The 30 Day Film Challenge – Part 1

“Movies touch our hearts and awaken our vision, and change the way we see things. They take us to other places, they open doors and minds. Movies are the memories of our life time, we need to keep them alive.” – Martin Scorsese

 

 

 

As with the 30 Day Song Challenge I do not have the patience to post once per day for an entire month, and fortunately I don’t need to since I make the rules in this space. I feel like I’ve probably written entirely too much about movies here over the years, but it’s a subject I enjoy and right now I need as much to smile about as possible. 2020 has been a bumpy ride for many, so I don’t want to be selfish. Having said that, the past few months have been brutal for me personally, so I’m thankful for an outlet that allows me to take my mind off things, atleast for a little while. The vast majority of these were easy answers, though I had to ponder a few, and in some cases I found the questions a bit puzzling. That’s why I like providing context…it provides some insight into my thought process, which is not only helpful for you but something I find constructive as well. Once again I have broken this project into two parts for readability. Enjoy.

 

 

 

 

 

1       The first film you remember watching…

Coal Miner’s Daughter

To be honest I’m not entirely comfortable with this answer. Coal Miner’s Daughter was released when I was eight years old, and I’m pretty sure I watched movies before then. However, our local mall (complete with multiplex cinema) wasn’t built until a few years later, so anything I saw before had to be at a drive-in or on television, and nothing specific comes to mind. However, I have a clear memory of going to the drive-in with my parents & sister to see Coal Miner’s Daughter.

 

 

2       A film you like that starts with the first letter of your first name…

Sleepless in Seattle

I really like alliteration…it’s fun. I actually had a date…with a woman…to see this movie. It might be the last real date I’ve had lol (I don’t even remember her name though, which speaks badly of me, her, or both of us). Anyway, Tom Hanks & Meg Ryan are screen magic, and Sleepless might be my favorite film of theirs.

 

 

3       A film that has more than five words…

Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy

I’m not going to dive into a marketing lecture, but the vast majority of films have short titles…1-3 words. It’s just easier for people to remember, among other things. I really had to think about movies I’ve enjoyed with longer titles, but once Anchorman popped into my head it became an easy choice. Stay classy!!

 

 

4       A film with a number in the title…

Ocean’s Eleven

So many choices!! However, I’m a big fan of the Ocean’s Trilogy. Eleven is a remake of a 1960 Rat Pack classic, and I actually enjoy the remake more than the original, partly because the ending of the newer film is so much more satisfying than the older one. Ocean’s Twelve is okay, though certainly the weakest of the trilogy. Ocean’s Thirteen rebounded with the addition of Al Pacino to the cast. I highly recommend binge watching all three movies, something I’ve done many times.

 

 

5       A film where a character has a job you want…

The Shining

Okay, so he is a psychopath…but don’t forget that Jack Torrance (as portrayed brilliantly by Jack Nicholson) is also a writer.

 

 

6       Your favorite animated film…

The Toy Story Series

This is tough. There are so many animated classics that we all enjoyed as kids, but I have to ask myself, would I sit down and watch many of those old movies now…as an adult?? I suppose the occasional nostalgic mood may hit, but generally we look at such things differently when we’re older. However, the four Toy Story movies are more recent, have quite the memorable voice cast, the animation is top notch, and the plot is written to be enjoyed by all ages.

 

 

7       A film that you will never get tired of…

Casablanca

There are dozens of movies I could (and do) watch over & over & over again. I tend to prefer older movies that I grew up enjoying to most of the pathetic excuses for entertainment Hollywood churns out these days, and Casablanca is as pleasurable to watch now as it ever was. They don’t make ‘em like that anymore.

 

 

8       A film where you liked the soundtrack more…

Saturday Night Fever and The Big Chill

Two movies immediately sprang to mind and I’m not going to choose between them. The Big Chill is about a bunch of middle-age 60’s radicals gathering together in the midst of the conservative revolution of the early 80’s to attend the funeral of an old schoolmate who committed suicide. The film itself is just fine, but the soundtrack…wow. Smokey Robinson. The Temptations. Marvin Gaye. Three Dog Night. Aretha Franklin. If you like Motown you can’t help but dig one of the best soundtracks ever produced. Saturday Night Fever not only skyrocketed John Travolta to superstardom, but it defined the disco era. The soundtrack relies heavily on The Bee Gees, but that’s okay because they kick ass. Disco may be dead, but it had its time in the spotlight and this particular album may have been the high point.

 

 

9       A film you hate that everyone else liked…

Pulp Fiction

I watched it once…I just don’t get it. Travolta is cool. Samuel L. Jackson?? Very cool. I’m a big Bruce Willis fan. Tarantino just isn’t my kind of director. I can’t think of a single one of his movies I’ve enjoyed.

 

 

10     Your favorite superhero film…

Batman

I’ve said it a thousand times…I wasn’t a comic book kid. Outside of the three big superheroes (Batman, Superman, & Spiderman) I couldn’t possibly care less. The only “Marvel Cinematic Universe” films I’ve seen are the two Spiderman movies. I may or may not ever watch the rest of them. However, I do love me some Batman, and I really like the 1989 film starring Michael Keaton as The Caped Crusader. Keaton & Adam West (who portrayed Batman in the 60’s TV show) are easily my favorites, and it didn’t hurt Tim Burton’s movie to have Jack Nicholson’s larger-than-life portrayal of The Joker.

 

 

11     A film you like from your least favorite genre…

Halloween

Horror flicks aren’t generally my cup o’ tea. However, John Carpenter’s original Halloween is a classic. From the brilliant opening sequence to the legendary theme music to the amusingly ostentatious performance of Donald Pleasence as a Captain Ahab-esque psychiatrist, well…it’s nearly flawless. It’s hard to believe that what has become an annual October institution was produced on a shoestring budget of just over $300k (in comparison, Jaws, which was produced three years earlier, had a budget of $13 million).

 

 

12     A film that you hate from your favorite genre…

Holmes & Watson

This one is a double whammy. I’m a huge fan of the Sherlock Holmes novellas & short stories, and I’ve also enjoyed the work of both Will Ferrell & John C. Reilly. When I first heard that the duo were going to tackle Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s fabled crime solvers I was excited to see what kind of hilarious spin the stars of Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby could put on the story, but the result was immensely disappointing. Rotten Tomatoes gives Holmes & Watson an atrocious 10% score, and it won the Razzie for Worst Picture of 2018.

 

 

13     A film that “puts you in deep thoughts”…

Groundhog Day

First, I must state that I detest the way this is stated, like a nine year old wrote it. Secondly, though I’m not above thinking deeply I rarely run across a movie that makes me do so. It just doesn’t seem to be Hollywood’s thing, and sadly I don’t know which came first, the chicken or the egg. Are crappy special effects movies with inane action sequences & insufferable explosions the norm because the populace demands it, or have we been conditioned to be dumbed down & accept such mediocrity?? I suppose it’s a little of both. At any rate, in 1993 Bill Murray & director Harold Ramis teamed up to give us the antithesis of such tedious garbage, and what they accomplished is far more than your typical comedy. Groundhog Day is existential. It is profound on a level that neither Murray nor Ramis likely intended. I watch it every February 2nd, and it always makes me ponder life.

 

 

14     A film that “gave you depression”…

The Perfect Storm

Another poorly worded turn of phrase. Here’s the thing: I don’t watch movies to get depressed. Trust me…my real life is miserable enough. Why on God’s green Earth would I pay money to have alleged entertainment make me sad?? It’s why I lean so heavily toward comedy. Having said that, occasionally something sneaks up and gives me all the feels. When I first watched The Perfect Storm I had NO IDEA it was based on a true story. It was on television and I was bored, so I gave it a whirl. It is well-written with good performances so I was quickly hooked. At the film’s conclusion I fully expected the ship’s crew to be miraculously rescued…but, of course, they are not. I’m a little slow sometimes, but eventually I learned that this actually happened…these were real people who died. The film does a superb job of conveying the very tangible danger faced by fishermen every day, and I have developed tremendous respect for those who put their lives on the line to put food on our table. Some years after my initial viewing of the movie (which I have watched countless times) I decided to read the book on which it is based, and I must opine that it is the rare case where the film is far superior.

 

 

15     A film that makes you feel happy…

Bull Durham

I suppose numerous comedies make me happy, but since it’s summertime and baseball just began after a virus related delay of several months Bull Durham popped into my head. Sports films are delightful…sports comedies are sublime. One major barometer I use when judging movies is whether or not I am still glad to watch them many years & multiple viewings later, and more than three decades later I find Bull Durham just as enjoyable as I ever did.

 

 

 

Okay folks, let’s take a break. Stay tuned for Part 2!!

