Wednesday, May 31, 2023

Vital Viewing (Cultural Exchanges Edition)


Actor Tom Berenger was born on this day in 1949. I tend to think of him as an almost-movie star. He had--has--the talent and the looks and was in a number of hit movies in the 1980s, but never seemed to quite reach that celluloid summet. Even when he played the main character in a film, I can't remember him ever getting that screen idol-defining above-the-title billing. So it was with some surprise, of the pleasurable sort, to find out that he not only may still be considered famous, but that his fame has apparently spread to, of all places, ...

...the Middle East. About six years ago Berenger went to the Kingdom of Jordan to conduct some kind of acting workshop and while there sat down for this interview, where he proves to be every bit as amiable as he is talented, and, even as an older gent, good-looking. Watch:

Since Hollywood largely has moved away from celluloid, as mentioned in the above clip, maybe there's still time for Berenger to reach the digital summit, without that click-click-click to hold him back. Before that happens, though, I want to return briefly to an era when film was still shot on film, and for that we need to leave Southwest Asia, and go to...

...Southeast Asia.

(It was actually filmed in the Philippines, but that's still Southeast Asia.)

Let me set up the following scene. Amiable actor Berenger, in the role of the less-than-amiable Staff Sgt. Barnes, finds that he's the target of a possible murder plot, retaliation for Barnes own murder of a fellow serviceman. Charlie Sheen portrays the main plotter. Watch: 

Sometimes I feel deprived about having mostly missed out on the 1960s. But not when I watch this clip.

Wednesday, May 24, 2023

Quips and Quotations (Better Be Good to Her Edition)


 And I won’t stop until I get that respect. I may not ever get it completely, because my life has been too hard so far. But I’ve gotten a taste of what that respect is probably like, and I like it. I may not be able to get that class, because I didn’t act my life, I lived it. I am Tina Turner. I am raunchy. But I know I’m a lady and that deep inside of me there’s a craving for class. I know I’m accepted, but what I always wanted was the principal’s daughters’ world. And maybe that was my lesson in life...Maybe I had to learn something from wanting that and then not being able to have it.

--Tina Turner



Saturday, May 20, 2023

The Running Man


 Football legend Jim Brown died May 18 at the age of 88. Without doubt the most crucial member of a long-ago Cleveland Browns offense, and a long-ago Cleveland Browns as a whole, Brown played fullback from 1957 to 1965, by the end of which time he held the NFL record for single season rushing (1,863 yards in 1963) and career rushing (12,312 yards), as well as all-time leader in rushing touchdowns (106), total touchdowns (126), and all-purpose yards (15,549). He earned a spot in the Pro Bowl every year he played, was voted the Associated Press NFL Most Valuable Player three times, helped the Browns win the 1964 NFL Championship Game, and in 1971 was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio.

As for Jim Brown's off-field activities...

...he sometimes played defense. 

Friday, May 19, 2023

Vital Viewing (What Happens to a Dream Deferred Edition)


Now, just what the hell is that monstrosity? An early Mac? Maybe some postwar PC that ran on Windows 0000000.1? Could it be a protype laptop that a succession of crushed thighs sent back to the drawing board? No, it's actually a 1935 IBM Model 01, one of the first electric typewriters.

Here it is from another angle. Not to be confused with an iPad.

Of course, it's not the writing machine but the writer writing on the writing machine that matters, in this case playwright Lorraine Hansberry, born on this day in 1930 (she died in 1965.) In the following clip, Hansberry expounds on what kind of subject matter makes for the best plays:

Seemingly reductive but ultimately expansive, I dare say.

Except why dare say it when I can show it? Not the original 1959 Broadway production, which except for a few photos is lost forever, but the next best thing, the 1961 film version. Watch and listen as Sidney Poitier, Diana Sands, and Cleveland native Ruby Dee, all original cast members of that Broadway production, recite Hansberry's disquieting dialogue:

Very powerful scene, but if the always compelling Poitier is Lorraine Hansberry's idea of a "most ordinary human being", then where does that leave me?

I'm just below that big yellow dude, right scoop, center row, third from the left.



Friday, May 12, 2023

Graphic Grandeur (Fabricated Fabrications Edition)



It would be a mistake to call illustrator Bruce McCall, who died this past Friday, a Luddite simply because he spent so much of his time and his talent poking fun at science and technology and what the future holds for both. For one thing, the science and technology he usually made light of wasn't the Apple/Google/Microsoft digitalized artificial intelligence variety that naysayers warn will very soon suck all of humanity into some sort of "singularity". In fact, McCall seemed less interested in the future we're told to expect and more interested in the future we were told to expect, but expect no more, taking as his satirical inspiration everything from the 1939 New York's World Fair to 1950s sci-fi drive-in movies to the gloriously illustrated automobile advertising that dominated glossy magazines in the middle decades of the 20th century until some Madison Avenue genius figured out it was just as easy, maybe even easier, to photograph a car as to draw one. But why make fun of a past vision of the future that never panned out? Perhaps it was McCall's way of reminding us that out present vision of the future, for better or worse, may be as equally pan-resistance. For now, just sit back and enjoy this collection of art, mostly from The New Yorker, but with a few examples from the National Lampoon as well, and observe how deftly McCall brings past, present, and future together, only to pull them all apart again. No singularity has ever been more pluralistic:


Ah, but a man's reach should exceed his grasp, or what's a heaven for?

--Robert Browning