Friday, February 28, 2014

Medical Follow-Up

Spotting the sudden missile launch in site hits here, once again, the WRSA Effect has happened.
So first off, thanks to WRSA for the multi-link-love, Hi guys (and ladies), and thanks again for dropping by. I hope you find something worthwhile, in which case my efforts won't have been wasted. At least for 99.9999% of you.

For reference, they linked to my medical posts First Aid, SHTF Medical Kit w/source links, and Casualty/Trauma Care Supplies In Austere Conditions.



Bonus Flick Pick: Starman

(Columbia, 1984)

There's no February 29th this year, but I made of list of 366 films, so for your viewing pleasure at least once every 4 years when there is one, John Carpenter's superb sci-fantasy flick starring Jeff Bridges (in an Oscar-nominated role) as an alien who takes earthly form, and with Karen Allen's help, is just trying to get home. Funny, touching, and magical, and made after suffering over five years in development hell until Columbia dropped a Steven Spielberg project entitled Night Skies, because Columbia thought it was geared to more a low-profit Disney/children's audience. The film premiered as E.T., The Extra-Terrestrial, and confirming Columbia's wisdom, went on to become the highest-grossing movie of all time. A conga line of directors were considered for Starman, all bailing out after considering the plot too similar to E.T., until the project came to John Carpenter, who was eager to shed his image as strictly a director of slasher horror flicks.
The Dude abides, and so does this film.

Flick Pick: West Side Story

West Side Story
(United Artists, 1961)

Romeo and Juliet by way of Leonard Bernstein, as performed by the Sharks and the Jets.
Co-directed by Broadway director Jerome Robbins, who nearly had a nervous breakdown, before studio executives removed him from the picture when things were running too long. Veteran director Wise, with no musical directing experience, lobbied for Robbins getting equal credit for direction, despite his removal about a third of the way through filming. The visuals became iconic, the score was legendary, and the box office was phenomenal. It was not only a commercial success, but was (and remains) the most honored and awarded musical on film.
Best Picture, Best Directors (Wise & Robbins), Best Supporting Actor, Best Supporting Actress, Best Art Direction, Best Color Cinematography, Best Color Costume Design, Best Film Editing, Best Sound, Best Original Score, Special Oscar for "Brilliant Achievements in the Art of Choreography on Film" (Robbins)

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Flick Pick: Mutiny On The Bounty

Mutiny On The Bounty
(MGM, 1935)

Co-produced by legendary film genius Irving Thalberg, this was one of the biggest hits of its time. One viewing of this version, starring Charles Laughton and Clark Gable, and it becomes apparent why later versions still pale in comparison.
Best Picture - Thalberg's 10th of 12 nominations for the award, and his third win

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Flick Pick: Gone With The Wind

Gone With The Wind
(MGM, 1939)

The first certifiable screen epic, then-longest film ever made, and celebrated multiple screen firsts: first Best Picture made in color, greatest number of Oscar nominations, and wins, first posthumous Oscar winner, first award to an African American, biggest chick-flick ever, and best walk-out line in cinematic history. Re-released theatrically ten times, premiered on cable and broadcast TV, setting viewing records each time, and launched two of Turner's cable networks all by itself. The lead actors were phenomenal (after screening only 1400 actresses before finding Vivien Leigh) and gave performances for the ages. It has been copied, tributed, and parodied times without number, not least of which was The Carol Burnett Show's memorable scene featuring Starlett's drapery dress in "Went With The Wind", one of the favorite television moments ever recorded.
Best Picture, Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Actress (Leigh), Best Supporting Actress (McDaniel),Best Art Direction, Best Color Cinematography, Best Film Editing, and two special Oscars for Best Use of Color, and Technical Achievement for use of co-ordinated equipment, and producer David O. Selznick was also awarded the Academy's Thalberg Award for lifetime achievement

{It should also be noted that in Class of 1939, Gone With The Wind was competing against nine other movies for Best Picture:
Dark Victory
Goodbye, Mr. Chips
Love Affair
Mr. Smith Goes To Washington
Of Mice And Men
The Wizard Of Oz
Wuthering Heights

Nowadays, we're lucky if even one or two of the usually-limited-to-five choices even belongs on the list.}

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Flick Pick: Chicago

(Miramax, 2002)

In a year of mostly weak film offerings, anything can be a stand-out, but this one went all the way, and it's still fun to watch. Notably after not being another musical gang-raped by too many Hollywood cooks trying to improve the recipe. It proved that done right, there's always a place for a good musical, and revived the concept that stars who can also sing and dance shouldn't be such an anomaly. Amidst a global war on terror, a movie that entertains and amuses, and gives us clear-cut cardboard cutouts of good guys and bad guys (and girls) isn't a bad thing. It's also nice to have a movie that's just out to entertain you, rather than propagandize you or make you smarter, and that isn't ashamed of that effort. It also doesn't hurt that they use Richard Gere, Rene Zellwegger, and Catherine Zeta-Jones for the task.
Best Picture, Best Supporting Actress (Zeta-Jones), Best Art Direction, Best Costume Design, Best Film Editing, Best Sound Mixing