A Glimmer of Hope

When I was in high school I took a psychology class that was really interesting, so I briefly toyed with the idea of choosing that career path. I didn’t end up following thru, but I have retained a passing interest in the field, which is why I am borrowing & expanding on an idea I saw on a friend’s Facebook page. We all know that triggers are psychological stimuli that prompt recall of traumatic experiences. It can be anything that provokes fear or distressing memories, from people & places to particular dates on the calendar or times of the year to smells, tastes, sounds, & textures. Obviously a trigger is a bad thing, but what about a glimmer?? What’s a glimmer?? Well, it is essentially the opposite of a trigger. While triggers make one feel anxious & withdrawn, glimmers make us feel safe & connected. Triggers are the autonomic nervous system’s response to cues of danger. Conversely, glimmers make one feel grounded, centered, and maybe even warm & fuzzy. So the question is what are your glimmers?? Obviously I can’t answer that for you, but I thought it might be fun to identify my own glimmers. I’m all about self-reflection, and especially at this moment of my life I need to focus on whatever will take me to my happy place, even if it’s just in my mind.

 

 

 

Laughter

I write a lot about movies here at The Manofesto, and tend to have more of an interest in comedies than anything else because I enjoy laughter. Life can be difficult way more often than we’d like, and I really do believe that laughter is the best medicine. I’m sure a brain expert could explain things in great detail, but I’ve never really understood people who enjoy cop shows or medical dramas or…God forbid…”reality TV”. Those folks are just wired differently, or perhaps they’ve been blessed enough to lead a relatively stress free life and need something artificial to get their blood pumping. I don’t know…to each their own. Mark Twain went so far as to say that “Humanity has unquestionably one really effective weapon…laughter. Power, money, persuasion, supplication, persecution…these can lift at a colossal humbug, push it a little, weaken it a little, century by century, but only laughter can blow it to rags & atoms at a blast. Against the assault of laughter nothing can stand.” Big time truth from Twain. And by the way, it’s not only my own selfish desire to laugh…I enjoy the laughter of others. There’s nothing cooler than a person with a really great laugh.

 

Books

An old friend (who sadly no longer communicates with me) once observed that I essentially live in a library, which is true. In my humble Bachelor Palace I have no fewer than nine bookshelves packed with everything from classic literature to political & sports biographies to other assorted oddities. Admittedly I haven’t read every book I own, but I’m comforted by their presence and knowing I can read them whenever I choose. I honestly believe that’s one of the weird things making me so unhappy at the moment…being far away from home and my books, with the exception of a few I was astute enough to bring with me. I don’t read as much as I once did, but on the rare occasion I can force myself to stop overthinking all of the bad stuff in my life long enough for a book to sink its claws into my consciousness and distract me it is a true pleasure.

 

The Smile of a Beautiful Woman

Guys are often asked what the first thing they notice about a woman is, and of course we take note of a great rack or a fine booty. Any man that tells you otherwise is lying. However, those of us of a certain age have come to realize that the importance of such…assets…should be a bit lower in the hierarchy. I’m a big fan of a lovely smile (which includes the eyes!!). Bonus points if that gorgeous beam of happiness is emanating from a woman who has been thru some stuff because not only does she have a pretty smile but she’s tougher than a two dollar steak and has overcome adversity, which is unbelievably attractive. A woman can be as flat as the The Great Plains in the aforementioned bodily areas, but if she’s got a great smile I won’t even notice.

 

Music

I’ve always enjoyed music, but since the pandemic began and especially since I’ve been physically laid up the past couple months I’ve listened to an incredible amount of music. I certainly have my favorites, but I listen to a lil bit of everything…jazz & blues, classic rock, oldies from the 50’s & 60’s, grungy alternative from my college days, classical (I love Chopin), big band, swing music. It just depends on my mood. I am fascinated with the talent & skill it takes to play an instrument, sing well, & of course write memorable lyrics. I wish I would have been gifted with that kind of aptitude and the dedication it takes to hone the craft, but I wasn’t, so it makes me happy to listen to others do so. One of the worst byproducts of this pandemic is the loss (for now) of live music, which is such a treasure. I look forward to the opportunity to gather once at a local club or other venue when “social distancing” is a thing of the past. That’ll be a good day.

 

Words with Friends & Spades Royale

You might laugh, but allow me to explain. I’ve never been much of a gamer. I think the last game system I owned was a Sony DreamCast about 20 years ago. I’m not into first person shooters at all and always preferred sports games like Madden, but with new consoles coming out every year at $500+ and games themselves costing more than $50 I just kind of gave up. At any rate, smartphones have put a whole new spin on gaming, but I’m still pretty old school. I love Words with Friends, which is really just another brand of Scrabble. As a writer I suppose words are kind of my thing. I’ve played thousands of games of Words with Friends. I just wish more of my actual friends played as well. And then there is Spades. I’ve always enjoyed card games. Poker. Blackjack. Uno. Canasta. Rummy. It’s all good. However, I can’t properly explain how playing Spades on my phone centers & relaxes me. There’s just enough strategery & ponderation to distract me from the real world for awhile without stressing me out in a whole different way. When I bid nil and actually pull it off it’s a proud moment.

 

Puns

Humor covers a huge amount of territory. What I find funny may just make another person stare blankly into space wondering what’s wrong with me. I suspect there have been no shortage of people in my life that formed that opinion. One thing that I find particularly amusing are puns, which are defined as “a joke exploiting the different possible meanings of a word or the fact that there are words which sound alike but have different meanings”. I really get a kick out of a great pun.

 

Movie Theater Popcorn

I’m not much of a snack food guy. I don’t hate potato chips, crackers, or pretzels, but you are much more likely to find me munching on candy bars & snack cakes. When I was a kid my mother used to make popcorn on top of our stove, and while I found the process fascinating I still didn’t particularly like to eat it. However, movie theater popcorn is a whole other thing. I suppose it’s because it is slathered in much more butter & salt than when it is prepared at home, rendering an otherwise healthy snack rather unhealthy. However, I suspect that it is part of the overall social experience as well. One thing we’re all learning during this time of isolation is just how important community is. Even the most dedicated homebody needs to get out & about and socialize with other human beings, and though we can inexpensively stay at home with our gigantic flat screen TVs & multiple streaming services and enjoy just about any film we choose I still think there’s something to be said for a night out at the local cineplex.

 

Sunshine

I am a firm believer in the existence of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). I feel so much more alive & energetic in the spring & summer. I hate grey, overcast, rainy, cold days. Looking out the window of my current prison and seeing the sunshine is so frustrating because I can’t be outside enjoying it.

 

Writing

I suppose it comes as no surprise that a blogger enjoys writing. My issue has always been coming up with ideas. I’m like a vehicle at the top of a steep incline…all I need is a gentle push and I’m off to the races. Unfortunately inspiration is all too rare. I read a long time ago that JK Rowling was on welfare in England when the idea for Harry Potter came to her while riding the bus. I’d love to have my Harry Potter Moment. It’s not even about the fame or money (although I’d be willing to take on the task of being a bazillionaire). The idea of writing something entertaining & important enough for the masses to enjoy for generations is quite appealing. Until that happens though, know that the relatively inconsequential drivel I produce in this space means a lot to me. I’ve discovered & revealed so much about myself here, and thoroughly enjoy the process.

 

Intelligent Conversation

This is a big one. My father has always opined that there is a difference between loneliness and being alone. For many years I enjoyed my solitude. I’ve never been married, never had children, never even had a roommate in my adult life. However, I must confess that feelings of loneliness have become more prevalent the past few years. I had a great friend for two decades that would call often. He’s one of the smartest guys I know, and we would have conversations lasting a couple of hours a few times a week for years. We would talk about everything from music to politics to religion to philosophy and everything in between. He stopped communicating with me a few years ago and perhaps that’s when things started to go downhill. I have a few people in my “normal” life (when I’m at home) that I communicate with regularly, but to be blunt they just aren’t capable of holding up their end of the kind of exchange I crave. In my current circumstance…as Britney Spears might say…my loneliness is killing me. I am saddened by the scarcity of human interaction I’ve had the past couple of months, given the available technologies. Of all the glimmers listed here intelligent conversation might be the one I value the most yet it’s the one I get the opportunity to enjoy the least.

 

Old Movies

There’s a meme that I believe I’ve used here somewhere that basically states that watching our favorite movies over & over again makes us feel safe & calm amidst the craziness of the real world because we are comforted by already knowing the outcome. Safe…calm…comforted…isn’t that the very definition of a glimmer?? It really does make a lot of sense. As stupid as it may seem, I feel blessed to live in an era where we can revisit such soothing memories pretty much anytime we want, and the fact is that so much of the newer entertainment we’re offered nowadays absolutely sucks, so thank goodness we can still be distracted by the old stuff.

