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!!

The 2016 Sammy Awards – Part 2

SammyAwardeagleBefore we get too far into the new year we like to take a look back at all the highs & lows of the previous year. Welcome back to the show, and if you haven’t checked out Part 1 please do so. Really, it’s okay…we’ll wait.

 

 

 

After another amusing anecdote from our host Steve Harvey it is time to present our next award. He’s been waiting patiently billy_bushon a bus outside…alone & without a live microphone. Please welcome the former host of Access Hollywood, a refugee from NBC’s Today Show, & the nephew of former President George H.W. Bush. Give a warm welcome to Billy Bush!! And the nominees are:

 

 

 

The Twitter Award for Most Interesting Water Cooler Topic

 

The Walking Dead

Am I the only person in America that has never seen one single second of this show?? More importantly, is it weird that I couldn’t possibly care less??

 

 

Transgender Politics

In 21st Century America we don’t even know the difference between a male & female. It’s all about how a person “feels”. I think every science teacher I ever had would likely disagree. I don’t follow the crowd. I know what I know and facts are facts. If you disagree that’s alright, but just know that you’re part of the problem.

 

 

PokeMon Go

Back in the summer of 2016 this was a big thing for about five minutes. I’m not sure how it works, but I guess people download something on their phones and then seek out imaginary ghosts or something. Are their points?? Does anyone eventually win or lose the game?? I don’t know. I’m old & lazy. This game sounds like too much work with not enough reward.

 

 

The $20 Bill

Since 1928 the $20 bill has featured the face of Andrew Jackson, who was the 7th President of the United States. But a movement arose to change that for some unknown reason. Folks decided to find a woman’s face…any woman…to put on the bill. I don’t know…equality, inclusiveness, fairness…some politically correct crap like that is to blame. Names that were suggested included Eleanor Roosevelt & Rosa Parks, but a poll that I never even knew existed was apparently voted on by over a half million people and won by Civil War heroine Harriet Tubman. Those new $20 bills will go into circulation in a few years.

 

 

#BlackLivesMatter

I suppose I should tread rather carefully thru this minefield. Suffice to say that I believe it is pathetic that we are still dealing with racism in 21st Century America. However, I think it is worth debating what the bigger issue may be. Is it the fact that racism does undeniably exist?? Or is the idea that, despite tremendous strides in race relations that have seen minorities gain the legal equality that they were denied up until a few decades ago, a portion of the population…both black & white…persists in painting minorities as perpetual victims?? What I find especially disturbing is that this hornet’s nest really got stirred up AFTER the United States took a groundbreaking step by electing our first black President. Whether or not one agrees with President Obama politically the fact is that his election eight years ago was an historic moment that should have cemented the idea of racial equality & harmony, yet things have only gotten worse. I also think it is sad that the law enforcement community has been demonized in the process. I am sure that bad cops have always existed. They always will because there are evil forces in all walks of life. But the Black Lives Matter movement has been all too successful in painting the entire profession in a bad light. I am a proponent of the idea that all lives matter, but some even deem that idea racist. It’s a no-win situation for everybody.

 

 

Harambe

Back in May 2016 a three year old boy climbed into the gorilla enclosure at the Cincinnati Zoo. Patrons looked on in horror as a gorilla named Harambe grabbed the child and dragged him away. Some believe that the animal was trying to be protective of the boy, but obviously gorillas & humans tend to think differently about such things. Zoo employees saw no other solution than to shoot & kill Harambe. Video of the situation quickly went viral, and of course everybody just had to chime in with an opinion. While it is sad that the gorilla had to lose his life, the more important thing is that the young boy was unharmed.

 

 

No Nudity in Playboy

After a half century as America’s preeminent “gentlemen’s magazine” Playboy decided to no longer show full frontal nudity in its photographs in 2016. I am surprised they still publish magazines at all. Any magazine, let alone a nudie magazine. I haven’t picked up a Playboy in atleast 25 years. If a guy needs that kind of…entertainment…I think The Internet & video streaming is probably a more popular choice these days.

 

 

Gun Control

Another year, more mass shootings. Five police officers shot in Dallas in July. Six people killed in random shootings on a single February night in Kalamazoo, MI. 49 people killed & 53 others injured by a gunman at a nightclub in Orlando, FL in June. There are other examples I could cite. No one is arguing that these events aren’t tragic. Everyone would love for it to never happen again. The disagreement comes when discussing possible solutions. Gun control advocates would like to see guns banned and the Constitution’s 2nd Amendment altered or abolished. Many others understand that more laws and/or prohibiting responsible gun ownership will not solve the problem. It’s a debate that has been raging my entire adult life and probably won’t go away anytime soon. Sadly there will be more shootings. We have issues in our nation that run deep and cannot be solved easily. I don’t know the right answer.

