Category Archives: Movies

Gardening with Godzilla!

Most of my friends don’t like weeding; all they see is a big chore ahead of them and how long it will take. Of course, if I never had to weed again, I probably wouldn’t be heartbroken, but I like to think of it as “zen weeding”.  I’m outside, it’s usually a lovely summer day with sunny skies and hopefully a nice breeze.  I let my brain wander off where it wants.

Today I was working on my creeping Charlie problem and trying not to think of all ground cover as evil.  After all, it’s only doing what Mother Nature intends it to do.   As I pulled up a tendril I wondered if the creeping Charlies on the other side of the boulevard knew what was happening on this side.  And that’s when I got to Godzilla.  What if the creeping Charlie is a Japanese city and I am the monster Godzilla?

No stopping my brain at this point! A long over ground tendril became an elevated train, underground tendrils were subway lines.  Tall bits that were reaching up – high rises.  Clumps of little root systems – office buildings.  Particularly thick clumps – city hall.  Bits that clung and clung and clung – Senate.  This kept me occupied for the better part of an hour.  I’m thinking Godzilla and I will be bonding again on the boulevard!

What monster would YOU like to be?

Binge-Watcher

I’m not sure when I first realized there was a phrase “binge-watching”, and knowing me the phrase was probably around well before I came across it. I didn’t have Netflix at the time so never thought binge-watching applied to me. Then I started to think about it.

When I was in high-school, I inherited the small black and white family tv when my parents upgraded their set. Back then there was no cable, no Netflix – just channels 2,4,5,9 and 11, with only a couple of the stations broadcasting around the clock. During my junior year, the Bijou Theatre (beginning at 1 a.m.) showed all the Johnny Weismueller Tarzan movies in order, three a night for a week or so.  Every night that week, I set my alarm for 1 a.m. and watched them all.

Several years ago, after resisting Downton Abbey for a while, Steve (in Happy Valley) lent me Season 1 on DVD. Since other folks were waiting to borrow it as well, I watched the whole season over a weekend.  I have followed this by watching every succeeding season over a weekend, once the DVD comes to the library.

And if Hallmark Channel is showing Columbo or Perry Mason or Matlock back to back to back and I’m around, I’ll turn it on. So I suppose the seed was always there.

But I have to say that Netflix has brought a whole new meaning to the phrase binge-watch.  I have noticed that I’m pretty obsessive about watching shows in order, and only one series at a time until I’m done, then on to the next. Murdoch Mysteries, The Crown, Doc Martin, Raiders of the Lost Art, Midsomer Murders (why do all those folks go wandering around in the middle of the night in the dark?) and, of course, every series about castles, country homes and British villages. I don’t think I don’t actually watch any more tv  than I used to, but now I spend a lot less time looking through the tv guide to see what’s palatable!

What will you admit to binge-watching?

 

RIP Roger Moore

Roger Moore, most famously-known for playing James Bond, passed away this week. He was always happy about being known as 007.

James Bond, as written by Ian Fleming, is a smarmy, violent, misogynist. In addition the 007 movies have taken the violence to new heights.  If you can think of it, Hollywood has blown it up in the name of British spydom.

So why am I a Bond fan? Why have I seen them all? More than once? Can probably tell you the names of the books and the movies in order? Why did I make a special trip to visit Schilthorn (On Her Majesty’s Secret Service locale) when I was in Switzerland? Have had more than one heated discussion about who was the best Bond?  It doesn’t make any sense whatsoever.

Just one of my many quirks, I guess.

What’s your most outrageous “quirk”?

The Not-So-Frozen River Film Fest

This was the weekend of Winona’s Frozen River Film Festival  and Thursday eve we attended our first of many events:  a cluster of short films, each between 4 and 15 minutes, about a given topic – like The Journey Set, Adventure Set, Expanding Frontier Shorts, Our Surroundings Shorts, Characters Set.

There were also longer films and speakers on myriad topics and at various venues – including Ed’s No Name Bar, the MN Conservatory of Arts, Public Library – but the majority will be held on Winona State’s campus. (Next year I’ll get this posted earlier in case anyone wants to make the trip!) I won’t see every film I’d like to because of volunteer shifts, but volunteering gets us free passes to most films and events.

frff

Unfortunately, with temps in the 50s here this weekend, a couple of outdoor “side events” were cancelled (think ice skating on Lake Winona). On the other hand, the Fat Tire Bike Ride through Aghaming Park (island in the Mississippi that holds the boathouse community), was good to go.

Thursday night’s collection of eight films was called The People Set. I watched, i.e., “Edges”, about a 90-year-old woman still doing fancy moves on ice skates; “Throw” about a thrower who used his skill with a yo-yo to pull him out of gang violence; and the love and tolerance of a family whose young child, “Pink Boy”, is drawn only to feminine things. It was an evening of rich experience, and I traveled to many places and in several people’s lives in a short interval.

