Needles In The Camel’s Eye

Hollywood is nothing if not imitative.  Sometimes the new iteration of the old idea brings a new stack of wheat.  And besides.  I haven’t seen or read “The Fault In Our Stars”.  Just got the preview of the movie in the theater, and knew it was a big deal.

So, with not so much to do sitting in front of the TV on Friday night, I looked in on Red Band Society.   Teenagers, cancer, romance – oh boy I’m right there – but I thought I’d give it a chance since it was easier than being productive.

And WHAM!  “Needles In The Camel’s Eye” plays.   The camera zooms in.  The coma kid narrates.  The thing is, this song … stops … and then starts … and then stops … and then starts.   And it was from an old album I really liked and almost loved (Lyrics like Needles In The Camels Eye not withstanding).

But what a flash from the past!  What a blast from the bottom of the vinyl bin!   And the narration works into the breaks in the song.  Any modern kid cancer love story with a look back to 1974 Brian Eno is produced in such a way that I want to give it a longer chance.  I stayed!

The opening sequence, tells a few hints such as the bitch cheerleader passes out, then back to Needles in the Camel’s eye, then the kid in the ER looking for his doctor, then Needles in the Camel’s eye, then the “scary bitch” nurse, then more Needles In the Camels Eye, then the narrator, then more Needles, then the two kids smokin’ pot in the janitor’s closet, on of them bald the other seems healthy.  The narrator gives a one line character sketch of each one.  Mixed is is “live” diagloge.  The kid who looked healthy says there’s so much marijuana in this place they call it Electric Avenue as he takes the refer from the bald kid while the music in the back ground is the Who’s “Talkin’ About My Generation” and with all the pop culture references and (yes) I like voice over as well as the effort to nod to my own generation, I’m going to give this one a chance.

I watched the whole thing.  First blush of the characters were a bit cliche’.

I really liked the camera above view of the cheerleader queen bitch being thrown up into the air as well as the top down view of ALL of the other cheerleaders filming her with their phones as she’s passed out on the mats.  The geeky female cheerleader, the only one who calls 911.   Pretty happy to hear she gets to give CPR.

Maybe the characters were obvious.  The kid making the reference to Electric Avenue.  The tough, but really nice nurse being the bitch just as her coffee cup was labelled by her barista.  The almost visible halo over the good doctor.  The spunky yet classically handsome kid who has to talk the good doctor into doing his amputation.

But they opened with ENO and went right into the Who.   For a modern Fox rip off of a popular teenaged love tragedy, I think Red Band Society has enough to keep an old fart generation interested, enough good looking young actors and heart tugging storylines to pull in the desired younger demographic, and a fast paced, professional production style with a lot of “Sports Night” style one shots to hold your attention, that this one has a shot.

And Dead Poets Society – oops  - Ooops I mean The Fault In Our Stars – rip offs are worth ripping off.

I saw the name Spielberg in the liner notes somewhere.

There’s got to be something here.  Besides, they went with the most uncomfortable song from Here Come The Warm Jets as music to open the show with!

If they close the show with On Some Far Away Beach, I won’t think its Band of Brothers, but I think, that I’ll think, this was a pretty good show.

[updated 9/21/14]


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Now for a change of pace

Sometimes I publish things more than once.  This just may be one of those times.    A gift.

Ogden Nash Logo

No Doctor's Today, Thank You
They tell me that euphoria is the feeling of feeling wonderful, well, today I feel euphorian, 
Today I have the agility of a Greek god and the appetite of a Victorian. 
Yes, today I may even go forth without my galoshes, 
Today I am a swashbuckler, would anybody like me to buckle any swashes? 
This is my euphorian day, 
I will ring welkins and before anybody answers I will run away. 
I will tame me a caribou 
And bedeck it with marabou. 
I will pen me my memoirs. 
Ah youth, youth! What euphorian days them was! 
I wasn't much of a hand for the boudoirs, 
I was generally to be found where the food was. 
Does anybody want any flotsam? 
I've gotsam. 
Does anybody want any jetsam? 
I can getsam. 
I can play chopsticks on the Wurlitzer, 
I can speak Portuguese like a Berlitzer. 
I can don or doff my shoes without tying or untying the laces because I am wearing moccasins, 
And I practically know the difference between serums and antitoccasins. 
Kind people, don't think me purse-proud, don't set me down as vainglorious, 
I'm just a little euphorious.

