Thursday, August 31, 2017

Upcoming Movie - "The Papers"

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette  carried a feature article in is entertainment magazine this morning that previewed the upcoming "Fall Movies" scheduled for release in the months ahead.  Summaries of sixty movies were included, many of which will fall into the "don't wanna see it" category for me.  

However, there was one movie, scheduled to be released around Christmas time, of which I had never heard, and it really grabbed my attention.  It's called "The Papers" and it is about the legal wranglings over the release of The Pentagon Papers back in the early 1970's.  All you youngsters out there can Google that, but here is the synopsis from IMDB: 

"A cover-up that spanned four U.S. Presidents pushed the country's first female newspaper publisher and a hard-driving editor to join an unprecedented battle between journalist and government. Inspired by true events."

IMDB also refers tells you that the name of this movie is "The Post", so apparently the actual title is still up in the air.

It stars Tom Hanks as Ben Bradlee and Meryl Streep as Katherine Graham of the Washington Post, and it is directed by Steven Spielberg.  It also includes such interesting actors as Alison Brie, Carrie Coon, Michael Stuhlbarg, and Matthew Rhys, but is the pedigree of Hanks-Spielberg-Streep that will make this one Must See movie going for The Grandstander.

Mark your movie going calendars for this one, folks.

A Sinking Pirate Ship

The week began with the Pirates seven games behind the first place Cubs in the standings, but looking at a schedule that would have them playing the Cubs seven times over the next ten days.  It was a long shot, but win five, six, or, miracle of miracles, all seven of those games, then there was hope that maybe, just maybe, they could get back in the race for the NL Central title.  The Bucs then proceeded to lose the first two games, scoring only one run in each game, and in the series finale, the Cubs managed to eek out a 17-3 win over a team that is now clearly done, finished, and, like Jacob Marley, dead as a doornail.

The sad tale that is the 2017 Pirates could have been foreseen in the 2016-17 off-season when the following took place.
  1. The team spent most of it's time talking about and trying to trade its most popular, and perhaps its best, player Andrew McCutchen.
  2. Third baseman Jung Ho Kang got into a league jackpot (do I need to spell out the details?) in South Korea, and the team either naively or stupidly, depending on your point of view, thought that things would work themselves out, and did nothing to address what would turn out to be the loss of their leading power producer for the season.
  3. Trumpeted the free agent signings of pitchers Daniel Hudson (2-5, 4.70 out of the bullpen) and Ivan Nova (11-12, 4.11 as a starter; 2-6, 6.38 since the All-star break).
Then, two weeks into the season, Starling Marte gets hit with an 80 game PED suspension.  And it became clear that Kang would not be returning to the United States, much less the Pirates, for 2017, and maybe forever.

What did the team do to address these two gaps?  It made 34 year old David Freese, who would have been a great utility guy, the everyday third baseman.  Freese started out well, but inevitably he has worn down.  However, it was the  in loss of Marte that the team showed themselves either unwilling or unable to do what was needed to fill such an enormous gap in the lineup created by Marte's loss.

Vaunted prospect Austin Meadows (see my post from three days ago) was not ready.  No effort that we know of was made to try and trade for another outfielder, and the team clearly had no "fourth outfielder" who could come in and do the job for them.  Instead we have seen infielder Adam Frazier, who has probably been the best of a weak lot, John Jaso, another guy who would have been a great utility guy/pinch hitter off the bench, but who proved time and again, that he is no outfielder, rookie Jose Osuna, and even Jordon Luplow, a Pirates prospect whom I admit that I had never heard of, up from Indy to give it a go.  Jordan managed to get zero hits in 11 at bats in the six games he was here before being sent back to Indy.

We have also seen guys like Max Moroff (.157 BA; still on the team), Gift Ngoepe (.222; back in Indy), Alen Hanson (.193; out of the organization), and Phil Gosselin (.150; out of the organization) playing.  And what seems to have been endless shuttling back-and-forth from the disabled list by Francisco Cervelli and Gregory Polanco.  Good Lord!

