Thursday, March 31, 2011

PBS Presents "Journey to Planet Earth" with "Plan B: Mobilizing to Save Civilization"

And they're not kidding. If you play any attention to the news, you know that Earth is not in a happy place right now. Though many would prefer not to hear what's on the horizon, we've all got to turn away from watching so much lousy fake reality programming and instead take some time to understand more important things. PBS is helping us to that end with its continuing series Journey to Planet Earth which returned last night on your local PBS station.

JtPE has been airing on and off since 2003, and the newest batch continues with on-air host Matt Damon, who's (mostly) been around for the whole project. A comprehensive study of the various environmental, ecological, and technological threats that our planet faces, Journey to Planet Earth is sobering and essential viewing for all Earthings. In other words, if you're reading this, you should be watching it.

Last night's episode Plan B: Mobilizing to Save Civilization is based on the book Plan B by Lester Brown, founder of the Worldwatch Institute and a global environmental authority. (In fact, Ted Turner sent over three thousand copies of the book around to influential global leaders of state and industry back in 2003 when it first came out, and I'm guessing not enough of them read it, obviously). Brown's credentials and expertise are impeccable, and we ignore his message at our own peril.

If you don't believe in man-made climate change, then there's clearly nothing that brilliant scientists will be able to say that will make you understand. If you do get it, then the insights presented in Plan B: Mobilizing to Save Civilization may come as no surprise but will add to your understanding of this serious and ongoing crisis. Of course it's rather depressing, and that's no fun to contemplate perhaps, but we have to take our medicine, lace up our boots, and see what we might be able to do about it. Anything less is shirking off your position as a human being.

If you're unable to catch the show on-air, PBS is making it available for viewing online here, and you might also like to visit the YouTube channel of Journey to Planet Earth filmmakers Marilyn and Hal Weiner for more clips and info. If you are a teacher (or even if you're not), check out the terrific Educators' Guide here, too.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Don't forget -- HBO's "Mildred Pierce" Begins Tonight!

The Flaming Nose featured a preview of this new HBO miniseries earlier this month; please click here to read Judith's sneak peek at the Kate Wintslet-starring five-hour production. Judith was impressed, and we're eager to take a look at this talented actress' -- and talented director Todd Haynes' -- take on the Depression-era woman's rags-to-riches saga.

That was the terrific Hope Davis with Winslet in the scene above; she's always interesting to watch. If you're interested in comparing various critical assessments of the mini, you might enjoy visiting the MetaCritic site for Mildred Pierce, where reviews are aggregated and it's easy to get a fast overall idea of the buzz. We won't tell you how it's going, but the important thing is to watch and judge for yourself. We like the idea, we like the actress, we like the time period, we like the location -- we like a lot about this -- and can't wait to catch it tonight.

HBO's Mildred Pierce premieres tonight with Parts One and Two from 9pm - 11pm, with Part Three on April 3rd, and Parts Four and Five on April 10th, with many encores of each and five-hour MP marathons on April 22nd and April 23rd -- plenty of chances to catch this one! Check the HBO Mildred Pierce site for all specific scheduling information.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Happy Birthday Leonard Nimoy!

