Inside Out

Sunday, June 28, AD 2015

Much of the modern resistance to chastity comes from men’s belief that they “own” their bodies — those vast and perilous estates, pulsating with the energy that made the worlds, in which they find themselves without their consent and from which they are ejected at the pleasure of Another!

CS Lewis, The Screwtape Letters



My family and I went to see the new Pixar movie Inside Out on Saturday, and I heartily endorse it.  It is a very funny family comedy which gives a humorous fictional account of how people think and interact with others.  Personifications of our emotions run the show for each person, and the story conceit is well developed.  On one level it can be enjoyed as a kid’s movie, and on another level it is a pretty profound meditation on how complex human thoughts and emotions are, as we attempt to interact with others while barely understanding, at times, the complex factors within us determining our reactions to the outside world.  As usual for Pixar, stay for the ending credits, where you will see funny vignettes.  A good film for the forthcoming holiday weekend.

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2 Responses to Inside Out

  • The notion that we “own” our bodies is, indeed, a curious one. Dominus membrorum suorum nemo videtur: no-one is to be regarded as the owner of his own limbs, says Ulpian in D.9.2.13. pr.

    To the Roman jurists and the later Civilians, the notion that the body of a free man could be owned seemed absurd, for only things in commerce can be owned. There is the further problem that the relationship between the individual and his body is rather one of identity than possession. The French Civil Code faithfully reproduces this in Article 16 “The human body, its elements and its products may not form the subject of a patrimonial right,” and “Agreements that have the effect of bestowing a patrimonial value to the human body, its elements or products are void”

    Like the “self,” it is a product of the mind-body dualism of Descartes. The” self,” as Miss Anscombe points out, “is blown up out of a misconstrue of the reflexive pronoun. That it is nonsense comes out also in the following fact: it would be a question what guaranteed that one got hold of the right self, that is, that the self a man called “I” was always connected with him, or was always the man himself. Alternatively, if one said that “the self connected with a man” meant just the one he meant by “I” at any time, whatever self that was, it would be by a mere favour of fate that it had anything else to do with him.”

  • “The wife hath not power of her own body, but the husband. And in like manner the husband also hath not power of his own body, but the wife.” 1 Corinthians 7:4

Murder and Redemption

Sunday, May 3, AD 2015




When I was a kid I watched way too much TV.  How little of those hours I can recall now!  However there is one television show that I watched that has always stayed with me.  On October 25, 1971, when I was a freshman in high school, a Gunsmoke episode aired entitled Trafton.  The guest star of the episode was character actor Victor French, who would make twenty-three appearances on Gunsmoke, usually portraying a villain.  The Trafton episode was no exception.  He portrayed a gunman known simply as Trafton.  A murderer, Trafton had learned the gunman’s trade while riding with Confederate raider “Bloody Bill” Anderson during the War.  The episode opens with Trafton and his gang shooting up a town in New Mexico.  They attempt to rob the bank, only to find that the vault contains no money.  Frustrated, on his way out of town Trafton sees a Catholic Church.  He enters the Church and goes up to the altar, and takes a gold cross, a gold communion chalice and a gold paten.  The priest appears and tries to stop him,  Trafton unhesitatingly gunning down the priest.  Seeing a gold cross about the neck of the dying priest, Trafton stoops down to remove the cross.  As he does so the priest with his last strength, to the utter astonishment of Trafton, says, “I forgive you.” and with his bloody right hand traces a cross on the forehead of Trafton just before he dies.  Trafton uneasily touches his forehead, and then leaves the Church and rides off.

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5 Responses to Murder and Redemption

One Response to Review: Exodus: Gods and Kings

  • And here I’d been hoping that Bale and the Israelites got saved by sand worms. Interesting. Glad to hear it didn’t offend you as a theist (I’m not quite sure how else to say that, but I hope you know what I mean).

Cover Me! I’m Going In!

Thursday, December 11, AD 2014

I think the man was likely schizophrenic and was one of the most barbaric individuals that I ever read about in my life.

Chistian Bale, star of Exodus:  Gods and Kings, in reference to Moses, who he is portraying in the film.

One of the many services that TAC has provided to its readers over the years is me going to see bad films so you don’t have to.  My bride and I are picking up our daughter on Friday from college and on Saturday our son will arrive by train, fresh from the rigors of first semester law school finals.  We will eat after he arrives and then the family will go off to see Exodus:  Gods and Kings.  I suspect it will be a bad film from everything I have read about it.  I hope it will be so bad that it may be a cult classic in the making rather like Dune (1984).  Whatever it is, I will review it for the blog.

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22 Responses to Cover Me! I’m Going In!

  • Because schizophrenics are known for their leadership abilities and charismatic appeal, both of which Moses had to have in order to keep the Israelites following him for 40 years, pillar of smoke notwithstanding. As for “barbaric”, someone should perhaps introduce Mr Bale to the Canaanites.

  • Good luck, but remember your brain is a receptacle; you don’t want to put garbage into it!

  • “pillar of smoke notwithstanding”
    Moses followed the Word of God. Does that make Moses schizophrenic? or charismatics ? How could Moses, the Lawgiver, give laws with a broken mind? How could Moses direct the establishment of the nation of Israel, the temple and lead the nation of Israel for forty years in the desert of sin until every person of the generation of the golden calf had perished…with a broken mind?
    The atheists have having fun with us. The atheists have not yet figured out that they are in the desert of sin and they will not find the Promised Land until they perish to themselves.

  • The atheists are having fun with us. All law, (Exodus, Leviticus) and our Constitution (Isaiah and Jeremiah) are in the Old Testament. One would have to give up one’s Faith to believe this and I have not yet seen it.

  • Forgive me, I have to ask: How can anyone portray another on the film if they do not know him intimately?

  • “…a cult classic in the making rather like Dune.”
    Hey, I liked Dune!

  • My family watches it every New Year’s Eve Paul!

  • Every promising basketball player gets billed as the next Michael Jordan, and every young golfer aims to be the next Tiger Woods. I understand why a catastrophically inept big-budget mess would aspire to Dunehood, but that’s a pretty high bar. It’s a rare generation that gets to witness such greatness.

  • Indeed Pinky, and there are always mere pretenders to the film stinkeroo hall of fame like Heaven’s Gate or Waterworld!

  • Guessing Exodus; Gods and Kings, will be as close to biblical reenactment that Noah was last year. Another lame frame by frame mockery of Our Lords inspired Word.

    I hope the movie portrayal of St. Padre Pio will be actuate. What I’ve read thus far is promising.

  • Accurate…excuse my typo.

  • Can’t watch the trailer after seeing the example of costuming. Did Moses really wear such as that couture for forty years?

  • With his penchant for pyrotechnics, I would have thought the subject of Soddom and Gamorrah more amenable to Ridley Scott’s cinematic endeavors.

  • Anyway, I know Bale cited Numbers 31 (the Extermination of the Midianites) as an example of Moseses barbarity.

  • Ernst Schreib: “Anyway, I know Bale cited Numbers 31 (the Extermination of the Midianites) as an example of Moseses barbarity.”
    All, but the Israelites performed human sacrifice, and therefore were ordered by God for extermination. God prevented Abraham from sacrificing Isaac to end human sacrifice of another one of His children, a person, Now, If cutting the heart out of another human being, a newly begotten human being’s heart begins to beat at 18 days after fertilization of the human egg by the human sperm, is not barbaric, then the word has no meaning. Yes, abortion is human sacrifice.