And I haven't even mentioned the pitching.  I'm going to pass on that topic for today with one exception.  One of the Pirates big "moves" at the July 31 trade deadline was obtaining fat, 40 year old relief pitcher Joaquin Benoit from the Phillies.  Benoit pitched in seven games for the Pirates, going 0-2 with an 8.59 ERA before he was put on the "He Stinks" disabled list, where he will hopefully never be heard from again.  That this worthless non-entity was brought here when, theoretically at least, the team still had a chance for the post season was an absolute insult to my intelligence as a baseball fan.

Then yesterday the team places Juan Nicasio in irrevocable waivers.  Nicasio was no all-star, but he had a 2.85 ERA and K:BB ratio of 60:18.  He was a serviceable pitcher as a set-up guy, but irrevocable waivers means he's gone, and the team gets nothing for him, other than dumping his salary, which seems to be the most important thing to them.

As I see it, there have been two bright spots for this team in 2017:
  • Reliever Felipe Rivero. 4-2, 1.52 ERA, 16 saves, 77:17 K-to-BB ration in 63 innings pitched.
  • Rookie first baseman Josh Bell. 23 HR, 77 RBI, .262 BA.
That's it.  That's the list.

I can't even imagine what this upcoming off-season is going to be like.  I am already compiling notes in my head for the Grandstander posts that will follow when McCutchen gets traded and when Clint Hurdle either Gets Fired or Resigns In Disgust.  I feel bad for the folks in the team's PR department who will have to come up with an ad campaign that will generate excitement for the 2018 season.  Good will generated by the "glory years" of 2013-15 has been thoroughly and completely trashed by Bob Nutting and Neal Huntington over these last ten months.  Good luck getting it back any time soon.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Catching Up.....Meadows, Grafton and Milhone, and Too Many Absent Friends

Cleaning out the Mental In-Box......

The Pirates "Notes" column in the Post-Gazette made mention of Pirate Number One Minor League prospect and former #1 draft pick Austin Meadows.

You may recall that during Spring Training, it was almost a fait accompli  that Meadows, after he would tear it up in Indianapolis,  would be with the Pirates at some point during the 2017 season, probably right after the team jettisoned Andrew McCutchen in a salary dump trade at the July 31 deadline.  In my pre-season predictions post in The Grandstander, I made the flat out statement that Meadows would be with the Pirates in 2017.

Well, it hasn't been a kind season for the Meadows.  He has spent much of the season injured and in the trainer's room.  In only 72 games and 284 At Bats in Triple-A, Meadows has hit only .250 with 4 HR and 36 RBI, while compiling a less-than-mediocre OPS of .670.  Now, instead of seeing Meadows contribute to the Pirates in '17, or even talking about a September call-up, the team is now "considering" having Meadows play winter ball in order make up for all of the playing time he missed this season.  I only hope that we are spared the "will-he-or-won't-he-should-he-or-shouldn't-he-play-winter-ball" soap opera that we all had to sit through over Pedro Alvarez a few years back.

Of course it is way to early to write off Meadows, who is still only 22 years old, but this 2017 season is a painful reminder that there is no such thing as a Sure Thing when it comes to discussing Major League Baseball prospects.

While searching around for something to read on vacation earlier this month, I found copy of this book on a shelf in the OBX beach house.

"H is for Homicide" is, of course, the eighth novel in the Kinsey Milhone detective series by Sue Grafton.  I had read it when it first came out back in 1991, but it was an easy and fun read while at the beach.

It also served as a reminder that Grafton's newest Milhone story,

has been released earlier this month.  "Y" now sits on my Kindle, and I am anxious to dig into it.  It is also bittersweet because, if you know your alphabet, you realize that this is the penultimate book in the Milhone series, with "Z" set to be released in 2019.  Grafton has vowed that there will be no more Kinsey Milhone novels after that. While I will mourn the end of the series, I can't wait to see how Ms. Grafton closes the books on her creation.


