Hard Covid Christmas

Normally I take pride in having mostly decent taste in various things…music, books, movies, etc. Having said that, we all have our guilty pleasures, right?? For me one such private shame is the 1982 film The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas. I attribute my affection to two things: 1) Burt Reynolds, who at the time was the biggest movie star in the world and had starred in other movies I enjoyed like Smokey & The Bandit, Hooper, and The Cannonball Run, and 2) boobs, which were enticing to my pre-pubescent brain. Now y’all know I’m not a fan of country music, but it’s not all bad, and this particular movie had a song called Hard Candy Christmas that became a Top 10 hit for Dolly Parton. For some strange reason (I’ve given up trying to understand my weirdness and just go with it) the song popped into my head recently and I’ve decided it needs a timely parody. Enjoy.

 

 

Hey, maybe I’ll wash my hands

Maybe I’ll cancel plans

Maybe I’ll get in the car

And just sit in the driveway eating a snack

Cause to the office I can’t go back

 

Maybe I’ll sleep real late

I’ll definitely gain some weight

Maybe I’ll just get drunk

I’ll probably eat junk food & binge watch TV

I guess I’ll practice…

 

Social distancing

Lord, it’s like a hard Covid Christmas

I need more info about contact tracing

But still I won’t let

Fauci bring me way down

 

I’ll refrain from panic buying

Lord, it’s like a hard Covid Christmas

I’m barely leaving the house

And when I do

We’ll keep six feet apart

 

Hey, haven’t we flattened the curve

I think big hugs are what we deserve

Maybe I’ll shop on Amazon

Maybe I’ll put my mask on my face

No one wants to be a positive case

 

I’m trying not to get down

But I wish I could leave town

I know I’m not having fun

Maybe I’ll see if I can meet someone online

I guess I’ll stay away…

 

From super spreaders

Lord, it’s like a hard Covid Christmas

Atleast I’ve got some toilet paper

And I’m thankful for

Contactless delivery

 

Thank God I’m asymptomatic

Lord, it’s like a hard Covid Christmas

I’m really sick of quarantine

I never thought I’d live

Thru a global pandemic

It’s Beginning to Look Alot Like Covid

Citizens of The Manoverse may recall that I enjoy a good parody song, and while I’ll never approach the skill level of Weird Al Yankovic or country crooner Ray Stevens there are occasional moments of inspiration. An old axiom says that sometimes we have to laugh to keep from crying, and I have been quite amused by some of the more creative merriment that has grown out of this global pandemic we have been battling since last spring, so much so that I decided to marry that train of thought with my fondness of parody and love of Christmas carols. I don’t assume the end result is all that memorable, but perhaps it will provide a chuckle or two in the midst of a stressful day, which is all I can really ask. Allow me to give a shout out to composer Robert Meredith Willson, who wrote It’s Beginning to Look Alot Like Christmas in 1951, and Perry Como, who sang the most popular rendition. I seek not to steal their idea, only to borrow & pay homage to it.

 

 

It’s beginning to look alot like Covid

Everywhere you can’t go

Take a look at the emergency room, full of doom & gloom

With shortness of breath and runny noses all aflow

 

It’s beginning to look alot like Covid

Locks on every store

And the only sight to see is a view of the street

From your own front door

 

An N95 mask & hazard pay

Are what essential employees want to assist

Toilet paper & hand sanitizer

Top nearly every grocery list

While Mom & Dad can hardly wait for home schooling to desist

 

It’s beginning to look alot like Covid

Everywhere you can’t go

Social distancing is a thing, unless you are protesting

No church, no weddings, no funerals, & no shows

 

It’s beginning to look alot like Covid

Soon a new year will start

But the thing that’ll change the scene is a brand new vaccine

Until then we must remain six feet apart

 

It’s beginning to look a lot like Covid

No crowds anywhere

And the coolest thing will be when each other we can see

Back in the public square

Y’all know what needs cut?? My hair!!

The 30 Day Film Challenge – Part 2

“Film is one of three universal languages, along with mathematics & music.” – Frank Capra

 

 

My original intention was to post this a few days ago, but stuff happens…like having a big chunk of what I wrote disappear because evidently I forgot to save my work. When something like that happens I can become quite emo, and to be honest I just lost my desire to write for a few days. Anyway, I’m feeling a little better about life in general now, so let’s finish this thing up and move on to the next gig. If you have not perused Part 1 please do so, and as always I really would enjoy some feedback.

 

 

 

 

 

16     A film that is personal to you…

We Are Marshall

I graduated from Marshall University in Huntington, WV in the mid-1990s, and the tragic 1970 plane crash that killed the entire football team, coaching staff, and a number of parents & boosters is a tale well known to anyone who has ever lived or attended school there. A couple of years after the crash a beautiful fountain on the student center plaza was dedicated in memory of the 75 lives lost, and during my four+ years at MU I passed by that fountain every single day. Anyway, 2006’s We Are Marshall, though an imperfect film, does an admirable job of depicting the event & its aftermath, with the haunting performance of Matthew Fox (Party of Five, Lost) as assistant coach Red Dawson deserving kudos. If you dig We Are Marshall I would highly recommend a 2000 documentary called Ashes to Glory, which is a more factual and much more emotional rendition of the story.

 

 

 

17     Favorite film sequel…

National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation

I really had to think long & hard about this one. Rarely do sequels even approach the greatness of the original. And what about trilogies & series?? Do I prefer the second, third, or fourth movie?? I generally think of such things as one entity and don’t go so far as to break down each film, although there are exceptions. Having said all of that, and while I still think the original 1983 National Lampoon’s Vacation is the best of the series, the particular niche that Christmas Vacation has carved out in the pop culture landscape is undeniable. Three decades after its theatrical run it is shown on television dozens of times each holiday season…and we still watch.

 

 

 

18     A film that stars your favorite actor/actress…

Joe Versus the Volcano and The Glenn Miller Story

First, I had to decide between Jimmy Stewart & Tom Hanks, but I’m taking the easy way out and not making that choice, Secondly, I have shown love to other films by both men already, so what I have chosen to do is give a shout out to two of their lesser known films. Glenn Miller was a real life big band leader in the 1930’s & 40’s and the composer of hits like Moonlight Serenade, Little Brown Jug, & In the Mood. While flying from a gig in the United Kingdom to Paris in December 1944 Miller’s plane disappeared over the English Channel. He was only 40 years old. James Stewart just so happened to be a Glenn Miller doppelganger, so when a biopic was produced in 1954 he was the ideal choice for the part. If you like Stewart or Miller you’ll love both after watching this movie, and you just might become a fan of big band music, as I did. Joe Versus the Volcano isn’t as well-regarded as other Hanks/Meg Ryan films, but I encourage everyone to give it a whirl. It’s a bit of a slog at the beginning, but if you can make it past those gloomy first few minutes what you’ll find is a story that contains a lot of symbolism and has much to say about life.

 

 

 

19     A film made by your favorite director…

Planes, Trains and Automobiles

I don’t generally have any director specific loyalties…I judge a film based on what I see on the screen, regardless of who is in front of or behind the camera. However, I am an 80’s kid, and that means I’ve seen just about everything that John Hughes wrote, produced, and/or directed. Christmas is usually the main focus of holiday entertainment, as it should be, but there is one really great film that focuses on Thanksgiving. It is the perfect mix of comedy & sentimentality, which is right in my wheelhouse. I wish Steve Martin & John Candy would’ve made more movies together, but then again I’m not sure there’s any way they could have topped their inaugural effort.

 

 

 

20     A film that changed your life…

It’s A Wonderful Life

I don’t remember when or why I watched IAWL for the first time, but during my childhood it was on television countless times on numerous channels at all hours so there were no shortage of opportunities to see it. The idea of a small town guy with big dreams who never quite escapes to fulfill them spoke to me from an early age, and at this point I suppose I’m sort of a self-fulfilling prophecy. IAWL was actually marketed as a romantic comedy, but has become a Christmas classic. To say it changed my life may be a tad dramatic because I’m not one to assign such power to a movie, but it does mean a lot to me and has become an important part of my holiday tradition.

 

 

 

21     A film that you dozed off in…

Monty Python & The Holy Grail

I’m probably going to catch some flack, but I have to be honest. There was a little video store down the street from my college dorm, and I decided to rent this movie that I’d heard so much about but never seen. Obviously it was a less than thrilling experience. I just don’t enjoy British humor.

 

 

 

22     A film that made you angry…

The Big Wedding

When a movie stars Robin Williams & Robert DeNiro I don’t think it is out of line to have high expectations. Sadly, not only does this movie fall short, it is undoubtedly one of the worst I’ve ever seen. I have never left a theater before a film is over, but I came pretty close with this one. DeNiro continues to trash his legendary legacy, while the late great Williams made a string of forgettable flops in the decade before his untimely demise.

 

 

 

23     A film made by a director who is dead…

Rear Window

Again, I’m not married to any particular directors, as in I adore every movie they’ve ever made. On top of that I’m not really a Hitchcock kind of guy. However, he did make a few films I’ve enjoyed, and his work with my man Jimmy Stewart is quite good. Rear Window is interesting in that it is essentially shot from one perspective, that of main character Jeff Jefferies, a professional photographer sidelined with a broken leg. Jeff lives in a courtyard apartment and becomes kind of a voyeur, intently watching neighbors that he doesn’t really know and making up stories about them that may or may not be true. When he decides that one of those neighbors might have murdered his wife things become really interesting. Rear Window wasn’t even nominated for Best Picture, which, in hindsight, seems like a real crime.

 

 

 

24     A film you wish you saw in theaters…

Apollo 13 and Titanic

I pondered & debated with myself, but I just can’t choose. History shows that Apollo 13 was released in June 1995, which wasn’t a good time in my life, so I’m not surprised I didn’t make it to the local cineplex for a flick. However, I have seen it countless times in the ensuing years and count it among the best movies ever made. I cannot recall a specific reason why I didn’t head to the theater to watch Titanic, although I’m not one for massive crowds so perhaps that scared me off. But by now I have watched it numerous times. I have always opined that some movies really should be seen on the big screen, and with a gigantic ship sinking into the ocean & a huge rocket being launched into space I can only assume these would have been really cool films to see in a theater. Alas, I suppose my 55 inch smart TV will have to suffice.

 

 

 

25     A film you like that is not set in the current era…

The Godfather

I cannot believe we have made it this far without mentioning what I consider to be the best film ever produced. It is nearly flawless. Thankfully, since it is set in the 1940s & 50s The Godfather fits this category perfectly.

