Down the Hall on Your Left

This site is a blog about what has been coasting through my consciousness lately. The things I post will be reflections that I see of the world around me. You may not agree with me or like what I say. In either case – you’ll get over it and I can live with it if it makes you unhappy. Please feel free to leave comments if you wish . All postings are: copyright 2014 – 2019

Archive for the category “Movies”

Throwback Thursday From September 2016 – Whatever Happened To…

Throwback Thursday From September 2016 – Whatever Happened To…

 

Whatever Happened To…

Van1I GOT UP THIS MORNING AND TURNED ON THE TV, just like I do on most mornings. I fiddle with the remote until I find TCM – Turner Classic Movies. It is my first mental challenge of the day. Remember the channel number and get my fingers to cooperate enough to hit the right buttons.

Just about every day is some Star’s “day,” either the day they came into the world or the day they left it. Once it has been established who the Star of the Day is the next question in my mind is: Still Alive or Dead?

About a week ago I figured out that the featured Star was Van Johnson. Being sure it was Van van7was not as simple as it sounds. They were showing a movie with both Van Johnson and June Allyson. Those two made about 600 movies together (or so it seems). It took another movie coming on to nail it down as Van’s day in the spotlight. Alive or Dead was not so easy.

At about 8:30 I went to see if my wife, the lovely and cinematically knowledgeable, Dawn, could, hopefully, give me an answer.

“I think that he is still alive,” she said over the edge of her teacup. “I think so too, the last of his era,” I agreed.

Van Johnson died in 2008. I guess I missed that one.

He just disappeared from my consciousness that morning. He disappeared from everything else in 2008.

People come and then they go. Things do that too. One minute they seem to be everywhere and then, Poof! You find out that they disappeared years before.

This morning I mentioned one such thing to Dawn. She looked at me like I was leading up to another Van Johnson question.

“Whatever happened to all those old Fotomat booths that used to be everywhere?” I asked her out of nowhere. She’s used to me doing that.

Van2“I think they went out of business years ago – Digital cameras and all that.” She never lifted her eyes from her Kindle.

“No, I know that, but what in the world did they do with all of those little booths where you dropped off your film? There must have been millions of them.” She did lift her eyes on that one.

“I dunno,” and back to the Kindle.

This sent me off on a fact-finding mission. For an apparently pointless reason I needed to learn more about Fotomat and their ubiquitous booths. I should have spent my time researching Van Johnson.

I did uncover that those booths started popping up in the 1960s in strip malls all over the country and lasted unto 2009 – one year after Van Johnson checked out.van4

I found a lot of information about the company and its ups and downs and eventually it’s over and out as a corporate entity. But not one word about the fate of the (In reality – 4000 of them) booths.

When I finished my research I rushed into the other room to tell Dawn all about what I had lvan5earned. To say she was not impressed would be an understatement – like saying World War Two was just a little dust-up between friends. I can’t blame her, but still…

There is another show on the TV about a trend/fad in housing where people are building incredibly small houses, little more than – Oh, I don’t know – Fotomat booths. Maybe that’s to where they all disappeared: Cable TV – just a few channels down from Van Johnson.

van6

I Am Not Spartacus!

 

I SAW A LOVELY FAMILY PORTRAIT the other day. It was quite a crowd spanning several generations. At the crux of the gathering was the Patriarch of the Family – Kirk Douglas. THE Kirk Douglas, the world famous actor, who starred in countless movies spanning decades.

He is 102 years old now and still ticking. His wife is 100 years old and still tocking. Together they are defying time.

When I first saw that Kirk Douglas had cracked the century mark it made me feel positively young, but then I saw that his oldest son, Michael Douglas is a year older than me. So much for that illusion of youth that I was clinging to.

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Throwback Thursday from May 2016 – “A Starlit Night”

 

 

 

Throwback Thursday from May 2016 – “A Starlit Night”

IT IS ALMOST MIDNIGHT AND THERE IS STILL LIGHT IN THE SKY. 1The horizon is sharply dividing the ocean from the sky and the crescent moon is reflected off of the water.

The last few nights have been overcast here in Glencolumbcille in County Donegal, but not tonight. Tonight the clouds have melted away and we have our eyes looking upward, taking in the blanket of stars.

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Our home in Glencolumbcille

Jupiter is large and bright, and untwinkling. It stands out like a lantern among the shimmering stars around it. The Big Dipper points the way to Polaris, The North Star. Castor and Pollex stand in line, but Orion and his belt are still below the horizon.

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The Face Is Familiar

Myron Healey

John Doucette

George Chandler

Do you recognize any of these names? If you do I’d be very surprised, but I’d bet that you would recognize their faces in a flash.