While one can regret how quickly time passes as one gets older, I must say that I will be glad when we turn the calendar to September later this week.  The Grandstander has written "Absent Friends" commentaries on no less than NINE people in the month of August.  That can wear on you.

Friday, August 25, 2017

To Absent Friends - Jerry Lewis

Jerry Lewis

So I am at the ball game the other night and my pal, Jim Haller, asks me "Aren't you going to do an Absent Friends write up about Jerry Lewis?"

I was forced to ask myself why I was delaying doing such a write up about someone who was obviously one of the biggest stars of the mid-twentieth century.  After all, when the landmark comedy team of Martin and Lewis broke up, it was Lewis who got the big deal from the movies and television, and people would say that it would be poor Dean Martin who would never be heard from again.

Truth is, I was never that great fan of Jerry Lewis.  Yeah, I would watch some of his movies, and yeah, I would laugh at them, but his was a type of humor that got old for me quickly. And I never could figure out why the French hailed him as a genius.  I can remember once hearing someone say, "I'm in the mood to watch a good Jerry Lewis movie", whereupon he was told "There aren't any."  A little too harsh perhaps, but a good line.

Still, who among us, and I plead guilty to this, hasn't gone into a non-sensical Jerry Lewis shriek in their lives in order to get a cheap laugh?

Lewis deserves his Absent Friends post, regardless of my own thoughts.  I ran across this appreciation of Lewis while perusing the website of Max Allen Collins, one of my favorite mystery writers.  He sums it up pretty well, I think, so it might be worth your time to click on this link and read it.

And how can we write about Lewis without hearing one "Laaaaadyyyyyy" from him.

RIP Jerry Lewis.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

"Harold and Lillian: A Hollywood Love Story"

We saw this terrific documentary film yesterday.  It is the story of Harold and Lillian Michelson.  You probably never heard of them, but they are Hollywood Royalty, albeit behind-the-scenes royalty.

Harold was a guy who did story boards for movies.  You might say that he is the guy who first visualized how a scene in a movie should look, and it his work - the work of all storyboard artists, actually - that the cinematographer and director transfer onto film.  The list of movies that Harold worked on comprise a verifiable Hall of Fame of wonderful movies, but just to give you one idea, here is how Michelson visualized a scene in "The Graduate" that director Mike Nichols turned into one of the most iconic film images of the last half of the twentieth century:

See what I mean?

Lillian Michelson became a film researcher and over the course of over fifty years, her film research library became THE place to go for any filmmaker whenever they wanted to make sure that every detail of a movie was done right.  When the producers of the Shrek movies needed to name the King and Queen in the tale, it was in homage to the Michelsons that they were called King Harold and Queen Lillian.

And while this movie is all about their film work, it is also all about their love story of a marriage that lasted for over sixty years.  Touching, funny, and informative.  It isn't easy to find documentary films out there, but if you are a movie fan, it would be well worth your time to seek this one out and watch it.  Three and One-Half Stars from The Grandstander.

Here's the trailer to whet your appetite....

OBX Time

It has been two weeks since we returned from the Annual Moellenbrock/Sproule/Stoner/Richards vacation in Corolla, NC, and I didn't want to let any further time pass without commenting on it.

Nothing new really happened for us at the Outer Banks this year, which is one of the charms of this annual trip (this was year #33 for this trip).  Familiar places and routines with people that you care about.

For the most part, we had good weather.  We got to the beach every day, although two of those days were shortened due to rain.  These conditions made for some pretty spectacular photos.

And we had our normal beachhead every day...

For the night that Marilyn and I were responsible for dinner, we had our annual "theme night".  This year, the theme was "Super Heroes"....

Everyone got into the spirit....

I, of course, had my own definition of a "super hero"....

It was, as I said, a good week.  Each year it gets more crowded and the traffic seems to get a little worse, but it is still a week that we cherish.

See you next year, Outer Banks....

Monday, August 21, 2017

Critical Commentary, plus A New Theater in Sewickley

Our Sunday afternoon yesterday took us to the Pittsburgh suburb of Sewickley and the recently opened Tull Family Theater.