 

Impressions

Okay, so here’s another subset of laughter. I can be a fairly amusing guy and make people laugh occasionally, but holy cow do I have mad respect for stand-up comedians who can get up in front of an audience, hold the room in the palm of their hand, and make the whole crowd laugh hysterically. My favorite kind of comedian is one who does impressions, although I must admit that my standards are high. Anyone can try to do impressions, but few do them really well. I once opined that if I could be granted any talent or skill I think I might go with the ability to do awesome impressions. Sure it’d be cool to be a good enough singer to become a rock star like Billy Joel or Michael Buble (yes, in my world those guys are rock stars), and I’d love to be able to shred the axe like Eddie Van Halen or Stevie Ray Vaughan, but at the end of the day I think being an impressionist that can make people laugh would be tremendously cool. Lacking that particular skill though I rely on others to frost my cupcake, and rarely does anything bring me much more joy than someone who can deliver a fine impression (or two or three).

 

 

Okay, so those are a few of my glimmers, and I really need as much tranquility & delight as I can get right now. What are your glimmers?? If you’ve never thought about it maybe this is a good time to do so. Drop me some comments and share what makes you happy.

Winning & Musing…Volume 2.20

Greetings sports fans…what a strange year it has been, right?? No March Madness. The Masters, all three Triple Crown horse races, & the Indianapolis 500 postponed. And now, with COVID-19 spiking again, there are serious questions about whether we’re even going to have a football season. I hate all of it, but atleast the whole mess gives us a few things to discuss.

 

 

 

 

Kudos to NASCAR & the PGA for giving us a little bit of entertainment. To be honest I don’t even miss the live crowd when watching a car race, and golf is almost as entertaining without a gallery, except in those moments when someone makes a spectacular shot & there would normally be a roar from the crowd. NASCAR especially has stepped up, altering their schedule to have races on the occasional random weeknight. Perhaps that doesn’t mean anything to anyone else, and maybe a lot of people actually hate it, but in my particular circumstance at the moment I have really appreciated the distraction.

 

 

So I guess Major League Baseball will be playing a 60 game season beginning in a couple of weeks. That’s cool, and I’ll watch (especially if I can manage to find any Pirates games on where I am), but we’ll need to put an asterisk on the 2020 season. I don’t believe whichever teams make the playoffs and whoever ultimately wins The World Series can ever consider those to be legit accomplishments, but I’ll give them credit for doing something to provide us with some much needed entertainment.

 

 

The NBA & NHL had already played a majority of their season when everything shut down, but both leagues will be concluding their seasons with a few additional regular season games and then the playoffs. I’m not even going to dive into the details because I’m not necessarily sure I even understand all of it, but I will opine that the champions in both sports will aleast be more authentic than whatever goes on in baseball.

 

 

Speaking of NASCAR, I understand why they caved to the PC Police about the Confederate flag, and truly I’m kind of tired of all the arguing. I recognize where we are as a nation, and it’s just not a battle those of us opposed to such pandering & virtue signaling are going to win right now. However, I was disgusted with the whole Bubba Wallace/”noose” controversy. Even after the “noose” was discovered to have been a garage door pulley that had been there for years Wallace & the sports media refused to admit the mistake and doubled down on the whole victim angle, which is pathetic. I hope Wallace enjoyed his 15 minutes of fame, because now he’s back to being a mediocre driver who hasn’t actually won anything.

 

 

Strangely enough I don’t even get ESPN where I am right now, but I’m not sure I mind all that much. The last time I was able to tune in they’d essentially abandoned talking about sports and had gone all in on being “woke”, which isn’t why I watch their programs. And now I find out that The Flagship in Bristol is essentially tossing my man Mike Golic aside in favor of a more diverse morning show starring Keyshawn Johnson. Trust me folks…no one was jonesing for Keyshawn Johnson to get more airtime. It’s just another example of how out of touch ESPN has become. Y’all will recall my deep & abiding affection for Mike & Mike and how upset I was when that show ended, but atleast Golic & Wingo was a reasonably entertaining facsimile. Now there will be absolutely no reason to watch ESPN in the morning. Look, I don’t give a damn about a person’s race or ethnicity. If you’re intelligent, entertaining, & good at your job you have an opportunity to earn my fandom. Mike Golic had done that. Mike Greenberg had done that (although he’s far less tolerable without Golic). I’m not a supporter of change for the sake of change. If ESPN had an ounce of sense they’d reboot Mike & Mike, but sadly that doesn’t seem to be their plan.

Points of Ponderation…..Episode 2.20

A semi-regular attempt to address some of life’s minutiae that might otherwise be overlooked…..

 

 

 

I’ve remained largely silent about COVID-19/Coronavirus and related controversies for many reasons, the most significant of which is both sides usually make some valid points and it’d be futile for me to make anyone angry. The virus is undoubtedly very real, but I also believe it has been overhyped by the media. I’m not sure whether wearing a mask helps all that much, but it does seem like a rather minor ask if in fact it does some good. On the other hand, I understand the thought process about government overreach & infringement of rights. There is no question that it’s a slippery slope, and we seem to be at a critical juncture in our nation’s history. We began to open things up again only to see the number of positive cases spike. Having said that, I’m pretty sure we achieved the goal of “flattening the curve”, and continue to believe that the casualty rate is extremely small…the vast majority of people who contract the virus recover just fine in a couple of weeks. Of course the media will always focus on the saddest outcomes, and in our humanity we understandably don’t want to see one single death that may have been prevented. People are worried about jobs, closure of small businesses, & the economy, but those things feel inconsequential when compared to human life. I don’t know the right answers to any of it, which is why I choose not to involve myself in pointless social media scrums. I have friends with a variety of opinions who I respect & admire, and the truth is that all of this is new for us. We’re just doing the best we can trying to navigate choppy waters while maintaining some semblance of normalcy, and I am willing to extend a certain level of mercy in the midst of it.

 

I recently watched Hamilton, and it lives up to the hype. It’s a unique spin on history, with fantastic performances and beguiling music. Kudos to the folks at Disney+ and whoever else was involved in bringing the show into our homes.

 

 

Five months ago, in the last episode of PoP, I touched on loneliness & communication, and right now that all feels a little bit prescient. I currently find myself going thru another medical crisis, residing somewhere awful and too far from home. I might be here for months, which would be somewhat more tolerable if people who allegedly care about me actually showed it. I told myself the ordeal would be easier this time with smart phones, texting, Facebook Messenger, etc., but to be honest a little over a month into it I can count on one hand the number of folks outside my immediate family who have made any kind of genuine effort to stay in touch. And no, “Get Well” greeting cards don’t count…they’re lazy & outdated. Look, I don’t want pity, and I don’t expect anyone to put their lives on hold for me. Is it difficult to look at social media and see everyone else out enjoying their lives, having fun, going places, and basking in the beautiful sunshine?? Well…yeah, but that’s nobody’s fault. I don’t want anyone else to be miserable. Mark Twain once said “the best way to cheer yourself up is to try to cheer somebody else up”, and I understand the sentiment…but I’m not there yet. One of my favorite movies is Field of Dreams, and near the end of that film the main character says “I did it all. I did what they told me, and not once did I ask what’s in it for me! But now I’m asking what’s in it for me?”. That’s where I am right now. Eventually I’ll physically heal, but I think the mental & emotional scars may last a lot longer, and I’ll remember just how few people reached out, although perhaps my loneliness isn’t necessarily a product of where I am physically afterall.

 

 

 

 

A few thoughts about #BlackLivesMatter…..

  • I have…evolved…on my opinion of the retort #AllLivesMatter. I get it. I understand that such a reply comes across as dismissive. I saw several very good explanations online that clarified it quite well, my favorite being the idea of going to a doctor for a broken arm and they say “all bones matter”. Well, yeah…of course all bones matter, but right now can we focus on the one that’s hurting. Point taken.
  • Having said that, I am not in favor of looting, rioting, & criminal behavior. I feel like there are a lot of well-intentioned people in the #BlackLivesMatter movement whose legit concerns have been hijacked by people just looking to cause chaos & score free stuff, and that’s a shame.
  • While what happened to George Floyd (which sparked all of this insanity) is undeniably tragic, I think political commentator Candace Owens made a salient point: Floyd is probably the wrong person for African-Americans to make a martyr for their genuine issues. I’m not saying his death was right, and I have no doubt justice will be served. However, putting a career criminal who didn’t exactly represent his race all that well on a pedestal seems like it hurts the cause rather than helps it. I was personally offended watching “Reverend” Al Sharpton & thousands of others turn Floyd’s funeral into a televised spectacle, having personally known other families who weren’t allowed to have any kind of visitation after their loved ones recently passed.
  • Speaking of double standards, it also upsets me tremendously that most Americans are expected to practice “social distancing”, aren’t allowed to gather at churches, ballgames, or movie theaters without restrictions, and are constantly admonished about wearing a mask, but “protesters” get a free pass. The hypocrisy is staggering.
  • I’m not a fan of removing monuments & statues, but I am open-minded enough to have an intelligent discussion about it. You honestly have a real opportunity to change my perspective in some cases. However, what I’ll never agree with is the mob mentality of a bunch of people deciding to get together in the dark of night and deface or destroy such structures. Let’s move thru the proper channels and have the citizenry decide each situation in their own town. That’s democracy, and it can be beautiful. When statues of Abraham Lincoln, Ulysses S. Grant, & Frederick Douglass are defaced it lends credence to the idea that all of this isn’t really about black lives anymore.