Every film and TV show has Leading Men, the “Stars” but it is the “Character Actors” who fill in the blanks. What good is a Hero without a Villain to vanquish or someone to rescue?

These three guys were what Hollywood called “Character Actors” portraying any number of roles in countless films and TV shows. For every John Wayne or Clint Eastwood there are hundreds of actors who create the atmosphere of danger and serve as the Antagonists that keep us on the edge of our seats. Someone has to rob the stagecoach so that the Lone Ranger can hunt them down.

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Throwback Thursday from Feb. 2016 – Albert Einstein Meets The Bowery Boys

Throwback Thursday from Feb. 2016 – Albert Einstein Meets The Bowery Boys

IT SEEMS THAT EVERY DAY THERE IS A NEW INVENTION OR DISCOVERY that changes the world. I recently saw that scientists have discovered proof of “Gravitational Waves” that were mathematically theorized by Albert Einstein decades ago.

While that may rattle the tea cups of the scientific world, it really doesn’t impact our daily lives. Gravitational Waves are something on a Cosmic scale that may, at some date in the future, affect how or where people live. But, so far, it doesn’t alter what I’m having for lunch today.

With a minimum of research on my part I have uncovered one of those seemingly “little things” that are almost universally present, yet are virtually unseen. The Toothpick.

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Coming Of (Middle) Age

WHILE I DID MISS OUT ON SEEING THE NEW MARY POPPINS MOVIE while down in Texas recently I did manage to catch one of my all-time favorite films just the other night. Some people classify it as a “Chick Flick,” but I think that it is better thought of as a “Human Flick.”

“Shirley Valentine” was released in 1989 to less than raving reviews. Well, you can’t please everyone. The reviews may have been rather tepid, but Pauline Collins got an Oscar nomination for Best Actress, along with a number of other awards. I guess that it was liked only by the people who saw it without any preconceived ideas.

Shirley (Played by Pauline Collins) is a British housewife mired in middle-age, and wondering where everything she hoped for has gone.

“I’ve led a very little life.”

— Shirley Valentine

Shirley feels that she has disappeared into a mind and soul numbing routine. Her husband is caught in

his own rut that has isolated them from each other. They share their house, but are living separate and unsatisfying lives.

Shirley’s life takes a remarkable twist when one of her “lady friends” wins a contest that offer a two week vacation trip to Greece and she asks Shirley to accompany her.

And now you need to download the movie.

Every year there are countless movies made that are “Coming of Age” films about the difficult and awkward transition from childhood through adolescence to adulthood. There is a big market for those. Less frequently does one find a different kind of “Coming of Age “ film – one about the transition from our prime adult years into “Middle-Age” when we begin to look back on our lives. We look at where we have been and where we are now, and what do we have ahead of us. And what are we going to do about it?

While the basic story is light and entertaining with other characters adding to Shirley’s mountain of things to think about there is an undertone that hits home easily. Life is a serious business.

I don’t often recommend movies – mainly because I don’t think most of them warrant any kind of recommendation. “Shirley Valentine” is thirty years old now, but it doesn’t look it or feel it. It has a freshness that makes it as pertinent as today.

That’s it. Short. Sweet and to the point today. Go get a snack.

Christmas Eve – Brace Yourself

Christmas Eve – one of the most magical days of the year – if you are a child. If you are an adult it is a night when you are exhausted, frustrated looking for those darned scissors, and suffering from paper cuts.

The Christmas Tree is up and decorated, gifts are wrapped and under the tree, and that bottle of Christmas cheer is getting low.

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Throwback Thursday From November 2015 – “There Is Music In The Air”

Throwback Thursday From November 2015 –

 

There Is Music In The Air

SOMETIMES I THINK THAT HEARSAY IS BETTER than actually being a witness to something. A couple of nights ago was one of those times.

Now, I want to put a Caveat, with a capital C, in play here. The following anecdote was told to me by one of the notorious Usual Suspects. For that reason alone I take it all with a fifty pound salt lick. A grain of salt is just not enough.

Let me begin.

Yesterday morning, when I went down to St. Arbucks for a gallon or two of coffee, I was met by a collection of the Usual Suspects who were allowed out unsupervised. And I made the mistake of asking, “What’s new?”

Suspect #1 spoke up, saying that he had been shopping at the Kroger’s Supermarket the evening before at about 8 P.M. so he could find some bargains and/or rain checks. He is a financial wizard.

While prowling through the store he witnessed a disturbance near the front of the store. On the pathway toward the checkout area is where one can find bins filled with CDs and DVDs at bargain prices. This time of year it is mainly Christmas music and warmed over Hallmark Channel movies mixed in with a few oldies that are in the Public Domain.