The "Village Theater Company" was established in 2011 by the community leaders of Sewickley Borough as  non-profit entity that would provide not only a commercial movie theater to serve the Borough and other communities northwest of Pittsburgh, but one that would provide a venue for art films and documentaries that don't often find a home in this area.  In 2016, movie producer and Steelers minority owner Thomas Tull purchased the naming rights, and the Tull Family Theater opened its doors.

We found it to be a convenient and pretty cool place to see a movie when we went yesterday to see precisely the kind of  film that would never play at your standard multiplex.

"Obit." is a documentary from filmmaker Vanessa Gould that provides, as the poster says, "an inside look at life on the New York Times obituaries desk".  Regular readers of The Grandstander are well aware of my fascination with the news obituaries, which lead to my "Absent Friends" posts, and this film tells the story of how those news obits get produced, of both famous and unknown persons, often against a tight deadline, and just how difficult it can be to produce a summary of an interesting and important life in 500-800 words.   "I don't have enough time to write a short obituary" one of the writers laments.

"Isn't it depressing to write obituaries all the time?" these folks are often asked, but as obit writer Margalit Fox puts it, only a small part of an obituary is about a person's death.  Over ninety percent of the story is about the person's life, and that can be an uplifting thing.

The film speaks about things like advance obituaries (ones that are kept on file by a newspaper even thought the person is still alive), how a seemingly unknown photo can play a major part in an obituary (this involves a photo of a two year old Pete Seeger; you have to see the movie), and how an unexpected death that happens late in an afternoon, two hours before deadline, can throw a newsroom into complete turmoil (Michael Jackson).

Don't let a dreary term like "documentary" keep you away from seeking out this terrific and entertaining little film.  Well worth seeing, and it gets Four Stars from The Grandstander.

Also getting Four Stars is the Tull Family Theater.  We may be back there as early as this week to see another documentary that I have heard about called "Harold and Lillian: A Hollywood Love Story", and if we do get to it, I will tell you all about it here.  It is great that a facility like the Tull Family Theater now exists that will make it easier to find and view movies like this.  You can learn more about it at 

Friday, August 18, 2017

To Absent Friends - Don Baylor

Don Baylor
1949 - 2017

I had debated with myself whether or not to do an Absent Friends post on Don Baylor, who died last week at the age of 68, but decided that yeah, I have to do one for two reasons. One, the guy was a hero to my pal and Super Loyal Little Joe Aro (which is why the picture above shows Baylor in an Orioles uniform), and Two, the guy is a Hall of Famer.  Or, at least, for some reason I thought that he was an HOF'er, but it turns out that he is not in the Hall of Fame.

I discovered this non-fact when I went to to check out Baylor's career.  Turns out that while Baylor was certainly a Good to Very Good, and in some seasons, a Great ball player, he is no Hall of Famer.

He played for six different AL teams over nineteen season, hit .260 with 2,135 hits, 338 HRs, 1,276 RBIs, and had a  decent but not great OPS of .777.  While he was the AL MVP in 1979, he only made one All-Star team in his career.  He played in three World Series, being on the winning Twins team in 1987.  He also went on to manage both the Colorado Rockies and Chicago Cubs.  He also, and this is not insignificant, was the Roberto Clemente Award winner in 1985.  He was a really good ball player, and, apparently, a good guy as well.

What I found to be interesting on Baylor's baseball-reference page was the list of "similar players" to him.  They included guys like Jack Clark, Dale Murphy, Joe Carter, Tino Martinez, and, are you ready for this......Gil Hodges!!!  (Gil Hodges!  slowly I turned....)  None of them in the Hall of Fame either.

None of this, by the way, is meant to denigrate Baylor and his career.  I wish that the Pirates of 2017 would have a player of  the caliber of an in-his-prime Don Baylor in the lineup every day.

RIP Don Baylor.

Monday, August 14, 2017

To Absent Friends - Bologna, Campbell, Cook, and Solomon

While I was on vacation last week, the Grim Reaper was not, so it is time to catch up and wish a Melancholy Happy Trails to some Absent Friends.  We'll do it alphabetically....