 

 

 

26     A film you like that is adapted from somewhere…

Forrest Gump

I have never read Winston Groom’s 1986 novel, and am inclined never to do so. It is my understanding that the film differs vastly from its source material, and since I think it’s a damn fine movie I’m not going to ruin it by reading the book. I am usually in the camp that believes that the book is almost always better than the movie, but there are exceptions and I’m just going to mark Forrest Gump as one of them.

 

 

 

27     A film that is visually striking to you…

Batman & Robin

I believe I have previously described Batman & Robin as “aurally & visually obnoxious…an assault on the senses”, and I stand by that assessment. However, there is no denying that it is visually striking, and in hindsight it is far from the worst movie ever made.

 

 

 

28     A film that made you feel uncomfortable…

Very Bad Things

Oh wow…let me tell you something folks…if you’ve never seen Very Bad Things you really should. It’s something everyone needs to experience just once. I say that because it’s not the kind of film for which repeat viewings are a thing. Once is enough, and it’ll be something you will remember…for better or worse…for the rest of your life. It seems like a harmless enough concept…a group of buddies go to Vegas for a bachelor party. And with an all-star cast including Jon Favreau, Daniel Stern, Jeremy Piven, Christian Slater, Cameron Diaz, & Jeanne Tripplehorn one would assume it to be a fairly mundane, mainstream cliché…but that hypothesis is way wrong. As a matter of fact everything about this movie is so wrong, but in the kind of way that one cannot avoid staring at in complete fascination.

 

 

 

29     A film that makes you want to fall in love…

When Harry Met Sally

I freely admit it…I am comfortable enough with my smoldering machismo to proclaim my affection for rom coms, and in the early 90s America’s Sweetheart was Meg Ryan. She made three awesome romantic comedies (Joe Versus the Volcano, Sleepless in Seattle, & You’ve Got Mail) with Tom Hanks, who is the prototypical leading man for such films. However, I think When Harry Met Sally is probably the best of the genre. Billy Crystal is 14 years older than Ryan and early scenes depicting him as a recent college grad stretch the limits of credibility (he was 41 years old at the time), but the movie is funny, heartwarming, & a joy to watch. Near the end Crystal’s character says “when you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with somebody, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible”, and I would love to find that person and begin the rest of my life.

 

 

 

30     A film with your favorite ending…

Field of Dreams

I have opined on multiple occasions that “anyone who doesn’t shed a tear during the last 10 minutes of Field of Dreams doesn’t have a heart”. You see, it is so much more than a “sports movie”. It isn’t really about baseball at all. Field of Dreams is about regret & redemption, and the film’s conclusion packs an unexpected emotional punch, one that resonates even deeper three decades later than it did originally.

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!!

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!

To TV or Not to TV??

Okay, so…y’all know I’m not above borrowing a concept I’ve seen on social media and putting my own special spin on it for The Manoverse. This time the inspiration comes not from Pinterest but from Facebook. A former co-worker of mine posted it, and basically one is supposed to just indicate which of these television shows we’ve seen more than ten episodes of with a lil heart emoji. That’s a cool idea, but I think I can improve upon it with pithy comments and my own unique wit. I don’t watch as much television as I used to, and this exercise not only proves that but shows exactly why. Enjoy.

 

 

 

My 600LB Life

I’ve been overweight my entire life. There are legit reasons for that (the main one being that I really like food), and so I sympathize with the struggle of others. But no…I have no desire to watch a reality show about the topic and be “entertained” by other peoples’ problems.

  

911

I don’t know…is this another reality show?? Does it follow first responders to 911 calls?? Or is it a fictional show built around such situations?? Either way, I am not entertained by such things.

  

13 Reasons Why

I remember hearing about the show. Something about teen suicide. No thanks. I’m not a teenager and have no teens in my family. If it’s a good show with an educational message that can positively impact the lives of young viewers that’s great, but it’s not for me.

 

 

A Million Little Things

Almost. I nearly got sucked into this ensemble drama because the ads had a very This Is Us kind of vibe and I am familiar with some in the cast. However, I chose not to become interested because I knew it’d be the kind of show that demands a heavy emotional commitment and that’s just not where I am in my life right now.

  

American Horror Story

Nah…horror just isn’t my thing.

  

Angel

Wasn’t it a spinoff from Buffy the Vampire Slayer?? I didn’t watch the first show, so no…I didn’t care about the spinoff.

 

 Bates Motel

I assume it is loosely based on Psycho?? Once again…not my cup o’ tea. I prefer to laugh.

  

Bitten

I have no idea. It’s either about snakes or vampires. Either way I have zero interest.

  

The Blacklist

I dig James Spader. He’s quirky…kind of a knockoff Jeff Goldblum. But spies & intrigue & the whole “let’s rip off Hannibal Lechter” vibe I got when previews of the show first aired a few years ago just don’t frost my cupcake.

 

 

Bloodline

No idea

 

 Blue Bloods

Tom Selleck is cool, but police procedurals rarely interest me and I’ve never watched a single episode.

  

Bones

I don’t even know what the show is about.

 

Breaking Bad

I see it constantly lauded as one of the best TV shows of the 21st century, but I never understood the popularity of a story about a high school chemistry teacher who becomes a drug dealer.

  

Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Nope. Vampires. Zombies. Werewolves. I don’t find any of it the least bit interesting.

 

Californication

Wasn’t that a Red Hot Chili Peppers album??

  

Castle

No…just…no.

 

Castle Rock

I assume it is somehow connected to or inspired by Stephen King?? I don’t know. I’ve enjoyed some of King’s books, but have no interest in a TV show.

 

 

Catfish

I enjoy eating catfish, but knowing what the word means outside of that I don’t believe the show would interest me.

 

 Chicago Fire / Chicago Med / Chicago P.D.

I vaguely recall watching an episode or two of one of these shows…not sure which one. But again…medical dramas & police procedurals have never been something I enjoyed all that much.

  

Criminal Minds

Nope

  

Dexter

I’ve heard people say it’s a good show, but a serial killer?? I’m telling y’all…I need to laugh!!

  

Dr. Pimple Popper

Eww. Is it a medical thing?? A kiddie show?? I have no clue, and I don’t care to know.

 

 Dr Who

I have several friends who really dig Dr. Who, and it seems like the kind of nerdvana that I should be into. It is my understanding that there’s time travel involved, which is cool. But here’s the thing…the original incarnation of Dr. Who premiered a decade before I was even born, and it was a British show. By the time it was revived and available in America (16 years after it had originally ended) I already had preconceived notions and never even thought of checking it out. Don’t misunderstand…people can change and should be flexible. However, I think by the time we are in our 30s the die is cast as far as what kinds of entertainment…TV, music, books, movies…we tend to gravitate toward, and Dr. Who seems to have come along both too early and too late for me.

 

 

Empire

I hadn’t given a second thought to Empire until last year when that idiot actor was in the news for faking an attack on himself. That whole story makes me thrice as glad that I never watched.

  

ER

Once upon a time it was thought to be the best show on television. It launched George Clooney into superstardom and jumpstarted the careers of several others. But it’s a hospital drama, and I don’t do hospital shows. I did watch a handful of episodes in the course of the dozen seasons ER was on the air, and it was a well written program with a top notch cast, but it’s just not my thing.

  

Family Guy

There was a time in my life when Family Guy might have been right up my alley, but apparently by the time the show premiered in 1999 that time had passed. I’m probably missing out on something I’d enjoy, but it seems a bit late in the game to give a rat’s petoot now.

 

 

Friends

Yes yes yes…I loved Friends and still watch the occasional rerun. I am amused by things I read about how offensive Friends is to millennials. I suppose GenX wasn’t all that woke back in the day, and that’s fine by me. We know how to chill out & have some fun without getting offended by every damn thing.

 

 

Fuller House

Yes…I like Fuller House. There, I said it!! Is the acting bad & the storylines cheesy?? Sure. But that’s okay. Not everything has to be award-winning, ripped from the headlines, or deep & meaningful. Pointless fun is alright on occasion.

 

 

Game of Thrones

I tried to read the first book in the Game of Thrones series and made it less than ten pages before realizing that I’d rather take a nap, therefore I never even bothered with the television show.

 

 

 

Gossip Girl

Nah…cause I’m a dude.

 

 

Ghost Adventures

I just can’t get into anything ghost related. I don’t find it compelling entertainment.

 

 

Grey’s Anatomy

I actually did watch the first season…maybe two…of Grey’s Anatomy. It was good…and I’m sure it still is 15 years later. But I drifted away early on and just never got back into it.

 

 

Gilmore Girls

Nah…I don’t think I was the target demo for that show.

 

 

Glee

No, because I have taste. I always imagined Glee as kind of the love child of Cop Rock & Beverly Hills 90210.

 

 

Hart of Dixie

Never heard of it.

 

 

Hawaii Five-0

I assume we are talking about the reboot that premiered in 2010 and not the original that aired in the 1970’s. In that case, yes I watched the first season of the new show, but after that lost interest and have no idea what’s been happening the past 8 or 9 years.

 

 

 

House of Cards

Surprisingly enough, no…I’ve never seen a single episode. I don’t care what the PC Police say…Kevin Spacey is freakin’ brilliant, so I’m not sure why I never bothered with this particular show.

 

 

House

Nope. I’ve been told that I’d enjoy it. I’m not sure if that’s because the main character is loosely based on Sherlock Holmes (who I adore), or because he is a grumpy old curmudgeon (which I am too), but for some reason the show was recommended to me more than once. Unfortunately, my aversion to medical dramas is like a shield on a starship that’s only down every once in a great while.

 

 

How I Met Your Mother

Oh boy…where do I begin?? I LOVED HIMYM. It was right up there on par with Friends. I love a good mystery so I was highly invested, especially in the last few seasons. But then came one of the worst final episodes in television history. After finally meeting The Mother (portrayed by the enchanting Cristin Milioti) toward the end of the series we are given a quick fast forward with the highlights of Ted & Tracy’s relationship, ultimately finding out that in the “present” day of 2030 (when the framing device is set) The Mother is dead and Ted is ready to revisit his long dormant relationship with former flame Robin. Oh yes…Robin. HIMYM spent the last few seasons building up an unlikely romance & eventual marriage between Robin and lecherous Barney Stinson, only to throw it all away in a “blink & you’ll miss it” hot second in the finale. All the character growth that we experienced with Barney is flippantly discarded when Barney & Robin divorce and he embarks on a quest to sleep with 31 women in the space of a month, a plan that goes awry when the final conquest gets pregnant. Look, I’m a sucker for happy endings, but I also know that life doesn’t work like that. To some degree I almost understand what the show’s creators were going for. My father always says that death is part of life, so writing that aspect into the show would be understandable…except for the fact that HIMYM is a freakin’ half hour sitcom. We don’t need deep & meaningful. Just give us our damn happy ending…Ted & Tracy and Barney & Robin all live happily ever after. But nnnnooooooo…they couldn’t do that!! I swore in the immediate aftermath of the finale in 2014 that I would never watch a rerun of the show, and for six years I’ve kept that vow.