 

 

Hamilton

I live in West Virginia. Culture here is severely lacking. I’d like to think that if I lived in New York City I’d enjoy the occasional theater production. In 2016 Hamilton was apparently THE hottest ticket on Broadway. If my information is correct it is a musical about the life of Alexander Hamilton, one of America’s Founding Fathers and the first Treasury Secretary who infamously died in a duel at the hands of our third Vice President Aaron Burr. Because we are absolutely obsessed with political correctness in 21st Century America the entire cast of Hamilton…who are portraying historically real people that were white…is black & Hispanic. I am sure this “inclusiveness” is a major reason that the show has received so much praise, although I suppose it is entirely possible that it is legitimately a well-written play with fantastic acting & singing. It received an added level of notoriety a couple of months ago when Vice President-elect Mike Pence attended a performance and one of the actors thought it was proper to address him from the stage, noting how “alarmed & anxious” he & his castmates are about the incoming Trump Administration. Newsflash: it was grossly inappropriate.

 

 

Scary Clowns

In the fall of 2016 various sightings of creepy clowns became a nationwide story. Some of these clowns just stood around looking scary. A few actually attacked people. I have no idea what the heck the deal is with all of it. Don’t we have enough problems to deal with??

 

 

Mannequin Challenge

This is one of the dumbest things I’ve seen in recent memory. It’s not even worthy of my time & energy. Atleast there was a point to the Ice Bucket Challenge.

 

 

Brangelina Break-Up

Angelina Jolie has never frosted my cupcake. She’s not been in a single movie that I enjoyed, and I don’t find her particularly attractive. Brad Pitt has actually been in a few films I like. The two infamously got together back in 2005 when he cheated on wife Jennifer Aniston with Jolie. I was a big fan of Friends. Aniston was one of my favorite celebrity crushes. This made me dislike Brangelina tremendously. In 2014, after eight years of living in sin and adopting a couple dozen babies from Third World countries, the couple finally got married. Then, just two years later, they announced their divorce. Somehow I have found the strength to go on.

 

 

 

And the Sammy goes to…..

 

 

 

PokeMon Go. I still don’t really get it, but atleast it was harmless fun for a lot of people, and honestly, we could all probably use more harmless fun.pokemon-gs7edge-1

 

 

 

 

To present our next award please welcome the man who dealt a fatal blow to late night television with his 2015 retirement. He’s a living legend who hosted NBC’s Late Night and CBS’s Late Show for over three decades. We’re not sure what he’s been up to for the past year & a half but we are happy to have him at the Sammy Awards. Please give a well-earned ovation to David Letterman!! And the nominees are:

 

 

 

Favorite Television Event

 

The People vs. O.J. Simpson

I lived thru the infamous O.J. Simpson murder trial back in the mid-90’s. I’m actually very surprised that it took two decades for it to be made into a movie…or in this case a mini-series. I had really low expectations and assumed it would be…at best…kind of tacky. However, I was pleasantly surprised at the quality of acting & writing. In fact, the show received 22 Emmy nominations and won 9 trophies. Cuba Gooding Jr. hasn’t been this good since winning an Oscar for Jerry Maguire in 1996, and both Sterling K. Brown & Courtney B. Vance were tremendous. John Travolta…well hey, we’ll always have Grease & Saturday Night Fever, right??

 

 

11.22.63

I’m not really a big Stephen King aficionado, but about five years ago he wrote a novel about a guy who goes back in time to stop the Kennedy assassination. Time travel?? JFK’s assassination? Yes please. I gave the book a whirl and was so glad that I did. Just an awesome read. I knew that it’d eventually be put on film, but even I am aware that King’s works are notoriously difficult to translate into movies and the results have been mixed over the years. After a big screen adaptation was scrapped eventually the decision was made to make a miniseries for Hulu, which was a good call. More questionable was casting James Franco in the lead role. Is it a good show?? Yes. Could it have been better?? Yes. I’d recommend it, but I’d also suggest not skipping the novel.

 

 

Stranger Things

I include this only as a courtesy. I have not watched it yet, though I intend to. Friends have told me they think I’d enjoy it. Netflix has already greenlit a second season so I suppose I better catch up ASAP.

 

 

Fuller House

The original Full House was cheesy fun back in the 90’s. I wasn’t the target demo then, and I am certainly not the viewer this follow up is seeking, but I’m a little bit of a rebel like that. Season 1 premiered on Netflix back in February before I began my new job, and I binged it all in one day. Season 2 became available not long before Christmas and it took me a few days to finish. Fuller House isn’t going to win any awards and critics haven’t been kind, but Netflix has already ordered a third season so I guess enough people are watching. Nostalgia can carry something further than one would think, and older fans of the original show seemingly enjoy its “sequel”.