The Flaming Nose salutes one of our all time favorite actors on his milestone 80th birthday. Born March 26, 1931 in Boston, MA to Yiddish speaking parents from the Ukraine, Mr. Nimoy has enjoyed a very long, diverse and accomplished career in television, film, theater and the arts. He has also long been associated with friend and fellow actor William Shatner, whose 80th birthday was honored just a few days ago on the Nose by a lovely post from Lisa. So much has been written about Leonard Nimoy over the years. In spite of an amazing list of credits (check out this imbd) that stretches over decades, he will always be linked with a little sci-fi TV series that first ran in 1966 called Star Trek. It was his role as the half-human, half Vulcan First Officer on the starship Enterprise that helped spawn an empire of TV series, movies, conventions and merchandise. He also helped inspire countless real-life astronauts who said if it hadn't been for Star Trek, they might never have chosen NASA and space exploration as their career. Very well known trivia fact: Nimoy created the split fingered Vulcan salute based on childhood memories of blessings given by kohanim Jewish priests. Little known trivia fact: NBC and the producers of the original Star Trek series knew they had a break-out character with Spock when they started receiving hundreds of pounds of fan mail, much of which was from women professing their undying love for the pointy eared science officer. Illogically, many of the letters also included detailed drawings of what these ladies imagined Vulcan reproductive anatomy (Spock's in particular) might look like. Fascinating. I totally understand that line of thought, having developed a huge crush on Mr. Spock in my early adolescence which basically ruined me from truly appreciating human males forever more. Interestingly, the speculation about Vulcan sexuality continues to this day, only now the fantasies are spelled out more graphically with music and video before being uploaded on YouTube. I shall not be posting any here today folks, this is a birthday tribute! Although I'm sure Mr. Nimoy would find many of them quite hilarious. Ah well, at the end of the day we are all jealous of Nurse Chapel. Leonard Nimoy appeared in countless other television series, including Gunsmoke, The Virginian, Mission Impossible, The Outer Limits, and more recently the Fox science fiction series Fringe. He also acted in seven motion pictures based on the Star Trek series, including the 2009 J.J. Abrams effort where he was featured as the character "Spock Prime". Nimoy also lent his authoritative voice to the narration for several terrific non-fiction series, including In Search Of and Ancient Mysteries which aired on A&E. Not content with only a robust and colorful show biz career, Mr. Nimoy has also enjoyed success as an artist and photographer. He continues to explore many different genres with his vast creativity and intellectual curiosity. An extremely talented photographer for many years Nimoy recently released a book called "Full Body Project" which includes pictures of sizable women, many of them nude. It reminds me a bit of Diane Arbus, but without the freak show ambiance. One gets the feeling that the man who has played the most famous space alien in the world, actually likes human beings a great deal. One of my favorite aspects of Leonard Nimoy has to do with his career, but only in an oblique manner. I absolutely love thinking about his long friendship with William Shatner, which has gone on for over 40 years. Apparently they continue to enjoy dinners, and Passover celebrations together. I was disappointed to read the other day that they share a solemn vow to not speak about Star Trek when they see each other socially. They are the only two people on Earth who know how completely weird it is to be...them. And yet they won't talk about it. Minions of adoring Trek Nerds can only imagine. However, I was delighted to find a recent snippet of Shatner interviewing Nimoy on his BIO cable show "Raw Nerve" where they talk about other items. Here's a little piece where Bill prompts Leonard to speak about his parents and his childhood. Mr. Nimoy, on behalf of the Flaming Nose and all our readers, we thank you for your long and wonderful career and wish you a very Happy Birthday. And because your fans circle the globe and beyond...we want you to "Live Long and Prosper" in ten languages. We love you Leonard Nimoy!

  • Larga vida y prosperidad

  • Longue vie et prospérité

  • Живите долго и процветать

  • --ライブ長く繁栄

  • --Lev länge och blomstra

  • להתקיים זמן רב--

  • Kuishi kwa muda mrefu na kufanikiwa

  • Beo fada agus rathúil

  • 长寿与繁荣

  • Live mahaba at yumabong

Thursday, March 24, 2011

When Elizabeth Taylor Met Lucille Ball

With yesterday's death of cinema icon and perhaps the ultimate movie star ever Elizabeth Taylor, it's an appropriate time to feature the moment when ET met our favorite redhead Lucille Ball on an episode of her Here's Lucy series.

The episode premiered on September 14, 1970 -- the season opener for the series' third year -- and was predictably a ratings and publicity success, but perhaps more unexpectedly and importantly a comedic smash, too. Taylor and her husband Richard Burton were international celebrities and getting them on Here's Lucy was quite a coup. They seemed to enjoy their romp with America's greatest female clown, and the episode is a charming look-back at a wonderful comedienne at the top of her game, and at Taylor and Burton at their most glamorous and refreshing. Enjoy!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Happy Birthday, William Shatner!

Can you believe that William Shatner is 80 years old today? Have you seen him lately on his CBS sitcom, or on his really good talk show Shatner's Raw Nerve on the Biography Channel? He's incredible. He has more energy, more curiosity, more wisdom and more wit than almost anybody else out there, certainly anybody his age or many much younger. William Shatner has become, by dint of his prodigious career over the past sixty years, a certified pop culture icon and well deserves his place in the hearts and minds of contemporary society.

If you love television, you have to love William Shatner. He's been on it from the beginning, starring in several series and guest-starring on dozens and dozens and dozens of all the most prestigious drama showcases of the early TV years and also on just about every classic TV show of the past half-century. Shatner IS television.

You really just need to take some time and look over his credit list, as actor, director, producer, writer. Check out his IMDb listing and be in awe of this man.