Copyright © by Linell Nash Smith and Isabel Nash Eberstadt. 

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Guardians of the Galaxy

Yes, its been a long while since a movie review here.

But Guardians of the Galaxy sort of demands it.  On my favorite podcast, Total Talk Nonsense the two hosts gave Guardians Of The Galaxy a 4 out of 4 Spiney Normans.  I have no idea what a Spiney Norman is.

I had nothing particular to do, so I thought I would give it a shot.

What a fun movie.   The action starts quickly, the exposition and obligatory shot of Stan Lee happen early on (I’m not completely ignorant).    What could an intelligent raccoon, and walking tree, a wild, guile filled would be space Indiana Jones do for the universe?

We meet evil sisters who were captured and turned mercenary and we meet the bad bad guy, who soon proves how evil he is, which is followed in short fashion by his meeting his boss.

While he prefer’s “Star Lord”, Quill, who was captured by an alien mercenary early early in the movie shows up again 20 some years later as a not so serious out for himself space ship captain, mostly working alone.   He grabs the pile of gold – whups – the magic orb and trips the alarm, I mean, handles the three guards one of whom is Korath the Persuer.   His boss wants the orb.

Gamora an assassin who works for Thanos the … blah blah there’s too many people here for me to remember their names ….  There are a lot of characters in this movie, some bad, they’re a bit cliche’.  Some good, really boring characters but clearly intended to be flat cliche’d good guys.  Perfectly, perfectly uninteresting.

Actually there are so many bad guys that there are too many too remember, but the bad guys are interesting and the neutral characters, the leads, are all able to hold the screen when they are the center of attention, which, is most of the time.

The racoon, Rocket, is the dry avuncular, mercenary under control, leader, no wait, he’s not a leader, except for Groot.  Rocket almost controls Groot, voiced brilliantly by Vin Diesel.  Bradley Cooper is right on as the voice of Rocket.

A big win for the movie is Groot, whom, in the commercials appears to not have any arms. He’s just a big viny tree, who ultimately may steal your heart.

The characters unfold as the plot does with puns of action.

In fact the comedy is what raises this movie to 4 stars.   As we move through the galaxy the heroes stories are revealed and they fight and push against each other even as they are working for themselves and or the good guys or maybe the bad guys.

In a good space western you want pace, action, heroics, charm, courage, love-ability and humor.  You get them all in this movie.   At 121 minutes (not counting the snip at the end of the credits I suppose) there are times when a movie can slow down.  Guardians of the Galaxy at its worst is fine, and at its best is perfect.  Just perfect.   A quibble here or there, like the fight scene between the two sisters which it appeared that the director/writer had cleverly avoided, could have been left out entirely, though it probably would have driven the people that know the story nuts.

Given the magnitude of the story (and the cast) there’s so much here you just have to sit back and enjoy it.  Too much to tell.  Almost too much movie, but in the end its massive, its funny, and its just damned fun!

Go see it.  Hope that the audience gets it because this movie is Raiders and Men In Black all at the same time.  If the audience doesn’t laugh, you’ll think you’re missing something.  You’re not.  They are.

Go see Guardians of the Galaxy!  5 Smiling Maxes, ok, 4, no … 5.  You get one just for Groot!

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Frank Stories – Race

Dad was old school, conservative in some ways, old testament religious. But he never saw race, which for his generation was less common than not.

Our family doctor was black, and his wife was black. They were both, intelligent, caring, spectacular people. You had to wait forever in their waiting room, but you were all theirs in the doctors office. Mrs Dorsey (Doctor Hosten) diagnosed my sister’s tonsillitis, when her (not to be named) pediatrician had not. My dad always felt Dr Hosten had saved her life.


40 years later, when Dad died, Doctor Hosten sent my other sister a condolence card and included my sister’s middle name. I was floored that in her 80s she either had a great memory or a great record keeping system which would allow here to retain a patient’s middle name for forty years.

