Favorite stars in television and movies

Who is your favorite friend that you met in 1977 at a Halloween party in New Paltz?

Cate BlanchettThe evil Tom the Mayor, who I know from FantaCo wants to know: Who is your all-time favorite Movie Star, Male and Female, one only apiece? Also Favorite TV Stars, same rule, one apiece.

First off, the line between television and film has blurred tremendously. You find performers easily bouncing between the two media. But OK.

Movie star (male): after considering Mark Ruffalo and George Clooney, I ended up with Denzel Washington. He’s the actor who I’ve seen both early on and relatively recently: Cry Freedom (1987), Glory (1989); Mississippi Masala (1991); Malcolm X (1992); Philadelphia (1993); The Pelican Brief (1993); Crimson Tide (1995).

Also, Devil in a Blue Dress (1995); The Preacher’s Wife (1995); The Hurricane (1999); Remember the Titans (2000); The Manchurian Candidate (2004); Unstoppable (2010); and Fences (2016). There were two or three others I might have caught if I had had the time.

Movie star (female): ignoring Streep, for cause: Cate Blanchett, who often disappears into her roles. I’ve seen her in Oscar and Lucinda (1997); Elizabeth (1998); The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999); The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001); The Shipping News (2001); Notes on a Scandal (2006); Elizabeth: The Golden Age (2007); Blue Jasmine (2013); Cinderella (2015); Carol (2015); and Ocean’s Eight (2018).

TV star (male): the late James Garner, who played two iconic roles, Bret Maverick in the western Maverick, and private detective Jim Rockford in The Rockford Files. He also became the father figure in 8 Simple Rules after John Ritter died and lasted longer – a couple seasons – than any show losing its protagonist normally would.

TV star (female): excluding Betty White, I’ll go with the late Mary Tyler Moore, who was Laura Petrie in the Dick Van Dyke Show, a series I have on DVD. Then she was Mary Richards on her eponymously-named show.

Huh, I answered a similar question almost nine years ago.

Another question, this from Judy: Who is your favorite friend that you met in 1977 at a Halloween party in New Paltz?

That was a REALLY long time ago. You don’t expect me to remember that far back, do you?

Music shaming and Pooh relating

My knee-jerk reaction was to say Eeyore.

Another from Arthur query for Ask Roger Anything:

Have you ever been chastised by a group you were part of for liking a pop culture performer (band or solo artist)? For example, black people, fellow church members, your group at university, whatever, who collectively disapproved of someone you liked (regardless of whether they knew you liked that act or not). If so, how did that make you feel?

Not that I can recall as a collective. Individuals, I can certainly remember. My sister’s boyfriend in high school who thought my taste in music was too “white”. Then he’d find artists such as Three Dog Night or Blood, Sweat, and Tears and embrace them.

This reminds me that he also liked Bridge Over Troubled Water, the Simon & Garfunkel song, and in fact bought my sister the single. Well, she was disappointed that he had not purchased the album of the same name for her. Shortly thereafter, I bought the LP for me and noticed that the single version and album versions were in different keys! So, thanks, George.

Also, my girlfriend c 1979 had a son who was a teenager, and he really mocked me playing the soundtrack for Saturday Night Fever.

I have an extraordinary memory for playing music that I like but that others didn’t: buying my mother Joe Jackson’s Jumpin’ Jive, and that was a dud gift. Some of the cast of the production of Boys in the Band finding Joni Mitchell’s Ladies of the Canyon boring. Friend Carol from high school hated At the Zoo and Strawberry Fields Forever, A DJ I knew giving up on Maybe Tomorrow by the Jackson Five.
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Tom the Mayor wonders:

Are there any Bands or singers you saw and said to yourself, “I wish they had stayed retired!”

Y’know, I don’t. I figure to let them and/or the marketplace decide. It seems that some artists such as Roger Waters and Fleetwood Mac are doing farewell tours, and that’s cool.

I AM amazed that the Rolling Stones are still at it, though.

What Character in Winnie The Pooh Are You? I read an article years ago that every Pooh character is a personality type.

My knee-jerk reaction was to say Eeyore. But I decided to take one of those highly scientific tests on Facebook. The results: Eeyore:

“You may be the ‘Debby-Downer’ of your group of friends, but that’s just because you’re realistic. You tend to be pessimistic and gloomy at times, but you know when to pull out your smile at the perfect moment. Being very cute doesn’t hurt either.”

Music and communication

I do have affection for Chester A. Arthur.

cher-dyingMore Ask Roger Anything questions from Chris:

How do you explain to your daughter how to vet sources?

It must be from an example. Just recently, my daughter said, of a tabloid cover in the supermarket, “Cher isn’t really dying, is she?” We watch a couple of news networks, plus Comedy Central, not every day, but often enough, so she can clearly see that shows often offer different emphases.

In your opinion, is Wikipedia a reliable source?

Depends on the topic, and the compiler. There’s an old cliche about a newspaper providing perfect information for topics I know nothing about, but less so for things with which I am familiar. I recently linked to the Wikipedia for the band Blotto, and I noticed that it NEVER mentioned the band members’ actual names. This was a failing.