  • In ancient times, when Charlton Heston played Moses, the characters knew the proper pronoun cases.

  • Comment of the week Kmbold! Take ‘er away Sam!

  • The Film Stinkeroo Hall of Fame!

    Several Christmases ago I went looking for a DVD of the 1958 film Gigi as a gift for my wife. The salesperson had no idea what I was talking about, and kept trying to sell me the 2003 film Gigli! We don’t have a dog, but I know what would have happened if I came home with Gigli for Christmas.

  • Re: Dune: Imagine how well this could be re-done today. I still watch the old one if it comes on. Guy McClung

  • Kmbold: “In ancient times, when Charlton Heston played Moses, the characters knew the proper pronoun cases.”
    As beautiful as The Ten Commandments was, God’s Name is: “I AM WHO I AM”. “that” and “which” and “it” cannot denote, identify or demonstrate a human being, a sovereign person, made in the image of God and especially God.

  • So true. My own reference was to the misuse of the personal pronoun in the dialogue of the video herein: Egyptian: “We’ll see who is more effective at killing, you or me.” As you well know, it should be “you or I”. Honestly, one expects so much more from royalty than one gets.

  • I don’t think Dune was bad because of when it was made. At least, I don’t remember its special effects being a problem. I thought the ship designs were amazing. I haven’t run across it on tv in a long time, but I’d definitely watch it again. It was interesting.

The Messiah on Mott Street

Thursday, December 11, AD 2014

Every now and then, God remembers the tenements.

Buckner, The Messiah on Mott Street



In my early teen years I was a fan of Rod Serling’s anthology series Night Gallery.  Usually consisting of tales of  horror, on December 15, 1971 something different was broadcast for Christmas.  Edward G. Robinson gives a moving performance of the eternal Jewish longing for the Messiah, and how, whether we realize it or not, we are always in God’s hands.  The episode may be viewed here.


Who’s the Messiah? He’s the messenger from God. Any moment he will appear, looming big and black against the sky, striking down our enemies and lifting us up to health and wealth and Heavenly contentment… and fix our digestions, too. And supply me with a new set of teeth.

Abraham Goldman (Edward G. Robinson), The Messiah on Mott Street

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6 Responses to Noah: A Review

  • Whenever Noah is mentioned, I always recall a 7-year old at my convent school asking Sœur Marie-des-Anges if Joan of Arc was Noah’s daughter.

    “No,” replied the good sister, “Remember, Noah’s ark was made of wood and St Joan of Arc was Maid of Orléans” – No bad, for someone who did not have English as her mother tongue.

  • Thank you Donald for saving me the aggravation, time, and even the needless expense my watching this non-seasonal turkey would have cost. Russell Crowe should perhaps confine his talents to the Coliseum.

  • O Hollywood . . .

    The most recent occasion for me paying $$ to see a flick was some horror movie in June 2013. Before that it was the third LotR movie. No, wait! The warden and her sister/bro-in-law dragged (kicking and screaming) me to see “Lincoln.” Someone else paid. So, It was okay.

    However, if the movie “Unbroken” is half as good as the book, I could actually “spring” to see it.

  • T.Shaw, I suspect you would enjoy the movie Fury. I saw it today with my family and I will be reviewing it in a few days.

  • I can’t help but be resolved to the conclusion that Ridley Scott’s Exodus: Gods and Kings will be just as bad. The cynic in me asks, “How else was he able to raise the money to make this flick?”
    I hope I’m wrong, but, the track record of Hollywood pretty much makes this a safe bet. (Instead of rock people, maybe there will be bread people, who leave the manna in the desert!)

  • Mac, my Uncle Tom (RIP) was a tanker in North Africa, Sicily and Italy – all the way up the Italian boot. He ended the war in the Po Valley Campaign.

    I’ve read several on-line reviews that highly recommend “Fury.” I will place more faith in your review.

    My father (RIP) picked it up in a second-hand book store. I again read a short (like a coffee table or year book) division history of the 83rd (Thunderbolt) Inf. Div. in WWII ETO published immediately after the war, and written (including pencil sketches and photos) by unit personnel. The men’s courage, perseverance and skill are on display.
    I will mail the book to my son in the 101st.

    “Greet them ever with grateful hearts.”

Requiescat in Pace: Tom Magliozzi

Sunday, November 16, AD 2014


For decades I enjoyed the antics of the two hosts of Car Talk on NPR.  Having zero interest in the technical aspects of motor vehicles, I would often listen to the hilarious advice they gave to their callers as I drove my family to destinations on Saturday morning.  “Click and Clack” added to family hilarity over the years and for that I am duly thankful.  Half the team died earlier this month:


Tom Magliozzi, half of the “Click and Clack” team of brothers who hosted NPR’s “Car Talk” radio show, died Monday. He was 77.

NPR reported the death Monday afternoon. The cause was complications from Alzheimer’s disease, the radio network said.

In a statement, his brother Ray remembered a jovial partner.


“We can be happy he lived the life he wanted to live; goofing off a lot, talking to you guys every week, and primarily, laughing his ass off,” he said.

For more than 25 years, “Car Talk” has been one of NPR’s most popular shows, a laid-back free-for-all that’s only occasionally about cars. The brothers stopped doing original broadcasts two years ago, but archival material has kept their laughter on the air.

A typical show featured Tom Magliozzi and Ray, 12 years his junior, taking questions from listeners about whether it was appropriate to buy a BMW roadster for a teenager, how to get the smell of a dead mouse out of an air-conditioning vent and whether relationships were worth pursuing with a partner who owned an old rattletrap.

Tom Magliozzi had an old rattletrap himself, a 1963 Dodge Dart that was a constant source of fun for both brothers.

In fact, most things were sources of fun for the brothers, whose uproarious laughter frequently punctuated the show.

“His laugh is the working definition of infectious laughter,” Doug Berman, the longtime producer of “Car Talk,” told NPR. “Before I ever met him, I heard him, and it wasn’t on the air.”

“Car Talk” debuted in 1977 on Boston radio station WBUR. NPR picked it up in 1987. The show was drawing about 4 million listeners at the time the brothers stopped making original broadcasts in 2012. The network said in a statement that it continues to be a top-rated show.

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4 Responses to Requiescat in Pace: Tom Magliozzi

  • May the Perpetual Light shine upon him. Alzheimer’s is a terrible thing to die from. My grandfather had senile dementia for more than two years when he died – a different condition but one that robbed him of his sense of self.

    I prefer not to work on cars at all, having had lemons, rustbuckets and POSs with four wheels, but I loved the shows on Velocity where old classic cars and muscle cars are restored and brought to life. Almost every little boy loves cars at some point in his life. I loved cars as a little boy. My favorite toy was a dump truck, and I wish I still had it. I have a Wyandotte gasoline truck that was my dad’s as a boy.
    Most grow out of this fascination when they discover music, girls, electronic gadgets, etc. but a few still love cars all their lives.

