkened foyer and then enters her living room just in time to be greeted by a surprise party.

And yet they never say what happens next.

Does the poor woman run back into the darkened foyer in order to hastily redress and then rejoin her guests?

Does she eventually lower the hands she raised to unsuccessfully safeguard her modesty and then pretend to be a good sport about the whole thing?

Does she choose to play the role of the modest maiden and faint, hoping against hope that her guests will be gone when she awakens?

Or does the sitcom woman do what Ashley now does -- reach behind her upper back and start tugging on the small, flesh-colored zipper which is hidden there?

Aye, there's the ticket. After all, Ashley had already revealed enough of herself to the crowd before her. Why not go ahead and reveal the whole thing?

She smiles as the zipper descends and her real self emerges from her skin-tight birthday suit. Already the smiles are fading and the laughter is becoming more and more nervous.

“What's the matter?” she wants to ask them. “Haven't you ever seen a naked woman before?”

Then the last of her covering drops onto the floor and Ashley steps out of it in all her true glory.

“Surprise,” she starts to say, but her words, alas, are drowned out by screams.

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Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Movie Poster of the Week

It is kinda depressing to note that this movie is being released on March 28 of this year and yet thus far I have seen more online publicity given to a movie starring an animated raccoon and a movie centered around a giant fire-breathing lizard. I guess I must be surfing the wrong sites.

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Tuesday, March 11, 2014

¡Feliz Cumpleaños, Shemp Howard!

AKA Samuel Horwitz.

Born March 11, 1895. Died November 22, 1955.

Poor Shemp Howard was never as popular as his younger brothers Moe and Curly and as far as third stooges go, it always seemed that he was just a little bit more popular than the two stooges who would succeed him: Joe Besser and Joe DeRita.

That said, he was always one of my favorite stooges and I was sorry to learn that he -- like Curly -- died while the Stooges were still active. I would like to think he deserved better.

Anyway, he always made me and a lot of other people laugh and perhaps that is the best legacy that any comedian can leave behind. At least I would like to think so.

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Trying to Stink and Something Happens

If Robert Altman's Popeye proved that you don't necessarily need to be a hardcore fan of a particular character in order to create a good movie about said character, the 2012 Farrelly Brothers version of the Three Stooges proved the exact opposite: that you can be as big a fan of a particular character -- even three particular characters -- and still bomb out if you don't have the cleverness to back it up. Of course, one might argue that you don't exactly expect cleverness from a Three Stooges movie, and that is true. But even the most lowbrow comedy has to have some standards; otherwise, all lowbrow comedies would share the exact same level of popularity.

In any event, the Stooges have always been at their best in their short subjects -- especially the early shorts with Jerome "Curly" Howard -- so the idea of a modern-day Three Stooges movie kinda misses the point. Unfortunately, modern-day Hollywood doesn't go in for short subjects anymore; indeed, modern-day Hollywood often doesn't seem to give a damn whether you actually enjoy the movie or not as long as they can make enough money off of product placements, DVDs, movie soundtracks and other movie tie-ins. Thus, it seems a wonder that the Farrellys found money for a Three Stooges project at all. That said...

It would be nice to say that The Three Stooges was every bit as awesome as the original short subjects or that all it lacked was a pie fight or two but I would be lying if I said any of that. In fact, I found The Three Stooges to be quite mediocre at best when it wasn't quite awful.

On the bright side, actors Chris Diamantopoulos, Sean Hayes and Will Sasso do a good job of imitating the original Stooges and bringing off some of their more familiar slapstick routines. On the not so bright side, the Farrelly Brothers' decision to add toilet humor to the Stooges' comic routines -- at one point substituting a duel with urinating infants for the classic pie fight -- does not exactly improve matters. Poor Sofía Vergara gets stuck in the classic femme fatale role usually reserved in the original shorts for classic Stooge hand Christine McIntyre and Larry David plays a nun in drag for seemingly little reason apart from the fact that he could.

Craig Bierko plays a bad guy named Mac who allegedly loves Vergara's character Lydia but wishes to kill her wealthy husband first because he is far more in love with the idea of helping her inherit her husband's estate. He tries to hire the Stooges to help him pull off this dirty deed but unfortunately, the Stooges are so dumb they can't even be corrupted in the right manner.