Some posts are frozen in amber, perfectly accurate as of November 2013, e.g., but not so much today. Whereas other posts are updated regularly to reflect new music released or films made. Deaths are often, but not always, caught.

I specifically remember that back in 2004 or 2005, I corrected a mention that the next Presidential election would be in 2007, when, of course, it was 2008.

Still, when I’m doing research for a topic about which I know nothing, Wikipedia can be very useful, ESPECIALLY the links to the various footnotes.

What’s one area of scientific research that you think we should be funding more (other than medicine and climate change)?

Well, climate change is huge and would include the potential for everything from island nations flooding to the future loss of the maple syrup industry from the continental United States. Once you’ve eliminated climate change and medicine, what I think you have left is space exploration. It has very often answered many questions for answers here on earth, including those two topics.
man-reading-newspaper
What’s been the most surprising world change in your lifetime?

Communication, for good and for ill. You make friends on Facebook with people around the world, you have fights with total strangers on Facebook, often about really stupid stuff. You text your friends, while you ignore those physically around you.

I’ve been the guy reading the newspaper, maybe only a dozen years ago, and someone, as often as not, would comment on a story, or maybe just quietly read over my shoulder. Or I’d read over someone else’s shoulder. Those electronic devices don’t seem to open one up to one’s immediate environment, even as one can learn about the most recent terrorism in Turkey.

The Internet allows for more information, but also misinformation, disinformation, satire, lies. We can see Arab Spring or police misconduct, but also LOL cats and Stare-down Sammy, which got 34 million views on Facebook, and was shown on the CBS morning news; I thought it was a waste of air time.

There have been conspiracy theories for a long time, but they can propagate far more freely these days. Even objective facts will be disputed, and as a person dealing with, ideally, objective information, this can be both frustrating and exhausting. (See also my answer about Google.)

I’ve actually had this conversation about an article someone read. (I’m a librarian; a variation of this happens a LOT.)

Her: Is it true?
Me: Where did the information come from?
Her: Facebook!
Me: But what was the ORIGINAL SOURCE of the information?
Her: I TOLD you, Facebook!

Who is your favorite president and why?

Franklin Delano Roosevelt. He was rich and rather pompous and arrogant. His ailment thought to be polio at the time, but now believed to be Guillain-Barre syndrome, humbled him, and made him a champion for those less well off. And he had a great partner in Eleanor, with whom he seemed to have achieved an understanding regarding his infidelity.

He was imperfect, the Japanese internment being chief among his failures. But he initiated a lot of useful programs, some of which are around today, such as Social Security and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation.

I do, though, have affection for Chester A. Arthur, a product of the spoils system who became a reformer for civil service.

Tom the Mayor queried:

What is your Favorite Beatles song?

The last time I made a list, it was 3. Help 2 Got To Get You Into My Life 1 Tomorrow Never Knows. Re: TNK, I recently saw Paul, Ringo, and Georges Harrison and Martin discuss its intricacies. But Help! is something I can sing with my daughter.

What is your Favorite Aretha Franklin Song?

The last time I made a list, it was 4. (Sweet Sweet Baby) Since You’ve Been Gone 3. (You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman 2. Sweet Bitter Love (1966). 1. Respect
Of course, Respect is a great cover. Since You’ve Been Gone has always been a favorite because it stifled deejays. But Sweet Bitter Love was in a quartet (or more) of songs that I played when romance went south.

What is your Favorite Joni Mitchell song?

The last time I made a list, it was 2. A Case of You 1. River. River reminds me of my late friend Donna George. But the poetry of A Case of You touches me too.

Music throwback Saturday: Blotto

Metalhead by Blotto featured guitarist Buck Dharma.

comboakimbo.jpegFor Ask Roger Anything, Tom the Mayor, who used to work at FantaCo, the now-defunct comic book store in Albany, NY, inquired:

What is your favorite Blotto song (For you Albany people)?

For you non-Albany people, Blotto was a popular local band who performed with humor and panache. Like the Ramones, the various performers took on the S-less band name as their surname. It was vocalist Sarge, bassist Cheese, guitarist Broadway, guitar-vocalist Bowtie, and drummer Lee Harvey Blotto. Female lead singer Blanche joined the band for a while, then quit, and was replaced by Chevrolet Blotto.

As you know, Tom, FantaCo sold the band’s various EPs, their single, and the album Combo Akimbo during the 1980s. The cover was designed by the late John Caldwell. I hung out with some of the guys at a Troy diner after the funeral of FantaCo mainstay Raoul Vezina back in 1983.

Cheese died back in 1999. He was also known as Keith A. Stephenson.

I still come across a couple of the fellows now and then. Sarge, a/k/a Greg Haymes, is a music writer, and co-creator of the Nipper Town website; he reposted an interview from 1980. F. Lee Harvey, a/k/a Paul Rapp is an intellectual property lawyer.

