Sunday, December 30, 2012

MOVIE: Lincoln (2012) ******

This afternoon my son and I went to see the Steven Spielberg film "Lincoln."  It was my second viewing and our sons third.  For me it was a powerful and emotional experience.  For years I have decried the lack of a good theatrical  movie devoted to Abraham Lincoln. The last was John Ford's "Young Mr. Lincoln" from 1939 that dealt with his early life before the Presidency.  Well, my wish has been granted and Spielberg has made a great film that will be viewed for generations. 

Lincoln for me is more than a great man he is someone I look to in times of stress.  I sometime am jealous of those who are religious and can look to their religion for strength. For me I look to Abraham Lincoln who held this country together and helped to erase the stain of slavery upon our honor as a country. I see in his example that we can bear almost any burden that life gives us with dignity and humor. 

There is not a bad scene in the entire movie. When you are my age two hours and thirty minutes is a long time to go without a bathroom break but I have done it twice not wanting to miss any detail. The scene that sticks out in my mind is the emotional argument between Lincoln and his wife near the end of the movie over their dead son and the desire of another son to server his country as a soldier.  It is so painful and sad.  I love  the scenes in the telegraph office of the War Department  as they await the results of a battle and another as Lincoln tries to deal with the issue of peace feelers from the South. There is the scene where Lincoln lays on the floor of the White House  by the fireplace next to his sleeping young son. I could go on and on.  Spielberg artistically and in a unique way deals with The Gettysburg Address, the Second Inaugural Speech, and the events at Ford's Theater. If you love politics, as I do, the debates and vote in the House of Representative on the 13th Amendment to the United States Constitution ending slavery are wonderful and inspiring. 

If you don't see another movie in the next 5 years go to Lincoln. For Christmas our son bought me Doris Kearns Goodwin's book "Team of Rivals" that the movie is based in part on. In addition, we have spent the holidays listening  to the CD of the Soundtrack.  When the movie makes it to Blu-ray it will make it into my collection and will sit next to the John Ford classic. 

Thanks Steven Spielberg for this American treasure. 

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Harry Carey Jr. RIP (May 16, 1921 – December 27, 2012)

One of the  last of the surviving members of the  "John Ford Stock Company" has died. Harry Carey Jr was one of the youngest of the Stock Company that made many movies with John Wayne and the "Old Master" John Ford.  They may be gone but they will live on in the screen images they created. A few years ago I purchased,  online through Carey's website, his biography  "Company of Heroes My life as an actor in the John Ford Stock Company." .  He personally autographed it for me. Some of his great movies with Ford:

 3 Godfathers (1948), She Wore a Yellow Ribbon (1949), Wagon Master (1950), Rio Grande (1950), The Long Gray Line (1955); Mister Roberts (1955), The Searchers (1956), Two Rode Together (1961), and Cheyenne Autumn (1964). He also made "Red River" with John Wayne in 1948. Up until the last few years you could always spot him in bit parts in Westerns made into the 1990's

Harry Carey Jr.. was born on May 16, 1921, at the ranch of his parents, actors Olive Carey and Harry Carey. His father gave him the nickname "Dobe" shortly after his birth because the baby's red hair reminded him of the adobe soil at the ranch. Dobe went to school in the Newhall Public Schools, and then went to the Black Foxe Military Institute in Hollywood.....

So long, Dobe!


Leonard Maltin has a wonderful post on"Remembering  Harry Carey Jr."

Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas

  1. As someone who is Agnostic and a lover of Christmas our son has posted a most thoughtful statement reconciling the two, and with his permission I repose it here:

    The recent events in Connecticut are challenging for the religious skeptic to contemplate: twenty children, barely having experienced existence, lost their lives. While this event has done much to shock the country, it is only a small scratch among troubling deaths that plague the earth every day. Whether it takes place in small events here and there, or mass genocides, ...death is a constant presence. The worst offender isn't even at the hands of fellow humans. Though it is by different means, and often different timing, nature is by far the most prolific killer of the human race; inevitably leaving no one untouched. The net effect is the same. We are given a relatively brief moment of existence only to have it snuffed away. Is the universe really that cruel and perverse?

