City leaders urge calm after looting, riots, assess how to aid ...
Minneapolis Mayor and Police Chief

Probably the worst Public Relations fiasco in recent times. Minneapolis officials call a press conference and say that it isn’t nice to burn and loot just because you’re a little pissed off. And then fail to say anything about whether there will be charges brought against the killer cops.

And on top of that they release body cam footage that is a major insult to the public. It is so redacted with big black squares you can’t tell what the hell it shows. Haven’t seen anything like that since Attorney General Barr released the redacted Special Prosecutor Report.

How long will the public stand for these authoritarian pipsqueaks covering up their lethal incompetence from the White House to Minniehaha? Maybe the game is to piss everybody off so bad that they go mad with rage and destroy the city, giving the authorities the green light not only to take it out on the demonstrators but also take the heat off the criminal cops.

Whatever the motivation, today’s actions by the mayor and police chief will bring drastic repercussions. It’ll be a terrible weekend in Minneapolis.

Interesting Facts About House Centipedes

 

A long journey begins with a single step, they say
Unless you’re a centipede.
Then a journey begins with 50 steps.
50 steps to Heaven
Or 50 steps to Hell.
Even at Journey’s End he may not know.
But still the centipede walks on.

 

Today Coronavirus Playhouse presents an interesting, if a bit unsettling, feature from Universal Studios. With “Canyon Passage (1946),” director Jacques Tourneau does the opposite of what John ford did with his films about the western frontier. Ford showed frontier communities sticking together to fight the wilderness and its dangers. Tourneau, always a subversive filmmaker, shows how a community can not only be warped by its environment, it can collapse just as easily from within as without. Dana Andrews, Susan Hayward and Brian Donlevy star. My review can be found at Cinema Retro. 

 

Julie Newmar - Autographed Inscribed Photograph | HistoryForSale ...

 

I was pleasantly surprised to receive a thank you email from Julie Newmar today for the Vicki’s Way video that I collaborated on with Pete Morley, fellow “route 66,” Julie Newmar fan.  I sent her the video April 21 and got her response just three days later, which is pretty amazing when you consider that, according to her Facebook page, she’s been laid up the last month from severe back and leg pain (Piriformis Syndrome). She apparently went through quite an ordeal, trying to get proper treatment and pain medication without going to a hospital. She didn’t eat for 10 days.

Julie is a healthy, still vibrant woman at age 86, and apparently the worst is over. At least she’s well enough to send a thank you to a couple of fans. So maybe a Catwoman has nine lives too. Thank YOU, Julie Newmar. Stay well.

 

Vicki Russell (Route 66) | Facebook

October 7, 1960, was an important date. At least for me. And for quite a few other people as I’ve since discovered. It was the day that a new television series premiered on CBS TV. That Friday night at 8:30 and every Friday night for the next four years something almost miraculous happened. I was 18 years old, just out of high school, getting ready for college, and whatever regimented fate lay ahead, and suddenly the dull walls of conformity shattered. “Route 66” came into our lives, and showed us an alternative reality. The  show featured two young guys– guys only a few years old than I was at the time– who had taken an existential leap from the nine-to-five world to which I was bound, and began a pilgrimage in search of an undiscovered self.

Traveling in a shiny new Corvette  inherited from a suddenly deceased father, Tod Stiles, a Yalie who worked on one of his father’s barges on the Hudson and Buz Murdoch, an orphan from Hell’s Kitchen whom Tod befriended, set out to see America–the America of the New Frontier. They traveled from town to town finding jobs just about everywhere, and more importantly, meeting new people. It was in the people they met, people running their own search patterns, trying to find something in their own lives that always seemed out of reach, that the miracle of route 66 happened. The inspired writing of scriptwriter Stirling Silliphant, cracked open the shiny facade of the America that asked what we could do for it, as JFK said, and revealed an underlying “unrest.” In the first episode of the series Buz Murdoch names the problem “unrest.” An uneasiness that keeps he and Tod moving, dissatisfied with the answers they find in the people and towns they discover, searching for something that they may not even recognize if they find it. Every Friday night, the pilgrimage to selfhood continued– different forms for different people and places. Sometimes it works out. Sometimes the end is tragic.