From Wikipedia: “The band in its current incarnation (Broadway, Bowtie, Sergeant, F. Lee Harvey, Clyde, and Hammerhead Blotto) is still active, and has reunited for occasional concerts in the Albany area.”

My five favorite Blotto songs:

5. She’s Got A Big Boyfriend HERE. I especially like the call-and-response. “I’ll make him laugh.” “He’ll break you in half.”

4. I Wanna Be A Lifeguard HERE or HERE. This was the 36th video played on the first day of MTV, I read, and got played a LOT. I’m surprised that the single never charted.

3. Goodbye Mr. Bond HERE or HERE. It has every 007 cliche.

2. Metalhead HERE or HERE. This was an over-the-top parody, which eventually found its way onto a compilation album called “Metal for Breakfast.” The song DID feature guitarist Buck Dharma from Blue Oyster Cult.

1. We Are the Nowtones HERE or HERE. The part “she can sound like Linda/she can sound like Joni” floored me when I first heard it. “Play something good!”

What was your favorite episode?

The fantasy of every child — to have unlimited power against grown-ups — is made horrifyingly real.

clete robertsThe evil Tom the Mayor, who I used to like before I realized he was evil, asked:

What was your Favorite episode of MASH? Or Twilight Zone? Or Saturday Night Live? And what was your number one, favorite Movie of all Time? No lists pick one!

Evil, I tell you. But I’ll play along.

MASH: It has to be from the first eight seasons because the last three were retreads.

The Interview (season four, episode 24):

“Larry Gelbart left MAS*H at the end of the fourth season, having helped the show transition from smart-ass tomfoolery to something more frequently somber and daring. Gelbart went out on a series high: “The Interview,” in which real-life reporter Clete Roberts asks scripted questions about life in the Korean War and the cast (mostly) ad-libs responses, in character. Shot in black-and-white, with long takes for the more serious monologues and quick cuts for the jokes, “The Interview” is both unusual and exceptional.”

It was the first of the really oddball episodes used on the show.

Here it is on Vimeo
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Twilight Zone: one of the two series I own on DVD

Oh, Amy the Sharp Little Pencil, interjected:

Yes, Twilight Zone! Is it the Helen Foley episode, because you went to Binghamton?

No, it’s not Nightmare as a Child from season 1. It’s It’s a Good Life (season four, episode 8):

“The fantasy of every child — to have unlimited power against grown-ups — is made horrifyingly real in 1961’s “It’s a Good Life.” Bill Mumy plays six-year-old Anthony Freemont, a boy with incredible psychic powers who holds everyone around him hostage. It’s sort of like Game of Thrones if little King Joffrey could simply think you out of existence for displeasing him. The adults tiptoe around the kid, but it never really matters, because he’s six, and six-year-olds aren’t particularly rational in the first place. That ever-present sense of menace exuded from the adorable face of Mumy is what makes things work.”

I think I related to this strongly because I was only eight years old at the time. When I watched Billy Mumy in Lost in Space four years later, I still found him a tad scary.

That episode is available on Hulu
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Saturday Night Live: I watched it nearly religiously for 24 years, much more sporadically subsequently.

William Shatner (season 12, episode eight)

“The late ’80s represent a peak of professionalism; with solid pros like Phil Hartman, Jan Hooks, Dana Carvey, and Jon Lovitz in place and more or less sober, things were running as smoothly as they could be without the show becoming less-than-half live, the way it sometimes seemed to be under Dick Ebersol. These conditions must have been highly amenable to the guest performers, and Shatner used his hosting gig to launch a second (or third, fourth, somewhere in there) phase of his career by publicly announcing that he was in on the joke. He was greatly assisted by the Star Trek convention sketch (‘Get a life!’) contributed by a writer who established himself as one of the most distinctive behind-the-scenes comic sensibilities connected to the show since Michael O’Donoghue: Robert Smigel, whose “TV Funhouse” cartoons were often all that the show had to hang its hat on in the ’90s.”

I seldom thought of SNL as whole shows. Like most people, I do remember specific sketches. “Get a life” was perfect for a guy who worked in a comic book store, and attended conventions; in fact, I would leave FantaCo within a year of this episode. Coincidence?
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Movie

One can have the “separating the artist from his personal life” discussion ad naseum.

For me, it’s Annie Hall, for reasons explained HERE.
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Amy also asked:

My question. Hmmmm… OK, which Republican candidate do you think will drop out next? Not the strongest question, but you know me, hee hee hee.

See, I have NO idea why Jim Gilmore or George Pataki even gotten in. I’d have to think Jindal or Santorum go. Walker leaving gives Kasich more reason to stay to get that “centralist” governor vote that won’t support another Bush, though maybe there isn’t an audience, given his sagging poll numbers in New Hampshire.

Lindsey Graham I think wants to stick around until the South Carolina primary. Christie thinks too highly of himself to quit. Paul is enough of an anti-surveillance guy to think he distinguishes himself. Cruz and Huckabee are ideologues who want to stick around if/when Trump folds. And Rubio can fly under the radar as everyone’s second or third pick, and, arguably, most electable.