We thought we'd just bring you a few clips of Shatman, only a mere sprinkling of the greatness that is out there, but we hope we intrigue you enough to spend a week or so looking at all the wonderful material that's out there. We wish to particularly call out YouTube user Zainin666's astounding collection of William Shatner clips -- what a labor of love!

So how about a little bit of our favorite starship commander battling the treacherous lizard creature The Gorn, from Star Trek episode "Arena"?

Would you like to watch him doing his famous "Rocket Man" interpretation from 1978, at the Science Fiction Film Awards?

And we really like this snazzy video showcasing Captain Kirk's ladykilling, made by the talented ImaginarySanity as seen on YouTube.

We could go on forever about Shatner, but let's merely say what's on everybody's mind today --

Happy Birthday, William Shatner!

Monday, March 21, 2011

"Triangle: Remembering The Fire" on HBO Tonight

It happened almost a hundred years ago, but the human horror and social ramifications reverberate yet today. This coming Friday is the 100th Anniversary of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire, and HBO is premiering an excellent documentary tonight -- Triangle: Remembering The Fire -- about this early 20th-Century workplace tragedy which focused attention on the unsafe conditions for many toiling in New York City at the time. It was a shocking news story -- a hundred and a half women killed in a fiery inferno, and many more wounded -- that opened the eyes of the nation to the lamentable plight of factory workers exploited in sweatshops, and not just in New York, of course.

Triangle: Remembering the Fire premieres tonight at 9pm and encores many times over the next few weeks, and it's a must-watch, not only for history buffs but for anyone interested in the history of organized labor and its roots in America. It's a story as old as time -- greed over fair and ethical practices -- and it's a battle that's still raging here and in many other places. The lessons learned -- or not learned -- from the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire echo today in the repercussions from the BP Oil Spill or Hurricane Katrina, decisions made to cut corners or goose production or just forget that accidents will happen and we must be mindful of them.

PBS had their own "Triangle Fire" documentary on American Experience a couple of weeks ago, and though it seemed to have fallen below the radar somewhat, the special is available for viewing online at the PBS website if you missed it. The New York Times compared the two specials in an article when PBS ran their version; you can read it here (hurry before they start blocking you out!).

We're hoping America might turn away from their wretched addiction to so-called "reality" shows to watch something truly real for a change. 146 people died in the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire, and attention must still be paid.

For more information on the fire, you can visit -- in addition to all the links in the previous paragraphs -- Cornell University's The Triangle Factory Fire website, the Famous Trials Triangle Shirtwaist Fire Trial website, several features on NPR about the Fire from Labor Day in 2003, an article from the AFL-CIO website, and this great article from the New York Public Radio station WNYC about the Fire and many events and exhibitions in the city which are commemorating the anniversary. These are just a small sampling of the many websites with great info about the Fire and its lasting implications.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

"Pee-Wee Herman Week" -- The Fun Never Ends!

Here's one of the tremendously terrific sequences from Pee-Wee's Big Adventure, where director Tim Burton perfectly transferred Paul Reubens' vision to the big screen. Unfortunately, you'll have to click here to see it, as we can't embed it. (That's really annoying!)

This clip is from Showtime back in the early 1980s, from the Paragons of Comedy special, featuring comedian John Paragon who played Jambi on Pee-Wee's Playhouse and is also co-starring in tonight's new special. You can see that Pee-Wee isn't a cult figure yet with the audience, but he is brilliant and the greatness is totally there.

Here's a little clip from HBO's The Buzz interstitial when Pee-Wee opened on Broadway. Of course we thank HBO for again preserving Pee-Wee's stage show with tonight's Pee-Wee Herman on Broadway special which premieres tonight at 1opm.

Though we also can't embed it, this is a cute recent Pee-Wee interview with CNN's Anderson Cooper. Click here to see it. Cooper only slightly succumbs to the wearying tendency of people who interview comedians to try to be funnier than the comic. (Why do people do that, anyway?)

And this is an adorable clip from Pee-Wee's Playhouse involving giant underwear -- what could be funnier?

As if we haven't told you plenty of times already, don't miss The Pee-Wee Herman Show on Broadway, premiering tonight at 10p on HBO!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Pee-Wee Herman -- The Luckiest Boy in the World!

The conclusion of Pee-Wee's original HBO special, and one of my very favorite Pee-Wee Herman moments ever. Imaginative, sweet, sassy, wistful -- everything genius about Paul Reuben's creative brainstorm in fashioning this amazing and unique character is on display here in this brilliant little clip.

The absolute best ever, isn't it? It's the essence of childlike wonderment, and we can all use some of that! That scene is pure magic.

Don't forget The Pee-Wee Herman Show on Broadway premieres on HBO tomorrow night at 10pm!

More Pee-Wee tomorrow as we finish up "Pee-Wee Herman Week" here on The Flaming Nose!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Pee-Wee Herman Week Perseveres! SNL Fun!

Earlier this year, Pee-Wee got together on Saturday Night Live with Andy Samberg for one of his Digital Shorts -- Result: Party Time!

And how about the time that Pee-Wee hosted SNL back in November of 1985? Here's one skit with Jon Lovitz:

Don't forget, The Pee-Wee Herman Show on Broadway premieres this Saturday night at 10pm on HBO!

Happy St. Patrick's Day! Hoss Cartwright Finds a Leprechaun!

From the amusing Bonanza episode "Hoss and the Leprechauns" from 1963, which strangely enough did not air near St. Patrick's Day but on December 22! This is a little scene featuring Little Joe (the charming Michael Landon) teasing his older brother (the wonderful Dan Blocker) after Hoss thinks he spied some leprechauns burying a box of gold.

The whole episode is available on YouTube in several parts, beginning here. You can always tell it will be a fun Bonanza when it starts out with composer David Rose's theme music for Hoss, a sure sign you're in for some Ponderosa hijinks! (For more info on this great series, check out the Bonanza: Scenery of the Ponderosa website!)

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

"Pee-Wee Herman Week" Continues -- A Little Old, A Little New!

How about the wonderful open to Pee-wee's Playhouse, which premiered in the CBS Saturday morning line-up in September 1986 and ran for 45 episodes over five seasons? Vocals by Cyndi Lauper, as if you couldn't tell, doing her best Mae Questel (as Betty Boop) impression.

For a clip we can't embed but is absolutely hilarious, check out by clicking here the scene from 1985's big-screen success Pee-wee's Big Adventure, where Pee-Wee and Mickey the escaped convict (played by Judd Omen) are stopped at a police roadblock. Completely amazing, adorable and hilarious!

Here's a little more recent Pee-Wee, as Reubens in character guests on ABC's daytime talkshow The View, from last June. I think you can tell how excited they are to have such a delightful guest on the show!

The Flaming Nose couldn't be more excited about this coming Saturday night, when The Pee-Wee Herman Show on Broadway premieres on HBO at 10pm! We just found a new trailer online for it, too!

The Secret Word is "Pee-Wee" around here, all week long!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Celebrity Apprentice: Ouch

Let me just say right up front, that I am not a big fan of Reality Television. I never "got" the Grand Daddy of RT (The Survivor) and I've never watched Biggest Loser, or Top Model or The Bachelor. The closest I've come to being one with RT is a 9 year investment in American Idol, which in truth, was more about loving Simon Cowell than loving music. For that I endured weeks of being mauled by melismatic caterwauling while waiting for flashes of vocal brilliance in the final five. Needless to say, once Simon departed, so did I. Although I do have many friends who tell me this is mean and the show is still good. So sorry...I'm stubborn, I'm Irish and I'm gone. I'll be there for Simon on the X-Factor in the fall.

So this post can be about how someone who is not a fan of RT can navigate through viewing the hot current version of Celebrity Apprentice without jumping off a bridge. I decided to check it out based on many anecdotal comments from folks who said the cast was inspired (it is) and that Gary Busey was strange and funny (absolutely). But it was still really, really hard for me to get through a two hour episode this past Sunday. It would have been easier to lick a raw banana slug. Without salt or hot sauce.

So...about the cast. On the guy side, we have aging teen idol David Cassidy, who has already been fired. Additionally we have the above mentioned Academy Award nominated Gary Busey, as well as rock impresario Meatloaf. Helping round out the motley crew is Richard Hatch, who once won The Survivor and who, if Yahoo News is correct, was recently arrested again for tax evasion. There's also a country singer dude and a rap dude and someone else I've never heard of.

On the women celebrity side there is (was) Lisa Rinna, who was mercifully fired this week for incompetence. Back to the lip pumping station for you Lisa! The cast also features classic and iconic songstress Dionne Warwick, Academy Award winning actress Marlee Matlin (oh how the mighty have fallen), super model Niki Taylor, TV personality Star Jones and (I don't know how to classify her and neither does NBC) LaToya Jackson.

