Thursday, July 31, 2014

¡Feliz Cumpleaños, Richard Rodriguez!

Born July 31, 1944.

He is a Mexican-American writer best known for his first book The Hunger of Memory: The Education of Richard Rodriguez. He is also one of the first Mexican-American writers I encountered who did not encourage me to view Mexican-Americans as a social problem. He is more than a little unpopular with the liberal left due to his criticism of bilingual education and affirmative action though I find his criticism of these policies to be more sympathetic towards their aims than the usual conservative rhetoric on these subjects. Then again, it is unlikely that his frequently expressed sympathy for homosexuals and illegal aliens endear him that much to cultural conservatives. ¡Qué lástima!

If nothing else, his own essays on gay rights and family values did more to make me question my own attitudes on these subjects than any other source I can currently think of. And I would like to think that is a good thing.

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Movie Quote of the Week

Guilt, we know. We're Catholics.
--Shelbie Bruce, Spanglish (2004)

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TV Quote of the Week

All writers reveal more of themselves than they intend on every page.
--Jonathan Adams, Bones, "The Superhero in the Alley"

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Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Quote of the Week

History is a muse you glimpse bathing between leaves. The more you shift your point of view, the more is revealed.
--Felipe Fernández-Armesto, Our America: A Hispanic History of the United States

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Friday, July 25, 2014

Movie Poster of the Week

No, this is not meant to be the Flick Filosopher's biopic. In fact, she was still a little girl when this film was first released in 1973 and I doubt she was even in grade school back then.

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Thursday, July 24, 2014

¡Feliz Cumpleaños, Jennifer Lopez!

AKA Jennifer Lynn Lopez Rodríguez and J.Lo.

Born July 24, 1969.

Everyone's favorite Puerto Rican actress -- and a long-time favorite of mine though I must admit to rolling my eyes a bit every time non-Hispanics praised certain physical attributes of hers.

However, I did like her in Mi Family, Selena and almost every movie she has made that I have seen. I must admit that there were times when she tested my faith in her -- especially when she starred in Anaconda -- but still.

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¡Feliz Cumpleaños, Lynda Carter!

AKA Linda Jean Córdova Carter.

Born July 24, 1951.

She is an American actress who is the daughter of a father of English and Irish descent and a mother of Mexican and Spanish ancestry. She was best known to TV viewers in the late 1970s as Diana Prince aka the title character in the TV series Wonder Woman.

I remember having a big crush on her back in the day, and as this picture indicates, said crush can't be entirely blamed on her Wonder Woman outfit.

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¡Feliz Cumpleaños, Simón Bolívar!

AKA Simón José Antonio de la Santísima Trinidad Bolívar y Palacios Ponte y Blanco.

Born July 24, 1783. Died December 17, 1830.

He was one of the most influential people in the history of South America. Without him, much of the continent would still be part of the Spanish Empire. Unfortunately, his post-revolutionary life is not quite as Washingtonian as I might wish. Yet he still continues to play an influential role in South American politics today and two South American countries (Bolivia and Venezuela*) are named after him.

* AKA the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela.

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Movie Quote of the Week

All knowledge is for good. Only the use to which you put it can be good or evil.
--Paul Williams, Battle for the Planet of the Apes (1973)

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TV Quote of the Week

Old times only buys you one ticket and you cashed that yesterday.
--James Garner, The Rockford Files, "A Bad Deal in the Valley"

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Iconos de Cine (Swimmers I)

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Wednesday, July 23, 2014

¡Feliz Cumpleaños, Charisma Carpenter!

AKA Charisma Lee Carpenter.

Born July 23, 1970.

As I have noted before, she is apparently a mystery woman who is described on some sites as being of Mexican and Cherokee descent and on others as being Cherokee, Irish, Scottish and Spanish on her mother's side and French and German on her father's side. If that is not confusing enough, IMDB lists the latter description of her ethnic ancestry and then goes on to describe her as being of Mexican descent. She had admitted to speaking a little Spanish, though -- and more importantly, she does not deny her Hispanic ancestry though she is usually cast in white non-Hispanic roles.

