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:

Continue reading...

10 Responses to Killing Lori Softly?

  • 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.

Sharknado a Ratings Flop

Friday, July 12, AD 2013

10 Responses to Sharknado a Ratings Flop

  • I loved Sharknado. The #1 worst movie I have ever seen is still a #1 movie.

  • Some things are so bad Clay they become good. That is why I watch the Dune (1984) movie with my family each New Year’s Eve:

  • Is Sharknado worse than Plan Nine from Outerspace? (My sister’s “favorite” movie to hate.)

  • Jonah in his latest G-file talked about it:

    Last night started fine. My wife and daughter are out of town and so Cosmo the Wonderdog and I settled in for a man’s night. An added bonus: Sharknado was on SyFy! Oh, and I don’t mean the smarmy BBC version that all the hipsters claim to prefer. I mean the American version. You know, the one lacking any redeeming qualities whatsoever.

    Now, if you don’t know what Sharknado is, you’re part of the problem. But to sum up: It’s a “movie” about a freaky weather event (caused by global warming, of course) that results in sharks being swept up by first a hurricane and then a series of tornados, and then the sharks rain down on Los Angeles with a grim determination to eat anyone in their path. Amazingly, that premise is actually wildly more plausible than the execution. The whole movie was like one of those kids’ placemat games where you have to spot “What’s Wrong with This Picture?” To set out to identify the most ridiculous scene, the worst acting, or the dumbest dialogue of the movie is to march along the edge of a Mobius strip of stupidity toward madness.

    Aw man, sounds glorious. It’s things like this which makes one think Mystery Science Theater 3000 needs to be federally subsidized over PBS. We NEED things like that in these dark hours.

    (in other news, Pacific Rim is AWESOME, must see on big screen)

  • I wasted a couple of minutes in the first hour. Then, I wasted eyesight on the last five minutes when that dude used a chain saw to cut his way out of the shark. Last I heard internal combustion machines require oxygen to combust.

    One worse movie that I paid to see nearly 20 years ago (because my young son wanted it) was “Mr. Bean.” I still tell him, “You owe me.”

  • “Sharknado” was one of SyFy’s better portmanteau b-movie titles. I’m sort of hoping for “Yakalanche” to show up next.

  • Next, Discovery and The Weather Channel will team up to present Sharknado Week 🙂

  • Same story as SNAKES ON A PLANE – remember that? Massive hit on the social media, followed by ratings catastrophe that nearly ended Samuel L. Jackson’s career. Evidently, in both cases, the concept was much more fun to talk about than to watch.

  • Sure. It’s a lot more fun to talk about a movie like that than to watch a movie like that.

Europa Universalis the Musical!

Tuesday, April 2, AD 2013

When I am not in the law mines, attending to family matters or blogging, I can often be found playing grand strategic historical computer games.   I have gotten quite a bit of enjoyment out of the Europa Universalis games put out by the Swedish game company Paradox, which allows you to lead virtually any country on the globe from the Fifteenth Century up to the Napoleonic period.  Go here to download a demo of Europa Universalis III.

On April 1, 2013 those wild and crazy Swedes at Paradox released a video, above, detailing their plans for Europa Universalis the Musical!  Ah, if twere only true.  Nerd Heaven!

Continue reading...

CS Lewis and Sigmund Freud Debating Christ

Wednesday, February 27, AD 2013

I look forward to seeing this play Freud’s Last Session when I have an opportunity:

Toward the end of the play Freud’s Last Session, a fictional conversation about the meaning of human life between Sigmund Freud and C.S. Lewis concludes,“How mad, to think we could untangle the world’s greatest mystery in one hour.”Freud responds, “The only thing more mad is to not think of it at all.” The combined sense of the limits to human knowledge and the unavoidability of the big questions is one of the many impressive features of this dramatic production, the remote origins of which are in a popular class of Dr. Armand Nicholi, professor of psychiatry in the Harvard Medical School. Nicholi penned a book, The Question of God: C.S. Lewis and Sigmund Freud Debate God, Love, Sex, and the Meaning of Life, which the playwright Mark St. Germain turned into an off-Broadway play, now in its second year in New York and just beginning a run in Chicago. 

I had a chance recently to see the successful New York production, directed by Tyler Marchant and starring George Morfogen as Freud and Jim Stanek as Lewis. The play is not perfect; some of the dialogue is wooden, the result of the attempt to squeeze elements from the major works of the two authors into their conversation. Nicholi does a better job of this in his book, largely because he is free from the dialogue form. But the theatrical revival of the dialogue is what stands out in this production. In this case, the theater is an arena for the contest of ideas. There is a healthy reminder that philosophy itself has taken on various dramatic and literary forms; indeed, philosophy as a theater of debate hearkens back to the very founding of philosophy in the Platonic dialogue. Something of that original sense of philosophy as a live debate between interlocutors whose views and lives are at stake is operative in Freud’s Last Session.

Continue reading...