100 Memorable Movie Characters – The Top 25

“A good film is when the price of the dinner, the theater admission, & the babysitter were worth it.”    –  Alfred Hitchcock

 

 

Y’all thought I’d forgotten, didn’t you?? Waaaayyyyy back at the end of November we presented Part 4 of this series, and then everything just kind of stopped. We didn’t produce as much content during the holidays as usual, and The Sammy Awards were…canceled (for one year only). Then…as y’all are surely aware…the world was thrown into chaos due to the global coronavirus pandemic. And just as we were slowly beginning to emerge from all of that yours truly ran into some old familiar health issues. After a month in the hospital I am currently residing in an even more depressing place. I can think of no better way to pull myself out of the abyss than to reconnect with The Manoverse. For the sake of readability I have decided to break down the Top 25 into two segments. I don’t believe there will be many surprises, but I would love to hear some feedback. Are there any characters I left out?? Who is ranked too high?? Too low?? Keep in mind that I am an 80’s kid, so if you are a decade older or a decade younger some of my choices may not make much sense, but all in all I would stack my list up against any others out on the info superhighway. If you need to catch up or just give yourself a refresher on what we’ve done previously just go here, here, here, & here. Enjoy.

 

 

 

 

 

25     Mickey Mouse (various films)

When we counted down our favorite cartoons a few years ago Mickey placed 10th. However, I feel like he also needs to be included here because he starred in well over 100 short films from 1928-53, as well as about a dozen full length movies. Those films not only introduced a plethora of additional Disney characters to the world (Goofy, Minnie Mouse, Pluto), but they served to etch Mickey into the pop culture consciousness of the first generations of moviegoers. His popularity has endured, and though he is no longer Disney’s biggest star (especially since they’ve expanded their footprint beyond animated movies) Mickey Mouse is still the company’s symbol and the character most associated with it. Three decades would pass between the initial wave of short films and Mickey’s comeback, and since then he has popped up occasionally, although he seems to be more of a television star these days, with any movies he’s in going direct to video.

 

 

 

24     Lt. John McClane (The Die Hard Series)

McClane makes the cut on a technicality. I said at the beginning that we weren’t including Christmas characters like Santa Claus, Ebenezer Scrooge, or George Bailey in this project because we already focused on them a few years ago. Lt. McClane ranked 10th on that particular countdown, but let us not forget that he has been the star of five Die Hard movies, with only the first one being a certified Christmas classic. And while the films that have followed don’t measure up to the original I believe they are good enough (especially the third…1995’s Die Hard With A Vengeance) for John McClane to be included here. I’m not sure it’s fair to call him an underdog, but he does seem to have a knack for finding himself in situations where the odds are stacked against him, and while most normal human beings would fold like a cheap suit under such duress he shines. McClane isn’t a superhero with any kind of special powers…he’s just a regular guy with incredible tenacity and a refreshing wit.

 

Quotes

“Yippie ki yay, motherfucker.”

 

 

23     Kirk, Spock, & Bones (The Star Trek Series)

When we counted down our 100 Memorable TV Characters back in 2018 Captain James T. Kirk & Mister Spock tied for 4th, with Dr. Leonard “Bones” McCoy ranked 24th. However, not only am I a bit more familiar with the Star Trek movies (six were produced featuring the original crew from 1979-91), but I think the dynamics changed a bit. Bones McCoy is even more endearing as a cranky old man. Captain Kirk balances getting older with his ever present fiery passion and the demands of an evolving Starfleet. Spock is infused with a skosh more humanity. The respect & admiration between the three is palpable and works well in balancing out the action sequences. I have enjoyed JJ Abrams’ rebooted Star Trek films to a degree, but they feel like a poor imitation of the original.

 

Quotes

“I don’t like to lose. I don’t believe in the ‘No-Win’ scenario.” (Kirk)

“Are you out of your Vulcan mind? No human can tolerate the radiation that’s in there!” (Bones)

“I have been and ever shall be your friend.” (Spock)

“I haven’t faced death. I’ve cheated death. I’ve tricked my way out of death and patted myself on the back for my ingenuity. I know nothing.” (Kirk)

“It’s bad enough to be court-martialed and to have to spend the rest of our lives mining borite, but to have to go home in this Klingon flea trap!” (Bones)

“Live long and prosper.” (Spock)

“That’s simply the way they talk here. Nobody pays any attention to you unless you swear every other word. You’ll find it in all the literature of the period.” (Kirk)

“This is insane! You’re proposing that we go backwards in time, pick up two humpback whales, bring them forwards in time, drop ’em off and hope they tell this probe what to go do with itself!” (Bones)

“Concentration is vital. You must be one with the rock.” (Spock)

“Forgive you? I ought to knock you on your goddamned ass.” (Kirk)

“Please Captain…not in front of the Klingons.” (Spock)

“God, I liked him better before he died.” (Bones)

“Damn it Bones, you’re a doctor. You know that pain and guilt can’t be taken away with the wave of a magic wand. They’re the things we carry with us, the things that make us who we are. If we lose them, we lose ourselves. I don’t want my pain taken away! I need my pain!” (Kirk)

“The bureaucratic mentality is the only constant in the universe.” (Bones)

“If I were human I believe my response would be…go to Hell.” (Spock)

“This is the final cruise of the Starship Enterprise under my command. This ship and her history will shortly become the care of another crew. To them and their posterity will we commit our future. They will continue the voyages we have begun and journey to all the undiscovered countries, boldly going where no man has gone before.” (Kirk)

 

 

22     Sherlock Holmes (various films)

Sherlock Holmes has been portrayed on film more than any fictional character other than Dracula & Santa Claus, with the three of them trading the lead back & forth as more stories are produced. Going all the way back to silent films Holmes has starred in about four dozen movies, with the most famous probably being the 14 that were produced from 1939-46 with Basil Rathbone portraying the world’s foremost consulting detective. 1985’s Young Sherlock Holmes is a fun adaptation, while I am not keen on the more recent Guy Ritchie films starring Robert Downey Jr. as Holmes. I am a huge fan of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s original short stories & novellas, and don’t believe modern filmmakers do that great of a job in capturing the ambiance & general vibe of the author’s creation. Occasionally they sort of travel in the opposite direction and go for parody. In the case of 1988’s Without a Clue starring Michael Caine it works, while Holmes & Watson with Will Ferrell from a couple of years ago is an abject failure. If Holmes had been consistently portrayed in better movies thru the years it is likely he’d be ranked much higher in this countdown because I adore the character, but it seems like he is far better off on television than on the big screen. Or you could just read the books.

 

Quotes

“No magic, Watson. Pure and simple deduction.”

“The game is afoot!”

“Murder is an insidious thing, Watson. Once a man has dipped his fingers in blood, sooner or later he’ll feel the urge to kill again.”

“A great detective relies on perception, intelligence, and imagination.”

“At the moment I suspect no one and everyone.”

“You’ve a magnificent brain, Moriarty. I admire it. I admire it so much I’d like to present it pickled in alcohol to the London Medical Society.”

“There’s no doubt about it in my mind. Or perhaps I should say, in my imagination. For that’s where crimes are conceived and where they’re solved… in the imagination.”

 

 

 

21     The Wicked Witch of the West (The Wizard of Oz)

I must admit that I have not read the 1995 novel Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West or seen the award winning musical based on that book. However, I grew up loving the 1939 classic, and also enjoyed a 2013 film called Oz the Great and Powerful, a prequel that explores the origin stories of The Wizard, Glenda the Good Witch, & The Wicked Witch. In the prequel the witches are presented as three sisters: Glinda, Evanora, & Theodora, all daughters of the late King of Oz. Evanora is already evil when we meet her…she is the Wicked Witch of the East. It is Evanora who manipulates Theodora into believing that Oscar Diggs…the eventual Wizard of Oz…has screwed her over. Theodora is heartbroken since she has fallen for Oscar, but once she has been convinced of his bad intentions she is easily persuaded by Evanora to eat a magic apple to cure her sadness. Instead the apple turns Theodora into a hideously green witch that completes her transformation, which is really well done thanks to modern special effects. I’m one of those people who rather enjoys a good backstory in a prequel/sequel as long as it is well-written & makes sense. For example, I hate how the newest reboot in the Halloween series dismisses the idea of Michael Myers being Laurie Strode’s brother (a concept presented in 1981’s Halloween II) because I think that relationship made a lot of sense and was a cool twist. Theodora’s conversion into The Wicked Witch of the West is the most interesting part of an otherwise average (at best) movie. But of course it’d be almost impossible to live up to the standard of the original film, when nasty, bike riding, dog hating Almira Gulch becomes The Wicked Witch of the West during a really vivid dream (maybe). In 2003 The Wicked Witch of the West was 4th on the American Film Institute’s list of 50 Greatest Villains, and nearly a century after the movie’s theatrical release the character is still frightening children of all ages.

 

Quotes

“I’ll get you, my pretty, and your little dog too!”

“I’m melting! Melting!”

 

 

20     Captain Quint (Jaws)

Every sequel that followed Spielberg’s 1975 original failed in one way or another. There are a ton of reasons for those disappointments, but maybe one explanation could be the absence of Robert Shaw as shark hunter Quint. Before co-starring in Jaws Shaw had already been nominated for a Best Supporting Actor Oscar in 1966, although her lost to Walter Matthau. Shaw had also found great fame & success after co-starring with Sean Connery in the second James Bond film From Russia with Love. He was reluctant to sign on for Jaws because he didn’t particularly care for Peter Benchley’s novel, but ultimately was persuaded to take the role and we’re all better off for that. Jaws is one of the few examples where the movie is exponentially better than the book, and Shaw’s performance is a key factor. Quint’s haunting speech about the 1945 sinking of the USS Indianapolis might be one of the greatest monologues on film, and his death scene is epic.

 

Quotes

“Here lies the body of Mary Lee, died at the age of 103. For fifteen years she kept her virginity. Not a bad record for this vicinity.”

“I’ll catch this bird for you, but it ain’t gonna be easy. Bad fish! Not like going down to the pond and chasing bluegills & tommycods. This shark, swallow ya whole. Little shakin’, little tenderizin’, down you go. And we gotta do it quick, that’ll bring back the tourists, that’ll put all your businesses on a payin’ basis. But it’s not gonna be pleasant! I value my neck a lot more than $3000, Chief. I’ll find him for three, but I’ll catch him, and kill him, for ten. But you’ve gotta make up your minds. If you want to stay alive, then ante up. If you want to play it cheap, be on welfare the whole winter. I don’t want no volunteers, I don’t want no mates, there’s too many captains on this island. $10,000 for me by myself. For that you get the head, the tail, the whole damn thing.”

“1100 men went into the water. Vessel went down in 12 minutes. Didn’t see the first shark for about half an hour. A tiger, 13 footer – you know how you know that when you’re in the water, Chief? You tell by lookin’ from the dorsal to the tail. What we didn’t know was our bomb mission had been so secret, no distress signal had been sent. They didn’t even list us overdue for a week. Very first light, Chief, sharks come cruisin’. So we formed ourselves into tight groups. And the idea was, the shark comes to the nearest man and he starts poundin’ & hollerin’ & screamin’. Sometimes the shark go away… sometimes he wouldn’t go away. Sometimes that shark, he looks right into your eyes. Y’know, the thing about a shark, he’s got lifeless eyes, black eyes, like a doll’s eyes. When he comes after ya, he doesn’t seem to be livin’ until he bites ya, and those black eyes roll over white, and then… aww, then you hear that terrible, high-pitched screamin’, the ocean turns red, and in spite of all the poundin’ and the hollerin’, they all come in and… rip ya to pieces. You know, by the end of that first dawn, we lost a hundred men. I don’t know how many sharks, maybe a thousand. I don’t know how many men. They averaged six an hour. Noon the fifth day, Mr. Hooper, a Lockheed Ventura saw us. He swung in low and he saw us. He was a young pilot, a lot younger than Mr. Hooper. Anyway, he saw us and he come in low and three hours later, a big fat PBY comes down and start to pick us up. You know, that was the time I was most frightened – waitin’ for my turn. I’ll never put on a life jacket again. So, 1100 men went in the water, 316 come out, and the sharks took the rest, June 29th, 1945. Anyway, we delivered the bomb.”

 

 

19     Lt. Col. Frank Slade (Scent of a Woman)

Al Pacino has been nominated for nine Academy Awards, but his only win came as a result of portraying blind, angry, & suicidal retired Army officer Frank Slade. While The Godfather, Glengarry Glen Ross, and others might be better films, there’s little doubt that Slade is Pacino’s best performance. He carries an otherwise pedestrian movie on his back, chewing enough scenery along the way to feed a small village.

 

Quotes

“Women! What could you say? Who made ’em? God must have been a genius. The hair…they say the hair is everything, you know. Have you ever buried your nose in a mountain of curls…just wanted to go to sleep forever? Or lips… and when they touched, yours were like…that first swallow of wine after you just crossed the desert.”

“You got integrity Charlie. I don’t know whether to shoot you or adopt you.”

“I’m just gettin’ warmed up! I don’t know who went to this place, William Howard Taft, William Jennings Bryan, William Tell, whoever. Their spirit is dead; if they ever had one, it’s gone. You’re building a rat ship here, a vessel for sea-going snitches. And if you think you’re preparing these minnows for manhood, you better think again. Because I say you are killing the very spirit this institution proclaims it instills! What a sham! What kind of show are you guys puttin’ on here today? I mean, the only class in this act is sittin’ next to me. And I’m here to tell you, this boy’s soul is intact. It’s non-negotiable. You don’t know what out of order is Mr. Trask. I’d show you, but I’m too old, I’m too tired, I’m too fuckin’ blind. If I were the man I was five years ago, I’d take a FLAMETHROWER to this place! Out of order?! Who the hell you think you’re talking to?! I’ve been around, you know? There was a time I could see! And I have seen…boys like these, younger than these, their arms torn out, their legs ripped off! But there is nothing like the sight of an amputated spirit. There is no prosthetic for that. You think you’re merely sending this splendid foot-soldier back home to Oregon with his tail between his legs, but I say you are executing his soul! And why? Because he’s not a “Baird man”. Baird men. You hurt this boy, you’re going to be Baird bums, the lot of ya.”

 

 

18     Inspector Clouseau (The Pink Panther Series)

When I was a kid The Pink Panther was an animated pitchman for insulation. It wasn’t until I was a little older that I discovered the film series starring Peter Sellers as a hopelessly inept French detective who obliviously wreaks havoc everywhere he goes. Sellers starred in a half dozen Panther movies, with Alan Arkin, Steve Martin, & Roger Moore taking on the role in other offerings that should be mostly ignored. By far the best of the lot is 1964’s A Shot in the Dark, which finds Clouseau investigating the murder of an elderly millionaire’s chauffeur. Sellers had a long & successful career that included multiple Academy Award nominations and Golden Globe wins, but his greatest legacy is Clouseau.

 

Quotes

“Facts! Nothing matters but the facts. Without them the science of criminal investigation is nothing more than a guessing game.”

I believe everything and I believe nothing. I suspect everyone and I suspect no one.”

“We must accelerate out training program. You must learn to attack me whenever and wherever I least expect it. And you, you must give no quarter.

“You fool! You have broken my pointing stick! I have nothing to point with now!”

 

 

17     Harry Potter (The Harry Potter Series)

Millennials are freaking out right now because they think I’ve ranked their beloved cinematic hero way too low. Well, okay…you are entitled to your opinion. However, let me clarify a couple of things. First of all, I am slightly older, so I didn’t experience Potter-mania during my formative youth. It took me a few years to jump on the bandwagon and I was about 30 years old. Secondly, I don’t think the movies even approach the brilliance of the books. Having said that, there is no denying that The Boy Who Lived and the world that was created around him have had a huge impact on pop culture in the past two decades. When author JK Rowling signed a movie deal in 1999 a seven month search to cast the title role ended when producers discovered 11 year old Daniel Radcliffe, and it turned out to be a brilliant choice. It cannot be an easy task to bring a literary icon to life, especially for such a young kid. That’s a heavy responsibility. Fortunately Radcliffe was up to the challenge and an entire generation couldn’t imagine anyone else as Harry. Thru eight films over the course of a decade we watch him grow from a scared & confused young lad to a confident & brave teenager who ultimately defeats Lord Voldemort and saves the entire wizarding world. Contrary to some religious folks who stay away from Harry Potter and its sorcery I see a lot of very spiritual themes in the story, not the least of which is good triumphing over evil.

 

Quotes

“He was their friend, and he betrayed them. HE WAS THEIR FRIEND! I hope he finds me cause when he does I’m gonna be ready! When he does, I’m gonna kill him!”

“I didn’t put my name in that cup. I don’t want eternal glory.”

“Working hard is important. But there is something that matters even more…believing in yourself. Think of it this way; every great wizard in history has started out as nothing more than what we are now: students. If they can do it, why not us?”

 

 

16     Ferris Bueller (Ferris Bueller’s Day Off)

Movies & TV shows set in high school are a tried & true entertainment staple, and frequently feature a character who is popular with everyone except the principal, is enviably cool & charming, thumbs their nose at authority, and gets away with all sorts of hijinks. However, I submit to you that every other character in that mold is a poor imitation of Chicago’s own Ferris Bueller, who takes his girlfriend Sloane & morose best pal Cameron on the ultimate Senior Skip Day, all while his clueless parents think he’s at home sick in bed. The only people who are onto the young scalawag are his cynical sister Jeannie and Ed Rooney, the hapless principal. Ferris Bueller, as embodied by young Matthew Broderick, isn’t particularly cool or sexy, like the stereotypical jock you see in too many movies. He isn’t the formulaic nerd. Neither his popularity with students nor the reasons for Rooney’s disdain are explored deeply because it doesn’t matter…we take those things at face value and just enjoy the kind of innocent adventure we all wish we could have had when we were that age.

 

Quotes

“Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”

 

 

 

15     Khan Noonien Singh (Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan)

Khan first appeared on a Season 1 episode of TOS called “Space Seed”, during which The Enterprise stumbles upon a ship full of Earthlings in suspended animation. Khan is a genetically engineered superhuman with evil intentions, but his plan is foiled by Captain Kirk and he is exiled on a remote planet. Fifteen years later Khan & Kirk battled on the big screen in what most believe to be the best Trek film. In between actor Ricardo Montalban had moved on to his most famous role as Mr. Roarke on ABC’s Fantasy Island from 1980-85, but Trekkies everywhere are glad he revisited the role of Khan. The odd combination of Khan’s superior strength & warrior mentality and Montalban’s suave Mexican accent, as well as his fondness for quoting Moby Dick, serve to make the character that much more memorable,

 

Quotes

“Ceti Alpha VI exploded six months after we were left here. The shock shifted the orbit of this planet, and everything was laid waste. Admiral Kirk never bothered to check on our progress! It was only the fact of my genetically-engineered intellect that allowed us to survive.”

“I’ve done far worse than kill you. I’ve hurt you, and I wish to go on hurting you. I shall leave you as you left me, as you left her…marooned for all eternity in the center of a dead planet, buried alive.”

“He tasks me. He tasks me, and I shall have him. I’ll chase him round the Moons of Nibia and round the Antares Maelstrom and round Perdition’s flames before I give him up!”

 

 

14     Don Vito Corleone (The Godfather & The Godfather Part II)

One of the more interesting bits of Academy Awards trivia is that Don Corleone is one of only two characters that won awards for different actors. Marlon Brando won Best Actor in 1972 for the original Godfather, while Robert DeNiro won Best Supporting Actor for his turn as young Vito in the 1974 sequel (Heath Ledger &  Joaquin Phoenix.achieved similar acclaim portraying The Joker). Brando was the top choice of the novel’s author Mario Puzo to portray Don Corleone, although the film studio preferred Ernest Borgnine, George C. Scott, Orson Welles, or Anthony Quinn (thank God Puzo prevailed). Brando famously stuck cotton balls in his cheeks and put shoe polish in his hair to darken it, which is the kind of small quirk that helps a character stand out. The Godfather and The Godfather Part II are both nearly flawless films, with Brando & DeNiro’s interpretations of Vito Corleone a huge reason why

 

Quotes

“Why did you go to the police? Why didn’t you come to me first? We’ve known each other many years, but this is the first time you ever came to me for counsel or for help. I can’t remember the last time that you invited me to your house for a cup of coffee, even though my wife is godmother to your only child. But let’s be frank here. You never wanted my friendship and you were afraid to be in my debt. You found paradise in America, you had a good trade. You made a good living, the police protected you, and there were courts of law. You didn’t need a friend like me. But, now you come to me, and you say: “Don Corleone, give me justice.” But you don’t ask with respect. You don’t offer friendship. You don’t even think to call me Godfather. Instead, you come into my house on the day my daughter is to be married, and you ask me to do murder for money. What have I ever done to make you treat me so disrespectfully? If you’d come to me in friendship, then that scum that ruined your daughter would be suffering this very day. And if by chance an honest man like yourself should make enemies, then they would become my enemies. And then they would fear you.”

“Someday…and that day may never come…I’ll call upon you to do a service for me. But until that day, accept this justice as a gift on my daughter’s wedding day.”

“I want no inquiries made. I want no acts of vengeance. I want you to arrange a meeting with the heads of the Five Families. This war stops now.”

“I’m gonna make him an offer he can’t refuse.”

“I want you to use all your powers, and all your skills. I don’t want his mother to see him this way. Look how they massacred my boy.”

“I have a lot of friends in politics, but they wouldn’t be friendly very long if they knew my business was drugs instead of gambling, which they regard as a harmless vice. But drugs is a dirty business.”

“I spent my whole life trying not to be careless. Women & children can afford to be careless, but not men.”

“Tattaglia’s a pimp. He never could’ve outfought Santino, but I didn’t know until this day that it was Barzini all along.”

“I never wanted this for you. I worked my whole life…I don’t apologize…to take care of my family. And I refused to be a fool dancing on a string held by all of those big shots. I don’t apologize. That’s my life, but I thought that when it was your time, that you would be the one to hold the strings. Senator Corleone. Governor Corleone. Something. There wasn’t enough time, Michael. Wasn’t enough time.”

“I have a sentimental weakness for my children, and I spoil them, as you can see. They talk when they should listen.”

 

 

13     Dracula & Frankenstein (various films)

I don’t have children and don’t pay all that much attention to Halloween or trick-or-treat, but I know that trends in costumes vary annually based on who’s in the news and what pop culture is offering. However, I’m willing to bet that Dracula & Frankenstein still sell their fair share of costumes each year no matter what the most popular characters du jour happen to be. Both novels are fantastic, and if you are so inclined I always encourage people to read them. Mary Shelley published Frankenstein in 1818, while Bram Stoker wrote Dracula in 1897. Most probably have a general idea of what the stories are about so I’ll spare you a rehash. Dracula has appeared in atleast 200 movies since the 1920’s, everything from straightforward adaptations of the book to comedic parodies like 1979’s Love at First Bite to animated fare. My favorites are the 1931 Dracula starring Bela Lugosi, which is fairly mild in comparison to modern horror films, and Abbott & Costello Meet Frankenstein (they meet Dracula too), which is the kind of comedic scary entertainment I gravitate toward every October. Frankenstein has been featured in dozens of films since the Silent Era, with my favorites being the 1931 Frankenstein with Boris Karloff, the aforementioned Abbott & Costello spoof, and Mel Brooks’ 1974 hilarious classic Young Frankenstein.

 

Quotes

“Listen to them. Children of the night. What music they make.” (Dracula)

“You are too late. My blood now flows through her veins. She will live through the centuries to come, as I have lived.” (Dracula)

“To die, to be really dead, that must be glorious! There are far worse things awaiting man than death.” (Dracula)

“For as long as I can remember, people have hated me. They looked at my face and my body and they ran away in horror. In my loneliness I decided that if I could not inspire love, which was my deepest hope, I would instead cause fear. I live because this poor, half-crazed genius has given me life. He alone held an image of me as something beautiful. And then, when it would have been easy enough to stay out of danger, he used his own body as a guinea pig to give me a calmer brain and a somewhat more sophisticated way of expressing myself.” (Frankenstein)

 

 

12     Han Solo, Princess Leia, & Luke Skywalker (The Star Wars Trilogy)

I know, I know…it’s a cop-out to tie these three. Guilty as charged. Having said that, I don’t see any way around it. If the prequels & sequels taught us anything it’s that we needed this trio…all three of them…together. They each bring something a little different to the table, and it takes all of them to bring peace to a galaxy far far away. It’s a damn shame that the idiots at Disney squandered an opportunity to bring them together again, and now that chance is lost forever.