 

How to Get Away with Murder

Not the least bit interested.

 

I Zombie

Is that like an iPhone for dead people?? I don’t know.

 

 

It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia

I’ve read alot of comments about it thru the years, but have never given it a whirl. The cast looks top notch (I rather enjoy Danny DeVito’s work), but it’s just something I’ve never given a chance, probably to my detriment.

 

 

Law & Order SVU

Nope. I’ve never watched any of the Law & Order shows. I mean really…why the hell would I be entertained by a program with the word “victims” right in the title??

 

 

Lost Girl

I mean, I hope they find her…but no.

 

 

Making A Murderer

Our culture’s fascination with killing & death mystifies me.

 

 

Manifest

Isn’t that one of those Lost knockoffs that the network will lose patience with and cancel, leaving fans with no resolution?? No thanks. That’s one of the reasons I’m so hesitant to become invested in much on television nowadays.

 

 Mom

Sorry, but I just don’t understand how generational substance abuse can be sitcom fodder.

 

Nailed It

Is it one of those home improvement/renovation shows on HGTV?? I honestly don’t know.

 

NCIS / NCIS New Orleans / NCIS Los Angeles

Nope. Just like the Law & Order shows and the CSI shows the whole NCIS thing has never frosted my cupcake.

 

 

New Girl

I’d love to meet a new gal. Hell, I’d like to meet any gal (within acceptable parameters). But in real life…not on television.

 

Once Upon a Time

In a land far, far away…

I have no idea.

 

One Tree Hill

I was really into One Tree Hill for 2 or 3 seasons. It reminded me of Dawson’s Creek, which is meant as a compliment. Unfortunately, TV shows about high school students tend to grow stale when the characters graduate, and I have no idea what went on with the show in its last half dozen years.

 

 

Orange is the New Black

Women in prison. No thanks. And please don’t take that as a sexist remark. I have no interest in any kind of show centered around prison.

 

Ozark

Never heard of it.

 

Parenthood

In 1988 there was a film called Parenthood with an all-star cast…Steve Martin, Mary Steenburgen, Jason Robards, Keanu Reeves, Rick Moranis, & a very young Joaquin Phoenix, all directed by Ron Howard. It was a good flick that garnered two Academy Award nominations: Best Song (Randy Newman) and Best Supporting Actress (Dianne Wiest). In 1990 Parenthood was adapted for television with the same characters but a whole new cast, including David Arquette, Ed Begley Jr., Thora Birch, & a young Leonardo DiCaprio (portraying the character played by Phoenix in the film). That show only lasted for one season, which is a shame because it wasn’t bad. Then in 2010 NBC decided to revive the general concept of Parenthood, albeit with a whole new set of characters and a more 21st century angsty kind of vibe. I really liked the original film, and enjoyed the first TV show, but by the time the second show came about I was almost 40 years old and not all that entertained by angst anymore. I have enough anxiety & torment in my real life…I’m not amused by it in movies or on television. The cast (Craig T. Nelson, Bonnie Bedelia, Monica Potter, Peter Krause, Lauren Graham) was terrific, and I did watch a few episodes in the course of six seasons, but it was never something I was going to invest in completely.

 

Pretty Little Liars

I don’t think I’m the target demo, and that’s fine with me.

 

Reign

I have no clue. I’m guessing there are dragons, swords, & kings battling over…whatever it is that they battle over. Those kinds of stories can make interesting books, but they don’t seem to translate well to television.

 

Riverdale

On the surface a live action, soapy reimagining of the comics starring Archie, Veronica, Jughead, & Betty sounds intriguing, and perhaps if I’d known about it before its launch a few years ago I may have checked it out. Alas, I had no idea it existed for two years because it’s on The CW, and let’s be honest…most of us forget The CW exists because they do a terrible job of promoting their network and its TV shows. So now we are four seasons in and the ship has likely sailed.

 

Roseanne / The Conners

I didn’t care for the original incarnation of Roseanne back in the 90’s, and a couldn’t possibly care less about the reboot that launched a couple of years ago, despite the titular star bucking the Hollywood lockstep and “coming out” as a Trump supporter. I wasn’t going to get sucked into that tug-of-war. Like everyone else I had my opinions when Roseanne Barr was fired from her own show for a completely innocuous tweet, and that debacle just reinforced my lack of interest in the whole thing.

 

 

Santa Clarita Diet

I’ve battled weight issues my entire life, to the point that I’ve kind of given up. Diets just don’t seem to work for me. I’m almost certain that the show has zero to do with food or weight loss, but I have absolutely no desire to research what it is about, what channel it’s on, or who it stars.

Scandal

If I was going to get into a political soap opera I probably would have chosen House of Cards, but I chose neither. I think the truth is that The West Wing spoiled all political dramas for me because nothing can ever live up to that level of greatness.

 

Secret Life of the American Teenager

Okay…confession time. I actually watched this show for a bit during its first season in 2008. It’s from the same folks who’d created 7th Heaven, a show that I loved in the late 90’s thru its decade long run that ended shortly before Secret Life premiered. The two programs shared a similar vibe, and I was drawn in by the cast, which included 80’s Brat Pack queen Molly Ringwald (as a Mom!!). But I quickly lost interest somewhere in the midst of the second season.

 

Shameless

That was a really underrated song released by Billy Joel in the late 80’s, with a popular cover performed by Garth Brooks a few years later. Oh…it’s a television show too?? I had no idea.

 

 

Sons of Anarchy

That’d be an excellent name for a wrestling tag team. As far as the television show goes, I’ve never seen it and have no plans for that to change.

 

Stranger Things

I’ve heard good things. I had every intention of checking it out. But now, with the show preparing to release its fourth season, I am 24 hour long episodes behind and that just seems like too big of a mountain to climb at this point. Never say never though…maybe I’ll get into it long after it’s over, which isn’t my normal modus operandi.

 

Station 19

I have no idea.

 

South Park

I gave South Park a whirl back in the day, believing it to be a worthy heir to the throne abdicated by Beavis & Butt-Head. I suppose my entertainment palate matured just a bit in those years, so I quickly lost interest.

 

Supernatural

I used to believe I was a sci-fi fan, but I’ve come to realize that I am very selective about the kind of sci-fi in which I invest my time, and Supernatural just didn’t make the cut.

 

Teen Mom

Call me old-fashioned, but I just don’t believe that teenage pregnancy is appropriate fodder for reality television. I am not a fan of reality TV in the first place, and shows like this are among the worst offenders. I don’t understand people who are entertained by the very real & difficult circumstances of others.

 

The 100

100 what?? I need more information.

 

The Tudors

The only Tudors I care about is Tudor’s Biscuit World, home of The Thundering Herd, a delicious breakfast biscuit with scrambled egg, cheese, sausage, & a hash brown.

 

 

The Big Bang Theory

Yes, yes, yes!! I LOVED The Big Bang Theory. I faithfully watched new episodes for a dozen seasons on CBS, and for the past several years reruns on TBS a few nights a week for 2 or 3 hours at a time helped fill some lonely nights for me. I was sad when CBS cancelled the show, but if I’m being honest the quality of the writing had dipped noticeably in the final few seasons. The finale was well done, and surprisingly I haven’t been all that interested in the TBS reruns since last spring.

 

The Fosters

Is it on Freeform?? I believe it’s on Freeform, and for me Freeform is a place to watch old movies, especially during the Christmas season. It is not a channel I click on for original programming.

 

The Good Doctor

Okay…so he’s a doctor, but he’s autistic. That’s nice. But it’s yet another medical drama, and I just can’t do it. I nearly gave it a shot only because of the presence of Richard Schiff in the cast. Back in the day Schiff brilliantly portrayed Toby Ziegler on The West Wing, and I loved that show. But at the end of the day I decided to leave the memories alone and pass on The Good Doctor.

 

 

The Handmaid’s Tale

I know very little about the show, but from what I’ve been able to glean it seems like kind of a downer, the kind of thing that critics fawn all over and awards shows shower with praise, but regular folks in flyover country just don’t see the big deal.

 

The Last Kingdom

I have no idea.

 

The Office

I’m way late to the party on this one. First, I have to explain something. I grew up in the 70’s & 80’s, a high water era for multi-camera sitcoms, which is the more traditional format. In the past decade we’ve seen the rise of single camera sitcoms, meaning there is no live audience or laugh track. Since I came of age with multi-cams as the norm that’s what I’m used to. I need a live audience and/or a laugh track. I have had a difficult time adjusting to single camera sitcoms and oftentimes reject such programs right out of the box. Perhaps I need to be a bit more flexible, but I’m just being honest about my experience up until now. It is for these reasons that I never even gave The Office a second thought when it premiered in 2005. I adore the 1999 cult film Office Space, so The Office would seem to be right in my wheelhouse, but I never gave it a chance. However, a few things happened in the ensuing years. Steve Carell became a movie star in films that I rather enjoy. Other stars of The Office went on to have solid careers in movies & television…folks like Jenna Fischer, Ed Helms, & John Krasinski. Internet memes became a thing, many of them featuring characters from The Office. Friends & family began making references related to the show. And now…finally…nearly seven years after it ended its run on NBC, I have begun watching reruns on Netflix.

 

The Originals

Original what?? I don’t know, and it shall remain a mystery.

 

The Simpsons

I may have missed the boat on The Simpsons. I was 17 years old & in my senior year of high school when it premiered in 1989. Perhaps I thought I was too cool for an animated show. Maybe there was something else in that time slot that I preferred to watch (this was way before DVR). I don’t recall exactly why I never got into The Simpsons, but at some point, as I heard more & more about its sardonic humor and funny characters, I began to realize that maybe I’d misjudged it. However, by that time it was way too late. I’m the kind of person who is either all in from the very beginning or not in at all. I may lose interest in a show a few years into its run, but rarely do I begin watching something that I’ve already missed multiple seasons of. I also don’t think that anyone would have ever predicted that The Simpsons would still be going three decades later, which is another reason why I feel like I may have missed out on something I might have liked.

 

 

The Sinner

I am assuming it’s either preachy or dark or both. Either way I’m not interested.

 

The Vampire Diaries

Vampires?? Nope.