Their challenge this week was to create a children's book targeted towards 5 year olds and then perform a rendition of the book on stage. It sounds really fun and interesting. It would have been great if it hadn't devolved into endless nit picking and cat fighting (even between the guys) and (this is a hallmark of Reality TV) closeups of someone who is about to cry. There is far too much crying on RT, and not nearly enough laughter. I kept waiting for somebody to realize how totally absurd the whole thing was, crack a joke and collapse in hysterics. I wanted them to abandon the show and have the camera follow them to the corner bar where they could hoist a few and talk about real life, or Charlie Sheen. It never happened. There was a lot of yelling though, if that's your cup of tea. And fake closeups of celebrities trying to look hurt, or attractive.

I guess it's probably not a good sign when the most measured, reasonable lines in the whole program were sternly pronounced by host, Mr. Donald Trump. He seems to be quite fond of Gary Busey, easily the most accomplished and riveting "character" on the show. Trump, regardless of his hair follicle challenges, is actually an amazing business mogul. His has a sort of warped gravitas that works for me, even though it is a bit like he's channeling Alec Baldwin from 30 Rock.

Ah well, it was painful, but I don't regret dipping a toe into the RT-world. I took a bullet for the Flaming Nose on this one, and actually welcome opposing viewpoints from those who love the genre. The only problem is...well...I sort of feel like I've invested all this time in the whole thing and wonder who is going to get kicked off next. Dear God. Will I tune in again? It's either that or start looking for Banana Slug recipes.

P.S. I know this is Pee Wee Herman Week and I am sorry this is not about Pee Wee. Although, come to think of it...wouldn't he make an AWESOME character on Celebrity Apprentice?

More Pee-Wee Herman -- Remembering Phil Hartman as Captain Carl

First up, have you seen the promo for this Saturday night's HBO The Pee-Wee Herman Show on Broadway special?

One thing we'll really miss in this new incarnation of Pee-Wee Herman's stage show is the character of roving sailor Captain Carl, a role originated (as Kap'n Karl) by the late great Phil Hartman in the first live version of the show back in the early 1980s and also seen on Pee-Wee's Playhouse.

Paul Reubens and Hartman worked together as part of the Groundlings comic troupe in L.A., and the two had an adorable comic chemistry together, as you can tell from these clips from the HBO special of the original show from 1981.

In the new show the romance between Miss Yvonne and the Captain has been revised to Miss Yvonne and Cowboy Curtis, but we'll never forget the hilarious attraction between Lynne Stewart (who still plays Miss Yvonne) and Phil Hartman.

If you haven't seen the 1981 version of The Pee-Wee Herman Show lately (it's on DVD), we highly recommend it. It's still hilarious and charming, as well as slighty naughty which is just the way we like it!
Don't forget -- The Pee-Wee Herman Show on Broadway premieres on HBO this coming Saturday night at 10pm!

Monday, March 14, 2011

The Secret Word is "Pee-Wee" All This Week on The Flaming Nose!

In honor of the return of the fabulous Pee-Wee Herman -- Paul Reubens -- to HBO this coming Saturday night with his The Pee-Wee Herman Show on Broadway special, we're going to be featuring some of the best of P-W here on The Nose! We've loved Pee-Wee around here forever, and couldn't be more thrilled to see Reubens' current success and career renaissance that's so well-deserved.

Here's something that I hadn't seen, mostly because I don't watch pro wrestling anymore -- Pee-Wee on USA's WWE Raw from November, just before his show -- which was taped for the HBO special -- became such a hit on Broadway (after being a big success in Los Angeles, too).

And for another contemporary Pee-Wee, how a piece from Funny or Die where P-W shows off his new IPad to his pals at the Playhouse? It won't allow embedding but you can watch it here on YouTube. Very funny!

More coming up! You can never get enough Pee-Wee Herman!

The Pee-Wee Herman Show on Broadway premieres this coming Saturday, March 19, at 10pm on HBO.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

"Mega Quake" on National Geographic Channel Tonight!