 

 

ABC Fun & Games

When I was a kid my Grandma Pigott loved game shows. She’d watch them all morning long, and then watch the ones that were on in the evening. Sadly game shows have become passé in the ensuing decades, with the exception of the continued success of Jeopardy! & Wheel of Fortune. Occasionally something will pop up for a brief moment in the spotlight, like Who Wants to Be a Millionaire hosted by Regis Philbin back about 15 years ago. In 2016 ABC decided to revive a few old favorites. Family Feud, hosted by our very own Sammy Awards emcee Steve Harvey, has been successful in syndication for about six years. A celebrity version aired this summer for six weeks in prime time. Also part of the fun was a reboot of Match Game, hosted by Alec Baldwin, who is detestable in real life but admittedly very funny when he’s acting. The weakest link in the chain is a revival of The 100,000 Pyramid, which was originally hosted by the late great Dick Clark back in the day and is now helmed by former football player Michael Strahan. All three of these shows are mindless, kitschy fun, and that’s okay with me. Small doses…a month or two once or twice a year…is probably a smart way to go with the idea.

 

 

 

And the Sammy goes to…..

 

 

 

Fuller House. I said it wasn’t going to win any awards. I was wrong. Look, I realize that it’s not everyone’s cup o’ tea. Many people seek edgier or more intellectually fuller-house2stimulating entertainment, and that’s fine. Sometimes I crave something provocative or profound as well. But I think there’s room for a wide spectrum of choices on which to spend our down time. Fuller House probably won’t make it past 3 or 4 seasons, but for a brief period of time we can atleast appreciate it for the amusing trip down memory lane that it is meant to be.

 

 

 

To present our next award we are happy to welcome to the stage one of the preeminent actors of his generation. He has starred in modern classics like The Shawshank Redemption, Deep Impact, Batman Begins, The Dark Knight Rises, Ted 2, & Last Vegas. Please give some love to Morgan Freeman!!

 

 

caliendo2My apologies. Mr. Freeman is unable to appear on the show tonight. Instead our next award will be presented by comedian Frank Caliendo…doing an impression of Morgan Freeman. And the nominees are:

 

 

 

The DB Cooper Award (For the Person Who Most Needs to Disappear)

 

Senator Joe Manchin

He’s the former Governor and a current United States Senator from my home state, but I’m never quite sure where he stands. Some have opined that he is a rather conservative Democrat, but he sure has seemed to kiss President Obama’s…ring…a lot the past several years. Then, this past summer, Senator Manchin made comments in a conversation about gun control whining about the Fifth Amendment right to due process being an inconvenient impediment. I’m never a fan of politicians complaining about our Constitution. The fact is that America’s Founding Fathers had more common sense & foresight in their pinkies than our entire legislative branch collectively shows in 21st Century America.

 

 

Jon Gruden

Wow, is this guy a clown. I’m not sure why football fans or the powers-that-be at ESPN think he’s entertaining. He makes John Madden seem like Albert Einstein. Please…for the love of God…will some football team out there offer the dude a coaching job and get him off my TV??

 

 

Taylor Swift

She’s still around, though I think her star is fading. Or maybe that’s just wishful thinking on my part.

 

 

Barack & Michelle Obama

Theoretically this will happen with the transfer of power to a new President in a few weeks. However, I have a bad feeling that, unlike other former Presidents who fade into the background and enjoy their retirement, ol’ Barack Hussein & his wife Aunt Esther aren’t really going away. The media loves them and will undoubtedly seek them out at every opportunity to comment on whatever is going on. I have predicted for several years that Obama would someday be the Secretary General of the United Nations, so look for movement on that front in the coming years.

 

 

“Caitlynn” Jenner

Let’s make one thing perfectly clear…Bruce Jenner is a man. Always has been, always will be. “Caitlynn” is a fictional character, not unlike Mrs. Doubtfire, Madea, or Big Momma. Unfortunately, instead of getting Mr. Jenner the help he so desperately needs to treat his mental illness the media & Hollywood has spent the past few years enabling his delusion.

 

 

Stephen Colbert

After a decade hosting a program on Comedy Central that I watched maybe 2 or 3 times Colbert was the inexplicable choice to replace David Letterman on CBS’s Late Show in 2015. I gave the man a chance…I really did. I still flip on over to that channel every once in a great while. But Colbert is just too damn political for a late night network television show. I suppose if you agree with his hateful leftist ideology you might find the guy funny. To each their own. I simply can’t stand the man or his little show, and I think CBS will tire of his shtick soon enough.

