Saturday, March 30, 2019

One Week Later...

...and all is well in Vintage TV appears I should have been more confident in the folks at Blackie's TV Repair.

By their own admission they didn't exactly "repair" it...took the back off, removed the boards, cleaned them, checked for loose solder joints, put them back in, turned it on...and voila!  Functioning TV.  They let it run for 20+ hours then called me to come pick it up.

It's not outside the ream of possibility that the 35+ mile ride from my place to theirs in the back of my pickup truck - and here you'll have to forgive me for using a technical term - "jiggered" something - and by the time I dropped it off it was magically fixed.

Kinda reminds me of my dad smacking the side of our old black and white TV back in the day when it was acting up with the same desirable results.

Either way it's working now and our mid century modern living room has one of its stars back in place...
...I'm so happy...
To celebrate, Karen and I had dinner at the Irish pub here in Holland...
...Blue Moon...dee-lish...

I'd include the picture Karen took of me sipping a Guinness but unfortunately it looks too much like me and I don't want to spoil anyone's appetite.

We're enjoying these last few days of culinary freedom bc I've been informed we're going on a diet starting this coming Friday.

I admit I could stand to lose a svelte 225 pound figure would look better at, say, 210 or so...but I'm not looking forward to the process of shedding those 15 or 20 pounds at diet boot camp...
...hopefully there won't be guns involved...
Watched a couple of good flicks this past week...
...The Setup starring that almost-a-leading-man / character actor Robert Ryan (1909 - 1973).

At 6'4" with chiseled features, Ryan was a blue collar type, always working, and along the way was involved in some pretty good films.

He was also an experienced boxer, the heavyweight champion at Dartmouth College 4 years in a row when he attended in the late 1920's / early 1930's, so this was his kind of film.

In it he plays a washed up club fighter who loses far more often than he wins now.  Even so he labors on, looking for one last payday to help fund his modest dream - owning a cigar stand - for he and his long suffering wife, Julie.

Unfortunately, his dishonest manager has promised a local gangster Ryan will take a dive in this last fight against a promising up and comer.

The manager doesn't bother telling Ryan about the deal for two reasons: 1) he doesn't think it will be necessary; he's convinced Ryan will be knocked out early against his younger, more impressive opponent, and 2) he knows Ryan would never take a dive.
By now you've guessed the story line...Ryan digs deep, finds a spark of his former self and knocks out the younger heavyweight.

Of course there's hell to pay with the gangster, but this is 1949 and even though it's cinema chiaroscuro, there's still a happy ending.

I'll be honest - the boxing scenes are not impressive.

It must have been difficult for Ryan to bear.  His character was supposed to be a stumblebum, and to watch him staggering around the ring looking awkward and ungainly, when in fact he was a champion boxer...well, that had to be tough for him to endure.

Even so, this one is worth a look, if only to see Robert Ryan put in an honest day's work in front of the camera.

Continuing in the boxing / film noir category, I also cued up a good one from 1962:  Requiem For A Heavyweight, starring Anthony Quinn, Jackie Gleason, Mickey Rooney and Julie Harris.

Written by Rod Serling, this was originally a teleplay that made its debut in 1956 on Playhouse 90.

The television version starred Volodymyr Palahniuk and Keenan Wynn.

What?  You've never heard of Volodymyr before?

Sure you have...better known as Jack Palance...
many years later as Curly in City Slickers...
The live television version from 1956 is definitely a worthy effort, but the theatrically released film got more attention.

In it Anthony Quinn plays a washed up heavyweight - Mountain Rivera - suffering from dementia caused by too many blows to the head.

The film opens with a famous scene in the ring, looking through Rivera's eyes, as he fights his last round against the young and powerful Cassius Clay...
...2 years before Clay would defeat Sonny Liston for the heavyweight title.

As in The Setup, this story involves a sleazy manager betting against his own fighter and getting into trouble with gangsters.

Maish Rennick - played by Gleason - laid down big money that Rivera wouldn't last 4 rounds with Clay, but Rivera soldiered on til the 7th round before he was knocked out.
The rest of the movie is all about Rivera trying to find his way in his new world without boxing, while his manager tries to save his own skin by convincing Rivera to get into the clownish and humiliating world of pro wrestling.
Unlike in The Setup, there's no happy ending here (Dave: take note).

A telling line early in the film signals where we're going when Maish says of boxing matches: "If there was head room they'd hold these things in the sewers."

If you're looking for an escape into sunshine and roses, move along now, nothing to see here.

On the other hand, if you want to see some great acting and feel some raw emotion for the fallen human condition, tune won't be disappointed.
As I look around me I see the weekend is once again trying to escape, so I needs must go capture the slippery creature before it gets away.

later, mcm fans...

