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Showing posts from March, 2011

R.I.P. Farley Granger

One of Hollywood's matinee idols, solid thespians, and out gay actors has passed away at the age of 85. Farley Granger is probably not very well known to many of today's younger film-goers, but there was a time when he was a box office draw. He starred in such Hitchcock thrillers as Strangers on a Train and Rope, and later did television work in shows such as Ellery Queen and Murder, She Wrote.

Watching some of his roles (most notably the Hitchcock ones), it has been suggested that we can see (very broad) brushstrokes of homosexuality, and I might agree with such an assessment. It's been rumored that staunchly conservative actor Jimmy Stewart felt uncomfortable on the set of Rope, where both his co-stars (Granger and John Dall) were gay. In his later years, Granger spoke out on the subject of homosexuality in Hollywood:
Since the 1990s, Granger has appeared in several documentaries discussing Hollywood in general and Alfred Hitchcock in particular. In 1995 he was interview…

On Writing

Some of the world's foremost writer's share their thoughts and experiences on the medium. My favorite author, P.D. James, has several paragraphs of her own describing how she writes. I particularly enjoyed the following passage:

I used to tell stories to my brother and sister. At one time we were in one room; my sister and I shared a bed most of our childhood – a double bed – and my brother had the single one against the wall, and they would want a story last thing at night, and they were very unimaginative in a way because they were all about the adventures of a pig called Percy Pig. I just knew I was going to write one day.
What a nice, personal remembrance. Go ahead and read the whole article. It's quite enlightening, especially to those of us who enjoy writing, ourselves.

The Hollywood Female Form

Andrew Sullivan links to a piece in Salon by Camille Paglia about Elizabeth Taylor. Specifically, it's about the type of body that Ms. Taylor had. She opines:

To me, Elizabeth Taylor's importance as an actress was that she represented a kind of womanliness that is now completely impossible to find on the U.S. or U.K. screen. It was rooted in hormonal reality -- the vitality of nature. She was single-handedly a living rebuke to postmodernism and post-structuralism, which maintain that gender is merely a social construct. Let me give you an example. Lisa Cholodenko's "The Kids Are All Right" is a truly wonderful film, but Julianne Moore and Annette Bening -- who is fabulous in it and should have won the Oscar for her portrayal of a prototypical contemporary American career woman -- were painfully scrawny to look at on the screen. This is the standard starvation look that is now projected by Hollywood women stars -- a skeletal, Pilates-honed, anorexic silhouette, whi…

Better Marketing

Finally, someone in the media states the bleedin' obvious, that Apple is a much better advertiser than many of its competitors. Case in point, the ads that Motorola have been running for its new Xoom tablet are, to put it mildly, a big cluster. Instead of following Apple's lead and simply (but elegantly) showing you what their product can actually do for you in eveyday life, Motorola has decided to eschew such money-making ideas, and instead opted to show you how, once activated, their Xoom tablet will transform into a spaceship that will surround you and fire its jet engines as it hovers above the ground. Or something.

How some folks make it in the advertising world is beyond me. True, some rather annoying and confusing commercials actually seem to work for some companies, but it's looking like the Xoom tablet isn't among that elite. And while some wacky ads are kind of cute, and definitely memorable, they don't really tell me about what the product being sold act…

Pic of the Week

This week, it's Robert Pattinson, pre-Twilight fame. Enjoy!

I Was Inspired

Well, folks, meet my new phone...

It's an HTC Inspire 4G. As some of you may know, my beloved iPhone 4 passed away a few weeks ago, and so it was time to try something new. I'd heard some good things about the Android OS (mainly that it was much more customizable than the Apple iOS), and did a lot of online research for what was available on the AT&T network. It came down to the Motorola Atrix, and the Inspire. The Atrix is a more powerful phone, but it costs more and, honestly, with my main usage consisting of casual web browsing, texting and a few minor apps, how powerful of a phone do I really need?

So, the Inspire has proven itself to be quite capable during the last week-and-a-half. It's taken a bit of a learning curve to learn the new OS, but now that I've diddled around with it for awhile, I've grown to appreciate it. Certainly, it is much more customizable than Apple iOS, and I quite like the 4.3" display screen (compared to the 3.5" that was …

Cut Copy

This article about the current state of the news media holds few surprises (perhaps aside from the stability of newspapers). Among the items that made me nod my head in an 'Aha!' moment of recognition was the following portion regarding the downsizing of editorial staffing:

Many of the cuts have been copy editors. This has led to an increase in factual errors and typos. Another cost-saving strategy was to outsource editing and page design to regional centers. Thinner newsrooms have led to thinner news reports. There are fears that the changes will lead to a loss in quality, bringing down circulation, thus causing a further decline.Anyone who has been reading online articles lately has surely noticed the decline in quality of the basics. Sentence structure, spelling, it's gone to the dogs. Numerous times I'll be reading an article, and be left scratching my head, having to piece together what the writer was intending to say, versus what they actually wrote. Case in point…

Pic of the Week

A couple of days late, but here's the Pic of the Week!

This week is actor Aaron Johnson, most notable from having starred in Kick-Ass. Enjoy.

