Category Archives: TV

What’s My Line?

Wednesday night, husband and I attended a meeting at church for the people in the congregation who volunteer and serve most often. There were about fifty of us there, and the aim of the meeting was to brainstorm to identify and recruit more people in the congregation who could also do what we do. Our pastor is worried about burn out for us. There are about seven hundred active members in our church.

There are a lot of committees and groups that are essential for keeping our services and programs running. At the meeting were the ushers, people from the altar guild, the assisting ministers, the musicians, service committee, and Wednesday School teachers (we have Wednesday school instead of Sunday School). Husband and I are primarily assisting ministers and musicians. I was fascinated to observe how the jobs we volunteer for at church seem to fit our various personalities.

The folks in the usher group were the most gregarious in the meeting. Ushers like to meet and greet, and we had to keep shushing them so we could hear what the other participants were saying. Husband and I were in the group that was coming up with names for the assisting ministers. I I noted our group was made up of all professionals and the most educated of all the participants. We were also the most serious. The assisting ministers serve communion and read the lessons, which can be sort of sobering.

The altar guild makes sure the front of the church looks perfect before services, and that the altar cloths are wrinkle free and even, the wine and wafers are all ready for communion, the candles are lit, and the decorations and banners are seasonal and tidy. While the rest of us were seated haphazardly in the meeting room I was tickled to see that the members of the altar guild were all seated perfectly evenly spaced around their table.

The money counters were the quietest participants. They come on Wednesdays and count the Sunday collection and bring it to the bank for deposit. It seemed to me that as a group they don’t want to draw a lot of attention to themselves with the money in their safe keeping.

The service committee decorates the rest of the church that the altar guild doesn’t decorate, and provides and serves the food at funeral lunches and church potlucks. They were more likely than the rest of us to see congregation members in venues outside of the Sunday services, and seemed to have the low down on the names that were suggested for various committees. “Don’t ask Marlon to be an assisting minister. He won’t want his wife to sit by herself during the service,” and “They can’t help as youth mentors unless they have childcare. They have little ones at home, you know”.

I suppose it isn’t surprising that people are drawn to activities that suit their temperaments, but it was just delightful to notice now blatant were the differences between the groups.

Are there tasks you are drawn to or repelled by in the groups or organizations you belong to? What old game shows did you watch when you were a kid?

Flair?

The other day, when we were talking about ads, I had the tv on for a bit in the afternoon and I looked up just in time to see a young woman sporting a pair of jeans that were definitely flared at the ankle.  I actually backed up the ad to confirm I had seen it correctly.  Not only were the jeans flared out but the word “flare” actually flashed across the screen.  After fifty years it was a little hard to believe that flare jeans have become retro.

I called YA to confirm that flare jeans are “in” but she was very quick (and very vehement) in pointing out that it’s just a little flare that is in, not the huge wide flare jeans that were popular back in the 70s.  I remember the outfit that I put together for the first day back of sophomore year in high school.  Wide faded flare jeans with a “Make Love Not War” sweatshirt and a watch with a huge white wristband.  I thought I was the cat’s meow.  During the time that flared jeans were popular, I altered a few of mine by slitting open the leg and expanding the flare with bright patterned material.  All the rage!

YA tried to get me to promise not to purchase any flare jeans for myself.  She said “just keep your seventies memories to yourself.”  I’m pretty sure I should be insulted but I can’t quite figure out how.

Anything you’d like to come around again?  Or not?

Mystery Musical Score

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 Afraid I Can’t Do That

Some movies are just so weird.

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?

Death on the Nile

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?

You Didn’t Want THAT To Happen!

Often times in my play therapy room, a toy is inadvertently broken. The child almost always feels horrible, and my stock response is “You didn’t want THAT to happen”, and there is no scolding and we move on.

Saturday, our three year old grandson and a female friend the same age were pretend sword fighting in the family room of our son’s house. Our grandson likes to pretend he is Darth Vader. (He has never seen a Star Wars movie, but knows about Vader.) His friend inadvertently wacked the large screen TV with the wooden block she was using as a sword, and the whole screen shattered. That girl packs a good punch. I am glad she wacked the TV and not our grandson. Our grandson announced at Christmas that he was going to marry her.

Son and DIL were having friends over for a Super Bowl party yesterday so a new TV was hurriedly purchased. I think that any future sword fighting will take place outside. We don’t want THAT to happen again.

What do you remember breaking as a child? Did you ever have any serious accidents? Have you ever participated in fencing or the martial arts?

Humiliations Galore!

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…)?

Nostalgia

I’m not sure if it’s a pandemic thing but during the last year, I’ve had a greater yearning for tv shows and movies that I haven’t seen for years/decades. 

It started with two movies starring Gene Wilder as Cash Carter: Murder in a Small Town and The Lady in Question.  Gene plays a theatre director who helps the local police solve crimes.  Even though I’ve read that he was kind of a stinker in real life, I adore him on the screen.

