Monday, January 16, 2017

Gun Safety, Soucheray and More

MINNEAPOLIS — Last Thursday Minnesota House of Representatives Republicans introduced legislation that would turn the Land of Lakes into more of a wild west shooting range.  Rev. Nancy Nord Bence reported Sunday at a meeting of PROTECT MINNESOTA at the Mayflower Church on disturbing events in the Republican Legislature.
One dubious piece of legislation would authorize anyone, including non-residents, to carry a gun without a permit.  The other is known as the “stand your ground” law which would allow a person to shoot anyone they considered a threat with “threat” interpretated subjectively.

Save Tuesday, February 14th. That's when we'll go to the capitol to put our hard work into action!  
In the classic movie “It Happened on 5th Avenue,” an estranged couple is reunited when the wife makes “mulligatawny soup.”  The millionaire husband, played by Charlie Ruggles, is overwhelmed by the wife, played by Ann Harding.  They fondly remembered the soup from leaner times.
So I ran across the recipe in my heart healthy cookbook and am giving it a go now in the crockpot.  The main ingredients are chicken, broth, apples, onion, green pepper and carrots.

I am savoring right of center Sunday Pioneer Press columnist’s Joe Soucheray’s discomfort with Trump playing footsie with Putin.  Like me he grew up in a school where we were taught to fear the Soviet Union and the Reds.  (A seventh grade teacher, John Kale,  warned us that the radio documentary spoofing the Army McCarthy hearings was a subversive danger.)  
Soucheray compares the Ruskies to the Green Bay Packers.  What a horrible thing to say about Russia where my father was a native of Minsk, but was also anti-Russian.
Joe no doubt would prefer that Tim and Mary (Pawlenty) would soon be occupying the White House but it hasn’t come to pass (and never will).

With snow, ice and freezing temps, the 1981 film noir “Body Heat” seemed an appropriate title to chase away the winter blues last night.  Coupled with the 1944 noir “Double Indemnity,” both provided a wonderful take on the state of civilization as we know it.  In “DI,” Fred MacMurray is fixated on Barbara Stanwyck’s ankle bracelet while in “BH” the object of William Hurt’s lust is shown in explicit bedroom interludes with the femme fatale played by Kathleen Turner.  
This is an updated take on the biblical Adam and Eve Garden of Eden yarn for adult viewing.  Greed and lust send our erstwhile heroes down the swirling vortex of hell and damnation, but getting there is half the fun. 

Sunday, January 08, 2017

Hawaii 1991, "Last Five Years"

Preparing for a tropical getaway, so I am playing this 1988 CD I bought in Oahu in 1991 when I was with the Uhlers Ski Club.  Time to get back there.  Photo with my Yashica SLR, 3M film.

Something different was added to Silver Sneakers aerobics today at the YMCA when instructor Sarah provided Edith Piaff singing “LaViene Rose.”  On a day when I thought rigor morits had set in, this was enough to help me forget that it’s only 9 degrees outside today.

Growing up in New York in 1965, Arty Dorman saw a summer production of “The Music Man” with Anita Bryant as Marian and Gig Young as Professor Harold Hill.  Given that Gig was gay and Anita was homophobic, that was indeed a strange bit of casting.  Arty spoke Sunday at the Or Emet Jewish Humanist Congregation meeting in St. Paul.  He recommends the play “The Humans” which won a 2016 Tony Award.  Dorman expanded his love of theater to become the lead Twin Cities critic for


Like the popular movie “La La Land,” the characters in the movie “Last Five Years” have difficulty navigating careers and maintaining romance.  The setting is New York City in this musical with Jeremy Jordan (“Smash”) playing a writer and Anna Kendrick as an actress.  This is one of the more interesting movies on Netflix.

Tuesday, January 03, 2017


This past weekend I was reminded of Eve Arden’s sarcastic wit when Decades did a weekend of “Our Miss Brooks,” the story of the erstwhile bachelorette I knew as a youth listening every week on KXLY radio.  Her matrimonial efforts were lost on biology teacher Mr. Boynton, played on radio by Jeff Chandler and then on TV by Robert Roxwell.
Richard Crenna’s airhead Walter Denton trades barbs with Gale Gordon’s Osgood Conklin, the principal and father of Harriet, Denton’s girlfriend.  Crenna was fodder for Kathleen Turner in “Body Heat” and was paired with blonde bombshell Cleo Moore in “Over Exposed” on the big screen. 

Get paranoid with the British TV series “Black Mirror” where cookies are implanted and people disappear with the touch of a remote control.  The “Christmas Story” episode features a bird wall clock identical to the one a friend in Edina owns.

That dancing on the stars number in “LaLa Land” was first done in  the 1952 comedy “Lovely to Look At,” a remake of RKO’s “Roberta” which is better.  Marge and Gower Champion danced on the stars as do Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone. 

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Glenn Miller Story revisited 63 years later

I was breathless with anticipation when I went to this New Year’s Eve offering at Spokane’s Post Theater at road show prices.  The LP was a Chanukah gift from Auntie Dora (Barer) and I still have it.  Singers Tex Beneke and Ray Eberle from the original Miller band aren’t in the movie but can be seen with Glenn in the 40s TCF musical “Sun Valley Serenade.” (Not available on DVD yet.)  