 

 

Bill & Hillary Clinton

They’ve written the blueprint for the Obamas. A decade & a half after Slick Willie left the White House these idiots are still around casting a dark shadow on America. Hillary even served in the U.S. Senate & as Secretary of State. Then, as we all know, she ran for President a couple of times, failing miserably on both attempts. Think about it…a majority of Americans outside the Lands of Liberal Make Believe in New York City, Hollywood, & Chicago chose Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton. That’s rejection with a capital R. I’d like to think the latest humiliating defeat would persuade these two to retire from public life permanently, but I wouldn’t be at all surprised if she runs again in four years.

 

 

Megyn Kelly

I’m so over her. One would assume certain things about Ms. Kelly since she works for Fox News, but appearances can be deceiving. I’m pretty tired of most of the media, but she especially has tended to make it all about herself this past year. I just want my newscasters to read the news. I don’t need their perspective. I don’t need their personality. I just want honesty & facts. I’d be willing to bet that she will eventually defect to CNN or MSNBC for big money, and that’s well within her rights. Go for it. Pad that bank account. Fancy yourself a star. And while Megyn Kelly is living that dream those of us who want to know what’s really going on in the world will know where to look, which won’t be wherever she is.

 

 

 

And the Sammy goes to…..

 

 

 

All of Them!! That’s right…it’s a mass tie. Just shut your pieholes. Go away. Get out. Good riddance. Don’t let the door hit you where the Good Lord split you.loser

 

 

 

 

 

rice2Presenting our next award are two of the smartest people in the world…individuals who aren’t usually thought of as tysonentertaining but, like the rest of us, like to let their hair down & relax every once in awhile. She is a former National Security Advisor and served as Secretary of State from 2005-2009. Please welcome Condoleeza Rice!! He is an astrophysicist & author and is the current Director of the Hayden Planetarium in New York City. Give a round of applause to Neil deGrasse Tyson!! And the nominees are:

 

 

Most Entertaining Program (Radio or TV)

 

Mike & Mike in the Morning

Once again my morning routine changed a bit in 2016, so watching Greeny & Golic from 6-10am every weekday isn’t really a priority. I still catch the show occasionally and enjoy it almost as much as I ever did, but admittedly the shine has worn off just a little.

 

 

The Young & The Restless

I keep saying I am going to give up my soap operas, but for some reason I don’t follow thru. Even my Dad is hooked on Y&R, which is really amusing to me. The show went thru some behind-the-scenes changes in 2016, but the storylines remain strong & the characters are interesting for the most part.

 

 

MetroNews Hotline

From 3-6pm each weekday afternoon here in WV we have the opportunity to listen to a statewide radio talk show that covers everything from current events & sports to pop culture & the financial markets. It’s comfort food radio, which in my book is a great thing. The program’s original host stepped down a few months ago and I haven’t totally decided how I feel about the new guy, but if I happen to be in my truck when it is on I’ll usually listen. God knows it’s better than the garbage the music stations are playing.

 

 

Highly Questionable

ESPN finally settled on a time slot for this show in 2016, and if I’m home I’ll watch. If I’m not going to be home I’ll almost always DVR it. It’s irreverant, occasionally silly, sometimes informative, & always easily palatable. I’ve even become accustomed to co-host Bomani Jones, who I wasn’t quite sold on a year ago.

 

 

The Rush Limbaugh Show

El Rushbo is still going strong after nearly three decades on the radio. With 2016 being an election year Rush was in his element. I don’t listen often, but always enjoy it when I do. I understand that he doesn’t frost everyone’s cupcake, and that’s alright. I like the show and that’s what matters.

 

 

General Hospital

I’ve been watching GH since grade school. I always say I’m going to stop, but I don’t. There are certainly better things I could be spending time on, but I suppose there are worse things as well.

 

 

Designated Survivor

I never watched a single second of Kiefer Sutherland’s popular show 24, but as soon as I first saw teasers of this new program online several months ago I knew I had to check it out, and after the first episode I was hooked. I rarely even bother with new prime time shows, but this one is a winner. Thru the first half of the season they have constructed a web of suspense & intrigue that rivals any drama I’ve ever seen. It’s a well written show with great performances. I’m not sure if it’ll have legs for more than a couple of years, but I’d be happy to be wrong about that.

 

 

WWE Raw

Monday night is wrestling night. I don’t answer the phone. I don’t make other plans if possible. Maybe I’ll flip back & forth to the Monday night NFL game, but generally my eyes are glued to my wrasslin’ for a few hours. Or atleast that’s how it used to be. I have noticed in the past year I do a bit more channel surfing during Raw, or sometimes I’ll actually doze off. After the demise of WCW and with no viable competition remaining it seems like Vince McMahon has taken his foot off the gas just a bit. WWE has also made a concerted effort to become more family friendly in recent years, which is a blessing & a curse. Pro wrestling has always had its ebbs & tides, and right now seems to be a bit of a lull. Still though, there are weeks when it’s really fun to be a wrestling fan.