What person can you think of who is worthy of being ensconced in a short film?

R.I.P. Patty Duke

The untimely and unfortunate  death of award-winning performer Patty Duke at the age of 69 will lead many baby boomers to remember her 1960’s TV series, “The Patty Duke Show”.

Or more exactly, it will lead many to remember the one of the most effectively earwormy theme songs ever to plague mid-century television.   I don’t remember anything specific from the  stories or the characters – just this opening ditty.

But Duke had  intelligence and determination, and those qualities earned her a level of respect far beyond what one might gain from starring in a simple TV comedy.    Only after reading her obituary did I get a sense for the many personal obstacles she faced, or glimpse what she did,  as a teenager, with the Oscar-winning role of Helen Keller in The Miracle Worker.

That’s an amazing performance, and an admirable life.

What milestone had you reached at age 16? 

 

Overlapping Shadows

Time now for an occasional (OK, this is the second one, ever) feature of Trail Baboon – Connect Three.

Three current news stories share a common feature – in this case the linkage is anything but obscure – it’s a simple shadow.

The first one has to do with a particular portrait of Bill Clinton in the National Portrait Gallery. Artist Nelson Shanks says the canvas he painted of President Bill Clinton in 2006 includes the shadow of a blue dress, a reference to the famous Monica Lewinski garment which, having been smeared by Clinton himself, left a permanent stain on his presidency.

This, I suppose, is where being an artist trumps having political or financial muscle in that you get to make a lasting commentary. It’s not clear why Shanks would reveal this particular artistic choice right now. Perhaps it’s a bid to set his Clinton image apart from at least 54 others in the Portrait Gallery.

Ah, the Shanks Portrait. That’s the one with The Dress!

Credits: ESA/Rosetta/MPS for OSIRIS Team MPS/UPD/LAM/IAA/SSO/INTA/UPM/DASP/IDA
Credits: ESA/Rosetta/MPS for OSIRIS Team MPS/UPD/LAM/IAA/SSO/INTA/UPM/DASP/IDA

Meanwhile, far out in space at the constantly moving intersection of comet science and human ingenuity, the Rosetta spacecraft has taken a picture of its own diffuse shadow on the surface of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. This news is getting enough play to suggest that we retain our ability to be amazed by simple things. Not only could we locate, chase down and go into orbit around a comet – we’re able to throw a little shade on one too. Fascinating. We are enthralled at any bit of evidence that hints at or own existence. Does this light make my butt look big?

And finally, Disney Characters shadowed shoppers in a mall in Massapequa, New York. I’ve been to Disney World and believe me, it’s just like this – you walk along minding your own business while a duck follows your every move just a step behind.

Close enough to reach into your pocket.

How are you as a mimic?

Some Gratitude for Gravity

While I don’t usually dig into the archives to re-purpose old material, I’m inclined to do so on MAO Day, which is not a holiday set aside to celebrate Chinese Communism but rather, my acronym for  the Monday After the Oscars.

This one goes way back – to the old Trial Balloon blog in 2010.  Many current Trail Baboon commentators had a thing or two to say to this five years ago – take a look and see if you still feel the same way!

Awards show season can be frustrating for artists and their fans. If your favorite singer, actor, writer, set designer or foley artist doesn’t win, it’s a reminder that these shows are a pointless waste of time, an exercise in snobbishness, the purest form of self congratulation and the voters are a bunch of no-taste noodle heads.

And if your favorite wins, well, this is a date that will go down in history! Justice was served. The world acknowledged greatness.

My favorite awards show thank you speech pre-dates television. I loved what Nephew Thomas said when he accepted the prize for 1938 Stunt Man of the Year, receiving his first Marconi (the “Oscar” of the radio world) thanks to his uncanny ability to make it appear he was flying through the air using only his voice and manipulating his proximity to the microphone. He said:

I have so many people to thank, I’m going to have to disappoint them equally and not mention any names at all. Sorry, everybody. Kill me if you must, but that will be hard. I’m a Radio Stunt Man after all.

My only thank you tonight goes to gravity, because it has made my career possible.

It was gravity that pulled me off the side of HMS Indomitable when I played “Semaphore Operator 1”, valiantly trying to signal Vice-admiral Beatty aboard HMS Lion during the riveting WW1 drama, “The Battle of Dogger Bank”.

Gravity kept me from getting launched all the way into space when I played the Human Cannonball in “Carnival People!”.

And it is gravity holding me here right now, at a time when I am so happy, I could float right to the ceiling of this auditorium, which would be a wonderful effect to do in some future radio dramaaaaaAAAAAAAAAAaaaaaaaaaaaaa…”

Of course at that point he did a vivid fade off mic that sounded for all the world like he was being inexplicably lifted upward – the sort of detail only a master can pull off.

If you had to give an acceptance speech right now, who would you thank?