Category Archives: movies

Some Enchanted Evening

I watched the classic “South Pacific” last night and had one of those “ooh, US/UK different” moments when I realized that I’ve never heard anyone in the UK mention Japan in the context of World War II. And it’s not like the Brits are over WWII, it gets mentioned ALL THE TIME! If you ask an average American to quick say the first five things that come into their heads in the context of WWII, I would guess both “Pearl Harbor” and the Nagasaki/Hiroshima bombs would rank pretty high. Probably also Hitler and Anne Frank. My own grandfather served in the Pacific, as a Pharmacist’s Mate in the Navy. He got malaria and barely recovered in time for his wedding in late 1945. So the Pacific theatre was always an important part of my own WWII reading. (Amusingly enough, my sister and I found that our American History courses in school often started with the colonies in September, made it through the revolutionary war and then only made it just past the Civil war by June, at which point we’d break for the summer and start all over again the following year… if I was relying solely on my formal education I’d know lots about the American Revolution and nothing about WWII–thank goodness for books!) I’d love to know how much coverage the whole Japanese aspect of WWII gets in British schools, so if anyone can pipe up and fill me in, that would be most excellent. And in the meantime, although it’s not my favorite musical, the music in South Pacific is darned good. The plot doubly invokes my pet peeve about movies in which the characters supposedly fall in love while barely knowing each other (or in the case of Lt. Cable and Liat, not even being able to speak the same language) so it’s never going to become a true favorite of mine.

Rant from ‘home’

I’m back in the UK now, having survived a mildly unpleasant flight back from the US (I just could not sleep, something was odd with the normally quite good Indian vegetarian food, and it was one of the old fashioned, not-on-demand movie systems that plays a movie every 2.5 hours thus making it difficult to catch an entire film once).  I then had the far more unpleasant experience of coming into Heathrow on the long-haul overnight flight only to have them park the plane in the middle of a tarmac, make us walk down stairs and onto buses, and then get transported back to the terminal building.  I know Heathrow is undergoing major renovations right now, but I still find this outrageous.  Yes it’s expected behavior when you get off an EasyJet flight from Munich at Stansted, but not coming off a long-haul flight at the “flagship” London airport with the “flagship” national carrier, BA.  Sigh.

Furthermore, I ran out of reading material once they turned the dumb movies off, and was glancing at the continual bleating about climate change and carbon burdens in the back of the BA magazine.  Here’s an idea: reduce your carbon burden by not making every single flight circle London for 20 minutes before landing at Heathrow!  Just think of the fuel saved.  It’s not just me, right?  I may do a bit more long-haul flying than the average consumer, but in the years since I have been travelling between London and the US regularly, I don’t know that I have EVER been on a flight that did not circle over London for a significant period of time before landing.  Sometimes you can even watch the loops on the moving map image.  Always the pilot comes on with the same droning voice about how we’re in a holding pattern for landing at Heathrow.  It actually makes me start to wonder if the additional runway might be justifiable on environmental grounds–not exactly an argument I’ve heard before.   (For an interesting take on current environmental politics and policy see this from Slate on Friedman’s new book.  Why IS it that the environmental crusaders live in palaces_ALGORE_?)

That’s the news from UK-home, which is that I have arrived, I’m cranky, the movies I saw in both directions on this trip had only some mildly redeeming qualities, one more than the other, and my nose is still sniffly which might indicate the start of a cold instead of allergies.  And of course, with the CERN beast launching tomorrow, in search of the likely non-existent Higgs boson, there is at least some possibility that we are all going to go up in a puff of smoke.  In which case, why did I leave America yesterday?  I could have lived out my last 48 hours in peace and happiness without long-haul air misery or the need to open two weeks worth of mail and buy all new groceries…

Bogie and Bacall and Bette, oh my!

Today the Minneapolis-based blogger James Lileks has a few clips from “The Big Sleep” and I highly recommend them, if you’re into that sort of thing (like I am). (The clips are about half-way down the page.) The Bogie-Bacall obsession is a relatively recent one for me. My primary 1940s film star romance loyalties go to Katharine HepburnSpencer Tracy movies, and I stand behind them no matter what the modern biographers are saying. It was the Kate connection that turned me on to the Bogie-Bacall romance, I picked up a copy of Bacall’s autobiography “By Myself” (now updated to “By myself and then some“) right after Kate died and I was immersing myself in 1940s cinema history. Reading “By myself” then caused me to binge on the full set of Bogie-Bacall movies (although I only got them from Netflix, do not have the box set) and to land on one of my favorite all time movie clips:

I never get tired of these two together, and it’s hard not to worry that we all only get one great romance after you read about Bacall in the post-Bogie years.

This year’s 1940s movie addiction is Bette Davis, whose new biography I am reading right now. And I did manage to score the box-set. Although much to my disappointment, it’s missing my very favorite (okay, the only one I’ve ever seen, and many times at that) “Now, Voyager”:

That is my favorite line of the week, “Don’t let’s ask for the moon, we have the stars.”

you know you’re in England when…

…they sell MEAD at your local liquor store.  I had already paid for my bottle of New Zealand white, else I would have bought some simply for the curiosity factor.  And so that I could have played the Robin Hood fantasy game where I have long curly hair and get to kiss Kevin Costner from his cute days, back in the age of Bull Durham.  Just a thought.

The SATC Movie: Thank goodness I live in England!

