Saturday, May 30, 2009

Williamsburg and the Bermuda Triangle

I apologize for taking so long to post these, but it just seem that time got away a little bit.  I may publish some more in the future. 

It was a great cruise, very relaxing, and Bermuda is highly recommended (especially the "Dark and Stormy").

Seven days in May
First day, Colonial Willamsburg

The silversmith shop, always a favorite.

The Colonial Capital:

Sunglasses and colonial hats.  Welcome to America!

Gardens, Governor's Mansion.

Shoe lasts.

U.S.S. Wisconsin from the Grandeur of the Seas

Three carriers.  Closest, CVN-77, George H. W. Bush, center, CVN-75, Harry S. Truman, furthest, CVN-71, Theodore Roosevelt

A good sign, don't you think?

Bermuda, old causeway (left) and Dockyard area.

Grandeur of the Seas from the Commissioner's House, Royal Dockyard.
Galapagos land tortoise, Bermuda

Demonstration firing of a 24-pounder carronade, Fort St. Catherine, Bermuda.

The main building, Royal Dockyard, Bermuda.  The clock tower on the left was called "the four-faced liar" by the workers, as all four clock faces showed a slightly different time.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Back to the past (Thanks, Netflix)

Great movies scenes part 1 (Musical numbers not from traditional musicals)

This week the random movie selection was The Girl Can't Help It.  Perhaps a better title would have been Little Richard, Fats Domino, Eddie Cochran, Jayne Mansfield and Julie London Couldn't Help This Turkey.  As a movie, it's pretty laughable even though it was filmed in Cinemascope and had old pros Edmond O'Brien and Tom Ewell.  In addition, Little Richard, Fats, etc., perform for the first time in a big screen, big budget movie.

So why am I bringing this up?  Part of the backstory is that washed up talent agent Ewell was at one time the agent for Julie London (played by, you guessed it, Julie London).  About a third of the way through the movie she sings Cry Me A River (  It's quite a tour de force. When I figure out how to embed videos, I update the post.  Anyway, the cover to the left might give you some idea of Ms London's considerable charms.  I think every boy in my age group was in love with her.

I saw this movie for the first time in my life this week, so my earliest recollection of seeing and hearing Ms London was in her role as pitch-woman for Marlboro cigarettes, before they went all cowboy.  Still remember the lyrics, too:

You get a lot to like with a Marlboro
Filter, flavor, flip top box

Sung with that slightly husky but charming voice, wearing an evening gown (and of course, smoking the sponsor's product), those commercials probably could have convinced Ralph Nader to take a few puffs.

Interestingly enough, although today she is remembered primarily as a singer (and for super model good looks), Julie started out as a straight dramatic actress.  It was her second husband, actor-songwriter Bobby Troup (composer of Route 66, among others) who started her singing career.  Somewhat underrated as a singer, she used to joke that the producers spent more time and money on the album art work than on the arrangements. 

Jule and Troup later teamed on the TV series Emergency!, which was produced by Julie's first husband, Jack Webb. (Guess he didn't carry any grudges.  More on Webb in a minute). For a later (and totally different) interpretation of Cry Me A River, look on this album.  

One of the pleasures of watching old moves is seeing future stars, or ones just breaking out, when they were young.  Years after Webb had become a big star (and very rich) from Dragnet, I saw him in The Halls of Montezuma (1950), a pretty good World War II actioner, with a slew of future big names including Richard Widmark, Karl Malden, Jack Palance, and Robert Wagner.

That's Webb on the right, with Richard Widmark.  Nobody, and I mean NOBODY, could give you the Icy Blue-eyed Glare of Pure Death (patent pending) like Widmark.  If the Navy could have sent Widmark to the South Pacific during the war, he might have glared the Japanese to death.  For good example, take a look at Widmark staring down Duke Wayne in The Alamo (1960). 

The last movie is related to the first, and to the theme of great musical numbers not in traditional musicals.  By traditional musicals, I mean the classic, song and dance movies like Oklahoma!, or My Fair Lady, or (blech) The Sound of Music.  After all, just because there's lots of music in the movie, it doesn't make a musical.  If that were the case American Graffiti would qualify, to name just one example.  So, the other nominee for the award is The Fabulous Baker Boys (1989) starring Jeff and Beau Bridges as piano-punching brothers.  Looking for a new singer, they luck into the young Michelle Pfieffer.  The closing credits feature a grand piano and a red dress sprayed onto Ms Pfieffer while she croons an old standard, Makin Whoopee. Here's an idea:

I rest my case.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Meanwhile, back at Redskins Park.....

Inside the Redskins War Room:

(Tuesday Morning Conference.  Present are Redskins Supreme Maximum Leader Daniel M. Snyder, VP Vinnie Cerrato, Head Coach Jim Zorn and Tailback Clinton Portis)

Snyder:  Vinnie, what the hell is going on around here?  That damn Leonsis and the Capitals are driving me crazy!  Everybody in town is wearing Ovechkin jerseys.  I don't like this.  You were at the Verizon Center last night, what's the deal here?

Cerrato:  Well, your supremacy......

(Suddenly, there is a stupendous bolt of lightning and crash of thunder outside Redskins Park.  As the door to the war room swings open, the lights go out and the temperature drops 30 degrees.  When the lights come back on an elderly, well dressed man is sitting at the table.  An incredibly beautiful young woman is sitting on his lap)

Snyder:  Who the hell are you?  How did you get in here and what do you want?

Elderly Man:  I'm Jack Kent Cooke.  I want my team back.

Snyder:  Jesus H. Christ!

Cooke:  No, just call me Mr. Cooke, Daniel.

Snyder:  You can't be here.  You're dead!

