Saturday, February 28, 2015

¡Feliz Cumpleaños, Ali Larter!


AKA Alison Elizabeth "Ali" Larter.

Born February 28, 1976.

She is an American actress who once played my favorite character on the TV series Heroes. Plus she reminds me of at least one former would-be novia. She also starred in the first two of the Final Destination movies though for some reason, I don't remember her that well from those films. Perhaps that is a blessing.

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¡Feliz Cumpleaños, José Vasconcelos!


AKA José María Albino Vasconcelos Calderón.

Born February 28, 1882. Died June 30, 1959.

He was the author of the 1925 essay The Cosmic Race aka La Raza Cósmica, an essay which helped popularized the use of La Raza as shorthand for the mixed race folk of Latin America. Ironically, it is often considered today to be as politically incorrect as the Eurocentric philosophies it had once sought to replace.

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Thursday, February 26, 2015

¡Feliz Cumpleaños, Marta Kristen!


Born February 26, 1945.

She played Judy Robinson on the old science fiction series Lost in Space, the first sci-fi show of which I was a fan. She also played a mermaid in the 1965 movie Beach Blanket Bingo.

Unfortunately, she is most known for playing fourth fiddle to Jonathan Harris, Billy Mumy and Dick Tufeld on Lost in Space, but I would like to think that many men of my generation still remember her, even if it is for a role for which she rather not be remembered.

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¡Feliz Cumpleaños, Johnny Cash!


Born February 26, 1932. Died September 12, 2003.

He was one of the most iconic singers of my generation. He has been missed.

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Movie Quote of the Week

It is difficult for anyone to speak when you listen only to yourself.
--Barbara Stanwyck, The Man with a Cloak (1951)

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TV Quote of the Week

You're missing the point. Enlightenment was not the diamond. Enlightenment was the choice.
--Peter Davison, Doctor Who (The First Series), "Enlightenment"

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Iconos de Cine (Legs)










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Tuesday, February 24, 2015

¡Feliz Cumpleaños, Edward James Olmos!


Born February 24, 1947.

He is a Mexican-American actor best known for his roles as William Adama in the new Battlestar: Galactica TV series and Lt. Martin Castillo in the TV version of Miami Vice. He is the one actor who comes closest to portraying the archetypical Mexican-American as far as my generation is concerned. And he was also nominated for an Academy Award for his role in the 1988 movie Stand and Deliver.

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Quote of the Week

How easy it is for those in power and prosperity to preach heroism to the vanquished! How little can they understand that life itself may rise in value with the unfortunate, when nought but life remains!
--Washington Irving, Tales of the Alhambra

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Saturday, February 21, 2015

R.I.P. Lesley Gore


American singer, songwriter and actress Leslie Gore -- best known for such songs as "It's My Party" and "You Don't Own Me" -- ended her last party on February 16 at age 68.

She will be missed.

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R.I.P. Louis Jourdan


French actor Louis Jourdan -- best-known for his starring roles in such movies as the 1958 movie musical Gigi and the 1983 James Bond thriller Octopussy -- stopped being bored on February 14 at age 93.

He will be missed.

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Friday, February 20, 2015

¡Feliz Cumpleaños, Cindy Crawford!


AKA Cynthia Ann "Cindy" Crawford.

Born February 20, 1966.

She is one of my all-time favorite fashion models. However, I'm pretty sure that she doesn't normally dress like this.

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¡Feliz Cumpleaños, Richard Matheson!


Born February 20, 1926. Died June 23, 2013.

He was a key contributor to such TV anthologies as The Twilight Zone and Night Gallery, not to mention the author of I Am Legend, one of the first novels to drag the vampire legend kicking and screaming into the twentieth century. One of the first science fiction stories that I was ever taught about in school was a Matheson story. Indeed, it could be said that Matheson was a key influence on my life, even when he wasn't trying to be. And I am quite sure that I was not the only sci-fi fan that he influenced.

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Thursday, February 19, 2015

¡Feliz Cumpleaños, Rudolfo Neri Vela!


Born February 19, 1952.

He was the first Mexican in space -- though some would quibble about the fact that he was a Mexican born of Spanish and Italian ancestry. I'm not quite sure why he isn't mentioned in the history books more often but he should be.