If timing is everything, then National Geographic Channel really hit the jackpot this week. They happen to have their not-brand-new but completely fascinating special Mega Quake on tonight at 8pm, about the possibility of a huge temblor hitting the highly-populated Western United States and triggering a tsunami, similar to the horrible earthquake in Japan only a few days ago. Here's a preview:

The theories contained in Mega Quake will surely strike home even more deeply after seeing the news coverage of the ongoing devastation caused by Japan's offshore 8.9 rattler and the subsequent tsunami. The footage was horrifying, and viewers have been unable to stop watching, me included.

Mega Quake airs tonight at 8pm eastern on National Geographic Channel, with an encore at 11pm also. You might also be interested in Finding Atlantis which airs immediately after Mega Quake; it's an intriguing look at the efforts to once and for all try to locate the mysterious legendary city which was fabled to have sunk beneath the sea following a tremendous earthquake in ancient times.

Though they're exciting and visually arresting, it's also crucial to watch programs like Mega Quake for the practical information that might help you survive a monster earthquake someday. You can't prevent one from happening, but you certainly can prepare for it ahead of time.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011


It is often unfair to do a review of any project without having seen the production in its completed form, but having had the opportunity to screen the first two hours of the upcoming HBO mini-series, “Mildred Pierce” I feel comfortable in saying that the balance of the series will most likely be as worthwhile as the first two hours.

James Cain’s hardboiled novel was released back in 1941. It was a successful best-selling fiction novel that went on to become a major film. The book was adapted into the Academy Award winning 1945 film starring one of the great leading actresses of the Depression/World War II era. Joan Crawford was a gifted actress and a huge movie star. She was that rare gem who could open films and she would do so for many years beyond her formative period during the 1930’s and 1940’s. It is certainly no surprise that the film would be remade some 66 years later. It is such a well-defined role that any actress, let alone a gifted one looking for a meaty role would want to take it on.

Kate Winslet won her own Academy Award two years ago for “The Reader.” Winslet had been nominated multiple times prior to her acceptance of this award and it is not arguable that she is one of the best actresses working today. What is surprising is that she would take on an HBO mini-series as her follow-up to her Oscar win.

The original “Mildred Pierce” was directed by one of the masterful giants of filmmaking. Michael Curtiz directed Crawford to her only Oscar win and this was just one of over 150 films he directed. His filmography is enviable by any standard and it is also genre diverse. Few people making films today could possibly lay claim to this type of work. Curtiz directed some of the greatest films of the era, including “Casablanca” (you almost don’t have to say anymore), “Yankee Doodle Dandy” which featured James Cagney’s only Oscar winning performance, “The Sea Hawk,” “Captain Blood,” “The Adventures of Robin Hood” (arguably the three best films in the storied career of Errol Flynn), and 1954’s annual classic “White Christmas.” Can you believe that this is just a small portion of his output? Curtiz would be a hard act to follow, but Todd Haynes directs this updated film with a slow and deliberate spin, but it works on every level.

After her husband is taken away with abandon by a local tart, Mildred realizes quickly that life goes on; and in some ways she is better off without the unattractive and weak loser. She is trying to raise two daughters in a hard hit economic climate (similar to today) and yet she is somewhat of a minor elitist. How could this middle-class woman submit herself to low level work? Well, she needs to pay the bills. Southern California in the 1930’s is not particularly welcoming to women without a marketable skill set (same today) and she ends up taking a job at a local diner. I’m sure Guy Fieri would have made his way there in 2011.

Mildred is embarrassed by this hash house sideline, but it is her downright evil daughter, Veda who takes on her’s mother’s waste of life enterprise and reminds her how humiliating this all is. The young Veda is played brilliantly by Morgan Turner. Since I only saw two hours of the film I never had the opportunity to see the older version of Veda played by Evan Rachel Wood. This girl is bad. I mean bad. She is a self-absorbed, demonic, mean-spirited sleaze who will pretty much do anything to anyone to get what she wants. Great movies are made on these beyond shady types. Of course, if you know the story it just keeps getting worse. Yes, the daughter eventually murders someone and mommy dearest (no pun intended) needs to help her out. She also has an affair with mom’s beau. Bad, bad, bad girl.

This film is polished, poised and downright perfect. Kate Winslet turns in another one of her stellar performances and Morgan Turner scares the daylights out of you. After I saw it I walked out saying “I’m glad I don’t have a child.” I didn't really say that, but for one moment I thought it. Guy Pearce is, as always, superb. He gives another refined and impeccable performance in his growing entourage of interesting characters. The film evokes the era beautifully. Cinematography, set design/art direction are all flawless.