Then there were both of the older Death on the Niles, one from the 70s with Peter Ustinov and the David Suchet version.  This is my absolute favorite Agatha Christie and both these versions are pretty true to the book.

Next up came The Girl From Uncle with Stephanie Powers.  It’s very dated but I did love it at the time and am always glad when there is a woman in a leading role, especially where spy/detective stories are concerned.

I’ve looked for years for The Scarecrow.  I hardly remember it except for the song and the shots of Patrick McGoohan with his Scarecrow mask.  It was a short Disney series but for some reason it has stuck in my memory.

And as soon as I started thinking about Patrick McGoohan, I started thinking about The Three Lives of Thomasina.  I talked my parents into taking me to see this three times while it was at the local move theatre.  In addition to the cat and Patrick McGoohan (I had a thing for him early on), I loved the “witch” who lived outside the town who cured the cat.

The latest of my obsessions is Flambards.  It played on PBS in 1980 – I was a young married and I still remember the haunting musical score.  I only saw it that once, but I loved the story of a young girl coming of age in turn of the century (20th) England.  I didn’t realize for many years that it was based on a trilogy of books by K.M. Peyton; I have just recently read the first one.

I searched for all of these movies/shows and didn’t have much luck (David Suchet’s Nile and the first episode of Flambards were available on the internet for a bit).  And I didn’t have much luck with interlibrary loan either – a lot of libraries don’t really want to lend out their DVDs; they show as available but then I get a “sorry” email.  I’m still waiting to hear about Flambards, but for all the others, I eventually went online and purchased them one by one.  This may not seem too remarkable but purchasing DVDs hasn’t been something I do very often and it’s hard not to feel like I’ve been behaving fiscally irresponsible purchasing so many over the course of a year.  But I have truly enjoyed them (over and over again I admit).  I have a friend who weighs purchases by how often they are used – she calls this calculation PPU (price per use) – the more often something is used, the cheaper it gets in her eyes.  By this calculation, I’m practically saving money!

Anything you’ve been nostalgic about lately?

In Peril

I took some strategically placed personal days between Christmas and New Years; combined with the paid holidays from my company, I was off for eleven days straight.  It was a very low-key holiday with not much going on so it’s not surprising that I watched a lot of tv movies.

Diversity in movies isn’t high on my list of priorities but I did watch a bigger variety than usual, including several films that could be considered “thrillers” – Die Hard, Murder at 1600, Indiana Jones & the Temple of Doom, North by Northwest, several Tarzan movies and pretty much every Japanese monster movie ever made. 

You wouldn’t think all of these movies would have much in common but you’d be wrong.  The one thing they all had in common was screaming/squealing female characters.  In scenes of danger or violence, the women all scream or squeal.  The men in these scenes?  Silent as the grave (except for the sound of fists smacking flesh).  Even in Murder at 1600, which has a very strong female lead (Diane Lane), in the two scenes which qualify, while she doesn’t scream, she makes grunts and exclamations while the male lead (Wesley Snipes) is silent.   I will admit that a couple of times Bruce Willis did grunt a bit in Die Hard but when you consider the near-mortal injuries he sustained, you’d think he’d make a bit more noise.

Having never been in any situation even remotely like the ones in these films, I don’t want to speculate as to whether or not I would be a screamer or a squealer.  However, based on the fact that language fit for a longshoreman regularly pops out of my mouth almost automatically when I drop something, spill something or even just stub my toe, I’m guessing I might be making noise of some kind!

Do you have any “Pavlovian” responses?

We’re Not Bleeding

I have a babysitting gig tonight.

I was doing a quick scroll on Facebook (that’s about all I can handle on FB) and noticed my neighbor two doors up looking for a last-minute sitter since the scheduled sitter has come down sick.  It’s my neighbors anniversary and apparently the reservations have been made for months.  This is a newish neighbor; they moved in last May in the middle of pandemic and I don’t know them terribly well, but I thought “what the heck… I don’t have any plans on Friday night” and volunteered. 

The last time I did any child-minding was two Easters ago.  As part of the most over-engineered-egg-hunt in history, adults go out and hide the eggs for one assigned child (13 kids 13 and under).  Normally I am part of the egg-hiding crowd but that year there was snow on the ground and I was the lone voice of reason that maybe we should do something different.  So I rebelled and stayed with the kids in the house while all the other adults traipsed out.  Big jokes were made about whether I could handle this.  I told all the kids that as long as there was no bleeding, we would be fine.  The kids thought this was very funny and it’s still a running joke; I expect to hear that no one is bleeding on Thanksgiving.,

My neighbor is not a baker so I thought I might take some cookie dough to their house and bake cookies with the girls.  Or maybe we could make caramel popcorn to have if we watch tv.  Other than that no plans; I’m assuming from their ages (5 and 8) that they will be in bed before their folks get home, so a good book is on the docket a well.  YA thinks I’m in for a hard evening despite me reminding her that I was HER babysitter for years and she’s not bleeding.

Any advice for tonight?