Monday, February 24, 2014

Flick Pick: The Godfather, Part II

The Godfather Part II
(Paramount, 1974)

A rarity for Oscar month: a sequel (and through multiple flashbacks, simultaneously a pre-quel) to the original movie, and more than any other, the reason every other successful Hollywood movie ever since gets sequelled, usually to death - because other directors lack the abilities of Coppola, and/or the strength of story to begin with.
After its predecessor nearly being ruined by meddling management the first time by a hostile studio, in the second movie the director was given a free hand, and thus shooting two completely different narrative storylines was more easily accomplished. Carrying the modern saga, Pacino is brilliant, and for the section on prehistory, an actor named Robert DeNiro was selected. Also featuring Lee Strasberg, who provides a great film speech in a memorable scene.
Best Picture, Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Supporting Actor (DeNiro), Best Art Direction, Best Music for Dramatic Score

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Flick Pick: The Godfather

The Godfather
(Paramount, 1972)

Let's get it out of the way: this movie is the godfather of American masterpiece films. Anybody can make a Top 50 or Top 100 list. This is a film that belongs on a Top 3 list, and arguably on a list for The Best. Nightmarish to make for Francis Ford Coppola, from a then-struggling studio doing their level best to fire him, undermine, and sabotage every move he made, it was shot on a shoestring and garnered nearly $300M in returns. The cast is legendary: Brando, Pacino, Duvall, Caan. It is filled from beginning to end with iconic moments, and quotes that will live as long as people watch movies. The only thing wrong with it, is absolutely not one single thing. And for those who don't care about the whole inside-baseball film studies thing, pay attention to the fact that this movie took a tiny subset of Italian Americans, arguably the worst human beings on the planet in many ways, and made them the absolute rock stars of all time, and you end up rooting for them. If only to see how it's done, note how they do it in this movie; it's a masterclass on propaganda, let alone a monumental work of art. Coppola was no rookie when this came out; he had an Oscar for co-writing the screenplay for Patton, and directing five feature films under his belt. But this movie put him into two new categories overnight: genius, and legendary.
Best Picture, Best Actor (Brando - declined), Best Adapted Screenplay              

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Flick Pick: The King's Speech

The King's Speech
(Miramax, 2010)

Colin Firth, Geoffrey Rush, and Helena Bonham Carter in Tom Hooper's superlative character study of King George VI of England. Well written, wonderfully shot, and with titanic performances in the leading roles, it created both powerful and crowd-pleasing drama. It was also a box-office monster, bringing in over $400M on a sparse $15M production budget.
Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor (Firth), Best Original Screenplay

Friday, February 21, 2014

Flick Pick: Gladiator

(Universal, 2000)

A 21st century update to the swords-and-sandals epics, and like all of Ridley's Scott's works, an entirely watchable spectacle. Driven largely by Russell Crowe's force of will, and populated by star actors like Derek Jacobi, Richard Harris, and Oliver Reed in his last role on screen, it manages to span the Roman Empire at its height and still capture it in close-ups. Largely cobbled together on the day, it's one of those films where the cast and crew managed to hammer out an epic day by day until the sum exceeds the parts.
Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Visual Effects, Best Costume Design, Best Sound Mixing

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Flick Pick: Shakespeare In Love

Shakespeare In Love
(Miramax, 1998)

Utterly sparkling romantic dramedy fiction based around the life and times of Shakespeare, and one of the most enjoyable and original bits of filmmaking in decades. The single best thing that happened on the way to this movie was Julia Roberts pulling out of the project when Daniel Day-Lewis showed no interest. It was subsequently reworked into the masterpiece it became, spattered throughout with actors worthy of the title, and enough 16th century inside baseball sideways glances at modern Hollywood to entertain anyone. Not least of the delights is Gwyneth Paltrow, who radiates in every scene, a pre-Barbossa Geoffrey Rush who demonstrates the absolute mastery of his craft, and Judi Dench, who dominated her three scenes and less than 15 minutes of screentime so thoroughly that she took top honors for the part. The attention to detail shows in every bit of every frame, it oozes period references throughout, and if William Shakespeare himself were alive today to write more, he could do little better than coming up with 36 sequels to this film on par with the original.
Best Picture, Best Actress (Paltrow) Best Supporting Actress (Dench), Best Original Screenplay, Best Art Direction, Best Costume Design, Best Original Musical/Comedy Score

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Flick Pick: Braveheart

(Paramount, 1995)

"When the facts and the legend disagree, print the legend." Openly acknowledged as more cinematic fiction than fact by both screenwriter Wallace and director Gibson, this is nonetheless one of the most epic screen gems ever made, and hugely successful at the box office. Predictably, the Scots love it, and the English hate it. (One supposes that the Germans and Japanese aren't partial to much WWI or WWII cinematic fare either.) Producer/director/star Gibson was angling for a big-screen masterpiece worthy of Spartacus or The Big Country, and exceeded both.
Best Picture, Best Director, Best Cinematography, Best Film Editing, Best Makeup

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Meanwhile, Back In Reality

Apparently, the braindead idiots over at Communist News Netwerps have prognosticated that "Gun Sales Are Plummeting".

You could look it up.

Of course, in the real world, things are a wee bit different.