 

The Walking Dead

Zombies?? No thanks. I realize that a lot of folks are really into it, but I’m not nor ever will be one of them.

 

The Witcher

Never heard of it.

 

This Is Us

Once upon a time I adored This Is Us. For the first two seasons I was glued to my television every Tuesday night. The mystery of when & how Jack Pearson died was riveting. The show was well-written with a top notch cast. I’ve had a Mandy Moore fetish for many years. Back in the day my friend Stacy would call me whenever A Walk to Remember was on television and I was usually already watching it. At any rate, something happened in the fall of 2018. This Is Us began a story arc about Jack’s tour of duty in Vietnam, and I decided to change the channel to WWE Smackdown. I DVRed This Is Us and told myself I’d catch up eventually, but before long I had about a dozen episodes recorded and knew I wasn’t going to invest that much time in getting up to speed, so I just decided I was no longer interested in the show. Perhaps someday I’ll revisit it.

 

True Blood

Vampires?? No.

 

True Detective

Nah. I’ve got a few friends who are really into this new wave of true crime, but it’s never interested me.

 

Twilight Zone

The original was way before my time. There have been a few revivals I believe, but I’ve just never been into giving any of them a whirl.

 

 

Two Broke Girls

I tried. I wanted to like it, but the humor was just so crude & sophomoric and the characters poorly constructed. I’m stunned that the show lasted six seasons.

 

Vikings

You mean the Minnesota Vikings?? Those are the only Vikings with which I am familiar.

 

The Ranch

The only reason I’ve even heard of it is because it stars Ashton Kutcher. However, I have no clue what the show is about, when it airs, or on what channel I could find it. And I couldn’t possibly care less.

  

Flip or Flop

I actually enjoy the occasional home renovation program, usually on HGTV (I especially like The Property Brothers). However, I don’t think I’ve ever watched Flip or Flop. I believe it’s the one where the hosts were married and now they are divorced, which seems like way too much drama for a fix-up show.

 

The Rookie

It’s a cop show, right?? Nah, not my thing.

 

 

Deputy

I’ve seen ads for it, but have no interest.

100 Memorable Movie Characters…Part 4

A film is…or should be …more like music than fiction. It should be a progression of moods & feelings. The theme, what’s behind the emotion, the meaning, all that comes later. – Stanley Kubrick

 

 

 

If you need to catch up with the first three parts of this series please go here, here, & here.

I decided to run some numbers because I’m nerdy like that. It surprises me how well balanced these rankings are when it comes to representation from the 70’s, 80’s, 90’s, and classics produced before I was born. What doesn’t surprise me is just how few characters from movies in the first couple of decades of this century made the cut. I’m not sure if that is a reflection on the subpar quality of newer films, the fact that they haven’t had time to really get a deep hold on our pop culture consciousness yet, or simply a manifestation of the singular entertainment taste of a middle-aged guy in flyover country. It’s probably all of the above. At any rate, enjoy!!

 

 

 

 

 

39         Ron Burgundy (Anchorman)

Will Ferrell is a polarizing comedic actor…either you enjoy his shtick or you hate it. I happen to find Ferrell amusing, although his film career has been decidedly uneven. Old School, Elf, Step Brothers, & Talladega Nights are hilarious, while Bewitched, The Campaign, Holmes & Watson, and The House failed miserably. Perhaps Ferrell’s greatest contribution to pop culture is his embodiment of news anchor Ron Burgundy. Though it is never stated when the storyline is set there are many indicators that it is in the 1970’s, making Burgundy a throwback of sorts, an hysterically exaggerated interpretation of a bygone era. Burgundy is pompous, misogynistic, vain, & mostly clueless, but he is good at his job. When he is forced to welcome a woman to his news team he doesn’t take it well and hilarity ensues. It’s the type of silly humor that kind of flies above the head of some, but if you get it you’ll be quite entertained. Ferrell throws himself completely into becoming Ron Burgundy, to the point that nearly everything he’s done afterward has paled in comparison. An Anchorman sequel was produced eight years after the original, but it couldn’t live up to its predecessor.

 

Quotes

“Discovered by the Germans in 1904, they named it San Diego, which of course in German means ‘a whale’s vagina.”

“Great Odin’s raven!”

“The only way to bag a classy lady is to give her two tickets to the gun show and see if she likes the goods.”

“I don’t know how to put this but I’m kind of a big deal. I’m very important. I have many leather-bound books and my apartment smells of rich mahogany.”

“I am going to have three fingers of Glenlivet with a little bit of pepper, and some cheese.”

“It’s quite pungent. It’s a formidable scent. It stings the nostrils…in a good way.”

“Well, I could be wrong, but I believe diversity is an old, old wooden ship that was used during the Civil War era.”

“I’m in a glass case of emotion!”

“You are a smelly pirate hooker. Why don’t you go back to your home on Whore Island?”

“It’s so damn hot!! Milk was a bad choice!!”

“I won’t be able to make it fellas. Veronica & I trying this new fad called uh, jogging. I believe it’s jogging or yogging. it might be a soft j. I’m not sure but apparently you just run for an extended period of time. It’s supposed to be wild.”

“You stay classy, San Diego.”

 

 

 

38     Biff Tannen (The Back to the Future Trilogy)

When actor/comedian Thomas Wilson first moved to Los Angeles to begin his career in entertainment he was roommates with Andrew Dice Clay & Yakov Smirnoff. That has nothing to do with anything in particular, but I find it amusing. Decades after co-staring in all three BTTF films Wilson began to tire of incessant & tedious questions from fans about them so he wrote Biff’s Question Song, which is quite funny (you can find it on YouTube). At any rate, Biff is a classic high school bully who…at different times (literally)…makes life tough for both George McFly & his son Marty. In BTTF 2 we get a glimpse of the future (October 21, 2015 was the future back in the early 90’s) wherein Biff…with a little help from a sports almanac…is a filthy rich tyrant running roughshod over Hill Valley, and there have been indications that Future Biff was based on Donald Trump. Personally I think that’s a bunch of poppycock, a narrative crafted by some because it just so happens to fit in a really vague way. Biff appears in various forms throughout the trilogy. In BTTF 2 there is an older version of Biff alongside his grandson Griff, and in BTTF 3, which takes place in The Old West, Marty & Doc are tormented by Biff’s ancestor Mad Dog Tannen, who is sort of a Jesse James-esque outlaw. In all his incarnations Biff is the quintessential comedic bad guy, someone we immensely enjoy seeing get his just deserts.

 

Quotes

“Why don’t you make like a tree and get outta here?”

“Hello? Hello? Anybody home? Huh? Think, McFly! Think!”

“What are you looking at, butthead?”

 

 

 

37     Elwood P. Dowd (Harvey)

It can’t be easy acting with an imaginary rabbit, but that’s exactly what James Stewart does in Harvey. Elwood is a nice enough fellow, but his insistence on treating his pal Harvey as a real creature drives his family nuts. Though Elwood is fond of the drink and hangs out in a bar no one is sure if his…friendship…with Harvey is a result of that proclivity or if he truly is mentally ill. Through a series of misunderstandings & classic farce it is Elwood’s sister that ends up institutionalized, but then the hunt commences for Elwood himself. By the end of the film Elwood has convinced the doctor of Harvey’s existence and his sister decides she’d rather her brother remain…eccentric…than become “normal” thru treatment. Stewart received his fourth Academy Award nomination for Best Actor but lost to José Ferrer for his role in Cyrano de Bergerac.

 

Quotes

“Well, I’ve wrestled with reality for 35 years and I’m happy to state I finally won out over it.”

“I always have a wonderful time, wherever I am, whoever I’m with.”

“That’s envy, my dear. There’s a little bit of envy in the best of us. That’s too bad, isn’t it?”

“You see, science has overcome time & space. Well, Harvey has overcome not only time & space…but any objections.”

 

 

 

36     The Joker (multiple films)

The Joker is Batman’s oldest & fiercest rival, making his debut in the inaugural comic book way back in 1940. Since then he has appeared in every medium that The Caped Crusader has, including multiple animated & live action films. His backstory & certain details vary in all of those movies, but he is usually depicted as a psychopath with a bleach white face, bright red lips that form a grotesque smile, & green hair. Though the origins may differ The Joker is most often a “normal” guy who somehow becomes disfigured then descends into madness. He doesn’t seem to have any kind of extraordinary abilities…he’s just really smart, completely sadistic, & batshit crazy (pun unintended). By far my favorite Joker is Jack Nicholson’s turn in Tim Burton’s 1989 Batman. Nicholson should have received an Oscar nomination for his performance, but had to settle for a Golden Globe nomination for Best Performance in a Motion Picture – Comedy or Musical. He faced stiff competition from Morgan Freeman (Driving Miss Daisy), Billy Crystal (When Harry Met Sally), Michael Douglas (The War of the Roses), & Steve Martin (Parenthood), with Freeman ultimately taking home the prize. Heath Ledger did win the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his take on The Joker in 2008’s The Dark Knight. Though the performance is undeniably stellar my feeling has always been that it is more fondly regarded in the wake of Ledger’s tragic death than it otherwise may have been. I have not seen Jared Leto’s Joker in 2016’s Suicide Squad or Joaquin Phoenix in Joker, which is currently in theaters, though I expect that I’ll catch both on video sometime in the future. Whatever one’s particular favorite might be the fact is that The Joker is a cornerstone supervillain in comic book films and an unforgettable character no matter who portrays him or what kind of spin they put on the story.

 

Quotes

“Wait ’til they get a load of me!” (Batman 1989)

“I believe that whatever doesn’t kill you simply makes you stranger. (The Dark Knight)

“You ever dance with the devil in the pale moonlight?” (Batman 1989)

“I’m not a monster. I’m just ahead of the curve.” (The Dark Knight)

“Can somebody tell me what kind of a world we live in where a man dressed up as a bat gets all of my press?? This town needs an enema!” (Batman 1989)

“Introduce a little anarchy…upset the established order, and everything becomes chaos. I’m an agent of chaos.” (The Dark Knight)

“Never rub another man’s rhubarb!” (Batman 1989)

“I’m a man of simple tastes. I like dynamite & gunpowder… and gasoline! Do you know what all of these things have in common? They’re cheap!” (The Dark Knight)

“I do what other people only dream…I make art until someone dies. I am the world’s first fully functioning homicidal artist.” (Batman 1989)

 

 

 

35     The Dude (The Big Lebowski)

His name is Jeffrey Lebowski, and that’s important because the crux of the film is mistaken identity. The bad guys are actually after the other Jeffrey Lebowski, an elderly millionaire whose wife screwed them out of some money. The plot is a comedic heist farce that is strangely fun, but honestly the characters & their interactions are what one remembers about the movie. The Dude is a middle-aged, unemployed slacker who spends his days smoking pot and his nights bowling, drinking a lot of White Russians along the way. He has a really laid back devil-may-care attitude, though he seems to be fairly intelligent & insightful. Needless to say, the action-packed drama he becomes involved in thanks to the other Lebowski is in direct contrast to The Dude’s normally easygoing lifestyle, which makes the movie an interesting twist on the fish-out-of-water formula. It actually inspired an entire philosophy called Dudeism , which advocates & encourages the practice of “going with the flow”, “being cool headed”, and “taking it easy” in the face of life’s difficulties, believing that this is the only way to live in harmony with our inner nature and the challenges of interacting with other people. Dudeism aims to assuage feelings of inadequacy that arise from society’s emphasis on achievement & personal fortune, alternatively encouraging a preference for simple pleasures like bathing, bowling, & hanging out with friends. Louisville, KY began hosting an annual Lebowski Fest in 2002, and several other cities have followed suit, including London, England.

