Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Improve Everywhere

I already blogged about this group - they staged a McDonald's bathroom attendant, complete with towel service, cologne. this is a staged wedding reception for a couple married at city hall in NYC, and here is a staged funeral (scroll down and read carefully...you will laugh when you find out what this really is). on their site, check out the "pantsless subway" improve, really funny.

Charles Foster Kane sings and dances -

"They've been making statues for thousands of years, and I've only been buying for five." Here is my favorite scene from Citizen Kane, where he hosts a party celebrating the success of The Inquirer, and where he sings and dances a number, complete with band and dancing girls. The scene is shot with a camera mounted in the floor - MOUNTED IN THE FLOOR ! "What is his name ? He doesn't like mister he likes good ole Charley Kane!"

I have several other posts about Citizen kane on this blog, just type in Citizen Kane in the search area on top ^

Citizen Kane on TCM

"$20,000 is alot of dough to pay for a statue with her head cut off..." so says the mover who is cleaning out Charles Foster Kane's mansion, Xanado. I can't pass by a chance to see Citizen Kane, although I have seen it probably....30 times? 50? Perhaps more. I really enjoy Dorothy Comingore playing Susan Alexander, she is really good, esp in the scenes where she is yelling at Kane. "CHAR - ley, you listen' ta me? CHAR-ley!" in that accent. Dorothy was very beautiful, very talented, classically trained singer. She had to practice singing off key, its called "acting" i guess. She was destroyed in the 50's with the red-baiting hearings. Her last film was a small role in 1953. She married her 3rd husband who had nothing to do with Hollywood, the web says she died of heart disease after battling alcoholism (or sobriety, it depends on how you look at it). I love this movie. Kane and Susan in that huge room, with the roaring fire, standing on opposite ends of the room, showing their emotional separation. Who wrote the screenplay? Herman Mankiewicz or Orson Welles? Herman had more experience, but clearly Kane is his masterpiece, which leads me to think Welles had much to contribute to the screenplay.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Lonesome Dove: widescreen on AMC

Captain Augustus McCrae is my favorite character from Lonesome Dove. Who is the Lonesome Dove? Lorena, the whore? I think so. Augustus loves her, in a fatherly way, he knows she is a beautiful dove. AMC just aired a widescreen TV version of the film. Was it ever widescreen before? I dont think so. anyway, great movie.

Robert Duvall is "Gus," and he really recreates the character from the book. I also like Joshua Deets, one of the characters in the book who is straightforward: he is a moral man, great courage, incorruptible. I liked it when Deets reappears from the "great perhaps" (as Gus calls it) and guides Pea Eye back to the herd.

And one thing that is obvious: Robert Duvall and Tommy Lee Jones (Capt. Woodrow Call) are natural equestrians. You can tell that they have great horse riding skills

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Pedestrian bridge in Switzerland

Gadmen, Switzerland, has the world's longest pedestrian suspension bridge. I saw a picture in the wall street journal (my daily newspaper) and looked it up online. Amazing. My impression is that hiking is a national pastime in Switzerland. Click on picture to supersize it.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Pittsburgh loses another beer manufacturer

Iron City Brewing announced today that it will move production from its Lawrenceville plant to an idled Latrobe brewery, saying the 148-year-old plant will brew its last batch June 22.

Duquesne beer was once made in the burgh, but they shut down years ago. Their neon clock, visible for miles away because its elevated on the south side slopes, is now the Equitable Gas sign. It was once the largest lighted clock in the world, 60 by 60 feet. The brewery is now lofts for artists.

Now we are losing Iron City beer, and the brewery on Liberty Ave is a historic landmark. The pittsburgh blues festival was held there 5 years ago - it was great. What will happen to the brewery? More loft space? That would be great.

Rolling Rock pulled out of Latrobe in 2006, its now made in Newark - NEWARK ! I still cant get over that. Latrobe WAS rolling rock - I guess now Latrobe is Iron City beer.

Many people swear by rolling rock - its a light ale taste. I dont know anyone who likes iron city beer - pittsburgh is losing more union jobs.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

There will be Blood

I didn't like this movie. yes, the acting was great. the meaning of the film? Sin. Man estranged from god. Remind you of anyone???? Moby Dick. Captain Ahab. So this was basically Captain Ahab drilling for oil and destroying himself with his obsession for control over his own destiny (without god). I really didn't like it. it was too long. the theme too familiar (moby dick for cripes sake...) And none of the characters were sympathetic - there was no Ishmael, or Quequeb. Remember when Ishmael is in bed, and Quequeb arrives? "Lookie here, me sleepy here, you sleepy there, you sabe?" "Me sabe plenty!" However, i did enjoy the "I drink your milk shake, I suck it up!" part. SNL does a skit about that - "I drink your milk shake!" I love that line.