 

 

Jeopardy!

I love my game shows, and this is the best one around. It actually rewards people for being intelligent, and really, who could have an issue with that??

 

 

Pardon the Interruption

In contrast to its ESPN brethren Highly Questionable, PTI is proudly & audaciously cantankerous. Hosts Tony Kornheiser & Michael Wilbon like to shout at each other for no apparent reason, but it kind of works. This is another show that I’ll usually record if I’m not going to be home. ESPN has perfected the argumentative sports talk show blueprint and probably ran it into the ground at this point, but after 15 years PTI is still at the top of the food chain with no signs of fading away anytime soon.

 

 

Days of Our Lives

Of the three soaps that I watch this is probably the weakest. There just seems to be something…subpar…about its production. Having said that, after over three decades of viewership the Horton, Brady, DiMera, & Kiriakis clans are fictional families that I have grown fond of, atleast as much as one can care about imaginary characters on TV.

 

 

This Is Us

2016 not only hooked me on one new show…it made me a fan of TWO. I decided to check out This Is Us because of actor Justin Hartley, who left his role on Y&R to star in the new NBC prime time drama. Hartley is a really good actor, and on This Is Us he is surrounded by a talented ensemble cast. The show has a really interesting hook, going back & forth between the current lives of three siblings and influential events in their childhood. Mandy Moore has always been a guilty pleasure (I love A Walk to Remember), and in this show she plays the same character in two eras separated by nearly forty years. The acting is stupendous and the writing is amazing. I expect this show to rack up the awards for however many years it lasts.

 

 

RedZone

There is nothing that I enjoy more than coming home from church on Sunday and settling in to watch seven straight hours of NFL football. No commercials, no timeouts, no halftimes…just football. Every meaningful moment of every game…atleast the ones played on Sunday afternoon. Someone needs to apply this same concept to college football on Saturdays.

 

 

 

And the Sammy goes to…..

 

 

 

This Is Us & Designated Survivor. It’s a tie!! I wasn’t sure if the creative types in Hollywood were capable of creating new & interesting television shows anymore, dsurvthisisusbut they sure hit a two run homer with these. I can’t remember the last time I was actually excited about anything on TV outside of ball games. If you haven’t checked them out yet you’ve only missed one half of one season so it’d be really easy to catch up. Thank you to the creators of these two shows for making me believe in the power of originality again. Kudos.

 

 

 

 

Let’s pause one more time. Stay tuned for the exciting conclusion!!

100 Favorite Movies…..26-30

We’re moving full steam ahead toward the Top 25, but we’ve got one more stop to make before we get there. Going forward there will be atleast one Christmas film in each group we examine. Today’s entry also looks at a couple modern classics that were made in my childhood but appreciated by me as an adult, yet another George Clooney flick (even though I really do TRY to dislike him), and one more ode to the 80’s from the late John Hughes. Enjoy…and remember that you can find the previous 70 films broken into 14 entries in the archives.


 

 

30 Rocky

The only underdog more famous that Rocky Balboa is The Holy Bible’s David, who felled the giant Goliath. 1976’s Rocky is synonymous with the unknown who takes advantage of his one shot at success and shocks the world (even though he actually doesn’t win until the sequel). In the 34 years that have passed since the film’s debut, it’s thematic arc has been used countless times, some successfully (Rudy, Remember the Titans, Hoosiers, Seabiscuit, The Karate Kid, Dodgeball), some not so much (The Replacements, Summer Catch, any Rocky sequel past 2). Face it…the formula works if the writers, actors, and directors are halfway talented and put forth a little effort. By now though you know my mantra…it is nearly impossible to surpass the original. What is funny about Rocky is that it is remembered as a sports film and for its boxing sequences and some scenes of the titular character in training, when in reality it is a well written film with tremendous performances and really good development of the main players. Burgess Meredith and Talia Shire are probably not given enough credit for their roles, but their support is the backbone of the movie’s success. Sly Stallone actually wrote the script, but was an unknown commodity at the time and had to beg the powers-that-be to let him star in his own story then ended up giving the best performance of his career. Rocky went on to be nominated for 10 Academy Awards, winning 3 of them including Best Picture. Not bad for a movie that was made on a shoestring budget and shot in under a month. I am sure that films will continue to “borrow” the formula in perpetuity, but I am also confident that we will still be talking about Rocky in another 34 years.