  • Hopefully Car Talk repeats will continue to run for many more years. Listening to their infectious laughter set the tone for the day. If I had listened to Click and Clack my first year in college, perhaps I wouldn’t have paid a garage for 6 plugs when they tuned up my 4 cylinder TR3.

  • “Why you should never listen to your father when it comes to cars” brings fond memories of my dearly departed father who when I was still wet behind the ears advised me not to buy that ’31 Model A coupe for $175.00 or that ’30 Reo Flying Cloud sedan for not much more. He said regarding the Reo, “It’s ossified”. Dad was wrong only viewed through that rear-view mirror of life that filters out the plethora of realities that attend our lives. Dad was right but how I wish I had that Reo up on blocks in a dry, heated and mouse-free garage for the past fifty-seven years.

  • W.P. Walsh,
    I looked up the REO’s history. The Flying Cloud was a cool car. Wish I still had that ’62 Triumph I co-owned with my brother. Before he sold it in the ’80s he took it by the fellow we had bought it from so the former owner and his wife could take one last ride in their courting car. I wish I had the TR3 with it’s hand crank, trunk key, and side curtains though my ER MD brother now claims it was a dangerous car. Also held onto my grandparent’s red & black 2 door ’52 Buick, but where to garage it when we were heading to the Philipines for 3 years?
    My ensign car, a ’72 MGB we left in the North Is. BOQ parking for the junior pilots to drive when on temp duty stateside. When our sons were teens they were bitten by the old car bug. I went with them to junk yards (only when the temp was below freezing) and helped carry out windshields, fenders, bumpers,etc. from vintage cars. The oldest son sold his ’39 Pontiac and other rolling stock; only a ’62 Caddy convertible is left. For our 25th anniversary my husband presented me with a ’72 MGB. This month was our 38th and the MG is now for sale. Living on a farm is not a place for a sports car. Good memories, but there are seasons for everything.

Gone With the Wind and Proud Contemporary Ignorance

Wednesday, October 1, AD 2014

Apparently some of the young, in addition to not reading, can’t even be bothered to watch a classic film, even when they purport to have an interest in films.  John Nolte at Breitbart gives us the grim details:



Monday we learned that a 25 year-old taking graduate-level journalism classes at New York University had no idea what an editorial was. Today we learn that “most” of the students taking a film class at Georgetown University have never seen “Gone with the Wind.”

[W]hen I asked 13 students in a Georgetown University film class if they’d seen it, most either hadn’t seen the film or had seen only parts of it. These students are serious about movies. But a lot of them sided with Mike Minahan, 20, who said when it comes to Gone with the Wind — frankly, he doesn’t give a damn.

“Everything I’ve seen about it says it, like, glorifies the slave era … and I dunno, what’s the point of that? I don’t see that as a good time in history … like, oh, sweet, a love story of people who own slaves.”

The students had two issues with Gone with the Wind: race and rape.

What a relief it is to know that the next generation of film reviewers, writers, and makers will be politically correct, uneducated, narrow-minded provincials completely out of touch with the real world. You know, just like the current crop of film reviewers, writers and makers.

A poll released Monday shows that 73% of Americans consider “Gone with the Wind” one of the best movies ever.

Not only are these close-minded students missing one of the grandest pieces of entertainment ever released in any medium, but a piece of cinema history that will live on long past any of us. In 1939, GWTW was an epic technical achievement. Seventy-five years later, in this age of CGI, producer David O. Selznick’s masterpiece is even more impressive.

Moreover, the idea that GWTW glorifies rape is laughable. Leftists are supposed to be Captains of Nuance and yet they seem incapable of understanding that this so-called rape is in reality the end result of a complicated dance of seduction between Rhett and Scarlett. As far as the film’s backwards portrayal of slaves and blacks, if you’re going to discount and dismiss any art based on current mores and values, you’re nothing more than a modern day Production Code.

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7 Responses to Gone With the Wind and Proud Contemporary Ignorance

  • They remove the Classics so as to facilitate the indoctrination (“children of our times”) not education of students.

    Post-modern academia/journalism/scholarship derives conclusions based on ideology and not data, facts, logic. It relies on anecdotes and stereotypes incorporated in mental, emotional filters.
    The post-modern academy is venal. Its purpose is to advance the nightmare narrative and provide continual propaganda for the progressive program. It seamlessly imbeds fabrications into facts. It sees reading as arbitrary and personal. A theory cannot be proven only disproven. Post-modern also called Behavioral) academics invent facts, deny/ignore errors, display arrogance and execrate anybody that provides opposing evidence. For those liars, truth, facts, realities, and history do not exist. They are clay in their hands. They use them to make a point. Whatever they need to twist or omit is justified by their purity of intentions – and they always have the purest of intentions.

  • Gone With the Wind is one of the few movies that I have seen in a different light with each viewing, Dr. Strangelove being another. Yes, I’ve come away after seeing it with the same feelings expressed by Mike Minahan (more than once, actually), but other times I’ve have different – though never opposite – reactions. A good movie will go that.

    My son is covering Roman history right now, and he asked me about the First Triumvirate last night. I suggested that we watch Spartacus this weekend, since it is a mostly accurate account of those days. He’s resisting with the excuse that movies are too long to sit through anymore. Sigh.

  • Civilization, cultures, manners, humanity, love and art lost and debased in cerebral activity that doesn’t percolate to achieve understanding beyond the bonds of skin color and sexual activity. Last night, I indulged in the four hour movie with musical accompaniment to actual Introduction, Intermission ( Entr’Acte to boot), and Conclusion – and enjoyed a full spectrum expression of human dignity and love.
    ” The students had two issues with Gone with the Wind: race and rape. ” Homogenized minds.

  • I watched part of (it’s crazy long) Birth of Nation for a film class in college. It makes Gone with the Wind look like a Spike Lee movie. How precious are these kids that they can’t watch some classic films in context? Grow up.

  • Thanks Don for the link to your 2010 Spartacusreview. Yep, my “mostly accurate” comment was an attempt to balance “howlers” and “atmosphere”. One major howler was the crucifixion of a young Roman soldier by orders of Spartacus. Inclusion of that in the film would have ruined the ‘noble slave’ theme, no?

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Seven Days in May

Friday, May 9, AD 2014

Hard to believe that it is half a century since the film Seven Days in May (1964) was released.  Directed by John Frankenheimer with a screenplay by Rod Serling based on a novel published in 1962, the movie posits a failed coup attempt in the United States, with the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Air Force General James Mattoon Scott, played by Burt Lancaster, being the would be coup leader.  Kirk Douglas plays Scott’s aide Marine Corps Colonel Martin Casey who, while agreeing with Scott that President Jordan Lyman’s nuclear disarmament treaty with the Soviets is a disaster, is appalled when he learns of the proposed coup, and discloses it to the President, portrayed by Frederic March.

The film is an example of liberal paranoia in the early sixties and fears on the port side of our politics of a coup by some “right wing” general.  The film is unintentionally hilarious if one has served in our military, since the idea of numerous generals agreeing on a coup and keeping it secret, even from their own aides, is simply ludicrous.  Our military leaks like a sieve, and general officers almost always view each other as competitors for political favor, rather than as co-conspirators.