Cooke:  That's not important, Daniel.  Alive or dead, makes no difference.  I did a better job of running this club after my third martini.  You've made a total hash of things.

Snyder, somewhat peevishly:  That's not true.  I have the biggest stadium.  We still have the best fans, the best Tailgate Club and the best Touchdown Club.  We have  200,000 names on the waiting list.......

Cooke, impatiently:  Don't try to kid a kidder, Daniel.  When I was alive, the Redskins were the best franchise in the league.  It was champagne and caviar, not milkshakes and, and, and (pauses) chili dogs!  Johnny Rockets!  Good God, man, even Marion Berry provided better concessions.

Besides, my teams won three Super Bowls.  You've had one home playoff game this decade!  The bloody Capitals have had more home playoff games this week!  And you wonder why I came back.

(Nibbles on ear of the stunning young woman)  Would you care for some champagne, my dear?  (She nods)  Good.  Vincent, my boy, some champagne for me and my friend.  The Mumm's Extra Dry will do nicely.  I'm sure there's a bottle left over from the last Super Bowl.  (Archly)  It's well aged by now, of course.

(Cerrato leaves to find the champagne.)

Snyder:  Look, Mr. Cooke, or whoever you are, we're still the big deal in this town.  No bunch of hockey players are going to push the Redskins around.

Cooke:  Don't be to sure of that, Daniel.  Every kid in town wants to be Alex Ovechkin.  You can't even decide on a quarterback!

Snyder:  For God's sake!  Ovechkin's a Russian!  

Cooke:  Yes.  Semin's a Russian.  Varlamov (now there's an exciting player), he's Russian.  Federov's a Russian, Backstrom's a Russian.  

Gorgeous Young Woman:  Backstrom's a Swede, sweetums.

Cooke:  Sure, sure.  Whatever.  But my point is, they win, and they're exciting.  Your Redskins are just a bunch of dull plodders who finish 8-8 every year.

Snyder:  They're just a bunch of Russians and Canadians.  They have socialized medicine for Pete's sake.  It won't last.  We'll always be on top!

Cooke:  As usual, you're missing the point, Daniel my boy. The Capitals are home grown, exciting and they win!  

Clinton Portis:  Hey, wait minute there, ODG!

Cooke, puzzled:  ODG?

Portis:  Old Dead Guy!  I'm colorful!

Cooke:  So was John Riggins.  But he won Super Bowls and is in the Hall of Fame.  What have you won?

Snyder:  Hey now!  No reason to be insulting.  Me and CP are BFFs.

Cooke:  Speak English, man, will you.  It's CP and I are .....what?

Snyder:  BFFs, ODG.  Best Friends Forever. You know, BFF.

Cooke:  Listen, Daniel.  You're not the only self-made billionaire in the room.  I started by selling encyclopedias door to door in Canadian winters in the middle of the Depression.  But I made billions in cable TV and real estate.  Not marketing or whatever it was you did.  I've operated teams in every major sport!  I didn't just win with the Redskins, either.  I built the Kings from nothing, won the NBA with Jerry West, Elgin Baylor and Wilt Chamberlain.  And of course, the Redskins!  And I didn't know dick about any of those sports!

I found guys that did like Fred Schaus and Bobby Beathard, let them work and held them accountable.   On the other hand, you, young man,  are a dilettante.

Snyder:  My team is worth a billion, old man.  Plus I own Johnny Rockets and Six Flags, I'm BFF with Tom Cruise......

Stunning young woman:  Jack, I'm bored.  This is going nowhere.

Cooke:  You're right, my dear (glances at watch).  Look at the time.  We'll be leaving now.  Time to head for the ballpark.  The Nationals have a businessman's special today.  And after all, I'm a businessman.
(Lightning bolt and thunder crash.  Lights go out again.  When they come on, Cooke and young woman are gone)

Snyder (to Cerrato):  This wouldn't happened if you had gotten me  Sanchez!  (Pauses)  Maybe I can give that damn Leonsis swine flu for the weekend.

(To be continued.......)

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Party like it's 1917!

Happy (belated) Birthday, Vladimir Illyich Ulyanov!

Saturday, May 2, 2009

The Steinbrenner Cup goes to.....

The Steinbrenner Cup, (pictured at left) is named in honor of New York Yankees principal owner George Steinbrenner, and is awarded annually to that club, in North American professional sports, which creates the biggest off season headlines in the area of personnel acquisition but effectively does nothing to improve the team.

The most recent winners are:

2000 - Washington Redskins
2001 - Washington Redskins
2002 - Washington Redskins
2003 - Washington Redskins
2004 - Washington Redskins
2005 - Washington Redskins
2006 - Washington Redskins
2007 - Washington Redskins
2008 - Washington Redskins
2009 - Washington Redskins

Friday, May 1, 2009

Walking the ballpark

Things got a little grim at the old yard last night.
(The Nationals bullpen, pictured above)

Things were OK for a while, certainly.  Daniel Cabrera (yes, the Daniel Cabrera) left after six with a 4-3 lead.

 Then the bullpen took over.  

Manny used five (5!) relievers for 2 innings:  Hinckley 1/3, Kensing 2/3 (blown save, welcome to the club, Logan), Wells 1, newly annointed closer Julian Taverez 1/3 (5 runs), Gas Can Hanrahan 2/3 (two inherited runners scored.)

Totals for the game:  11 walks, 1 balk, 1 hbp, 3 unearned runs.  Great game, guys.

Atsa some bullpen you bequeathed us, Jimbo.  Have fun in LA.

Your career is pictured below:

Well, at least my nephew Eric had a good time at the game.  Happy birthday, Eric!