Monday, November 30, 2015

Movie Review - Ziegfeld Girl

In my movie reviews, I give my brief thoughts on what I watched. Sometimes I will expound on those thoughts, but more often than not, I will just give a brief opinion. You can read plot descriptions on Internet Movie Database or on Amazon.

Ziegfeld Girl. Starring James Stewart and Judy Garland. 1941.

Crap. It's a musical.

I'm sure it's great if you're into musicals. But I'm more into movies that progress forward. Musicals, for me, seem to introduce an idea and then spin its wheels and dwell on it for about 4 minutes at a stretch while someone drones on and on and on about it.


Friday, November 27, 2015

Movie Review - It Happened One Night

In my movie reviews, I give my brief thoughts on what I watched. Sometimes I will expound on those thoughts, but more often than not, I will just give a brief opinion. You can read plot descriptions on Internet Movie Database or on Amazon.

It Happened One Night. Starring Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert. 1934.

An out-of-work journalist (Gable) and a runaway heiress (Colbert) agree to disagree. He learns her secret and promises not to tell in exchange for her exclusive story. It's your classic story of blackmail.

There is chivalry and hate and contempt and friendship and love and every extreme you can imagine. It is extremely risque, especially at the motor lodge, considering its age.

The Wall of Jericho stands tall until it falters. It's not my favorite Capra film, but it holds its own. Watching the cast belt out "The Man on the Flying Trapeze" like they are teenagers singing a modern Top 40 hit at the Homecoming dance is entertaining, as well. :)

3.5 out of 5 stars.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Photo Friday - Bells Part 31

Welcome back to Photo Friday. Here, I one or more photos each Friday. I will do my best to relate it to It's a Wonderful Life.


This week’s entry is the bell that sits in front of the Salvation Army Church building on Tarr Street in North Baltimore OH. The building now sits empty. These photos were taken March 29, 2015.







The bell seen in the above photos is just down the street from this memorial marker for Jesse Baker, who as a night policeman who was shot and killed on this spot on June 19, 1896. Several blocks away from this memorial, near another church with a bell, and right next to the library, is a second memorial for another officer shot on duty in North Baltimore. It used to be an old oil boom town full of bars and brothels.
Another view of the memorial marker for Jesse Baker. North Baltimore's train station can be seen in the background of the photo. The marker sits on Tarr Street, which is the only remaining brick road in the village. Directly behind me is an amazing home built in the 1800s that I considered buying at one point. It has a hitching post in the front yard.


Monday, November 23, 2015

Book Review - Jimmy Stewart and His Poems

In my book reviews, I give my brief thoughts on what I read. Sometimes I will expound on those thoughts, but more often than not, I will just give a brief opinion. I could go into detail about what the book is about, but a lot of people have already done that. You can read their descriptions of the book, plus the official description on Amazon.

Jimmy Stewart and His Poems, by Jimmy Stewart. 1989.

Jimmy Stewart wrote some verse
That made my English professor curse
He said it was not poetry, but worse
It was an assignment that I turned in ... my first.

Years later I know he was right
The book it really stunk
And yet I keep it next to Plath and Ginsberg
Tucked inside a trunk
Two copies of Stewart's poetry that I have in my collection.

Okay, I'm done.

I know the poetry above is not in any consistent meter. I know the rhymes are not in a consistent pattern. Neither are Stewarts. So not only are my verses above acceptable for this review, they are intentionally bad.

Don't expect anything high-minded here. You won't find Stewart's poetry in any classrooms...at any level. But that's okay. They don't beg analysis. They don't beg interpretation. They are intended to be entertaining and gain a few laughs.

There are only four poems in this book. All of them are preceded by a short explanation of their creation. Of the four poems, three of them are about Stewart's travels to foreign countries:

  • The Top Step in the Hotel Junin
  • The Aberdares!
  • I'm a Movie Camera
I found this letter to Dear Abby in my copy with the cartoon dust jacket. I had forgotten
I had put it there. To be honest, I don't even remember it. But it gives you an idea of
how Stewart wrote.
A fourth poem, titled "Beau" is about the family dog.

Sadly, Stewart believes that in order to be poetry, the lines must rhyme. I strongly disagree with him, but who am I to argue with Jimmy Stewart?

3 out of 5 starts, but only for cuteness, not for quality of the poetry!