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Movie Quote of the Week

Why was I not made of stone like thee?
--Charles Laughton, The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1939)

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TV Quote of the Week

What's the point in saving the world if you can't enjoy it?
--Michael Emerson, Person of Interest, "If-Then-Else"

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Iconos de Cine (Shower Scenes I)












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Tuesday, February 17, 2015

R.I.P. Gary Owens


American disc jockey and voice actor Gary Owens -- best known for his work as an announcer on the NBC comedy series Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In -- performed his final sign-off on February 12 at age 80.

He will be missed.

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Monday, February 16, 2015

Quote of the Week

Sometimes I felt like I was both too geeky for the freaks and too freaky for the squares.
--Joan Kelly, The Pleasure's All Mine: The Memoir of a Professional Submissive

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Sunday, February 15, 2015

¡Feliz Cumpleaños, César Romero!


AKA César Julio Romero Jr.

Born February 15, 1907. Died January 1, 1994.

He was the son of a Cuban mother and an Italian father who played many a Latin lover and even -- for six movies -- the Cisco Kid. (?!) He is best known to contemporary pop culture fans as the man who played the original Joker in the 1960s TV series Batman, but he also played Count Dracula on an old Night Gallery episode and Hernán Cortés in the 1947 Tyrone Power movie Captain from Castile.

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Saturday, February 14, 2015

¡Feliz Día del Amor y la Amistad!


Tim Robbins and Elizabeth Peña would probably remind you all to have an excellent Valentine's Day but I suspect they're too involved in their own issues right now. Anyway, I hope you all have a pleasant holiday, regardless of that.

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Movie Poster of the Week


This is an odd idea for a romcom.

I'm guessing the fact that it is not currently available on DVD is actually a good thing for a change.

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Friday, February 13, 2015

¡Feliz Cumpleaños, Carol Lynley!


AKA Carole Ann Jones.*

Born February 13, 1942.

She is best known for her role as a young singer in the 1972 movie The Poseidon Adventure as well as for such movies as Return to Peyton Place and Bunny Lake Is Missing. Of course, she also did much work on the small screen as well, the most notable for me being her role as Carl Kolchak's girlfriend in the 1972 made-for-TV movie The Night Stalker.

I have no idea what role inspired the above photo but I would like to think it is pretty memorable in its own right.

* Birth name.

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Thursday, February 12, 2015

¡Feliz Cumpleaños, Joanna Kerns!


AKA Joanne Crussie DeVarona.

Born February 12, 1953.

She is best known for her role as Maggie Seaver, the mother on the old ABC sitcom Growing Pains, which ran from 1985 to 1992. Of course, she might be more familiar to most younger readers as the potential grandmother in the 2007 film Knocked Up.

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¡Feliz Cumpleaños, Abraham Lincoln!


Born February 12, 1809. Died April 15, 1865.

The 16th President of the United States and perhaps the last Republican presidential candidate most American liberals feel comfortable supporting. He presided over the bloodiest war in U.S. history and has been described as its last victim.

He used to have his own birthday celebrated as a federal holiday but unfortunately, he has to share it with another president these days.

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Movie Quote of the Week

Let's take what we have while we live. I have never had so much as now. All my life I've been alone. Many times I've faced my death with no one to know. I would look into the huts and the tents of others in the coldest dark and I would see figures holding each other in the night. And I always passed by. You and I, we have warmth. That's so hard to find in this world. Please. Let someone else pass by in the night. Let us take the world by the throat and make it give us what we desire.
--Sandahl Bergman, Conan the Barbarian (1982)

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TV Quote of the Week

All a girl needs is Don Juan.
--Emily Banks, Star Trek, "Shore Leave"

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Iconos de Cine (Mirrors II)











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Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Book of the Week


When I first read the review for Jim Geraghty's novel The Weed Agency in The National Review, I thought the book critic was exaggerating its merits. But then I had a chance to read the novel and I was pleasantly surprised by how much I ended up liking it.

On paper, it seemed like a pointless attempt at recreating the wheel. After all, the classic British TV series Yes Minister had covered the same subject thoroughly many years ago and while I have always wondered what an American version of that TV show would be like, I had little hope that a novel on that theme would be all that entertaining. To my amazement, it was.

Of course, it might be argued that part of the reason the novel worked so well was that author Jim Geraghty was not content to create a simple straw man designed to stand in for all things bureaucratical. His version of Sir Humphrey Appleby had his own reasons for acting as he did and some of them were surprisingly sympathetic. Nor was Geraghty content to just skew government bureaucrats. He also included a subplot that dealt with some of the most outrageous aspects of the private sector as well.

