Friday, August 17, 2018

R.I.P. Aretha Franklin

American singer Aretha Louise Franklin -- also known as the Queen of Soul and best known for such songs as "R-E-S-P-E-C-T," "Chain of Fools" and "Think" -- sang her last note yesterday on August 16, 2018 at age 76.

She will be missed.

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R.I.P. Fats Domino

American singer Fats Domino -- best known for such songs as "Ain't That a Shame" and "Blueberry Hill" -- found his last thrill on October 24, 2017, at age 89.

He will be missed.

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R.I.P. Chuck Berry

He will be missed.

Singer Chuck Berry -- best known for many songs such as "Maybelline" and "You Never Can Tell" -- hung up his guitar for the last time on March 18 2017, at age 90.

He will be missed.

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R.I.P. Holly Dunn

American country singer Holly Dunn -- best known for such songs as "You Got Me Going" and "Daddy's Hands" -- finished her last tune on November 14, 2016 at age 59.

She will be missed.

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R.I.P. Robert Vaughn

American actor Robert Vaughn -- best known for his role as Napoleon Solo in the 1960s TV series The Man from U.N.C.L.E. and his Emmy-winning role in the 1970s miniseries Washington: Behind Closed Doors as well for his roles in such movies as The Magnificent Seven and Bullit -- walked off the set for the final time on November 11, 2016, at age 83.

He will be missed.

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Thursday, August 16, 2018

Random Thoughts

So much for the notion that the new pope was going to change things.

No, seriously. I had high hopes that Pope Francis I would be an improvement on his predecessor but apparently I was wrong.

As sick as it sounds, I'm glad none of my Catholic relatives live in Pennsylvania. And I can't help feeling sorry for those people who do live there.

If I worked for the Vatican right now, I'd worry less about bad press and more about Judgment Day.

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Monday, August 13, 2018

Ms. Deschanel Sole Success in Failure to Launch

Halfway through the 2006 movie Failure to Launch, Zooey Deschanel had a scene in this movie where she was walking around in a department store at which point she casually picked up the entire movie and placed it in her pocket. Not that was a whole lot of movie to steal at that point. The plot was boring, the characters -- apart from Ms. Deschanel's, of course -- were less than charming and it became blatantly obvious that even someone as attractive as Sarah Jessica Parker couldn't carry a romcom in which neither half of the main romantic couple seemed all that interesting. Pretty soon I stopped wishing for her to succeed and instead chose to spend my time waiting for Ms. Deschanel to return.

Not that Ms. Deschanel didn't have her share of bad material to contend with -- especially toward the end when the script kept expecting her to do Moe Howard imitations. But she did have her moments and unlike Ms. Parker, I actually wanted to see more of her character even though the movie was not about her (a fact made obvious by the fact that she was not pictured on the above movie poster). Indeed, Ms. Deschanel was the sole reason that Failure to Launch did not leave a bad taste in my mouth. Too bad for her that her TV series New Girl was never all that funny. For a while there, Ms. Deschanel had a lot of potential and for all I know, she might still have.

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Sunday, August 12, 2018

Pop Song of the Week: "Womanizer"

Fifty shades of Britney, give or take forty-seven.

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Movie Song of the Week: "Cousin Kevin"

'Tis the season for bullies, unfortunately. So why not post the ultimate bully song?

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Friday, August 10, 2018

Movie Quote of the Week

Leave it to the Catholics to destroy existence.
--Salma Hayek, Dogma (1999)

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TV Quote of the Week

Face it, Marge, Catholics rule! We've got Boston, South America, the good part of Ireland, and we're making serious in-roads in Mozambique, baby!
--Dan Castellaneta, The Simpsons, "The Father, the Son, and the Holy Guest Star"

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Thursday, August 09, 2018

Pity the Poor First Husband: Kisses for My President

Contrary to whatever impression the recent Hillary Clinton campaign might have given you, Hollywood hasn't made all that many movies about a female President in the White House. Indeed, apart from the 1964 movie Kisses for My President, it's difficult for me to think of one. And even Kisses for My President leaves more than a bit to be desired on the cinematic front.

For what it was worth, Polly Bergen made a fine impression as Leslie Harrison McCloud, the first woman president of the United States. But sadly the movie wasn't really about her. It was about her husband Thad (played by Fred MacMurray).

Thad used to be a big industrialist before his wife got elected, but now she was in the White House, he was just another First Spouse with little to do save for keeping out of trouble and attending meaningless social events -- a situation which was just fine for previous presidential spouses but not for Thad. Because he was a guy, you know. And according to the dogma of 1964 Hollywood, guy problems were much more important than woman problems.

Eventually he did get into trouble -- first when he was entertaining a conniving Latin American dictator named Raphael Valdez Jr. (played by Eli Wallach) and then again when he was almost seduced by a job offer from an ex-girlfriend named Doris Weaver (played by Arlene Dahl). For that matter, the children had issues too but the movie was not as interested in those issues as it was in the plight of poor Tad.

In any event, the movie was not a complete loss. Despite all the attention focused on Fred MacMurray, Polly Bergen managed to do a good job of convincingly portraying a female president, especially in the scenes in which she stood up to a patronizing U.S. senator (played by Edward Andrews) and Raphael Valdez Jr. Nor did Ms. Bergen have a monopoly on good roles. Wallach managed to play his role in a memorable fashion and it didn't hurt that he had a few good scenes with John Banner, an actor best known for playing Sgt. Schultz on the TV series Hogan's Heroes but seen in this film playing the role of the Soviet Ambassador.

Unfortunately, by turning the fictional story of the first female president into a romantic comedy and focusing primarily on male issues, the movie eventually undermined itself to the point that it's no surprise that it rarely seems to be mentioned in movie buff circles. If I had to pick the worst part of the film, it would be the ending which was the setup for a really bad one-liner by Mr. MacMurray that has not improved with age. Of course, Kisses for My President would not be the last Hollywood film to reflect a dubious attitude towards the Women's Liberation Movement. But it is one of the most obvious ones.

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Wednesday, August 08, 2018

Quote of the Week

We must admit that people of color can be racist, and this racism is an idiotic mindless support of a system that beats us down. We have to commit to stop being racist against each other. Because by being racist against each other, we bring racism on ourselves.
--Steven De Castro, “Identity in Action: A Filipino American’s Perspective.” From the anthology, The State of Asian America: Activism and Resistance in the 1990s, edited by Karin Aguilar-San Juan

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