February 9, 1962, is another important date. Still a year and 10 months until the JFK assassination, which was the event that changed America forever, a statuesque girl on a motorcycle roars in from the Arizona desert and makes a bored cop’s day by jumping a red light and letting him chase her until she swerves in front of our boys Tod and Buz and they crash into a store front plate glass window. In “How Much a Pound is Albatross” it’s the magnificent Julie Newmar on the bike, who tells the cop asking for her license that she doesn’t have one. He notes she doesn’t even have a license plate. “They rattle.” And what good are licences, just pieces of paper that identify you at the time of signing but, you know, we all keep changing. Who am I? something between thought and nought. A whole gallery of people.

She’s taken to the police station and asked if she was ever arrested before. I’m arrested by everything I see. In New York she got busted for keeping pet unicorns in her apartment because it was too small for a closet to hang her things. “Everybody knows unicorns are just creatures of somebody’s imagination,” the cop says. “Aren’t we all?” Up until now we thought Tod and Buz were free spirits, but Vicki makes them look like shoe store clerks.

I could go on all day talking about Vicki, and about Julie Newmar’s shiny performance as a pilgrim and a rebel, trying to let the grief over a family lost at sea ride outside on a motorcycle of its own. But better you go find that episode on video and see for yourself. It’ll be your next unforgettable experience. As for me, I’ve found a group of like minded individuals, who remember Route 66 and chat about it regularly on the internet. Surprising how many people still have a warm place in their heart for it. One such individual is a guy named Pete Morley, a radio guy and record producer from Pittsburgh, who something of a genius. He’s got a way with music, and videography. We got together to pay Tribute to Vicki, Julie, Stirling Silliphant, and Nelson Riddle who compose the music for the show. In addition to writing the well-known “route 66” theme, Riddle wrote themes for each individual episode, including the one we call “Vicki’s Way.” It was used again in “Throw the Old Cat a Tender Mouse” which brought Vicki back to the series– the only character to get a repeat appearance.

Pete and I have taken that bit of music and turned it into a video, featuring images from the two episodes. I came up with the lyrics, which he subsequently polished, and did the rest. He put the video images together, synching them to the Vicki’s Way melody, played all the background instruments, including the trumpet solo, and did the vocal, not an easy task, considering the off-beat lyrics I wrote for that tricky Riddle tune. The man’s a phenom, what can you say. We did this as a “for the love” project. Not expecting anything out of it. I’ve sent the link to Julie’s facebook page and emailed her official website. Maybe she’ll get the message and let us know what she thinks of it. But please, Julie. No tender mice.

And now, ladies and gentlemen, for your enjoyment, click on the link and dig “Vicki’s Way.” (You don’t have to open a drop box account. Ignore the invitation to do so if you don’t want it and click “Continue to the Website” and the video will come on.)

https://www.dropbox.com/s/ygjmeqt1rhvbqqp/Vicki%27s%20Way.mp4?dl=0

 

Five female prisoners in an Army stockade are given the chance to go free if they’ll volunteer for a dangerous mission in Apache territory. Sounds like a femme fatale version of The Dirty Dozen, except this is a low budget TV western, so there are only five volunteers instead of twelve. Aaron Spelling’s “Wild Women” features Hugh O’Brien, Anne Francis, Marilyn Maxwell, Marie Windsor, and Sherry Jackson in an offbeat western comedy.  My review is available today over on Cinema Retro.

Ernest Borgnine, Gene Hackman, Leslie Nielsen, Red Buttons, Roddy McDowall, Stella Stevens, Shelley Winters, Jack Albertson, Carol Lynley, Pamela Sue Martin, Arthur O'Connell, and Eric Shea in The Poseidon Adventure (1972)

 

The Coronavirus Pandemic has changed everything. Schools are closed. Churches are open but much of the faithful is staying away because authorities are telling us not to leave our homes. People are losing jobs, their savings, and even though the  government may send us some checks to hold us over, the panic– the real panic– hasn’t even started yet. That will start when the death toll starts to climb, and it seems inevitable that it will.