Pale In Her Anger

On March 19th, the Moon will come the closest it's been to Earth in 18 years and, of course, astrologers are predicting doom. Oddly enough, however, it would appear as though such concerns about a "Super Moon"  occurrence are not completely unfounded:

... scientists have studied related scenarios for decades. Even under normal conditions, the moon is close enough to Earth to make its weighty presence felt: It causes the ebb and flow of the ocean tides. The moon's gravity can even cause small but measureable ebbs and flows in the continents, called "land tides" or "solid Earth tides," too. The tides are greatest during full and new moons, when the sun and moon are aligned either on the same or opposite sides of the Earth. According to John Vidale, a seismologist at the University of Washington in Seattle and director of the Pacific Northwest Seismic Network, particularly dramatic land and ocean tides do trigger earthquakes. "Both the moon and sun…

The Survivors

Some great news from the medical community regarding the number of people who are surviving cancer. It's going up:

The survivor count includes anyone who had a cancer diagnosis, including people who had been successfully treated as well as those still getting treated or who may be dying from the disease. About 65 percent had survived for at least five years, and 40 percent for 10 years or more.As one who can (luckily) count themselves among the ranks of cancer survivors (and who has had members of family and friends not be so fortunate), it's nice to see that this survival thing is becoming a trend. Let's hope it continues!

The Music of "True Grit" (2010)

Jim Emerson has written a wonderful piece about the music (both the score by Cartel Burwell and vocalizations of the actors) for the Coen Brothers' superb film True Grit. From the moment I saw the movie, and then upon thinking about it afterwards, I knew there was something different about the dialogue of the characters, and how it was spoken. This has been the subject of a few conversations between myself, Ashley and friends, and Emerson manages to provide a unique theory for it:
... if you compare some of the very same lines in the 1969 film with the 2010 film, you'll immediately hear the difference between speaking and singing. Henry Hathaway tried to make the words sound as conversational as possible; the Coens go for Baroque -- high stylization that's not quite horse-operatic, but in an American vernacular that's like Bach transposed to "Deadwood."Read the whole thing, as Emerson makes some truly interesting observations.

Help Fight Cancer, In Memory of a Splendid Chap

As many fans of the Doctor Who are aware, Nicholas Courtney passed away last week. To many, he was part of the heart and soul of the program, playing Brigadier Lethbridge Stewart off-and-on from 1968 to 1989 (he even reprised the role in a recent episode of The Sarah Jane Adventures). I have very fond memories of watching Jon Pertwee's Doctor (my favorite) sharing screen time with the Brig, in many wonderful episodes.

Mr. Courtney passed away after battling cancer, and now the web site Just Giving is allowing those touched by the beloved actor to help the cause in his name. Click on the link in the previous sentence, and you can make a donation to help Marie Cure Cancer Care, which helped Mr. Courtney during his final days. Following is a bit about MCCC:

Marie Curie Cancer Care provides high quality nursing, totally free, to give people with terminal cancer and other illnesses the choice of dying at home, supported by their families. It runs nine Marie Curie Hospices across the UK …

Apple Through the Years

From this....

To this....

This week, Apple CEO Steve Jobs unveiled the iPad 2, the lastest in tablet computing. It's fast, lean and quite gorgeous to behold. I therefore thought it would be an appropriate time to review the evolution of Apple products, from 1977 to 2008. Enjoy the geek-out session!

Pic of the Week

Every Friday, I hope to have a continuing segment called "Pic of the Week." Basically, this will be a photo (or photo montage) of an attractive celebrity. I do it because I am shallow, and because it is there.  :-)

This week --- Jesse Spencer!

Debate and Class

The on-again, off-again saga of the debate schedule for the Champaign mayoral race continues to get weirder. Current Mayor Jerry Schweighart, who has flipped-flopped and given multiple reasons as to why he's backed-out of the first scheduled candidate debate, has gone all West Side Story....
.... Schweighart says he will debate Don Gerard on the street if he has to.  He also chirped in that Gerard "don't scare him."
So this is what Jerry is reducing the mayor's race to --- some sort of street gang warfare? Makes Don Gerard look all the better. And Champaign deserves better.

Film is Life

The 83rd Academy Awards were this past Sunday and, like every year, I watched them with Ashley and some friends that came over. As usual, the telecast was a cross between awkward and boring, but we still had fun watching it. This may be partly because movies have been --- and continue to be --- such a huge part of my life.

Film critic Roger Ebert has often remarked that literature is more of an intellectual exercise, while films tend to be more of an emotional experience. While it can't be denied that books can pack an emotional wallop on occasion, I mostly agree with Ebert's assessment. Who wasn't moved during Colin Firth's performance in The King's Speech when, as King George VI, he gave his stirring speech on the eve of World War II? Who didn't shed a tear (or at least get a little misty-eyed) when Jack disappeared into the icy waters of the Atlantic at the end of Titanic? And what about when Forrest Gump is speaking to his dead, beloved Jenn-ay at her grave…

Drive the car, if you're with me...

In case anyone's wondered where the name of my blog comes from (yes, it's been one of those burning questions for you, hasn't it, dear reader?), then wonder no further!

It is the name of one of my favorite Pet Shop Boys songs. Here's the video (one of their best), enjoy: