April 30, 2009

Trek's appeal

While not obsessing over Diedrich Rulfs this past week, I have been rewatching (for possibly the tenth time, at least) the original (my beloved!) epidsodes of Star Trek in the order they were originally aired. Just finished "Mudd's Women" tonight, and I couldn't help but notice a very 20th century stain on the floor of the Enterprise bridge this time, but that's beside the point. The next next generation (or is it next next next generation?) of Star Trek, of course, premieres next Friday. Cracked did a funny post about it a while back called "Star Trek Prequel Spoilers: 8 Piping Hot, Barely Legal Pics." Here's just a taste:

"When we look at the two right beside each other, the relief is a little starker. Although the two have similar features, Shatner looks like a goddamned animal. Even understanding the difference between photographs and the real world, I look at that and am at least a little concerned Kirk will leap out of the screen and have sex with me. If he had made eye contact with the camera when this was taken we would all be pregnant by now."

That hilariously sums up my trepidation about this "re-imagining," but I'm still hopeful though!

"Royal Blue"

Say what you will about the Russians, they appreciate and recognize good music when they hear it. Back in January, the Grand Flute Ensemble performed "The Pink Panther Suite," with the third part featuring one of my favorite tunes from the The Pink Panther (1963) soundtrack, "Royal Blue."

While their version is true to the original melody, albeit slower, I sure miss the barroom piano and muted trumpet of the original, Mancini version.

April 24, 2009

"The Unforgettable Fire"

I thought this sounded so epic, classic, and cinematic "back in the day." It still sounds classic. I didn't get to see them on the Achtung Baby or The Joshua Tree tours, but I did see them when they swung through Houston during the Unforgettable Fire tour. They were awesome - I did a review of it for my high school newspaper. And I think this was the coolest hairstyle Bono has had. What is that? A mullet? Anyway, a high school classmate recently told me she is reminded of me when she hears this now, which is extremely touching, so here...."Ice - you're only rivers run cold...":

April 22, 2009

Crockett, Texas

A repost for Trish...

Crockett, Texas (36 miles SE of Palestine, 49 miles N of Huntsville, 35 miles SW of Nacogdoches)

The town was named after Davy Crockett who reportedly had camped nearby on his way to the Alamo. The site was very near the Old San Antonio Road. A family of Tennesseans donated the land for the town and named it after Crockett, who they had known back in Tennessee.

The town was incorporated in 1837, and a post office was granted the following year. Crockett was connected to Nacogdoches by stage service.

In 1839 raids by the Alabama-Coushatta and Cherokee Indians forced the town's residents to take shelter in the fortified log courthouse.

Crockett was a training center for Confederate conscripts during the Civil War.

The railroad came through in 1872 enabling Crockett to exploit the county's timber resources.

By 1885 the town was thriving with a population of 1,200 and the following year a school was opened for black girls. It evolved into Mary Allen Junior College, which operated into the 1970s. (history via Texas Escapes)

Mary Allen Junior College as it looks today

Houston County Courthouse, built in 1939; it is an example of the architectural style known as "Texas-Moderne"

arnold cotton co.

Ritz Theater (according to this site it is closed, but I'm pretty sure they were showing current run movies last time I drove through, which was back in December)

sunshine on the ritz
east houston avenue in the afternoon
polks sign in crockett
polk's building in crockett
coca-cola sign on mcconnell building
the 1891 W.V. McConnell Building

building in crockett
downes-aldrich house
The Downes-Aldrich House, c. 1891-1893, Eastlake Victorian Style

Do you see the doll in the window? Please, tell me you see that doll.

front on monroe-crook house
The Monroe-Crook House (Monroe was a grandnephew of James Monroe), c. 1854, Greek Revival Style

Lightnin' Hopkins statue

camp st. cafe & store

April 21, 2009

Chasing ghosts, fictional and otherwise

Rereading To Kill a Mockingbird and have just completed the Monroe County Heritage Museum's book, Monroeville: The Search for Harper Lee's Maycomb. Some things still remain in the town in which Nelle Harper Lee grew up.

This screencap is from the very last scene in the film, and back on the fireplace mantle is a portrait of Atticus Finch's wife, Jem and Jean Louise's (Scout's) mother, who, according to the novel, died of a heart attack when Scout was two-years-old. We all know Harper Lee's father was an attorney, who was morally and ethically similar to Atticus. But did you know Lee's mother also died before her father? Harper Lee's mother (and here is the first bit of "interesting information") was named Frances Cunningham Finch Lee. Of course the novel has a character who is poor farmer named Walter Cunningham, but even neater is the fact the author's mother's maiden name was Finch. A sweet tribute, I'd say.

For years, at least before Al Gore finally invented the Web, fans primarily knew the reclusive author's appearance to be as it was depicted in this photograph included with the novel's first edition (1960), taken by Truman Capote (picture from)...

...or maybe as she has appeared currently, like in this picture of her receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2007:
Bush's greatest presidential act?

So it's a real treat to see a photo of the then chain smoker Harper Lee as a student at the University of Alabama, where she was the editor of the yearbook, Rammer Jammer, during the 1946-47 academic year. This is sometimes what it's like putting blog posts together:

Although perhaps easily mistaken for the prop featured in this touching scene from the film...

..."When Greogory Peck accepted the Oscar for his role in the movie, he had in his hand A.C. Lee's watch, which Harper Lee had given him when her father died." (Monroe County Heritage Museums, p. 15)

"...Gregory Peck was walking through the airport and he ran into somebody. When he stopped to look at his watch, it was gone. He said he just could hardly stand the fact that he had lost Atticus' watch." (p. 15)

Amasa Coleman Lee

"They say that after the book came out and was so popular, people would ask Mr. Lee to sign the book, and he always signed it 'Atticus.'" (p. 15)

The house of the "mysterious neighbor" (Boo Radley)? It's on this map of Monroeville/Maycomb. For a fan of the novel, that's some fascinating stuff!