Ironies abound when the film is compared to reality:

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7 Responses to Seven Days in May

  • I remember reading the book as a teenager. One thing that struck me about it was that it seemed to not regard American society as very resilient. As I recall, the conspirators set up a secret base in the New Mexico desert and train a unit there to take over the five locations on American soil that will allow them to impose a military government. Five!

    The novel too was set in the 1970’s. It totally missed the Sino-Soviet split (Allen Drury’s novel Advice and Consent was a much more accurate predictor in this regard), and so it did not predict the end of the U.S. opposition to Korean-Vietnam ‘wars of liberation’. As I recall a North Iran – South Iran war was just winding down in the novel; it was presented as a fact of life.

    Don, I don’t think that LBJ really received much opposition from his generals on Vietnam, not in the sense that they wanted to avoid it. My recollection of the history is that Matt Ridgeway did a study at the time of the Battle of Dien Bien Phu which showed that victory in Vietnam would take the allocation of 2 million men for 20 years. Eisenhower read the study (he knew how to, after all) and thus resisted pressure to intervene. Ten years later the only military misgivings were over White House decisions on Laotian and Cambodian sanctuaries, slow bombing escalations, and micromanagement (in all of which the military was correct, BTW).

    I think that a liberal society (and we are that in the classical sense of the word) does need to once in awhile to engage in this fantasy, as long as we realize that is what it is. There is a good scene in the novel which I don’t think made it into the movie, where General Scott has been confronted by the President and admits to the conspiracy, and justifies it due to the latest Soviet treaty-breaking. The president asks the general what he would do as president, the general takes charge and creates a list of action items, and then the president shows the general his list: it is virtually the same. This exchange was perhaps the major factor in getting the general to back down.

    In the novel the generals are not fascists, they are just classical liberals gone bad, good conservative men made desperate by seemingly desperate times. Rewrite for today’s deranged audiences and you would get fascists, and the commies would probably be the good guys in cloaks. It is still possible to see the novel with a certain nostalgia.

  • “Don, I don’t think that LBJ really received much opposition from his generals on Vietnam, not in the sense that they wanted to avoid it.”

    Typical of the skepticism of the generals was Lyman Lemnitzer who was chairman of the joint chiefs until 1962. He did not want to commit ground troops to Vietnam unless all assets were on the table including nukes.

    Many generals suspected that Vietnam would be a half hearted effort as it turned out to be. While they were fighting it they fought to win, but most of them had few illusions that the administration back in Washington was willing to do what it would take to win.

  • I recall that Admiral Arthur Radford wanted nukes on the table for the possible 1954 intervention. Matt Ridgeway didn’t think much of it. The JCS went through a similar debate during the Chinese intervention in Korea, with Omar Bradley saying “what if they just keep coming?” Properly dispersed, mass infantry units would have not been particularly affected by the blast effects of the early atomic weapons, and such units would still have been combat effective until the delayed radiation effects set in. Of course, this all changed with thermonuclear weapons, so Lemnitzer was more justified than Radford was. But there was still an element in the U.S. military that viewed nuclear weapons as a terror weapon that was closely tied to the Japanese experience, and this element was afraid that if the weapons were used in different settings with different results the fear of them among U.S. adversaries might diminish.

    Another interesting story is General George Marshall’s reaction to the immediate aftermath of the Nagasaki bombing. Marshall concluded that the first two bombs had been wasted because the Japanese government had still not surrendered. He advised against dropping the third bomb (the core was being readied for shipment) on a city and favored saving them for tactical use in the invasion. A week later, of course, events proved Marshall’s judgment to have been premature. See for more details.

  • Don

    The quote I remember from the novel, the guard refusing entrance to an unauthorized person. “PFC is not a policy level position.”

    The plot is rather hackneyed, but presented a place for starting discussions.

    The way the US military is set up, except for self selection, officers are recruited form all across the political spectrum. While there would be little support anywhere, my unscientific observant ones who would be most likely to object strongly to a coup attempt are politically conserative.

  • “ones who would be most likely to object strongly to a coup attempt are politically conservative.”

    They would tend to be the ones who take an oath to the Constitution most seriously. In addition everyone in the military has the concept of civilian control of the military drummed into them. I remember in Army ROTC training that was part of lesson one on the first day.

  • What I could perceive happening is that Obama could invent a self-inflicted coup against himself and his administration and then use the honest American citizen to raise him up.

  • There is a story that Nixon met with the Joint Chiefs a few weeks before he resigned, and in a very roundabout way attempted to feel them out on supporting him in office in a post-impeachment trial situation, which in effect would have been a passive coup. Apparently the Chief’s commitment to civilian rule plus Nixon’s evasive language caused the comments to go right over their heads. One Chief did pick up on the feeler and later, outraged, brought it up with his fellows. The rest said, no, Nixon never said such a thing. It’s hard to say whether there is much truth to this story, but if true it again shows the U.S. military’s true commitment to the American constitutional order. They couldn’t even see a coup plot unless their noses were rubbed in it.

Review of the Hobbit Trilogy

Saturday, December 28, AD 2013

(Language advisory for the video;   apparently the first film made the reviewer extra grumpy.)

The above video shall serve as a review for the entire Hobbit trilogy.  I saw part II last week and I was certain, perhaps in what felt like the fiftieth hour, that time had ceased and eternity begun.  You know a movie based on The Hobbit is bad, when by the end you are rooting for Smaug to be unleashed on Peter Jackson and his merry band of let’s-see-how-much-money-we-can-flog-out-of-this-dead- Hobbit!  Ah, well, we will always have The Lord of the Rings trilogy.

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7 Responses to Review of the Hobbit Trilogy

  • Have to agree with the sentiment – it got boring watching more of the same in Lord of the Rings.
    But I have a nephew who is a real purist and he has been to see this second release three time already.
    But its not a bad thing sitting and watching the unrolling panorama of some of the spectacular scenery of Godzone 🙂 Just makes you wanna get here, don’t it? Even then, I suppose, the continued repetition of the same beauty can become boring – after all, its not REAL heaven, y’know – just looks like it. 🙂

  • Ah, well, we will always have The Lord of the Rings trilogy.

    As long as you’re aware that by putting Eomer’s words in Theoden’s mouth, Jackson et. al. completely subverted Tolkien’s intention for the Rohirrim at Pelennor, I guess.

    I’ll admit I get a thrill, nevertheless, every time I watch that particular scene.

    Maybe now we have a sense of how the Battle of the Hornburg would have played out had fear of the fans not given pause. Too bad Jackson lost it.

  • A slight correction Don. Central Illinois is God’s Country, Satan, of course, having staked a claim to Cook County. 🙂

  • The first of the “”Hobbit”” (double “s used deliberately) was so chock-full of emendations, edits, changes, shifts, additions, subtractions and tomfoolery that they should very much emphasize the “Based” on Tolkien’s novel, and add the term “Loosely” in front. I have been debating whether to see the second.

  • Husband’s review: nice movie, shame there’s no book for it.

    We do now know why they wanted Aragorn to be there, though– so he could fall for the Mary Sue.

    When you tell a movie maker to have a kid look at the movie, it’s supposed to be to find plotholes, not to help insert “romance” or write dialog.

