Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Movie Clip Wednesday - Most Overrated Oscar Winner

That Movie Clip Wednesday matron of honor, Boxer is going for two in a row as the Alistair Cooke of Masterpiece Movie Clip Theater. This MCW Meme has everyone picking a clip from their favorite movies based on a weekly theme while trying to keep the clip or clips to around 3 minutes long. This week's theme is MOST OVERRATED OSCAR WINNER. Now I've said it before. Any time we have a most overrated or worst of category, it's tough to pick and tough to watch. But I think you need to have them (every now and then) so you can discern the good from the bad.

That being said, for this theme, I decided to just look at Best Picture Oscars figuring that would be narrow enough for a selection. I was right, of course, but I did wade through a bunch of really good titles to settle on a not so good one. And what set my selection apart was the other films this particular film won over. The year was 1979 and the other nominees were All That Jazz, Apocalypse Now, Breaking Away and Norma Rae. What movie could possibly do that (especially Apocalypse Now)? That would be that yawn of a divorce movie, Kramer vs Kramer.

I know it has two heavy hitter leads in Dustin Hoffman and Meryl Streep, but I was bored to tears by this thing. The endless droning about "not being fulfilled" and "I should have custody of the kid" and "I'm a single father". This is like watching a Lifetime chick flick (the Mrs makes me do that sometimes). This was followed up by the 1981 Best Picture Ordinary People followed by 1982's Watching Paint Dry. I was there in the early 80s and I don't remember it being this boring. Beleive it or not, the first cut of this movie was 43 minutes longer than the final cut. That would have made it 2 1/2 hours long!

So I mercifully found a 2 minute clip to illustr....zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

OK, I came too. Wouldn't it be funny if everyone picked this movie? No, I didn't think so. Head on over to Boxer's and maybe someone will pick something we can argue about, because I sure didn't.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Eagle Scout Project - Part 2 (with probably more to follow)

If you followed my Eagle Project Part 1 post, you know The Boy was making a Hail Mary pass to complete his Eagle Scout Project before he turns 18 on March 8th. The actual project took place on Saturday, February 19th. And believe it or not - he got her done.

The Boy and I got started around 7:30AM loading the truck with tools and getting everything prepped at the school for the volunteers who would arrive at 9:00AM. We had bright sunshine, temps in the mid 40s but high winds gusting to over 50 mph. It could have been worse.

When we pulled the plastic up we found that the ground was thawed although there was still ice around the perimeter of the work area. As the day progressed we found that this corner gets no sunlight at all.

Here the boys (7 in all) are digging and leveling.
Here's the stump they had to take out.

Meanwhile, I supervised The Pudge and his buddy, Simple J in the assembly of 3 garden benches. We set up in the schools all purpose room where it was nice and warm.
We set up tables in the main hallway for pizza for lunch. The Boy was able to get some of the pizzas donated.

Here's the completed project. We had some minor excavating and leveling problems that The Boy fixed. It took us longer than we thought (by 1 1/2 hours) because the boys took too much dirt out and we had to bring back about 8 wheel barrows of dirt from the dump area about 200 yards away.

The Boy owes a few favors for the effort his buddies put into this project. It was interesting working with The Boy's friends and overhearing the conversations and joking that went on - constantly. When one of the guy's sister walked by, our job site turned into your stereotypical hard-hat wearing teamsters job site. Good Boy Scout fun.
Now every things done except the paperwork, but this was definitely the last big hurdle to clear. The principal of the school needs to sign-off on the project, his eagle application with 5 reference letters needs to be submitted to council and he needs to learn 5 fishing knots to finish the fishing merit badge (the last badge he needs) all before March 8th. I think he'll get it done but I'm sure it will take some nagging on my part.

Then it's an Eagle Scout board of Review before council (which can happen after the 8th) and he's done. I still can't believe it. I'll probably go through this again for The Pudge in 3 or 4 years.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Movie Clip Wednesday - Best Broadway Play Adapted to Film

That Movie Clip Wednesday matron of honor, Boxer is actually back in the saddle and hostessessing this runaway train she started. So, the Milk River Madman can sit back, relax and just worry about his selection. This MCW Meme has everyone picking a clip from their favorite movies based on a weekly theme while trying to keep the clip or clips to around 3 minutes long. This week's theme is BEST BROADWAY PLAY ADAPTED TO FILM. I guess this could have been worse. Believe it or not, I have a Broadway Musical in mind and it comes with personal story (I'M NOT GAY!).