I must confess that when I first found out about this subplot, I was surprised that the Farrelly Brothers bothered to include it. After all, the classic Stooges were basically at heart good guys and while they were hardly the most dedicated of workers and were usually in little danger of being mistaken for Boy Scouts, they were still a long way from being the type of characters who would seriously considering murder for hire, no matter how badly they needed the money. In fact, it was usually the Stooges who ended up bringing real crooks to justice in some of their better shorts.

So while it seemed obvious that the Farrelly Brothers would find a way to keep the Stooges from going through with Mac's scheme, they could not resist teasing the audience with the idea the Stooges might be would-be killers, after all -- which only goes to show that the Farrelly Brothers did not understand the appeal of the original Stooges as well as they thought they did.

Anyway, it would be nice to pretend that one subplot was the only thing wrong with this movie but it was not. Indeed, while some attempts to drag the Stooges into the 21th century were pretty funny (for example, the I-phone joke displayed in the trailer), yet others -- like the dueling infant scene mentioned above -- were not. In any event, the original shorts are still available on DVD for anyone who is still genuinely nostalgic for the Stooges and I suspect all but the most desperate fans would be more satisfied with said shorts anyway.

As for the movie, the most charitable thing that could be said about it was that it could have been worse. But then I could say that about a lot of bad movies.

At least now I will be no longer curious to see what a Three Stooges movie would look like if it were made with 21st century technology. So I have to thank the Farrelly Brothers for at least that much.

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Monday, March 10, 2014

Quote of the Week

Women are the best judges of anything we turn out. Their taste is very important. They are the theatregoers, they are the ones who drag the men in. If the women like it, to heck with the men.
--Walt Disney (1959), as quoted by Amy Nicholson in "Who Killed the Romantic Comedy?" in the February 27th issue of The Dallas Observer

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Saturday, March 08, 2014

Pensamientos Acerca de Televisión

Shameless (U.S.): “Pilot”

The first time I saw this show, I was tempted to dismiss it as a cartoonish attempt to copy the success of its British namesake. Granted, you don't see a lot of shows about poor urban whites on American TV and even less on American cable but there was a certain air about this series that made me wonder how many of its writers spent any time around real-life poor people.

It did not help that William H. Macy's efforts to emulate the dysfunctional patriarch of the original series seemed a bit off. The attempt to copy the original's introduction did not work at all and it was no surprise when the second episode went with a more visual intro. Granted, the intro still seemed a bit off but at least it was off in an original way.

In any event, I recently changed my mind about the series when I found out that a friend of mine was a big fan of the show. Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that she herself has been poor and was once forced to live in her car for an extended period of time but for some reason, I found her take on this series more credible than the usual rave review from white middle class TV critics.

To be fair, there was something fascinating about the writers' approach to the material even before I found out about my friend's love for the show. The events depicted on this series are never quite as realistic as the equivalent events on the original series but they push the envelope in a way that is quite breathtaking even by American cable standards and they often cover issues that other shows just won't deal with. Plus it is hard for me to condemn one of the few American shows that does not glamorize alcoholism and other forms of addiction at a time when it is becoming more and more fashionable to romanticize such habits. Most such addictions do involve pain relief but unfortunately, such relief tends to all too often come at the expense of others, a fact often overlooked whenever a rich and famous celebrity dies of a overdose or a bad liver.

Anyway, I'm sure I'll have more to say about this series before it is through. And not just because I wish to please my friend.

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Friday, March 07, 2014

Movie Quote of the Week

War is hell, Mr. Thornhill. Even when it's a cold one.
--Leo G. Carroll, North by Northwest (1959)

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TV Quote of the Week

This is like Congress, only functional.
--T. J. Thyne, Bones, "The Blood from the Stones"

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Could this be the perfect item to eat on Friday during Lent?

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Cuento de Mi Id

“Love in Bain”

The hot bath water pressed down upon Diana's less-than-flat stomach like an insistent hand. It surrounded her limbs and pubes -- even her torso -- and would have covered her neck and head if she had allowed it.

But she did not allow it. She had kept it at bay -- just as she had kept her ex-husband Dennis at bay. The water flowed into orifices of Diana's body that only Dennis had known. Flowed there because Diana allowed it to flow there. She and the water became one in a way that she and Dennis had never become. Yet she still remained Diana.

That was important to her. Dennis had never wanted her to be Diana. He had wanted her to be “Diane” -- that giggly little creature she had been in the early days of their marriage. The one who shied away from confrontation. Who depended upon Dennis to kill the mouse. Who preformed oral sex when Dennis wanted to have oral sex without ever getting so much as a back rub in return. That Diane was gone. Drowned within her flesh. Instead there was now Diana. Cool. Calm. Assertive.

