Thursday, September 29, 2005

The Way Flying Should Always Be...

While on our recent Alaska cruise I was lucky enough to book a truly fabulous sightseeing flight out of Ketchikan with Michelle Masden, the pilot/owner of Island Wings. Tagging along were Lynda, her dad, my brother-in-law and another couple -- all will verify that the scenery along our flight in and around Misty Fjords was truly spectacular. This is a not-to-be-missed adventure if you are ever in the area.

Michelle flies what must be the most pristine, well-maintained Dehavilland Beaver anywhere, her piloting skills are unmatched and get this -- there's no security line to go through prior to boarding, no TSA yahoo telling you to take off your shoes and every seat has its own window. Admittedly, Michelle is unable to award frequent flier miles and you'll have to take along your own peanuts -- but that's o.k. You will not find a more enjoyable flying experience anywhere.


"If you want to make the invisible visible, take it away."

That's pretty much the premise behind the fascinating and illuminating independent feature film -- A DAY WITHOUT A MEXICAN. Writer/Director Sergio Arau gives us a glimpse of just what would happen if somehow every Hispanic in the state of California would suddenly and miraculously disappear. My God -- who would mow the lawns and blow the leaves and pick up the trash and pour the concrete and paint the houses and work the agricultural fields and tend to any number of other low-paying, unglamorous needs on behalf of the remaining gringos? Who, indeed? More importantly, the devestating economic impact on the state's overall economy shows clearly that one should be careful for what one wishes for.

This unique look at the economic and the quality-of-life aspects provided by the huge population from south of the border is a breath of fresh air from the steady stream of pap and crap being released by the major studios in LA-LA Land. And while Mr. Arau misfires frequently in his narrative and he delivers a film that is a full thirty minutes too long, I salute him for his efforts. And so I lift my glass of Tecate high and I dream -- yes, I dream of what life would be like if we could enjoy A DAY WITHOUT A MORMON. (I'll gladly risk any conceivable negative consequences -- as if there could be any whatsoever).

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

NIP/TUCK -- Occasionally Gross/Always Engrossing

For those of you who haven't yet tuned into one of the very best dramas in television history, let me first simply state that NIP/TUCK isn't about some depraved Japanese fellow yelling an obscenity. I say this because some Puritanical eunuchs do find this terrific show on F/X to be both depraved and obscene. So be it...

For the rest of us, this season's premiere once again establishes NIP/TUCK to be on the very cutting edge of edginess. Yes, the sun still shines brightly on South Beach, but this engrossing hourlong drama gets darker and darker with each episode. The amazing thing is that just when you are almost forced away from the screen by visuals that no other television program would even consider airing, the writing takes a turn and there's warmth and pathos and more depth in compassionately exposing the human condition than anything else the boob tube has brought before. And speaking of boobs -- there's plenty of mighty fine ones to savor along with some of the steamiest sex to be found on basic cable.

Kudos to Creator, Writer and Executive Producer Ryan Murphy for pushing more envelopes than the US Postal Service. Blessed with a truly fabulous cast, Julian McMahon as Dr. Christian Troy, Dylan Walsh as Dr. Sean McNamara and Joely Richardson as Julia McNamara, you owe it to yourselves to Tivo this trio comprising the most flawed and flawless main characters to be seen anywhere and at any time.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

MY NAME IS EARL -- Viva Le Karma???

It was with considerable anticipation that I tuned into the premiere episode of MY NAME IS EARL -- the much ballyhooed sitcom which declares that "Karma is a funny thing." While Karma may be funny, EARL isn't despite a promising premise and a significant promotional investment by the fabled Peacock Network. With its ratings mired in third place among the original Big Three, NBC sorely needs a hit. Alas, NBC (the initials now stand for "Nothing But Crap") will need a miracle if this show is to last more than one season.

The highlight of the initial episode, believe it or not, was the brief appearance of a decidedly rare 1981 Le Car. I actually met the advertising executive who came up with the name for this sad little import. Fred Thompson was the fellow responsible and at the time I questioned whether naming a French automobile "Le Car" was brilliant in its simplicity or insipid as hell -- the demise of Renault in the US marketplace soon followed and I had my answer.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

MEET MATT MILLER -- Raconteur and Tour Guide

Despite the cardinal sin of blocking my light -- something EVERYONE in the motion picture industry acknowledges to be an almost unforgiveable faux pas -- the fellow to my left is quite possibly the very best tour guide in all the world. (O.K., maybe I'm overstating things a wee bit, so lets just say he's the best darn tour guide North of the 49th Parallel). Thank you, Matt, for a terrific trip...