  • Making There And Back Again, The Hobbit, just another version and theme of the Trilogy Lord of the Rings was a huge disappointment and unfortunately almost guarantees that a good version will never be made. Alas poor Bilbo, I knew him well.

  • There’s one place on the American map where being an Orc-at-heart is a “survival skill.” Driving on Massachusetts’ busiest and highways east of Worcester County is where you’ll find more Orcish creatures this side of New Zealand.

A Review of Christians in the Movies: A Century of Saints and Sinners

Friday, November 1, AD 2013

 Christians in the Movies


As faithful readers of this blog know, I am a film buff.  I therefore was pleased when Dr. Peter Dans, a friend of mine and commenter on the blog, brought to my attention his book Christians in the Movies:  A Century of Saints and Sinners.  Peter is a medical doctor and a former professor of medicine at Johns Hopkins.  Go here to learn about his professional activities.  He is also a faithful Catholic, a skilled writer and an all around good guy.  However, I am here to review the book and not to review the author!

Published in 2011 by Sheed & Ward, the book is a fairly comprehensive look at how film has portrayed Christians and Christianity from 1905-2008.  The book proceeds chronologically with chapters devoted to films of the silent era, films of the forties, etc.  The chapters open with a general overview of the film period being discussed and then a look at selected films.  The films are not limited to those self-consciously religious, but also those in which religion is a major plot element.  Thus the Oscar winning film Sergeant York (1941) is included because of its examination of the religious conflict that World War I hero Alvin C. York had to resolve before he could in good conscious fight for his country.  Dr. Dans also looks at the impact of the films examined, for example in regard to Sergeant York he mentions that the film was denounced by the isolationist Senator Nye as propaganda to get America into World War II.  Some of the facts that the author discusses were news to me.  For example I have watched the film Song of Bernadette (1943) about Bernadette Soubirous and Lourdes but I was unaware that it was based on a book written by Franz Werfel, a Jew, who made a vow to write a book about Bernadette  when he and wife were hidden from the Gestapo by nuns and families at Lourdes.  In regard to Going My Way, 1944, Dr. Dans reveals that Pope Pius XII was so taken by the film that he granted a private audience to Bing Cosby and credited the film with helping to spur priestly vocations.  I like it when a book gives me information that I was unaware of, and this book accomplished that task.

The book is not limited to films that have become well known.  For example there is a section devoted to one of my favorite westerns, Stars in My Crown, 1950, in which Joel McCrea portrays a Union veteran who becomes a Protestant minister and his travails as he brings religion to a town and fights the Ku Klux Klan.

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14 Responses to A Review of Christians in the Movies: A Century of Saints and Sinners

  • Off topic, for which I apologize.

    Cancer screenings in our household today. Much obliged for any prayers.

  • Prayers on the way Art. My secretary of 28 years had a bout with breast cancer this year. She is doing well now but it was quite a struggle.

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  • Behold Wiki’s rather antiseptic rendering of Werfel’s experience at Lourdes:

    “Werfel left Austria after the Anschluss in 1938 and went to France. After the German invasion and occupation of France during World War II, and the deportation of French Jews to the Nazi concentration camps, Werfel had to flee again. With the assistance of Varian Fry and the Emergency Rescue Committee in Marseille, he and his wife narrowly escaped the Nazi regime and traveled to the United States.[1] While in France, Werfel made a visit to the shrine of the Our Lady of Lourdes at Lourdes, where he found spiritual solace. He also received much help and kindness from the Catholic orders that staffed the shrine.[1] He vowed to write about the experience and, safe in America, he published The Song of Bernadette in 1941.”

    Prayers on the way, Art.

  • Art,

    May the divine assistance be always with you. You are on my list for daily prayers.

    On topic: In honor of All Saints, I will dig up and play our copy of the DVD of “The Boondock Saints.”

  • This was an enjoyable and thoughtful review, and I’m now interested in picking up a copy of the book. My only question is: how could you leave out any discussion of “A Man For All Seasons” (1966)? –I do hope it’s in the book!

  • It was in there. I have had many posts on A Man For All Seasons and Saint Thomas More on this blog and I did not want to get started on a subject that might well have dominated the review!

  • I think you’re being a little hard on “The Last Temptation of Christ.” I know it was savaged by evangelicals because of the idea that Jesus had doubts and was shown as a man with human frailties.

    I also considered it to be a prodigal son kind of story.
    Spoilers ahead.

    What I like about the story is that the most tempting thing the devil could offer was the life that we all have. To be a normal man, with a job and a family and not have the salvation of mankind on your back. More tempting than bread to a starving man and more tempting than all the power in the world.
    Kind of means we are already beating the devil.

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  • Excellent review. I will make a point of getting hold of a copy.

    Regarding “The Last Temptation of Christ”:

    I am very far from a wholehearted admirer of the late Fr. Greeley but I wholeheartedly agree with him here.

    Regarding “The Passion of the Christ”. I consider any work inspired by “The Dolorous Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ according to the Meditations of Anne Catherine Emmerich” (by Clemens Brentano) to be at least as problematic as “The Last Temptation”.

  • Art Deco.

    You and yours are in my prayers.

  • I remember the controversy over “Last Temptation”. I never saw it in the theater but my husband got me to watch it on video years later. His favorite part of the movie was… the soundtrack by Peter Gabriel!

    (Spoiler alert)

    The most problematic part of the film for me was NOT the one that was the focus of the most public outrage — the dream/vision sequence in which Jesus imagines being married to Mary Magdalene, with all that goes with it, if you know what I mean. That was clearly NOT presented as something Jesus actually did but as a “what if” dangled before Him by the devil.

    No, the most offensive aspect for me was the depiction of Jesus as making crosses for the Romans and as willingly taking part in crucifixions — because this was a depiction of Him as actually committing grave sin in an attempt to get God the Father “off his back,” so to speak. That, and Harvey Keitel portraying Judas with a definite Brooklyn Jewish accent (ok, that wasn’t so much offensive as just laugh out loud hilarious).

    Although the film overall is a tedious waste of time, I do have to give it props for portraying the actual crucifixion in a much more realistic, blood ‘n’ guts manner than most films up to that time had done. However “Passion of the Christ” now far surpasses it in this regard.

  • Elaine Krewer wrote:

    “No, the most offensive aspect for me…”

    Wholeheartedly agree. Although I suppose even this could be spun as an extreme form of “rendering unto Caesar”…? It has been many years since i last watched the film.And yes it is very tedious.

  • “…I do have to give it props for portraying the actual crucifixion in a much more realistic, blood ‘n’ guts manner…”

    The most terrible and beautiful crucifixion scene is in “Ben Hur”. Our Lord hanging dead on the cross is fleetingly illuminated by lightning flashes and then, again fleetingly, reflected in a bloody pool of rainwater. Reminiscent of Dali’s”Christ of Saint John of the Cross”. Stunning…

Twelve O’Clock High

Saturday, September 28, AD 2013

Something for the weekend.  The score from the movie Twelve O’clock High (1949).  A film shorn of any Hollywood glamor or heroics, it tells the story of the fictional 918th bomb group as it pioneers daylight precision bombing in the early days of the Eighth Air Force in England and suffers harrowing losses as a result.  Veterans of the Eighth Air Force applauded the film for its stark realism and its demonstration of the impact of war on the men called upon to fight it.  Anyone who has not seen this masterpiece should do so as quickly as possible.

