Over the weekend, I watched “Bunny Lake is Missing” with Lawrence Olivier and Carol Lynley. It’s about a woman whose daughter has disappeared and many folks seem to think she has made up the daughter. I hadn’t really intended to watch it but the opening credits listed a handful of characters and then I noticed “The Zombies”. My curiosity about how you get American actress Carol Lynley, British legend Lawrence Olivier and The Zombies into one movie got the better of me.
At one point, Olivier, who plays a police inspector, takes Lynley to a pub to get something to eat. The tv above the bar is tuned to a channel playing a broadcast of The Zombies. They are not identified at all. Then in another scene, they can again be heard on a radio playing in the background. There is no reference to the band at all – and no indication of why The Zombies. I looked it up after the movie was finished and apparently 3 of the songs in the movie were written by them. But I couldn’t find anything that suggests how Otto Preminger (producer and director) hooked up with the band. I guess since the movie was shot over 55 years ago, we’ll probably never know.
How long do you think you’d survive in a zombie apocalypse?
I’m a Star Wars Fan. Not a rabid fan and I have to admit that I haven’t even seen the last few movies because they haven’t come around for free yet. But I will always remember when Star Wars IV came out in 1977. I went to the first night it opened at The Grand Theatre in Northfield; I hadn’t heard anything about it but some other friends were going so I went along for the fun. When the curtains pulled back and the screen filled with stars and the music blared out, I felt as if somehow my life had changed.
Night 2, Night 3 and Night 4 found me at The Grand again, each night with a different group of friends. I was a bit like a CGI proselytizer – trying to get as many people as I knew to see and fall for the new special effects that were on the screen. By Night 5, my friends were starting to give me grief, so my streak ended. (There have been only two other movies that got the Night 1, Night 2, Night 3, Night 4 treatment – Blazing Saddles and Princess Bride. Oddly enough Blazing Saddles was also at The Grand.)
Over the years I’ve watched IV, V and VI over and over again. The others not as much. I’ve never been to a convention, although I’ve certainly thought about it. When May 4 began to be known as Star Wars Day, I noted it but didn’t go crazy over it. YA did give me a book a few years back on May 4, William Shakespeare’s Star Wars: Verily, A New Hope. Kind of my wheelhouse, right?
I do enjoy all the memes and puns that are associated with Star Wars – and there are A LOT of them. Here’s a new one I found a couple of weeks ago.
Q. Why isn’t Leia married in A New Hope?
A. She’s been looking for love in Alderaan places
Where is this going, you all ask? This is where it’s going. When I found the phrase “May the Horse be With Ewe” last week, I fell off my chair laughing. Almost immediately I started thinking about making a card and ended up with the design you see above. On the inside of the card, in the Star Wars font (yes, there is such a thing), I do have “May The Horse Be With Ewe”. I couldn’t help myself. So far a couple of folks who have received it have called and laughed with me. I’m pretty sure that Nonny is not going to get the joke. I’m not even sure if she has SEEN Star Wars.
I was clicking around last week, looking for some good background noise while I addressed some cards and discovered 2001: A Space Odyssey available. I remember seeing 2001 in the movie theatre when it came out and I remember a good deal of it; but even 5 decades later and a lot more science fiction under my belt, it is still weird.
Research led me to things I didn’t know. First off, 2001 was a collaboration between Stanley Kubrick and Arthur C Clarke; it was not first a book and then turned into a movie. The movie actually came out first followed by the book, although by the time the book was published it only had Clarke’s name on it. I also found out that all the colored lights and psychedelic effects at the end were Dave becoming a “star child” after going through a star gate. Of course I’m not sure what a star child is – I haven’t actually read 2001 (although you all know it’s on my short list now) – and the movie certainly doesn’t elucidate any of this.
It seems as if Stanley Kubrick got a little lost in his special effects. And for 1968, they are great. And the whole Hal sequence is, of course, fabulous:
I’m hoping the book will make a little more sense than the movie. Fingers crossed.
Any special effects that you particularly like? Cinematic or otherwise?
You’re a minion. You work for an evil warlord. For years you have cheated, stolen and even killed for him. He pays really well and the benefits package seems great.
One day the malevolent machinations of your boss are uncovered. He decides to blow up his solar energy plant to cover his tracks and he heads to the helicopter pad with the damsel in distress to head away from the mess he’s made. He closes the door of the helicopter, leaving you standing on the helipad. Right then, as your boss flies away from his bomb-ridden plant, one of the good guys shows up. You fight him and fight him, even though it’s just a few minutes to the big boom.
You are part of a long-standing tradition. A truly loyal evil minion – you continue to plague good guys and fight until the bitter end, often for a boss who clearly kills off your peers rather than pay retirement and who always abandons you when the going gets tough.
You probably all know that I’m a bit of a grouch where movies based on books are concerned. And for some reason especially where Agatha Christie is concerned (I’m not really sure why). The Albert Finney Murder on the Orient Express is good, very close to the book. The Kenneth Branagh version – meh.
But my favorite AG movies are the Peter Ustinov Death on the Nile as well as the David Suchet version from the PBS Poirot series. The PU leaves out the secondary plot but the DS messes with the characters’ motives. But I love them both and we won’t discuss how many times I’ve seen them (great background for while I’m in my studio).
I’ve known for many months that Kenneth Branagh’s Death on the Nile was looming and the trailers that I found online were a bit alarming but nonetheless YA and I ventured out last weekend to see it. Maybe I would be pleasantly surprised; after all it’s a fabulous story, how could you mess it up?
As YA and I drove to the theatre I promised her that I would not talk during the movie as I know she hates that. Then she said “and if you don’t like it, no big sighs”. Guess she’s been to that rodeo before! We bought our snacks and settled down in our seats.
I knew in the first 5 seconds that we were in trouble. It won’t be a spoiler alert to say that Agatha Christie NEVER gave Hercule Poirot a backstory. And a jazz nightclub in Paris? Nope. And I can’t even talk about how far off script the various characters were. I suppose there is something to be said about bringing a fresh coat of paint to something, but Branagh completely disassembled the furniture before adding paint. And I’m pretty sure that no tourist boat in Egypt in the 30s was staffed with scores of young, white women in shorts.
I will say that the visuals were stunning. And I will give the movie makers their due on Abu Simbel. They show the temple right at the water’s edge, which is the original location. (The temple was moved to higher ground in the mid-60s.) The PU version didn’t get this right and the DS version didn’t even have an Abu Simbel scene.
It was SO hard not to sigh and then it turns out that I could have. As we left the theatre, YA said “who was the murderer”; she had fallen asleep. When we figured out how far back she had fallen asleep, I could have sighed for at least 20 minutes!
Any remakes that make you shudder or that you like better than the original?
I was listening to the Broadway channel in the car on my way home from work the other day when The Age of Aquarius came on, a recording from the most recent Broadway revival of Hair. The Broadway cast recording came out in 1969, and I remember buying it at the record store in Sioux Falls not long after. I was about 12, I think. I never saw a production of it until I saw the Milos Forman movie from 1979.
Our public library had a set of Broadway Yearbooks that I just loved to look through. It was so fun to read about these productions through the decades. I read all about Hair, and felt a sort of affinity to it, as my zodiac sign is Aquarius and it made me feel like I was part of the whole anti-war, hippie culture as a Middle School student from middle of nowhere Southwest Minnesota. My parents hated long hair on men and the anti-war protests, but they also hated the war, and never minded what books I read or what music I listened to. Oh, for the time when I could really believe in:
Harmony and understandingSympathy and trust abounding No more falsehoods or derisions Golden living dreams of visions Mystic crystal revelation And the mind’s true liberation
Things like this musical and the popular music and literature of the times fueled my youthful idealism that I try to maintain at least a bit of in these most trying times.
What fueled your youthful idealism? What were your favorite Broadway musicals in the 1960’s and 1970’s? What did your parents think about your choices in dress, music, and literature when you were a teenager?
Today’s farm/township update comes to us from Ben.
Kelly and I saw “Come from Away” last Sunday. It was fantastic. In the lobby we heard a guy walk up to his wife and say, “My glasses fogged up and I was following the wrong lady in a red jacket.”