Joseph Bologna

Joe Bologna was an actor, a playwright, an Oscar nominated screenwriter, and a director.  His credits as screenwriter and playwright include a terrific 1970 comedy called "Lovers and Other Strangers" which she wrote and starred in on Broadway with his wife, comedienne Renee Taylor.  However, his very best work, in my humble opinion, was in the role of King Kaiser in the wonderful 1982 movie, "My Favorite Year", one of my all time favorites.  The role of Kaiser was a thinly disguised depiction of Sid Caesar, and he was terrific in it.  If you've never seen "My Favorite Year", make it a  point to see it sooner rather than later.

Perhaps Bologna's (and Taylor's) greatest accomplishment was that their marriage lasted an incredible 52 years.  How often do you hear something like that in Show Biz?

Glen Campbell

The death of Glen Campbell has been extensively written about already, so I won't go into great lengths here.  It was incredible to read that prior to him becoming a breakout recording and television star, Campbell made his bones in show biz as a session musician in Los Angeles, appearing on the recordings of such disparate artists as Bobby Darin, Ricky Nelson, Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole, The Monkees, The Beach Boys, Elvis Presley and over 500 other artists.  A victim of Alzheimer's Disease and dementia, Campbell's final years were not pleasant ones, but what a musical legacy he leaves behind.

Barbara Cook

As a star of the Broadway stage and the musical cabaret scene, Barbara Cook probably was not all that well known outside of New York City, but make no mistake, in the 1950's and 1960's, she was a major star on Broadway.  She won a Tony Award for playing the original Marian the Librarian in one of my favorites, "The Music Man".  Her obituary - as obituaries often do - tells a fascinating story of how Cook, following a divorce in 1965, fell into depression and alcoholism.  As she was quoted in the New York times obit 

“I was not some lady drunk,” she said. “I was a real non functioning alcoholic. Dishes, always in the sink. The kitchen a mess. The bathroom a mess. Everything a mess.”

Her weight shot up to over 250 pounds (she weighed 106 pounds when she did "Music Man"), but she eventually overcame all of that, and with help, she reinvented herself as a nightclub and cabaret performer.  Her Times obituary was a terrific story.

The dimmed all the lights on Broadway last week to honor her memory.

Joe Solomon

The death of Joe Solomon last week was not a story anywhere outside of Pittsburgh, but it was sort of personal to me.  I wrote this on my Facebook page last week, and I will let it suffice for The Grandstander as well:

A gentleman named Joe Solomon passed away on Sunday at the age of 83. Joe had a long and distinguished career at Blue Cross of Western Pa, and as a Senior VP of Sales, he was instrumental in hiring me at Blue Cross in 1988, and I will always be grateful to him for that. Joe Solomon also may well have been the greatest wrestler to ever come out of western PA. Joe went to Canonsburg High School ('47) and the University of Pittsburgh ('55). He was a WPIAL, PIAA, and NCAA wrestling champion. He was invited to compete for the 1956 US Olympic team. He is a member of no less that ten different Halls of Fame (WPIAL, Pitt among others) for his career as a competitor and a wrestling official. I know that several of my FB friends are still very much involved in the sport of wrestling, and I wanted them to know of Joe (perhaps that already do) and be aware of his passing. There are also many Pitt alums among my friends, and I wanted them to be aware as well. RIP, Boss.

RIP Joe Bologna, Glen Campbell, Barbara Cook, Joe Solomon.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

To Absent Friends - Ara Parseghian

Ara Parseghian

Death claimed one of college football's all-time greatest coaches yesterday when Ara Parseghian died at the age of 94.

Parseghian began his coaching career at the "Cradle of Coaches", Miami of Ohio, went on to success at Northwestern, but, of course, he is best known for his stint at Notre Dame from 1964-74.  At Notre Dame, he resurrected what had become a poor football program under the likes of Joe Kuharich and Terry Brennan and restored it to the glory days of Rockne and Leahy (I could say that he "woke up the echoes", but that would be just way too easy).  