The Mrs has a 1st cousin, the Act-tour who has done some bit parts in movies and Broadway shows. So back in 1998 we were invited to see him in an off-Broadway show at the St. James Theatre. We took the Greyhound up to NYC (about a 2 hour ride) and saw the show that night. We stayed in a dump of a hotel that cost $200 a night (back then) which I have thankfully forgotten. We did go to a diner off of Times Square with the cousin and his hot Japanese girlfriend who was a dancer in Miss Saigon.

Anyway, the play was A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum. The Mrs' cousin was part of the ensemble cast and played something like 5 different parts and did a lot of the chorus singing. The show ran for more than a year and opened with Nathan Lane in the lead role of Pseudolus, the slave. By the time we got to see it, the lead was taken over by...wait for it...Whoopi Goldberg. How do you go from Nathan Lane who is one of the whitest white guys I know to Whoopi Goldberg, a very black woman? Surprisingly, she did well and we got to meet her for a minute after the show. We also met Ernie Sabella who played Lycus, a buyer and seller of courtesans. He is better known as the voice of Pumbaa in the Lion King and he was a really nice guy.

So, that's my story. And here's the opening sequence from 1966's A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum. This starred the very funny Zero Mostel as Pseudolus. This also features Buster Keaton in his last role as Erronius. Even though he was suffering from cancer (which ultimately killed him) he insisted on doing all of his own stunts.

As an aside: This movie also came to mind because I've been following Spartacus: Blood and Sand and Gods of the Arena on Starz (Seriously, I'm not gay). The gladiator fights are off-the-hook violent and CGI enhanced. It's really entertaining if you haven't seen it.

So there you have it. Another Buzz Kill brush with greatness. Head on over to Boxer's (not the other guy) for more Broadway fun and show tunes.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Eagle Scout Project - Part 1 of 2 (I Hope)

A Special PNW Valentine's from my friend Boxer.

If you had asked me 2 months ago if I thought The Boy would make Eagle Scout, I would have given you an emphatic "No". He was 4 Merit Badges short (2 of them Eagle required which are more difficult) and hadn't even thought about his Eagle Project. FYI - The Eagle Project is an extensive service project that the Scout plans, organizes, leads, and manages. And this all must be completed by the Scouts 18th birthday, which for The Boy is March 8th.

Fast forward to this past weekend and he has 2 Merit Badges completed and the other 2 about 90% complete, came up with an Eagle Project, wrote up the entire Eagle Project Plan, went before the Council Review Board and (after some minor corrections) got approval. The project will be performed at his old Elementary School which is a logistically desirable distance from the house.

What's the project you ask? (Not an outside project, not an outside project) It's an outside project - Doh! The school principal asked for a patio area with benches off of the main entrance walkway so that parents will have a place to wait when they pick up their kids in the afternoon. Apparently it's a free-for-all at 3:15PM and the waiting parents block the exit of kids trying to get to the bus.So this is one of those nice things to have that will help the principal out but that the school has no funding for. Did I mention this was an outside project? Here's what the area in question looked like this past Saturday.

This is the main entrance for the school in it's pristine state.

This is where the patio is going. See the problem?

So, The Boy started shoveling. Note the shorts. It's a good thing common sense isn't an Eagle requirement.

And shoveling. The Boy's buddy - Sargent Cookie (long story) came over to help. Interestingly, the Sarge is not a Boy Scout and even though out Troop is comprised mostly of boys that go to other schools within the district, everyone in the Troop knows him. Fascinating.
I will mention at this point that I felt the biggest obstacle to this project (besides the frozen ground which I will talk about in a minute) would be funding because of the short time frame. The Boy went to the PTA with his project and these "women" had him relocate the patio to it's present location (causing The Boy to rewrite and resubmit his project plan) with the promise of at least partial funding. This took several weeks to do and, of course, after he had everything to their liking - the PTA reneged. Welcome to life lesson 101 - never count on a group of women for anything. Both he (and I) had some un-scout like thoughts after that fiasco.

So plan B was to come up with a bunch of letters to different, local merchants to ask for material donations - not money, and I think this was a key strategy that paid off in spades. So he put on his uniform and went to a bunch of stores to talk to the managers and hand deliver the donation request letters. The local Lowes donated all of the pavers and 3 benches (that's like $400 plus - I couldn't believe it), Home Depot gave him $75 in gift cards, the Ace Hardware gave him a dozen work gloves, Dunkin Donuts is kicking in coffee and donuts and 2 pizza places are probably (he needs to follow up this week) going to give him pizza and soda. Not one place he went to turned him down. In this economy, I find that amazing.