She is best known for her role as Cordelia Chase on Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel and she recently appeared in the 2012 movie The Expendables 2 and the TV series The Lying Game. She is probably the closest thing BtVS ever had to a full-time Hispanic character and of course, she played the snobby girl who rarely got along with any of the more popular characters on the show.

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Pensamientos Acerca de Televisión

The Neighbors: “Pilot”

There are undoubtedly many good TV shows to be derived from the fictional adventures of a group of aliens in the suburbs of modern-day America.

This is not one of them.

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Tuesday, July 22, 2014

¡Feliz Cumpleaños, Edward Hopper!

Born July 22, 1882. Died May 15, 1967.

He was an American painter who specialized in urban and rural landscapes. More often than not, his paintings had a hint of sadness in them, if not of a story waiting to be told. His most famous work was the 1942 painting Nighthawks (seen below).

My late father used to have a book of paintings by him. He is not my favorite artist but my appreciation for his work has grown in the last few years. It does not hurt that he was one of the last American painters I have come across who actually believed in painting recognizable images. Then again, I was never a big fan of abstract art.

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Quote of the Week

I rarely wear clothes when I'm home by myself. I love making breakfast naked. But you've got to make sure the gardener's not coming that day.
--Kristen Bell

My comment:

Wait! Kristen Bell has a gardener?

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Monday, July 21, 2014

R.I.P. James Garner

American actor James Garner -- also known as James Scott Bumgarner (his birth name) and best known for playing Brett Maverick in the Western TV series Maverick and Jim Rockford in the detective TV series The Rockford Files -- closed his last case the day before yesterday at age 86.

He will be missed.

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Sunday, July 20, 2014

¡Feliz Cumpleaños, Carlos Santana!

Born July 20, 1947.

He is a Mexican-born musician who has become famous on both sides of the border thanks to his musical group Santana. He is supposed to be number twenty of the 100 greatest guitarists of all time, according to Rolling Stone magazine. I myself am tempted to rate him a bit higher, but then I might be a tad biased.

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¡Feliz Cumpleaños, Diana Rigg!

AKA Dame Enid Diana Elizabeth Rigg.

Born July 20, 1938.

She is an English actress best known for her iconic role as Emma Peel in the 1960s TV series The Avengers. She also played Tracy Bond -- James Bond's girlfriend and spouse -- in the 1969 movie On Her Majesty's Secret Service. She has also appeared in such films as The Assassination Bureau, The Hospital and Theatre of Blood. Most recently she co-starred in the third season of the HBO series Game of Thrones as well as in an episode of Doctor Who entitled "The Crimson Horror". She also had her own sitcom on American TV back in the 1970s but for some strange reason, nobody seems eager to remember that. Except me, of course.

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Friday, July 18, 2014

¡Feliz Cumpleaños, Kristen Bell!

AKA Kristen Anne Bell.

Born July 18, 1980.

She is the former star of the TV series Veronica Mars and one of the most famous Polish-American actresses currently working in Hollywood. I like her TV work a lot better than her movie work but I have hope that she will someday make it big in the movies as well. In fact, I would like to think that her voice-acting in last years's Disney film Frozen and her appearance as the title character in this year's movie Veronica Mars is already changing that. Plus her appearances on the Ellen show have been certainly memorable.

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¡Feliz Cumpleaños, Lupe Vélez!

AKA María Guadalupe Villalobos Vélez.

Born July 18, 1908. Died December 14, 1944.

She was once one of the most famous Mexican actresses ever to perform in the United States. Today she is rarely heard of outside of film buff circles. Sic transit gloria!

She was also the star of the Mexican Spitfire series, the first movie series to feature a marriage between a Mexican woman and a white non-Mexican man. Said series is often described as a forerunner of such transcultural comedies as I Love Lucy.

