Saturday, November 24, 2007

That whole guest programmer thing....

Dave Schuler at The Glittereing Eye notices Turner Classic Movie's Guest Programmer Month. I can't frame it up any better than he can, so here's Dave:

All through the month of November each evening TCM has had a guest programmer select four movies that would be shown that evening. Guest programmers ranged from directors, actors and actresses, to the great mystery writer James Ellroy and opera diva Renee Fleming. Some of the selections have been, well, the usual suspects e.g. Casablanca, Gone With the Wind, Citizen Kane. Some of the selections have been intriguingly self-revealing. Tracey Ullman’s selections highlight the difference growing up in the UK might mean to one’s selections. Whoopi Goldberg’s picks were remarkably romantic. Jerry Stiller’s picks suggest an extremely sentimental guy.

Well, what if I were guest programmer? The following picks aren’t necessarily my favorite pictures. Some of them are, some aren’t. But these are the pictures I’d choose if I had the opportunity to be TCM guest programmer for an evening.

Dave picked the following four movies:

Dave concludes with something of a challenge: "So, if you were guest programmer what would you pick?" Here's my answer:

Hmm, four movies. That’s tough. There are all kinds of genres to choose from, and it would be hard to not load up on one genre: comedies, for example. But here’s a quick stab.

[ADDED: We decided to not restrict ourselves to TCM's considerable library.]

1) “Singin’ in the Rain” - It’s not as thematic as musicals would become (in fact the musical numbers often have little to do with the movie itself), but somehow this movie just hits all the right notes. In particular, Jean Hagen as Lina Lamont is simply incredible.

2) “Victor/Victoria” - Perhaps the best roles for both Julie Andrews and Robert Preston. The two versions of “The Shady Dame from Seville” are both highly entertaining, for completely different reasons. The supporting parts are very well cast (Leslie Ann Warren stands out. I’ve got a thing for ditsy blondes in movies if played well.) And even the bit players are well done. (The long suffering waiter, who has the best line in the whole movie:

Victoria: The bourguignon was just a little tough.

Waiter: Maybe the way you are eating your jaws are getting tired.

Toddy: Speaking of overworked jaws, why don't you treat yours to a sabbatical and fetch me a wine list?

Victoria: [holding up a glass] This is all they have.

Toddy: This? The last time I saw a specimen like this, they had to shoot the horse!

Waiter: [irritated] How lucky can you get? In one evening a Rockefeller... and a Groucho Marx.

Toddy: Oh, they didn't shoot a real horse... just a costume with two waiters in it.

Waiter: I shall think of a sharp retort while I am getting your roast chicken.

Toddy: It's a wise man who knows when to throw in the towel.

Waiter: And it is a moron who gives advice to a horse's arse.

HA!). Also, some trademark Blake Edwards chaos (the outside shot of the restaurant exploding into chaos is brilliant.) This is my favorite Blake Edwards film.

3) “American Graffiti” – George Lucas’s best movie, without a doubt. There are several interwoven stories, but to me Richard Dreyfus’s character Curt is the central character. Over the course of a night he ends up discovering that the world is a bit more complex than he had thought. The pivotal scene for me is the meeting with Wolfman Jack. The Wolfman insists that he isn’t the Wolfman at all, and dispenses some good advice. That advice really hits home when Curt discovers that the man he had been talking to WAS the Wolfman. The look on Curt’s face looking back through the glass is perfect. (The movie also gives a brief glimpse of the trauma of the coming Vietnam War. At the end of the movie we discover that Toad died in war, and that Curt became a draft dodger.)

4) “Run Lola, Run!"– The best film of the latter half of the 1990s, in my opinion. A German film that features crime, love, alternate realities, and a girl (Franka Potente) with shocking hair. Bonuses: the all-time greatest movie scream; a funny intro sequence (the security guard talking about soccer), and the bum from Monty Python. (Not really, on that last point. But it may as well be.) Be certain to watch this in the original German. Dubbing can ruin a performance.

Just missing the cut this time: “Full Metal Jacket”, “The Shawshank Redemption”, “Touch of Evil”, “Aliens”, “Die Hard”, “Terminator” & “Terminator II”, and a host of others.