8 Responses to CS Lewis and Sigmund Freud Debating Christ

King Kirby, Captain America and American History

Friday, February 22, AD 2013

A guest post by commenter Fabio Paolo Barbieri on one of the legendary comic book artists, Jack “King” Kirby, his greatest comic book creation, Captain America, and Kirby’s trip through American history with the Captain:

With Captain America’s Bicentennial Battles we at last reach a masterpiece within the meaning of the act.  The Marvel Treasury Edition format in which it was published, though suffering from the same bad production values as the regular titles, tried for a more upmarket and collectable air: instead of slim pamphlets with floppy covers, padded out with cheapo ads, they had 80 large pages, no ads, and more durable hard(ish) covers. On the whole, it was an unhappy compromise without future, but Kirby, who had seen formats and production values decline throughout his career, grasped the opportunity of more elaborate work than the regular format allowed.  (Artists of Kirby’s generation are often heard commenting on the quality of paper and colouring available to today’s cartoonists, even when they don’t read the stories; bad printing had been such a fundamental reality to their period that improved paper stock and technology are the one thing that stands out when they see a new comic.)
That is not to say that it is flawless everywhere; few details of title, packaging and secondary material could be worse.  That anyone could come up with such a title as Captain America’s Bicentennial Battles would be incredible had it not happened; its clanging, flat verbosity belongs more to the kitsch of 1876 than of 1976 – “Doctor Helzheimer’s Anti-Gas Pills”.  The pin-ups that pad out the awkwardly-sized story (77 pages), with Captain America in various pseudo-historical costumes, are positively infantile, the front cover is dull and the back one ridiculous.  Nothing shows more absurdly the dichotomy between Kirby’s mature, thoughtful, even philosophical genius and the bad habits of a lifetime at the lowest end of commercial publishing coming on top of a lower-end education; the nemesis, you might say, of uneducated self-made genius.  The Kirby who did this sort of thing was the Kirby who filled otherwise good covers with verbose and boastful blurbs, who defaced the English language with “you matted masterpiece of murderous malignancy!” and the like, who cared nothing for precision and good taste – in short, the man whose lack of education lingered in his system all his life. Kirby went into his work with less inherited “baggage” than any other cartoonist, and was correspondingly radical and revolutionary, but he also had little share in common taste and standards.

Continue reading...

2 Responses to King Kirby, Captain America and American History

  • Man, I just never know what to expect when I click on The American Catholic. I suspect I might appreciate this entry a bit more than most. I’m 61 years old and have been reading/collecting comics since I was about 10. I am very familiar with Jack Kirby’s work and have the Bicentennial edition discussed at length here. This is a very detailed analysis; the kind I am usually reading on comic sites. Here this was a pleasant surprise.

    Most readers of this site are probably familiar with Captain America from the recent movies, his own and the Avengers. Most of Marvel Comics movies exude an obvious conservative tone, which I believe has resulted in their success.

  • “Man, I just never know what to expect when I click on The American Catholic”

    Precisely our intention George!

Intolerant Jackwagons!

Tuesday, August 28, AD 2012

I know that the Marine Corps will be here forever; this administration won’t.

Gunnery Sergeant R. Lee Ermey

One of my favorite character actors is R. Lee Ermey.  A gunnery sergeant and drill instructor in the Marine Corps, he was honorably discharged from the Corps in 1972 as a result of injuries he sustained in two tours in Vietnam.   Since that time he has built an acting career, playing off his DI personae and his flair for comedy.  Recently he was a spokesman for Geico, but was fired for giving vent to his views about the current administration during a Toys for Tots program in Chicago last year.

After being asked about his GEICO commercial wherein he played a psychiatrist calling his patient a “jackwagon,” Ermey said, “GEICO fired me because I had, I wasn’t too kind about speaking with the, about the administration, so the present administration. So they fired me.”

“So they fired you because of political reasons?” asked the TMZ representative.

“Yeah,” Ermey answered. “If you’re a conservative in this town, you better watch out.”

Here is the program and a transcript of what he said.

I got to tell you, folks, we’re having a big problem this year. The economy really sucks. Now I hate to point fingers at anybody, but the present administration probably has a lot to do with that. And the way I see it, they’re not going to quit doing it until they bring this country to its knees. So I think we should all rise up, and we should stop this administration from what they’re doing, because they’re destroying this country. They’re driving us into bankruptcy so that they can impose socialism on us, and that’s exactly what they’re doing. And I’m sick and damn tired of it, and I know you are too. But I know the Marine Corps is going to be here forever – this administration won’t. Semper Fi. God bless you all.

Continue reading...

6 Responses to Intolerant Jackwagons!

Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter Review

Thursday, July 5, AD 2012

The reviews of the film had been dismal, but I felt duty bound to watch it, and give the film a review.  On  July 3, having closed my law office for the afternoon, my family and I went to the movies.  While the rest of my family, not sharing my duty to report on the film, joined the folks seeing Spider-man III, I strolled over to see the Great Emancipator dispatch vampires.  The viewing was rather like a private showing.  The audience in the vast theater consisted of me and one individual in the back.  I found this aspect of the film quite pleasant.  Alas that is the first and last positive aspect of this film that I can report.  Intrepid souls who wish to can follow me into the bowels of ALVH below, the usual spoiler  caveat being in force.

Continue reading...

8 Responses to Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter Review

  • Thanks, Don, for saving me $10. No, make that $11, because now I won’t even get it from Red Box when it lands there sometime next week.