At Notre Dame, Parseghian complied a record of 95-17-4, which contributed to career record of 170-58-6.  He also won two national championships while at South Bend. I found it interesting in reading the papers this morning that during his years at Notre Dame, he never made more money than the highest paid faculty member at the University.  Such a notion in today's world of Big Money college football is so unbelievably quaint that it is almost laughable.

I can remember a day at Pitt Stadium, probably 1970 or 1971 when Notre Dame came to play Pitt (and deliver a predictable pasting to the Panthers).  I was standing with my Dad under the stands in the end zone where the visiting team entered the playing field, something that we always did before heading to our seats.  Out came the Irish from their locker room, and there was Parseghian, followed by his retinue of assistants.  I can remember looking at him as he walked by, and on the backs of each of his shoes was a wide strip of white athletic tape that had "ARA" printed on it with black marker.  It's an odd memory to have of someone, but that's as close as I can give you to a personal memory of the man.

The obituaries told the story of how Ara lost three grandchildren to a rare genetic disease, and how he devoted most of his life too raising money, over $45 million, for research to combat it and other such diseases.   That is a far greater measure of the man than the W-L records.

The obits also told other stories.  Of the famous 10-10 tie against Michigan State in 1966.  Parseghian took a lot of heat for that game, but I recall how Rocky Bleier, in his book "Fighting Back", defended his coach for that strategy, and Bleier was not alone among Ara's players to feel that way.  Of how even in retirement, he never really left Notre Dame.  I loved the story about how he continued to attend pre-game tailgate parties on campus, but would then go home to watch the games on television so as not to become a distraction for the current coaches, but, mainly, so he could "watch the games uninterrupted".

I suppose that in his own way, Ara Parseghian was as single minded and as driven as the Nick Sabans and Jim Harbaughs of the 21st century are, but it just doesn't seem that way.

RIP Ara Parsghian.

With future Steeler Terry Hanratty

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Critical Commentary, Old Movies Division - "Niagara"

Last night I put out one of my "DVR Alerts" for the 1953 movie, "Niagara", that was being shown on Turner Classic Movies, on Facebook, and the posts generated a lot of commentary. Rather than wait to watch it via DVR whenever I got around to it, I decided to watch it as it aired.

I have seen this movie many times, and it is a pretty good one.  It is a Hitchcock-type thriller that revolves around a couple of honeymooners, played by Jean Peters and Casey Adams, who visit Niagara Falls on their delayed honeymoon.  Staying at the same motel is another married couple played by Marilyn Monroe and Joseph Cotton.  Cotton is a troubled Korean War vet, much older than his hot-to-trot wife, and Monroe, Peters accidentally discovers, seems to be occupying her spare time with a much younger and more handsome man.

I'll say no more, but will tell you that this is pretty good thriller.  It is directed by Hollywood vet Henry Hathaway, and it is done in a Hitchcock-like style.  Some critics say it is the best Hitchcock movie that Hitchcock didn't actually direct.  It has also been described as the first film noir that was filmed in technicolor, and it was the first movie that Monroe made that was filmed in color, and it was, according to TCM's Ben Mankiewicz, the movie that took Marilyn Monroe from "up-and-coming, sexy starlet" to full-fledged Movie Star.  1953 was big year for her, as "Gentleman Prefer Blondes" and "How To Marry a Millionaire" were also released that year.

A tip of the cap also does out to Jean Peters for her performance in this one.  She was very good and quite beautiful and lovely herself, but it's tough to be the second female in a movie with Marilyn Monroe, and make no mistake about it, this was Miss Monroe's movie.  As Rose Loomis, she positively defines the word "sultry" in this one, as this one photo from the movie will attest.

The only weak spot in the movie was Casey Adams in the role of Peters' husband.  He was a complete dork in the part (or maybe the part was just written that way), and what did a babe like Jean Peters ever see in him in the first place?  Also in the movie as Adams' over-the-top boss was Don Wilson, the long time second banana to Jack Benny.

