Monday, June 30, 2014

¡Feliz Cumpleaños, Glenda Farrell!

Born June 30, 1904. Died May 1, 1971.

She was the original Torchy Blane (the inspiration for Lois Lane) and she played opposite Fay Wray in Mystery of the Wax Musuem in a role that anticipated the female lead role in His Girl Friday. She also starred in Gold Diggers of 1937 and teamed up with actress Joan Blondell a lot. All in all, she was one of my favorite actresses. It is a shame that she is not more well-known but then it is good that she actually existed.

I hope she has a great day, wherever she is.

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Quote of the Week

Am I embarrassed to speak for a less than perfect democracy? Not one bit. Find me a better one. Do I suppose there are societies which are free of sin? No, I don't. Do I think ours is, on balance, incomparably the most hopeful set of human relations the world has? Yes, I do.
--Daniel Patrick Moynihan

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Pensamientos Acerca de Televisión

Adam-12: “Venice Division”

Needless to say, Venice in this case refers to Venice, California, a suburb of Los Angeles, not Venice, Italy. After all, the jurisdiction of the LAPD may be large but it is not that large.

Adam-12 was created by producer Jack Webb to do for uniformed police officers what Dragnet did for police detectives: give the public some idea of what people in law enforcement have to put up with in real life. In a way, Adam-12 and Dragnet could be seen as forerunners of the Law & Order series. Only Jack Webb's shows tend to concentrate more on the police side of the equation and not on the prosecutors.

Moreover, since Adam-12 was created in 1968 -- a time when many liberals still equated police with the Chicago cops who beat up demonstrators during the 1968 Democratic National Convention and the Southern lawmen who harassed and persecuted members of the African-American Civil Rights Movement -- the show was never considered quite as fashionable as later cop shows such as Hill Street Blues or NYPD Blue. If that was not unflattering enough, the show came in for special criticism when author Joseph Wambaugh -- a former member of the LAPD -- was doing interviews for the Wambaugh-inspired TV series Police Story and saw fit to note that the cops in Adam-12 were so unreal that they never even went to the bathroom. Yet more recently, author Connie Fletcher noted in a preface to her nonfiction book What Cops Know that the one TV show that consistently got praised from real-life police officers for showing what police work was really like was not Adam-12 but rather the 1970s sitcom Barney Miller.

In any event, Adam-12 was rarely seemed to me to be as memorable as its much-parodied-but-still-memorable predecessor Dragnet. For all their faults, Jack Webb's Sgt. Joe Friday and his partner, Officer Bill Gannon (played by Harry Morgan), still seemed more interesting to my younger self than Adam-12's Officers Pete Malloy and Jim Reed (played by Martin Milner and Kent McCord).

One of the more memorable exceptions was the “Venice Division” episode which aired in 1973. This was a rather gimmicky episode in which the most interesting event takes place shortly after the opening credits and then never gets mentioned again. Instead, Malloy and Reed got involved with trying to track down a maniac who preyed on young women when they were not exchanging jests with a hotshot motorcycle cop and solving relatively minor cases such as a runaway giant pumpkin.

The incident that opened the episode involved a young actress named Tammy Warren (played by Edy Williams) who had apparently confused her birthday suit with her bathing suit. When Malloy and Reed caught up with her, she had already attracted quite a crowd of eager onlookers who thought her version of the “natural look” was just fine. Unfortunately, in the eyes of the law, it was also indecent exposure.

Malloy and Reed first covered Ms. Warren with a conveniently available blanket and then managed to talk her into redonning her white bikini. However, they also chose not to arrest her for indecent exposure, electing to pass that decision on to the DA. This annoyed the heck out of Ms. Warren's agent, who just happened to be conveniently located nearby. As it turned out, the whole incident was a publicity stunt cooked up by him. Given some of the celebrities who have recently received major media coverage for their willingness to “accidentally” uncover certain body parts -- Janet Jackson, Britney Spears, etc. -- you could argue that such an agent was ahead of his time. Indeed, some celebrities like Miley Cyrus and Lady Gaga have almost made a career out of such stunts. Unfortunately, Ms. Warren was not so lucky, which is what you get for being a fictional TV character in the 1970s. Instead she became one of the few women to actually get insulted at the prospect of not getting arrested for indecent exposure.