 

Quotes

“Look, let me explain something to you. I’m not Mr. Lebowski. You’re Mr. Lebowski. I’m the Dude. So that’s what you call me. That, or His Dudeness … Duder … or El Duderino, if, you know, you’re not into the whole brevity thing.”

“Yeah, well, you know, that’s just, like, your opinion, man.”

“I bowl. Drive around. The occasional acid flashback.”

“Yeah, well – The Dude abides.”

“This is a very complicated case. You know, a lotta ins, lotta outs, lotta what-have-you’s. And, uh, lotta strands to keep in my head, man. Lotta strands in old Duder’s head. Luckily I’m adhering to a pretty strict drug regimen to keep my mind, you know, limber.”

 

 

 

 

34     Bluto Blutarsky (Animal House)

John Belushi died way too young at the age of 33 in 1982. He only starred in eight movies after being one of SNL’s original Not Ready for Primetime Players for four seasons, but amongst those far too few films are Animal House & The Blues Brothers, both of which remain irrefutable comedy classics four decades later. When I attended college in the early 90’s I joined a fraternity hoping it would be half as much fun as Animal House. My brothers & I were better students than the party animals of Delta Tau Chi and not quite as rowdy, but we had fun and were certainly inspired to a degree by the movie. With the exception of a cameo by the legendary Donald Sutherland. Belushi was the biggest star in the film, even though Bluto probably has less dialogue than most of the cast. Bluto provides a unique brand of physical comedy, a prime example of using the fat dumpy guy for laughs. Belushi could get a chuckle out of the audience simply by the way he moved or even with just facial expressions. One of Animal House’s most celebrated scenes is the food fight in the cafeteria, but go back & watch…we only see about two seconds of the actual food fight. What makes it memorable are Belushi’s actions leading up to it, and he barely says anything.

 

Quotes

“See if you can guess what I am now. I’m a zit. Get it?”

“TOGA! TOGA!”

“What? Over? Did you say ‘over’? Nothing is over until we decide it is! Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor? Hell no! And it ain’t over now. ‘Cause when the goin’ gets tough . . . the tough get goin’! Who’s with me? Let’s go!”

“My advice to you is to start drinking heavily.”

 

 

 

33     The Shark (Jaws)

One could argue that The Shark is the real star of Steven Spielberg’s 1975 classic. What’s really interesting is the behind-the-scenes stories wherein we learn about all the issues cast & crew faced while filming. One of the biggest problems was the mechanical shark (which they named Bruce), which regularly malfunctioned. This forced Spielberg to retool the script and altered Jaws from what would have been a straight up horror movie to more of a suspenseful Hitchcockian experience. For example, in the opening scene the shark was originally supposed to be seen fully devouring a late night swimmer, but instead what we got was the woman being dragged underwater kicking & screaming by some unknown force. Limited usage of the mechanical shark makes the moments that we do see the creature that much more impactful, and that arguably created a better film. I was frightened for years by the idea of sharks after seeing Jaws (it didn’t help that I was probably 7 or 8 years old the first time I saw it), and even now I have zero interest in swimming in the ocean. Multiple sequels followed the original Jaws, to the point that it became a joke in 1989’s Back to the Future Part II (Jaws 19…this time it’s really, really, really personal!! lol). Even though none of those sequels lived up to the original and only served to soil its legacy we shouldn’t forget that the first one is a truly great movie, in no small part thanks to its scary lead character.

 

 

 

32     Hannibal Lecter (Silence of the Lambs)

Speaking of scary…

Sir Anthony Hopkins’ interpretation of Dr. Lecter is legendarily disturbing, a role for which he won the Academy Award for Best Actor. Hannibal “The Cannibal” is a forensic psychiatrist who also happens to be a serial killer, which actually makes a lot of sense. After landing in prison he is consulted by the FBI when they’re trying to track down other psychopaths, and in Silence he is interviewed by young agent Clarice Starling, who is on the trail of serial killer Buffalo Bill. Despite his homicidal tendencies Dr. Lecter is a well-to-do, culturally refined man with erudite tastes in food, wine, music, & art. The dichotomy is a large part of what makes the character so fascinating. Like it or not we all have pre-conceived notions & tend to put folks in neat little boxes, and typically we don’t think of brilliant & sophisticated people as murderers, although when one really ponders the idea it’s much more logical that an intelligent individual with financial means would get away with such crimes than a stupid and/or poor person. Hopkins portrayed Lecter in Silence as well as prequel Red Dragon and sequel Hannibal. I have read all three books, but didn’t see the prequel & only watched bits & pieces of the sequel (it wasn’t good at all). It is my understanding that another prequel book & film…Hannibal Rising…was produced as well, but I guess I wasn’t paying attention.

 

Quotes

“A census taker once tried to test me. I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice Chianti.”

“We begin by coveting what we see every day. Don’t you feel eyes moving over your body, Clarice? And don’t your eyes seek out the things you want?”

“Well, Clarice, have the lambs stopped screaming? Don’t bother with a trace, I won’t be on long enough. I have no plans to call on you, Clarice. The world’s more interesting with you in it. So you take care now to extend me the same courtesy. I do wish we could chat longer, but I’m having an old friend for dinner. Bye.”

 

 

 

31     Jake & Elwood Blues (The Blues Brothers)

The Blues Brothers first appeared on an episode of Saturday Night Live on January 17, 1976. Well…kind of. The sketch was actually called “Howard Shore and his All-Bee Band” and had John Belushi singing while Dan Aykroyd played harmonica…both dressed in bee costumes. Aykroyd had long been an aficionado of blues music and turned Belushi into a huge fan as well. Aykroyd owned a bar in New York and the duo used to sing blues music there at SNL after parties. They came up with the idea for a band, complete with fictional backstories, which went out on the road and produced an album in 1978 called Briefcase Full of Blues, recorded live when The Blues Brothers were the opening act for comedian Steve Martin. A few months before that they had made their official SNL debut. The film came along in 1980 and was the tenth highest grossing movie of the year (ranked above it: The Empire Strikes Back, Airplane!, Coal Miner’s Daughter, and Smokey & The Bandit 2, just to name a few). The whole idea of the two characters’ having a quite detailed background then forming a very real band that performed concerts and made a hit record before a movie was even made is pure genius. Their music & outfits contribute tremendously to the full effect, which adds up to The Blues Brothers still being a part of the pop culture zeitgeist four decades later. Belushi’s untimely death is sad for many reasons, but one of them has to be the fact that we probably would have gotten one or two more Blues Brothers flicks. We did get a sequel in 1998 called Blues Brothers 2000 in which John Goodman stepped into the void as Mighty Mac Blues, but it just didn’t have the same appeal as the original.

 

Quotes

“Are you the police? “No, ma’am. We’re musicians.” (Elwood)

“Yes! Yes! Jesus H. tap-dancing Christ… I have seen the light!!” (Jake)

“It’s 106 miles to Chicago, we’ve got a full tank of gas, half a pack of cigarettes, it’s dark, and we’re wearing sunglasses.” (Elwood)

“Four fried chickens and a Coke.” (Jake)

“We’re on a mission from God.” (Elwood)

“I hate Illinois Nazis!” (Jake)

“We’re so glad to see so many of you lovely people here tonight. And we would especially like to welcome all the representatives of Illinois’s law enforcement community who have chosen to join us here in the Palace Hotel Ballroom at this time. We do sincerely hope you all enjoy the show. And please remember, people, that no matter who you are and what you do to live, thrive and survive, there are still some things that make us all the same. You. Me. Them. Everybody. “ (Elwood)

 

 

 

30     Professor Severus Snape (The Harry Potter Series)

Alan Rickman had an interesting career. He was a member of the Royal Shakespeare Company, but didn’t find mass success until his 40’s after starring as terrorist Hans Gruber in the classic Christmas caper Die Hard. More than a decade later he became popular with the sci-fi nerd crowd after starring in Galaxy Quest. Then a few years after that he really hit the jackpot when the Harry Potter series was translated to film.  To call Professor Snape complicated would be a vast understatement. His story plays out in seven films in the course of a decade, and we’re never quite sure whose side he is on. Is he a faithful servant of the dark Lord Voldemort?? Or is he a double agent whose true allegiance lies with Professor Albus Dumbledore?? We eventually learn that Snape was a classmate of Harry’s parents James & Lily Potter, and that Snape loved Lily but was pretty much bullied by James & his pal Sirius Black. At one time Snape was one of Voldemort’s Deatheaters, but switched allegiances in an effort to protect Lily. His feelings toward Harry are complex, a mix of the animosity he felt toward the boy’s father & the affection he had for the boy’s mother, but ultimately it is revealed that much of what he did over the years was meant to save Harry’s life. It is a tribute to Rickman’s immense talent that Snape’s screen presence is so cold, acerbic, arrogant, & borderline cruel yet retains a sense of mystery & vulnerability. Credit must be given to author JK Rowling for creating such a complex character, but we all know that a great book doesn’t always evolve into a great movie, and while I still like the Potter books much more than the movies it must be said that Rickman’s portrayal of Snape isn’t one of the reasons why.

 

Quotes

“Control your emotions. Discipline your mind!!

“I don’t expect you will really understand the beauty of the softly simmering cauldron with its shimmering fumes, the delicate power of liquids that creep through human veins, bewitching the mind, ensnaring the senses… I can teach you how to bottle fame, brew glory, even stopper death — if you aren’t as big a bunch of dunderheads as I usually have to teach.”

“You dare use my own spells against me, Potter? Yes, I’m the Half-Blood Prince.”