 

29 Ferris Bueller’s Day Off

The movies need more people like John Hughes. While so many teen flicks these days seem to be all about sex and gross out jokes (American Pie, Road Trip, Superbad), Hughes wrote and/or directed a whole slew of teen comedies in the 80’s that had an element of pathos and just enough of a message to make them cool but not preachy. Ferris Bueller, on its surface, is about a precocious high school senior skipping school. But look a little closer because I think it’s a lot more. Matthew Broderick stars as Ferris, the kind of loveable schemer it’s almost impossible not to like and nearly as difficult not to envy. He convinces his clueless folks that he is too sick to go to school and then proceeds to drag his gorgeous girlfriend and his morose best friend to accompany him on a day long adventure. The only people who seem to see through his BS are his caustic sister and the school principal, who seems quasi-maniacal in his efforts to bring down the teenager. Ferris is wise beyond his years. He understands that soon enough he and his friends will be in the “real world” and wants to take advantage of one last opportunity to be carefree and have some harmless fun. I suppose it is possible that the modern tradition of Senior Skip Day owes something to Ferris Bueller…but no one has ever done a Skip Day with quite the panache as Ferris. The film is Hughes’ ode to Chicago, as our trio of truants visit many of the city’s landmarks. They take in a Cubs game at Wrigley Field, go to the top of The Sears Tower, eat at a fancy restaurant (where Ferris passes himself off as Abe Frohman: Sausage King of Chicago), visit The Art Institute, and quite memorably “crash” the annual Von Steuben Day Parade with Ferris hopping up on a float and belting out Danke Schoen and Twist & Shout. I am 37 years old and I have never had such a fun and interesting day in my life…in high school, college, or beyond. Alan Ruck, who now is best known for his supporting role in the television show Spin City, is hysterically sympathetic as Cameron, the best friend with Daddy issues. A pre-Dirty Dancing Jennifer Grey is outstanding as the jealous sister who is tired of seeing her brother get away with everything. I don’t know why Grey didn’t become a bigger star. She did Red Dawn, Ferris Bueller, and Dirty Dancing all within 2 years of one another and then dropped off the map…or atleast has never done anything else anyone gave a damn about. Charlie Sheen has a quick cameo. The always reliable Edie McClurg is funny as the school secretary. And who can forget economist Ben Stein’s droll, tedious call of “Bueller…Bueller…Bueller…..”. There are so many iconic scenes and lines in Ferris Bueller that it has to rank as one of the most quotable films of the last 30 years. My affection is undoubtedly due in large part to being a child of the 80’s. I was 14 years old when this movie came out, so I embodied the target demographic. But I have seen Ferris Bueller many many times in the ensuing 24 years, and in my humble opinion it ages well, like a fine wine. It will still be relevant to high school kids for generations, and that isn’t a feat to which the majority of films in its particular genre can lay claim. Its relevance can be germane to adults too, if we pay attention. Look at Cameron, whose Dad loves his classic Ferrari more than his son. Or look at Ferris, who doesn’t take himself too seriously and advises us all that “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” That is some pretty sage advice from a 17 year old boy.

 

28 The Ref

I have warned you repeatedly that I LOVE Christmas movies. And while you have seen or will see many of the usual suspects that have shown up on our television screens every December for decades, here we have a criminally overlooked holiday treat. Somewhere in the deep dark recesses of my mind I vaguely recall seeing this for the first time in The Original Bachelor Palace back in my college days with a few good friends. It may have even been the same night we rented Trapped in Paradise. Or I could be totally off base. If my memory isn’t playing tricks on me it would partially explain my affection for The Ref. At any rate, whatever the particular circumstances may have been initially, I have seen this movie multiple times in the past 16 Christmas seasons. It is required holiday viewing in my household. Denis Leary…an excellent stand-up comedian who is now known primarily for his TV show Rescue Me…stars as a crook who, after a robbery has gone awry, is forced to hold a haughty Connecticut couple hostage in their home on Christmas Eve. The problem for Gus is that Lloyd and Caroline have some major issues. They are in marriage counseling because Caroline had an affair, Lloyd hates his life, and both blame each other for their son’s troubles. Now I know that doesn’t sound funny, but trust me…it is h-y-s-t-e-r-i-c-a-l. The bickering couple really tests Gus’ patience. Things get more complicated when Lloyd’s even snootier family shows up for dinner and then the conniving son comes home from military school. Hilarity ensues. Kevin Spacey makes almost anything instantly better…he’s such a great actor. The Ref isn’t as easy to find on your television as many of the better known holiday classics, but Comedy Central usually shows it once or twice. It is well worth the rental if you cannot find it on the ol’ tube though. For anyone who has never seen it, I assure you…you won’t be disappointed.