    Suppose death is not the end of our spirit? Perhaps our souls are given life on earth to experience the travails of survival: hard work, management of finances, interactions with others, and pursuing our own means to contentment and happiness. In an otherley world of care free happiness and love, free will and the burdens of earth are the only ways for the soul to mature and grow. Suppose the children killed in Connecticut lost their lives, but are now in a happier place? Is any crime on earth thus too heinous for forgiveness? Would it not seem ideal that the killer, stripped of his human weaknesses, come to repent and be granted redemption for his hateful actions? Supposedly Jesus asked that his tormentors be forgiven as they knew not what they were doing. Whether real or symbolic, does this not sound right?

    As for life on earth during the Christmas season, perhaps there is a hidden gem. For all those parents across the nation who might normally be worrying about the mortgage, dealing with the in-laws, or worrying about the perfect Christmas present, perhaps they might hug their child a little harder and appreciate the love of family more. I think that’s the true reason for the season.

    This optimistic agnostic wants to wish everyone a Merry Christmas this Holiday season.

    I wish to echo that statement.  I don't know if a "God" existent but if he doesn't he should and even more so this day!  Real or symbolic the Christmas story is a wonderful tale. Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Movie: "It's a Wonderful Life" (1946)

Last night our son, who is home for Christmas, and I went to Medford's Tinseltown to see "It's a Wonderful Live" on the big screen.  I have seen the move dozens of times on TV, DVD and own it in Blu-ray but seeing it on the big screen was the most memorable of all my viewings.  A few months ago my wife and I saw Casablanca (1943) at the same theater and while I enjoyed it but it was not the experience I had expected and was a little disappointed.  Not this time........ the experience exceeded my expectations.  One think that I enjoyed is we sat  only about half way up the theater so we had a larger than life view.  The movie sort of enveloped us.  My wife always likes to sit near the back of the theater which I think lessens the experience.   This movie was made before wide screen movies became the norm so it has a smaller picture than more recent movies. After the movie we went home and my son ran my blu-ray copy and the picture was great but even on my "big screen" TV there was not the power of the movie at the theater. It was fun to pick out small details in the movie such as the pictures of Presidents on the walls of the characters homes or offices (Washington, Lincoln, Wilson, Hoover) or the framed butterfly collection that George Bailey inherited from his father.  The look in Jimmy Stewart's face when he realizes he will never get out of Bedford Falls or when he realizes he  loves the  Donna Reed character in the phone scene are haunting. Reed projects a wholesome beauty throughout out the film. It was hard to believe, that in real life, Stewart just a few months before filming this movie was flying bomber raids over Germany in World War II. Some have said the power Stewart brought to the screen was born from that experience. I am not sure, having seen "Mr Smith Goes to Washington" that was made before the war. In any case, this is my favorite Christmas movie.  I will never again listen to the song "Old Lang Syne" without seeing in my mind the town of Bedford Falls gathered at Stewart's home singing the song at the end of the movie.  Call it "Capra Corn" (Directer Frank Capra) if you will, but we need a little of that now more than ever.

From Wikipedia:

Like his contemporary, director John Ford, Capra defined and aggrandized the tropes of mythic America where individual courage invariably triumphs over collective evil. Film historian Richard Griffith speaks of Capra's “ on sentimental conversation and the ultimate benevolence of ordinary America to resolve all deep conflicts.” [48] “Average America” is visualized as "...a still tree lined street, undistinguished frame houses surrounded by modest areas of grass, a few automobiles. For certain purposes it assumed that all real Americans live in towns like this, and so great is the power of myth, even the born city-dweller is likely to believe vaguely that he too lives on this shady street, or comes from it, or is going to.” [49]
There is a strong libertarian streak in Capra's films, a distrust of power wherever it occurs and in whomever it is invested. Young people are won over by the fact that his heroes are uninterested in wealth and are characterized by vigorous ... individualism, a zest for experience, and a keen sense of political and social justice. ... Capra's heroes, in short, are ideal types, created in the image of a powerful national myth.[8]


Tuesday, December 18, 2012

"Passive Resistence" at Our Schools is Not Enought!