“The Dark Arts are many, varied, ever-changing, and eternal. Fighting them is like fighting a many-headed monster, which, each time a neck is severed, sprouts a head even fiercer and cleverer than before. You are fighting that which is unfixed, mutating, indestructible.”

“It may have escaped your notice, but life isn’t fair.”

 

 

 

29     The Cowardly Lion, The Tin Man, & The Scarecrow (The Wizard of Oz)

I seem to recall that when I was a child The Wizard of Oz was offered as a special television presentation once a year. That idea seems quaint now when we can watch almost anything we want anytime we choose, especially old movies. Author L. Frank Baum actually wrote a series of 14 Oz books in the first two decades of the 20th century, but the beloved 1939 film is based on the original book The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. It was one of ten nominees for Best Picture (a field that included Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, Goodbye Mr. Chipps, Of Mice & Men, and the winner – Gone with the Wind). One can choose to view Oz many different ways, but I’ll leave it to people much smarter than me to do that kind of analysis. Taken at face value we can all relate to guys like The Cowardly Lion, who seeks courage…The Tin Man, who wishes for a heart, and The Scarecrow, who only wants a brain. These are endearing but imperfect characters who recognize what they lack and engage in a journey to be made whole. It has been suggested that The Wizard represents God, Oz is Heaven, and The Yellow Brick Road is a kind of path to enlightenment. I don’t know if that’s true, but if it is it’s no wonder we feel a connection to these flawed characters seeking redemption.

 

Quotes

“If I only had a brain.” (Scarecrow)

“Courage! What makes a King out of a slave? Courage! (Cowardly Lion)

“If I only had a heart.” (Tin Man)

 

 

 

28     ET (ET: The Extra-Terrestrial)

Our fascination with outer space & aliens goes back many decades, but it feels like most of the time sci-fi treats such creatures as villains that we humans are to fear. Not ET. He’s about as loveable as anything that a UFO has ever stranded on Earth. He befriends 10 year old Elliott & the boy’s family, and in a harbinger of things to come with product placement in movies develops an affinity for Reese’s Pieces, which had only been on the market for five years. Actually the original script called for the use of M&M’s, but the Mars Candy Co. declined a deal that Hershey ultimately accepted. Of course we all know how these stories end and eventually Elliott & his pals help ET evade capture by government agents and hop a ship back to his home planet. Anyone over the age of 40 can tell you what ET looks & sounds like, and Reese’s Pieces are still going strong. I’d say that’s a solid legacy.

 

Quotes

“Phone. Home. E.T. home phone.”

 

 

 

27     Jason, Michael, & Freddy (slasher flicks)

I am a child of the 80’s, and horror films were a big deal back then. While I am not a huge fan of the genre kudos must be given to three cornerstones, especially since they have appeared in a whopping 33 films (with more to come I’m sure). The only horror movie I really like is the original 1978 Halloween in which Michael Myers murders his older sister and ends up in a sanitarium at the tender age of six, only to escape fifteen years later and return home to the sleepy little hamlet of Haddonfield, IL on Halloween night to engage in a killing spree. Numerous sequels and reboots have been made, but all they’ve done is muddle the mythology and water down the understated brilliance of the original. Michael is referred to in the credits as The Shape, and his appearance is notable for the whited out William Shatner mask he wears. He never says a word, and we aren’t really supposed to know why he does what he does except that he is the embodiment of “pure evil” (one of the key elements the sequels & remakes ruined). Just as Jaws made the idea of swimming in the ocean perpetually frightening Jason Voorhees had a negative impact on summer camp for an entire generation & singlehandedly proliferated the ideas of triskaidekaphobia & paraskevidekatriaphobia (look them up…I can’t do everything). The backstory is that Jason is the young son of the cook at Camp Crystal Lake, and when he drowns as a boy his mother goes nuts and starts killing people. As it turns out he isn’t as dead as everyone thought, which means Mom’s revenge was needless. But now she’s dead and he’s the one seeking vengeance. At any rate, Jason is known for wearing a hockey mask, although he didn’t actually do that until Part 3. The backstory for Freddy Krueger is a little stronger. He’s a child killer in small town Ohio who lures his victims to a boiler room before shredding them with a bladed leather glove. After he gets out of jail on a technicality he is hunted down & burned alive by a mob of angry parents. Years later, though his physical body is dead he lives on and haunts the dreams of local teenagers. Everything about Freddy is memorable, from his history to his clothes to his burnt face. And really, the idea of an evil force haunting our dreams is super creepy and borderline genius.

 

 

 

26     Obi-Wan Kenobi & Master Yoda (The Star Wars Trilogy)

Wise old gurus who seem to understand the mysteries of life and pass on their knowledge to young protagonists are a cornerstone of cinema, and nowhere is it done better than in the Star Wars universe. Ben Kenobi is initially introduced as an old recluse living on Tattoine near Owen & Beru Lars and their nephew Luke Skywalker. After his aunt & uncle’s death Luke is mentored by the elderly man, who we find out was a great & powerful Jedi warrior. His relationship with Luke’s father is a huge part of the franchise. Obi-Wan is killed by his nemesis Darth Vader in the first film, but appears as a Force ghost in the latter two parts of the original trilogy. A younger Obi-wan is a significant player in the prequel trilogy as we see his relationship with Anakin Skywalker from beginning to end. Sir Alec Guinness was already a living legend by the time he originated the role of Obi-Wan Kenobi, having won the Academy Award for Best Actor in 1957 for his role in The Bridge on the River Kwai. During his career he received four Oscar nominations, including a Best Supporting Actor nod for Star Wars (he lost to Jason Robards). Guinness famously had a…complicated…relationship with Star Wars, calling it “fairytale rubbish” and the dialogue “banal mumbo jumbo”. It was his idea to kill the character off in the first movie as he “shriveled up” at the mere mention of Star Wars. Luckily for George Lucas he didn’t face the same ego-driven obstacles with Yoda since it was essentially a puppet voiced by Frank Oz (the same guy who provided the voice for other famous characters like Miss Piggy, Fozzy Bear, Cookie Monster, & Ernie’s pal Bert). Yoda is the Jedi Master of Jedi Masters, a 900 year old two foot tall creature with wrinkled green skin and an odd…almost dyslexic…speech pattern who we don’t meet until he trains Luke Skywalker on Dagobah in The Empire Strikes Back. It is his appearance & the way he talks that makes Yoda so memorable. I’m far too lazy to do the required research, but I’d bet that Yoda was one of the top selling Halloween costumes in the early 80’s.

 

Quotes

“The Force is what gives a Jedi his power. It is an energy field created by all living things. It surrounds us, penetrates us, and binds the galaxy together.” (Obi-Wan Kenobi)

“Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.” (Yoda)

“You’re going to find that many of the truths we cling to depend greatly on our own point of view. The truth is often what we make of it…you heard what you wanted to hear, believed what you wanted to believe.” (Obi-Wan Kenobi)

“Death is a natural part of life. Rejoice for those around you who transform into the Force. Mourn them do not. Miss them do not. Attachment leads to jealously. The shadow of greed, that is.” (Yoda)

“I felt a great disturbance in the Force… as if millions of voices suddenly cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced. I fear something terrible has happened.” (Obi-Wan Kenobi)

“Do or do not, there is no try.” (Yoda)

“Your eyes can deceive you. Don’t trust them.” (Obi-Wan Kenobi)

“Mind what you have learned. Save you it can.” (Yoda)

“If you define yourself by the power to take life, the desire to dominate, to possess…then you have nothing.” (Obi-Wan Kenobi)

“Attachment leads to jealously. The shadow of greed, that is.” (Yoda)

“Be mindful of your thoughts…they betray you.” (Obi-Wan Kenobi)

“If no mistake have you made, yet losing you are… a different game you should play.” (Yoda)

“If you strike me down I shall become more powerful than you can possibly imagine.” (Obi-Wan Kenobi)

 

 

 

Let’s take a break. We’ll resume with the Top 25 soon.

100 Memorable Movie Characters…Part 3

 

“We live in a box of space & time. Movies are windows in its walls. They allow us to enter other minds, not simply in the sense of identifying with the characters, but by seeing the world as another person sees it.”  –  Roger Ebert

 

 

 

My apologies for the slow progress of our little project. I actually had this ready to post last weekend, but ran into some personal issues…sad circumstances that I’d rather not revisit at the moment. I am thankful for the diversion The Manofesto provides during tough times. This space has been a godsend for me thru the years…cathartic, even when the subject matter might not be indicative of that fact. If even one person out there has gotten half as much pleasure out of reading this stuff as I’ve had writing it then it’s all been worth it. Anyway, if you haven’t read Parts 1 & 2 please take some time to catch up. We’ll leave the light on for you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

50     Scout Finch (To Kill A Mockingbird)

Her proper given name is Jean Louise Finch, and she’s the precocious daughter of a respected attorney in 1930’s Alabama. Scout also narrates the story, the crux of which is a controversial rape trial wherein her father is defending the accused. Along the way she spends time with her brother Jem & their pal Dill Harris and becomes fascinated with mysterious neighbor Boo Radley. She loves & respects her father, and slowly begins to understand the deeper issues that plague her community. To Kill A Mockingbird won the 1961 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and was adapted into a film just a year later. The movie was nominated for eight Academy Awards, winning three. Actress Mary Badham was nominated for Best Supporting Actress for her portrayal of Scout Finch but lost to Patty Duke for her role as Helen Keller in The Miracle Worker. Badham was the youngest actress ever nominated for that particular award until Tatum O’Neal took home the trophy a decade later. Badham had a very short acting career that was essentially over by the time she was 14 years old, but I suppose when you star in To Kill A Mockingbird right out of the gate the bar is set rather high. The novel is one of my favorite books of all time, and thankfully the movie stays as faithful to it as one could expect.

 

Quotes

“Maycomb was a tired old town, even in 1932 when I first knew it. Somehow it was hotter then. Men’s stiff collars wilted by 9am, ladies bathed before noon after their 3pm naps, and by nightfall were like soft teacakes with frosting from sweating & sweet talcum. The day was 24 hours long, but it seemed longer. There’s no hurry, for there’s nowhere to go, nothing to buy, and no money to buy it with. Although Maycomb County had recently been told that it had nothing to fear but fear itself, that summer I was six years old.”

“Neighbors bring food with death, flowers with sickness, and little things in between. Boo was our neighbor. He gave us two soap dolls, a broken watch & chain, a knife… and our lives.”