Mildred makes it big with a series of restaurants and a pie-making business, but her life is pulled down by life’s obstacles and in this case some very big obstacles. Needless to say, this is a film worth viewing. I am looking forward to the March 27 premiere.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

A Belated Birthday Remembrance for James Doohan

We couldn't let it pass unnoticed -- last Thursday was the 91st anniversary of the birth of James Doohan, beloved by so many of us for his role as Scotty in Star Trek. He was an icon -- as himself and as the character -- adored for his jolly presence at Trek conventions over the years and for his portrayal of a skilled and dedicated engineer with plenty of personality. Doohan was born on March 3, 1920 and died July 20, 2005.

Some people may think Scotty only loved his engines (and his Scotch) and never got the girl, but in several classic Star Trek episodes he had quite an eye for the ladies, such as "Wolf in the Fold" where his adoration of a beautiful belly dancer at a bar got him mixed up with the dead spirit of Jack the Ripper, or "Who Mourns for Adonais?" where he was the one squiring around the breathtaking Leslie Parrish in her famous pink backless gown, that is, before Apollo (Michael Forest) took a shine to her.

One of the most amusing Scotty scenes is in "By Any Other Name" where he tries to get an alien (played by Robert Fortier) drunk. Let's watch:

James Doohan returned as Montgomery Scott in wonderful guest appearance in the Star Trek series follow-up Star Trek: The Next Generation in the episode "Relics". Scotty is discovered, miraculously preserved in a transporter wave, and brought back to life where he must adjust to a very different Enterprise and a very different time. Here's a cute scene between Doohan and Brett Spiner as Data.:

Doohan appeared in all the Star Trek big-screen movies and has the distinction of being part of one of the most quoted Trek phrases -- "Beam Me Up, Scotty!" -- which is a bonafide pop culture touchstone now.

So a tip of our cap to our favorite starship engineer, James Doohan! We will leave you with this lovely YouTube fan-made video which combines footage of Doohan's ashes being shot into space by NASA, with Star Trek footage, resulting in a fitting finale send-off for Scotty. (For the whole story on what actually transpired with this spaceflight tribute, click here.)

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Further Tales from the Content Pipeline: Hello Kindle!

A few weeks ago I wrote a little love letter about streaming TV and movies through Netflix. It's still one of my favorite ways to get television content these days, and it certainly has widened the net for movie viewing without having me go broke with Comcast PPV. It has been quite some time since I've thought, "Wow, I have over 1,000 channels and there's nothing on."

Yesterday, Amazon delivered another new content delivery pipeline to my door. Thanks to a recommendation from my BFF, I am the proud owner of a brand new Kindle. I know, I know, I'm the last person on my block to get one. Duh...I live in Silicon Valley. Actually my neighbors have probably already thrown theirs in the closet so they can play with their iPads. Whatever, I'm a late adopter this time, and I don't care. The new Kindle absolutely rocks.

There is always a profound and sometimes shocking moment when you realize that a new electronic toy is going to change the way you perceive content forever. I had that moment in the 1980's at a Colorado ski resort condo, when I realized that I had found a TV channel that played nothing but music videos. What the heck? I had stumbled across one of the earliest cable systems transmitting one of the earliest cable channels (MTV). I was transfixed by it. So was everyone else. MTV was actually cool once, back when Pterosaurs filled the skies.

I had the aha moment again in the mid-1990's, when I realized that my brother and I were sending each other e-mail messages every day. I never got a snail mail letter from him again and we never looked back.

In the late 1990's, downloading songs off the Internet became common. And now I have thousands of songs on a little metal disk the size of a hotel pillow mint. And more of my favorite music lives on my smart phone.

Starting today, my Kindle rounds out this minor geeky revel. I have loved to read ever since I yawned my way through a Kindergarten copy of See Spot Run. I guess they were too busy forcing us to duck and cover from pending Soviet annihilation to write interesting children's text books in those days. My favorite sci-fi novel about book lovers and haters has always been Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451. What would that Orwellian world make of the Kindle? It would be harder to burn, thank God. I feel safer facing the future now, however dystopian it might be, knowing that I can store one book in my head, and thousands more on my Kindle. Hopefully they will invent one that charges on solar power!

Have to go read my first Kindle book now. It's When the Killing's Done, by T.C. Boyle, one of the best contemporary California fiction writers. Set in the Channel Islands, it's about animal rights activists and species preservation. Oh boy, can't wait!