 

Quotes

“Help me, Obi-Wan Kenobi. You’re my only hope.” (Princess Leia)

“It’s the ship that made the Kessel run in less than twelve parsecs.” (Han Solo)

“I’ll never turn to the dark side. You’ve failed, your highness. I am a Jedi, like my father before me.” (Luke Skywalker)

“Somebody has to save our skins. Into the garbage chute, flyboy.” (Princess Leia)

“Never tell me the odds!” (Han Solo)

“I won’t fail you. I’m not afraid.” (Luke Skywalker)

“You know, sometimes I amaze even myself.” (Han Solo)

 

 

11     Willy Wonka (Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory)

Author Roald Dahl published Charlie & the Chocolate Factory in 1964, with the film adaptation arriving less than a decade later. Dahl helped write the screenplay but didn’t like the finished product for a variety of reasons. One of those reasons can be found in the title. The movie focuses much more on Wonka than it does the book’s main protagonist, 11 year old Charlie Bucket. One can only guess why such a change was made, but one factor may have been the casting of Gene Wilder, a known entity who had been nominated for an Oscar just a couple of years before. Wilder portrays Wonka in such a way that the viewer isn’t quite sure what to think. Is he crazy, or harmlessly eccentric?? Is he clueless, or does he know exactly what he’s doing?? We concede that he’s a bit odd, but we like him anyway, and that’s important. Characters like Willie Wonka are tricky, especially thru the prism of modern sensibilities when we’re taught to be somewhat wary of certain types of weirdos, but Wilder pulls it off. It’s a shame Dahl was so displeased with the film because it prevented the sequel…Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator…from being made, and it would’ve been cool to see Gene Wilder get a second opportunity to bring Willy Wonka to life.

 

Quotes

“If you want to view paradise, simply look around and view it. Anything you want to, do it. Want to change the world… there’s nothing to it.”

“A little nonsense now and then is relished by the wisest men.”

“We are the music makers, and we are the dreamers of dreams.”

 

 

 

Stay tuned for the Top 10…coming…soon-ish.

The 30 Day Song Challenge – Part 2

“If I were not a physicist I would probably be a musician. I often think in music. I live my daydreams in music. I see my life in terms of music.” ― Albert Einstein

 

 

Y’all may have noticed that I hadn’t written anything in this space for a few months until now. I don’t put a lot of my business out there to the masses for many reasons, not the least of which is I don’t expect pity from anyone. However, let me just say that I’m going thru a rough time at the moment and will be on the proverbial shelf until well into the autumn. I have no doubt that I will heal physically, despite many misgivings about my medical care and lack of trust in caregiving personnel. The bigger battle is mental & emotional. I must admit that my faith is shaken and I’ve been questioning many of my beliefs. Having said that, I am fortunate to have access to technology, so with the helpful distraction of movies, TV, books, & social media, life affirming therapy of music, and the catharsis of writing perhaps I can muddle thru without descending into madness. If you haven’t perused Part 1 of this list please do so now. We’ll leave the light on for you.

 

 

 

 

 

16     A song that’s a classic favorite…

The Sky is Crying (Stevie Ray Vaughan)

I have to tell y’all, I’ve had a really difficult time with this one. What is meant by classic?? Classic(al)?? Classic rock?? An old familiar standard?? I have no idea. So, when in doubt I make my own rules. In this case I’m going to interpret the instruction as anything older than 25 years, which still leaves a lot of grey area. I began to think of all my favorite performers and eliminating those who’ve already snagged a spot here, which narrows things down a bit. It occurs to me that my affection for jazz & blues is vastly underrepresented, and we can’t have that. Elmore James first recorded The Sky is Crying in 1959, and since then it has been covered by a plethora of legendary artists, including Eric Clapton, Albert King, & George Thorogood. However, my favorite version was recorded in 1984 by Stevie Ray Vaughan, and SRV’s untimely demise in 1990 at the age of 35 makes it even more poignant.

 

 

17     A song that you’d sing a duet with someone at karaoke…

Islands in the Stream (Kenny Rogers & Dolly Parton)

There is a gal. It’s a total fantasy because she’s way out of my league, but I do know she can sing, so never say never. I don’t even know her all that well, but I do know she’s so much more than a pretty face…she’s smart, talented, passionate about her beliefs, dedicated to her family & her job, has been thru trials & pain only to retain the prettiest smile I’ve ever seen, and seeks to make the world a better place. How can one not be robustly impressed by all that?? At any rate, Kenny Rogers passed away not long ago and I began to revisit some of his stuff. I’d forgotten how good this song is and have been grooving to it occasionally. It was written by the Bee Gees for Marvin Gaye, but for some reason that didn’t work out, so Rogers & Parton recorded it and score a #1 hit in 1983. The title is borrowed from a 1970 Ernest Hemingway novel.

 

 

18     A song from the year you were born…

Peaceful Easy Feeling & Take It Easy (The Eagles)

I just can’t choose one over the other. Actually there are probably a dozen songs I could have picked…it was that great of a year (in music – not just because I was born), but The Eagles are one of my favorite groups of all time, and I really enjoy both tunes.

 

 

19     A song that makes you think about life…

Simple Man (Lynyrd Skynyrd)

I lost my Mom twenty years ago, so it touches my heart to hear a guy singing about advice his mother once gave him. It’s good counsel too: take your time, trouble will pass, God, the love of a good woman, live simply. It really is a brilliant song.

 

 

20     A song that has many meanings to you…

Born in the USA (Bruce Springsteen)

Springsteen is a died-in-the-wool leftist who I probably wouldn’t agree with on much, and he meant the song as an anti-war anthem. Much to his dismay (I assume) it has been hijacked as a patriotic call-to-arms. I was in college during The Gulf War, and I recall a bunch of commies holding a demonstration complete with fake blood (amateurs). I was young & enthusiastic and joined a group of patriotic counter-protesters shouting “USA!! USA!!”. Then my friend Doug showed up waving a huge American flag with…you guessed it…Born in the USA blaring out of his car stereo. I’m at the point in my life now where I have zero desire to protest anything, but damn that’s a great memory.

 

 

21     A song you like with a person’s name in the title…

My Cherie Amour (Stevie Wonder)

I’ve recently rediscovered Stevie Wonder and really appreciate his pipes. There are tons of songs with a person’s name in the title, but Cherie is a rather unique name and the song is fantastic.

 

 

22     A song that moves you forward…

Don’t Look Back (Boston)

Moving forward is a rather vague phrase, right?? On top of that, I have felt like I am treading water for more years than I care to admit, so I’ve chosen to look at the instruction almost literally, invoking its spirit even if I haven’t exactly followed thru in my own life. I had an opportunity to see Boston in concert right after I graduated from college, and it’s a memory I cherish.

 

 

23     A song you think everyone should listen to…

The Saga Begins (Weird Al Yankovic)

I’m a fan of parody songs and Weird Al is the master. The Star Wars prequel trilogy is something many movie fans would prefer to forget, but atleast it gave us this tune…one of Yankovic’s best in my opinion.

 

 

24     A song by a band you wish were still together…

When It’s Love (Van Halen)

I got to see Van Halen on their Balance tour in the mid-90’s, not too long before Sammy Hagar & the brothers Van Halen had a falling out. More than two decades later we’re still waiting for a reunion that seems more & more unlikely. There are atleast a dozen hits by the band that could go in this slot, but this is probably my favorite.

 

 

25     A song you like by an artist who is no longer living…

Ain’t That a Kick in the Head (Dean Martin)

I love The Rat Pack and would have enjoyed seeing them in The Copa Room at The Sands in Vegas back in the day. Perhaps I was just born in the wrong era. Anyway, I have to give some love to Dino and one of his more upbeat tunes.

 

 

26     A song that makes you want to fall in love…

Everything (Michael Buble)

I have to give a shout out to my former co-worker JZ for introducing me to…as I call him…Michael Bubbly many years ago. She knew of my fondness for Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr., et al, and Buble first came to prominence by re-introducing the masses to that kind of music. Everything was a #1 adult contemporary hit in 2008. I hope to meet a woman that fits the song someday.

 

 

27     A song that breaks your heart…

Angel Flying to Close to the Ground (Willie Nelson)

My father used to listen to country music when I was a child, and it was vastly different than what is presented as country music today. I’m not a fan of either incarnation, and classic country is kind of what gave the genre it’s bad reputation for being all about things like death, divorce, & other depressing topics. But say what you want about songs by Merle Haggard, George Jones, Loretta Lynn, & Johnny Cash…atleast they had a soul and told stories, unlike today’s cookie cutter pretty boys who only know how to sing about drinking beer and chasing women. At any rate, I have to give credit to my old friend The Owl for introducing me to this song. He lived it and felt it in his bones. It’s a beautiful tune about a guy rescuing a damsel in distress only to have her leave him for someone else. It might be the most true-to-life song ever written.