  • Very disappointing to hear. What a ridiculous choice to play it as a straight-up drama.

  • Thanks for the heads-up. Cancel this for a boys-night-out activity with the Msgr and the guys from church.

  • It’s interesting that they should choose such a noble and prominent historical figure to play the role of a vampire hunter. I didn’t see the film but it certainly seems like a worn-out angle on the vampire theme: it takes a heroically good person to overcome evil.

  • Prometheus is another one that should be canned. Burdened by a mishmash of themes, and held together with a predictable plot, that of the search for our roots and the answers to the existential questions, it is a film that barely comes to life when Elizabeth Shaw was giving birth to the Alien monster. It is rather tedious the X th time one sees computer generated terrain or horrible octopus-like creatures sucking the lifeblood out of sundry beings, when the movie itself lacks dramatic tension. Ridley Scott apparently felt that he could get by the two hours, by inducing some identikit memory of movies past, for which reveries the audience would be grateful. The wife was scathing after the show.

  • I think the director was Timur Bekmambetov, rather than Tim Burton (although he hasn’t been that great lately either).

    My oldest daughter (7) upon seeing the title on Rotten Tomatoes said “That sounds like a really weird, silly movie.” While I am sure there is room for a good entertaining story with the vampire/historical figure premise, it definitely raises the level of difficulty. Thanks for reviewing and removing the temptation to rent it!

  • True John Henry. He and Burton were the co-producers with the directing credit (sic) to Bekmambetov. Judging from interviews he has given though, it does appear as if this was Burton’s pet project

  • Pingback: Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter Review | The American Catholic | The Lincoln Movies

The Game is Ever Afoot

Sunday, May 6, AD 2012

Time to refresh my creds as Chief Geek of the blog.  Season 2 of the series Sherlock is debuting in America on Mystery tonight on most PBS channels at 8:00 PM Central Time.  The series is a grand bringing of Sherlock Holmes into the present century.  It is wittily written, part send up of the original Holmes created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and part homage.  The improbably named Benedict Cumberbatch is superb in the title role, playing Holmes as a genius as a detective and a moron in dealing with all of humanity, but for Dr.  Watson.  Dr. Watson, Martin Freeman, is a British medical officer, fresh from traumatic injuries due to his service in Afghanistan (yes, the more things change, often the more they stay the same), who blogs about Holmes’ exploits as part of his therapy.  I highly endorse the series for anyone who likes to either think or laugh.

Sherlock Holmes is a prime example of a literary creation that completely escapes from his creator.  Sir Arthur Conan Doyle grew tired of Holmes and attempted to kill him off, only relenting to bringing him back after his “death” at the Reichenbach Falls due to unceasing demands from Holmes’ devoted, if not crazed, fans.  Doyle tended to look down his nose at Holmes:  “If I had never touched Holmes, who has tended to obscure my higher work, my position in literature would at the present moment be a more commanding one,” he once wrote, which is a hoot since his other writings were the most forgettable drek imaginable.  Doyle wrote the last of his Sherlock Holmes stories in 1926 and died in 1930.  Since that time not a year has gone by without authors trying their hands at new Holmes stories, and placing Holmes in every setting imaginable including the distant future, outer space, fantasy realms, etc.

The continuing popularity of Holmes is something of a mystery, which is appropriate.  It is hard to attribute it to simply love of mystery stories, since most mystery sleuths are dead as soon as their creators shuffle off this vale of tears.    Perhaps it is because Holmes, through his powers of observation, can so simply and swiftly glean the truth.  What an all important ability to possess!  Alas the same could not be said for his creator, Sir Arthur.  He deserted Catholicism for spiritualism (seances and that sort of rubbish) which is akin to feasting on a rich mud pie and then developing a fondness for eating actual mud.  GK. Chesterton, who drew illustrations for an unpublished, during his lifetime, edition of the Holmes story, upon learning of Doyles’ conversion had this memorable quip:  It has long seemed to me that Sir Arthur’s mentality is much more that of Watson than it is of Holmes.

Continue reading...

26 Responses to The Game is Ever Afoot

  • Dr. Watson was wont to say when confronted with absolute evil: “Saints preserve us.” a short prayer I have taken for myself, but that prayer has been excised from every story since. This latest which I hope to view says: “God help us”, Thank God. The story with Jeremy Brett as you probably know, as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle used cocaine, was a teaching film for the use of the drug. Holmes opened his desk drawer, removed a syringe and proceeded to “expand his mind”, before his audience, to which I objected at the library. Doyle probably lost his Catholic Faith after he lost his mind. As the Intellectual Property of Doyle, Sherlock Holmes ought to have been presented as Doyle invented him. As an afterthought, Houdini never did show up at Doyle’s seances.

  • (Spoilers ahead in this comment)

    The first season of Sherlock was great. I’ve actually managed to see the three episodes of the second season (which I believe aired on the BBC in March). Although not as good as the first season, it was still very enjoyable. Sherlock’s version of Moriarty was somewhat annoying, however, and there is more of him in season 2.

    Be warned though: the first episode was a take on a “Scandal in Bohemia” and Irene Adler was a “dominatrix.” There was some nudity involved. It was a good episode despite the BBC’s lasciviousness, though I could see if people would have some objections to the episode.