As for the rest of the show, nothing much happened that has not been already mentioned save for a lecture given by Malloy and Reed to a young dancer who supposedly attracted the unwanted attention of a would-be rapist by practicing yoga in her leotard. Ironically, the leotard that Malloy and Reed found so morally objectionable seemed quite conservative compared to much of the clothing worn by some of today's young women. (Of course, it was also very conservative compared to what Ms. Warren had been wearing at the beginning of the episode.) And did I mention that said young woman was wearing said leotard in the privacy of her own apartment? True, it was also in front of an uncovered window, but still the cops' warning seemed a bit much -- even by the standards of 1973.

Then again, Adam-12 was a conservative show -- which makes the Tammy Warren incident seem all that much more peculiar. Granted, it was filmed in a very conservative fashion. You initially heard more of the naked Ms. Warren than you saw of her thanks to a shot that conveniently placed her off-screen, and thanks to the blanket Malloy and Reed gave her, you never saw much of the undressed Ms. Warren save for her head and limbs. Indeed, the sight of her unoccupied swimsuit was the most serious visual clue you got that Ms. Warren had been showing a lot more than she told before the cops arrived.

It says something about how much times have changed since 1973 that I suspect most of today's less chivalrous male teenagers might consider this particular episode to be yawnworthy thanks to the abundance of female nudity available on cable TV, R-rated movies and the Internet. Compared to that, a woman covered by little more than a blanket might seem like small potatoes. Then again, if this same episode were to be remade for one of today's cable shows, I suspect we would have seen a lot more of Ms. Warren and a lot less of giant pumpkins.

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Sunday, June 29, 2014

¡Feliz Cumpleaños, María Conchita Alonzo!

Born June 29, 1957.

She is everyone's favorite Cuban-born and Venezuelan-raised actress and singer/songwriter. Well, at least she's my favorite.

I hope she enjoys her day.

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Saturday, June 28, 2014

R.I.P. Eli Wallach

American actor Eli Wallach -- most famous for his roles in such films as the 1966 Western The Good, the Bad and the Ugly and the 2006 comedy The Holiday -- walked off the set of his life on June 24 at age 98.

He will be missed.

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Friday, June 27, 2014

Movie Poster of the Week

The more things change...

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Pensamientos Acerca de Televisión

Sherlock: "A Study in Pink"

Sherlock Holmes is frequently depicted in pop culture as the ultimate atheist. So naturally producer Steven Moffat's newest version of Sherlock Holmes ends up solving a case by stealing a gimmick from renowned Catholic author G. K. Chesterton.

Apart from that, the show is quite clever. When I first heard that Moffat was creating a TV series about a modern-day Sherlock Holmes, I thought it would be awful. But actually the TV series turned out to be quite good. It doesn't hurt that Martin Freeman of The Office (UK) fame plays a great modern-day version of Dr. John Watson. The show even provides a good explanation of why a guy like Watson puts up with an eccentric like Sherlock. Granted, the constant hints of latency get a bit tiresome. But it says something for the way Benedict Cumberbatch plays Sherlock that the hints seem less tiresome than usual. Plus Una Stubbs plays a great Mrs. Hudson and Louise Brealey just breaks my heart as Molly Hooper, the pathologist in the local morgue who has such an obvious unrequited crush on the title character. Even the obligatory references to the original Arthur Conan Doyle stories are done quite nicely.

I wish all my fears were dealt with as easily as the ones I had concerning this show.

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Thursday, June 26, 2014

¡Feliz Cumpleaños, Aubrey Plaza!

AKA Aubrey Christina Plaza.

Born June 26, 1984.

She is the daughter of a Puerto Rican father and a mother of Irish and English descent. She is best known for her role as an intern on the NBC TV series Parks and Recreation but she is also starting to make a name for herself in such movies as The To Do List and Safety Not Guaranteed.

She is one of my favorite young actresses. Hopefully we will see more of her in the future.

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¡Feliz Cumpleaños, Loreta Janeta Velázquez!

Born June 26, 1842. Died c.1897.

She was a Cuban-born woman who claimed to have fought in the American Civil War while she was disguised as a male Confederate soldier named Harry Buford. According to her memoirs, she enlisted without the knowledge or permission of her soldier-husband. She allegedly fought at Bull's Run and other battles but was then arrested and discharged when her true gender was uncovered while she was in New Orleans and she was suspected of being a female Union spy in disguise. She then re-enlisted and fought at Shiloh before she was revealed once more to be a woman. She then became a spy who posed as both men and women depending on the assignment. Eventually she became a widow and remarried, only to become a widow again. She remarried two more times and became a widow each time. Eventually she became a member of the U.S. Secret Service and a double agent for the Confederacy. The circumstances of her death are unknown though she did give birth to a baby boy.