(In case you are wondering, this photo was gaken on a gorgeous day in Glacier Bay. The aforementioned passenger whales -- see my posting dated September 18th -- were still waddling around the Lido Buffet).

Tuesday, September 20, 2005


I wonder how many of you have received e-mails regarding Hurricane Katrina which declare, in essence, the following sentiment:

"I don't give a shit about those lazy, no good for nothing, worthless damn niggers in New Orleans. If they were too stupid to get out of town, then they got what they deserve. More importantly, the rebuilding and the relief efforts are costing me money! And for what -- so they can all go back on welfare and get more handouts?"

Sad, but true -- I've received a half dozen of these in the past week or so from a number of different folks all known to me personally. Quite frankly, I'm sickened by this deep-rooted rage and so it is with this in mind that I now turn my comments to a truly remarkable film, one that is perhaps THE BEST Hollywood movie ever about race and about life in another contemporary, ethnically diverse city -- in this case Los Angeles. Rather than going into details, I simply and humbly request that if you haven't seen CRASH, please do so. Superbly directed by Paul Haggis (the screenwriter for MILLION DOLLAR BABY) and comprising a stellar cast, this is a must-see movie.

Monday, September 19, 2005


Robert Rodriguez is the Director of SIN CITY. The University of Texas is in SYCOPHANT CITY -- not Austin. How else can you explain Mr. Rodriguez being the recipient of the Outstanding Young Texas Ex Award when he never graduated? Yes, he attended classes as did Walter Cronkite (given every university accolade one can image even though he, too, never earned a sheepskin from the esteemed 40 Acres). Talk about grasping at straws in trying to acquire some semblance of "excellence" on behalf of the School of Communication. Reminds me of the time Ozzy Osbourne was in San Antonio and he pissed on the Alamo. Yes, Ozzie was once briefly in the area and he did leave a mark, so if you follow UT's reasoning I guess he should have been given the key to the city...


Random Thoughts Regarding Last Night's Emmy Award Telecast:

1. While I hate to give Ellen DeGeneres the bird (or two for that matter), I must state that her performance as host was about as exciting as her dildo with dead batteries.

2. Patricia Arquette's Emmy award shows that pigs can, indeed, fly -- or at least get on stage in front of millions looking like a potential mate for KERMIT THE FROG.

3. Tony Shalhoub's win for "Best Comedy Actor" proves that not everybody loves Raymand. This was yet another deserving win for MONK and all of us with obsessive-compulsive tendencies.

4. The most lame segments among many were the stupid "Emmy Idol" songs. Not that anyone in the entire universe cares, but Shatner got shafted.

5. Did you notice that there weren't any women comedy writers to be seen anywhere? What gives? Are Ivy League Jews the only people networks are willing to hire? No wonder most current sitcoms suck...

Sunday, September 18, 2005


For those of you wondering why there haven't been any new postings lately let me simply say that Lynda and I needed to escape the hellish Texas heat and so we headed for Alaska. And guess what -- we were able to thumb a ride on a Holland America cruise ship.

The trip was phenominal -- great weather every day, smooth sailing all the way and a number of whale sightings -- although I must admit that most of these took place by the pool on the Lido Deck of the m.s. Volendam and not in the waters of the Inner Passage. Boy, some white people sure don't seem to age very well.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Horned Frogs Pluck The Magic Twanger

What a terrific way to start the college football season! Bob Stoops and his Premature Ejaculators (aka "Sooners") take it on the chin in Norman in one of the biggest gridiron surprises in recent history. To make matters worse, it has been revelaed that the local Save-Mart ran out of Blistex making for a truly "upsetting" day for Master Stoops and his normally juicy lips.

It's "Throw Up" Not "Throw Back"

Who the hell decided to have the University of Wisconsin football team wear "throw back" uniforms in their opener against Bowling Green? I usually enjoy teams that pay homage to a previous era, but when your helmet is as stupid as this it just isn't a good idea. As many of you know, the U of W is ranked as a top ten party school year in and year out. That, to me, is a far more interesting and important statistic than any middling academic ranking such cumulative SAT scores or the number of Fulbright Scholars on campus. I'd seriosuly think about sending my kids there if I had any. GO BADGERS -- but please go back to your current helmets asap...

Before closing, I must mention Clemson's stunning 25-24 victory over TEXAS A&M -- a truly classic upset that went down to the final two seconds in historic Death Valley. Pooooooor Aggies...