So, which four movies would you pick? Leave a comment here, at Dave's, or blog it yourself.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

And so concludes today's swarm of postings.

Maybe four posts doesn't look like a "swarm of postings" to you, but I actually wrote eight posts today. (I'm not counting this post. This actually makes it nine posts.) The other four were on a side project that may or may not ever see the light of day. But those posts actually required more work than did the posts on this blog. Anyway, good night, and peace out.

A Brief Digression About "Football"

Last week, The Chess Mind blog discussed the potential merits and demerits of using the soccer scoring system of 3-1-0 for scoring wins, draws and loses, instead of the traditional scoring system used in the chess world of 1-0.5-0. In the post that started the discussion, Dennis Monokroussos (the blogger behind that excellent chess site) tossed in the following throwaway line:

soccer (strangely called "football" by non-Americans)....
Having read Dennis's site for some time now, I took this as good-natured ribbing of his fellow Americans. He's just not a man to go looking for a fight over nothing. However, a commenter used that throwaway line as an excuse to lecture Americans on their character flaws:
The fact, that something is non-American does not mean, that it is strange. This shows American arrogance; something I haven't get used to in this blog. It is sufficient to note, that the vast majority of the world population calls this sport football (or a variation like voetbal, fussball). Moreover it is older than the American version of rugby, which strangely allows its participants to take the ball in hands and throw it.
This claptrap about "football" got my ire up, so I wrote a longish comment about the use of the words "football", "soccer" and some other terms. It was useful enough that I'm going to repost it here, with some slight editing:

"Football" refers to games played on foot, rather than games played solely with feet. What Europeans now call football is more properly called Association Football. In fact FIFA's definitions state the following:

12 Association Football: the game controlled by FIFA and organised in accordance with the Laws of the Game.

It gets shortened to "football" (or a variant) in nations where that is the most popular kind of football. In other nations (mostly the USA) where other forms of football are more popular, the more popular game is usually simply called football.

Rugby is another variant. And while it's normally just called Rugby, the more proper name for it would be "Rugby football". American football (once a.k.a. Gridiron football) would be the proper term for what we in the USA call football. But for ease of use all the modifiers usually get dropped when one form or another becomes the dominant sport. I imagine that Rugby football became "Rugby" simply because both Rugby football and Association football both remained very popular in the British Empire, and Rugby is a nice short term. (Also, in English language the 'rug' in Rugby suggests 'rugged', which that game surely is.)

Finally, the term 'soccer' isn't an American term at all. It's English slang from the late 1800s, and yes, it's slang for "Association football". (The story I've usually heard is that the SOC comes from as-SOC-iation. I’ve heard the SOC was prominent on old versions of the balls used, but I don't know if that's true or just urban legend.)

So, in short, "football" applies to a variety of games. Association football is what FIFA regulates. (In fact it is in the name of the organization!) Association football usually gets shortened to "football" in countries where it is the primary variant of football. It is NOT the dominant form in the USA - that would be American football. Therefore Americans tend to call our game "football" as a matter of convenience. However, "soccer" is an old established variant name of Association football which has proper English origins.

So, we Americans are not being arrogant by calling our game football. Neither are Europeans and most of the rest of the world arrogant for simply calling Association football "football". However, people who insist that Americans are arrogant for our use of the terms "football" and "soccer" are ignorant, as they have no idea of the etymology of these words, or how & why they are used as they are around the world.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

If I've been lax ...

... in posting about my Mother's health status, it's because the news has been uniformly good.

Last week I took her to see her surgeon. This was a chance for him to see how she was doing and to tell us the results of the pathology report on the section of colon that they removed. It was all good news: the pathology report showed no cancer at all. After "Your baby is healthy", the words "There are no signs of cancer" are probably the best words you can hear come out of a doctor's mouth.

