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Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Republicans, Obama, Tiger

Republican comments unnecessary: The Republicans recently held a convention which, if the clips from Fox News are any indication, was basically a chance for them to blow off steam at the expense of Obama and his administration.

I think such chatter is a mistake because this is America and our natural tendency is toward fair play, sometimes even in politics. For the Republicans to take turns at the podium blasting the president makes no sense. Most Americans know the guy is in over his head as his recent CNN poll of a 44% approval rating shows. His healthcare plan is a flop, the mayor of Las Vegas won’t even meet with him over his recent ill timed comments about that city, every candidate he endorses loses mightily, Democrats are bailing out of Congress, and there is the trial in New York embarrassment. Did I mention that even Benson nailed him today in the Republic? Yeah, that too. Isn’t that enough for now?

Americans are not in favor of kicking a man when he is down and that is what the Republicans have done. Too much of that will turn sympathy in the other direction. Note to Dick Cheney and the rest: Don’t be so hard on Obama; he and his staff are doing plenty on their own. There is no need for an exclamation mark.

Tiger Woods Apology: Tiger's apology was a global telecast over almost every network. I didn't know that what a golfer does could be that important but it started at 8:30 a.m. Friday Phoenix time with a showbiz intro of clips of Tiger through the years plus some commentary. At 9:00, Tiger took to the podium.

His prepared statement was teary and he covered what was expected. He gave his obligatory apologies and explained how he was going through therapy to reconcile his sexual urges. He asked that the press please leave his family alone (yeah, like that is going to happen) since they are not responsible for his actions. When he finished he hugged his mother, wife, and others sitting in the front row for support. There was no word on when he will return to the links.

While I feel a tinge of sympathy for Tiger, I’m wondering how much longer he would have continued his lifestyle if he wouldn’t have been caught. There are probably some Perkins’ waitresses wondering the same thing.

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Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Remembering Hollywood Squares

Paul Lynde occupied the center square on Hollywood Squares

There was a popular 30 minute show on TV from 1966 to 1981 called Hollywood Squares. In that show various stars of show business would sit in blocks set up like a tac-tac-toe game (See illustration above). Two contestants would play against each other and try to answer the questions being asked of the stars by moderator Peter Marshall. When one of them won the game, they received various prizes.

It was a simple show which usually aired in the evenings before prime time, usually at about 6:30 in most markets. It was fun to eat off a TV tray if front of the Magnavox, and get some laughs from the guest stars in the blocks. As Marshall asked them the questions, they would usually give a "zinger" answer which produced a lot of laughs from the studio audience even though it was usually scripted. If you liked double entendres, this was the show for you. After the laughs, the star would answer in a serious tone and the contestants would have to figure if they were being put on or not.

The game was secondary to the comedy generated by the stars and there were some good ones from that era. Actor and comedian Paul Lynde was the star of the show but there was also comedians George Gobel, Charley Weaver, Wally Cox, Don Knotts, and many others.

Unless you are a certain age, you are probably scratching your head now thinking Paul Lynde? George Gobel? Charley Weaver? Who the hell are they?

For the rest of you, the thought of Hollywood Squares probably brings back some fun memories from the 70s.

Here are a few of the zingers some of the stars dealt out. The questions were asked by Peter Marshall:

Question: What is a good reason for pounding meat?

Answer: (Paul Lynde) "Loneliness!" (That answer brought so much laughter that it took up 15 minutes of the of the show)

Q. True or false, a pea can last up to 5,000 years.

A. (George Gobel) "Boy, it sure seems that way sometimes."

Q. You’ve been having trouble going to sleep. Are you a man or a woman?

A. (Don Knotts) "That’s what’s been keeping me awake."

Q. In Hawaiian, does it take more than three words to say "I love you?"

A. (Vincent Price) "No, you can say it with a pineapple and a twenty."

The original Hollywood Squares had a nice run from 1966 through 1981. Many of the stars of the show are dead now but will be remembered for their great lines, especially Paul Lynde. There were some syndicated versions later but they never could capture the magic of the original show.

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Monday, February 08, 2010

Reid to Obama: "Lay off Vegas!"

Surely Obama must have some advisers to teach him right from wrong in the statements he makes. Maybe they do give him advice but with his ego, he refuses to accept it.

Comments like "I think when you spread the wealth around, it’s good for everybody" should have given most Americans an early indication of what was coming from the guy. America has been based on self reliance, or as Bill O’Reilly opines "each individual succeeds by understanding obligations and doing what is necessary to fulfill them. The government cannot drag us through life’s daily challenges making sure we are all okay."