Taking a hot bath in the middle of the afternoon because she wanted to take a hot bath. Not another hot shower like the ones she took before she went to work. Those were over all too quickly, and no matter how long she spent taking them, she always felt a chill when she got out. As if the water had flowed over her, not into her.

Baths were different. You could take a hot bath in the dead of winter, and if you stayed in long enough, you could get out without shivering. You just didn't soak in the water. You became the water. Your body's temperature and the bath water's temperature became one. You didn't lie there, naked, waiting for someone to hold you, waiting for an embrace that never came...

Enough fretting about the past. Almost time to get out of the tub.

Diana still had weekend errands to run today. Shops to visit. Groceries to buy. Weeds to uproot. Dry cleaning to pick up.

She glanced at her scattered clothing and imagined going to the mall to buy a whole new wardrobe. Perhaps that blue dress she had seen at Joske's. Or the red dress in the front window at Dillard's. Or perhaps she could just go there as she was now -- without a stitch on. Just walk through the mall naked and watch the customers squirm in embarrassment and avert their eyes. Converting to nudism would no doubt help her save a fortune on her clothing costs. However, her heating bills would probably go through the roof come wintertime.

And in any event, why stay here?

If one were going to be naked, why not migrate to a warmer climate?

She imagined herself naked on a beach at Cancun. Mariachis were playing in the distance, and dark-skinned men were dragging reluctant señoritas up a nearby pyramid.

Strange. She never realized that there were pyramids in this location.

Perhaps Egypt.

Egypt where the sand invaded every orifice and the smart women learned to shave down there for sanitary reasons. A whip was cracking over a relucant work crew in the distance. A naked servant was massaging her weary back. She looked into a brass mirror -- and saw all the worries of the world reflected in her eyes.

Diana was old. And growing old. But she had not really lived yet. She had not even seen the Library of Alexandria. But no, the Christians had burned that down just last year. No, the Muslims did. Never mind. The two cults always blamed each other as cults always do. And crawling across the floor was a scarab. She looked at the scarab and remembered...

Lying outside a villa near Pompeii.

Mount Vesuvius was smoking in the distance, and one of the maids was talking about a possible eruption. Impossible, Diane said. The volcano has been quiet for years.

Besides, she added, gesturing towards her lares and penates, do you think that these would ever let any harm come to me?

Meanwhile, the outside sky began to fill with ash...

Diana was modeling for the great sculptor Praxiteles, and the studio was cold. There was a draft upon her body she did not care to think about, and she hoped that the old man's fee was worth it. To be immortalized in art, he had said. And yet her stomach rumbled.

Forget art, Diana thought. One life is enough for me. Just let me be prosperous in this one. And not end up like the aged ones who started out in the temples of Aphrodite and ended up becoming priestesses of Artemis...

The revolution was coming.

Diana's lover was upon her. He still had her cunt in his mouth when the mob burst through the bedroom door. They dragged them both out by their hair and made her kiss the severed head of her dead maid-servant. Then, of course, they threw her onto the wagon...

They wanted answers, of course. But Diana did not have anything to tell them.

That did not matter to the Inquisition. One of her neighbors had known something and now they wanted confirmation. They tested her with a pin, searching for a spot on her body where there was no pain, and instead they found that her body had an infinite number of spots that were sensitive to the touch of a pin. They stripped her naked so that their search would be more thorough and then they cursed her for her nakedness.

Then they showed Diana the tub.

They showed her the tub.

The tub. Where she lay awaiting a summons from the Grand Sultan. A black eunuch scrubbed her back and a white eunuch caressed her toes. Briefly Diana thought of another tub.

Then she forgot it.

Then she remembered it.

Then forgot it.

She had no life now that her husband had been killed in battle. Now she was the sultan's wife. One of them, at least. Or at least she was a concubine. Or a...

The tub, she thought. Something is within the tub. A dark shape. A mosaic, perhaps. It looked like...

A wasserliche. That's what they called it in German. But it was still a dead body. Diana glanced at the innocent young face and regretted having stayed so long at the factory. If only she had come home sooner, her daughter would not have died. She would have been --

But wait.

Diana had no daughter.