But that’s not why I’m here.

Dad told a story about going to DC sometime probably in the early sixties
to Washington D.C., I don’t remember why.  Maybe had to do with the army reserves.

You may say he should have done more, it would have been more remarkable, but as the story goes, it was a hot day and they wanted water.

Dad got in line for the Coloreds Only drinking and my uncle got in the Whites only line.

Dad litterally didn’t see color. I think he’d never heard of colored only water fountains.  He got in the shorter line.  He’d never encountered that kind of racism, and simply didn’t recognize it.

As I grew up in the sixties, I didn’t understand what I saw on the news about race. All people should be treated equally is what I learned. But I had no idea that Mississippi, was way different than the working class enclaves of European Catholic immigrants in which my sheltered childhood took place. The older people in my life just didn’t have any idea what was really going on either.

Until just this month I learned about the Freedom Riders.  This year, and years ago reading Anne Moody’s “A Coming Of Age In Mississippi”, I’d not known about the sit ins at the lunch counters.  I never knew people could hate and murder people for asking for their rights as citizens.

My Dad just didn’t have a clue. I’d never heard the name Medgar Evers until I read that book.  I’m sure Dad hadn’t heard of him either.  But what I’ve learned in the intervening years shocks me to this day. Blacks, and whites who helped them, were murdered in Mississippi back then.  And it would have shocked my Dad, I’m sure.

Medgar Evers

We had our family struggles.  Sometimes we thought we were living through hell!  Little did we know.

The other thing I remember.  Dr Dorsey had the softest hands, and the gentlest spirit.  I’m proud of dad for not seeing race, and I’m so glad to have been cared for by those two loving physicians.  People through the first 20 or thirty years of my life who cared for my whole family, tenderly.  They made house calls, and you knew you were alright when Dr Dorsey was there.

[More about the Dorsey's - ]


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Trickle down is exactly wrong

Not to be confused with Paul Kanter, but here is the link, and I’ve lifted two paragraphs.

Trickle down economics refers to the view that the profits of the rich ultimately trickle down to the poor. Specifically, for example, tax cuts that benefit the rich motivate them to invest and the growth that results from that investment benefits everyone.

An alternative view, as the humorous Will Rogers famously quipped, is that money trickles up. ”Give it to the people at the bottom,” he said, “and the people at the top will have it before night, anyhow. But at least it will have passed through the poor fellow’s hand’s.”

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The Corrupting Power of Money

This is my favorite (and only known) occupier. I wish she would enter politics. The volume and passion of the occupiers is equal to that of the Tea Party, but rather than redirect the system from within, they reject it.

Run Alex! And thanks for this:

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Don’t boo Robbie

I was playing trivia at the bar, and could see the game but couldn’t hear it when Robinson Cano stepped up to the plate in Yankee Stadium, for the first time, in a Seattle uniform.

Robinson Cano

After trivia (who forgets the name Max Wienberg?) I turned the radio to the game despite the score, and despite having to endure the ridiculous John Sterling.

A ballgame in the car on a night drive is … summer. Something that I still remember from my childhood and hope to experience again. Summer, that is.

Anyway, Robbie comes up and though the signal wasn’t great in the rain and driving away from the source, I could clearly hear boos. Then Sterling and Suzyn Waldman were talking about the volume of booing being as bad or worse as it was in the first inning. Really?

I had seen the empty seats in the picture in the bar. It was not a sellout Yankee crowd.

And Robbie was not a sellout.

Shame on Yankee fans for booing the greatest 2nd baseman the team had ever seen. Yes, Jerry Coleman with his service in WWII may have been a greater human being.

Yes, the redoubtable Tony Lazzeri is in the Hall Of Fame and Billy Martin was the emotional leader of the team that carried Mickey Mantle and Yogi Berra. And yes, Willie Randolph was solid, steady, a captain, a champion.

And then there is Robbie. It seemed at times he failed to hustle on a sure out ground ball once in a while, and we, as fans, hate that. And yes, he did go away, to another team for more money than even Sheldon Adelson and the Koch Brothers could ever dream of, … We Yankees (he said like a New Yorker) have lured our share of other teams best players more times than you can remember. Remember? And you’re only remembering the good ones.

