Hey, my review of the Republic Studios classic cliffhanger “Daredevils of the Red Circle,” (1939)  appears today over at Cinema Retro. Return with us to those thrilling days of yesteryear when a kid could spend an entire Saturday at the local Bijou for just a quarter. The price of admission today is one click of the mouse right here. 

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It’s that time of year again, gang. The Great American Fourth of July holiday celebration. Fireworks, barbecues, sunburn, beer. But especially fireworks. For the past several years on this day I’ve reprised the blog I wrote back in 2012, which extolled the virtues of Jean Shepherd, master storyteller, who told probably the funniest story about the Fourth that’s ever been told. I went to great lengths to recreate that story in my own words and more recently added a link to an audio recording of Shepherd telling the story as only he could. It’s a recording of a live radio broadcast of his radio show from the studios of WOR in New York.

This year I will do you all a favor and forego trying to ape Shepherd and simply let you hear the master tell the tale in his own words, in his own inimitable style. It’s a classic.

Shepherd was a raucous personality with his own cult following back in the day. Most people today only know him, if they know him at all, as the writer/narrator of “A Christmas Story.” But he did a lot of other things. And the best things he did were all on the radio.

I wish Shepherd were around today. He passed away in  1999. Besides being a brilliant story teller he was an acerbic social commentator. He picked up on things as they were happening and often before they were happening. He could read the “straws in the wind,” as he called them. I really wonder what he would say about our current political situation and the rise of a reality television star to the office of the president.

He probably wouldn’t be surprised at all. Even then, in the 1970s, as his radio career was winding down, and he turned to writing books and movies, he predicted the rise of the celebrity in American society. He was fascinated by America’s hangup with celebrities and our worship of show biz. He was convinced that American life would become more and more chaotic, and unsatisfying as people, who dreamed that their lives would be like it is on television and the movies, found out the truth–  that life is just “one damn kitten after another,” as Mehitabel the Cat used to say.  Shep was fond of quoting Don Marquis who wrote about Archie and Mehitabel. Mehitabel wanted to be a dancer, you see, but always, just as she was getting her act together and things were starting to break, along comes another  “batch of these damn kittens.”

So now, having carried celebrity worship to its extreme by electing a TV celebrity as their leader, the great electorate out there is already starting to feel a little shaky. The Kool Aid euphoria is wearing off. The consequences may be a little more serious than a batch of kittens.

Nevertheless, we’ll carry on. Just remember Shep’s sage advice about life and its vicissitudes: “Keep your knees loose and your duff close to the ground.” And now for your patriotic holiday enjoyment here is Jean Shepherd telling the tale of “Ludlow Kissel and the Dago Bomb that Struck Back.”

“Excelsior, you Fathead.”

 

Legendary  filmmaker Sam Peckinpah believed a man was only as good as his word and, if he couldn’t keep his word, he was no good at all. You can read my review of Peckinpah’s RIDE THE HIGH COUNTRY, a film that explores that basic idea, today over on Cinema Retro.

 

For all you Robert E. Howard fans, here’s a volume you’ll definitely want in your library. “SAVAGE SCROLLS: Scholarship from the Hyborian Age, Volume One.”

Robert E. Howard’s swashbuckling heroes strove mightily against fantastic foes and strode boldly across lands steeped in ancient sorcery, court intrigue, and fabulous wealth. In this vibrant traveler’s guide, historian Fred Blosser chronicles the people, flora, fauna, and politics of REH’s universe.

No Howard creation looms larger than Conan, and there’s plenty of Conan in this book, but there’s also much-needed coverage of Howard’s other square-jawed heroes, including such equally bold though lesser-known adventurers as Kull, Solomon Kane, Bran Mak Morn, Black Vulmea, and Kirby O’Donnell.

In addition, Blosser examines Howard’s wide oeuvre of pulp fiction, from horror and western tales, to his less successful detective yarns.

From Hyborian Age weaponry, justice, medicine, and mercenaries, to the beasts, villains, and nameless horrors of the African jungles, Central Asian mountain passes, and the haunted Texas town of Lost Knob in our own world, you’ll experience anew the genius of Robert E. Howard through the tapestry from which he created his pulp masterpieces.

Order your copy here.

The rain comes in torrents, a million billion drops,

Who can count them?

The kind and the cruel

All washed away.

 

A man lives and dies searching for the truth.

He finds the answers to many questions.

A duck swims happily in a cool pond and makes a quacking sound . . .

If only the man could understand.

 

I’ve got a new movie review up today on Cinema Retro. Kirk Douglas in THE INDIAN FIGHTER, with Elsa Martinelli and Walter Matthau. Good western action with lots of Oregon scenery. Click here.

 

In time

Even rocks crumble

And love

Turns to dust.