 

 

 

49     Lord Voldemort (The Harry Potter Series)

He Who Must Not Be Named!! This dude is so evil people don’t even want to mention his name, which is pretty heavy stuff. I’m a much bigger fan of the Potter books than the movies, mostly because the books are so massive that the movies necessarily leave a lot of minor characters & subplots on the cutting room floor. Obviously though Voldemort doesn’t have that issue. Thru the course of the series we learn how his life began as Tom Marvolo Riddle, his father abandoned he & his mother, the mother died so Tom ended up in an orphanage, he met Albus Dumbledore who got him into Hogwarts School, and Tom descended into a psychotic murderer who became the most powerful wizard in the world. He is obsessed with becoming immortal, especially after losing his physical body upon killing James & Lily Potter. When you get right down to it the entire Potter story can be boiled down to Good vs. Evil, and Voldemort is basically a fictionalized version of Satan. Good vs. Evil is a staple in literature, movies, & other forms of entertainment, and there is always a Bad Guy. Having said that, I think it is fair to rank the Potter series amongst the best modern fiction out there and Voldemort is one of the most memorable evildoers ever portrayed on film.

 

Quotes

“There is no good and evil. There is only power, and those too weak to seek it.”

“Welcome, my friends. Thirteen years it’s been, and yet, here you stand before me, as though it were only yesterday. I confess myself… disappointed. Not one of you tried to find me.”

“Shall I divulge how I truly lost my powers? Yes, shall I? It was love. You see, when dear, sweet Lily Potter gave her life for her only son, she provided the ultimate protection. I could not touch him. It was old magic. Something I should have foreseen.”

“I’m going to kill you, Harry Potter. I’m going to destroy you. After tonight, no one will ever again question my powers. After tonight, if they speak of you, they’ll speak only of how you begged for death.”

“I know that many of you will want to fight. Some of you may even think that to fight is wise. But this is folly. Give me Harry Potter. Do this and none shall be harmed. Give me Harry Potter, and I shall leave Hogwarts untouched. Give me Harry Potter, and you will be rewarded. You have one hour.”

“Harry Potter, I now speak directly to you. On this night, you have allowed your friends to die for you, rather than face me yourself. There is no greater dishonor. Join me in the Forbidden Forest, and confront your fate. If you do not do this, I shall kill every last man, woman and child who tries to conceal you from me.”

 

 

 

48     Jefferson Smith (Mr. Smith Goes to Washington)

James Stewart is one of my favorite actors of all time. It’s A Wonderful Life. Harvey. Rear Window. Vertigo. I could go on, but one of the best roles of Stewart’s career is Jefferson Smith, the leader of an organization called The Boy Rangers (because The Boy Scouts refused to allow use of their name). Smith is a good-natured, idealistic, naïve young man who is inexplicably maneuvered into becoming a replacement Senator from an unnamed state. Once in the U.S. Senate others are under the impression that Smith can be manipulated to do their bidding & line their greedy pockets, but the newbie is much more astute & committed to his principles than anyone realizes. Mr. Smith Goes to Washington was originally intended to be a sequel to 1936’s Mr. Deeds Goes to Town, with Gary Cooper reprising his role as Longfellow Deeds, but when that idea fell thru director Frank Capra retooled the story into a vehicle for Stewart, who received his first Academy Award nomination for the role.

 

Quotes

“You’re not gonna have a country that can make these kind of rules work, if you haven’t got men that have learned to tell human rights from a punch in the nose. It’s a funny thing about men, you know. They all start life being boys. I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if some of these Senators were boys once. And that’s why it seemed like a pretty good idea for me to get boys out of crowded cities and stuffy basements for a couple of months out of the year. And build their bodies and minds for a man-sized job, because those boys are gonna be behind these desks some of these days.”

“I wouldn’t give you two cents for all your fancy rules if, behind them, they didn’t have a little bit of plain, ordinary, everyday kindness and a little lookin’ out for the other fella, too.”

“There’s no compromise with truth. That’s all I got up on this floor to say.”

“Get up there with that lady that’s up on top of this Capitol dome, that lady that stands for liberty. Take a look at this country through her eyes if you really want to see something. And you won’t just see scenery; you’ll see the whole parade of what Man’s carved out for himself, after centuries of fighting. Fighting for something better than just jungle law, fighting so’s he can stand on his own two feet, free and decent, like he was created, no matter what his race, color, or creed. That’s what you’d see.”

“I guess this is just another lost cause, Mr. Paine. All you people don’t know about lost causes. Mr. Paine does. He said once they were the only causes worth fighting for, and he fought for them once, for the only reason any man ever fights for them: Because of one plain simple rule: Love thy neighbor. And in this world today, full of hatred, a man who knows that one rule has a great trust. You think I’m licked. You all think I’m licked. Well, I’m not licked, and I’m gonna stay right here and fight for this lost cause.”

 

 

 

47     Annie Savoy (Bull Durham)

The term “Baseball Annie” may or may not have originated with Ruth Ann Steinhagen, a 19 year old Chicago woman who became obsessed with infielder Eddie Waitkus and shot him in a hotel room in 1949. That incident inspired the 1952 novel The Natural, which was adapted into a movie starring Robert Redford in 1984. At any rate, a Baseball Annie is a groupie who hooks up with baseball players, and Annie Savoy might be the most well-known (fictional) example. Susan Sarandon’s most famous role before Bull Durham was probably playing Janet Weiss in the 1975 adaptation of The Rocky Horror Picture Show, although she has five Academy Award nominations and one Best Actress trophy on her resume. Sarandon gives Annie the perfect blend of sensuality, humor, strength, metaphysicality, & vulnerability. She is almost motherly (in a sexual kind of way of course) to inexperienced rookie pitcher Nuke LaLoosh, while veteran catcher Crash Davis isn’t intimidated at all & calls her out on her BS, which totally turns Annie on. Sarandon was nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Actress in a Comedy or Musical, but lost to Melanie Griffith for her role in Working Girl.

 

Quotes

“I believe in the Church of Baseball. I’ve tried all the major religions and most of the minor ones. I’ve worshipped Buddha, Allah, Brahma, Vishnu, Siva, trees, mushrooms, and Isadora Duncan. There are 108 beads in a Catholic rosary and there are 108 stitches in a baseball. When I learned that, I gave Jesus a chance, but it just didn’t work out between us. The Lord laid too much guilt on me. I prefer metaphysics to theology. You see, there’s no guilt in baseball, and it’s never boring, which makes it like sex. There’s never been a ballplayer slept with me who didn’t have the best year of his career. Makin’ love is like hitting a baseball, you just gotta relax and concentrate. Besides, I’d never sleep with a player hitting under .250, unless he had a lot of RBIs or was a great glove man up the middle.”

“This is the damndest season I’ve ever had; the Durham Bulls can’t lose and I can’t get laid!”

“Baseball may be a religion full of magic, cosmic truth, and the fundamental ontological riddles of our time, but it’s also a job.”

“Women never get lured. They’re too strong and powerful for that.”

“Actually, nobody on this planet ever really chooses each other. I mean, it’s all a question of quantum physics, molecular attraction, and timing. Why, there are laws we don’t understand that bring us together and tear us apart. It’s like pheromones. You get three ants together, they can’t do dick. You get 300 million of them, they can build a cathedral.”

“Cute? Baby ducks are cute, I hate cute! I want to be exotic & mysterious!”

 

 

 

46         Mr. Miyagi (The Karate Kid)

Who would have ever guessed in 1975 that the owner of Arnold’s Drive-In would go on to become a sage old martial arts master & building maintenance man?? Pat Morita was viewed as a comedic actor because of his work on Happy Days & MASH, so the powers-that-be were reluctant to cast him as Mr. Miyagi, a role that requires a kind of quiet wisdom. Hindsight is 20/20, and we understand now that Morita was perfect for the part, which earned him an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor (won that year by Haing S. Ngor for his role in The Killing Fields) and which he reprised in three sequels.

 

Quotes

 “First learn balance. Balance good, karate good, everything good. Balance bad, might as well pack up, go home.”

“In Okinawa, all Miyagi know two things: fish & karate. Karate come from China, 16th century, called te, ‘hand’. Hundred year later, Miyagi ancestor bring to Okinawa, call karate. ‘empty hand’.”

“Fighting always last answer to problem.”

“Wax on, right hand. Wax off, left hand. Wax on, wax off. Breathe in through nose, out of mouth. Wax on, wax off. Don’t forget to breathe, very important.”

“Man who catch fly with chopsticks accomplish anything.”

 

 

 

45     Vincent Gambini & Mona Lisa Vito (My Cousin Vinny)

Actor Joe Pesci makes his second appearance in our countdown, but in a very different role from the violent lunatic he plays in Goodfellas. Vincent is actually on the other side of the law…a middle-aged attorney who has never tried a case. When his young cousin & a friend are charged with a murder they didn’t commit in Alabama they call upon Cousin Vinny to help. It then becomes a classic fish-out-of-water story because you have very Brooklyn Vinny clashing with the locals of a small southern town. Such tales are dime-a-dozen in Hollywood, but this one is particularly well done, and none of the depicted stereotypes are mean-spirited or small-minded. Vinny proves to be unconventional yet clever, in no small part due to the motivation & assistance provided by his girlfriend Lisa. Until Vinny Marisa Tomei had been best known for her small screen roles on soap opera As the World Turns and Cosby Show spinoff A Different World, but that all changed when she won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her role as Mona Lisa. Since then she has gone on to have a steady & sporadically successful career with a few additional award nominations. My Cousin Vinny is one of my go to movies when I’m in the mood to chill out & need something to simply put a smile on my face, and it holds up quite well after 25+ years.