It was so cold! How cold was it? It was so cold I wore sleeves. It was so cold I saw a duck standing on one foot. It was so cold the handle on the water hydrant by the barn wouldn’t move. Then it warmed up for a day and the chickens came out, and the hydrant worked, and the ducks just looked at their corn.
In the winter, we get pheasants coming in to eat the corn I throw out for the ducks. Each year there’s a couple more and this year it’s 9 or 10. It’s pretty cool. The crows have learned there’s free food here too. Kelly doesn’t like the crows.
Here’s a picture of some dark colored blobs down there. Those are pheasants.
I’m on our local townboard. Been on there since 1998. We have one house on a major road that is city on both sides of this house, and there is 100’ of sidewalk in front of that house. I don’t know if it’s a ‘walking path’ or ‘bike path’ or ‘sidewalk’ but It’s the only sidewalk in the township. (because the rest of the township is rural or subdivisions that don’t have sidewalks). The city clears the walking path out in this area because there are no home frontages here, but they have been skipping that 100’ in front of this house. And the property owner has never plowed it. As it’s in the middle of this stretch of path, it’s a problem for people using the path. I learned all this last winter when I got an angry phone call from a city resident who lives out there and uses this path. I didn’t even know it was a township problem. I didn’t know the homeowner and I didn’t know if he had health issues or what reasons there might be for him not clearing the sidewalk. Took me a few days to connect with him, during which, the county snowplow just pushed all the snow back off the sidewalks and so the path was open. Turns out the guy just refuses to clear the walk on principle. Huh. He figures he didn’t ask for this sidewalk, so he’s not going to plow it. We, as the township, don’t have a sidewalk ordinance and we don’t want to make one for 100’ of sidewalk when we have 33 miles of roads to deal with, therefore we couldn’t force him to clear it. And the city says it’s not theirs, so they don’t want to clear it (even though they’re clearing a mile on both sides of it). Last winter the weather warmed up and the problem went away.
This winter I’ve been watching it as I drive by this area. I’ve seen the guy out there with his small tractor and blower doing his driveway, but he still isn’t doing the sidewalk. And I can’t decide if I admire him for sticking to his principles or if he’s being a jerk. And the city now is clearing it as they’re driving through there anyway. Which makes sense, but I could also see them leaving it… on principle.
Twenty-five years ago, just after I got on the Townboard, we repaved some roads in a subdivision. One resident never paid his share believing no one would come and tear out the road. Jokes on him; the company DID tear up 100’ of blacktop, leaving a section of gravel on this road. Didn’t take long for him to pay up and the road to get fixed. Maybe the neighbors convinced him.
We have a mystery going on at our townhall. It’s an old building, looks like a one room school. (Maybe it was the school that got blown across the road in the great tornado of 1883, or maybe it was always a townhall; depends who you ask and what maps you choose to believe).
For the last 3 years we’ve been picking up Phillips vodka bottles in the gravel parking lot. I wish LJB was still around; we need a good story for this! We have our suspicions… once a week, there will be 1, 2, or sometimes even 3 vodka bottles. Very few are empty. Some have never been opened! Most will be between ½ and 2/3’s full. We’ve got a collection in the hall now of 14 bottles, and there are a lot that have been picked up and thrown out and don’t make it to the hall collection. The hall is at the intersection of two major roads. People park there in summer and ride bikes or jog. A school bus stops there. Sheriff deputies park there to do reports.
Why are you not finishing the vodka? And why are you leaving them there? Bonus points if you can tie in the glasses fogged up guy.
YA and I are working on another puzzle right now; it’s taking longer because I haven’t quite committed yet and now the workweek has come around and we don’t have as much time.
The last time we worked on a puzzle it was a Sunday and neither of us had anything on our schedules. We settled in and we watched movie after movie as we progressed. We took turns picking the movie; YA was very understanding of what I would stomach and what I wouldn’t. In fact, at one point SHE chose Princess Bride – she said she knew I liked it.
I do love Princess Bride; I think I’ve mentioned here before that when it came out in the theatres, I went four nights in a room, dragging a different friend each time. I couldn’t guess how many times I’ve seen it but suffice it to say we’re talking seriously into double digits at this point.
