Category: Entertainment



“The Attack of the Small Screen.” Part Six of Moguls and Movie Stars on TCM. The re-run played last night at 7:00, then I watched Part Seven at 8:00. The 7-episode series is now over. It was highly enjoyable, with a slight political slant (they mentioned that the first head of the Motion Picture Production Code was a “devout Catholic,” but no mention that most of the moguls were Jewish . . . instead just referring to the fact that they were mostly from Eastern Europe). Last night, I had to watch episodes back-to-back since I missed last week.

Unfortunately, the two-hour screen-fest killed my blogging time, so I’ve contented myself with a handful of interesting notes that I typed up while watching. Hopefully, y’all will find them interesting.

The moguls thought television was a gimmick, not a real threat. “People go out to eat,” said one mogul, “even though they have kitchens.”

In 1951, Louis B. Mayer was the highest paid executive in America. But within a few years, he would be out of a job. It put Louis in a free-fall. His grandson said it was one of the saddest things he’d ever seen. Louis died in 1957.

In order to fight off TV, movies made the screens bigger, added more color and stereo, and even brought out 3D. 3D last only a few years, and everyone, including moviegoers, were happy it was gone. Nobody thought it’d ever make a comeback.

The movies originated in New York, but the industry fled to Hollywood before 1920 in order to escape thugs that were sent by the Edison Trust. In the 1950s, though, entertainment returned to New York: through television. Broadway stars like Andy Griffith made an easy jump to the small screen. The young industry then sprung up in … Read the rest

Buffetting Life’s Storms

The Hymns of Jimmy Buffett

I started listening to Jimmy Buffett songs when I was in law school. Though I was ambitiously studying hard so I could find work with a powerful law firm, I was drawn to Buffett’s music because it celebrates a radically carefree lifestyle. As I later settled into my career as a lawyer, I increasingly enjoyed Buffett’s music as I was increasingly wrapped in the world’s snares.

The irony puzzled me. I’ve concluded that my attraction to Buffett’s music stems from the need for detachment, a virtue Buffett counsels in his music–music that, for this reason, I refer to as “hymns.”

The virtue of detachment is the rejection of the self-regarding cares that bounce us through life like a silverball in a pinball machine. If a person is detached, the cares and concerns of the world don’t affect (attach to) him because he doesn’t care about himself. The detached person doesn’t care about the things that drive most people today: worldly status, money, security in the earth’s riches. As a result, the detached person is often poorer in monetary riches, but, in compensation, he receives an ample appreciation of the earth’s beauty as he sees the goodness of God’s creation without distorting it through the lens of ego.

St. Francis of Assisi once said, “Blessed is he who expecteth nothing, for he shall enjoy everything.”

Chesterton expounded on these words in his biography of St. Francis, writing, “It is not only true that the less a man thinks of himself, the more he thinks of his good luck and of all the gifts of God. It is also true that he sees more of the things themselves when he sees more of their origin.”

These words, and St. Francis’ life, are lessons in detachment. Not … Read the rest

Up and FTN

Get Up and Go

I received an email, saying that Nick Milne (blogger at The Daily Kraken and one of the brightest lights of young Catholicism north of the St. Lawrence) greatly enjoyed Up. My family had our first free night in a month, so the nine of us trekked over. After paying $53 to get my family into the show and buying the Monster Popcorn Combo, we settled in for the most pleasant animation experience since The Incredibles. I highly recommend it. The music, the voices, the humor, the effects: all done beautifully. I’m not a big animation fan, but I’d give this movie an “8,” and as far as animated movies go, it’s a “10.”

Unfortunately, the movie night left little time for blogging, so I only offer this snippet From the Notebooks.

The Mad Man of Turin and the After-life

Nietzsche was mad, of course, but also brilliant. He had penetrating insights. The main thrust of his philosophy was the importance of will.

If we combined Nietzsche’s insight about will to the Christian view of the after life, what’s the result?