By Oregon State  Represenative  Dennis Richardson:

My heart aches for the families of the 20 children and six adults killed last week in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings, and I am frustrated over our failure in America to protect our school children and teachers from future attacks.

Instead of responding to the latest mass murder with calls for more gun control, the real issue should be ensuring the protection of our children and educators from armed psychopaths. Currently, when a killer begins his rampage, the only armed person in the school for at least five minutes after the sound of the first gunshot is the mass murderer.

Training in classroom lock-down techniques is valuable, but passive. Classroom lock-down procedures alone fail to protect the children and adults who continue to be murdered before the police arrive. A police officer in every school is not the answer; a police officer would be the first target of a shooter and the cost would be prohibitive for most school districts.

Lives would be saved by stopping the shooter. Seconds count when the police are five minutes away. It would be simple, inexpensive and enable immediate response after the first gunshot was fired in a school if two or three volunteers in every school (administrators, staff members or teachers), were encouraged to obtain additional training and practice in the use of firearms and were encouraged to have a firearm concealed on their person or locked in their desks. School district employees with prior military or law enforcement experience would be the initial candidates for this voluntary assignment. No one outside of school and district administration would know the identity of these volunteers.

In short, having armed and trained personnel in every school would enable immediate response with lethal force if and when the lives of our children and teachers were endangered by a mass murderer.

If this procedure had been implemented, the number of children killed in every school massacre from Columbine to Sandy Hook would have been greatly reduced. (The same would be true if it were implemented by shopkeepers and mall personnel.) In Israel and Thailand, armed school personnel save the lives of their children. In America, the slaughter of our schoolchildren continues.

This is a call for our school superintendents, board members and principals to face and address the reality that mass murderers are armed with guns, knives, explosives and, as we saw last year in China, even hammers. In 1998 students were killed in Oregon's own Thurston High School. In Sandy Hook Elementary, 26 are dead. The passivist approach of school administrators for the past 14 years has failed to adequately protect our children and teachers.

Candidly, if I were a school administrator or board member and, knowing how these mass murders continue to occur, if I failed to promote preparation for immediate, lethal response in case an attack were to occur in my school, the blood of multiple innocent victims would be on my hands.

The time for passive hand-wringing is past; the time for parents, teachers and other concerned citizens to demand protection for our children and educators is now.

Rep. Dennis Richardson, R-Central Point, represents District 4 in the Oregon House.

"If I had been a teacher or the principal at the Sandy Hook Elementary School and if the school district did not preclude me from having access to a firearm, either by concealed carry or locked in my desk, most of the murdered children would still be alive, and the gunman would still be dead, and not by suicide."
Dennis Richardson

Monday, December 17, 2012

Home For Christmas

One of the best part of the Christmas Holidays is having our adult children come home. Since they both live in the Eastern time zone we don't get to see them that often during the year. Last night  very late I  picked up our son at the Jackson County "International" Airport. He came in from Lexington Kentucky where he is working on his PhD in History. Next weekend I  will go back to the airport to pick up our daughter who is coming in from Washington D.C.. I love this time of year and the trips to the airport !

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Fiesta Bowl and the Oregon Ducks with coach CHIP Kelly

Let's Go Ducks...... Win The Day!

Union Thugs in Michigan

Union thugs in Michigan destroy  a tent with people in it because the disagree with their political point of view!

I have been critical of Union intimidation since I was a teenager growing up in the union stronghold of Coos Bay, Oregon. In those days the Longshoremen and the unions that controlled the saw mills were all powerful.  Unions enforce a type of conformity I really dislike. For the same reason I refused to join a fraternity in collage.

