The Rittenhouse Coincidence


Here’s another one for the books. When things like this happen, I have to wonder, is there a conspiracy of coincidences?

Last night I saw the movie The Martian. I liked it, but this post is not about potatoes and slingshots (you’ll have to see the movie). It’s about what happened later, in a sequence of events leading up to tonight.

b29f467fef4559042e682c14b9ea8fffAfter the movie last night, I did some of the usual post-movie internet surfing and landed on the odd story of Tallulah Bankhead. Her best film performance, it was said, was in the under-rated Alfred Hitchcock film Lifeboat. So I read about Lifeboat. The story for the film was written by John Steinbeck. The film was released in 1944.

So tonight I thought I’d see if I can rent Lifeboat through my cable service. Turns out I can. I watched the trailer. In the brief clip viewers are meant to notice that the guy who’s appointed himself in charge is a “Mr. Rittenhouse.” One guy remarks to another, with sarcasm, that he should call Mr Rittenhouse “Rit.” Not too remarkable. So far.

As often happens, I clicked some more, looking for other classic movies. In less than a minute I came across the Randolph Scott movie Shoot-Out at Medicine Bend. This caught my attention because it features Scott and two other actors I like: James Garner (of “The Rockford Files”) and Angie Dickinson (you know, “Police Woman”).

 

So I played the two-minute trailer for Shoot-Out at Medicine Bend.

The clip doesn’t reveal much of the story line. Randolph Scott is Captain Buck Devlin, recently mustered out of the cavalry. Sgt. John Maitland (played by James Garner) appears to be his sidekick. Devlin rides out of a small town heading west, with plans to return. Mshootout-medicine-bend-hs-sizedaitland stays behind for the time being.

After Devlin leaves, Maitland is seen managing some sort of transaction with the townspeople—swapping trinkets and such for weapons and ammo, it appears. A minor character steps up to the table where this is happening. He’s familiar to Sgt. Maitland. His name? “Mr. Rittenhouse.”

What are the chances that within two minutes of each other, I’d see brief clips of two completely unrelated movies, where in both a “Mr. Rittenhouse” is addressed by another character?

Maybe I have a name, finally, for the kinds of coincidences I sometimes write about here: “The Rittenhouse Coincidence.”

Will the Movie “13 Hours” Undermine Hillary Clinton’s Credibility about Benghazi?


In less than ten days the movie “13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi” will be released. There’s chatter that this will lend credence to the already credible claim that Hillary Clinton is not an admirably honest person.

Still, you have to ask, “Who should you believe? A former First Lady, New York Senator, and Secretary of State, or three guys named Tonto, Tig, and Oz?”

13-hours-movie-poster

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The movie’s website and movie trailer: http://www.thirteenhoursmovie.com/

IMDb description: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt4172430/

Silence Your Cell Phones—World War Z Is about to Begin


Cover of "World War Z: An Oral History of...

Cover via Amazon

What is it about zombies that makes them so worth watching? I can’t prove this, but I have a hunch . . . nothing does.

With nothing to do but watch the world come to an end, and no one to do it with, I went to see World War Z. How could I have forgotten what the ‘Z’ stands for? I had just come from a hamburger and an excess of fries at the local 5 Guys when I got to the theater. It looked like I was at least ten minutes late. I told the ticket agent (isn’t that a fancy title?) that I was there to see World War Z, if, but only if, it hadn’t started yet. I wasn’t sure he could sort out the bi-conditional “if and only if,” but this kid must have a keen mind for logic. He told me I had nine minutes; they were still showing previews. I asked if the theater was full. “There are eleven people,” he said. I wondered, Is that good or bad? I guess for a Tuesday night, that’s pretty good.

I paid for my ticket and met my old friend Ken, the guy who takes my ticket when I walk in. I always ask Ken what he thinks of the movie I’m about to see. I’ve learned to trust Ken’s judgment. This time Ken said, “I’m not much into zombie movies, but in this one they look pretty good.” That’s when I realized what I had gotten myself into. That’s when it hit me that World War Z is about zombies . . . and the world, of course. I felt stupid. What else could the ‘Z’ stand for? But I might be forgiven. Check out the movie poster. Doesn’t it bring to mind the Zorro series, this time with a faint hint of apocalyptic doom?

Usually, I don’t wait in line to see a zombie movie. In fact, if you’ll pardon the allusion, I generally avoid them like the plague. But I had paid for a ticket. And Ken had said about this movie that the zombies “look pretty good.” I had to satisfy my curiosity. What do good-looking zombies look like? Is this a movie my wife would approve of?

For those who haven’t seen the movie, here’s a spoiler alert: Ken must have meant something else by zombies that “look pretty good.”