After scaling the Everest of Sandy Hook, conjoined with the re-election of the most openly dictatorial communist to the presidency vowing to "rethink gun control", sales have plateaued after most factories have run up a two to three year backorder on current inventory. (White House speechwriters take note: Maybe dropping that "If you like your guns, you can keep your guns" quote from the stump speech would've best been done a lot sooner, guys. Like in 2007.)

In other words, at some point, everyone who wants them owning 26 or 206 guns is seen as "enough", and they start buying other things.

NICS checks are still running at 2x-3x what they were at any point since the Clinton presidency, when they started keeping score. (Nota bene that this is the number of NICS checks; multiple sales on a check means gun totals are even higher!)

The actual FBI full monthly stats, from their site.

Some excerpts:
January 1999:   591,355
January 2007:   894,608
January 2014: 1,660,355

Lowest any time since Hopey Dopey was elected:  > 966,000/month
Average since Hopey Dopey was elected: 1,433,291/month
Over 90,000,000 NICS checks since November 2008.

There is, therefore, only one clear conclusion to draw from these statistics:

Best Gun Salesman Of All Time:
Barack Hussein Obama

The NRA should so honor him with a giant poster at every annual convention.
It's proof that even a native Kenyan with 27 Social Security numbers can succeed in America, without scamming you via e-mail.

He's personally done more to put guns in people's hands than Kalashnikov, Garand, John Moses Browning, and the Mexican Revolution, combined. (And I graciously won't even count all those AK-clones walked over to Mexican gun cartels by his minions, which aren't included in his breathtaking NICS totals since first elected. Which I think is pretty sportsmanlike and magnanimous of me.)

Communist News Netwerps really needs to employ better propagandists if this is the best they can do.
It isn't just that their eyes are brown, but it's running down their pant legs too.

Flick Pick: Forrest Gump

Forrest Gump
(Paramount, 1994)

Epic tale of America, in the person of Everyman as a not-very-bright Southern lad swept along for the ride. Played masterfully by Tom Hanks in his personal opus, supported by a great cast and letter-perfect storytelling and film making, and spends two and a half hours skewering every liberal sacred cow, and roasting it on the barbeque of humble determination and genuine innocence.
Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor (Hanks), Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Visual Effects, Best Film Editing

Monday, February 17, 2014

Flick Pick: Dances With Wolves

Dances With Wolves
(Orion, 1990)

Dubbed "Kevin's Gate" (after Cimino's earlier western flop Heaven's Gate) before it came out, this epic western shut the wiseacres up about a minute after it premiered, making a modest $420M on a $22M production cost, and garnered producer/director/star Costner two Oscars personally, and seven for the film. One of the few films that ever felt too short at the 3-hour mark, the director's cut added nearly another hour. It was the first western in almost 60 years to win a Best Picture Oscar, and stands as a monument to both the western film genre, and what can be done when someone who knows what they're doing doesn't listen to everything Hollywood thinks is wisdom.
Best Picture, Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Cinematography, Best Film Editing, Best Sound, Best Original Score

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Flick Pick: Rain Man

Rain Man
(United Artists, 1988)

Raymond and Charlie Babbitt, in all their glory, played by Dustin Hoffman and Tom Cruise, two more opposite actors and performances than which it would be hard to find.
Witty and iconic, and endearing without being annoying.
Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor (Hoffman), Best Original Screenplay

Saturday, February 15, 2014

SHTF Medical Kit

So, Baby Brother, while generally ignoring my advice on any number of things, mostly out of simple orneriness, occasionally does recognize that I have some wee amount of expertise in the medical arts. It's nice to know that the degree and twenty years of experience weren't a total waste.

Which got him, in a roundabout way, noticing a decided lack of medical preparations for longer-term care. (Longer than, say, the farcical Official Suggestions from TPTB that 72 hours' worth of anything will see you through until Help arrives. As if...)

As for training, let's note that he was a diligent student of basic First Aid For Soldiers when it was taught him. In his case, that would be several presidents ago.

I asked him his absolute max budget, and he said that $1K was the top end. In other words, not the Mayo Clinic, but pretty much anything reasonable. (You should know that my professional kit for use in the entertainment industry on location comes in at around $2K, give or take. YMMV) He'd come upon a Pelican 1600 case, and wants to fill it.

So, my suggestions to him, sourced and costed, and notes after:

1. The divider set and lid liner for your Pelican 1600 case            
2. Quickclot ACS Gauze  Pads                                             
(3) x $29.99@
3. Quickclot Combat Gauze Rolls                                         
(2) x $42.89@
4. Asherman Chest Seal                                                        
(2) x $10.75@
5. Combat Application Tourniquet                                          
(4) x $29.99@
6. NP Airways 1 ea 28Fr/30Fr/32Fr/34Fr                                
(4) x $3.74@
7. Surgilube packets for using NP Airways, 25 3g packets            
8. SAM splints                                                                         
(2) x $12.00@
9. Israeli Emergency Bandage 4"                                          
(4) x $6.29@
10. Israeli Emergency Bandage 6"                                         
(4) x $6.56@
11. Primed Compressed Gauze Bandage                             
(6) x $2.44@
12. Israeli Emergency Abdominal Bandage                             
(2) x $12.12@
13. Muslin triangular Bandage                                                   
(6) x $0.47@
14. BZK Antiseptic towellettes (100/bx)                                         
15. Povidone-iodine prep pads (100/bx)                                     
(same source as above)
16. Bottles of Bactine and Betadine Solution (3-6 oz.)             
- $10@
Wal-Mart. CVS, Target, etc.
17. Burn kit                                                                                 
18. Water jel burn gel                                                         
(12) x $0.53@
19. Triple antibiotic ointment (generic Neosporin, 25 0.9g packets)
3 x $4.30@
20. Military casualty space blanket                                         
2 x $19.67
21. Band Aids Assorted (100)                                                     
      Band Aids 1"x3" (100)                                                           
      Band Aids Extra Large (10)                                               
2 x $5.49@
      Knuckle Bandages (40)                                                           
      Butterfly Bandages (100)                                                         
22. Self-adhering 3" bandage wrap (24)                                     
23. 1" First Aid tape       silk     (12s)       
                                        plastic (12s)         
24. Gauze sponges         4"x4"   (200)                                       
                                         2"x2"   (200)                                        
25. Gloves, nitrile                                    
- $15
Wal-Mart, CVS, Target, etc.
 Around $850, out the door.
You can trim back some of the spendier high-speed tactical stuff to save a few bucks, but it's your ass (or someone near and dear to you), and I don't think you want to run out of supplies before you fix all the holes.
Drop the money on the divider. It's the reason the EMS Pelican is another $150. It gives you small clear pockets for the small stuff, and 18+ pockets in the bottom for the big stuff.
I set this up so you could handle the most likely emergency problems (cuts, punctures, burns, sprains & fractures), including the TCCC {look it up!} supplies most likely to save your or someone else's life if someone catches a cowboy load at the range, as well as GSWs after the Zombie Apocalypse. Dual utility.
The plain gauze, tape and band-aids are for the far more frequent little stuff, to prevent turning it into bigger problems.
I didn't source (but you should add) two things:
* A good AAA LED headlamp, because you'll really appreciate light and both hands free when it's dark. My personal favorite ( I have 3 of them) is the Petzl Tactika Plus Headlamp. I get mine at REI for about $46 or so.
Runs on 3 AAA, has a red lens that flips on or off, and has 4 light settings - econo, medium, bright, and flashing.
* The other thing is a good disposable CPR face shield, so you don't swap cooties in CPR. I'd get one in case you need to do CPR on family members, or them on you, but otherwise, I can't see you doing rescue breathing on anyone not on the cover of the Sports illustrated Swimsuit issue, so I left it out.
Until such time as you re-acquaint yourself with First Aid, bear in mind that it's still mostly what you learned in boot camp in the prehistoric era: Stop the bleeding, start the breathing, protect the wound, and treat for shock.
Direct Pressure, Pressure dressing, elevate the limb, tourniquet (don't be shy - unlike in the 1980s, they now know tourniquets like the CAT applied early is a lifesaver for bleeding extremities).
For minor holes, pressure with the 2x2s or 4x4s, then clean with the BZK/Bactine (same thing, except Bactine has low-dose lidocaine to make it sting less!), clean any penetrating trauma with Betadine and sterile non-preserved saline, then sterile dressing and clean bandage. pressure and pressure dressings, including Israeli bandage, or plain old ACE wraps, and if necessary, a tourniquet as well.
Airway is simple once 911 isn't an option: either a nasal trumpet, lubed outside with the Surgilube, up one or both snotstrils will open it, or they're going to die.
If you want to learn about TCCC needle decompression, and cricothyrotomy airways, we can talk. There are actual military/medical training vids on YouTube right now.
But outside of civilization, you aren't going to save anyone with CPR after 30 minutes, unless they were immersed in frigid water. If they stop breathing for other reasons, and you can't get them breathing again after half an hour, and help isn't on its way, that's probably a hint to go through their pockets for loose change, and collect one of their dogtags.
And in any victim unable to move around afterwards, whip on those space blankets, either for shade, or for warmth.
I also left out things like C-collars and anything diagnostic, until such time as you learn how to use it.
If you get a wild hair up your ass, find out who's doing basic EMT training at the local CC out there, and consider doing the class.
Training is the only thing you can't pull out of a kit, and some things, you just have to learn.
If you want, I can teach you how to measure blood pressure in about 20 minutes, but you need a stethoscope (A $20 Sprague works fine) and an adult cuff (manual, with a squeezy bulb, not one of those pieces of electro-garbage.) Let me know, anytime you want. One of the $60 fingertip pulse oximeters gets you pulse and O2%. Add a good thermometer, and you've now mastered the same triage vitals done in every ER from coast to coast.
A couple of good tweezers for splinters (a flat set, and a pointy set) are always a good idea, and you can grab those at any decent drugstore. Several small sewing needles work great for working out splinters and shallow stuff imbedded at the surface of the skin. An X-acto knife if you're feeling daring. Note that the large burn kit has a pair of good EMT shears in it, to use anytime you need to cut clothes open or off, so no need to buy a separate one.
Resist the urge to get a "kit, instrument, surgical". They're overpriced, under-useful, and you could get better instruments just by visiting a gun show.
And unless you know what you're doing, you don't need the toys to go poking around in holes, or start yanking things out until you know what they're into. Anything deeper than your range of sight needs to be left in a hole until someone with better training decides whether it can come out or not, verstehen sie?
When you get the box, and the goodies, not everything on that list can or should fit inside it. And adhesives don't like hot cars. So put some of the items inside, and replenish as you use them, or annually check them and replace the crusty ones.
DO put the kit in your truck, because if you need it at a shoot, or on the highway, it won't do you any good at home on top of the gun safe, right?
I hope you have stashed/are stashing a cushion of any family Rx meds by any means possible, including "oops, I lost my meds and need a whole month's replacement!" provided you're footing the bill, or any other legal way possible. Cycle through the overstock first in/first out, so you eventually always have 3-6 months of fresh stuff in reserve. Imagine a major earthquake, and no pharmacy for a month or three. Let alone anything more dire.
Note also I didn't include any meds except topical wound stuff.
I'm a big fan of getting the unit dose packages of whatever you already use, like Tylenol, Motrin/Advil, Tums, Pepto, and anything else. OTCs don't magically go bad after three years, so don't throw them out, just don't give them to anyone not related to you by blood. Except for certain antibiotics, most pills remain useable for 10-30 years if stored properly (cool, dark, dry).
Don't forget sunscreen, chapstick, and bug juice.
Any questions, fire away.
Nothing earth-shattering there, but if I'm giving give away free first aid kit advice, I'm at least going to get a blog post out of it.
You could spend a lot more and still do a lot worse.
Make use of this as you will, but the usual caveats apply:
I'm not a doctor, I'm sure as hell not your doctor, read and follow all label directions, use of any or all of this equipment or advice without adequate training or basic common sense means you're a dangerous idiot, and completely on your own in a court of law, where I will laugh at you and ridicule you at length, may contain peanuts, or chemicals known to the State of Califrutopia to cause birth defects, cancer, or an overwhelming desire to attend Justin Beiber concerts.
Now you've been warned.
Go put a first aid kit together, and not the $4 one from the auto club in your glove box put there in 1994.