Everything known about her comes from her book, The Woman in Battle: A Narrative of the Exploits, Adventures, and travels of Madame Loreta Janeta Velázquez, Otherwise Known as Lieutenant Harry T Buford, Confederate States Army. She claimed in the book's preface to have written the book in order to earn money to support her child. The accuracy of said book is still disputed by historians so it could be that Ms. Velázquez was little more than a very imaginative woman. Then again maybe she was more than that.

Stranger things have happened in history. Until additional evidence comes in, Ms. Velázquez is perhaps best ranked with such legendary figures as Lady Godiva, figures whose stories seem too interesting to be true and yet not fictional enough to be entirely dismissed. Then again if her life story were totally made up, I doubt she would deliberately choose to mention fighting for the losing side of one of the U.S.'s most hard-fought wars. As it stands, her story is so paradoxical that part of me wishes that it were true. Then again I am no fan of the Confederacy so part of me also hopes that it is untrue. Time will tell.

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Movie Quote of the Week

Mr. Taylor, Mr. Brent, we are a peaceful people. We don't kill our enemies. We get our enemies to kill each other.
--Don Pedro Colley, Beneath the Planet of the Apes (1970)

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TV Quote of the Week

Are you sure Pocahontas started like this?
--Lindsay Wagner, The Bionic Woman (The First Series), "In This Corner, Jaime Sommers"

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Please Don't Put Seeing This Movie on Your To Do List

Aubrey Plaza is a very likeable actress but unfortunately, not every movie she is in is all that likeable. A classic example is the 2013 film The To Do List, an allegedly sex-positive comedy which asks Ms. Plaza to go above and beyond the duty of your typical actress yet can't resist delivering a very questionable message which almost makes me yearn for the good old days of the Hays Code.

The film started out with Ms. Plaza's character Brandy Klark giving a speech at her high school graduation only to be heckled by her own friends for being a virgin. What being a virgin had to do with her graduation speech, the film never really said. Like so many things in this movie, it was treated as just another item that your average movie-goer should just lie back and enjoy. (Apparently being sex-positive is the cinematic equivalent of being brain-dead.)

In any event, Ms. Klark was convinced by her friends -- and please note that it was her friends who did this and not her enemies --- that she had somehow missed out on something by not having sex in high school and thus Ms. Klark set out to remedy that by making a list of all the sexual things that others have done that she never got around to doing. The idea that she was not naturally curious about this stuff before she talked with her friends seemed odd but the movie chose not to explore that path. Nor did it bother with the many obvious reasons -- for example, fear of STDs or an unplanned pregnancy -- an otherwise healthy young woman would have for putting off sex. (After all, if it did bother with such reasons, Ms. Klark's position might seem sympathetic and writer-director Maggie Carey seemed uninterested in sympathizing with that position -- especially since it was so noncommercial.)

Movies like this are not usually meant to be taken seriously and indeed, I would probably drive myself crazy if I took seriously every such movie. But there was something about the cruel way this movie's script treated the main character that was hard to ignore. After all, Ms. Carey was not content to just put more than a few obstacles in Ms. Klark's path; she went out of her way to outright humiliate her. And she did not just humiliate her once but on multiple occasions. While I respect the commitment to her craft that allowed Ms. Plaza to get away with on-screen actions that would normally be considered above and beyond the call of duty by most actresses -- I do not believe, for example, that she really did put a certain disgusting object in her mouth but she did a great job of pretending that she did so -- I do not think it was nice of Ms. Carey to have Ms. Plaza perform actions that even the most misogynistic of directors rarely ask of their leading ladies. Indeed, the stunt I mentioned above involving a certain disgusting object seemed more stomach-turning than funny -- and yet we the audience were asked to go with it because to the director, it was funny. At least supposedly.

Even the sex-positive part of the movie seemed dubious. After all, Ms. Klark eventually got dissed as much for being sexually active as she did for being sexually inactive. Even Connie Britton -- who played Ms. Klark's mother -- had to perform some rather dubious sexual actions -- though thankfully, Ms. Britton was generally treated more respectfully than Ms. Plaza. (For example, Ms. Britton's character just didn't have sex with her husband, she had sex in the most outlandish fashion possible. Because nothing says "sex-positive" like making a married couple having sex with each other look weird.)