But he hit. And he hit a lot. 1600 hits in 9 years. 200 HRs. Rookie of the Year in 2005. Robbie is great. And he played great for the Yankees for those 9 years.

Robbie Cano hits

When you come down to two things. Pure production, and making the double play, for his nine years in pinstripes no one has ever played 2b in NY better than Robbie Cano.

And now we’re going to boo a player for doing what so many players did for us? If you ever cheered Reggie Jackson, you should never boo Robbie Cano.


I’ve always said NY sports fans were the best sports fans in the world. Certainly the most knowledgeable baseball fans in the country. They know in the 5th, when there is a no-hitter going. They know when Jeter is going to break Lou Gehrig’s Yankee hits record. THEY KNOW RICH MCKINNEY!

And they should know better than to boo a player gave them such entertainment – and a world championship. Shame on Yankee fans. I was disappointed.


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Jabbar said it best

This from TIME magazine. I admire Jabbar. I think he takes the right tone.

Sears Shooting Stars Competition 2014

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Death symbolism in Honda add

Many years ago, a friend of mine worked for an add agency. He told of a conversation with an artist for the company, who, he found, after hours, was putting subliminal images in advertising. (Print adds as I recall).

We (other friends were there) speculated that these would be sexual images. Yes, he said. And death. That was so surprising, that, all these years later I still remember the conversation.

In the add below, we have an overt image of a skeleton sliding across the hood of the car at the end. The only link I can find to the add is this “long version” (below). A shorter one runs on the tv which has over a minute cut from it, but the symbolism is in both versions.

The music is performed well, the commercial is fun and the lyric is upbeat. But the lead singer’s skin starts out unusually flat looking, as if drawn upon with light and shadow. There are lots of shadows of course and the affect is subtle, but at the 18 second mark it appears that there is a flat drawing of a skull on the singer’s face. The guitar player in the background is also flattened out with light, his cheek hollowed out with shadow, but in profile at the 14 second mark. There appear to be flattened skull symbols on the men’s heads drawn with light and shadow.

I may be wrong about the faces, but it is interesting that the death symbolism has come right out in front at the end of the commercial. And it is interesting that it would be so blatant … in a car commercial.

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Fox news runs away from racist rancher

So, I check in on Fox News from time to time, because I feel its important to know what the most important propaganda machine in the world is saying.

I like to recognize the sound bites when I hear them later in the week from the people on the street.

Now I’ve heard a lot of people complain about Bill O’Reilly, but for my money, the rabble rousingest rabbler is Sean Hannity.

It was no surprise when I saw him cultivating his relationship with Cliven Bundy, the Nevada rancher who has apparently been cheating the US Government (“I don’t recognize the US government as even existing.”) for ten or twenty years.

A bunch of gun toters rallied around him when the government came to confiscate his cattle, which were legally to be confiscated because Cliven owes the government a million dollars.

Perhaps there was a better way to collect.

But Fox News made a hero out of him and Sean Hannity lead the charge. I learned from the Colbert Report that Hannity had had this … hero … on his show 4 or five times. He showed a now infamous clip of one of Cliven’s followers talking about putting the women out in front so that they may get shot first! (Presumably this would make the government look bad. No one was shot. Below is the Fox coverage long form)

When I saw the racist remarks from Cliven Bundy (if you haven’t heard them, I’ll just paraphrase … maybe the Negro would be better off if he were still a slave).

So, I checked to see if Fox News would ignore this like they have many of the issues that the left brings up on MSNBC.

But what to my wondering eyes should appear? Three, count them, three, Fox News pundits and a so called “anchor” (Brett Baier). These pundits, the judge guy who hates Lincoln, Charles Krauthammer, and some white dude who I don’t know, were all falling all over themselves to run away from Cliven Bundy the fastest.

Fox never should have honored this guy with so much air time in the beginning. He was never a conservative. He was merely an anti American newfangled tax cheat.

Glorifying these people only makes things worse. But then, that could describe Fox News most days.

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