About halfway through the movie YA said “you know that you’re mouthing all the words?” There aren’t too many movies for which I know huge tracts of the dialog: When Harry Met Sally, Romancing the Stone, Blazing Saddles, Death on the Nile. I also know the first few minutes of Laura by heart:
“I’ll never forget the weekend that Laura died. The silver sun burned through the sky like a huge magnifying glass. It was the hottest Sunday in my recollection. I felt as if I were the only living being left in New York. For Laura’s horrible death, I was alone. I, Waldo Lydecker, was the only one who really knew her.”
But I’m pretty sure that I know more Princess Bride than any of the others. I did attempt to stop narrating along with the movie, although I’m not sure I was 100% successful.
Do you have any irritating movie habits (well, irritating to others…)?
Asteroid 1994 PC1 whizzed past us yesterday at 43,000+ miles per hour. Apparently compared to the asteroids that swing by almost every day, 1994PC1 is fairly large to be so far outside the asteroid belt. NASA has been watching it for years (I’m guessing from it’s name, since 1994) and since none of us got warnings about impending asteroid/earth collisions the last few days, they are quite aware that relatively speaking while it’s coming close to us, its closest pass will be five times the distance between us and the moon. According to scientists “if you aren’t worried about the moon crashing into your house this week, you shouldn’t be worried about this either”.
I guess we might have a closer call with a much larger asteroid in 2028. That news actually hit the stands back in 1997, just a year after a big scare when 1996 JA1, an asteroid the length of two football fields, passed by at only 300,000 miles with not much warning. This might account for a bunch of the asteroid movies that came out in the next couple of years (Deep Impact, Armageddon, Asteroid, Judgment Day to name a few).
I’m not a big disaster film buff (although technically if they divert the asteroid, it’s not really a disaster flick, is it?) but I did see a couple of these. It’s an interesting concept – pushing off an object that is traveling 43K miles an hour. And I don’t really follow this stuff closely so I don’t know if there is an object that NASA is actually worried about. And I wonder, would they tell us if there were? Not sure what in heck we, as citizens of the planet could actually do to prepare. I mean, I assume we’re smarter than the dinosaurs, but there sure wasn’t anything they could have done differently.
Which do you worry about more – asteroids or a zombie apocalypse?
I don’t remember why I asked for a DVD of The Cave of Forgotten Dreams from the library. I had to get it through InterLibrary Loan so it took awhile. I have a vague memory of seeing something recently about cave art so that is probably it, but I’m not sure I’ll ever remember for sure.
It was captivating to see the cave art (from the Chauvet Cave in southern France) – the public is not allowed in the caves so it felt a little like getting away with something although the scientists and camera crew did have permission.
The film got weird in a few places, a little disconnected and then at the end it got REALLY weird. In a “postscript”, the film introduces a nuclear power near the caves and then continues to show the crocodiles who have been added to the warm waters of the plant. Not only that, but some albino crocodiles became the final focus with the film clearly suggesting that they are mutants from radiated water. This, of course, captured my interest in a big way. First off, they weren’t crocodiles, they were alligators – classic u-shaped alligator snouts. But more importantly, why in heaven’s sake would a nuclear power plant build a crocodile farm?
Of course all my questions were answered when I actually looked up at the screen just in time to see “Written, Directed and Narrated by Werner Herzog”. I don’t know a lot about Herzog but I have seen enough comments over the years to know that he doesn’t use the same definition of “truth” that I do. This made it incredibly easy to fact-check the crocodile farm story. The power plant did NOT build the croc farm; it was built by two crocodile enthusiasts. They are close to the cave and they do use the water from the nuclear power plant but the water is consistently tested and has never shown any radioactivity. And the albinos? Imported from a croc farm in the Southern U.S.; they were albino before they even reached the French waters. Not radioactive mutants. None of this really explains the purpose of the postscript of the film, but it was interesting research.
The most noteworthy fact I found is that the French croc farm is not the only place on the planet where crocodiles are benefitting from nuclear waters. Apparently 25% of the crocodiles in the U.S. thrive among the cooling canals at Turkey Point Nuclear Plant south of Miami. They are protected, having been encouraged there since the discovery of the first nest back in the 70s. Fascinating.
Have you ever held a baby alligator or crocodile in your hands? Snake? Tarantula? Anything?