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Movie Poster of the Week

Oh, no! I have heard of hair turning white overnight due to a great fright but this is the first instance I have encountered in which hair turns blonde due to a similar cause. Just think of all the money women can save on peroxide if this happened more often.

On a more serious note, I would think that deliberately dying Ms. Velez's hair blonde on the movie poster in order to appeal to the type of people who do not care for brunettes is more than a bit foolish. Not only is such an act the aesthetic equivalent of drawing a mustache on the Mona Lisa, but it seems silly to pretend that the type of people fooled by such a poster are not likely to demand a refund once they discover Ms. Velez's true hair color. And what's wrong with naturally black hair, anyway?

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Thursday, July 17, 2014

¡Feliz Cumpleaños, Lucie Arnaz!

AKA Lucie Désirée Arnaz.

Born July 17, 1951.

She was the daughter of one of the most famous Cuban actors ever to grace the American TV screen -- yet for many years, I never thought of her as being Cuban-American. I know. It's a paradox.

She was originally most famous for being the daughter of celebrity parents and despite her extensive solo career, she is still more known for being the daughter of Lucy and Desi than for being a famous person in her own right.

But some day that might change, right? Er, right?

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Movie Quote of the Week

We better get out of here before I start talking politics!
--John Wayne, Big Jim McLain (1952)

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TV Quote of the Week

Everyone's a Democrat until they get a little money. Then they come to their senses!
--Joe Flaherty, Freaks and Geeks, "The Little Things"

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Iconos de Cine (Watchers I)

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Wednesday, July 16, 2014

¡Feliz Cumpleaños, Esther Friesner!

AKA Esther Mona Friesner-Stutzman.

Born July 16, 1951.

She is one of my favorite fantasy writers. Among other things, she wrote a series of novels about a young wizard long before anyone heard of that Harry Potter chap. She has also edited a few short story anthologies including the infamous Chicks in Chainmail series. She mostly specializes in humorous stories but she can be very, very serious when she wants to. Unfortunately, I suspect she is far better known for her Star Trek novels than for the work based on her own ideas. C'est la vie.

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¡Feliz Cumpleaños, Ginger Rogers!

AKA Virginia Katherine McMath.

Born July 16, 1911. Died April 25, 1995.

She was an American actress who virtually defined the word "female dancer" during the short time she dominated the musical genre. Even today, she is identified with the art of dancing the same way Marilyn Monroe is identified with the idea of feminine beauty.

Ginger Rogers is stll pretty memorable today even when she is not dancing, and whenever I see her in a comedy, she rarely fails to make me smile. Of all the movie stars I have "discovered" in the last thirteen years, she is one of my all-time favorites.

Contrary to what the above picture might make you think, she is not really a Latina. Nor is she even a white Hispanic. However, I still think she looks cute in that outfit regardless.

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Tuesday, July 15, 2014

¡Feliz Cumpleaños, Linda Ronstadt!

AKA Linda Susan Marie Ronstadt.

Born July 15, 1946.

She is one of my all-time favorite singers and there used to be a time when I was obsessed with collecting every song she ever recorded. Nowadays, I content myself with collecting just every other song she ever recorded.

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Literary Quote I Like

You are all liars, you English.
--Lispeth in Rudyard Kipling’s “Lispeth”

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Song Quote of the Week

You may never understand how the stranger is inspired.
But he isn't always evil and he is not always wrong.
--Billy Joel, “The Stranger”

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Monday, July 14, 2014

Quote of the Week

The Romans did not mind being defended and maintained by outlanders so long as they could continue the fiction that they were the masters; they had now been told too bluntly that they were not.
--R. A. Lafferty, The Fall of Rome

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Big Hero 6 (2014)
Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)
Edge of Tomorrow (2014)
Mr. Peabody & Sherman (2014)
Muppets Most Wanted (2014)
Non-Stop (2014)
The Book of Life (2014)
3 Days to Kill (2014)
Veronica Mars (2014)
The Lego Movie (2014)
The Nut Job (2014)
The Purge: Anarchy (2014)


Sunday, July 13, 2014

¡Feliz Cumpleaños, Cheech Marin!