Flick Pick: Out Of Africa

Out Of Africa
(Universal, 1985)

Sydney Pollack's 14th feature film as director, and the fifth (of six) times with Robert Redford. Breathtaking cinematography, a soaring score, and Redford opposite the incomparable Meryl Streep made this a screen epic in Pollack's incredible career. Klaus Maria Brandauer always makes one of the best total bastards in film, no less so in this effort.
Best Picture, Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Art Direction, Best Cinematography, Best Sound, Best Original Score

Friday, February 14, 2014

Flick Pick: Love Actually

Love Actually
(Universal, 2003)

Starring almost everybody, the perfect movie to enjoy on Valentine's Day.
With ten intertwined stories, there's something in it for everyone, and they're all pretty good in their own right.
"Let's go out there and get the $#!^ kicked out of us by love."

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Flick Pick: Ordinary People

Ordinary People
(Paramount, 1980)

Robert Redford's first shot at directing launched this effort, with great performances from veteran actors like Donald Sutherland, Judd Hirsch, Mary Tyler Moore, and standing toe to toe with all of them and giving as good as they are, Jim Hutton's son, Timothy, in his screen debut.
Best Picture, Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Supporting Actor (Hutton)

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Flick Pick: Rocky

(United Artists, 1976)

Literally almost down to eating cat food in a crappy apartment in the Valley north of Hollywood, with a script turned down twice by every major and minor studio in town, and every agent in existence, the writer is told that there's a buyer who'd like to pick it up. The author declines unless he gets to play the lead character. Incredibly, they agree to this insane request from a virtual nobody, make the thing in 28 days for less than $1M, and it grosses $225M worldwide on its way to the top. Of everything.
The story is one everyone knew their whole life, the actors they got for their slices of $1M were incredible (Burgess Meredith gave a performance for the ages), the movie is still a classic, and the author, Sylvester Stallone, became a box office legend.
Best Picture, Best Director, Best Film Editing

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Flick Pick: The Sting

The Sting
(Universal, 1973)

George Roy Hill's second teaming with Newman and Redford, and by far the better of the two. With a script rescued from a junk pile by an agent's reader, it was subsequently sold to Universal. With Newman and Redford slated to appear, the role of the mark went begging until Paul Newman personally delivered the script to Robert Shaw, asking him to take the part. Made for about $10M, and released at Christmas, it blew everything else away, raked in receipts, and scooped up Seven Academy Awards. With earnings adjusted for inflation, it's still one of the top twenty movies of all time, and one of the most enjoyable caper comedies ever made, spawning any number of movie and television copycats over the last 40 years. Marvin Hamlisch's adaptation of Scott Joplin's rags in the soundtrack made Joplin a household name again, and ensured the recognition of his musical talents for generations to come.
Best Picture, Best Director, Best Original Screeplay, Best Art Direction, Best Costume Design, Best Film Editing, Best Music

Monday, February 10, 2014

Flick Pick: The French Connection

The French Connection
( 20th Century Fox, 1971)

