Sunday Night Movie: The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance

libertyFor those who are new to my blog on Sunday nights after my sweetie-wife has retired for the evening I pop in a DVD or Blu-ray and watch a movie. As often as not with a big bowl of pocorn and with all the lights out. It’s the chance during the week for me to watch a film at home the way I prefer to. In a dark room and with a few stops as possible. (Usually none.) Lately I have made it a regular feature on my blog to talk about the films as I watch them.
The week’s movie was The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance. (1962) Continue reading Sunday Night Movie: The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance

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Thoughts on today’s historical significance.

July 20, 1944.

Today a conspiracy of plotters sought to assassinate Adolph Hitler and overthrow the NAZI dictatorship with a coup. The coup was generated from with Hitler’s own military and nearly succeeded. It is only by chance and a string of unlikely events that Hitler survived this attempt. (I understand there were something like 15 different attempts on Hitler’s life. He had the devils own luck in avoiding these attempts.)

A film which does a very good job of being both entertainment and capturing the events — with some alterations one should always be wary of film as history — is last year’s Valkyrie . This film is tense and dramatic with a top notch cast that give a power performance.

July 20, 1969.

Mankind landed on the moon. Forty years have passed and age has dulled my memory but I do remember lying on a narrow bed (I was nine) with a father in a trailer on one of his worksites and watching the astronauts descend to the lunar surface.
I have always been a space bug. As a child I drew Gemini and Apollo and Mercury capsules. I was six and I would watch and try to understand Star Trek. (I remember asking my sister how the Enterprise could launch, thinking at the time that everything had to go straight up from the ground like an Atlas. She explained how ships may be built in orbit and my horizons were expanded a bit. (At least until JJ Abrams got his hand on the future.)
I loved the space program and I still believe that man’s destiny lies off-planet. It may not be America’s destiny but it is mans.

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Gun Rights in America

As I have mentioned in others post a reader of this blog should not confuse my attacks and problems withe the Republican Party as an indication that I am of a liberal political persuasion. To paraphrase SF author John Scalzi; I believe that same-sex couples have the right to marry and get automatic weapons as wedding gifts.
I am very concerned about gun right in this country. I am a support the contention that the second amendment is an individual right. (Come on people, all those other amendments – excepting the 10th are individual rights, it;s silly and asinine not to read the second the same way.)
While I myself do not own a collection of firearms I can understand the viewpoint of people who do. (Just as I do not have to be gay to support marriage- equality.)
Continue reading Gun Rights in America

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For our God is an Ironic God

This was taken from a Yahoo news article about stars and their unusual phobias.

Sarah Michelle Gellar: Afraid of Graveyards
Oh, the irony. Sarah Michelle Gellar, the star of TV’s “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” has a fear of graveyards and admits that she’s had nightmares of being buried alive. Lucky for her, the set-dressing wizards on “Buffy” were able to create phony grave sites so that Gellar never had to shoot in a real cemetery.

I know people who do have a phobia of graveyards and who get creeped out just passing near or through one. (One of our trolley lines in San Diego passes through a graveyard.)
Me? I’ve l always liked graveyard ever since I was a teenager.I spent the summer of ’77 with my sister in the mountains and I used to climb up the hills into this tiny almost forgotten graveyard. I’d sit and read there. It was quite peaceful.

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Going Electronic

I’ve decided I really want to go electronic for my pleasure reading. There are a number of reasons why I think eBooks are the way to go for me. Firstly I like the idea of less clutter and few physical objects to keep track of. I also know it will make magazine subscription much better for me. I like having magazines to read but I dislike throwing them out when they start to pile up as much as I dislike having them pile up to begin with. The obvious answer is to get these magazine as eBooks and keep them stored on a disc where I can access them if I like but where they won’t start taking over the condo. Continue reading Going Electronic

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A surprise in the mail

So I had just finished climbing the hill from the trolley stop and getting inside when I notice my wife has dropped the mail on the table.
Fine and dandy, it’s got the usual assortment of bills and other doo-dads you expect on a normal mail day. It also had my current issue of Scientific American but there was one other magazine and that was a surprise.
fantasyThe current issue of Realms of Fantasy. This is surprising because I have not subscribed to this magazine. I read the odd bit of fantasy here and there, primarily Terry Pratchett’s stuff, but not enough to warrant a magazine subscription.
I wonder why those chose me out of the blue to try and tempt into a subscription.
No matter, it’s something new to read.