AKA Richard Anthony "Cheech" Marin.

Born July 13, 1946.

He is the former half of the comedy duo Cheech & Chong who has gone on to become a successful actor in his own right. In some ways, he has been more successful than his former partner Tommy Chong. In some other ways, he will always be best known to many people -- including me -- as "Cheech." I don't always like his movies as much as I would like but I have to admire the variety of roles he has gone after.

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Saturday, July 12, 2014

Pop Song of the Week: "Downbound Train"

Because I'm all about the happy tunes.

But seriously, folks...

Who doesn't feel like a rider on a downbound train nowadays?

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Trailer of the Week: Lucy

Oy vey! They couldn't give us Americans a Wonder Woman movie but they could give us this?

It's official. Scarlett Johansson needs a new agent if for no reason that it has been a long time since I've seen a male character acquire superpowers by getting kicked in the stomach. In fact, I have never seen that happen.

And please don't get me started on the Asian stereotypes.

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¡Feliz Cumpleaños, Michelle Rodriguez!

AKA Mayte Michelle Rodriguez.

Born July 12, 1978.

She is an American actress of Dominican and Puerto Rican descent who was raised in Texas, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic and New Jersey. She has appeared on the TV series Lost and in such movies as Girlfight and The Fast and the Furious.

As my youngest brother recently pointed out, she used to be notorious for playing the type of character who ends up dying before the last reel. However, after seeing her in Machete and Battle: Los Angeles, it seemed obvious that the lifespans of her characters were actually growing longer. Gracias a Dios!

Of course, after seeing what happened to her character in Machete Kills, I am no longer so sure about that.

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¡Feliz Cumpleaños, Andrew Wyeth!

AKA Andrew Newell Wyeth.

Born July 12, 1917. Died January 16, 2009.

He was one of the last American realist painters to be well-known to the general public. One of his most famous paintings is the 1948 work known as Christina's World (pictured above), which I first discovered in sixth grade art class. To this day, it is one of my all-time favorite paintings. It does not hurt that my late father used to own a book of Wyeth paintings as well.

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Friday, July 11, 2014

Movie Song of the Week: "Left of Center"

From the Pretty in Pink soundtrack, it is the song that first introduced me to Suzanne Vega and made me a fan of hers for life. Even though my politics are not exactly left of center.

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¡Feliz Cumpleaños, Suzanne Vega!

AKA Suzanne Nadine Vega.

Born July 11, 1959.

She is the daughter of a woman of German-Swedish descent and a man of Scottish-English-Irish heritage. Thanks to a Puerto Rican stepfather, she used to think for the longest time that she was half-Puerto Rican only to find out later that she was not. She still admits to having strong emotional ties to her stepfather's family and if nothing else, she certainly has an interesting perspective on ethnic and racial issues.

Of course, when her song "Left of Center" started playing on the radio in 1986, I quickly became a fan of hers even though I had no idea she had such an unconventional background. Then again, my ethnic background would rarely be considered the norm either and anyway, you don't always pick the music that speaks to you.

Needless to say, most of Ms. Vega's songs do not concern ethnic or racial issues. I must admit that I am tempted to interpret "Left of Center" that way sometimes even though the lyrics are more about outsiders in general and not outsiders of a specific ethnic background. However, it is not fair to Ms. Vega to give her songs an interpretation that she never intended and even if it were, I think it unlikely that director John Hughes had such issues in mind when he had her co-write and record that tune for his 1986 movie Pretty in Pink.

If I had to pick my favorite Suzanne Vega that was not "Left of Center," it would probably be "Tom's Diner," a tune which was once characterized by one of my late sister's friends as "The Do Do Do Do Song" -- which might be a more accurate description of the tune than its original title. Then again the song is written from the perspective of a male character. Yet Ms. Vega sings it so naturally that I rarely pick up on that aspect whenever I listen to it. I am not sure whether she would consider that a compliment but I would like to think it is, right? Right?