 

27 Ocean’s Eleven

Even though I am a huge fan of The Rat Pack and their music, their movies aren’t exactly high art. So I am not referring here to the 1960 original but rather to the 2001 remake starring George Clooney, Brad Pitt, and Matt Damon. It’s bad enough that Clooney movies keep showing up on this list, but now I am adding Pitt and Damon?? What in the world is wrong with me?? I suppose there’s no accounting for taste. I am just going to blame it on my love for anything and everything Vegas. Anyway, Ocean’s Eleven is the textbook definition of popcorn cinema, and I =guess that’s not a bad thing. Danny Ocean is fresh out of prison and has his sights set on robbing not one…not two…but three Las Vegas casinos all at the same time. He recruits his best wingman and they assemble a team to pull off the job. We eventually learn that Ocean’s real beef is with the owner of said casinos, played by the always superb Andy Garcia. The evil casino owner has hooked up with Ocean’s ex-wife, played by Julia Roberts. The crew that is to pull off this massive heist is a ragtag group of con men, played by guys like Don Cheadle, Bernie Mac, Elliot Gould, and Carl Reiner. They all have their key roles to play in the masterful plan, and for the most part the plan goes off without too much consternation. As a viewer I advise against trying to figure out details or attempting to apply logic. There are some holes…like: they are supposed to be robbing three casinos, but really they’re just robbing one vault that holds the money from three casinos. But it’s all good. The cast is very Rat Pack-esque in their breezy delivery and cool demeanor. There’s a little action, a little romance, a little comedy. The performances are very good. Don Cheadle is an underrated actor, and it is nice to see old timers Gould and Reiner in a big time flick with the younger, hipper It Guys. Two sequels were made, and as per usual the second was a subpar money grab while the third rebounded nicely with the addition of Al Pacino to the cast. I am tempted to point out that it is another case where the original is the best, but technically it is a remake of an original.

 

 

26 The Blues Brothers

When one is in college and joins a fraternity a few songs and a few films kind of come along with the package. I am not sure why this is so, but it is what it is. I am sure things have changed in the 15 years since I last graced a college campus…or a fraternity house… with my presence, but in my heyday The Blues Brothers was one of those beloved films. It is also one of the two movies (the other being Animal House) that made Saturday Night Live alumnus John Belushi a superstar. I have often wondered what other treasures Belushi would have offered us and how his career would have evolved had he not tragically left us far too soon. He stars as Jake, who along with his brother Elwood (played by Dan Aykroyd) formed a successful blues act before he landed in prison for armed robbery. Upon Jake’s release, the duo gather up the rest of their old band so they can do a benefit show and help the orphanage where Jake and Elwood grew up pay its property taxes. Along the way they manage to tick off the police, a group of neo-Nazis, Jake’s ex-fiancée, and a country band called The Good Ol’ Boys, all of whom chase The Blues Brothers and cause mayhem and destruction. Our heroes make the gig, pay off the taxes for the orphanage, and are ultimately sent to prison for all the havoc they have wreaked. The soundtrack is spectacular if you like blues music, and I do. There are alot of fun cameos…Ray Charles, Carrie Fisher, Aretha Franklin, James Brown, John Candy, Chaka Khan, John Lee Hooker, Paul Reubens/Pee Wee Herman, Joe Walsh, and Steven Spielberg, among others. The Blues Brothers is just a lot of mindless fun, and it continues to be a unique classic thirty years later.

 

 

100 Favorite Movies…..66-70

70 The Glen Miller Story

I’m a big fan of Jimmy Stewart and I love big band & jazz music, so this movie provides an irresistible combo. Stewart is quite the Miller doppelganger, which I assume is a prime reason he was cast in the film. June Allyson provides perky support as Miller’s wife, and a pre-MASH Harry Morgan plays Miller’s best buddy. The story follows Glen Miller from his struggling musician days through his rise to fame to his untimely demise in a presumed plane crash during World War II. I decided to watch this movie years ago simply because I had become a fan of Stewart and wanted to see as many of his films as possible. But the movie made me a Glenn Miller fan and I continue to enjoy his music immensely.

 

69 The Shrek Trilogy

I have to admit…I didn’t see any Shrek films until all three were already out and available on video, so I’m fairly new to the Shrek universe. I didn’t bother with them at first because I assumed they were kiddie films. However, I decided to watch one on television a few years back and have since seen all three. I was both right and wrong in my original assessment. They are undoubtedly geared toward an demographic far younger than I, but on the other hand sometimes it’s okay to temporarily feel like a kid again. For anyone unfamiliar (which I assume would only be folks who, like me, are both single and childless because anyone with children is surely familiar with Shrek), this animated trilogy follows the adventures of a surly but loveable ogre, his talking donkey sidekick, and the ogre’s lady love. There are a host of other characters. Lending their considerable voice talents to the three films are an all star team of folks such as Mike Myers, Eddie Murphy, Antonio Banderas, Cameron Diaz, John Lithgow, Justin Timberlake, John Cleese, Rupert Everett, and many more. Most of the visual humor and jokes in the series parody well known fairy tales, which is a huge part of the charm for me…I love parodies and who doesn’t appreciate childhood fairy tales. The animation is computer generated, which far exceeds the animation most of us grew up with. These movies need to be viewed in high definition to really get the full effect.