While in Junior High and High school in the 1960's I worked part time after school and on Saturdays as a "stockboy" at a Sprouse Reitz variety story that was  under the control of the Retail Clerks Union.  As a non union employee I could bring merchandise out of the stock room but not put it on display.  One Christmas Eve while the store was full of customers the head of the local union came in and made us close down the store because  the Union contract required  that we close at 5 pm.  Give me a break, I wanted to go home too, but I learned at an early age from my parents that the customer comes first. Needless to say this caused an unhappy Christmas eve for employees and management.

 In high school when  I express my view of Unions I was told by a student that if I didn't keep my mouth shut the union members of our community would boycott my parents sewing and fabric store. I wasn't intimidated! When the clerks of the local Safeway went on strike they had a camera to take picture of people who crossed the picket line as a from of intimidation.  I made sure to go into Safeway each day of the strike (it was next door to Sprouse Reitz) even if I didn't need something.

 I believe that non public employees have the right to organize and join unions but it should be voluntary. No one should be forced to join a union as a condition of employment. That's why I have supported Right to Work laws for the last 50 years. Way to go Michigan!

Monday, December 10, 2012

TV Christmas Movies

I am a sucker for movies about Christmas. This time of year my wife is always watching those, non stop, Christmas movies made for TV on the Lifetime and ABC Family TV cable channels. I will be watching FOX NEWS on the TV in the room where I am and will walk by the TV my wife is watching and will watch a few minutes and I am hooked. It's fun to watch these TV movies because you see actresses and actors (Mostly from canceled TV shows) who you haven't seen for a while, because they are on the down hill slide in their careers, and will work cheep. Once in a while you will see a movie made before an actor became famous. I have gotten so I remember movies they showed last year and the year before. This is the first year my wife has a high definition TV set and we have our new recliner chairs facing it.  So like an "old couple" we sit there in our recliners watching these Christmas movies in our living room with it's "Christmas Overlay." Life is good!

A couple that I have seen this year are:

Love at the Christmas Table (2012)

Family friends Sam and Kat spend every Christmas Eve at the Children's Table. They grow up together, sharing the highs and lows of young adulthood. And at thirty, Sam realizes that Kat is the one...but he's afraid that the past will get in the way. I liked this movie because it follows the two main characters from age 6 or so till their early thirties.  It's a "same time next year" type of movie because you only see them once a year as they grow up on Christmas Eve at the Christmas party thrown by their parents .  The actress that played Winnie Cooper in the "Wonder Years" is the female lead.

Will You Merry Me (2008)

Very funny movie about two family's that get together at Christmas when their adult children meet in New Your and decide there families should meet  before they get married.

Rebecca, from an upper class Los Angeles Jewish family,(liberal) and Henry, from choir-singing, tradition-bound Midwestern roots,(conservative) are in love. Henry pops the question just before Christmas and the kids plan on gathering their families for the holidays in order to surprise them with the good news. The families collide-oops-meet the week of Hanukkah just before Christmas in a small Midwest town. It's a wild, wacky ride of good intentions and missteps as the two families try in vain to respect each others' traditions. It's not long before Rebecca and Henry learn the hardest part about being married might be dealing with each other's in-laws. Lots of Liberal vs Conservative issues such as Rebecca's revulsion that Henry has a "real" rifle in his childhood bedroom for hunting defenseless ducks.

However my favorite movies about Christmas are the classics that were originally shown in theaters. The following is my list of my favorite movies about Christmas. I decided the test for a movie to make the list is have I purchased it on DVD. Here is the list in order of preference in reverse order.

4. National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation (1989)

Stars Chevy Chase in a very funny movie. I see a lot of me and my family in this movie, trying to have the "perfect" Christmas. The scenes with the old folks who come over for Christmas eve dinner reminds me of Uncle Herman and Mrs Hills and others who my folks would invite over for Christmas. They are all gone now but the memories remain. I am sure my son has empathy for Russ who has to help his dad put up the outside Christmas lights.