If Christianity is right about God and the after life, then very few will get into heaven if, as N said, the will is the all-important factor of humans. If (i) thwarted will is the worst thing that could happen to a person, (ii) heaven exists along God’s lines, and (iii) everyone is perfectly happy in heaven, then a person who prefers his will over God’s way wouldn’t be happy in heaven and therefore can’t be there.

When asked by my young daughter Abbie what heaven is like, I told her, “No one really knows, but we do know this: It’s where you get to do whatever you want and you’re perfectly happy.” She … Read the rest

Memorial Day Eudemon

Stay Out of the Museum

Night in the Museum 2 finished first in the box office: “Ben Stiller beat Christian Bale in the North American weekend box office duel between their respective “Night at the Museum” and “Terminator” sequels, according to studio estimates issued on Sunday. The 20th Century Fox comedy “Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian” sold $53.5 million worth of tickets during the three days beginning Friday, far exceeding the $30.4 million debut of its 2006 predecessor.”

Don’t waste your time. My son, Jack (12), and I spent the weekend together, and we went to it on Saturday. I thought it was pretty bad, as did Jack (12-year-olds aren’t the most-discerning). I think I laughed once. The women behind us squealed incessantly, much to our annoyance, but after seeing them leave the theater, it became obvious they were mentally-addled so they can be forgiven. I’m not so sure about anybody else who laughs.

(That’s a little harsh, I know. Humor is a tricky thing. One man’s joke is another man’s anguish. If you found this movie hilarious, good for you.)

A Drinking Problem

After spending a long weekend with my 12-year-old and his beverage proclivities, it’s no wonder I’m feeling a little weak: “Excessive cola consumption can lead to anything from mild weakness to profound muscle paralysis, doctors are warning.” Then again, I didn’t quite reach this dude’s levels: “They tell of the curious case of an Australian ostrich farmer who needed emergency care for lung paralysis after drinking 4-10 litres of cola a day.”

It’s amazing that these stories get so much attention. The concept of moderation goes back at least 2,400 years to Socrates. And more than a few intellectual and spiritual heavyweights have backed him since.

They say we … Read the rest

Entertainment Wednesday

Not So Rotten Caine

Ever since his performance in Dirty Rotten Scoundrels with Steve Martin, I’ve liked Michael Caine. I’ll probably hear at some point that he’s a rabid sexularist, but until then, I’ll continue to like him. And who knows, maybe he’s not a lefty. He’s been married to the same woman for over 35 years, and he was friends with the right-leaning John Wayne. The current issue of New York Magazine featured a short but enjoyable interview with him. Highly recommended, though PG-13 in some of its content.

I saw John Wayne in the lobby, and I was gawking at him. He said, “What’s your name?” He’d just seen Alfie. Wayne became a friend. He gave me advice, like: “Talk low, talk slow, and don’t say too f****** much,” and “Never wear suede shoes, because one day, Michael, you’ll be taking a p***, and the guy next to you will recognize you, and he’ll turn toward you and say, ‘Michael Caine!’ and p*** all over your shoes.” I couldn’t make this s*** up.

* * *

I did a terrible picture called The Swarm, but Henry Fonda was in it. He was a gardener like me, so we had a lot in common. He had bees, and he used to send you over Hank’s Honey—he wrote that in pen on the labels of used jam jars.

* * *

I was friends with Stan Getz, and Lionel Bart, who wrote Oliver! The painter Francis Bacon lived next door. He always tried to get me into his studio to paint me, but he was very gay and I thought, “I’m not going up there.”

Politically-Incorrect Bears

My daughter Abbie (14) was telling me about a funny clip she saw from the original Bad News BearsRead the rest

Headlines from 2029 and Other Matters

streetsign.jpgOkay, it’s been decided: This blog will survive. Maybe even thrive.

A major writing project has fallen through, leaving me with nothing to work on. It’s the first time in ten years. Commencing immediately, I will plow (almost) all my writing efforts into this blog. I’ll write the occasional piece for regular publications, but I’m going to concentrate my efforts here.