Friday, November 20, 2015

Photo Friday - Bells Part 30

Welcome back to Photo Friday. Here, I one or more photos each Friday. I will do my best to relate it to It's a Wonderful Life.


This week’s entry is a tower bell in what was once Scotch Ridge United Presbyterian Church. It has been converted into a home in Scotch Ridge, Ohio. These photos were taken March 15, 2015.











This bottom photo is a composite/stitched photo of what you see above. As you can see, it is not perfect and has some parts missing. But you get the idea.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

My Collection Part 3 - Research Paper Abstract

When I was a college sophomore, I already knew what I wanted my junior/senior research paper to be about. I was a double-major in both English and Communication, so I could choose either of those to focus on. They were offered on opposite years, with English being offered my freshman and junior years, and communication offered my sophomore or senior years.

I couldn't fathom researching an English topic. That just sounded boring to me. But the option of communication seemed wide open and offered more opportunities. I told some friends of mine that I was going to complete my communication research project as a senior, and that I was going to write about It's a Wonderful Life.

Add a year and a half of interceding college effort, drama, and hijinks, my senior year finally came around....and I forgot the plan. So I spent a week or two writing up notes about how I was going to compare print journalism reporting of the Civil War to coverage of the Gulf War. I was only half-feeling it and kind of dreading the project.

Part of the requirement was to present your proposal in front of the class. As I sat in the classroom that night waiting for the professor to arrive, we were sharing our topics in broad terms. I told about my news reporting idea, and one of my friends, Jay, spoke up: "I thought you were going to do this about It's a Wonderful Life."

I was shell-shocked. How could I have forgotten????!!!!! I uttered a short, vulgar phrase that shows surprise and the realization that I wasn't prepared to present on that. I thanked him profusely, turned around in my seat, grabbed a piece of paper and proceeded to ignore the first two or three presenters and I madly brainstormed and framed out my idea.

I present to you, that page:


I got up in front of the class that night, presented this as if I had planned it all along, and got some excited and encouraging feedback from my professor. I took that back to my dorm, started the film on my VCR (this was before DVD, let alone Blu-Ray), and wrote the full abstract, dated March 3, 1997:


This paper has gone through many versions, including the 46-page college paper that I turned in for a grade, a hastily-written book version that wasn't much more than a slightly expanded version of the college paper. I recently finished my 7th draft of a greatly-expanded, carefully-considered 250 (or so) page book. It has been declined by one publishing house with promising feedback about how it didn't quite fit their publishing vision, but was well-written, and a book proposal is currently with another publishing house under review and consideration.

And even though the book is complete, it's so tempting to go back and re-write it an eighth time. I have made a habit of it for the last 18 years. Old habits are hard to break, not to mention how much fun I have doing it!

Monday, November 16, 2015

It's never too early

It's never too early to get ready for Christmas.

NEVER!

On Tuesday, Trans-Siberian Orchestra released their new album, "Letters From the Labyrinth."

I haven't listened to it yet, but I plan to remedy that very soon.

On Thursday, I had a scout leader meeting and found out that two of the leaders (or their wives) have already put up their Christmas trees. Also on Thursday, I tuned my car radio to 101.5 The River, and found out that they have already started playing their 24/7 Christmas music. See? .....

video

I'm geeked. I'm so excited for this.

On Saturday, I watched Ernest Saves Christmas for the first time since I was 14. It was better in 1988. My best friend said he wanted to watch It's a Wonderful Life with me. Which is nice, since my family won't watch it with me anymore. They say I quote the movie as it's playing too much. Whatever.

My TSO playlist on Spotify is ready to go. Our Christmas gift planning for the boys is underway. I'm excited. This is the best time of the year. I absolutely love it.

But if anyone has any ideas what to get a 12-year-old kid who doesn't know what he wants for Christmas, PLEASE let us know. We're stumped.

So party on. And if you want to share pictures of your trees or other decorations, or of you watching IAWL, please post them here. I'd love to see those photos!

Friday, November 13, 2015

Photo Friday - Bells Part 29

Welcome back to Photo Friday. Here, I one or more photos each Friday. I will do my best to relate it to It's a Wonderful Life.


This week’s entry is a mini cow bell from my mother's collection in Bowling Green, Ohio. This photo was taken April 5, 2015.



Wednesday, November 11, 2015

My Collection Part 2 - Magazine ad

On or about Nov. 3, 2015 (just last week, that is), I reached up on top of a 6-foot tall bookshelf to get something I needed. When I pulled it down, a flat piece of cardboard in  plastic sleeve pulled away from its safe, resting position. As I looked up at in from my 5'-10" vantage point, I had no idea what it was.