So back to the next problem - the frozen ground. We have had (and still have) snow on the ground for going on 6 weeks. I can't ever remember snow lasting this long. My Christmas Reindeer are still frozen in the ground. To install these patio pavers, we're going to have to dig and level 3" - 4" of frozen ground in the area. The good news is that we are finally getting a warm spell where temperatures will climb to the 50s most of the week with bright sunshine. So our plan is to clear the area of snow and build a plastic "greenhouse" over the area so it will thaw faster and not re-freeze at night. So that was the 2nd part of our Saturday.

Did I mention there was a large bush that had to be removed? Courtesy of the PTA!

Here is the tent "greenhouse" we hope will work.

Leveling sand was the only thing we still had to get. So Sunday we drove up to Home Depot to use the remainder of the gift cards. They, of course, were out of leveling sand and didn't expect delivery until March. Because who in their right mind is going to be digging in frozen ground, right? We then went to Lowes and they had 14 of the 15 bags we needed. They opened the doors for the outdoor garden center and we wended our way back to the sand pallets where the bags were covered with ice and frozen solid. I found a sledge hammer (I don't know why it was out there but didn't question the magic) and we spent about a half hour breaking these things loose. So now there are 14 frozen bags of sand thawing in my driveway. We also got 38 pavers (each weighing about 40 pounds) and 3 benches a few days before and they're sitting in the garage. This stuff weighs a ton and I was feeling it on Sunday night.

Phase 2 of the project happens next Saturday. Rain or shine, frozen or thawed we need to get this done. So I am hoping there will be at least a part 2 to this post. With all the work and obstacles he's overcome so far (and there will be more - you can count on that) I think his Eagle Badge will be well earned.

Of course he keeps throwing in my face the fact that I never made Eagle. I only got as far as Life, which is the rank below Eagle. I always remind him that I didn't have "Me" like he does. I hope that sinks in some day.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Movie Clip Wednesday - Favorite Movie from the 1930s

That Movie Clip Wednesday recluse, Boxer is actually going to come out of hiding and resume her hostess duties starting next week - so she says. And just when I already finished picking my "Favorite Movie from the 1920s" - silent selection. Whoohoo - I mean, sorry to see the Madman go. So, for the very last time, the Milk River Madman will host MCW, the Meme where everyone picks a clip from their favorite movies based on a weekly theme and tries to keep the clip or clips to around 3 minutes long. This week's theme is FAVORITE MOVIE FROM THE 1930S. So it's only appropriate (in light of this Boxer rebellion) that I choose 1935's Mutiny on the Bounty. I actually like this movie and most of it's remakes (The Bounty with Anthony Hopkins and Mel Gibson) and permutations (The Caine Mutiny). And Charles Laughton has the biggest eyebrows you'll ever see on a man. Those things have their own zip code. And Clark Gable, not much of a Fletcher Christian, but cool in everything he does.

Interestingly, it is the only film in Oscar history that had three nominees for Best Actor: Clark Gable, Charles Laughton, and Franchot Tone. Because of this, the Academy introduced a Best Supporting Actor Oscar shortly afterward to ensure this situation would not be repeated. They all lost to Victor McLaglen for The Informer (1935), the only nominee not in this film.

So go on over and see the Madman for the last time. He's been a great host even when his schedule was hectic. Sometimes confusing, sometimes late with the theme (causing me ulcers) but always entertaining. Thanks big guy.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Movie Clip Wednesday - Favorite British Comedy

That Movie Clip Wednesday dog torturer, Boxer is way too busy dragging her poor dog through the mud to return as hostess. So it's the Milk River Madman that continues to take up the mantle that is MCW, the Meme where everyone picks a clip from their favorite movies based on a weekly theme and tries to keep the clip or clips to around 3 minutes long. This week's theme is FAVORITE BRITISH COMEDY. Well, apparently Moi picked this category and I've gotta tell you, it's a tough one for me. Joanna Cake and Roses should have no trouble with this. But for us Americans (well, me anyway) British humor is mainly Monty Python, Peter Sellers and Mr. Bean (and I hate Mr. Bean). And we've kind of done those to death.

There is, however, a relatively new (again, for me anyway) British upstart who I like a lot. Simon Pegg's big claim to fame is 2004's Shaun of the Dead, which is truly hysterical and that I've posted on before. He did another film in 2007 called Hot Fuzz which I also found pretty funny. It co-stars Nick Frost (Ed from SotD) who is Pegg's buddy, who has appeared in several of his films and is John C. Reilly funny as the classic sidekick. So here you go:

I love this scene:

Head on over to the Madman's and see what Python, Sellers and Mr. Bean flicks he has going on this week. Next weeks theme - Favorite Middle Eastern Hygiene Movies. What? (I sure hope I'm kidding).