Our Suspect #1 was nearby and saw a youngish man going through the CDs and DVDs, opening the boxes, taking out the shiny discs, and then snapping them in half and flinging the pieces into the air with great glee – all the while yelling incoherently.

It sounds like the Holiday Season has arrived in Terre Haute (That’s French for, “I don’t want a colorized version of ‘It’s a Wonderful Life,’ dammit”).  

Behavior such as this young man was exhibiting in Kroger’s would indicate to me that one or more of several things were going on in his mind.

His meds were either wearing off or just kicking in.

His meds were accidentally left behind on his home planet.

He had convinced his Meth dealer to take a check.

He was the new film critic for the local newspaper.

(Personally, I doubt that this last one was it because the only film reviews they do are of the occasional student film that was created by the offspring of somebody who buys a lot of ad space, and you won’t find any DVDs of those in the Kroger’s Bargain Bin.)

When I used to live on The Left Coast events like this one were not at all unusual in the Supermarkets – especially after dark. I think the moon may have some effect on those who are pharmaceutically enhanced.

I once visited a now defunct market late one Saturday night. I ended up in the checkout line behind a guy who was deep in the throes of the Midnight Munchies. As his desperately needed supply of Ruffles, Little Debbie Cakes, and Pickle Loaf moved down the conveyor belt something either very good or very bad happened and he passed out and hit the moving belt with his face. The clerk didn’t miss a beat as she rang up his purchases. When she got to his head she stopped, bent over and asked him, “Paper or Plastic?” That was enough to rouse him.

“Plastic, man.”

Usual Suspect #1’s story about his visit to Kroger’s brought back that old memory to me from long ago, in a galaxy far, far away.

Suspect #1 finished his story telling us that it ended as it had to end – the Terre Haute Police came and escorted the disgruntled shopper from the store. I’m sure that, when the officers wrote up their report it carried the Code “5150” – Involuntary Psychiatric Hold.

Some things you just know are going to happen.

It is episodes such as this that have me doing our shopping no later than 6 P.M. unless it is an emergency pizza and soda run. I’ve seen too much, stepped over too many people slumped in the checkout line, and ducked too often to avoid flying pieces of the Johnny Mathis Christmas Album.

I can handle another, “Do You Hear What I Hear?” but I dread hearing someone again saying, “Are you seeing what I’m seeing?”

They Are All Disappearing

I SAW A NEWS STORY THE OTHER DAY that made me get all misty-eyed and nostalgic. A wonderful piece of my life was disappearing and there was nothing I could do about it.

I got my first VCR back in the early 1980s in the days of my callow middle-age. I wanted a quality machine so I bought a really nice Betamax VCR. After I got it hooked up to my Sylvania SuperSet I had everything I needed for countless hours of cinematic pleasure…except for one thing. That was where I had to fire up the car and head out to – BLOCKBUSTER VIDEO!

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Time After Time

TOO EARLY THE OTHER MORNING I was up and scampering about, unable to sleep. I had the TV tuned to TCM and watched a movie made back in 1979 – “Time After Time.”

“Time After Time” came out shortly after I’d moved to San Francisco. The movie was filmed there and it was fun to see places in town that I knew.

The storyline was about H.G. Wells, the author of “The Time Machine,” using his invention to chase after Jack the Ripper who had used Wells’ Time Machine to leap ahead in Time to modern day (1979) San Francisco. It was a fun little thriller of a movie, but I bring it up today because it got me to thinking – a dangerous activity even on a good and well rested day for me.

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Picture Me As “Superfly”

 

LAST WEEK MY WIFE, THE LOVELY AND EVER OBSERVANT, Dawn, and I were driving around town taking care of some errands when she asked me a question that made me go, “Hmmm?”

Her question: “What ever happened to Whitewall tires?”

Indeed.

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Were You There?

IT’S EASTER ALREADY? I guess that it has sort of sneaked up on me this year. I was just putting away all of the Christmas stuff when – Poof! I turn on the TV and it is filled with all of the Jesus Movies. That’s what I used to call those Biblical Epic movies when I was a kid.

The 1950s was a big decade for Jesus Movies – “Ben Hur,” “King of Kings,” “The Robe” with Richard Burton chewing the scenery like a rabid Schnauzer. We saw them all as soon as they hit the Wide Screen.

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A Night At The Movies!

 

WHO KNOWS WHAT TOMORROW BRINGS? Not me, that’s for sure. Given the state of the world today there are few things that can be regarded as certain. Not many, but there are a few. I bumped into one of those sure things last night.