Here is the opening of the film:

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Chipotle’s Food War

Thursday, September 19, AD 2013

Over the top and entertaining which is how I like commercials if I have to endure one.  I like Mexican food but I have never liked Chipotle as the menu is too limited and their massive burritos leave me cold.  Just as well, as those things weigh in, on average, at a 1000 calories, which makes their wholesomener than thou commercial hilarious.  Yeah, we treat the animals we slaughter for your plate in a kinder and gentler fashion as we serve you their remains to make you obese!

I do appreciate however that Chipotle burritos can apparently double for plastic explosives in a pinch:

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7 Responses to Chipotle’s Food War

  • The second video was great. Thanks for posting.

    The first one obviously had me laughing and rolling my eyes. I had a food mega-corp as a client for almost 5 years and they really are not as evil as everyone claims. Chipotle has come up with A-1 marketing; that is why they are successful. The apps put them way ahead of the competition. Not many of their clientele really care about free-range animals and whatnot.

  • and their massive burritos leave me cold.

    I am confused. The burritos are made to order. Just ask for fewer contents – some white rice, black beans, and sour cream and you are good to go. If it’s not Friday, you can add some chicken.

  • That is what I have ordered before Art and I have never been able to finish one, and I am not a dainty eater, to say the least.

  • I love Chipoltle. I usually go with the burrito bowl. I split it with one of my co-workers or the kids. Unless I’m 8.5 months pregnant, like now, when I can totally finish one on my own no problem. Hmmmm, maybe I should head there for dinner.

  • I use to love Chipotle until I learned they were big supporters of so called homosexual marriage.

  • “I do appreciate however that Chipotle burritos can apparently double for plastic explosives in a pinch:” Good laugh.

  • Just ask for fewer contents – some white rice, black beans, and sour cream and you are good to go.

    That’s the stuff you’re leaving off?

    As I remember, rice is about as high bang for the buck as you can get for calories-to-bulk barring eating bacon fat or something…. (and in effect, it’s higher, since I’m pretty sure straight lard would really…um… loose you up)

Whatever Happened to Randolph Scott?

Saturday, August 24, AD 2013

Something for the weekend.  Whatever Happened to Randolph Scott by the Statler Brothers.  A 1974 lament of how tawdry the movies had become, it fastened on Randolph Scott, king of B-movie westerns, as an icon for a better day when kids could be taken to the movies without parents being concerned about what they would be exposed to.  I heard this song endlessly when it came out,  my parents’ radio blaring it most mornings in the kitchen in 74 in the hour before I and my brother got up to prepare for yet another day in high school.

Scott was born as far from the West as it was possible to be in Virginia and raised in North Carolina.  His family had money so he was educated in private schools.  During World War I he served as an artillery observer in France, a highly dangerous post.  (After Pearl Harbor, the 43 year old Scott attempted to enlist as a Marine, but was rejected due to his bad back.)

After his service in World War I, he worked for a time with his father in the textile industry in North Carolina.  In 1927 he moved to California to embark on an acting career with a letter of introduction from his father to Howard Hughes.  The next few years saw him develop his acting skills with bit parts and small roles.  In 1931 he had his first leading role in the film Women Men Marry. In the film Heritage of the Desert (1932) Scott played his first leading role in a Western, the first of ten films he would make based on Zane Grey novels.

Until the conclusion of World War II, Scott starred in a variety of film genres, but after the War he concentrated solely on Westerns.  Scott was a modest man and always underestimated his considerable skill as an actor.  He was comfortable in Westerns and decided to stick with them.  It was an inspired choice.  As he aged his handsome features took on a weathered, stoic look, and helped make him a Western icon.

Scott did not financially need to make films after the War.  Shrewd land purchases in California helped make him a multi-millionaire, and he increasingly looked upon his acting as a hobby.   By 1962 he was ready to retire, but he was convinced to make one last Western with his friend Joel McCrea.  McCrea and Scott had much in common:  both had become very wealthy through land purchases and neither needed to work in film, post World War II McCrea had gravitated to B Westerns, and both he and Scott were staunch Republicans.

The film that they made in 1962 is now regarded as a classic.   Ride the High Country was the second film to be directed by Sam Pekinpah.  It tells the tale of two former Old West lawmen who have fallen on hard times.  Steve Judd, Joel McCrea, has been hired by a bank in the early years of the last century to bring back 20,000 in gold from a mining camp.  Judd is elated because this is the first lawman like job that he has had in a very long time.  He runs into his old friend Gil Westrum, Randolph Scott, who is making a meager living running a shooting gallery in a circus.   Judd invites Westrum and his young friend Heck Longtree, Ron Starr, to join him in the job.  They agree, Westrum and Longtree planning to steal the gold.  As the film proceeds it becomes obvious that Judd still holds to the same code of honor and honesty that he upheld as a law man.  Westrum does not, having grown bitter with age and viewing the gold as his reward for his courage as a lawman, a courage that was not rewarded monetarily and has left him facing a hard scrabble old age.  Ultimately Judd realizes what Westrum is up to and disarms both him and Longtree, planning to put them on trial for attempted robbery.   The plot is complicated by Elsa Knudsen, Mariette Hartley in her screen debut, who the trio rescue from a miner she has just married who plans to have her serve not only as his bride but also as the “bride” of his four brothers.  Longtree grows to admire Judd for his courage and stubborn honesty while Westrum escapes, only to ride to the rescue at the end of the film to help Judd.

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7 Responses to Whatever Happened to Randolph Scott?

  • Great article. I was born in 1961, was seven years old to experience the cultural Marxist anarchy of Chicago 1968 Dem convention, Black riots etc. I never knew the safe, wholesome world of Randolph Scott, except through old movies, old songs, kind of….

    Gone with the wind

    I’m back in my Chicago SS University neighborhood, Obama and Bill Ayers are neighbors. Jessie Jackson and his Operation PUSH (people united to save humanity) are close. Most things never change here, it’s still 1968 and Jessie Jackson never worked a real job. His son was my US Congressman, but he is now in jail for using campaign funds to buy personal luxury items like a mink cape.

    I tried to work with traditional , good Catholics, but it’s getting very tough. Chicago still has a few good, traditional Catholic high schools, but Church leadership seems to be going Liberation Theology, gay this and that. Also, Catholic Church is now pushing heavily for another mass amnesty of 11-20 million illegal aliens.

    Internet is full of bad rumors that the current Pope is working to flood Europe with millions of poor Black and Arab Muslims.

    Anybody, got any good Catholic news, not just nostalgia for Statler Brothers and Randolph Scott?

    I write at – it’s a Southern traditionalist sight, and folks are honestly talking about secession II as Washington, Hollywood, Harverd/Yale, the Supreme Court and sadly all Christian denominations including the Catholic Church can not be saved, or reformed.

    There is also an Independence movement growing in the Pacific Northwest. Please stop by and share your ideas.

    We live in dark times, but interesting times.

    Keep the faith for our people, civilization.