On only his fifth film, William Friedkin pulled off this brilliant effort, with a couple of ten-year veteran "overnight success" stars, Roy Scheider and Gene Hackman, and launched it out of the park. Made in a down-and-dirty style more reminiscent of period documentaries than feature films, for a budget of less than $2M, it grossed nearly $52M in box office, and another $75M a decade later in video rentals. Fictionalized from the non-fiction book by Robin Moore, former USAF officer/amateur boxer Scheider and former Marine radio operator and dog catcher Hackman had both the real-life chops, and the acting talent, to come off as the toughest badass cops ever seen on screen to that point (Dirty Harry was still two months from release). It also won five Academy Awards out of eight nominations, and a lasting spot as an American classic movie.
Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor (Hackman), Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Film Editing

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Flick Pick: A Man For All Seasons

A Man For All Seasons
(Columbia, 1962)

Once upon a time, films like this were shown to students merely to show with precision the naked majesty of logic, the law, and moral integrity. The conjunction of those three in one man, Sir Thomas More, as depicted in this adaptation of Robert Bolt's stage play never disappoints. The movie is still at minimum, an introductory course in political ethics, and for some officials, would be the equivalent of a Ph.D. were they to pay attention. Scofield is as commanding in the role as he must have been on stage, and likely as much as More was in person. Also introduces John Hurt to film audiences.
Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor (Scofield), Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Cinematography, Best Costume Design

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Flick Pick: Lawrence Of Arabia

Lawrence Of Arabia
(Columbia, 1962)

Premiering five years after his last effort, David Lean once again took every other director to school on how to make an epic masterpiece, producing another gargantuan effort that garnered seven more Academy Awards. The recipe was simple: take a stirring but little-known tale, play a timeless score, and populate it with one of the most star-studded cast lists in movie history, then stand back and watch it. Alec Guinness, Anthony Quinn, Jack Hawkins, Omar Sharif, Jose Ferrer, Anthony Quayle, and Claude Rains are all magnificent in their roles, along with an up-and-coming actor in his first screen role named Peter O'Toole, demonstrating instantly that he was one of the most phenomenal actors of all time.
Best Picture, Best Director, Best Score, Best Art Direction-Color, Best Cinematography, Best Sound, Best Film Editing

Friday, February 7, 2014

It Was A Dark And Stormy Night...

Just about every week over on TSLRF , Ryan will pose the question "What Did you Do To Prepare This Week?"

This is this week's composition for me.

My truck, in the so-apt G.I. German pidgin phrase, is currently upgefucht.
Apparently the flaperators are cattywampus, making driving a No Go event. It took the dealer all week to figure that out, and they cleverly waited until it was too late to rent a car for the day to inform me.

I should mention that a rent check is due NLT tomorrow (today now), and I had no inkling they wouldn't have my shiny toy fixed long since. Live and learn.

So being practical, trying not to chew nails and spit shrapnel, and finding the silver lining, I decided I would use the opportunity to evaluate some of my relocation plans. Because if things go sporty and you need to get out of Dodge, what are Mr. Murphy's odds it will be the day your vehicle craps out?

Part of my belt-and-suspender plan is to use a more urban mountain bike as Plan B, putting it in the back of the truck to use just in case, including if I get more flats or have other breakdowns on the day than I can self-correct.

So looking outside around dinner time as I hung up the phone with the car repair magi, it wasn't the gray indifferent overcast of yesterday. Of course not. It was blowing about 15-20 MPH in what an Irishman would describe as a "soft rain" and what I'd describe as a heavy drool, coming down steadily. Oh goody.

Cold, wet, miserable = good training opportunity.

Now, to be fair, I've spent the last 20+ years walking 6-10 miles a night shift - 20 feet at a time - until the morning. I am middle-aged, there's a bit more of me than there was in my prime, but I'm not a total wreck. So I figured I could do this.

Destination was 16 miles, one way. So 32 miles.

The Good
I made it, there and back.
No chest pain, so I think I can skip my next cardio exam.
In fact, I deliberately took it rather easy, to simulate what it'd be like in terms of speed/distance if there were 40+ pounds of gear going along.
The bike, long neglected and dusty, was a trooper. As best as I recall, it's whatever was on special at Le Boutique Targette  or Le Mart du Walle  fifteen or more years ago. I'd like to say I maintain it like an Indy car, but lying is bad. Nonetheless, it did good service.
Besides work, I've been upping my PT, which paid off, but work has squeezed more of that out than I'm happy with.
It was wet, but all hail Algore, temps stayed in the mid-50s. Nothing like the arctic blizzards numerous of my correspondents and acquaintances are suffering through from Montana to Miami.
The Petzl Tactika Plus on strobe mode with the red cover on the back of one's head makes an excellent  bicyclist "don't hit my ass" warning light, besides being awesomely useful as a headlamp.

The Bad
There is no such thing as rain gear that keeps you dry if you're working outdoors. Not Gore-Tex, ECWCS, Helly Hansen, nor rubberized canvas. If it keeps the moisture out, you get wet with sweat. If it breathes, eventually it lets the moisture in, and not enough of the sweat out. You can shelter outside, or go inside, but if you work outside, you're getting wet, and I don't care who you are or what you have on.
The route was 1/3 uphill heading out, and 2/3 uphill heading back, and into the wind for most of both ways, because the front split on the ridge and blew, literally and metaphorically, in my face over most of the trip.
Wet bike brakes work no better than wet car brakes, especially on a big hill with my fat ass on board.