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Sunday, March 24, 2019

Did You Know...

Gavrilo Princip, Bosnian-Serb and member of The Black Hand
...a high school aged kid started World War 1?

Parents, do you know where your kids are?

Gavrilo, whose actual birth date was uncertain at the time of the events, was either 18 or 19.

His "what I did over summer vacation" paper was destined to be a block buster.

For one fine summer day in 1914 he trekked to Sarajevo (and you thought that was just the name of a Mannheim Steamroller Christmas song) for the sole purpose of assassinating the Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria-Hungary and his wife.

Even though the Archduke was lightly regarded back in Austria-Hungary - his uncle, Emperor Francis Joseph I, didn't even bother attending the funeral - his murder initiated a chain of events that, a little over a month later, culminated in the start of World War 1.

Austria-Hungary was tired of the agitation from those uppity Serbs and Bosnians of the Balkans.  Who were they to want to be free and independent nations?

Since politicians can never let a good tragedy go to waste, the Austria-Hungary power structure decided to use the assassination of Ferdinand as an excuse to attack and subdue the Balkan nations once and for all.

So they cleared this with their ally, Germany, who gave them the go ahead.

But the Balkan nations put out a distress call to their ally, Russia, who agreed to come to their defense.

France in turn had an alliance with Russia, and agreed to help them when Germany saber rattled in response to Russia's offer of aid for the Balkans.

To add some much needed clarity to the confusing alliances among the European nations involved in the coming melee, I've included a helpful diagram:
By August of 1914 Europe was plunged into war, and all because young Gavrilo was a very naughty boy one day in June.

Because he was under 20 years of age, Gavrilo could not be sentenced to death, and so he received a prison term of 20 years.

Fittingly I suppose, he died in prison in July of 1918, just a few months before the merciful end of the war he helped start 4 years earlier.
Saw this today:

Even so, when the sun shone it was almost warm today, so I got out in the back yard and swatted a few whiffle golf balls with my hickories... the brown grass and the leafless trees surrounding me, it was ugly, but by the end of my practice time I'd actually hit a few decent shots.

Hoping for some links time by April...
Watched a classic from 1932 this weekend... ensemble movie with many of the big names of cinema at the time...Garbo, Barrymore, Crawford, Beery...

...and known of course for one of Garbo's most memorable lines...
The film is not necessarily great art, but it is interesting to see the evolution of early movies just a few years after the transition from the silents to "talkies".

And of course it's filled with beautiful art deco sets amidst the luxury of an expensive hotel in Berlin, Germany.

A "must see" to round out your cinematic education.

Also gave "Mary Poppins Returns" a look this weekend...
...and if  you enjoyed the original Mary Poppins and/or the recent "Saving Mr. Banks" prequel, you'll definitely like this well done sequel.

It is a tip o' the hat in every respect to the 1964 film, bathed in familiarity with the characters, locations, scenes...and even includes a small but significant role reprisal for the apparently ageless Dick Van Dyke...but all of them are given unique twists to make them sui generis.

Rarely is it wise to try and fill the over sized shoes of a legend, but Emily Blunt is in every way a worthy successor to Julie Andrews' Mary.

And though they deliver clever "the same, but different" repeats of virtually every significant scene from the original, they are to be heartily commended for NOT making the common mistake of using cgi bullguano to "blow away" the special effects of the 1964 version.

Besides being bad manners, that type of technical one upmanship would have been a tacit admission of failure...a "we can't do it any better than Julie and Dick did way back when, so instead we had to rely on computers do it for us" moment.

To their credit they delivered real musical numbers that evoke the memories and feelings of the first while retaining their own voice and dancing solidly on their own two feet.

This one is two thumbs up, a visual and nostalgic treat.
Dropped my 1959 GE Slimline TV that's been retrofitted with a modern TV tube off at Blackie's this weekend.
...yeah, with a name like that we'll see how this goes...but nobody else would even look at it...amazing how quickly we discard the past.

Hoping between them and Justin they can tag team a repair for some reasonable amount of money.

In the meantime I've moved my Predicta Groove Tube TV into the living room...'s a quality set and has that mid century modern vibe going on...nice picture and sound.

The stand it's sitting on is definitely not mcm, but it's temporary and the TV is cool.
A bit of a gloomy Sunday weather-wise, a real shock for March in Michigan.

Better days ahead I hope...

later, mcm fans...

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Wednesday, March 20, 2019

They Shall Not Grow Old... must see this film by Peter is stunning.

Not really a documentary - though it draws upon film, photos and written words from the era - it's more of a tribute and memorial to the soldiers who fought for England during WWI and it tells their wonderful, terrible story.