  • I’ll tune in tonight to check it out as I didn’t see any of the first season. I guess I’m not exactly a purist as I adore the Jeremy Brett version, but I do also appreciate the Basil Rathbone one. The Hollywood movie was unwatchable ~ I ejected the disc from my player in the first 15 minutes.

    I just finished reading Murder in the Vatican and recommen it highly. It was almost like reading Doyle and was such a pleasure to stroll along with Holmes, Watson and Pope Leo!

  • I think part of the appeal of Holmes is that he’s strong, odd, explains how to find hidden knowledge, and is kinda scary if he’s not on your side.

  • I’m a big fan of the new Sherlock, although I’ve only seen the first movie– always annoyed me that the movies had him so inactive. (I know it’s partly a limitation of the old technology, and the sedentary detective thing has its charms, but eh.)

  • Basil Rathbone’s depiction – hands down. Understated, but constant mental activity and wit. Scenery, sounds, and characters beautiful.
    I loved the drapes in the Jeremy Brett version – he was good, but the focus was the modern psych taint which spoiled the detective story. Dr. Watson was OK. Just can’t remake perfection.
    Can’t even watch the later versions.

  • I believe you meant ROBERT Downey Jr.? 🙂

    Believe it or not, one of my favorite Holmeses was Nicholas Rowe in “Young Sherlock Holmes,” a 1985 flick that portrayed Holmes and Watson’s meeting as schoolboys and how they solved their first “case”. It was very much outside the Doyle canon and had an over the top plot involving a secret Egyptian cult with Temple of Doom-type rituals, but, I thought Rowe was kinda handsome, and the movie’s explanations for the origins of many of Holmes’ signature habits (like wearing the deerstalker cap) were sorta plausible. If you watch it and haven’t seen it before, be sure you keep watching ALL the way to the end of the credits!

  • I must be doing something wrong – maybe I’ve missed something – the sign of a mispent youth, perhaps? 😉
    I loved reading Conan-Doyle when I was young – Holmes’ impeccable penetrating logic used to fascinate me. However, that fascination has not persued me in my later life, nor the desire to be a movie buff; I view what I Think I will enjoy, and a modern day Holmes does not interest me.
    Can i still comment here? 😉

  • Don-
    I like Robert Downey Jr.’s Sherlock. If I can still be here, I’m sure you’re welcome!

    *random thought*
    Oh, dear… we’ve Sherlock, we’ve got Kipling, but nobody’s done Gilbert and Sullivan. I was recently informed that most folks go “who?”

    I may have to actually do some research and start sharing old Comedic Opera…..

  • “I believe you meant ROBERT Downey Jr.? ”
    Oops! Yes I did Elaine, although the concept of Holmes as a crazed talk show host certainly has possibilities.

  • “Can i still comment here? ”

    Of course Don, we have no heresy trials for those who do not enjoy Holmes! Yet. 🙂

  • foxfier.
    I’m sure Don McC posted some stuff on Gilbert and Sullivan some time back. In my boyhood days at Sacred Heart College we did the Savoy operas – I loved them then, and still do today. Their commentary on the society of the time is still valid today.

  • I watched the first episode last night, my first viewing of this series. It was pretty good, great acting of course. I’ll probably give it another try next week, but it didn’t grab me.

    I liked the portrayal of Sherlock even though he seemed much too young and like a boy instead of a man. I liked Watson but I didn’t like the portrayal of Sherlock’s brother, Mycroft. Much prefer the Mycroft in the Jeremy Brett version, his humor, intellect and warmth. I also didn’t appreciate the portrayal of The Woman as a dominatrix and the nudity scene. It was a clever use of our current techy world (blogging instead of writing, texting, etc.) but I much prefer being immersed in the times and social mores of the previous century!

  • “I also didn’t appreciate the portrayal of The Woman as a dominatrix and the nudity scene.”

    Neither did I. What passes for sophistication on the BBC is usually simple amoral vulgarity with elegant phrasing. Other than that I enjoyed the episode.

  • Kiwi Don-
    I’d say they’re still relevant because they’re more about human nature that strictly society… might be poe-tay-toe, poe-taw-toe, though.

    Musing about this last night (this morning, but meh) while taking care of the Duchess, and suddenly realized: Batman is Sherlock.
    Line of thought: Sherlock would be a Mary Sue if he were written wrong– even his “big” weakness of not caring about things that aren’t useful (like the number of planets) doesn’t really matter much, because right about what’s of use. He’s smart, comfortably well off, well known in his circles, master of disguise, strong, and although I can’t remember my mental image from just the books, the actors that play him are striking and attractive.
    Much like Superman. Except that he’s darker, more technology based, only superhuman in the sense that he’s honed, a detective….
    Batman came out in Detective comics.
    Dark, striking, disguises himself so well that those who know him won’t recognize him, amazingly honed at his chosen goal— wow.

  • Doyle didn’t promote cocaine! In his first book, cocaine was regarded as the latest high tech, unaddictive wonder drug, because that’s how the medical profession regarded it, and Watson’s uneasiness about it was a sign of his army surgeon days making him not in touch with the latest medical fashions. By the time he wrote his second book, Doyle knew that cocaine was deadly, because half his med school buddies died from experimenting with it. Thereafter, the stories and Watson were resolutely anti-drug, even though Holmes made various lame excuses; and Watson eventually got Holmes off cocaine.