The VHS tape I am watching tonight has a $69 price tag but I got it for a buck at the thrift store.  A restored version of Glenn Miller was shown at a downtown St. Paul auditorium in the 80s and I took Mike to that.  The ending was from the imagination of director Anthony Mann.

Monday, December 26, 2016

Favorite Musicals, Oliver! and Ski Party

James Brown turns in a pants-splitting performance of “I Feel Good” in the 1965 AIP comedy “Ski Party” with Duane Hickman and Frankie Avalon in drag in a hare brain scheme to improve their love lives.  Leslie Gore and Dick Dale make this a must see beach movie.


The 1968 award winning film “Oliver!” is excellent because the producer turned a deaf ear to suggestions to cast Liz and Dick in the leads or other Hollywood box-office stars.  Instead a talented British cast and crew makes this one of the best film adaptations of a stage musical, unlike “Hello Dolly” and “Mame.”  Bloomsbury and the London market are all sets built at Shepperton Studios, which is amazing and wouldn’t happen today.  I saw the play, heard the music in Boise in about 1966.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Butcher Shop, Zsa Zsa, 5th Avenue

Shopping at the meat counter at Fresh Thyme yesterday reminded me of going with Mom to the Manito Grocery Store in Spokane where bald headed Herb was the butcher.  Although Fresh Thyme lacks the sawdust floors, it provides that friendly personal touch so missing at CUB or Target.

Nervous about entertaining this holiday?  Alfred Hitchcock has the recipe for a perfect party in his 1948 film “Rope” with John Dahl and Farley Granger.  

When Johnny brought the “Tonight Show” to Burbank in 1963 I was in the audience with my roommate John Miller of Ontario to see Zsa Zsa in person.  By then she was no longer one of the “beautiful women” from “Queen of Outer Space” (1958).  During the commercial break Carson lit up a smoke and exited the stage leaving Zsa Zsa alone.
Her maroon Rolls Royce with her name on the door was parked at Clifford Odet’s funeral in 1963 that I covered as a reporter for UPI.  Danny Kaye gave the eulogy.   Zsa will be remembered as the love starved scientist in “Queen” who falls for Eric Fleming in this Allied Artist cosmic classic.

A homeless squatter enters a mansion through a manhole and brings joy in the 1947 Allied Artist comedy “It Happened on 5th Avenue.”  Playing the tramp, Victor Moore is quite believable and helps reform a money mad capitalist who is estranged from his family.  Actors from fifties TV sitcoms in this holiday favorite are Don Defore and Gale Storm.  

I saw it at the rustic Spirit Lake, Idaho, theater in the summer of ’47 with Mom and my sister and never forgot the man in the manhole.

Gun Safety Vigil at Mt. Zion Temple

At least 100 Minnesotans braved the bitter cold to hold an interfaith candlelight vigil Wednesday night  at Mt. Zion Temple in St. Paul on the anniversary of the Sandy Hook shootings.  

Preceding the vigil, Protect Minnesota met in the temple where people spoke about gun violence that has affected their families’ lives and people they have known, such as the students of educators and the clients of social workers.  

Participants were asked by the Protect Minnesota Executive Director the Rev. Nancy Nord Bence to have respectful conversations with people, even if they disagree on gun violence protection, “to soften hearts” rather than change minds.

“The weakest state law will become the national standard” if the Mandated Concealed Carry bill is passed by legislators, Rev. Bence said.  If this bill passes, Minnesota would recognize all carry permits from all states including those who don’t require a permit to carry a firearm, she added.  Introduction of the legislation is expected by the spring of 2017.

Minnesota groups and individuals involved in gun violence protection include hunters, sport shooters, licensed dealers, veterans and interfaith religious groups such as Muslim and Jewish Women of Minnesota and Daughters of Abraham (Jewish, Christian and Muslim.)

Monday, December 12, 2016

Susan Slept Here and More

Debbie Reynolds in RKO Radio's Susan Slept Here
In the Peter Bogdonavich 1971 classic film the town turns to a tumble weed ruin when the movie theater closes.  Very are many cues to 1950s diversions:  Father of the Bride, Mutual Radio, Fulton Lewis Jr., Strike it Rich with Warren Hull, Your Show of Shows, Red River (the last movie) and Grandma’s Lie Soap.

A blue collar New England man consumed by guilt and depression bonds with his teenage nephew and ward in a contemporary setting.  This is NOT the movie to lift you out of your post election early winter blues.  Not to be confused with Frankie and Annette at the beach but definitely destined for several awards.  Casey Affleck is a revelation.

A hopeful message on racial tolerance is delivered by St. Louis Park’s community theater in their production of the 1947 musical “Finian’s Rainbow” at the SLP Jewish Community Center.  Today was the final performance which featured Adam Western with a great voice as the romantic lead and the ballerina Julie Hattestad as Susan Mahoney.

A favorite holiday movie for the nostalgic, this 1954 RKO Radio big budget May-December romance with Debbie Reynolds as the teenage rebel and Dick Powell as the playboy screenwriter.  This was Powell’s last big screen appearance and he dusts off his dancing shoes after a 20 year hiatus for a big production number.  A ballet with Debbie in a cage is quite campy and not to be missed.  

Take note of the nod to Fifties Modern design with the furniture and signature stone fireplace wall.  I had the 78 record of Don Cornell singing the movie’s “Hold My Hand,” not to be confused with the Beattles hit 10 years later.