I went to see the Sex and the City movie this afternoon, yes afternoon, it’s been wild time at work lately and I decided a 3:00 matinee was in order.  And for some odd reason, the movie started today here in England but it won’t start until Friday in the states.  So for once I got a HUGE advantage out of living here in the UK!  Also for some amusing reason it got rated totally different here than anywhere, while it’s R in the states and 18+ in Canada, its only 15+ here even though it has all the usual hallmarks of SATC including plenty of nudity.  Whatever.  I loved the movie, I laughed, I cried.  It was the first time I did a movie solo here in England, I’ve gone alone in the US but mostly when I was freshly divorced and not at all recently.   It was also the first time I bought a movie ticket online and picked it up at the theatre, which is a totally cool innovation.  I was, however, disappointed in my popcorn and will have to get some when next I’m in the states.  I used to work in movie theatres so I have a real taste for nasty yummy popcorn with buttery stuff on it, but here they don’t do that.  First of all they offer you a choice of sweet or salty popcorn, and it’s really dry.  Oh well.  At least the movie is great.


Was walking home from work tonight who did I see in front of me, heading towards me?

One of Britain’s most beloved actors. Chariots of Fire, anyone?

Oh yes, he was every bit as attractive as the photos (if not more so) and was ever-so-casually strolling down the street with his jacket over one shoulder.  I stared.  I admit it.   I may have even drooled.  And looked back after he walked past to check out his bum 😉

I actually know him best from the totally outrageous Manchild, which I used to watch on BBC America when I still lived in the US.  Oh the irony… I haven’t watched the BBC even once in 18 months in England!


This is for the people back in the American midwest. For those all a-flutter with “Expelled” (regardless of the factual inaccuracies portrayed in the context of tenure) let’s review the methods of science and hypotheses. The origin of life on this planet is not a falsifiable hypothesis. You cannot prove God created life. Nor can you prove it wasn’t created. You cannot prove life formed spontaneously from a primordial soup. Nor can you prove it didn’t. You can, however, “create” (ha ha) life from a primordial soup by trying to reproduce the conditions under which life was formed. You then produce evidence–not proof–that life could have begun that way.  We deal a lot in likelihood in science, it’s easy to disprove, hard if not impossible to prove.  Unless you witness a supreme being starting a new Universe, you do not have the same option to try and reproduce conditions for creation or ID. Intelligent design and other similar thoughts are assertions, not hypotheses, because they cannot be disproven. However, most scientists (yours truly included) believe that if (and that’s a big IF) life can be made from non-life in the lab, that lends strong support to the idea that life could have begun that way. Not DID begin that way, but could. It’s not proof and it does not fall within a strict definition of a scientific hypothesis, but it’s actually as good as it gets for much of the fields like paleontology where also you have to surmise based on evidence. (And this is where the Physicists tend to take a dim view of biological sciences, unwarranted in my opinion but it’s out there.  It’s the level of uncertainty in the likelihood of the remaining circumstance that causes trouble.)

There is a difference here. This is not belief vs belief. This does carry a distinction, although subtle, and not quite the religion vs science absolutes that liberal people like to portray (nor the religion vs religion-like science that the happy-clappies like to claim). Therefore the people asserting ID are philosophers (note you cannot prove something is too complicated to have been made by natural processes) and there are some other people using scientific techniques in a “what if” exploratory sort of manner to see if they can shed some light on the problem. I’m guessing that in this and many lifetimes, it will be as elusive as the Higgs boson and for good reasons. Hmmm maybe the biologists and physicists aren’t that different after all…

And the Oscar goes to…

“Falling Slowly” from Once!  It won the Oscar for best Original Song.  This was a bit of an adventure; there had been questions about whether it should even be on the ballot, but in the end not only did it get on the ballot but it managed a much-deserved win.  It seems perhaps I am not the only one to have loved this film…

Sleep, drugs and death

On the one hand, I feel sort of silly for being upset about the death of a celebrity.  Yes, I was a fan of Heath Ledger (especially some of the earlier movies) but I was not a superfan, but I’m older than he was and the circumstances seem really strange.  And familiar.  I have been complaining lately about my sleepless nights, how my job stress has been weighing on me, and how I need to adjust things to get some sort of work-life equilibrium in place.  Fortunately I have never resorted to drugs to do this, no sleeping pills, no anti-depressants or anti-anxiety potions.  Until the cause of death is known more precisely, it is impossible to speculate on what role Ledger’s apparent stash of (legal, medically-prescribed) drugs had on his untimely demise.  But it does remind me of a few things.

  1. Drugs are not the answer.  Big pharma would try to convince you that there was a miracle pill for everything.  It’s not true.
  2. It’s especially problematic to combine medications, especially if your doctor or pharmacist does not know.  Drug interactions are a problem.
  3. Drugs don’t have the same affect on every body.  The first time I heard the compound word, “pharmacogenomics” I wanted to hurl, but sadly they have a point.  Sometimes drugs do funny things to one person’s body, and since drugs are tested and considered safe based on population studies, they are only safe on average.
  4. It really is possible to see a young person living alone just die and have to be discovered.  It’s the “Bridget Jones fear of being eaten by Alsatians” or the “Miranda overfeeds her cat” problem.

I live alone; this last one is particularly sobering.

I have nothing more to say.  It’s sad when someone dies at 28.  It’s sad when someone leaves behind a two year old daughter.  Life is precious, enjoy every minute you’re granted.

Happy Birthday to Cary

Cary Grant, that is.   My favorite actor of all time, considering my love for early 20th century screwball comedies and also Hitchcock films.   There is a great blog posting/tribute here.