3. Meet Me in St Louis (1944)

A Judy Garland classic. About an upper middle class family in turn of the century St Louis ( young folks the one in 1900). The movie focus in on a group of young people (They didn't call them teenagers then) who are excited about the coming of the Worlds Fair to St Louis and their trials and loves. The dad, who is a lawyer, gets a job at a prestigious firm in New York and causes a crisis that hits it's boiling point at Christmas. Garland sings "Have yourself a Merry Little Christmas" that is a show stopper and is one of those moments you never forget.

2. White Christmas (1954)

What can I say, Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye and Rosemary Clooney in a movie about two GI's from World War II that want to help out the general of their division who is now the owner of a lodge in New England that has fallen on tough times. Crosby and Kaye are Broadway writer and producers who decide to put on a Christmas show at the lodge and have it shown nationwide on TV on something like the Ed Sullivan Show. Rosemary Clooney has never looked better. A classic 1950's movie that says a lot about the times and in glorious color. of course, Bing sings "White Christmas."World War II was still fresh in the minds of most who saw this movie when it first came out in 1954.

1. It's a Wonderful Life (1946)

The Jimmy Stewart, Frank Capra classic about a guy who gives up his dream of college and travel to stay in his small home town and makes it a better place. I never tire of this movie. The Christmas decorations in this movie remind me of the decorations we had when I was a kid. Next to The Duke, Jimmy Stewart was and is my favorite.

Saturday, December 08, 2012

For John

  • We're gonna have the best-looking house in town, Russ. Unravel these. We need to check every bulb. Oops. Little knot here, you can work on that.

Friday, December 07, 2012

2012 Holiday Movies UPDATED

One of the best parts of the Holidays, along with collage football bowl games, is taking the family to the movies at a local theater. Hollywood likes to release good movies for the Thanksgiving-Christmas-New Year Holiday period because people have more time for going to the movies and in most parts of the country outside activities are limited because of the weather. After spending lots of time inside with relatives at home it is liberating to get out of the house and go to a movie. The following is the release date and names of some movies I would like to see.

November 9th


The new James Movie is very good.  I have seen it once but could be dragged back for a second viewing.


I have seen it and I want to see it again when our son is home.  This is his area of study and he has already seen it twice.  He knows the back story on all the major and minor historical characters and I want to see it again in any case. A fine movie to be treasured about one of my hero's.

November 16


I love costume drama's and would love to see this on the big screen.  If not, it will be on blu-ray soon enough.

November 21


Can wait for blu-ray but would go if someone twisted my arm.  Conservative love this story and I am a Conservative. Just wish they had kept the bad guys the Chinese Communists instead of the North Koreans. 

November 23


Love movies about movies.

December 7


Bill Murray does a serious role of FDR,about the visit of the King of England to his home at Hyde Park.  Same king as in The Kings Speech. Love history and politics so this is a natural  Apparently show Roosevelt as not a perfect person!

December 19


Yes, the Jimmy Stewart classic is coming to a big screen near you for this one day only.  I own it on blu-ray but have never seen it in a theater and our son will be home for the Holiday's by then and we both love this movie.


Yes, I know, Barbra Streisand is in this movie but I can separate her political views from her acting ability.  Love "road pictures" .  This one about a mother who joins her son on a road trip.


Hunt to kill Osama bin laden!  Who wouldn't enjoy that.

December 21


Based upon the Jack Kerouac 1957 novel of the same name.  I said I like "road pictures" and this is a classic and the novel was the start of the beatniks. Hope it plays in Medford, but may have to go to Ashland.  May be too out of the mainstream for Medford's Tinseltown.

Christmas Day - December 25


The expected "block buster" of the Christmas Holidays and looks like a big budget musical, historical, consume drama all rolled into one.  Will be fun.


Billy Crystal and Bette Midler are grandparents who become temporary guardians of their grandchildren.  Could be very funny and is more in keeping with my idea of Christmas entertainment. Love Billy Crystal.