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Movie Poster of the Week

This just in: sixty centuries of stony sleep vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle. Details at eleven.

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Thursday, July 10, 2014

Movie Quote of the Week

The telephone has no constitutional right to be answered.
--Walter Matthau, First Monday in October (1981)

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TV Quote of the Week

We'll finish our drinks and admire the view and pretend that we belong. Then we'll go catch a murderer.
--David Boreanaz, Bones, "The Woman in the Airport"

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Wednesday, July 09, 2014

R.I.P. Paul Mazursky

Jewish-American actor, director and screenwriter Paul Mazursky -- best known for writing and directing such films as the 1970 comedy Bob 7 Carol & Ted & Alice and the 1974 road movie Harry and Tonto -- cried "Cut!" for the last time on June 30 at age 84.

He will be missed.

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R.I.P. Meshach Taylor

African-American actor Meshach Taylor -- best known for his Emmy-nominated role as Anthony Bouvier on the TV series Designing Women and his role as Hollywood Montrose in the 1987 movie Mannequin -- walked off the set for the last time on June 28 at age 67.

He will be missed.

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R.I.P. Bobby Womack

African-American musician and singer-songwriter Bobby Womack -- most famous for such songs as "Lookin' for a Love" and "Across 110th Street" -- ended his last recording session on June 27 at age 70.

He will be missed.

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Tuesday, July 08, 2014

Literary Quote I Like

Some called Smith’s the “greatest generation,” but he did not agree with that assessment. The very idea that one generation was greater than another automatically diminished the accomplishments of all others not in some venerated fraternity. Smith understood that in every generation there was potential for greatness, and he did not view the blood spilled at Normandy and Iwo Jima as any more precious than that which soaked the sands of Kabul or Tikrit.
--Warren Murphy and James Mullaney, The New Destroyer #1: Guardian Angel

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Song Quote of the Week

I am what love is all about.
I've got American teeth and a Spanish mouth.
--Billy Crystal and Paul Shaffer, “You Look Marvelous”

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Monday, July 07, 2014

Quote of the Week

American dreams are strongest in the hearts of those who have seen America only in their dreams.
--Pico Iyer, Video Night in Kathmandu and Other Reports from the Not-So-Far East

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Sunday, July 06, 2014

¡Feliz Cumpleaños, Tonio Kruger!

Charisma Carpenter has taken it upon herself to wish me a happy birthday today. I hope all my readers have a great day today as well.

I take no joy in growing old but I will admit to being a sucker for a good birthday celebration.

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¡Feliz Cumpleaños, Frida Kahlo!

AKA Magdalena Frida Carmen Kahlo y Calderón.

Born July 6, 1907. Died July 13, 1954.

She was one of the most famous artists in Mexican history. Her husband, Diego Rivera, of course, was also a famous artist and he had a profound influence on her work -- though not always in a good way. She is also one of the few female artists still regularly referenced in pop culture. Hopefully, she will have lots of company in that field one day.

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¡Feliz Cumpleaños, Maximiliano I de México!

AKA Fernando Maximiliano José María de Habsburgo-Lorena.

Born July 6, 1832. Died June 19, 1867.

He was the first and last emperor of the Second Mexican Empire and I would like to think that he was the last foreign ruler Mexico will ever have. I obviously do not care for his politics but like it or not, he did have a major impact on Mexican history.

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Saturday, July 05, 2014

¡Feliz Cumpleaños, James Glasgow Farragut!

Born July 5, 1801. Died August 14, 1870.

He was a flag officer in the U.S. Civil War who went on to be the first rear admiral, vice admiral and admiral of the U.S. Navy. Born to a native of Minorca, Spain, and his wife of North Carolina Scotch-Irish American descent, he was one of the most famous naval heroes in American history. He is most remembered for having uttered the order, "Damn the torpedos, full speed ahead!" at the Battle of Mobile Bay.

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