The Ugly
People drive like @$$holes in the rain.
Too fast, no visibility, and generally HUTA.
When you're in traffic on a bicycle, you notice it a lot more acutely.
Like when people in a quiet residential neighborhood figure that with no headlights coming, they can skip that annoying stopping thing at 4-way stops.
I was almost mown down half a dozen times by people exiting freeways oblivious, blown into landscaping by a semi, and the aforementioned red stop sign optional douche.
Plus any number of folks who figure with anything smaller than a bread truck yielding is optional. And this is with nothing bad happening but a well-blown misting - which is just enough to lift all the grease and oil and make the roads slicker than snot.

After Action Assessment
I have a stationary bike, along with the sort-of mountain real bike. I will be riding both more frequently. (Just not 32 miles in one go.)
The gel seat has issues. It's going to go, and I'm going to replace it with something better suited for my delicate derriere, and for serious pedaling.
I'm not ready for a Hover-Round yet (but I see the attraction). I'm going to look into the gel cell battery electric powered cycle motors. Two sets of batteries would have gotten me there and back, effortlessly and faster (they supposedly do 15MPH for about 15 miles.) With a stop for dinner part way, and another for a snack on the return, I made the trip in around 7 hours, so around 5 miles an hour, into the wind and rain, at a less-than-heart-attack speed. I rode 20-25 of that, and walked the rest. Which was good, in that they use different muscle groups, so it kept me from inducing softball-sized cramps in my thighs, which would have been a catastrophe. I rode more on the way out, and walked more on the way back. The last time I took a decent ruck march with a full pack was on Camp Pendleton, some five presidents ago. As I get my PT back to mil spec, that will change too, in increasing but gradual bites.
I'm also interested in a baby/cargo pod trailer, that'd hold 40-70 pounds of pack/BOB, food and water.
2 quarts of water during the trip was adequate for the weather and exertion. 2 quarts of Gatorade along with the water would have been better.
Forgetting to grab a couple of granola bars was stupid. Thank heavens for mini-marts, Dr. Pepper, and peanut M&Ms.
The weather was kind, so I went in trousers and polo shirt underneath the rain gear. If it had been 10-20 degrees colder, or I'd broken a chain or something, it would have been a reminder that "cotton kills".
Polarfleece hats are the shizznit. Scuba diving gloves are even better.
I'm thinking a thin neoprene shortie board suit, or a full-length one (with some strategic cutouts for ventilation and eliminating chafing) would work better than most commercial rain gear. And provide padding for the times you encounter houses where the people don't prune the trees or trim the hedges.
The bike is going to get a much deserved work-over at the local house of bike geeks.
And some repair items and spares. And a dedicated LED headlight.
It has pouches everywhere, so I'm stocking them with a small but adequate first aid kit, some power and granola bars, and a couple quarts of Gatorade, plus electrolyte tablets.
I need something for stray m-----f------- dogs. I didn't encounter any unpenned, but if I had, especially once I was tired and walking a stretch, I'd have been up a tree or screwed. Bear strength pepper spray would work on two-legged mutts as well.
I planned the route well, avoiding known crappy neighborhoods, and riding mostly through night-deserted industrial zones, and upper class neighborhoods. It would pay to do some route reconnaissance now from here to Camp Snoopy, once I have time and wheels, rather than employ the "hoping really hard" strategy to select the best route(s) on the day when it might not be optional.
Heavily laden, I know I can make 20 miles a day unless people are shooting at folks, in which case all bets are off. Some minimal storage unit caches between point A and Point Z could be a godsend, possibly even giving me a small place to hole up if necessary.

And that's about all I feel like pondering for now. I'm going to take some ibuprofen, and spend some quality time this weekend in the Jacuzzi, and I suspect the place will have a faint odor of BenGay or Tiger Balm for a couple of days. But I have all weekend to recuperate, while I wait for the restoration to me of a functional internal combustion-powered conveyace, a blessing I might have previously overlooked, but for which I will hereafter offer humble thanks, for some good time. Like at least until the pain goes away.

{Random Scientific Observation of Everyday Weirdness: I personally blew out some seven streetlights merely by passing by them, in almost every instance with no other person or vehicle closer than a half mile. Just me. There is no rational explanation known to me why this happens, and it creeped me out the first few thousands of times over the years, but now it's either just my particular super power, or the Force is strong with me. Or else my personal Guardian Angel flies about 17 feet over my head everywhere I go, take your pick. I'm not complaining, but if anyone knows where to trade this Super Power in, I'd have much preferred the power of unassisted flight, command invisibility, or the ability to pick the winning Powerball numbers all the time as one of my first choices. Nobody asked me.  As it is, more than one significant other having witnessed it has referred to it as my rogue Professor Dumbledore gene.}

Flick Pick: The Bridge On The River Kwai

Bridge On The River Kwai
(Columbia, 1957)