Yes, she did. She remembered giving birth to her. She remembered the fun she had conceiving her, and the pain she felt when her husband was killed in the war, and the misery she had felt trying to get by in the dark time afterwards.

And yet...

A bird flew overhead. It was a raven.

She pictured herself in the raven's place and seeing with a raven's eyes.

She saw a distant city ahead.

Then a distant ocean.

Then a distant harbor.

There was a lady in the harbor.

A tall, green maiden with a big torch and a spiked helmet.

And within the city, there was a skyscraper.

On the skyscraper was a balcony.

The balcony led to an apartment.

The apartment had a bathroom.

The bathroom door was only halfway open, but she could see that the room was occupied by someone taking a bath. Or at least someone who had been taking a bath but who had apparently fallen asleep while doing so.

She started to brush the curtain aside. But the curtain would not yield to her fingertips even though she was once again human.

However, she could step through the bathtub curtain and look down upon the tub's occupant.

Look down and see a middle-aged, heavyset brunette floating like Ophelia upon the waters.

Only this brunette was not quite floating.

In fact, her head was under water...

Diana gasped. That body in the water was her.

She once again reached out, this time in desperation. But her hands passed right through the body in the tub. They passed through everything, in fact. And as her hands passed through the bath water, she could tell that the water was really quite cold -- as if it had been sitting there for a long, long time.

Now what do I do? Diana thought.

What could she do?

And yet...

No more periods, she thought.

No more weight problems.

And, of course, no more ex-husband to worry about.

Why should she complain?

She was free now.

Hadn't she always wanted to be free?

Not like this, she thought.

Then she once more glanced down at her body.

Remembered the sensation of the warm bath water upon her skin and within her genitals.

Oh, well, Diana thought. Now I have all time and space before me. Come to think of it, who really needs a body anyway? Had I not just traveled quite a long way just using my mind?

Diana walked off and tried to imagine herself wrapped in silk.

But for some reason, she still felt naked.

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Tuesday, March 04, 2014

Magazine Cover of the Week

Brrr! Gabrielle Reese really needs to get a warmer exercise outfit.

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Monday, March 03, 2014

¡Feliz Cumpleaños, Rubén Salazar!

Born March 3, 1928. Died August 29, 1970.

He was a Mexican-American journalist who became famous covering the Chicano community when he worked as a reporter for the Los Angeles Times.

He was killed by a tear gas round fired by a deputy of the Los Angeles County Sheriffs during the National Chicano Moratorium March against the Vietnam War in East Los Angeles. Of course, he was not the first American journalist killed in the line of duty. Unfortunately, he was not the last.

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Quote of the Week

Imagine a half-Russian, half-American living in Moscow lamenting that all he sees of Americans is Red Dawn, Dr. Strangelove and Rambo and getting real, real depressed that all he ever sees of himself is loutish, loudmouthed, meat-brained 'Merican Neanderthals.
--San Diego State University Professor William Nericcio, as quoted by Gustavo Arellano in his "¡Ask a Mexican!" column in the February 27th issue of The Dallas Observer

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The Ays of March

It's official. March came in like a lion this weekend and judging from the number of wrecks I saw this morning when I was taking a friend and neighbor to one of the local hospitals, local drivers still have not got the hang of driving on snow and ice. (Not that it helps much to be able to drive on snow and ice if someone else's vehicle is sliding into you and you don't have room to avoid them.)

Anyway, I thought last week's cold spell would be our last for this winter but apparently I was wrong. We actually experienced temperatures in the teens here in Dallas last night. For that matter, we experienced so much sleet and freezing rain in the early afternoon that again I had to use one of my car keys to help open my gas cap cover because the cover was too frozen over with ice to open automatically. And of course, when I woke up this morning, the ground outside was still covered with ice and snow.

Anyway, spring can't come soon enough as far as I'm concerned. And yet despite last week's cold spell, Dallas was already experiencing temperatures in the 80s before the end of February. Just imagine how hot it will be in this city come August.

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Saturday, March 01, 2014

¡Feliz Cumpleaños, Catherine Bach!

AKA Catherine Bachman.

Born March 1, 1954.

She is an American actress of mixed ethnic descent -- her father was German and her mother was Mexican -- who is most famous for her portrayal of Daisy Duke on the TV series The Dukes of Hazzard, in which she played a modern-day Maid Marian to those would-be Robin Hoods Bo and Luke Duke. She also helped popularize a new type of feminine outerwear which was named after her TV character, natch.

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