So imagine my surprise when I pulled it down and discovered that I own this:

Source: Blogger's collection.

It's a magazine ad (Life maybe?) dating to 1946. I had forgotten I own this. I was so excited to rediscover this.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Movie review - It's a Very Merry Muppet Christmas Movie

Source: http://goo.gl/zspjF5
In my movie reviews, I give my brief thoughts on what I watched. Sometimes I will expound on those thoughts, but more often than not, I will just give a brief opinion. You can read plot descriptions on Internet Movie Database or on Amazon.

It's a Very Merry Muppet Christmas Movie. 2002. Starring David Arquette, Joan Cusack and Whoppi Goldberg.

This installment of the Muppet franchise is a riff on It's a Wonderful Life. Kermit is in trouble and requires intervention by an angel. Nothing is sacred here as they lampoon A Christmas Story, Star Wars, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, and the Crocodile Hunter. This originally aired on television and was later made into DVD.

I give it 3 stars out of 5.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Photo Friday - Bells Part 28

Welcome back to Photo Friday. Here, I one or more photos each Friday. I will do my best to relate it to It's a Wonderful Life.


This week’s entry is a set of two hand bells formerly located at the Bruns family home in Pemberville, Ohio. They were sold at auction on May 9, 2015. These photos were taken May 8, 2015.

One side of the bronze bell says "United Fruit Company." The other side says "Great White Fleet."




Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Book Review - Frank Capra: The Catastrophe of Success

Frank Capra: The Catastrophe of Success, by Joseph McBride, 2000.

Joseph McBride
Source: http://goo.gl/caMblS
In my book reviews, I give my brief thoughts on what I read. Sometimes I will expound on those thoughts, but more often than not, I will just give a brief opinion. I could go into detail about what the book is about, but a lot of people have already done that. You can read their descriptions of the book, plus the official description on Amazon.

This book affirmed what I suspected in my review of The Name Above the Title (see Monday's blog entry)

McBride seems to take pleasure in and take pains to identify every false bit of information that can be found in The Name Above the Title

I read this book because it came highly recommended to me. When it arrived in the mail (I purchased it online), I read the back cover, and read some online reviews, and I wondered to myself, “why write a book about someone you hate?” 

This book isn’t like that, despite my first impression. This is a careful examination of Capra the man and Capra the myth. It is a very, very long book, but Stephen King has written longer. If you are going to read The Name Above the Title, then you MUST read The Catastrophe of Success, and they really ought to be read in that order.

My copy of this book.





Monday, November 2, 2015

Book Review - Frank Capra: The Name Above the Title

In my book reviews, I give my brief thoughts on what I read. Sometimes I will expound on those thoughts, but more often than not, I will just give a brief opinion. I could go into detail about what the book is about, but a lot of people have already done that. You can read their descriptions of the book, plus the official description on Amazon.

Frank Capra: The Name Above the Title, by Frank Capra, 1971.

Frank Capra Commemorative Stamp
Source: http://goo.gl/2aWrKI
I have mixed feelings about this book, and I’m going to lay them open here.

The bad news is that Capra’s ego is so huge, it smacks you in the face on darn near every page. Half of what I read, I found myself shaking my head literally not believing what he was telling me.

Even Jeanine Basinger, a Capra scholar, who wrote an introduction to the edition I read (printed in 1997) tells readers that Capra combines conversations and punches up his actions and speeches, along with the reactions of others in order to make himself look better. Capra goes on to admit it himself.

My copy of this book.
The good news is that if just half of what Capra is telling us is true, he not only is a pompous jerk, he also was a genius. There are lessons to be learned here about how to chase your dream, how to stand up for yourself, and how to work your way through a sewer tank and come out smelling like roses (sorry about the cliché).

Not only that, but Capra tells a heck of an entertaining story. It was written before the modern push for political correctness, so it reflects his honest opinions.

He calls a spade a spade (and an Italian a Dago). He does it in a disarming way that won’t get you all huffy if you’re a believer in all that is PC. That is, unless he uses that language to invoke pity for himself. After all, he does have a complex and a need to be noticed, and to be the center of attention, and to have his name precede the names of the actors in his films, the names of his films, and even the title of his book).

Just keep that in mind and read it with a healthy dose of skepticism.