Friday, September 02, 2005

THE TIE THAT BINDS Strangles On Its Own Bad Taste

Biological parents battle adopting parents for the custody
of a disturbed young girl. No, its not the Hatfields vs. the
McCoys...but rather the Cliftons vying with the Netherwoods
(one guess as to who's the bad folks) in this bloody mess of
a movie.

Seems that John and Leann Netherwood (played
by Keith Carradine and Daryl Hannah) survive by breaking and
entering wealthy homes, Polaroiding their victims and, more
often than not, killing the victims for a few additional photo
opportunities. During one of these house calls L.A.'s finest
arrive just in time to wing John as he and Leann run to safety.
Their quick action, however, leads to the capture of daughter Janie
(effectively portrayed by newcomer Julia Devin) whose been
innocently chasing fireflies in the backyard.

At the station Janie's rag doll is placed into a baggie
(presumably for evidence), and it is then that we first learn
of Janie's deep-rooted psychological problems. She goes
ballastic rescuing the doll from suffocation and it
takes the Rodney King sextet to subdue her.

Enter the second tag team which will contend for Janie's
affections and afflictions. Vincent Spano plays housing
contractor Russell Clifton whose spec trophy home has the
financing pulled halfway through the building process. His
wife, Dana (Moria Kelly), shares John Netherwood's interest
in photography. She's a professional who specializes in
food shots and is now the only source of income for the Clifton
family. While Russell wrestles with Chapter 11 woes Dana woos
him into an adoption agency so they will have yet another
mouth to feed. Not the best of ideas, but certainly par for the
course given the lame story Mr. Auerbach has concocted.

Understandably nervous at this undertaking, John delivers the
most suitable line in the film when he looks at all the darling
little munchkins seeking rescue and he declares: "We have met
the clowns and they are us!" Clowns, indeed.

Dana falls instantly for little Janie and, despite a hair-do
reminiscent of the third runner-up in a Miss Bulgaria beauty
contest, precious Janie falls for Dana. With cuddly affection
that would embarrass both the Cleavers and the Huxtables, little
Janie seems to tolerate her new parents well enough. Her new
doll, the tattered Mr. Flip Flop is, however, her best friend
and she confides in the bunny that John and Leann are surely
on their way because "they own me."

Sure 'nuff. With more bull-headed determination than even
the Bush Administration exhibits in its policy towards war in
Iraq, John and Leann go through a series of victims
to find their daughter. Among those who temporarily get in
the way are the carrot-topped cop who had the temerity to shoot
John in the opening scene and the noble Hispanic welfare worker
whose demise is blatantly telegraphed the moment she first
appears. The bloody and climactic finale takes place in the partially
completed spec home out in the middle of nowhere. No walls,
virtually no roof, and with no police protection requested,
this makes for one of the stupidest refuges in cinema history.

By now the cliché count has reached staggering proportions (the
car that won't start during an escape attempt, the presumed
dead villain who isn't, etc.) so it is pointless to discuss
the ending -- except for one highly disturbing moment -- when
ten-year-old Janie thrusts a dagger into her biological
father's stomach ("You taught me that, Daddy.") with clinical
ease. Forget any concern you might have for "Natural Born Killers"
or "Pulp Fiction" (both of which I personally liked), it is
this irresponsible scene that makes "The Tie That Binds" the
sickest, sleaziest, most disgusting movie on the shelf of your
local Blockbuster.

REMEMBERING COO COO -- (Photo Taken Prior To The 1977 Talledega Race)

As many of you know, I have been a long-standing and intensely loyal fan of all forms of auto racing. Recently, one of my all-time favorite stock car drivers passed away.

Coo Coo Marlin was a very good driver who raced back in "the good old days" before NASCAR became "corporate." You see, drivers like Fireball Roberts, Freddie Lorenzen, Cale Yarborough, David Pearson, Bobbie Allison, Tiny Lund, Lee Roy Yarborough and "The King", Richard Petty, all came up from the ranks the hard way and from humble beginnings. They not only knew how to drive fast, they knew how to bend the rules in creative ways that still have people marveling at their mechanical knowledge as well as their competitive nature. While I only met Coo Coo once (prior to a race at "The Monster Mile" in Dover, Delaware) what I remember are two things -- his warm, genuine smile and his dirty fingernails. You see, Coo Coo was one of the drivers who still worked on his own car and served as his own crew chief. While he didn't win as much as some of his peers, he was peerless in getting as much out of his limited resources as anyone on the circuit. He will be missed...