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San Diego Vintage SF : The Abominable Snowman

The Abominable Snowman Yeti handForgive the late posting on this but life does have a habit of getting in the way.
The past Saturday, July 11th, was this month’s meeting of San Diego Vintage SF. This month I brought a film to share, a DVD that my wife got for me as a birthday present, The Abominable Snowman (1957).
I first saw this film by way of Netflix when I was working my way through the Hammer Horror catalog and generally the ones with Peter Cushing. When I rented this film I did not have high expectations for it but I was pleasantly surprised. It is written by Nigel Kneale who had written a number of films that I throughly enjoyed including Quatermass and the Pit. (Known in the US generally as Five Million Years to Earth.) One of the best SF films out of Britain or anywhere for that matter. The Abominable Snowman was directed by Val Guest a number of films for hammer studios.
The story is about Dr Rollason a botanist and mountain climber who is on an expedition into the Himalayas to gather rare and unusual plants. He has his wife and a friend and associate Peter Fox along on his botanical expedition. Dr. Rollason has also contracted to lead another expedition high into the mountains to search for the mythical Yeti.
The Yeti expedition is lead by Thomas Friend (Forrest Tucker of F-Troop fame.) Tucker is quite credible as the mercenary and ruthless leader whose only concern is profit and clearing his name from a fraud that went badly.
The film can be dinged for being a bit talky, but I think the characters and the resolution of the story more than make up for this small flaw.
If you get a chance to see this film do so.

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The race to the bottom

No, this is not another political posting, this is a movie posting. It seems to me that there is a race going on. A race to who makes the least intelligent movies from Hollywood. We should ignore the low-budget direct to video stuff being made. That’s not what I am talking about. I’m talking about the A-list directors with tons and tons of money making films that would embarrass a comatose squirrel.
The two leading contenders for this prize are, Michael Bay and Roland Emmerich.
Michael Bay certainly has consistency on his side. In 2007 people referred to Transformers as the ‘Least Stupid’ Michael bay film. For consistently insulting his viewer’s intelligence Michael Bay is unequaled.
However, what Roland Emmerich lacks in consistency he makes up for in truly stupid scripts, ideas, and execution. Wether it is the archeology in 10,000 BC or the climate and weather science in The Day After Tomorrow his films set new standards for ignoring and destroying scientific thought.
In an effort to win the race and settle the question once and for all time, Roland Emmerich has apparently topped himself in stupidity. This summer we get the film 2012. Go watch the preview, I did at this past weekend’s San Diego Vintage SF meeting. (I’ll post about that soon.) We hooted and jeered at the spectacularly awful filme being hawked at us. Then Gerry, the host had a treat for us and one I am going to share with you.
The trailer for 2012 as it should have been cut.

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Sunday Night Movie: Goldfinger

goldfinger_l You need three films to establish a franchise and for James Bond the frnachise was established with a bang with the release of Goldfinger.

Based on the novel of the same name by Ian Flemming Goldfinger saw James Bond, agent 007, matching wits against international criminals Auric Goldfinger, Odd Job, and Pussy Galore and her all girl team of flying thieves. Suprisingly some of the more outraheous aspects of the book were deleted from the film version. (Quite the opposite of the Hollywood normally practice.)
This is the film that established many of the cliches that became a part of the Bond Franchise. The walk through Q-Section with gadgets and death all around, the realtionship between Bond and Q, the verbal sparing match with the lead villain were all established in this film.
Yes I am aware that Bond traded quips with Dr No in the film of the same name, but that occured in the final act of the film. In Goldfinger Bond encounters Godlfinger in Miami, againt on teh Glaf Course and of course in Switzerland in that most famous scene with the laser all before teh big climax in teh final act. The became a template and fianlly a formula for later Bond movies. As with all franchises, books or movies, when it devloves to formula it’s get tired old and bad.
I’m glad that the film-makers removed from the plot that Pussy galore was gay and turned straight simply because Bond was THAT good.
This is a film well worth watching and particularlly on Blu-Ray as I did.

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