For the record, the zombies I know (remember, I’m a university professor) don’t look or act anything like the ones in this movie. My zombies are rather subdued, almost motionless. If you tripped over them in a dark alley, you still might not know they were there. By comparison, I must say, the zombies in this movie are pretty amped up. And you certainly would never want to meet them in a dark alley. (I wonder what it would be like if these zombies and my zombies were to meet?)

I did learn something from this movie, apart from the intended message narrated at the end. If an encounter with a zombie doesn’t make your teeth chatter, hearing his teeth chatter will make you laugh. That’s how it affected 9 out of 11 people in the theater. (Silly me, there were other times when I could not restrain a mild chuckle, even when no one else appeared to be in such good humor.)

I have an obligation to tell you there are things about this movie that simply aren’t believable.

  • Israel’s Mossad figures out before anyone else in the world how to protect themselves from zombies, but they don’t know the effect that loud, screechy microphones would have on them? Come on, people! The Mossad are better than that.
  • Can you really hear the teeth of a zombie chatter through plexiglass that is so substantial that even the zombie can’t break through it? Give me a break!
  • Are we supposed to believe that an envoy from the United Nations is the best candidate for staving off the complete annihilation of humanity? I’d trust any neighbor in my cup-de-sac over the U.N. boys and girls. (Remember Benghazi and Susan Rice?)

These things just don’t add up. Fortunately, the movie’s realism is salvaged by the general plot: Savage zombies ravage the world, quickly turning the un-undead into the undead, and there’s a bona fide solution to the problem that is discovered by Brad Pitt—and just in time.

That’s the reassuring message of the film.

Or not.

But I can’t spoil the movie for you by revealing what the narrator says at the end.

If that doesn’t get you to go see this movie, then I guess nothing will.

My Friend, Frank Pastore


frank-pastoreMy good friend Frank Pastore passed into glory today—after four weeks of silence in a hospital bed. This was following a serious motorcycle accident. Four weeks ago he was on his way home after a broadcast on the Frank Pastore Show when a vehicle crossed into the diamond lane and struck his motorcycle. From that moment on he was in a coma.
There are no words for my feeling of loss and for my deep affection for Gina and the family as they travel this difficult path.
We weep with those who weep, and rejoice with those who rejoice. Sometimes we are strangely conflicted—both weeping and rejoicing. That we weep during this moment everyone will understand; but we also rejoice, and this the world cannot understand. We weep because this is a broken world. We rejoice because we look forward to a new world.
So long, my friend. See you soon! —2 Peter 3:8

Poll: 2012 Oscar Nominations


The 2012 Oscar Nominations for the 84th Academy Awards were announced earlier this week. Here are the nominees for Best Picture, with links to their official websites, are:

Here are two polls: (A) Which film do you think will win the award for Best Picture? and (B) which film do you think should win the award for Best Picture? You can add detail in support of your answer in the comment box for this post.

Triumph Over Blogging


You may have noticed a shortage of posts recently. With this post, I’m back to flogging the keyboard. And I begin with an explanation.

In April I upped my commitment to motorcycling and purchased a new mount – a Triumph Thunderbird 1600. With plans to do some motorcycle touring this summer, I realized that I could use a little more torque and horsepower than my Honda 250 Rebel could provide. Ahem.

Triumph Thunderbird 1600

I have the good fortune of living within a mile of one of America’s best-selling retailers of one of Great Britain’s most enticing exports: the Triumph line of motorcycles. Though the temptation to make frequent visits proved irresistible, I managed for a couple of years to restrain my impulse to “gear up.” Then, in April, Triumph rolled in their 2011 demos. This was my chance to see what I really thought of the Triumph America that had me drooling. I rode it and liked it. Of course. Then I rode the Speedmaster and decided there wasn’t much difference between them. Somebody suggested I ride the newly-released Triumph Thunderbird Storm. Okay, why not?

Why not, indeed! The America quickly dropped from the radar. In other words, the 1700 cc displacement of the Storm blew the 860 cc powerplant of the America right out of my mind. Literally within seconds of starting out on the Storm, I knew it was too good to be true. I would have to “settle,” now, for the America while dreaming of a Storm receding on the horizon. The Storm was just too much bike for too much money.

Out of curiosity, I jumped into the saddle of the Thunderbird 1600, the “base model” Thunderbird. The difference in torque was significant, but it had a lot of the virtues of the Storm. And the price was a bit lower. Not low enough for my wallet, though.

2010 Triumph America

So I went home to study up on the America, hoping I could be persuaded that it was the right bike. Along the way, I made the mistake of reading reviews of the Thunderbird 1600, introduced in 2009. This Triumph was uniformly trumpted as the crusier to turn heads. In 2009 and 2010, it was judged best cruiser on the road in North America.