    Jack Ryan
    Occidental Dissent
    [email protected]

  • Brilliant! I was 37 when that song came out and was not an aficionado of country music so I missed it. I’ll add it to my favorites I am a big fan of Ride the High Country and appreciated your recap. The closing with the clip from Blazing Saddles was inspired.
    I would however disagree about whether it’s the best Joel McCrea performance. Also up there are Foreign Correspondent, The More the Merrier, Sullivan’s Travels, Palm Beach Story and a personal favorite which I ran across in writing my book on Doctors in the Movies with the wonderful title Internes Can’t Take Money. It was the first Doctor Kildare Movie.
    I also liked an offbeat,albeit lesser movie that I came across in writing Christians in the Movies, Stars in My Crown.
    McCrea married Farnces Dee in 1933, a marriage that lasted till his death in 1990. He shunned the Hollywood lifestyle and always retired to his ranch between films. All in All, an impressive life.
    Thanks for this. It made my weekend.

  • Thank you Pete. Sullivan’s Travels is a first rate movie and I highly recommend it:

  • I love Randolph Scott; and Ride the High Country deserves the accolades.

    But, I much prefer Seven Men From Now. De gustibus non disputatem est.

  • Don’t you know it’s illegal to make clean, moral films. Everything has to be for degenerates or small children. The leftist rating system makes sure of that.

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  • Great tribute, Donald. With older films and shows (esp. from 50s and early 60s) I can watch 80-90% of them w/o worrying about what my kids see. Now the ratio is inverted. We own some of the Scott movies, but still have plenty more to see, apparently! I see that the “infamous” Warren Oates is the lead bad guy here. Well known from many TV westerns. If you want the same entertainment in smaller doses, get hold of Gunsmoke, Wanted: Dead or Alive, and The Rifleman. They are never boring, often nuanced but never ambiguous and full of outrageously traditional, two-fisted, blazing barrel moral and political lessons.

The Caine Mutiny: A Review

Friday, August 16, AD 2013

(I originally posted this in 2009 when the blog readership was much smaller.  The Caine Mutiny has always been one of my favorite films and I am taking the excuse of my vacation from the blog to repost this review.)

For my sins, perhaps, I have spent my career as an attorney.  Over the past 31 years I’ve done a fair number of trials, both bench and jury, and I am always on the lookout for good depictions of trials in films, and one of the best is The Caine Mutiny.  Based on the novel of the same name by Herman Wouk,  who served in the Navy as an officer in the Pacific during World War II, the movie addresses the question of what should, and should not, be done in a military organization when the man at the top of the chain of command is no longer in his right mind.


The cast is top notch.  Humphrey Bogart, an enlisted man in the Navy during WWI and a member of the Naval Reserve, he tried to enlist again in the Navy after Pearl Harbor but was turned down because of his age, gives the performance of his career as Lieutenant Commander Philip Francis Queeg, the captain of the Caine.  In the hands of a lesser actor Queeg could easily have become merely a two-dimensional madman.  Bogart instead infuses Queeg with pathos and demonstrates to the audience that this is a good man who sadly is no longer responsible mentally for his actions.  Van Johnson delivers his usual workmanlike job as Lieutenant Stephen Maryk, the “exec” of the Caine, a career officer who does his best to remain loyal to an obviously disturbed CO, while also attempting to protect the crew of the Caine  from Queeg’s increasingly erratic behavior.  Robert Francis, as Ensign Willis Seward Keith, is the viewpoint character, too young and inexperienced to make his own judgment he relies on Maryk and Lieutenant Keefer.  Fred MacMurray is slime incarnate as Lieutenant Thomas Keefer, a reservist who hates the Navy, spends all his time writing a novel, and eggs Maryk on to take command away from Queeg.  Finally, in a typhoon, reluctantly and only, as he perceives it, to save the ship, Maryk, with the support of Keith, relieves Queeg from command.

In the ensuing court-martial of Maryk and Keith, lawyer Lieutenant Barney Greenwald,  portrayed with panache by Jose Ferrer, reluctantly agrees to defend them.

What I admire most about the film is the realistic way that the defense is depicted.  A legal case consists of the facts, the law and people.

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3 Responses to The Caine Mutiny: A Review

  • Would not the crew also be charged with mutiny?

    Here s the best navy movie speech I ever heard.

    “At home in America, when today reaches them, it will be Flag Day. For us who wear the uniform, every day is Flag Day. All Americans are morally bound to die for our flag if called upon to do so. Only we are legally bound. Only we live our lives in a day to day readiness for that sacrifice. We have sworn oaths — cut our ties.

    “It is said there will be no more wars. We must pretend to believe that. But when war comes, it is we who will take the first shock, and buy time with our llves. It is we who keep the Faith…

    “We serve the flag. The trade we all follow is the give and take of death. It is for that purpose that the people of America maintain us. Anyone of us who believes he has a job like any other, for which he draws a money wage, is a thief of the food he eats, and a trespasser in the bunk in which he lies down to sleep.”

    From the movie, “The Sand Pebbles”, CO Collins addressing the crew.

    Never could sit through that movie.

    PS: I found this US Navy ship with a near-mutiny. True events that came close to “The Caine Mutiny” occurred aboard Vance, a destroyer sent to Vietnam in December 1965. Captain Marcus Aurelius Arnheiter, was alleged by his crew to have instituted a program of inspections, etiquette lectures, and mandatory religious services led by himself; kept a hoard of liquor; and allegedly ordered one officer to act like a “pompom girl.” Arnheiter supposedly told subordinates to falsify reports, shelled a Buddhist pagoda and nearly grounded the ship while shouting at ricochets from the ship’s guns, junior officers passed word to HQ and the captain was relieved of command. He accused his offficers of mutiny, but a naval hearing upheld his removal and no mutiny charges were filed.

  • The war at sea produced three noteworthy novels; Monsarrat’s ‘The Cruel Sea’ (1951), Wouk’s ‘The Caine Mutiny’ (1952), and Buchheim’s ‘Das Boot’ (1973). Of the three, I rate Wouk’s book the highest.

  • I watched the movie years ago. What I remember the most is that Queeg was mentally unbalanced. I cannot imagine the despair of fighting men who are serving in war under a commanding officer who has gone nuts.

    Ferrer’s performance was nothing short of awesome. McMurray’s character really was a skunk.

Killing Lori Softly?

Saturday, August 3, AD 2013


Something for the weekend.  Killing me Softly with His Song , written by Charles Fox  with lyrics by Norman Gimbel.  Out of the musical wasteland that was the Seventies, this is one of the few songs that I enjoy.  Sung by many artists, this version by Roberta Flack is the standard.  The song had an interesting genesis if one believes one version of how it came about.

Don McLean, he of American Pie and Vincent, was singing and folk singer Lori Lieberman had an emotional reaction to his song Empty Chairs.  She wrote a poem and the song was based on the poem.  She sang the song in 1972 a year before Flack’s version.  Here is her version:

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  • Gimbel and Fox also wrote I Got a Name which was recorded by the late great Jim Croce. It was the only one of Croce’s hit songs not written by Croce himself.

    While the 70’s had some bad acts, it was far, far, far from a musical wasteland. For starters, it featured some of the best acoustic folk singer/songwriters like Gordon Lightfoot, Croce, Dan Fogelberg, Harry Chapin, and yes, John Denver.