  • I watch the show last night – I think I’ll pass. What I find irritating is the constant British need to bash Americans – the need to feel “superior” in every encounter. What is that all about? You hardly ever see it the other way around. Am I the only one who noticed this?

  • “What I find irritating is the constant British need to bash Americans – the need to feel “superior” in every encounter. What is that all about? You hardly ever see it the other way around. Am I the only one who noticed this?”

    Americans have been noticing that long before 1776. Benjamin Franklin February 27, 1767:
    ” But the Pride of this People cannot bear the Thoughts of it. Every Man in England seems to consider himself as a Piece of a Sovereign over America; seems to jostle himself into the Throne with the King, and talks of our Subjects in the Colonies.”

    When it comes to the BBC you have the traditional upper crust snottiness towards America combined with a fairly left wing view of the World.

  • Thank you, Maureen. I did not know that.
    When the movie began I thought James Bond. The nudity and Holmes’ and Dr. Watson’s focus on the mystery instead of succumbing to lust or distress and disorientation, simply letting the Dominatrix do her thing, and they theirs, was well done. There definitely was something for everybody, nudity, which was handled with some gentility, S&M, violence, even some intrigue and highjinx. Half way through, the number of the plane was 007. 007 was James Bond’s cipher. 007 is the license to kill. (In Ian Fleming’s James Bond films, ”M” his head master, was in the real life counterpart a double spy for the Soviets, which kind of ruined the stories for me.) Wasn’t Coventry where the British decoded Hitler and from where the British were able to send false messages to confound the Madman? The highjinx was captivating, especially the part where Sherlock unearths “The Woman’s” human warmth and affection for him by way of her open irises, and he, Holmes, repaying the compliment by saving her head, was WOW. Always one step ahead. Just like my mother. Dr. Watson’s part was too small and not engaging enough for me. Moriarity’s part was rather, shall I say, dumb, but how does one play an evildoer without being dumb? Perhaps next week? Thank you, Donald, for the cue.

  • Americans have been noticing that long before 1776. Benjamin Franklin February 27, 1767:
    ” But the Pride of this People cannot bear the Thoughts of it. Every Man in England seems to consider himself as a Piece of a Sovereign over America; seems to jostle himself into the Throne with the King, and talks of our Subjects in the Colonies.” That is why God wanted the Chosen People to have no king, the people were sovereigns unto themselves, but they insisted and God let them. Only in America are the people sovereign persons, sovereigns unto themselves. FREEDOM and the British maybe jealous. Pitifully these people think that they need somebody to lord it over to be somebody.

  • Excellent clip of the Pirates of Penzance, Don. 🙂 The stage setting is very good.

    “What I find irritating is the constant British need to bash Americans – the need to feel “superior” in every encounter.”

    I wouldn’t worry too much about that – come down here and see how the Kiwis and Aussies bash eachother. Its a sort of “sibling rivalry”, if you will, and its mainly impersonal. Get to meet the people face to face and they’re, mostly, good people.
    When I was a lad, post war, we used to get many migrants from England (or Britain) coming “down to the colonies” to show the colonials how things were done. They copped a lot of stick – more so in Australia than here – but they soon got to know who was teaching who, and either settled in and became one of the “colonials”, or went back to the UK, complete with the big chip on shoulder.
    In my experience though, the vast majority were good people.

  • Don, my beloved great uncle Bill Barry who joined the Royal Army to teach the Limies how to fight, as he said, and served from 1939-45, whenever he would see me when I was a toddler would say, “There’s that dirty Yank!” To which I would respond, “There’s that dirty Newf!” Good natured ribbing among the components of the Anglosphere runs in my veins!

  • Just wanted to thank you. On the basis of this blog post, I went to netflix
    and watched the first season of Sherlock. Loved it.

  • One thing Sherlock Holmes said that makes sense: “I restored the balance in nature” as his reason for being. Every crime, sin, and evil disrupts the balance in nature and tears the fabric of society. Jesus Christ crucified restores the balance in nature.

The High Chapparal

Saturday, May 5, AD 2012

Something for the weekend.  The theme song to my favorite television western of the Sixties, The High Chapparal.  Broadcast on NBC from 1967-1971.  Set in the Arizona territory in the 1870’s the series was well acted by regulars Leif Erickson, Cameron Mitchell, Mark Slade, Linda Cristal and Henry Darrow.  The scripts were literate with a more realistic feel than was common at the time.  Here is a longer rendition of the theme song:

Continue reading...

2 Responses to The High Chapparal

  • I wonder if the show’s producers were ever approached about their “borrowing” of the Tornado’s “Telstar” song from 5 years previously? Maybe that kind of thing didn’t happen back then, or since the band was British, then sorry, old chap.

  • It was my favorite show, too. I wish I could find it on DVD.