In addition, the doctor seems surprised at how quickly Mom is recovering from the surgery. She been staying with us since she was discharged, but she could have gone home last week. We've kept her with us for a while 'cause we're trying to fatten her up. Her weight last Wednesday was the same as it was before the surgery, which is good because it means she hasn't lost any weight. But she still weighs less than she probably should. (She lost about 25 pounds in 2006 due to various health issues.)

The doctor did surprise me with some of the details of the surgery. It turns out they had removed more colon than I had thought. The surgeon actually removed two separate stretches of colon measuring about a foot long. They wanted to be certain they did get any potential cancer. Also, at the age of 80, Mom finally had her appendix removed.

So, everything is going well on that front. I appreciate any and all kind wishes, thoughts, and prayers that were directed our way.

Story of the Day: Go Gator!

Yeah, baby, that's the stuff!

MICCOSUKEE TRIBE INDIAN RESERVATION [That's down in SE FLorida] - A man who jumped into a lake to flee police was killed by an alligator more than 9-feet long, officials said Tuesday.
Unfortunately, no good deed goes unpunished. For this brave act of law enforcement, the gator in question was killed.
The alligator believed to be responsible for the death has been killed. A coroner was scheduled to examine the 9-foot-3 reptile Wednesday for human hair or skin, said Brian Wood, owner of All American Gator Products, which is storing the gator in a cooler for now. It will then be incinerated or buried, he said.
I really love Florida....

Some Quick Hits for Tuesday

Below are a few items of some interest. I'll probably add to this as the day goes on.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Take THAT, Canada!

Sweet! This story is from a couple of months ago, but still current enough.

Refugees pose 'potential crisis'
Mayor Francis asks the feds for help to deal with influx of Mexicans
Just to be clear, this story takes place in Canada.
With city shelters filled and a surge of further refugee claimants expected to flood into Windsor, Mayor Eddie Francis is pleading for financial help from Ottawa.

"When there is a possibility of adding thousands to the local social assistance system as a result of refugee claimants crossing the border into Windsor, we will become overwhelmed and our current resources will not suffice," Francis wrote in a letter sent Wednesday to Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

Over the past three weeks, 45 families and 31 individuals -- approximately 200 people -- entered Canada at the Detroit River crossings and applied in Windsor for shelter and social assistance after filing refugee claims with the Canada Border Services Agency. Municipal agencies dealing with the sudden influx of mainly Mexican refugee applicants are renting out hotel rooms and bracing for predicted thousands more to come.
We don't have the means, ability or capacity to deal with this additional cost. We are not able to deal with this potential crisis locally," Francis wrote Harper.

"I don't believe that Windsor's residents and taxpayers should have to foot the bill for U.S. immigration policy," Francis told The Star. He was referring to the suspected source of the problem -- a recently begun crackdown on illegal immigrants in economically struggling regions of the U.S. South.

With the bulk of the latest arrivals being long-time Mexican illegals dislodged from their homes and workplaces in southwestern Florida, fingers are being pointed at unscrupulous outfits charging money and then directing desperate individuals and their families toward the Windsor border crossing.
Bwa ha ha ha ha! This is great!
"We are aware of these operations -- they have been advertising incorrect and false information," said Marina Wilson, a spokeswoman for Citizenship and Immigration Canada. Wilson said Canadian immigration authorities have started contacting the Mexican and Haitian communities in Florida, as well as local media there, to get the word out that nothing has changed in Canadian refugee policy.

"The fact someone wants to come here for better economic opportunity or a better quality of life ... that's no basis for a successful refugee claim," said Immigration Refugee Board (IRB) spokesman Charles Hawkins.
Suck it, Canada! Once they leave our borders, they're no longer the concern of OUR immigration laws. If you guys don't want Mexicans over-running your country, then defend your damned southern border.
"This is a problem the U.S. has allowed to create. It's really unfair for Canada to have to face this," said MP Joe Comartin (NDP -- Windsor-Tecumseh), his Party's public safety and national security critic.

"This is very much being driven by (the U.S. Department of) Homeland Security," he said, predicting that, "with few exceptions," most of these "economic claimants" will eventually be sent back.
Hey, it's not our job to defend your stinkin' border. Canadians are jerks anyway.

Sunday, November 04, 2007