Meanwhile, back at SoCal Triumph, they were lowering the price on the 2010 Thunderbird 1600 to make room for the new 2011’s. Jay, their chief salesman, was by now a familiar face. He could read me pretty well. My commitment to the America had grown tentative. To his credit, Jay never pressured me to go for the T-bird. But he did see me gravitating in that direction. And he did tell me that in addition to the special they were running on the 2010, they would include a windscreen, a touring seat, and a sissy bar and pad in the price. The only thing that didn’t resonate with me (still doesn’t) was the concept of a sissy bar. But that wasn’t a deal-breaker. The only remaining question was what 2010 Thunderbirds they had in stock. I was in luck. There was one blue bike in the inventory, with a wide white stripe garnishing the tank and fenders.

I immediately realized that I would find a way to crunch the numbers in favor of the Thunderbird. This would take some time and effort. Intense concentration would be required. I would have to put a hold on blogging for a few days.

A few days. That was in April. So why so long getting back online?

I bought the Thunderbird, that’s why. And a new Thunderbird has to be broken in. You understand.

Now, 3500 miles later, I’m back to check in here. And since the next best thing to riding is talking about riding, here I am talking about the new ride. I’m sure future posts will report on specific rides. Here I’ll just note that a week ago I returned from a five-day, 1500-mile jaunt up the California coast and back. For the past week I’ve been scheming and planning. Mid-July I hope to be back on a northerly bearing, this time with Washington state’s Olympic Peninsula as a destination. The trip will include numerous visits with friends and family, some camping, and lots of great riding.

I’m already thinking about future trips. A guy’s got to justify his guilty purchases! Maybe some day my travels will bring me to your door, every bone in my body vibrating, a sleeping bag in my tingling hands, asking the favor of a roof over my head.

Note:

I didn’t see a single other Triumph on the road during my recent coastal tour. Lots of Harleys, though. I’m happy to report that Harley riders have been remarkably friendly. I won’t say they’re jealous. I might think it, but I definitely won’t say it. I’m outnumbered about a million to one.

Trailer for Biola Student Film “Lockhaven”


In November, I posted a link to the trailer for a Biola student film featuring my daughter Erin. Today, the trailer for a new student film was released, this time featuring Erin’s older sister, Kaitlyn. The film, called “Lockhaven,” is Kaitlyn’s debut in the Action/Thriller genre. Here’s a link. The film is directed by Kyle Chezum.

"Lockhaven" Film Trailer (2011)

My Oscar Picks


Oscar Nominations are in. Here are my picks for seven categories.

Best Picture: “True Grit” (runner-up: “Inception”)

Best Actor: Jeff Bridges, for “True Grit” (runner-up: Colin Firth, for The King’s Speech)

Best Actress: no opinion

Best Supporting Actor: Geoffrey Rush, “The King’s Speech” (runner-up: Christian Bale, for “The Fighter”)

Best Supporting Actress: Melissa Leo, for “The Fighter” (runner-up: Hailee Steinfeld, for “True Grit”)

Film Editing: “The Fighter”

Special Effects: “Inception”

What are your picks?

Classic Films for Commemorating Pearl Harbor and a Nation at War During Christmas


Today we commemorate “Pearl Harbor Day.” Sixty-nine years ago, “Battleship Row,” in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, was attacked with vehement force and incomprehensible destruction by the Imperial Japanese Navy. The next day, in his address to Congress and an anxious nation, President Franklin D. Roosevelt called December 7, 1941 “a date which will live in infamy.” And thus we were drawn into fatal conflict with Japan, and soon after, with Germany.

And it is fitting that we should remember America’s war effort, even during this Christmas season.

  • It was during this season that the United States entered the war with Japan, in direct response to the attack on Pearl Harbor.
  • American service men and women engaged the enemy for several consecutive Christmases during World War II.
  • Notable events of the Second War happened during the Christmas season.
  • Today, the United States is engaged in war in the Middle East, and many American men and women will be far from home at Christmas, while others prepare to be deployed.

Film provides us with a unique way to remember. Here is a list of a few films that recall Pearl Harbor and Christmas during wartime:

Tora! Tora! Tora! (1970)

This is the classic reenactment of events during the attack on Pearl Harbor. It re-tells what happened, from both the American and the Japanese perspectives.

Pearl Harbor (2001)

Two boyhood friends, Navy pilots stationed at Pearl Harbor, endure the trauma of the attack.

Joyeux Noël (2005)

I first recommended this film last year. It recalls a most unusual Christmas eve encounter—called “the Christmas Truce”on the World War I German front, between the Germans on the one side and the French and Scottish forces on the other. Joyeux Noël is on my list of movies to see again each Christmas season.