The prez has had to apologize more than once. On the Jay Leno show last March he replied to Leno’s question about his bowling game with "It’s like...It was like Special Olympics or something." Hey advisers, where are you when the prez needs you? Maybe he got the idea for that comment from another genius, Tiger Woods, who once said after a bad shot that he "hit the ball like a retard." Ouch!

Now that he seems to "get it" that Americans are not interested in his Obamacare health reform, he has started to concentrate more on adding jobs to the economy, although, based on his comments this week and last year, probably not in Las Vegas. In February of ‘09 the prez said companies that received stimulus money "...can’t go take a trip to Las Vegas...on the taxpayer’s dime." That’s reasonable enough but did he have to say "Las Vegas" thus entering into a controversy? LV mayor Goodman demanded an apology which I don’t believe was tendered.

In May of ‘09, Obama returned to Vegas and said "It’s good to be back in Vegas. Everyone should have a piece of the Las Vegas dream and the American dream." Huh? His reason for being in Vegas at that time: a fund raiser for Harry Reid. Poor Harry.

Let’s fast forward to two days ago (2-2-10). In New Hampshire, the prez said "When times are tough, you tighten your belts. You don’t go buying a boat when you can barely pay your mortgage. You don’t blow a bunch of cash on Vegas when you are trying to save for college." This is the same guy who said last month in Massachusetts that "Anyone can buy a truck." They can?

With his latest faux pas, even Reid is upset saying that "The President needs to lay off Las Vegas and stop making it the poster child for where people shouldn’t be spending their money." Senator Ensign and Representative Heller are equally adamant.

Let’s review: Americans should tighten their belts and not go to Las Vegas. They shouldn’t buy boats but trucks are all right. I guess those folks who spent millions at the car auctions in Scottsdale should stop that too since those cars are really toys and not very useful. And, you people with ski trips planned to Colorado? Better cancel those, a waste of money.

Let’s do sensible things like fly an entourage on 15 planes to Copenhagen and waste money on the impossible dream of Chicago getting the 2016 Olympics. How about wanting to try terrorists in New York for a cost of millions? How about the president’s wife needing a staff of 22 at a cost of $1.5 million per year? Other first ladies got by with one or two assistants and Mamie Eisenhower paid hers out of Ike’s salary. The list goes on, but you get the point.

Do you ever wonder if Obama had something to do with those sticky Toyota gas pedals? Could this be his latest brainstorm to boost sales at General Motors? Just wonderin’.

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Tuesday, February 02, 2010

"Cigarettes and Catholics" in film

Motion pictures are a barometer of the public mood. Examples are some of the films from the late 60s which reflect the mood and culture of that time. The Trip (1967) and Easy Rider (1969) come to mind.

Another distinctive era is the one I call the age of "cigarettes and Catholics." That era existed between about 1936 and 1959. It was a time when the actors smoked enough cigarettes to make you feel as though you had puffed a carton of Camel regulars by the time you walked out of the theater.

Cigarettes were used to create a mood. If a guy was walking to the electric chair, one of his last wishes was to have that final cig. If a soldier was dying in a war film, he was usually given a cig for a bit of comfort before he said his last words.

In today’s films, sex is usually open and no big deal. In the 1940s, cigarettes were frequently used to convey sex and romance. In this short clip from Now, Voyager(1942), you can see a good example of this as Paul Henreid lights two cigs at once, then hands one to Bette Davis. It’s pretty mild stuff now (no pun) but that scene has become a historical highlight of romance on film. On a sad note, Humphrey Bogart smoked his way through a lot of movies until their effects caught up with him at age 57. He made a living for many years though using a cigarette as a prop.

As far as the Catholic influence on films, it was strong through the Catholic Legion of Decency. The Legion started condemning and approving films for its flock in the early 1930s and did so until the late 70s. If they didn’t like a film, it was condemned with the dreaded "C" rating. Films included on their list were Some Like it Hot (1959) and Psycho (1960), two classics. Growing up in a heavily Catholic city, I knew a lot of people who actually subscribed to the condemned list.

In 1944, the Best Film Oscar went to Going My Way, a heavily Catholic film starring Bing Crosby as a priest. In 1943 Jennifer Jones won a Best Actress Oscar for her role in The Song of Bernadette, once again a Catholic film. Another approved Catholic influenced film was Boy’s Town (1938) starring Spencer Tracy who made a pretty good living playing priests.

I’m sure that during the cigarettes and Catholics era, the cigarette companies paid plenty to have their products saturating films. As far as Hollywod editing films to satisfy the Catholic interpretation of how people should live their lives, they probably figured that it was worth the trouble to satisfy the large Catholic audiences of those times.

Today, that era represents a time long gone. The movies were great and I still enjoy them but today we don’t have to worry about a particular religion telling us what we can and can’t see. As far as smoking, fortunately the movies never influenced me into that habit.

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