The Horoscope of Donald J. Trump

Back in November I posted a blog here concerning President Donald Trump, suggesting that during the first eight months or so of his first term he would face extreme difficulties– so extreme I wondered if he would actually finish the term. I predicted that his most difficult time would come in late summer and suggested that his problems may become so numerous he may not be able to govern and would have to give up the White House. It seemed like a nonsensical prediction at the time, considering the high expectations his Republican supporters had after his shocking victory.  Now, with recent developments, including the firing of the FBI Director, new allegations he passed top secret classified information to Russian officials, and now potential charges of obstruction of justice, my earlier prognostication is beginning to seem less far-fetched.  But a look at upcoming transits in his horoscope indicates far more serious difficulties lie ahead both for Trump and the nation as well.

My earlier outlook was based mainly on the transits of Saturn and the aspects it makes to Trump’s horoscope.  I call Saturn, the Truth Planet. When it transits within aspect to the natal planets in your chart, it’s time for complete honesty regarding the particular aspect of your life that planet represents. He hands you your report card, rewarding you with A’s if you’ve done well or F’s if not. Between  Jan 1-14 Saturn made a pass over Trump’s natal Moon and opposed his Sun, the two most important planets in anyone’s chart. The Sun is your ego, your life force, your basic energy. The Moon is your personality, emotions, the unconscious.  Trump was born with Sun in Gemini, making him a communicator. He was born during a full moon, so his Moon is in Sagittarius, a fire sign. His emotions are very volatile, they go off like fireworks. He’s also very opinionated. The Sun, incidentally is conjunct Uranus, the planet of extreme individuality, if not eccentricism.  He wants do do things his way, and it’s usually a surprise whatever his way turns out to be.

Saturn’s transit to the Sun/Moon came around the time the first reports circulated that General Mike Flynn had met with and talked on the phone with Russian officials after President Obama announced the expulsion of Russian “diplomats” suspected of being involved in hacking the DNC and interfering in the election. Saturn moved forward in its orbit and passed that critical Sun-Moon opposition point in the President’s chart and after the Inauguration things quieted down. But there was fallout from the Saturn transit.  The evidence that Flynn had lied about his Russian contacts proved too much to ignore and he was forced to resign.

Saturn moved forward ,and things simmered down a bit, but due to a phenomenon known as retrogradation, on April 6 Saturn appeared to turn backward. Trump’s most difficult period was seen in my earlier blogs as the end of August, when Saturn in reverse, would grind to a halt exactly over his Moon, and within one degree of opposition to his Sun. Saturn will sit there for two or three weeks, moving forward slowly in September. This is a highly critical transit that threatens to paralyze the Trump Administration, as more and more revelations come to the surface. There could be impeachment proceedings.

But the situation is even more serious that that. On August 21, at the same time Saturn is in exact aspect to the Sun and Moon, there will be a total eclipse of the Sun, right on top of Trump’s Ascendant and his Mars. The Ascendant has several meanings, one of which is the mask that we all wear– the persona we adopt in order to get along in this world. An eclipse at this point could mean an unmasking, a tearing away of Donald Trump’s persona. Trump has a Leo Ascendant, and that is so obvious from the king-like way he presents himself to the world. His New York home, with its gold accoutrements, is almost palace-like in its appearance. In a way, he is kind of a modern-day, American pharaoh. Like the kings of ancient Egypt he wants power, and like them he has built huge monuments to himself in the form of big hotels that all bear his name. When an eclipse occurs the sun goes dark. It’s an ominous occurrence when it transits one’s Ascendant, especially a Leo Ascendant, which is ruled by the Sun.

There could be even more serious problems resulting from the eclipse. The Ascendant is the physical body. A solar eclipse there could indicate threats to him personally, either from sickness, accident, or violence. JFK, and Princess Diana booth were killed after a Solar Eclipse touched sensitive parts of their horoscope. All during the Summer as Saturn backs up Mars will be transiting through the 10th (Public Standing) 11th (Congress), and 12th (Self-Undoing) Houses. So while Saturn deals him one frustration after another, Mars will get more and more angry. His tendency to fly off the handle and do something out of the norm could bring serious consequences. Already in May, he somewhat rashly fired FBI director James Comey and met with the Russians in the Oval Office during Mars transits to his chart. There will also be troubling aspects to the nation’s horoscope as well in August. There are so many trouble spots in the world now. Take your pick. Korea, Syria, Afghanistan. It’s possible that anyone of these areas could ignite, and the U.S. could again find itself in another war.

If the President wants to avoid tragedy for himself and the nation, he should slow down, start to think before he acts, reduce his tendency to act on impulse. His best course is to gather some advisers and an experienced staff around him that can guide him through the coming months. He may be well-intentioned in his efforts to create better relations with Russia, but he needs someone around to set limits on how far he can go in that direction. Or it may be, as some suspect, that he’s involved too deeply with Vlad Putin and the Russian oligarchs. If that is the case, it will be uncovered, and his Administration will suffer for it. Let’s hope Saturn teaches him patience, and perspicacity so that war isn’t seen as an easy way out by an Administration that sees no other way out of its troubles.

I revisit Don Siegel’s EDGE OF ETERNITY today over on Cinema Retro— this time on Blu-Ray.

I’ve made it, gang! Look on the back cover of the Blu-Ray and you’ll see Twilight Time included a blurb from the original review I did when the film came out on DVD in 2014.

Don’t worry. I’ll still talk to you. Just have your people get in touch with my people first.