Crazy Mel

Thursday, April 12, AD 2012



Back in 2011 I reported that Mel Gibson was working on a screenplay about the Maccabean revolt.  Go here to read the post.  I hoped that this movie would help Gibson work out the personal demons that afflict him.  Alas, such is not the case.  The project has been shelved, and the screenwriter of the play Joe Eszterhas has unloaded on Gibson in a nine page letter that may be read here.  (Caution as to strong language.)  Mel Gibson is the most prominent Catholic of his generation in Hollywood.  His Passion of the Christ is a masterful film that inspired, and inspires, huge numbers of people around the globe.  To see him destroy his life and reputation since then has been painful.  Gibson needs our prayers and a swift kick in the hind end.

Update I:  Hattip to commenter Chris P.  Go here to read Gibson’s response to the Eszterhas letter.

Update II:  Go here to read Eszterhas’ response to Gibson.

Continue reading...

26 Responses to Crazy Mel

  • Can we still consider him Catholic? He did form his own schismatic church.

  • It appears from the letter that Gibson was being fitted out for a Maoist confessional, with the Enemy of The People receiving absolution after some heavy going. Madness or his guardian angel saved him from that ignominious fate. Good on ya mate, ha ha.

  • I thought Mel was a Sedevacantist…. like Sungenis.

  • When Jim Caviezel was interviewed about the filming of “The Passion” he said Mel insisted they both go to daily confession and daily (Latin) Mass to remain safe from demonic attacks. That was a wise move, and the incredible success of “The Passion” is a testament that they harnessed great spiritual power. But Mel let his guard down afterward and obviously the devil has had his way with him. Part of his problem is the sedevacantist mindset which mocks Blessed John Paul and encourages Holocaust denial. I have had many friends attend SSPX churches and eventually this crept into their thinking. They become their own popes, deciding for themselves which pope is valid and which is a Mason, which means they are no longer Catholics, they just look like them. Add to that the wealth which I and the millions who attended many showings of “The Passion” helped him accumulate. Wealth ruins many people as they can afford to terrorize their staff, build and staff their own churches, becoming isolated dictators.
    Mel needs a tough priest, who says Latin Mass and is an exorcist to confront him, and the spirits which have infested him.

  • “Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of God.”

    Am I a sedevacantist? I ask because I only say three (Joyful, Sorrowful, and Glorious) sets of Mysteries of the Holy Rosary and I don’t totally buy that “human dignity” stuff. Otherwise, I honor Pope John Paul II.

    In 1979, during his visit to NYC, I came within 100 feet of Pope John Paul II. I was walking past St Patrick’s on my way to work and he and Terence Cardinal Cook were taking a quiet stroll about the Cathedral (behind NYPD barricades). I waved to him. I don’t think he saw me. And, I could feel the holiness.

  • T.Shaw. You may not be a sedevacantist but you are dead wrong if you say you can pick and choose which papal teachings to accept. What makes you any better than liberal Catholics who accept Church social teaching which fit with their liberal agenda and ignore Humanae Vitae and Evangelium Vitae?
    Its the same thing Mel does, you go with your feelings. Mel agrees with his father that JPII is “Garullous Carolus the Koran Kisser” and mocks him. You ‘feel’ his holiness. IT=ts not about feelings, its about submitting to authority which Christ put over you as a Catholic. If you do not accept papal authority, you are a Protestant.
    Name one saint who was disobedient to his superiors, even when they were morally bankrupt and jealously suppressing him, as in the case of St Faustina and Padre Pio.
    Why don’t you read some of Blessed John Paul’s writing on human dignity and his Marian writings. You may find that your disobedience is borne out of ignorance and pride. They don’t call Blessed John Paul II Great for nothing.

  • TShaw:

    Well, unless you have a nigh-unto-unique form of sedevacantism which holds that JP2 was a valid pope and B16 is not, it’s pretty clear you’re not.

    The Luminous mysteries are optional. I’m not sure what you mean by the “human dignity stuff,” but man does an excellent job of effacing his God-given dignity these days, that’s for sure.

  • Though part of Catholic teaching is Veritatis Splendor which talks about intrinsic evils which can never be supported (abortion, contraception, torture) and those things which are not evils per se (income inequality). The former can never be accepted while (within reason) the latter can.

    Then of course are the licit variety of approaches to applying social teaching which Catholic teaching itself allows. For example the licit variety of approaches for providing health care. One can be a faithful Catholic and vary on such approaches. This as opposed to some who abuse the term “human dignity” to justify a particular approach to a problem and villify those who don’t agree.

  • Well, I can say this much, that letter comes across as a pretty crazy read in and of itself regardless of Gibson….

    I really hope Gibson turns things around for himself. I hope he seeks out that first step to recovery and receives the sacrament of reconciliation from a properly ordained priest.

  • Funny after reading this post I came across this article on yahoo movies. It really seems to put things in a different light. Mel comes across as very level headed and professional.

  • To “Student”: I really hate responding to people who don’t use their real name, but, for the record, I’m not a sedevacantist and never have been. I have had several debates against sedevacantists (e.g., Peter Dimond, John Lane). So please, no more rumors. If you want to know something about me, ask me. Anything else is gossip. Capice?

  • I don’t get it. How many times does Mel Gibson have to apoligize?

  • I guess when he stops acting like a truly deranged jerk Jasper, that might eliminate the necessity for further apologies.