I must confess that the need to downsize the federal bureaucracy will not strike many people as the most apt subject for a comic novel at this time but I suspect many people will enjoy this book far more than they might admit. And not of all of them will necessarily be conservatives.

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Monday, February 09, 2015

Quote of the Week

If people don't like your work, all the still pictures in the world can't help you and nothing written about you, even oceans of it, will make you popular.
--Jean Arthur

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Pensamientos Acerca de Televisión

The Americans: "Pilot"

I always thought that the Fleetwood Mac song "Tusk" would make a cool background song for a secret agent show. I just never figured until I saw the first episode of the cable TV series The Americans that the secret agents in the show in question would be Soviet agents. Especially Soviet agents who were working undercover in the United States of America.

Yet it says something about The Americans that the show's writers manage to take this dubious premise and make it work -- even though they're in effect asking the show's American audience to root for the type of people whom they would obviously dislike in real life. Call it if you will a legacy of Dexter, Weeds and The Sopranos -- three successful cable TV shows which also dared American TV viewers to "root" for the type of people they would dislike in real life. Or maybe it's just nostalgia for the 1980s. After all, the 1980s seemed to be the last decade in America which had its own distinctive music, fashion and pop culture. At least it had a pop culture that had not been totally blanded out by the Internet. Or perhaps it would be simpler to argue that compared to today's Mideastern terrorist troubles, the Cold War antics of the 1980s seem as simple as the black-and-white politics of the Second World War must have seemed to people living in the more gray era of the Ronald Reagan Administration.

Anyway, the opening sequence of The Americans's first episode is not just about exploiting the cooler musical moments of the 1980s. It also answers one of the more logical questions posed by the show's storyline: why don't the agents in question defect to the United States? That question is answered quite simply by the fate of the would-be Soviet defector who is captured by the show's title characters in the episode's opening episode -- a capture that goes off almost perfectly until the couple in question fail to make a key rendezvous due to the need to tend to a wounded accomplice. As a result, they literally miss the boat that is supposed to take the defector back to Mother Russia and end up getting stuck with him. As if that were not bad enough, the wounded accomplice ends up dying of his wounds anyway.

In any event, the agents in question tend to be different in one regard: one is a "true believer" who genuinely supports the Soviet system, the other is more a skeptic who is not crazy enough to openly embrace the American system but can't help noticing its obvious advantages over the Soviet Union. As it turns out, the true believer -- played by actress Keri Russell -- also had a secret connection to the defector -- a secret that eventually comes out before the episode is over. And though both agents are thought to be in a marriage of convenience that was arranged by their bosses in the KGB, one agent -- the man, natch -- is more emotionally attached than the other. Which proves to be a key factor when that agent is asked to choose between his spouse and his mission...

Anyway, I found The Americans to be more interesting than it should have been. And not because I wax nostalgic for the good old days of the former Soviet Union. Indeed, one of the most refreshing aspects about this show is the way it refused to play down the fact that both characters had a great capacity to act like absolute bastards just because both of them were working on behalf of the Soviet Union. In other words, they were not the usual Russian agents with hearts of gold that one might normally expect from a liberal TV show.

Time will tell how successful this series will be in the long run but I for one am glad to see that it has lasted for more than one season. Granted, I might change my mind about that after viewing future episodes. But for now... I am content.

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Saturday, February 07, 2015

¡Feliz Cumpleaños, Thomas More!


Born February 7, 1478. Died July 6, 1535.

He was the man whose defiance of an English king inspired the 1966 movie A Man for All Seasons. He also wrote Utopia, one of the first works of political science fiction, and insisted on giving his daughters the same type of education that his son received in an era when giving women any type of education was considered quite daring.

He was not a perfect man -- the more I find out about him, the more I realize that -- but he had the courage to stand up for his principles at a time when it would have been far easier for him to back down, and he also had the bravery to stand up against authority in an age when such a thing was not only just not done but tended to be life-threatening as well. These are not bad traits to admire, even in a man whom many might otherwise find less than admirable.

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Thursday, February 05, 2015

Movie Quote of the Week

It's a bit cold outside when you have to go about naked.
--Claude Rains, The Invisible Man (1933)

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TV Quote of the Week

Miss Olem, you should never assume because when you assume, you make an ass out of you and me.
--Tony Randall, The Odd Couple, "My Strife in Court"

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Iconos de Cine (Mirrors I)










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