 

 

28     A song by an artist whose voice you love…

Ask the Lonely (Journey)

Debates about the best voice in rock n’ roll are always delightful fun, and there really is no right answer. However, former Journey frontman Steve Perry has to be in the discussion. The band may have more well-known hits like Lovin’, Touchin’ Squeezin’ and the ubiquitous Don’t Stop Believin’, but let’s give some love to Ask the Lonely. You may be unfamiliar unless you’re one of the half dozen people who saw the 1983 John Travolta/Olivia Newton-John film Two of a Kind, on the soundtrack of which the song was released.

 

 

29     A song you remember from your childhood…

We Are Family (Sister Sledge)

I’m a huge sports nut, and in 1979 my Pittsburgh Pirates were actually a good baseball team. So good, in fact, that they won the World Series. The team’s theme song that year was this tune, and that’s how I’ll always remember it.

 

 

30     A song that comforts your soul…

It Is Well with My Soul (4Him)

I’m pretty old-fashioned when it comes to hymns. I usually prefer them just how they appear in the church hymnal and don’t particularly like modern interpretations by Christian rock groups. However, I’m also a sucker for powerful harmony, so I absolutely adore this version of the song.

The 30 Day Song Challenge – Part 1

Y’all know I’m a rebel, right?? You also know that on previous occasions I have been inspired by things I see on social media. I saw this challenge on Facebook awhile back and immediately knew it was something I wanted to dive into. However, not only do I not have the patience to post a different song every day for an entire month, but I also didn’t want to be flippant in my answers…I feel like it is important to provide context. I have been listening to a lot of music the past few months, so I’ve taken some time to really ponder my responses. I have added the extra stipulation…just as a fun obstacle for myself…that no artist can have more than one song (although there is one exception to that rule). I could do this challenge several more times and choose totally different songs, but I’m pretty satisfied with the list presented. Enjoy.  

 

 

 

 

1       A song you like with a color in the title…

Purple Rain (Prince)

I have to be honest…I was never a huge Prince fan when I was a kid & he was popular. It wasn’t until I grew up that I really understood the depth of his talent. His performance at the Super Bowl halftime show in 2007 is certainly one of the best ever. In 1984 the film Purple Rain was released in theaters, but let’s be real…all anyone remembers about that movie is Prince’s love interest Apollonia Kotero appearing topless, which 12 year old Me was rather psyched about. The song is much more memorable. There are dozens of tunes with a color in the title, but this one popped into my head almost immediately.

 

 

2       A song you like with a number in the title…

1812 Overture (Tchaikovsky)

Countless songs come to mind. I could pick any of several dozen tunes, but I’ve chosen to go off the beaten path. It seems odd that a song written over 120 years ago to commemorate a Russian military victory could become a staple of America’s celebration of independence, but it is one of my favorite moments every July 4th, especially when played by the Boston Pops. The song is about 16 minutes long, and I encourage everyone to enjoy every single second of it.

 

 

3       A song that reminds you of summertime…

Summer Wind (Frank Sinatra)

Ol’ Blue Eyes!! Summer is my favorite season, and there is no shortage of songs out there that symbolize it in various ways. Having said that, one can’t go wrong listening to The Chairman croon about painted kites, golden sand, & a blue umbrella sky.

 

 

4       A song that reminds you of someone you’d rather forget…

Bad Bad Leroy Brown (Jim Croce)

This one is really difficult for me because I associate music with happiness & good memories, and I’m not sure I even bother to connect music with people I don’t like. However, after much ponderation I did recall a funny story. About two decades ago I spent seven years as a supervisor at a teleservices company. We always played music during the call session, and then we’d turn up the volume at break time. One day a busybody from the corporate office was lurking and questioned whether or not Bad Bad Leroy Brown was “call center appropriate” because of the lyric “baddest man in the whole damn town”. The company liked to represent itself as having “Christian values”, although in my experience that wasn’t exactly true. At any rate, I am a Christian myself but far from a prude, so I found her opinion laughable. I wonder what she would have thought had she heard us playing Brick House by The Commodores (which was a regular part of the rotation)?? I have more than one reason to dislike this person, but the Leroy Brown story fits the present criteria just fine.

 

 

5       A song that needs to be played loud…

Paradise by the Dashboard Light (Meat Loaf)

I have a lot of great college memories, especially when it comes to Greek life. Paradise was kind of an unofficial theme song for one of the sororities on campus, and things always got a little bit rowdy when the song came on. Meat Loaf enjoyed a brief career renaissance in the early 90’s, so I suppose that was part of it too.

 

 

6       A song that makes you want to dance…

Gimme Some Lovin’ (The Blues Brothers)

Forgive me, but another college story. This is our fraternity’s unofficial theme song, accompanied by a well-choreographed dance (always sublimely performed once we were…comfortably numb) and a bawdy post-dance chant that I cannot repeat within the family friendly confines of The Manofesto.

 

 

7       A song to drive to…

I Can’t Drive ‘55 (Sammy Hagar)

Has it aged well?? I don’t know. Certainly driving 55MPH seems like a quaint idea in these days of 65/70 miles per hour speed limits. But when the song was released way back in 1984 exceeding 55MPH seemed cool & edgy. Actually Sammy Hagar could easily update it to I Can’t Drive ’85 and wouldn’t have to change anything else.

 

 

8       A song about drugs/alcohol…

Cocaine (Eric Clapton)

I have never been into drugs myself with the exception of a few adventures with weed, and my drunken frat boy days are way in the rear view mirror. However, there are a ton of superb songs about such activities, and this one immediately sprang to mind. Clapton is truly one of the all-time greats.

 

 

9       A song that makes you happy…

Footloose (Kenny Loggins)

I can’t dance myself, but how can one not love a snappy tune that just makes you want to shake your groove thing?? If I’m in my vehicle and Footloose comes on the radio I’m turning up the volume and rockin’ out, and I’m not shutting off the engine ‘til the song is over.

 

 

10     A song that makes you sad…

I Will Always Love You (Whitney Houston)

I’m a sucker for a good romance. 1992’s The Bodyguard starred not only one of my favorite actors in Kevin Costner, but was the film debut of songstress Whitney Houston, a longtime teenage crush. Houston was enchanting, and her premature death devastating. At any rate, for The Bodyguard she remade what had originally been a hit for Dolly Parton in the early 70’s. I am a person who is always rooting for the guy & girl to end up together at the end, so a song about things not quite working out makes me sad anyway. Add in Whitney Houston’s haunting rendition of the song and her tragic demise and…well…I’m a little verklempt.

 

 

11     A song you never tire of…

Leave a Tender Moment Alone (Billy Joel)

I’m a huge Billy Joel fan, so I could listen to practically his entire catalogue all day every day. However, given the task of choosing just one song things become clear. Joel’s vocals are so good on this tune, and my heart longs to meet a gal that can make me feel what he expresses.

 

 

12     A song from your preteen years…

Billie Jean (Michael Jackson)

No one was bigger than Michael Jackson in the 1980’s. Billie Jean was released in January 1983, before I turned 11 years old. It was a catchy song with a cool video, and that spring Jackson performed the song on a Motown TV special, introducing the masses to The Moonwalk. My childhood was full of pop culture moments like that.

 

 

13     A song you like from the 70’s…

Somebody to Love (Queen)

I almost hate broad questions like this. Can you narrow it down for me?? The 70’s were such a great decade for music, so it’s hard to make a definitive choice. Using my own self-directed parameters makes things a little easier, and I feel like I really need to include a song from Queen. You can have Bohemian Rhapsody, We Are the Champions, & We Will Rock You (all fine songs…don’t misunderstand)…for my money it doesn’t get much better than this. Queen’s combination of beautiful lead vocals by Freddie Mercury, impeccable musicianship, and melodic harmonies is unmatched in rock music.

 

 

14     A song you’d love to be played at your wedding…

Now & Forever (Richard Marx) & From This Moment On (Shania Twain)

I can’t choose just one. I suppose one could be played during the ceremony and the other as a first dance, although to be honest I’ve never been enamored with the whole idea of a bride & groom’s first dance for obvious reasons. Anyway, I think both songs are perfect for such an occasion.

 

 

15     A song you like that’s a cover from another artist…

To Make You Feel My Love (Garth Brooks)

About a year ago I was laid up in the hospital and kind of tired of television (the more things change…yada yada yada), so I began listening to a lot of music via the Amazon Music app on my phone. I’m not a country music guy, but I do enjoy some Garth Brooks and stumbled onto this one, much to my everlasting pleasure. What I didn’t know until later was that Brooks recorded the cover in 1998…the original had been written by Bob Dylan a year or so earlier, and even though it was on one of his albums he never released it as a single. A few months before Dylan’s album dropped my man Billy Joel recorded the song for his Greatest Hits Volume III. As much as I love Billy Joel I have to say that I enjoy the Garth Brooks version better.

 

 

 

This feel like an appropriate time to take a break. Stay tuned for Part 2!