David Lean had directed eleven films before launching this magnum opus onto movie screens, and it's frequently and justifiably named as one of the greatest films of all time. While William Holden had the top billing, by and large, this movie is Alec Guinness, then all of 38 years old, and in all his long pre-Obi-wan glory and talent, which is considerable. With Jack Hawkins (who convinced Guinness to take his part), Sessue Hayakawa, and James Donald, and written for the screen by two then-blacklisted screenwriters, Carl Foreman and Michael Wilson, both rightfully given their Best Adapted Screenplay Oscars - posthumously - in 1984.
Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor (Guinness), Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Music, Best Film Editing, Best Cinematography

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Flick Pick: To Kill A Mockingbird

To Kill A Mockingbird
(Universal, 1962)

Gregory Peck in the role of a lifetime - as essentially himself - in this adaptation of Harper Lee's classic novel of the Jim Crow South. Both grand and endearing, with echoes of a time long gone by, and the most epic courtroom scenes in cinematic history, as proven by vote after vote. Also provided the screen debut of Robert Duvall in a pivotal role without a single spoken line.
Best Actor (Peck), Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Art Direction-B&W

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Flick Pick: Henry V

Henry V
(BBC Films, 1989)

To date, the best Shakespearean drama ever adapted for the screen, bar none.
Kenneth Branagh did more to bring Shakespeare back in modern times than any other man, and this film, one of his first, is the masterpiece of that work, as screenwriter, director, and star.
With Paul Scofield, Emma Thompson, Ian Holm, Judi Dench, Christian Bale, Derek Jacobi, Brian Blessed, between them amassing 15 Oscar nominations and 5 wins among a host of others, the heirs of Shakespeare's players are well-represented on stage and screen, though to date Branagh has been nominated in 5 different categories, and has naught to show for the efforts except fantastic films like this one. His St. Crispin's Day speech trumps Olivier's handily, and is moving to this day as testimony to its greatness, here and for all time. And amazingly, at its widest release, it was only on 134 screens in the U.S. That's normally the distribution for films that are dying, but in this case, apparently, the BBC only wanted to make their investment budget back. But it stayed in theatres for nine months.
Best Costume Design

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Flick Pick: In The Heat Of the Night

In The Heat Of The Night
(United Artists, 1967)

American masterpiece about racial tension focused amidst a Southern murder mystery.
Career-making performances in their own right for Rod Steiger and Sidney Poitier, ably supported by the talented (and still missed) Warren Oates, and Lee Grant, and music by Quincy Jones.
Best Picture, Best Actor (Steiger), Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Film Editing, and Best Sound.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Flick Pick: On The Waterfront

On the Waterfront
(Columbia, 1954)

Magnificent cinematic landmark, talent-heavy from top to bottom, showcasing director Elia Kazan, marking Marlon Brando forever as an acting force, ably supported by Lee J. Cobb, Rod Steiger, Karl Malden, and introducing Eva Marie Saint, telling the tale of union corruption on the docks of Hoboken, with a Leonard Bernstein original score.
Best Picture, Best Director, Best Screenplay, Best Actor (Brando), Best Supporting Actress, Best Art Direction, Best Cinematography, and Best Film Editing.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Flick Pick: Groundhog Day

Groundhog Day
(Columbia, 1993)

One of the most perfect film comedies of all time, with a career master performance from Bill Murray, the beauty of Andie MacDowell, the presentation skills of Harold Ramis, and just to pile on, great support from Chris Elliot and Stephen Tobolowsky.
This was probably the first movie I started watching not just annually, but on the same day, on purpose, and probably the genesis of this entire list. It didn't win any Oscars, nor was even nominated for any, but it should have been. And there is no other movie more worth watching just because it's February 2nd. Don't drive angry.

Barely over three weeks after posting this, actor/writer/director/producer Harold Ramis, one of the funniest men in America and a comedy genius, died of complications from a rare vascular disease at the age of 69, on Feb. 24, in Chicago, where he was born and lived his entire life.

A partial list of the classic works he leaves behind:

Animal House - writer
Stripes - writer, actor
Caddyshack - writer, director
National Lampoon's Vacation - writer, director, actor
Ghostbusters - writer, actor
Back To School - writer, producer
Groundhog Day - writer, director, producer, actor
Multiplicity - director, producer
Analyze This - writer, director
Airheads - actor
As Good As It Gets - actor
Bedazzled - writer, director, producer

His comedy prickled the mighty, championed the underdog, entertained without being merciless or mean, and consistently stuck it to The Man.
The world is a less funny place for his passing, but what a legacy he left, and I hope he has them rolling in the aisles in heaven.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Flick Pick: It Happened One Night

(Mostly) Oscar Month*:
*(three exceptions)

It Happened One Night
(Columbia, 1934)

Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert in Frank Capra's wonderful and timeless comedy.
How good? Look up the number of comedies to win Best Picture.
Scandalous pre-Hays Code film, with shots of Colbert hitchhiking by {gasp!} showing her leg, a bare-chested shirtless Gable (which tanked t-shirt sales for thirty years), and two unmarried adults sharing a motel room separated by a blanket on a clothesline, all of which became iconic film moments.
Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Adapted Screenplay.