Granted, I am not exactly part of this movie's target audience. Indeed, if you still wax nostalgic over 2 Live Crew's "Me So Horny" and you thought that Caddyshack would have been a lot better with more gross-out humor, you will probably like this film far better than me.

But I would not recommend this film to anyone if I had a choice.

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Wednesday, June 25, 2014

¡Feliz Cumpleaños, Carly Simon!

AKA Carly Elisabeth Simon.

Born June 25, 1945.

She is the former spouse of singer James Taylor and a successful singer-songwriter in her own right. I used to listen to her songs endlessly when I was a teenager. She is most famous for such songs as "Anticipation", "You're So Vain", "That's the Way I Always Heard It Should Be" and the Bond film classic "Nobody Does It Better". Her 1988 song "Let the River Run" was the first song in history to win a Grammy, an Oscar and a Golden Globe for a song written and performed by a single artist. Ms. Simon is also noted for the modest way she posed for her early album covers.

Her father was co-founder of the publishing firm Simon & Schuster. Her mother was a singer and a civil rights activist. Her maternal father was Jewish and her maternal grandmother was of German, French, and Afro-Cuban descent. I know that Ms. Simon makes an unlikely Latina but then that could be said about a lot of Latin women.

Heh. Irony. Apparently my talent for recognizing fellow Latins is not as accurate as I would prefer.

Mea culpa.

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Book of the Week

Now that I have read Rick Najera's autobiography Almost White: Forced Confessions of a Latino in Hollywood, I owe him an apology. I never realized how much of a struggle he had with his various projects before I read this book and though part of me wants to be still skeptical, I have a greater appreciation for his work now than I did before. Of course, it would have been nice if Najera's own work had made such apologies unnecessary but you can't have everything.

Anyway, I can't guarantee that I will like his next film project but I would like to read his next book.

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Questions About Donald Duck

1. Why does he have nephews but no nieces?

2. Why does he have an uncle but not parents?

3. Is he an orphan?

4. When is he going to make an honest woman out of Daisy?

5. Why does Daisy have nieces but no nephews?

6. Where are Daisy's older relatives?

7. Where does Donald never wear pants?

8. Does his sailor suit mean that Donald was once in the Navy or does it just mean that he likes wearing sailor suits?

9. Why does a duck need a boat?

10. Why is Donald angry all the time?

11. Where are there not any black, brown or yellow ducks in Donald's neighborhood?

12. Why do we rarely see Donald go to church?

13. Why is Donald such great friends with a rooster and a parrot but not with such ducks as Daffy or Howard?

14. Why is Donald so jealous of Mickey Mouse?

15. Could it be that Mickey is so popular because he represents the best that we humans aspire to be while Donald is less popular because he represents the way we actually are?

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Tuesday, June 24, 2014

¡Feliz Cumpleaños, Nancy Allen!

AKA Nancy Anne Allen.

Born June 24, 1950.

She is the former wife of director Brian De Palma as well as a famous actress in her own right. She no longer appears in the movies as often as she used to but there may come a time when she changes her mind about that.

I hope it's soon.

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Quote of the Week

So instead of asking why we can't be considered American like everyone else, let's ask, why can't everyone else be more like us?
--Ed Morales, Living in Spanglish: The Search for Latino Identity in America

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Monday, June 23, 2014

R.I.P. Gerry Goffin

He was an American songwriter who co-wrote with his wife Carole King such songs as "Will You Love Me Tomorrow," "Go Away Little Girl," "One Fine Day," and "The Locomotion." After he divorced her, he later co-wrote such songs as as "Saving All My Love for You" and "Theme from Mahogany (Do You Know Where You're Going To)". He wrote his last song lyric on June 19 at age 75.

He will be missed.

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R.I.P. Daniel Keyes

He was an American writer best known for his award-winning short story and award-winning novel Flowers for Algernon. He finished his last story on June 15 at age 86.

He will be missed.

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Sunday, June 22, 2014

¡Feliz Cumpleaños, Lindsay Wagner!

AKA Lindsay Jean Wagner.

Born June 22, 1949.

She is probably best known to contemporary TV viewers as Dr. Vanessa Calder on the Syfy Channel's TV series Warehouse 13 but she will always be Jaime Sommers the Bionic Woman to me.

I wish she had a much more successful career in the movies than she actually did but then again her career in show business lasted a lot longer than most fans of The Six Million Dollar Man -- the show in which Jaime Summers made her first appearance -- would have figured.