Allow me to divert a bit here with a couple of Fun Facts about Casey Adams.  He was one of the guys who you have seen a million times on television and in the movies over the years in small supporting character parts.  IMDB lists 101 acting credits for him.  At some point in his career, he reverted back to his real name of Max Showalter, and he was originally cast in the role of Ward Cleaver in "Leave It To Beaver", before Hugh Beaumont was eventually given the part.  He had an uncredited role as a travelling salesman in the opening train scene in "The Music Man" ("Cash for the merchandise..."), and he played one of Molly Ringwald's grandfathers in "Sixteen Candles".

Okay, diversion over.  If you've never seen "Niagara", I urge you to do so.  It is a pretty good thriller, and Marilyn Monroe isn't the only natural wonder in the movie.  There are some spectacular scenes of Niagara Falls in this one too.  As we watched it last night, we decided that we need to make a trip back there sometime soon.

To Absent Friends - Sam Shepard and Jeanne Moreau

Melancholy Happy Trails today to two pretty big names.

Sam Shepard

Pulitzer Prize winning playwright and actor Sam Shepard died this week at the age of 73, a victim of ALS.

Shepard made a name for himself as a playwright, penning dozens of plays that became hits.  His play "Buried Child" won a Pulitzer Prize for Drama in  1979 and was later produced locally at the Pittsburgh Public Theater.  His 1980 play, "True West", was also produced by the PPT in 2013, and I did have the privilege of seeing that one.

Shepard later forged a career as an actor and has sixty-eight acting credits listed in IMDB.  It is an actor that Shepard is probably far better known to the general public.  He appeared in such major motion pictures as "Baby Boom", "Steel Magnolias", and "The Pelican Brief", but he is best known for playing pioneer test pilot Chuck Yeager in the terrific 1983 movie, "The Right Stuff".

Shepard with Chuck Yeager
on the set of
"The Right Stuff"


Jeanne Moreau

Death also claimed leading French actress Jeanne Moreau this week at the age of 89.  If you read her obituaries, you will read that she was perhaps the leading actress of French "New Wave Cinema" in the 1960's and 1970's.  I won't even pretend to know what exactly comprised French New Wave Cinema, but hey, it sounds good.  I also cannot say that I am at all familiar with any of Miss Moreau's work but for one.

Back in my show biz career when I was an usher at the Forum Theatre in Squirrel Hill when I was in high school, the Forum did show "The Bride Wore Black", a 1968 movie directed by Francois Truffaut and starring Jeanne Moreau.  It was some sort of Hitchcock-type noir thriller.  I cannot recall much about it, except for one scene in which Miss Moreau appeared topless.

It's a pretty tame scene by today's standards, but to a seventeen year old kid at the time, it was pretty hot stuff.  Hey, I still remember it, and thank  you, Google Images, for having a screen shot of that particular scene.

Do you suppose that I can find "The Bride Wore Black" on  Amazon Prime?

RIP Sam Shepard and Jeanne Moreau

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

From the "Nothing Is Easy Department"

Last week, Marilyn and I made the decision to upgrade our Motorola Android smart phones to Apple iPhones.  We knew from past experiences that making this transition would, at the very least, cause us to waste at least a couple of hours on the telephone with our carrier, Consumer Cellular.

We received our phones on Saturday, and here is what has transpired since then.....

  • Five separate phone calls to Consumer Cellular.
  • Two separate visits to the Apple store.
  • One visit to Target, where a gent named Paul, at the McKnight Road store, FINALLY was able to rectify the problems that were occurring on Marilyn's new phone, and this was only after he, Paul from Target, made an additional call to Consumer Cellular.
To be fair, the switchover from Android to iPhone went very smoothly for my phone, but there were a number of problems with Marilyn's new phone, and I won't bore you by enumerating them.  However, all seems right with the world now, thanks to Paul from Target.

Progress.  Sometimes it ain't easy.

Marilyn's new phone.  
I went for the "Space Gray" color phone.