Monday, November 29, 2010

Sunday, November 28, 2010

A Road Not Taken by E.T.

Many endings were contemplated for E.T. The one depicted here would have led the character of Elliot down a different path. But director Spielberg chose a less European direction. (Image: Yurock)

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

Yes, a fine, noble Thanksgiving to all, filled with football and turkey and pleasing condiments that don't irritate either the palate or the conversation. (Image: nitro:licious!)

Monday, November 22, 2010

Russian Flick Kills Cow

Saw a Netflix film last night called Come and See. Set in Russia during World War II, the movie follows a peasant teenager who volunteers for the Soviet partisans. Directed by Russian Elem Klimov, we observe the protagonist's journey over several weeks as he transforms from a smiling, eager-to-please young fellow into a hollowed out wreck whose actions often inadvertently lead to the death of others. Sound effects levels were uneven as if certain ones had been hastily added in post. The ending was lame and the director allowed actors to address the camera in such a way that you felt they were talking to a camera and not another character. But the movie had its moments.

One scene had our protagonist and another partisan steal a cow. Leading the placid beast across a field at dusk, they are suddenly caught in the light of a flare. A German machine gun opens fire, tracers zipping through the fading light. Our protagonist hits the dirt, but his friend is killed while the cow goes on munching grass, oblivious to rounds whizzing past.

With night approaching, the cow wanders back toward the barn from which it was stolen. Our teen partisan stops the animal and leads it back across the field. The movement draws another flare and a second, more prolonged machine gun burst. This time the cow is hit. It falls, drags itself on front legs, topples on its side and lows in agony as it tries to rise. Hiding behind the riddled animal, the terrified teen watches the cow's eye rolling in pain, too stupid to know its been shot; too dumb to know its almost finished.

Somehow the slaying of a harmless animal effectively captured the ugliness of war in a way that horrid deaths to characters good and bad failed to do.

Though made in 1985, Come and See presents the cow's last words as "Eat Mor Chikin."

I think someone tampered with the film.
(Photo: Wickipedia)

Thursday, November 18, 2010

'94 Emmy Photo

Mirth in Beverly Hills as we chuckle our way through disappointment at the spring 1994 Emmy Awards. The wrong Animaniacs' episode was submitted to the judges. We lost for Best Show, but Tom and Richard Stone won for the theme song. Another gem from the Hastings Archives. From l. to r.: Tom Ruegger, Peter Hastings, Rogerio Nogueira, Andrea Romano, Randy Rogel, me, Paul Rugg and Nick Hollander.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Board With Life

Acme Comedy Theatre doesn't rate a peep, but former carpenter Adam Carolla manages to nail down the laconic wisdom while lost in Boston. (Photo: Huffington Post)

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Blog Anniversary

Five years writing this and that. Since 2005, I've stacked up:

Visits: 28,871

Page Views: 48,359

There are Whales of the Web that log numbers like those in a hour, but I prefer a more pastoral pace in cyberspace.

Thank you all for stopping by.

Ape an Artist

Can't think of anything to write? Draw a monkey.(Bearing in mind that if it were a real monkey it would be plotting your death. Extreme? Well, that's how they roll.)

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Kurt and 'Nam

Some veterans die in battle while others return home to perish on the installment plan. My friend Kurt passed away in 2003 from liver cancer, partially brought about by PTSD-inspired drinking coupled with hepatitis from a bad blood transfusion he underwent in Vietnam. Kurt could have skated on that particular war, but extended his enlistment in order to fight. Serving in Marine Recon, he won a Navy Commendation medal for helping his unit fight clear of an ambush.

Several Purple Hearts later, Kurt served in an ultra-secret outfit that probed the Ho Chi Minh Trail in Laos. Hacked out of the jungle, the Trail was a highway for the North Vietnamese to funnel men and supplies into South Vietnam and Cambodia. Because of political silliness, Laos was officially off-limits to U.S. ground forces. That meant Kurt and his unofficial team were forced to ditch the bodies of their dead who would be listed as "Missing in Action in South Vietnam." It always bothered him that families of fallen comrades would be denied the closure of burial—or the recognition of bravery from a seemingly indifferent government.

A good portion of Kurt's post-war years were spent in rage and self-destruction. In time, he made peace with his past and, little by-little, cut a trail over to serenity from which he rarely strayed. His last ten years were good ones.

I was a pallbearer at Kurt's funeral. He received a Marine Corps color guard, taps, and a view of the 2 Freeway stretching below in the distance, flowing past Forest Lawn Cemetery on its way to Eagle Rock. (Transportation arteries played a big role in his life.) I think of Kurt when I drive past and often wish he could call down artillery on erratic delivery vans.

This Veteran's Day Kurt came to mind. And while he's at peace, I send prayers and best wishes to those still struggling with the silent baggage of war. And to the many other servicemen and women who worked and trained hard, giving up years in service to America.

Happy Veteran's Day to all.
(Map: The Adventures of Chester)

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Link to Tall TV Star Death

Show biz mourns the death of a big celebrity.

Happy B-Day, USMC!

Here's a short article commemorating the Marine Corps on their 235th birthday. Best wishes to all Leathernecks past and present. (Photo: Acclaim Images)

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Nate Ruegger Report

Another Life slides into the Big Easy Film Festival. Keep stacking 'em up, Nate.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Troubled Youth and Parachutes

What the article doesn't mention is that the youngsters will then fight the paratroopers' Market-Garden foes: troubled German teens trained as members of the 9th and 10th SS Panzer Divisions. Simon Cowell hosts the TV version. (British and German Insignia: Wickipedia)

Saturday, November 06, 2010

Friday, November 05, 2010

Peabody Award Photo

Photo: Peter Hastings

My first limo ride in NYC back during Peabody Fest '94. Peter Hastings captures me excitedly pointing to a street mugging—smaller than the one I'm doing in the photo— while Tom Minton keeps his cool. Darn Tourists

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Back in the Day

For more old school Warner animation photos, scroll down Tom Ruegger's site.

21 Again

Another from the Hastings Archive via Paul Rugg. More from the 1994 Peabody trip as we stand outside NYC's swank 21 Club, an old speakeasy seen in countless films including Sweet Smell of Success. Myself, Tom Ruegger, Tom Minton, Jean MacCurdy (hailing our limos or small men to carry us—I forget which), Paul Rugg and Nick Hollander. Peter Hastings mans the camera as we look fairly exhausted from a long day of spending the company's money on tourism and fancy dinners.