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Fantasy Quote of the Week

It was really interesting how much difference a few covered inches could make in your self-respect.
--Charlaine Harris, Deadlocked

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Science Fiction Quote of the Week

As she pours the wine he watches her closely, thinking of that other Elizabeth, his Elizabeth, thinking how well he knows her body, the supple play of muscles in her back, the sleek texture of her skin, the firmness of her flesh, and he flashes instantly to their strange, absurdly romantic meeting years ago, that June when he had gone off alone into the Sierra high country for a week of backpacking and, following heaps of stones that he had wrongly taken to be trail markers, had come to a place well off the path, a private place, a cool dark glacial lake rimmed by brilliant patches of late-lying snow, and had begun to make camp, and had become suddenly aware of someone's else pack thirty yards away, and a pile of discarded clothing on the shore, and then had seen her, swimming just beyond a pine-topped point, heading toward land, rising like Venus from the water, naked, noticing him, startled by his presence, apprehensive for a moment but then immediately making the best of it, relaxing, smiling, standing unashamed shin-deep in the chilly shallows and inviting him to join her for a swim.
--Robert Silverberg, “Trips”

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Saturday, June 21, 2014

Pop Song of the Week: "Sick and Beautiful"

And I thought Blue Öyster Cult had an odd Godzilla reference in their song.

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Movie Song of the Week: "In Summer"

This dude really needs to stop using my current novia's name in this song.

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Endangered Species

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Friday, June 20, 2014

Movie Poster of the Week

Should I find it strange that this movie's tagline almost sounds like a threat?

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Thursday, June 19, 2014

Movie Quote of the Week

You are who you choose to be.
--Eli Marienthal, The Iron Giant (1999)

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TV Quote of the Week

The sound of male ego. You travel half way across the galaxy and it's still the same song.
--Karen Steele, Star Trek, "Mudd's Women"

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Tuesday, June 17, 2014

¡Feliz Cumpleaños, Linda Chavez!

AKA Linda Lou Chavez.

Born June 17, 1947.

She is a conservative Hispanic woman who was the highest-ranking woman in President Ronald Reagan's White House. She also became the first Latina ever nominated to the U.S. Cabinet, when President George W. Bush nominated her as his Secretary of Labor. She later had to withdraw from consideration when it was discovered that she had employed an illegal alien.

Her father was descended from Spanish immigrants to New Mexico. Her mother was of English and Irish ancestry.

She also wrote a book in 1991 called Out of the Barrio: Towards a New Politics of Assimilation, which appears to have been read more by her ideological opponents than by anyone else.

She was also an executive director of the organization U.S. English back in the 1980s but quit after the release of the notorious Tanton memo.

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¡Feliz Cumpleaños, M. C. Escher!

AKA Maurits Cornelis Escher.

Born June 17, 1898. Died March 27, 1972.

He was a Dutch graphic artist who inspired hundreds of would-be art fans who would normally venture nowhere near an art book. I used to see quite a number of blacklight posters inspired by his work in my teenage years but nowadays I suspect such work is no longer popular with today's teens. Still, as you can tell from the above drawings, Escher did have a knack for drawing memorable images.

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Quote of the Week

Keep your feet on the ground and keep reaching for the stars.
--Casey Kasem

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Monday, June 16, 2014

R.I.P. Casey Kasem

American disc jockey and voice actor Casey Kasem -- best known for providing the voice of "Shaggy" Rogers in Scooby Doo, Where Are You? -- hung up his headphones for the last time yesterday at age 82.

He will be missed.

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R.I.P. Ruby Dee

African-American actress, poet, playwright, journalist, screenwriter and civil rights activist Ruby Dee -- best known for her roles in such movies as the 1961 drama A Raisin in the Sun and the 2007 biographical crime film American Gangster as well as for being the recipient of Grammy, Emmy, Obie, Drama Desk, Screen Actors Guild and Screen Actors Guild Lifetime Achievement Awards and the National Medal of Arts -- went to see her late husband Ossie Davis on June 11 at age 91.

She will be missed.

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Sunday, June 15, 2014

¡Feliz Día del Padre!

Happy Father's Day to all my readers.

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Saturday, June 14, 2014

Mashups of the Week: "Variations on a Theme"

This is so wrong.

This is even more wrong.

This is especially most wrong. Because musical product placement is just evil.

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Hey, I Remember This Show: The Paul Lynde Show

Speaking of TV shows that no one likes to admit having seen...

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Hey, I Don't Remember This Show: The Raccoons

Hey, it's the 1980s TV show that no one else remembers. Except for raccoons, of course.