US Astronauts include Two Navy Seals:

A standard question during astronaut interviews is, "What is it you do better than anyone in the world?" Naval officer and Navy seal Williams Shepherd answered, "I kill people with a knife." True story? Bill Shepherd says no, but the story has become an urban legend, told and retold, and he said its such a great story, he just lets it live on. Capt. Shepherd now retired, but another naval officer and navy seal is Chris Cassidy, who is about to blast off saturday morning with 6 other Shuttle Astronauts. they will stay on the International Space Station with the ISS 6 person crew, thats 13 people in the ISS at the same time. they will be building another platform on the ISS. They will be there for two weeks. Amazing. Supposedly you can see the ISS on a clear night with the naked eye. Chris is in picture, left.

Presidential cars

I wanted to make a web page about Presidents and their favorite cars, turns out, someone already did it. I am attaching two photos - one car was owned by Harry Truman, the other by John Kennedy. Which is which? Yes, the 1945 Ford super deluxe tudor sedan is truman's, and the 61 T-bird is JFK.

Live Free or Die Hard

"Mai? Oh, yeah. Little Asian chick, likes to kick people? I don't think she's gonna be talkin' to anybody for a really long time. Last time I saw her she was at the bottom of a elevator shaft with an SUV rammed up her ass."

Stupid plot, but the action scenes were great. Bruce Willis has his character down perfect, he invented this guy "John McClane." Great action scenes, great fights that go on forever, unrealistic, but amazing. And great dialogue, like the above.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Pizza is back

I have started back making my own pizza. hand tossed. Thin crust. with black olives and sliced mushrooms. Low fat cheese. Best pizza in town. And the wine, Pino Evil, from France. Best Pino Noir I have ever tasted.

Newt Gingrich: please leave the Republican Party

The day Pres. Obama announced that ten banks will pay back $68 billion in loans, and on the same day he challenged Congress to adopt PayGo (pay as you go, basicially dont spend money you dont have, no deficit spending) New Gingrich declares Obama's economic plan "a failure." Great timing, Newt. That Newt presumes to be the voice of the republican party shows how rough the republicans have it. Pres Obama has repeatedly said he doesnt want the fed gov to run car companies, or banks, that the bailout loans are temporary, are intended to be paid back (maybe not in full, some companies, banks may fail). And now 10 banks have paid back their loans, just like Obama intended.

Monday, June 08, 2009

rachel getting married

I discovered RedBox - movies for $1. i just saw Rachel Getting Married. It received great reviews. It was a marriage ceremony from hell; then again, a typical marriage ceremony. Kym comes home from rehab for her sister's wedding - an implausible situation, but this is a movie not real life. anyway, Kym is going through incredible self analysis, and she is dumped on her family which is full of dysfunctional people. Most of all, Kym's mother, a cold blooded witch. Kym survives her sister's wedding, Rachel's wedding, and is better and stronger for it. i think Kym will be ok at the end. The fu**ed up family member is her mother. But others contribute too. Kym was anorexic, drug addict, sick, a "model," but everyone seemed to miss the symptoms (remind you of anyone???) so Kym is getting together, but her family misses the point. No matter how hard they try, like Kym's dad. the movie is long, could be edited better, filmed in a quasi documentary style, great acting, Anne hathaway is superb, swhat a performance. and the mom, Debra Winger, is also great.

Revolutionary Road

What a movie ! Of course Leonardo DeCaprio and kate Winslet are a great pair, the acting superb. The film is about unhappiness, emptiness. April wants to go to Paris, get job with a US agency or non profit, Frank could go back to college, find something meaningful to do with his life. Frank works for an ad agency, April is suburban housewife. When they announce they are moving to Paris, the next door neighbors wife breaks down (after april and frank leave) - to me, she obviously feels the same way, empty, meaningless existence, her sadness and ennui comes out. The realtor and her son come to visit: son is a mathematician, depressed, had electric shock therapy, has lost his math knowledge, his mind destroyed - but he is left with his depression, based on his own perceptions of the meaninglessness of life. he sees through Frank and April, when they announce they are not going to Paris after all. As someone who has battled depression my entire life (became very debilitating at age 21) I do understand the unhappiness in this movie. These people are living in existential angst (fear and loathing unto death) but they dont know what to do - they are not able to act (Sartre would tell them, "Do something ! Act ! You are living in bad faith ! " ) But these people are lost.