For other posts I’ve written about this film, see Favorite Christmas Movie for 2009 and Joyeux Noël: A Film Discussion Guide.

Stalag 17 (1953)

This may seem an odd entry. First, Christmas plays an understated role in the film. Second, this is a Billy Wilder comedy. Third, it is an older movie, filmed in black and white. But in its defense, note that Stalag 17 was one of the first films to join laughter with the ignominy of war. In it we observe a group of men courageously, though often raucously, making the best of a bad situation. Yes, there is comedy, some of it (okay, much of it) silly. This is, after all, a Billy Wilder product. But there also is pathos and suspense.

On close inspection, many people today, with no war experience at all, can relate to the diverse feelings exhibited by these men, feelings that are compounded during the holidays. Loneliness. Unrequited love. Disillusionment. Alienation.

Wilder was an intelligent director. He was interested in far more than the easy laugh. You see this in Stalag 17 when you pay close attention. Grown men revert to childishness to comfort themselves. They are resourceful, both at play and in the attempt to re-gain their freedom. Group dynamics are explored with sensitivity to how leadership and courage are perceived by others, what happens when the wrong person is blamed for serious misconduct, how trust is built up, then dissolved, and what people are willing to sacrifice for the good of others.

Stalag 17 stars William Holden, Otto Preminger, and Peter Graves (of the original Mission Impossible TV series). The movie was the “inspiration” for the TV series Hogan’s Heroe’s, which even “borrowed” the Sergeant Schultz character.

I saw this movie for the first time last night, and I recommend it.

Recommended links related to the attack on Pearl Harbor:

Links related to Christmas during World War I and World War II:

Do you have a movie to recommend that fits the category of this post? Of so, please let us know in the comment box.

The movies mentioned here:

Trailer for the Movie “Shields”


A short trailer for the movie Shields, featuring my daughter Erin Geivett, has just been released on the director’s Facebook page. This is Erin’s debut in a live-action role. Hope you enjoy!

Shields, the Movie

Ranking Three Summer 2010 Action Movies


First Place: Knight and Day

Second Place: SALT

Third Place: The Expendables

Knight and Day are a romantic duo. Salt is a solo maverick. The Expendables? They’re a team . . . sorta. Neither Knight and Day nor The Expendables is serious; but Knight and Day is funny, and The Expendables isn’t. Knight and Day entertains on many levels, and has something for most audiences. The Expendables entertains on pretty much one frequency—violent action peppered with salty language.

Salt is less memorable weeks after seeing it, but engaging at the time. There are real surprises that swing this movie into the range of genuine suspense.

There is one salvageable line in The Expendables: “I’m Buddha; he’s Pest.” Sylvester Stallone is a smart guy, and he could have (should have) written and directed a better movie than this. The abiding question for audiences will be, “How old can you be and still do action figures?”

Most important prop in:

My choice of best actor for these three movies may surprise: Mickey O’Rourke, in . . . The Expendables. And it’s not because I’m a big O’Rourke fan. I’d have to confess to being more of an Angelina Jolie fan, though Cameron Diaz is pretty endearing opposite Tom Cruz. And Tom Cruz is the funniest he’s been, without stepping out of character, in Knight and Day.

Women can stay home from The Expendables, unless they really want to see what grown—and old—men look like playing the good bad guys against the odds. I will say that I’d rank The Expendables over Ghost Rider, which somehow comes to mind for comparison purposes. Go figure. The Expendables is more of a contemporary version of Sam Peckinpah’s The Wild Bunch. ‘Nuff said?

Mysterious Opening Lines: Le Carré, Ludlum, and Others


GIGA Quotes, an online source for quotations, has listed 43 pages of first lines from books, beginning with Merrian-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary. This amounts to more than 2300 first-line excerpts from “classical, notable and bestselling books” (here).

First lines interest me. They interest me as an author, and as a reader. Read more of this post

Avatar DVD Release


Avatar is now available on DVD—at Amazon.

Related post: What Is the Movie Avatar About?

Land of the Free Film Premiere


The film Land of the Free premieres Thursday, May 27, in Whittier, California.

I’m a big fan of this movie. Of course, how could I not be? Erin Geivett, my daughter, co-stars in the film. This is her debut as a lead actress. Read more of this post

And Then There Were None: A Film Discussion Guide


And Then There Were None (USA, 1945), directed by René Clair, is the original film adaptation of the famed Agatha Christie novel. The novel is the best-selling mystery thriller of all time and one of the top 10 best-sellers among all books in English. The film is popular, too, on IMDb and Amazon.

Discussion Guide: Read more of this post

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