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Movie Poster of the Week

That's funny. The Mr. Peabody in this movie doesn't look like a dog.

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Buffy Goes Latin

I have joked for years about the scarcity of Hispanic characters on the TV series Buffy the Vampire Slayer -- a thing that seems especially frustrating when you consider that the show is set in California, a state in which Hispanics are not exactly uncommon.

Yet I did not realize how bad the situation was on that show until I came across this site and I realized that my first reaction was not so much "that few?" but rather "that many?".

Yet more proof that we might as well take a cue from Ray Bradbury and start writing our own stories because it is not likely that they are going to get told by anybody else. Especially Joss Whedon.

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Friday, June 13, 2014

¡Feliz Cumpleaños, Lisa Vidal!

AKA Lisa Vidal Cohen.

Born June 13, 1965.

She is a Puerto Rican actress best known -- to me, at least -- for playing a female firefighter on ER and a guest role on Boston Legal. She also had a role in the 2009 movie Star Trek and played a DA on the NBC series Grimm. She is currently starring in the BET TV series Being Mary Jane -- and no, she does not play the title role. Nor do I believe she is related to writer Gore Vidal -- though that would certainly make for an interesting twist in the history books.

Anyway, I have always liked seeing her and I hope to see her more in the future.

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¡Feliz Cumpleaños, Paul Lynde!

AKA Paul Edward Lynde.*

Born June 13, 1926.

He was always one of my favorite comedians though I am embarrassed to admit how long it took me to realize he was gay. Then again even the most homophobic of my classmates thought of him mainly as being "the sarcastic guy." (It really was a different time back then. Not necessarily more innocent -- I remember too many fellow students who were all too fond of the word "faggot" to pretend otherwise -- but different.)

Anyway, I always loved his character of Uncle Arthur on the TV show Bewitched and I even liked him as everyone's favorite cartoon villain in The Perils of Penelope Pitstop. I even liked him in such dubious efforts as the cartoon show Where's Huddles? and the live-action sitcom The Paul Lynde Show.

I am not so sure that I would like him so much today because of the repetitiveness of his latter roles. Then again if it were not for his personality, I might not have appreciated the sarcasm of British comedy that much. Nor would I have watched so many syndicated reruns of Bewitched.

* Birth name.

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Movie Quote of the Week

There comes a time, thief, when the jewels cease to sparkle, when the gold loses its luster, when the throne room becomes a prison, and all that is left is a father's love for his child.
--Max von Sydow, Conan the Barbarian (1982)

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TV Quote of the Week

I always like my friends to see as much of me as possible.
--Judy Tyler, Perry Mason, "The Case of the Fan Dancer's Horse"

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Thursday, June 12, 2014

R.I.P. Rik Mayall

English actor and comedian Richard Michael "Rik" Mayall -- better known as Rik Mayall and best known for his performances in such British TV shows as Blackadder and The New Statesman as well as his appearances in such movies as 1991's Drop Dead Fred -- hung up his jester's cap for the last time on June 9 at age 56.

He will be missed.

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Wednesday, June 11, 2014

¡Feliz Cumpleaños, Hugh Laurie!

AKA James Hugh Calum Laurie.

Born June 11, 1959.

He is an English actor best known for playing Dr. Gregory House in the Fox TV series House M.D. and the Prince Regent in the British comedy show Blackadder III. He is also well-known for his 1996 novel The Gun Seller.

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A Spoiler-Free Guide to The Uninvited

It is a movie.

Oh, rats! I just gave away the whole plot.

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Tuesday, June 10, 2014

¡Feliz Cumpleaños, Doña María del Pilar Teresa Cayetana, 13th Duchess of Alba!

AKA Doña María del Pilar Teresa Cayetana de Silva Álvarez de Toledo y Silva Bazán, décimo tercera duquesa de Alba de Tormes, décima primera duquesa de Huéscar, sexta duquesa de Montoro, octava condesa-duquesa de Olivares, décimo primera marquesa del Carpio, décimo tercera marquesa de Coria, novena marquesa de Eliche, décimo segunda marquesa de Villanueva del Río, sexta marquesa de Tarazona, marquesa de Flechilla y Jarandilla, décimo primera condesa de Monterrey, décimo cuarta condesa de Lerín, décimo tercera condesa de Oropesa, décimo cuarta Condestablesa de Navarra, décimo segunda condesa de Galve, décimo cuarta condesa de Osorno, de jure duquesa de Galisteo, décimo primera condesa de Ayala, novena condesa de Fuentes de Valdepero, condesa de Alcaudete, condesa de Deleitosa, señora del estado de Valdecorneja, señora de las baronías de Dicastillo, San Martín, Curton y Guissens.