My wife, the lovely and cinematically tasteful, Dawn, and I are big fans of the Movies. Dawn’s taste is better and covers a wider spectrum than mine so she roots around and uncovers some real gems. Last night she found a truffle of a film that is going to be on our short list of “Movies to be seen  ASAP.”

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Everything Old Is New Again

I KNOW PROGRESS WHEN I SEE IT and a thunderbolt of Progress has struck in Terre Haute (That’s French for “You three guys – into the trunk!”)

As I was sipping my coffee this morning I decided to check the local news site to see what was happening here in the Wabash Valley. My heart skipped a beat

Who cares that the local Macy’s store is closing other than the people who go there to ride the only escalator in town? Who cares that the Indiana state University basketball team is not doing very well…again? Who cares that the new Starbucks “Blonde Espresso” tastes like 10W-40 Pennzoil Motor Oil? Who cares about any of that stuff when the real news is that a brand spanking new Drive-in Theater is going to open up in town this Summer?

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To Quote Cary Grant, “Jedi, Jedi, Jedi.”

 

WE HAVE FALLEN INTO LOCKSTEP with millions of other people and there was nothing I could do about it. We went and saw the new Star Wars movie…Episode MDCXXVII of a planned IX Episode saga. I might be wrong on that number, but not by much.

In this latest picture most of the cast is either dead or looking like they just came out of their XXIII attempt at Detox. In my opinion the Special Effects are not so special looking anymore, but then again, I have cataracts and my glasses were dirty.

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Let’s All Go To The Lobby

                       

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mw91RJ_m_7g

SOME MORNINGS I SHOULD JUST ROLL OVER AND GO BACK TO SLEEP. Getting up too early can be traumatic, but it’s my own fault.

I have learned that in the wee hours of the morning the Classic Movie Channel shows things that stretch the veracity of the word “Classic” and defy everything except the technical definition of “Movie.” I watched a perfect an imperfect example of this a couple of weeks ago.

For some reason my eyes popped open at about 5 AM and by reflex I turned on the TV.

Big mistake.

On the Classic Movie Channel I have watched the greatest films ever made. On this morning I watched the worst. Why? Because, like Mt. Everest – it was there.

FANFARE!

Ladies and Gentlemen!

The Classic Movie Channel in cooperation with My Inability to Sleep

Presents

“The Wonderful World of Tupperware”

 

I kid you not.

 

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Throwback Thursday from Dec. 2015 “$65K A Month Should Be Enough”

melanie 1

OVER COFFEE I SCANNED THE CELEBRITY NEWS to see if Ihad been nominated for something – nothing again this year.

Failing to score any Oscar or Golden Globe nominations I shifted my focus over to the “Splitsville” column where I learned that Melanie Griffith and Antonio Banderas are divorcing. Que Lastima!

In La-La Land this Splitsville stuff is a big money world.

With the Miss Melanie and “Zorro” Banderas rupture the dollar amounts got my attention. It seems that Antonio agreed to a settlement whereby Melanie gets 65K PER MONTH for living expenses.

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A View From The Corner

 

WHO NEEDS TELEVISION? Who needs movies? Who needs any form of traditional entertainment when you’ve got people walking around? Every day, free of charge, there is a non-stop parade of the Human Animal passing by in all its variety. I almost said, “Passing by in all its Glory,” but Glory is rare in humanity. Variety is a better word to describe the people I see every day.

People Watching is more fun than Movies or TV. With the actors on the screen, who are always good looking and mouthing someone else’s words, they are following a Director’s commands. Their moves are predictable and rarely surprising. However, the folks wandering in front of my astigmatic eyeballs are anything but predictable and continue to surprise me on a daily basis.

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Throwback Thursday from Nov. 2015 – There Is Music In The Air

Throwback Thursday from Nov. 2015 –

There Is Music In The Air

SOMETIMES I THINK THAT HEARSAY IS BETTER than actually being a witness to something. A couple of nights ago was one of those times.

Now, I want to put a Caveat, with a capital C, in play here. The following anecdote was told to me by one of the notorious Usual Suspects. For that reason alone I take it all with a fifty pound salt lick. A grain of salt is just not enough.

Let me begin.

Read more…

Two Worth Watching

LATELY WE – READ MY WIFE, THE LOVELY AND SIGNIFICANTLY TALENTED, DAWN, AND I – have been doing a lot of binge watching on those evenings when there are no Giants games on TV.

Our binging has had us plowing through four seasons of American History with “Turn – Washington’s Spies.”

“Turn” follows actual historical characters through the ups and downs of the American Revolution from the American and British viewpoints.

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