So what is the message? Are we all Frank and April? Measuring out our lives in teaspoons? do we dare presume to ask the overwhelming question.....do we dare disturb the universe?

This film made me examine my life. What am i missing in life, what is it that i need? great movie. Really made me reflect upon myself.

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Tyson The jerk

Regent Sq theater is showing "Tyson," the documentary about Mike Tyson. It has received great reviews and it is a fascinating portrait of a very confused, troubled man. Iron Mike comes off as very human, very damaged from childhood, perhaps having some severe personality disorders. But very likeable. Regent sq is also showing "The jerk" the Steve martin movie one showing only sunday night. Sooooo, the marques read "Tyson The Jerk" advertising both movies. I thought it was very funny. Did they notice the marques after they posted it? An inadvertent double entendre?

Friday, June 05, 2009

The Mysterious Bog People

I dont know if I have posted this before, but the bog people exhibit at the Carnegie Museum couple years ago was fantastic. here it is online. I give it a 10 on a 10 scale. One of the best museum exhibits I have ever seen.

France Airbus diaster

Air France is replacing pitot tubes on its airbuses. These are external tubes that collect the pressure of atmosphere as plane flies and based on indicated air pressure it shows up as indicated air speed on the main airspeed/artificial horizon instrument. Charles Linbergh's plane had a pitot tube, its a basic airspeed instrument. But here is where I am confused. The airbus is all digital instruments, fly by wire controls. Airspeed is calculated by an GPS instrument, powered by electric grid in plane. Pitot tube might be a good back up air speed indicator, but I cangt understand why an Airbus would have a pitot tube as THE airspeed indicator and not an electric generated instrument, like the digital instruments display. So why is Air France changing the pitot tubes? To show it is doing "something" about the crash, to reassure customers? Pitot tubes are heated on commerical all weather planes, so why did it freeze up? Why didnt this happen before? Why didnt designers of Airbus ask, "what if the pitot tube freezes up?" Something is missing here. I dont believe the pitot tube is to blame. And they cant find any crash debris, just ocean garbage. This whole story is very very myseterious.

UPDATE: an anonymous comment explains that pitot tube gives indicated airspeed, GPS is ground speed, two different speeds (presumably). That is correct. I am trying to come up with a way to measure indicated airspeed other than pitot tube, and I can't. Pitot tube is the most simple, straightforward way of measuring indicated airspeed. Searchers are now finding wreckage, and bodies, mystery I guess is over. Still amazes me that something like a blocked, iced pitot tube could cause such a terrible disaster. The last minutes on board that plane must have been terrifying.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Pres. Obama and the Egyptian Pharoh Kar

President Obama was in Egypt, trying to initiate middle east peace. Something his predecessor didnt do in 8 yrs. anyway, he walks into a tomb and sees an outline of Pharoh Kar. As you can see from Kar's mummy, Kar had big ears and a long face. Pres. Obama laughed and said it looks like him, his aides (including Rahm Emanuel) agreed. funny. Obama can joke about himself. Like JFK. he is serious, but doesnt take himself seriously.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Cheney equates freedom with Gay Marriage

VP Cheney has come out and supported gay marriage. he says its up to states, not federal government. But maybe he is right about States passing laws. His daughter is gay. But just as I think he actually makes sense, he comes out today and says there is not evidence Iraq had anything to do with 911. he blames the CIA for bad intelligence. Lets take this slowly: while VP, he tells the CIA to find a link between Iraq and 911, they try hard, come up with some BS stories about Atta being in Czech republic meeting Iraqi intelligence (not true)- he and Rumsfeld do their best to link "war on terror" with Iraq, and then........Cheney explains that it was the CIA's fault we invaded Iraq. dear god........

Harold and Kumar go to Guantanomo Bay

Great movie. Laughed my posterior off. One adventure after the next, with increasing absurdity. A must see. I might show this in American National Government class in the fall. Very educational. I also liked the script. "Suck it anus." very literate. "Don't make me come down there and kick your cyclops ass!"