 

Quotes

“I routinely twist the maximum allowable torquage.” (Lisa)

“You’re in Ala-fuckin’-bama. You come from New York. You killed a good ol’ boy. There is no way this is not goin’ to trial.” (Vinny)

“Imagine you’re a deer. You’re prancin’ along. You get thirsty. You spot a little brook. You put ya little deer lips down to the cool clear water…bam! A fuckin’ bullet rips off part of ya head! Your brains are layin’ on the ground in little bloody pieces! Now, I ask ya, would you give a fuck what kind of pants the son-of-a-bitch who shot you was wearing?!” (Lisa)

“When ya look at the bricks from the right angle, they’re as thin as this playing card. His whole case is an illusion, a magic trick. It has to be an illusion ’cause you’re innocent. Nobody, I mean nobody, pulls the wool over the eyes of a Gambini, especially this one.” (Vinny)

“Well, I hate to bring it up because I know you’ve got enough pressure on you already. But, we agreed to get married as soon as you won your first case. Meanwhile, ten years later, my niece, the daughter of my sister is gettin’ married. My biological clock is tickin’ like this, and the way this case is goin’, I ain’t never gettin’ married!” (Lisa)

“Did you just say you’re a fast cook, that’s it!? Are we to believe that boiling water soaks into a grit faster in your kitchen than on any place on the face of the Earth!? Perhaps the laws of physics cease to exist on your stove! Were these magic grits? I mean, did you buy them from the same guy who sold Jack his beanstalk beans!?” (Vinny)

“The car that made these two equal-length tire marks had positraction. Can’t make those marks without positraction, which was not available on the ’64 Buick Skylark! You see when the left tire mark goes up on the curb, and the right tire mark stays flat and even? Well, the ’64 Skylark had a solid rear axle. So, when the left tire would go up on the curb, the right tire would tilt out and ride along its edge, but that didn’t happen here, the tire mark stayed flat and even. This car had an independent rear suspension. Now, in the ’60s, there were only two other cars made in America that had positraction, independent rear suspension, & enough power to make these marks: one was the Corvette, which could never be confused with the Buick Skylark. The other had the same body length, height, width, weight, wheelbase, and wheel track as the ’64 Skylark, and that was the 1963 Pontiac Tempest.” (Lisa)

 

 

 

44     Jack Torrance (The Shining)

I’ve been very slow to jump on board the Stephen King train, but over the years I’ve dipped my toe in the pool occasionally. The Shining is King’s 1977 novel about an schoolteacher & aspiring writer and his family who are hired to run a creepy hotel in Colorado. It was adapted for the big screen in 1980, with Jack Nicholson taking on the lead role. Jack Torrance slowly descends into madness, (spoiler alert) eventually attempting to murder both his wife & young son. King famously disliked the film and felt like Nicholson was miscast as Torrance. The author would have preferred a nicer “everyman” sort of actor in the role since it would have made Torrance’s dark turn all the more unsettling, whereas Nicholson was already typecast as unhinged & scary. By 1980 Nicholson had amassed five Oscar nominations, winning Best Actor in 1975 for his role in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, so it is understandable that director Stanley Kubrick would jump at the chance to have him star in The Shining. Robert De Niro, Robin Williams (who was unknown at the time), and Harrison Ford were all considered, but King didn’t like any of those choices either so perhaps he’s just impossible to placate.

 

Quotes

“All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.”

“Come out, come out, wherever you are!”

“Here’s Johnny!”

“Wendy, darling, light of my life, I’m not gonna hurt ya. Ya didn’t let me finish my sentence. I said, I’m not gonna hurt ya. I’m just gonna bash your brains in.”

 

 

 

43     Fredo Corleone (The Godfather Trilogy)

Actor John Cazale starred in only five movies before cancer took his life at the young age of 42. Those movies?? The first two Godfather films, The Deer Hunter, The Conversation, & Dog Day Afternoon…all of which were nominated for Best Picture. That’s quite a track record, and it’s unfortunate that we’ll never know what might have been if Cazale lived & had a long career. Fredo is the middle son of the Don of America’s most notorious crime family. Unlike his tough & hotheaded older brother and cool & calculating younger brother Fredo is a little slow and kind of nervous, so he isn’t trusted with any kind of important responsibilities within the organization. In Part II he betrays his brother Michael, who is nearly killed by rival gangster Hyman Roth. When Michael learns of Fredo’s treachery he has him murdered. Despite the fact that Fredo is a bit of a horndog he is a sympathetic character. On a personal level I understand that feeling of being overlooked, disrespected, & thought of as somehow…less…by others. Fredo knows how people view him and he is frustrated by it because he believes he isn’t quite as inept as everyone thinks he is and just needs someone to give him a chance, but on the other hand he is shown to screw up every opportunity he is given by his family.

 

Quotes

“Mike! You don’t come to Las Vegas and talk to a man like Moe Greene like that!”

“You’re my kid brother, and you take care of me? Did you ever think about that? Huh? Did you ever once think about that? Send Fredo off to do this. Send Fredo off to do that! Let Fredo take care of some Mickey Mouse nightclub somewhere! Send Fredo to pick somebody up at the airport! I’m your older brother, Mike, and I was stepped over! I can handle things! I’m smart! Not like everybody says, like dumb! I’m smart, and I want respect!”

 

 

 

42     Riggs & Murtaugh (The Lethal Weapon Series)

The buddy/cop movie formula is tried & true…but also hit & miss. The two cops are usually opposites in every way…one experienced & one less so, one by the book & one more rebellious, one a family man & the other a free-wheeling single, a serious dude vs. a wisecracking smartass. There are variations, but the tension between two individuals who see the world completely different yet are forced to work together toward a common goal is the essence of the story. We don’t remember much about the bad guys or the particular crimes involved…what sticks with the audience is the relationship between the two heroes. Arguably the formula has never worked better than with Lethal Weapon. In four films between 1987 & 1998 Danny Glover portrayed straitlaced Roger Murtaugh, a husband & father who’s been with the LAPD for many years and is on the verge of retirement, while Mel Gibson is Martin Riggs, a younger widowed detective who is grieving his wife’s death and lives on the edge because he may or may not be crazy, suicidal, or both. Thru the years the duo grow from being initially distrustful of each other to becoming brothers from another mother, all while chasing an assortment of criminals. Opinions vary on the strength/weakness of each individual film, but the franchise as a whole is quite enjoyable even more than two decades after the fourth movie was released, and that is due mainly to our affection for Riggs & Murtaugh.

 

Quotes

“What did one shepherd say to the other shepherd? Let’s get the flock out of here.” (Riggs)

“I’m too old for this shit.” (Murtaugh)

“We can’t shoot a dog. People? Okay, but not dogs.” (Riggs)

“My baby is having his baby!” (Murtaugh)

“You have the right to remain unconscious. Anything you say ain’t gonna be much.” (Riggs)

“We both know why I was transferred. Everybody thinks I’m suicidal, in which case, I’m fucked and nobody wants to work with me; or they think I’m faking to draw a psycho pension, in which case, I’m fucked and nobody wants to work with me. Basically, I’m fucked.” (Riggs)

“You’re not trying to draw a psycho pension! You really are crazy!” (Murtaugh)

“Well, what do you wanna hear, man?! Do you wanna hear that sometimes I think about eatin’ a bullet?! HUH!? Well, I do! I even got a special bullet for the occasion with a hollow point, look! Make sure it blows the back of my goddamned head out and do the job right! Every single day I wake up and I think of a reason not to do it! Every single day! You know why I don’t do it?! This is gonna make you laugh! You know why I don’t do it?! The job! Doin’ the job! Now that’s the reason!” (Riggs)

 

 

 

41         Jeff Spicoli (Fast Times at Ridgemont High)

Another tried & true movie formula is the high school flick. Every generation has one or two definitive ones, and in the pre-John Hughes era of the early 80’s it was Fast Times at Ridgemont High. By 1982 Sean Penn had done one episode of Little House on the Prairie and was part of the ensemble in the film Taps, though he was certainly lower on the proverbial depth chart than George C. Scott, Timothy Hutton, & probably even Tom Cruise. That changed in a big way with Fast Times, which also featured a group of youngsters…Forest Whitaker, Judge Reinhold, Eric Stoltz, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Anthony Edwards, Nicolas Cage…who would go on to have rather successful Hollywood careers. However it is Penn as Spicoli, a beach bum stoner, that stands above the crowd. Sean Penn has been nominated for Best Actor five times and taken home two Oscars, but he’ll never escape the shadow of a character that he portrayed almost four decades ago. Spicoli’s interactions with teacher Mr. Hand (portrayed by My Favorite Martian’s Ray Walston) are hysterically funny, and he embodies the surfer dude stereotype so perfectly that I would argue he is the model for it.

 

Quotes

“All I need are some tasty waves, a cool buzz, and I’m fine.”

“People on ludes should not drive.”

“Hey bud, what’s your problem?”

“Hola, Mr. Hand.”

“I did battle some humongous waves. But you know, just like I told the guy on ABC, danger is my business.”

“I’ve been thinking about this, Mr. Hand. If I’m here and you’re here, doesn’t that make it our time? Certainly, there’s nothing wrong with a little feast on our time.”

 

 

 

40     Abbott & Costello, The Three Stooges, Laurel & Hardy, & The Marx Brothers (multiple films)

Stay with me folks…I’ll try not to make this too complicated. I’ve made this a four way tie for several reasons. Actually I debated including any of these acts at all, but in the final analysis I couldn’t justify excluding them. Here’s the thing…we’re discussing movie characters, right?? Well, when it comes right down to it all of these guys portrayed slightly different characters in all of their films, none of which stand out above any others. Their movies are more about the situations they are put in and the zany antics that follow. Having said that, we must also recognize that their stage personas are characters in & of themselves, so essentially they are…in a roundabout way…portraying the same characters in all of their films. Bud Abbot & Lou Costello starred in about three dozen films from 1940-56, and around Halloween I’d much rather watch Abbott & Costello Meet Frankenstein or Abbott & Costello Meet The Invisible Man than any modern slasher flick. Moe, Larry, Curly (and sometimes Shemp or Curly Joe) made over 200 films from 1930-70. The vast majority of those were “short subjects”, meaning the movie is 40 minutes or less, but The Stooges did star in about two dozen full length features, and when I was growing up in the 70’s & 80’s their stuff was on television with some regularity. Laurel & Hardy teamed together in over 100 movies from the late 1920’s to the mid-40’s. About 1/3 of those were actually silent films & 40 were short subjects, but they did star in a couple dozen full length features. The Marx Brothers…Groucho, Harpo, Chico, Zeppo, & Gummo (real names: Julius, Adolph, Leonard, Herbert, & Milton)…were NY City kids born to Jewish immigrants from Europe. Gummo never appeared in any of the movies but was part of their Vaudeville act. Zeppo appeared in the first five movies but left performing behind and became an agent. Groucho, Harpo, & Chico are the trio most associated with The Marx Brothers, and they did about a dozen films together. Gabe Kaplan, the star of 70’s sitcom Welcome Back Kotter, was a big Marx Brothers fan and The Sweathogs were allegedly loosely based on the group. I am not including quotes from these acts because they provided far too much material to sift thru and narrow down. In addition, much of their comedy is slapstick & physicality that obviously doesn’t translate to the written page all that well. Suffice to say that the comedic contributions of all four holds up surprisingly well after several decades and has undoubtedly influenced comedians that have come along in the ensuing years.

 

 

 

This feels like an appropriate place to pause. Readability has always been a primary goal here at The Manofesto, so I shall refrain from pushing ahead and wait for another day.