Finally, the Monroe County Courthouse (c. 1903) would have probably been torn down to make way for a more modern building (as so many courthouses are) had it not been for the novel and film. It has been home to the Monroe County Heritage Museum since 1991.

picture source

The courtroom was used as a model for the film's version and is virtually identical.

April 18, 2009

Harpo playing harp in Go West

Harpo Marx taught himself to play because he could not sing, or dance, and did not talk very well, so he needed something to do. Al Shean sent him a harp (in Harpo's autobiography, he says that mother Minnie Marx sent him the harp). Harpo learned how to hold it properly by going to a five-and-dime store where he found a picture of a girl playing a harp. No one in town knew how to play the harp, so Harpo tuned it as best he could, starting with one basic note and tuning it from there. Three years later he found out he had tuned it incorrectly, but he could not have tuned it properly; if he had, the strings would have broken each night. Harpo's method placed much less tension on the strings. Although he played this way for the rest of his life, he did try to learn how to play correctly, and he spent considerable money hiring the best teachers. They, however, spent their time listening to him, fascinated by the way he played. In the movies he played the harp with his own tuning. (source)

Go West (1940)

April 17, 2009


I seem to remember Rush's 1982 album, Signals having a few negative reviews, people perhaps being let down after the excellence of the previous year's Moving Pictures. I was into reading Creem (among other things) at that time, and there were disgruntled fans, irritated by Rush's heightened use of synthesizers (of course on their 1984 album, Grace Under Pressure, even Neal Peart would be playing electronic drums). I thought it was really cool, and still do. Here's a quote from the Wikipedia entry:

Signals was the follow-up to the successful Moving Pictures. Stylistically, the album was a continuation of Rush's foray into the technology-oriented 1980s through increased use of electronic instrumentation such as keyboards, sequencers, and electric violin. Other noticeable changes were decreased average song length and lyrical compression. The album reached #10 on the Billboard album charts and was certified Platinum (1,000,000 copies sold).

April 16, 2009

Primed for jazz (one more time)

I just knew I'd forgotten to include some things (music) in my previous post that, as I put it, "primed" me (and perhaps other Gen-x'ers) to become jazz music fans later in life. Jazz was so prevalent in the television to which we were exposed, one could almost conclude there was a concerted effort to create a whole new audience for the genre.

First, while technically used in the movie first, there was the Saturday morning cartoon, The Pink Panther Show, which premiered in 1969. Henry Mancini's swingin' theme:

The theme song to Mannix, by Lalo Schifrin is another tune I should have included. When I was around 8 or 9 years old (possibly younger), I was "playing Mannix" in my neighborhood, armed with a cap gun, while loudly humming the theme song to myself. An older boy from across the street overheard me doing so, and he teased me incessantly about it. I remember this like it was yesterday.

And just one more, a show I watched in rerun form every day for a while during the early '70s, The Odd Couple, had a really cool, and yes, jazzy, theme song. And what do you know? It was composed by Neil Hefti, the arranger of one my favorite Sinatra albums, Sinatra and Swingin' Brass.

Well there you have it, my case for how m-m-m-my g-g-generation and I were pre-programmed to quite possibly enjoy jazz music when we became old and gray. I guess it could have been worse - "they" could have done a Manchurian candidate kind of thing to us.....Now I must play solitaire.

  • Primed for Jazz (part one)
  • April 14, 2009

    Primed for jazz

    If you are like I am (born in the mid to late '60s, raised on '70s TV), you were primed to be a fan of jazz. Did it work on you? Probably not, but "they" sure tried. It worked on me. Gen X-ers would become as familiar with the sound of brushes softly brush-a brush brushing (that's what you call alliteration) on a snare drum and the tinkling ivories of a well-played jazz piano as they would the sound of their mother's voice. Witness a few of the jazz-inflected contributors to our generational zeitgeist. Maybe you didn't realize the conspiracy as it unfolded:

    First, one of the nicest and most genuine men to have ever walked the face of this imperfect planet, Fred Rogers (I cried like a baby the day he died, as did you). Fred Rogers was of course an accomplished pianist and composer. It seems like he was always taking his viewers on a trip to Negri's Music Shop. Thank you for that, Mr. Rogers!

    That theme sure is jazzy!

    At about 3:50, and things get really jazzy at around a minute from that.

    "The Music of Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood"

    Vince Guaraldi and Trio did the music for many of Charles Schulz's "Peanuts" cartoons, with the most obvious perhaps being the wonderful music for A Charlie Brown Christmas (damn I love "Skating"! I could listen to that all year long):

    "Mah-Na Mah-Na," originally from Sesame Street(?) and later The Muppet Show:

    I would have caught these in rerun form some years after their introduction.

    The first season theme music to I Dream of Jeannie was an instrumental jazz waltz written by Richard Wess. From the second season on, however, it was replaced by a new theme entitled "Jeannie," composed by Hugo Montenegro.

    And of course that leads to:

    The Bewitched theme by Warren Barker

    Peggy Lee did a great version of this tune, complete with the lyrics:

  • Primed for Jazz (One More Time)
  • April 11, 2009

    SFA Theater neon

    sfa theater, nighttime
    The pink "F" has been out for a couple of weeks on the SFA Theater here in Nacogdoches. But it has been repaired. It's always nice (and refreshing) to see how well this theater is maintained, despite the fact it is no longer in use. I also love the idea that the neon is lit from sunset to sunrise, every single day. That, to me, is whimsical. And whimsy is a spiritual salve.