  • I deleted your last comment Jasper and I have placed you on moderation. If you wish to defend Gibson’s insane anti-semitism, you will have to find other forums to do so.

  • I apologize, Robert Sungenis.
    I feel kind of foolish – yes, I was pretty much just parroting what I have heard others say.

  • The man behind “Showgirls” versus the man behind “The Passion of the Christ”, and it looks like Eszterhas is in the right. This is why being a human is so interesting.

  • Pinky,

    Joe Eszterhas underwent his own conversion – he’s also no the man he used to be.

  • The Passion of Christ is a still a major S&M cult film. No wonder. Mr. Gibson has a very strange propensity (in movie after movie) of showing naked young men being hideously tortured in extreme close-up. Heresy and PRIDE go together like a fish in water. He plays the little ‘pope’ with his own ‘church’, hands out ‘spiritual advice’ and yet is a cringing embarrassment with his bigotry, foul mouth and adolescent sexual indulgence and rages. I find Juno to be a MUCH more inspiring ‘Catholic’ film than ‘Passion’.

  • We will have to agree to disagree digdigby on the Passion of the Christ which I regard as the most moving portrayal of Our Lord ever to be placed on film. Part of the sadness that I feel for Gibson is seeing talent simply thrown away.

  • Mr. McClarey, . Being ‘moved’ by the life of Jesus Christ means nothing to me. I’m still moved to tears by Old Yeller. In the movie ‘Juno’ I was made ashamed in a real, Catholic way at how I judged the character ‘Vanessa’. Enough to shake me up at how I see people in my own life.

  • “Being ‘moved’ by the life of Jesus Christ means nothing to me. I’m still moved to tears by Old Yeller.”

    The depiction of the death of Christ should have more significance to you than the death of a canine. Pope John Paul II thought rather highly of the Passion of the Christ.

    As for Juno, I thought it was vastly overrated. I found it somewhat amusing when the star of the flick came out as a pro-abort.

    However, arguments as to the merits or demerits of films tend to get no place quickly.

  • digdigby does have a point. Mel Gibson’s movies from the Mad Max to Lethal Weapon series rely on the character’s capacity for controlled mayhem in a sadistic environment for their effect. Gibson is not a versatile actor, he needs violence to sell his movies. That said, I do not think he intends to kill his ex or anyone else for that matter. Though quite clearly he enjoys being a sob and a bigot.

  • “Pope John Paul II thought rather highly of the Passion of the Christ.”.
    He also thought highly of Maciel.

  • We’re discussing the Passion of the Christ and not red herrings.

  • Given the above…

    1. Mel has apologized enough for his drunken outburst. And while it certainly doesn’t excuse his remarks, let’s not forget the extent to which he was harassed and maligned by certain Jewish groups that were categorically opposed to any popular portrayal of the Scriptural truth.

    2. The Passion is most certainly not an “S&M film.” If your modern sensibilities are so delicate that you can’t bear to see the truth of what really happened, I really just pity you.

    I can usually tell whether or not I’ll like someone or get along with them based on their position on that film. I guess you either “get it” or you don’t, and if you don’t, well you’re just not my kind of people.

Sit Down, You’re Rockin’ the Boat

Saturday, February 4, AD 2012

Something for the weekend.  Stubby Kaye gives a show stopping performance of Sit Down You’re Rockin’ the Boat from the film adaptation of the play Guys and Dolls (1955).  My daughter’s high school is putting on the Guys and Dolls play this semester and my daughter has the role of the Salvation Army General Matilda B. Cartwright.  My wife and I viewed the film a few weeks ago.  It had been decades since I last watched it and I had forgotten just how much fun it is.  A better time in America’s cultural life.

Continue reading...

One Response to Sit Down, You’re Rockin’ the Boat

Ave Atque Vale Cheeta

Wednesday, December 28, AD 2011

One of the last remaining survivors of the Golden Age of Hollywood has passed away:

It is with great sadness that the community has lost a dear friend and family member on December 24, 2011,” the Suncoast Primate Sanctuary in Palm Harbor announced on its website.

Cheetah had performed in Tarzan The Ape Man (1932) and Tarzan And His Mate (1934), classic films about a man reared in the jungle starring Johnny Weissmuller and Maureen O’Sullivan.

The chimpanzee – who arrived at the sanctuary in 1960 – loved finger-painting and watching football and was soothed by Christian music, the sanctuary’s outreach director Debbie Cobb told the Tampa Tribune.

Back in the Sixties the old Johnny Weissmuller Tarzan movies were replayed endlessly on TV, and as a boy I loved them.  Completely inaccurate as to Africa, and with plots as skimpy as some of the costumes worn by Maureen O’Sullivan as Jane, they were always good, and, not infrequently, hilarious entertainment.  I have always treasured Tarzan’s commentary on the legal system in Tarzan’s New York Adventure (1942) where an evil circus owner is attempting to use the courts to win custody of Boy:

Continue reading...

The True Meaning of Christmas

Sunday, December 11, AD 2011

A Charlie Brown Christmas was first broadcast in 1965 on CBS.  I was 8 years old and I was stunned at the time by the passage of Linus quoting the Gospel of Luke in explaining the true meaning of Christmas.  Apparently CBS executives wanted to cut this passage out, but Charles Schulz, normally a fairly non-confrontational man, was adamant that it remain in.