The title comes from a poem penned by Laurence Binyon:

For The Fallen
by Laurence Binyon,
21 September, 1914
With proud thanksgiving, a mother for her children,
England mourns for her dead across the sea.
Flesh of her flesh they were, spirit of her spirit,
Fallen in the cause of the free.
Solemn the drums thrill: Death august and royal
Sings sorrow up into immortal spheres.
There is music in the midst of desolation
And a glory that shines upon our tears.
They went with songs to the battle, they were young,
Straight of limb, true of eye, steady and aglow.
They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted,
They fell with their faces to the foe.
They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.
They mingle not with their laughing comrades again;
They sit no more at familiar tables of home;
They have no lot in our labour of the day-time;
They sleep beyond England's foam.
But where our desires are and our hopes profound,
Felt as a well-spring that is hidden from sight,
To the innermost heart of their own land they are known
As the stars are known to the Night;
As the stars that shall be bright when we are dust,
Moving in marches upon the heavenly plain,
As the stars that are starry in the time of our darkness,
To the end, to the end, they remain.
Words fail me, which doesn't happen often.

See this film.
By way of contrast to the brave men who gave their all in defense of their country, we have the snowflake generation and their complaints about how stressful life is.
on our left, a real man...on the right, pajama boy...
More than half believe life is more stressful now than ever before, and more than a third believe their lives are more stressful than everyone else's (aka "the wonder of me" syndrome).

Their top 10 stressors?  Read them and weep for the future of humanity:

1. Losing wallet or credit card
2. Arguing with partner
3. Commute or traffic delays
4. Losing phone
5. Arriving late to work
6. Slow WiFi
7. Phone battery dying
8. Forgetting passwords
9. Credit card fraud
10. Forgetting phone charger

It appears the search for intelligent life among certain groups has indeed been a dismal failure.  Off they go to hunt for legendary pokemons!

Happy Spring, by the way...March 20th this year...don't know about you but I've had enough of Ol' Man Winter...
...and I'm oh so ready for Spring...
...and all the outdoor delights that implies...

...can't wait...but looks like even though it's officially Spring, someone forgot to tell Mother Nature...
...yep, that's snow, snap...
Still casting about for my next writing project... far sans inspiration...wandering in a creative desert at the moment.  I need to be writing...
later, mcm fans...

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Sunday, March 17, 2019

This Page...

...intentionally left blank...yeah, it's that bad...not much shaking and I'm feeling burned out for whatever confluence of reasons.

Which begs the obvious question, why not just skip this for now and catch it some other time when I feel more creative?

That might be acceptable...there's no real deadline, nor are there thousands of people waiting breathlessly for the next edition of the AMC...pretty sure there are less than 300 folks on average who land on this blog with any regularity...

...but I've found in my life that skipping something due to feelings (or lack of them) is usually a bad plan.

Think I'll skip my workout today because I don't feel like doing it.
Think I'll skip being courteous today because I don't feel like being civil.
Think I'll skip work today because I don't feel like going.

Allowing your life to be run by your feelings is a pretty good recipe for failure.

You do something, not because of how you feel, but rather because it needs to be done, it's the right thing to do, you said you'd do it, someone is depending on you to do it, if you don't do it, it won't get done...

So malditos los torpedos, it's on with the show...
Watched a movie that has become predictably controversial since it deals with race relations in the early 1960's...
...and since it was chosen as Best Picture of 2018 during the Oscars recently.

I've read that I'm supposed to like it because of the ethnic / age group I occupy, while others are supposed to hate it for the same reason.

All I'll say is this one is worth your time.

It seems likely the races will never live in peace for all kinds of historical and cultural reasons, but Green Book deserves a look, written as it was by the son of one of the principal characters.

Watch it with an open mind to appreciate the skill of the actors involved and the legacy of a courageous and truly great musician.
It was almost warm enough to enjoy hitting a few whiffle golf balls with my hickories this weekend...
...but not quite...sunny, but still an unpleasant bite when that cold wind blows.

And yes, I'll probably start with just my irons, at least until I knock some of the rust off...mid-iron from the tee, mashie and niblick on the fairway, Calamity Jane putter on the green.
Hickory golf...gotta love it.
My 1959 GE Slimline TV is on the blink...
...and it's proving quite a feat to find someone who can help repair it.

The guy in the above pic is Justin Rubsam, the one who installed a Philips 25M800 chassis in it.  Those were made from 2001 to 2006, so they are NOT the old vacuum tube electronics from the 1950's and '60's.

Supposedly Justin has a board for it if I can find an electronic tech type to swap it out.  I'd try it myself but Justin tells me using a big hammer won't help.
Apparently my reputation precedes me.

later, mcm fans...

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