    It had great R&B acts in addition to Flack like Al Wilson, The Spinners, The Commodores, and Al Green.

    In the rock genre you had good bands like Three Dog Night, The Allman Brothers, Bob Seger, Chicago, with their brilliant blend of hard rock, jazz, and Latin sound.

    Had some great one hit wonders too like Brandy by Looking Glass and Dancing in the Moonlight by King Harvest.

    I could come up more examples, but I think that suffices for now.

  • “John Denver”

    De mortuis nihil nisi bonum.

  • The song figured in the movie About a Boy.

    There was a good deal of schlock peddled in the 1970s, but there usually is. The mass-marketed music of the first decade after the 2d World War was very thick with it. Active in the 1970s were David Bowie, Yes, Traffic, Supertramp, Genesis, Steve Miller, Chicago, Al Green. Dave Bruebeck was still active.

  • “De mortuis nihil nisi bonum.”


    Art and Greg, I’m afraid you are beating your heads against brick walls debating with Don about ’70’s music – I gave up a couple of years ago 😉

    Always loved this song – of course, Roberta Flack’s version is the benchmark.
    Haven’r heard Lori Lieberman before – very nice. She has a sort of Barbra Streisand sense about her.

    Have always admired Don McLean. When living in Australia in the 80’s, he came to Sydney to do a live concert in the Opera House ( I think). The show was live on TV also. The guy came out with his acoustic guitar, sat on a simple stool, and held his audience – including I’m sure, arguably another million live TV audience – spellbound for two hours. Brilliant.

  • “Art and Greg, I’m afraid you are beating your heads against brick walls debating with Don about ’70′s music”

    You better believe it! I can rant for hours on the subject of disco alone! Any decade that could produce “Kung Fu Fighting” was cursed beyond redemption.

  • I was never a big Bowie fan, although I did like Space Odessy (Ground Control to Major Tom). As for Traffic, their frontman Steve Winwood is a first rate musician, The same could be said for Phil Collins, although I was never too much into Genesis.

    As for Chicago, 25 or 6 to 4 was the most brilliant blend of hard rock and Latin jazz ever produced, meaningless lyrics notwithstanding. Terry Kath’s smoking guitar solo against the horn emsemble backdrop is one for the ages.

    Mass marketing in music existed with the WWII big band as much as it did with music afterward. That can both a good and bad thing.

    There was one duo in 70’s, Seals and Crofts of Summer Breeze and Diamond Girl fame that, one year after Poe v. Wade, put out probably the very first explicitly pro-life song called Unborn Child. Unfortunately, it never got any real airplay, due in part to pro-abort groups pressuring radio stations not to play that song and organizing boycotts of their concerts. These guys were not even Christians. They were devout Bahai’ Faith followers. But they deserve a great deal of credit for putting their careers on the line to record and release that song which was the title track of the album. I know of at least of few examples of women who decided not to go through with their abortions after hearing that song. I wish more pro-lifers knew this and gave these guys the recognition they deserve for that effort.

    If you watch the video on the You Tube page, you’ll find the comments interesting.

  • Any decade that could produce “Kung Fu Fighting”[and ABBA} was cursed beyond redemption.

    In the word of Charles Dickens, “It was the best of times and the worst of times.”

  • Art and Greg, I’m afraid you are beating your heads against brick walls debating with Don about ’70′s music – I gave up a couple of years ago

    I am not sure what he has against Carl Douglas. ABBA was insipid, but what do you expect from Scandinavia?

    The trouble is, if a decade is peculiarly cursed, you have to ask what was being produced in any other decade. In my house, we bought some Time-Life CDs a number of years ago of popular music sorted by the decade. You expose yourself not just to Sinatra and Rosemary Clooney but a mess of other material on the radio ca. 1950 and you realize (pace Jo Stafford) that the advent of rock music was not in and of itself an indicator of decadence. Operetta was evidently quite popular co-incident with Swing. (Both Opera and Operetta are an assault on the senses).

    My last two visits to art museums (in 1997 and 1999 respectively, one in Quebec City and one in Seattle) persuaded me that unless a museum or gallery has a discrete commitment to displaying representational art produced prior to about 1920, you will have a depressing time of it. It is not hard to pick out the gems in popular music, but in the art world, it has grown difficult to imagine anything with the imprimatur of the art establishment would ever be worth viewing. You can go to crafts fairs, I guess, but you run the risk of your wife retaliating against you for some slight by hoovering up a mess of macrame and hanging it in your living room.

    The most notable innovation in popular music since 1979 have been the advent of that horrible anti-music called ‘rap’ or ‘hip-hop’. That really is a curse. (And just who is this ‘Katy Perry’ person???)

  • It was the 1950s that saw the switch from “music that people already liked being sold in recorded form” to “mass marketed recordings that influenced what people liked” due to the explosion of the number of radio stations and recording studios. This is why in just 10 short years, popular music went from Frank Sinatra, Benny Goodman, Tommy Dorsey and Arte Shaw (complete with 15-20 member mini-orchestras) to “Rock Around the Clock” and “At The Hop.”

    Just as Marchall McLuhan later predicted in “Understanding Media” that TV would fundamentally alter the way people actually percieve thier surroundings, the increased affordability and supply of recorded music in the 1950s affected its substance, so that quicker, easier and cheaper-to-produce releases became the norm in order for music businesses to maximize profits.

    Just like today with social media and pocket video and communication devices – what people find themselves able to do now that they could not before will then become the standard.

  • This is why in just 10 short years, popular music went from Frank Sinatra, Benny Goodman, Tommy Dorsey and Arte Shaw (complete with 15-20 member mini-orchestras) to “Rock Around the Clock” and “At The Hop.”

    Somewhere swirling around the internet is an interview with Jo Stafford in which she offers a precis of how the recording industry had changed from when she was at her peak. Her earliest hit was in 1944.

    1. Prior to 1955, the roles of singer and songwriter were seldom if ever combined.

    2. There were usually several versions of a song circulating at one time. “A song had a chance to find itself” on the radio and in the record stores.

    3. Anthony Esolen has described the distinction between ‘popular culture’ and ‘mass entertainment’ as that between the music people sing and play for themselves and the music they merely consume. I am not sure what portion of the music marketed in the first decade after the war consisted of standards. You can pick some cherries, though. The signature hits of Jo Stafford, Peggy Lee, Kay Starr, Rosemary Clooney, Patti Page, and Teresa Brewer were first published in 1951, 1956, 1951, 1939, 1947, and 1949, respectively. “Tennessee Waltz” might be something people subsequently sung in other settings and “Music, Music, Music” is so familiar it seems much more venerable than it is. The others, while enjoyable, not so much.

    Also recall Rosemary Clooney’s story of how it was she came to sing “Come on-A My House”. Mitch Miller called her into his office and played a demonstration record of the song. She argued with him about it, saying the song was not right for her. He listened a while and then said, “Rosie, if you’re not here at the recording session Monday, you’re fired.” She said, “It is strange how quickly that got through to me”. Jo Stafford offered a complaint many decades later (which I do not think Clooney shared) that Miller made a habit of mismatching singer and song. They were to a great extent employees.