I realize this dramatic shift from two weeks ago points to mental instability on my part, but that’s alright. Three things have changed: the aforementioned writing project that has been broomed, the advent of “From the Notebooks” (which will shortly morph into something else), and the ability to paste pictures to the side (thus resulting in sharper posts). I’m looking forward to the new TDE. Please spread the word. Links are appreciated. If you like “From the Notebooks,” I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

detroit ions.JPG

The Lions finally fired Matt Millen. Man, what an ordeal. Everyone says he’s a great guy, but I have a hard time believing it. A great guy would’ve seen that he was tearing the franchise (and Detroit fan base) apart and stepped down gracefully three years ago. Fox Sports provided the best article on the seven-year debacle. Excerpt:

Millen presided over a litany of awful personnel and coaching decisions. The drafts became a joke with the Lions selecting four wide receivers in the Top 10, two of whom (Charles Rogers and Mike Williams) are no longer in the NFL. Bobby Layne — who led Detroit to its last championship in 1957 — would still be the best option at quarterback if he hadn’t passed away 22 years ago.

As evidenced by Steve Mariucci’s failings, a proven head coach couldn’t win under Millen let alone those with no previous experience like Marty Mornhinweg and

Read the rest


Medal score: China 82, USA 62. I gotta believe the USA will pick up ground when we get to track and field, but it doesn’t really matter. The Olympians are having lots of sex, so everything will be alright.

The article says officials are handing out 100,000 condoms to the athletes. The athletes will go through them (they went through 130,000 in Athens). I did a little math. There are 10,500 athletes. Presumably half of them are male, meaning there are 5,250 users. Each user would have to use 19.047 condoms (pity the man who uses only a .047 one). If the Olympics last 17 days, that means each person is having sex a little more than once a day. When you consider that there are at least a few abstainers–religious, married, ugly–the number of encounters among the active escalates.

It gives a whole new meaning to the five rings, but I suspect the reality is that there’s a lot of odd souvenir collecting going on (“See this, I got it at Beijing, and I’m not pointing to my gonorrhea”).

Dalrymple on Solzhenitsyn. Pretty good stuff. My favorite paragraph:

[T]he Russian satirical writer Vladimir Voinovich satirized Solzhenitsyn’s Russian nationalism by depicting someone resembling him having his employees flogged in Vermont. This satirical scene, in fact, made a profound criticism of Solzhenitsyn’s political thought. Voinovich was alluding to the fact that, were it not for the horrors of Bolshevism, the pre-revolutionary Russian political tradition would be regarded as so brutal that no sensitive person of good will could be a Russian nationalist. As it was, the Bolsheviks regularly killed in a few minutes more people than the Romanovs managed in a century, giving pre-revolutionary Russian history the retrospective luster of decency, wisdom, and compassion that it did

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Monday Moanin’

Another weekend, another time drain. This time, the annual jaunt to Frankenmuth for the Summer Music Festival. It was good to see my wife’s family, but I’m bummin’ at the hour glass phenomenon. The summer activities have taken all my time and pretty much killed any “cerebral” activities on my part. I’ve been trying to be a good sport, but I’m starting to resent it because I know the Fall blitz–constant football and other kid activities–is going to be on top of me faster than John Edwards on a new hair brush. I have a handful of writing projects I want to get done, but they’re looking increasingly quixotic. Oh well, there’s always the cerebral alternative: TV. I have a couple of ’em. I can watch and watch and watch . . .

The Festival changed its set-up, which I found interesting. I’m pretty sure the Festival used to be called the “Bavarian Summer Music Festival.” Then they dropped “Bavarian” from the name. Now it looks like they’re dropping it from the music (any Frankenmuth experts out there are welcome to correct my memory). The Festival used to feature polka music, but now polka is just one type of music offered. They’ve also reduced the amount of polka music. In past years, they had two tents: one dedicated to slow, waltz-type polka (where we sat) and one dedicated to rock-polka and country-polka, much faster and louder and pretty entertaining (not where we sat). Now the entire operation is crammed into one tent. There wasn’t enough seating (we sat outside) and the slower polka has been eliminated, and a lot of people don’t even dance anymore. They just stand in front of the bandstand and watch the bands play. It all suited me just fine, but I felt bad … Read the rest