Continue reading...

4 Responses to The True Meaning of Christmas

  • Amen!

    Seems as if Mr. Schulz (RIP) didn’t get the memo. The only people allowed to publicly express their beliefs are godless elitists that don’t believe in anything.

  • Pingback: SUNDAY EXTRA |
  • Merrily, Jesus’ Salvation Mystery, like perennial grass, shall never be buried. Just when the godless begin celebrating and congratulating one another He is forgotten and they have buried him for ever, He humbly and lovingly rises up to remind us He loves us and became one of us so that He opens the Gates of Heaven for us.

  • Why can’t we humans just celebrate Christmas the way it was meant to be?? Its a beautiful time of the year.


Thursday, August 25, AD 2011

Though the great houses love us not, we own, to do them right,

That the great houses, all save one, have borne them well in fight.

Still Caius of Corioli, his triumphs and his wrongs,

His vengeance and his mercy, live in our camp-fire songs.

Thomas Babbington Macaulay

The above film is being released on December 2, 2011 here in the US, and I am greatly looking forward to it.  Coriolanus is one of Shakespeare’s plays that is not performed as regularly as other plays of the Bard, which is a shame, because it is a powerful play about love and hate.  Gnaeus Marcius is a Roman patrician who fought in Rome’s wars shortly after the expulsion from Rome of the last of the Tarquin Kings and the foundation of the Roman Republic, conventionally dated at 508 BC.  Our ancient sources in regard to his career are plentiful, including Dionysius of Halicarnassus, Livy, Appian and Plutarch.  Unfortunately these writers wrote 450-600 years after the time of Coriolanus, and early Roman history is almost impossible to distinguish myth from fact.

Continue reading...

9 Responses to Coriolanus

Garrow’s Law

Tuesday, August 16, AD 2011

As faithful readers of this blog know, for my sins no doubt, I am an attorney.  Not having quite enough of the Law during my working hours, I am always on the lookout for good entertainment about lawyers and the law.  One of the best I have encountered in many a moon is a BBC series called Garrow’s Law.  This is a heavily fictionalized account of the trials, I know I should have resisted that, and tribulations of William Garrow, an Old Bailey, the chief criminal court of London, barrister, who on raw legal talent rose from nothing to become Solicitor General of England and Wales, Attorney General for England and Wales, a Judge, and a Privy Counselor.  He originated the phrase presumption of innocence, and first came to notice as a trail blazing defense counsel in regard to the rules of evidence, such as the rule against hearsay.

Continue reading...

5 Responses to Garrow’s Law

  • Will check it out, Don. After reading and watching Dickens’ Bleak House, which centered on the long-running but unresolved litigation in England’s Court of Chancery, Jarndyce and Jarndyce, I have never been unable to understand the intricacies of the law.

    I thought Rumpole wasn’t bad and Perry Mason had its moments. Having covered many criminal trials and hearings as a reporter over 30, including several murder cases, I must say that there is little real drama in the courtroom. Most of it consists of arcane exchanges between lawyers and judges and usually mundane testimony, especially from law enforcement officials who sound like they’re reading a TelePrompTer.

    I usually look for juror reactions to see how many yawns or suppressed smirks are elicited. That’s the best part.

  • amending previous…over 30 years…

  • BTW, Don, I don’t mean to threadjack but don’t know where else to put this: I watched John Rabe and it was excellent although a bit understated as to the horrors of the Rape of Nanking. I finished Chang’s powerful book and can now understand somewhat her subsequent battle with depression and then suicide. Having to relive all that clearly took its toll.

  • Don, is it true that money won in class action lawsuits, including attorney fees, is not considered “income” for tax purposes?

  • Tax law is one area of the law I wisely avoid Joe.


Wednesday, August 3, AD 2011

Apparently it is all the rage at conventions where geeks, my people, gather, to engage in the Khan scream of Captain Kirk from The Wrath of Khan (1982), the best of the Trek movies due to the superb performance of the late Ricardo Montalban as Khan Noonien Singh.  Here is Shatner giving the Khan scream at the Los Vegas Star Trek Con 2010:

Continue reading...

2 Responses to Khaaaan!!!!

  • Ricardo Montalban was Catholic and was married to his wife for more than 50 years too!

    I used to have a Captain Kirk poster in my room when I was in high school. I wish I still had it!

  • I claim ignorance regarding anything relevant to Star Trek. First time I saw the “KAHN!!!!!” yell or what-have-you, was in reference to the former goalkeeper Oliver Kahn (, most recently of Bayern Munich. Since then, that “yell” has always been associated with world class German soccer. Now, that is spoiled. Thanks. 😉

Fred Steiner, Requiescat in Pace

Thursday, June 30, AD 2011

Fred Steiner died today.  Not a household name, but you have probably heard his music, as he composed the music for many hit TV shows, perhaps most notably for Perry Mason.  A very young Don McClarey loved the Perry Mason show.  It had no influence on my decision to become an attorney, that option didn’t occur to me until my Senior year in college when I decided that I would rather not work for a living, but it was enjoyable and memorable entertainment. 

Continue reading...

6 Responses to Fred Steiner, Requiescat in Pace