It is the official birthday for the late Spanish aristocrat who was the alleged muse of the famous Spanish painter Francisco de Goya. She was born June 10, 1762, and lived until July 23, 1802. She might be missed but at least we still have the opportunity to view the paintings which she inspired. However, I doubt that she is related to actress Jessica Alba in any fashion.

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Quote of the Week

We don’t see stories about people like me or my dad. Indeed, network executives say to my face that I don’t exist. That’s the problem.
--Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez, "The problem with “Devious Maids” goes far beyond Hollywood",, June 07, 2013.

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Monday, June 09, 2014

¡Feliz Cumpleaños, Donald Duck!

Today marks the 80th birthday of my late father's favorite Disney character. Of course, I always liked him too -- and not just because of my father's influence.

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Saturday, June 07, 2014

¡Feliz Cumpleaños, Carlota de México!

AKA María Carlota Amalia Augusta Victoria Clementina Leopoldina de Sajonia-Coburgo y Orleáns Borbón-Dos Sicilas y Habsburgo-Lorena.

Born June 7, 1840. Died January 19, 1927.

She was the former Empress Consort of Mexico as well as the wife and widow of Maximilian I of Mexico.

Thanks to her, actress Bette Davis got to play one of her more memorable movie roles.

She also had a profound influence on Mexican history but alas, not a positive one.

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Movie Poster of the Week

Yet another movie poster whose tagline suggests that the movie is about a different ethnic group than the one it is actually about.

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Friday, June 06, 2014

¡Feliz Cumpleaños, Stephanie Elizondo Griest!

Born June 6, 1974.

She is a young Mexican-American writer from South Texas whose books include the 2004 book Around the Bloc: My Life in Moscow, Beijing, and Havana and the 2008 book Mexican Enough: My Life Between the Borderlines. She is one of the few travel writers I have ever read who is also of Mexican descent. Then again she also won the 2007 Richard Margolis Award for Social Justice Reporting for her writing about Mexico so she is not exactly just another travel writer.

Like yours truly, she can be also described as a Latin half-and-half since only one side of her family is of Mexican descent. However, the same thing can be said about a lot of Mexican-Americans nowadays.

She is also one of my favorite writers and I'm sorry that she has not written more books.

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¡Feliz Cumpleaños, Thomas Mann!

Born June 6, 1875. Died August 12, 1955.

He was a famous German writer of mixed ethnic ancestry who wrote such novels as The Magic Mountain and Buddenbrooks. He also wrote the novella "Tonio Kruger", which indirectly inspired my blog name, and in 1929, he won the Nobel Prize for Literature.

Needless to say, he also inspired the creation of this blog. Which makes him my muse, so to speak. Or at least one of them.

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¡Feliz Cumpleaños, Diego Velázquez!

AKA Diego Rodríguez de Silva y Velázquez.

Baptised June 6, 1599. Died August 6, 1660.

He was a famous Spanish painter who depicted himself as the artist within the above painting. (Said painting is known as Las Meninas or The Maids of Honour.) He is also famous for such paintings as Las Hilanderas (aka The Spinners)...

...and The Rokeby Venus (aka La Venus del Espejo aka The Venus of the Mirror).

As you might guess, he is one of my favorite painters.

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Quote of the Week

A Humphrey Bogart, a Jimmy Stewart, a Cary Grant, a Spencer Tracy —- these were icons whose characters often dealt with female stars as equals, who had sex appeal to burn but weren’t defined by their libidos or their list of conquests, who dealt in violence sparingly or not at all. Likewise in Victorian fiction, in books as eagerly devoured by the masses as any blockbuster entertainment today: How often is a rake or cad presented as a worthy model, how often is a killer celebrated for his body count? How often does a Dickens or a Tolstoy or a Trollope leave the impression that the masculine ideal involves dealing violence indiscriminately and sleeping with every blonde who catches your eye? Is Steerforth the hero of “David Copperfield”? Is Wickham the male ideal held up by “Pride and Prejudice”? In Western literature, who better embodies “traditional masculinity” as an aspirational ideal —- Vronsky or Darcy? Angel Clare or Gabriel Oak? Raskolnikov the murderer or Raskolnikov the penitent?
--Ross Douthat, "The Left and Masculinity," New York Times Blogs, June 3, 2014

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Thursday, June 05, 2014

¡Feliz Cumpleaños, Federico García Lorca!