The current scene is grim enough. Right now, a visit to your local mall, if it is still open, will reveal a deserted ghost town. Most of the stores are shut down for the duration. Only larger department stores are open. I saw one kiosk open with a lonely, frightened looking woman, who obviously wished she were anywhere but there.

Late night television talk shows at first said they were going into reruns but have since started doing half of their shows from home, to some bizarre effects. The surprising thing I learned from watching The Late Show with Steven Colbert was that John Batiste needs to get a piano tuner over to his place. That grand piano he’s playing in his living room is surprisingly out of tune. I know, I’m nit picking. Actually I applaud what Colbert, Fallon, and Kimmel are doing. Things are tough enough without being able to tune in to see what Steven and the two Jimmy’s have to say about current events. We need that end-of-the-day ritual.  I think they’re doing a real public service,  something to keep the nation’s mental health intact.

It all really does seem dream-like, nightmarish. “It’s like the world is upside down,” I heard one woman tell a TV-reporter. “It’s all crazy. Like it can’t really be happening. Up is down, down is up.”

Yeah. That sort of describes it perfectly. The world is upside down. In a way it’s kind of like a real life version of that classic disaster movie, “The Poseidon Adventure.” Remember that one? A luxury liner is hit by a giant wave and is capsized. The ship is turned upside down. The captain is killed and the survivors find themselves in a big banquet hall turned upside down. The ship’s bursar takes over and tells the passengers to follow him, he’ll lead them to safety by going down to the top of the upside down ship. But one man, one Reverend Scott (Gene Hackman) ,a modernistic, forward-looking progressive kind of minister tells him he’s wrong. If they go to the top of the ship, they’ll all die. Because the top is now the bottom and it’s underwater.

We believe Rev. Scott, because earlier, he told a more conservative preacher on the ship basically that God only helps those who help themselves. You gotta roll up your sleeves and save the world on your own. Don’t expect God to do it for you. We believe him because we like his message. And so some of the passengers follow the bursar and some follow the reverend. It’s fortunate that all of the rev’s followers were big name actors at the time, so it was easy to see these guys made the right choice, even though surviving wouldn’t be easy.

The movie was based on a novel by Paul Gallico, and the story is really a metaphor for today’s world, where everything, morality, politics, social norms, even religion is pretty much in a state of confusion. The screenplay by Oscar and Golden Globe winner Stirling Silliphant does a good job of boiling down Gallico’s metaphoric story line into an intelligent film with characters that you could easily identify with. Who can forget Belle Rosen, the former high school swimming champion, played by Shelley Winters. She’s the only one capable of swimming a length of distance underwater to lead the others to safety. She’s hopelessly overweight, but sacrifices herself for the common good. And Ernest Borgnine as Rogo, the tough cop married to former hooker Linda (Stella Stevens), who opposes Rev. Scott every inch of the way to the bottom of the ship, which is now the top. And Eric Shea as Robin, the obnoxious little kid who has memorized facts about the ship from a brochure and seems to have an almost blueprint-perfect picture of the entire ship in his mind, which he doesn’t mind sharing with everyone at the top of his voice.

After much suffering, and harrowing adventure the little band of survivors make it to the bottom of the ship, where the steel plating is the thinnest, and they hear a rescue crew on the outside. They made it. But not all. For near the end, Rev. Scott had himself made the ultimate sacrifice by diving for a valve wheel to shut off some burning steam blocking the way out. He hangs, Christ-like, on the valve, turning it with the weight of his body, hand over hand. He shouts instructions for the other how to go, and then, his strength gone, he lets go and drops into a burning inferno. (Kind of a weird way for the good guy to buy it, now that I think of it.)

But anyway, here we are caught in a real life disaster movie. Mass confusion reigns. We have “leadership” that at first told us the whole thing was a hoax, and then that it wasn’t a serious problem. Probably be all gone in a few days. And now they’re telling us it’ll get worse before it gets better. Hospital ships are going to park off the docks of New York, and California. There still are not enough test kits or ventilators. I think we’re in trouble, folks. At least the passengers on the Poseidon had Rev. Scott to show them the way.