 

68 The Greatest Show On Earth

Once again my favorite actor Jimmy Stewart is paired with something cool. This time it’s the circus. I think this is one of Stewart’s best performances. It is certainly low key and subtle, as he spends the entire film in clown makeup. The bigger draw for most people, I suppose, would be Charlton Heston in one of his finest performances as well. Heston kind of became a sad parody of himself in the latter part of his career, but this is one of his earlier movies and he shows why he was once one of the top box office attractions in the world. Directed by famed auteur Cecil B. Demille (I’m ready for my close-up…indeed), the story follows the Ringling Brothers/Barnum & Bailey Circus as it travels from town to town. We meet several of the performers and become involved in their lives behind the big top, so to speak. That behind the scenes view reveals a lot of romance, intrigue, drama, and tragedy. Basically it’s a soap opera set at the circus. Demille is known for his lavish, over-the-top, extravagant productions, and he doesn’t disappoint with The Greatest Show On Earth. Like so many beloved memories of yesteryear, the circus has almost slipped into being a remnant from a bygone era. Sure they are still around, but they are no longer an event. Even when I was a kid not that long ago it was a big deal when the circus came to town. Nowadays kids are into their video games and computers and iPods and couldn’t possibly care less about the circus. But watch this movie and you will be reminded of just how extraordinary it used to be.

 

67 Ocean’s 13

In 2001 George Clooney, Matt Damon, and Brad Pitt teamed up to remake the 1960 Rat Pack romp Ocean’s 11, about robbing a Vegas casino. The remake was a smashing success and unlike the original spawned sequels. The first movie will be dealt with later in this list. The second movie, Ocean’s 12, was poorly written and quite forgettable. The third movie was Ocean’s 13, and it’s a nice rebound from its disappointing predecessor. This time the gang returns to Las Vegas and they don’t actually rob a casino as much as they…turn the odds in their favor through uniquely nefarious means. The bad guy is played by Al Pacino, which automatically makes this a must see. As with the other Ocean’s films, don’t try to interject logic or make sense out of the proceedings. This is pure popcorn cinema, escapism at its best.

 

66 The Frat Pack Three Pak (Anchorman, The 40 Year Old Virgin, & Wedding Crashers)

Anyone who grew up in the 80’s is familiar with The Brat Pack (Molly Ringwald, Emilio Estevez, Judd Nelson, Andrew McCarthy, Rob Lowe, and a few others). And while imitation is the sincerest form of flattery I would not necessarily call the modern Frat Pack imitators. The only similarity is the name homage, which was itself a takeoff on the 1960’s Rat Pack of Frank Sinatra and his pallies. The Frat Pack is generally thought to be comprised of Vince Vaughn, Ben Stiller, Will Ferrell, Owen and Luke Wilson, Steve Carell, Jack Black, Paul Rudd, and Seth Rogen. Some combination of those actors has starred in a host of films together with a wide array of results. Zoolander and Starsky & Hutch…not so good. Old School and Blades of Glory…much better. But for me three Frat Pack films stand head and shoulders above the crowd and have stood up to numerous repeated viewings. Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy stars Ferrell with Carell and Rudd in very amusing supporting roles. Vaughn, Stiller, Black, Rogen and Luke Wilson all have brief cameos. Ferrell plays an over-the-top misogynistic 70’s news anchor whose world is turned upside down when he’s forced to share the anchor desk with a woman. Anchorman is among the most quotable movies of the past two decades and is just pointless yet harmless fun. The 40 Year Old Virgin stars Carell as the titular character, with Rogen and Rudd in vital supporting roles that really make this film work. It’s hilarious but sweet, with more quotable dialogue and a few really memorable scenes. I really like Rudd in this film. Wedding Crashers, starring Vaughn and Owen Wilson, is a movie I really like but probably not as much as some people. I don’t think it’s really any better than any other Frat Pack film, which doesn’t mean anything negative it just means my praise seems to not rise to outlandish and undeserved peaks of hyperbole. Will Ferrell makes possibly one of the best cameos of all time, and to say that Rachel McAdams (who I someday intend to make my bride) is quite fetching may be one of the biggest understatements I could conceive. Plus there’s Christopher Walken and that’s just the cherry on top.