AKA Federico del Sagrado Corazón de Jesús García Lorca.

Born June 5, 1898. Died August 19, 1936.

He was a famous Spanish poet who was executed during the Spanish Civil War.

He has been missed.

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Movie Quote of the Week

They don't see each other. They only see what they want to see. They don't know they're dead.
--Haley Joel Osment, The Sixth Sense (1999)

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TV Quote of the Week

What is it with guys and lesbians anyway? I mean, what's so damn fascinating about being unwanted by the opposite sex?
--Jessica Alba, Dark Angel, "Shorties in Love"

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Tuesday, June 03, 2014

R.I.P. Ann B. Davis

American actress Ann B. Davis -- also known as Ann Bradford Davis and best known for her Emmy-winning role as secretary Charmaine Schultz (aka Schultzy) in the TV series Love That Bob as well as for her role as maid Alice Nelson in the TV series The Brady Bunch -- folded her last towel on June 1 at age 88.

She will be missed.

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Sunday, June 01, 2014

¡Feliz Cumpleaños, Alanis Morissette!

AKA Alanis Nadine Morissette.*

Born June 1, 1974.

Everyone's favorite Canadian pop singer of the 1990s is now a Canadian-American. As far as I know, she is still white and female but whether or not she is still angry is anyone's guess.

She recently found critical acclaim for her role as Dr. Audra Kitson on the cable series Weeds and, of course, she played the ultimate role for an actress in the 1999 film Dogma. She has been also known to have one hand in her pocket and no doubt she is still known for having an unique way of passing the time in movie theatres.

She is no longer as famous as she used to be but she was one of my late sister's favorite singers so she will always be famous to somebody as far as my family is concerned.

* Birth name.

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¡Feliz Cumpleaños, Marilyn Monroe!

AKA Norma Jeane Mortenson and Norma Jeane Baker.

Born June 1, 1926. Died August 5, 1962.

She was an American actress who appeared in a few obscure films during her lifetimes and inspired one Elton John song after her death. She was most noted for indulging in the above activity. At least that is how she would be remembered if I ran the world...

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¡Feliz Cumpleaños, Andy Griffith!

AKA Andy Samuel Griffith.

Born June 1, 1926. Died July 3, 2012.

He was an American actor most famous for his role as Sheriff Andy Taylor on the old TV sitcom The Andy Griffith Show. He also appeared in several movies including No Time for Sergeants, A Face in the Crowd and Waitress. One of my late uncles liked him best in the title role of the TV legal series Matlock.

He has been missed.

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Death and the Facebook Page

My mother was in the process of shifting to a new home telephone number earlier this year and as a result, she missed out on the usual midnight telephone call informing her of a loved one's death. In fact, when my father's youngest sister died in January of this year, the first news she received of it came from me -- and only because I had been fortunate enough to check my Facebook page soon after my aunt died.

After all the telephone calls I had received in the past that had informed me of the deaths of various out-of-state relatives, it seemed strange that the first notice of my aunt's death came from a notice on my Facebook page that had been posted by one of her adult children. Then again I remember being so out of sorts after the death of my father -- and then again after the death of my sister -- that I could readily understand why my aunt's children did not bother to make telephone calls to everyone who was related to her. Especially since a notice on Facebook was much easier.

Still I had badmouthed Facebook so much in the past that it seems equally strange for me to be saying anything good about it right now. After all, as much as fun as it can be on Facebook on times, I must admit that it is not really my cup of tea. If I did not have so many friends and relatives who posted on Facebook, I would have nothing to do with it -- and even then, I can't help but noticing that my older relatives post less frequently than my younger relatives. And that most of the time I have more informative conversations with the same people through e-mail than through Facebook (no doubt because there are many things one feels more comfortable talking about through E-mail than through Facebook).

Oh, well. I will probably always have issues with Facebook but I can't pretend that it can not be a positive thing at times. After all, if it were not for Facebook, my mother and my youngest brother would have missed the opportunity to attend my aunt's funeral. And while it goes without saying that I would have wished that my aunt's funeral were still a long way off in the future, I consider it much better that my mother and my brother at least had a choice as to whether or not they would attend her funeral. After all, that choice could have been very easily taken away from them by circumstances beyond their control. Thanks to Facebook, it was not.

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