 

 

 

“Longstreet,” starring James Franciscus as a blind insurance investigator, was a short-lived TV series that ran for only 23 episodes during the 1971-1972 season. It was never put into syndication and as a result it’s a series that many people have heard of but few have actually seen. Produced and with some episodes written by Oscar and Golden Globe winner Stirling Silliphant, it includes four episodes featuring martial arts legend Bruce Lee. The  series has been lying in the vault at Paramount for nearly  50 years. But now it’s available on DVD. Check out my review over on the Cinema Retro website. And remember “The usefulness of a cup is in its emptiness.”

 

Need a break from wall to wall Coronavirus news? I’ve got a new review today over on Cinema Retro. THE LAST HURRAH with Spencer Tracy shows how the nation was before the media took it over. It was a kinder, gentler world back then, but politics has always been a dirty game.

 

Alice-disneyscreencaps_com-1751

HERE IS A BLOG I WROTE BACK IN JANUARY 2016. IT SEEMS APPROPRIATE TO BRING IT BACK AT THIS TIME. FOUR YEARS LATER WE’RE BACK IN THE SOUP AGAIN! SEEMS LIKE NAIVE OYSTERS NEVER LEARN. THERE IS ALWAYS A WALRUS OR A CARPENTER WAITING TO MARCH THEM FOUR BY FOUR THROUGH THE FROTHY WAVES FOR A PLEASANT WALK, A PLEASANT TALK. AND A LITTLE PEPPER AND VINEGAR . . .

I’m watching with great fascination at the way young people are clamoring after Bernie Sanders. I suppose it’s the idealism of youth that dreams of a perfect society where everyone is taken care of. It’s a laudable notion. Is it practical? Could it really be accomplished? It seems unlikely,but it’s beyond my limited political insight to even guess.

At at the other end of the spectrum is Donald Trump who plans to make America great again but really provides no specific details about how he would do it. Yet he and Sanders, the two most unrealistic candidates in the race have the biggest crowds.

The crowds cheering for Sanders and Trump somehow remind me of that great poem by Lewis Carroll, “THE WALRUS AND THE CARPENTER.”

It’s a poem about this walrus and this carpenter walking along the seashore, who exhort all the young oysters along the beach to follow them for “a pleasant walk”

“O Oysters, come and walk with us!”
The Walrus did beseech.
“A pleasant walk, a pleasant talk,
Along the briny beach:
We cannot do with more than four,
To give a hand to each.”

The eldest Oyster looked at him,
But never a word he said:
The eldest Oyster winked his eye,
And shook his heavy head–
Meaning to say he did not choose
To leave the oyster-bed.

But four young Oysters hurried up,
All eager for the treat:
Their coats were brushed, their faces washed,
Their shoes were clean and neat–
And this was odd, because, you know,
They hadn’t any feet.

Four other Oysters followed them,
And yet another four;
And thick and fast they came at last,
And more, and more, and more–
All hopping through the frothy waves,
And scrambling to the shore.

The Walrus and the Carpenter
Walked on a mile or so,
And then they rested on a rock
Conveniently low:
And all the little Oysters stood
And waited in a row.

“The time has come,” the Walrus said,
“To talk of many things:
Of shoes–and ships–and sealing-wax–
Of cabbages–and kings–
And why the sea is boiling hot–
And whether pigs have wings.”

“But wait a bit,” the Oysters cried,
“Before we have our chat;
For some of us are out of breath,
And all of us are fat!”
“No hurry!” said the Carpenter.
They thanked him much for that.

“A loaf of bread,” the Walrus said,
“Is what we chiefly need:
Pepper and vinegar besides
Are very good indeed–
Now if you’re ready, Oysters dear,
We can begin to feed.”

The end of the poem is very Twilight Zone-ish. The youngsters soon find themselves in the soup, so to speak.

I keep thinking about that eldest oyster who just shook his heavy head, refusing to go along. I have a bad feeling that we’re all just oysters waiting to jump into the next available pot of hot water.