Thursday, November 21, 2002

Lucky vs. Good

Last night's result:

1 0 1 1 1 1 0 0 5 (them)

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 T

1 0 0 0 0 0 4 1 6 (us)

This was no thanks to me; I made maybe three of my shots all night. real bad weight, then again everyone was throwing bad weight.

So I'm now 8-7 lifetime, and inexplicably, we are 5-0 in the Wednesday night league with about three more games to play. We have a bye next week, so who's to say what sort of form we'll have afte Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, November 19, 2002


Eddie Bracken has died. Until reading the obit, I hadn't put it together that he was also Roy Walley. But if you haven't seen him in one of the greatest movie comedies ever, then get renting, pronto.

Wednesday, November 13, 2002

Self-Betterment Through Film

So I went to three programs of Mental Hygiene movies over two days.They were hosted by Ken Smith, author of the book Mental Hygiene: Classroom Films, 1945-1970. Some of these make it onto MST3K tapes, others are available on DVD through Fantoma, and nearly all of them are available on the Prelinger Archives

The first program was Manners, Menstruation, and the American Way:

SHY GUY (1947)

Progressive in its day, this one put Glenview, IL's Coronet Films on the map. Dick York, looking somewhat like a lanky, nerdy David Boreanaz, is Phil, a new transfer student trying to fit in. After dad gives him some vague advice, Phil uses his interest in building radios as a converstion starter. Mike Wallace narrates. York is good, and the goofy dad, always in a three-piece suit, even when he brings Cokes to the kids in the basement, is a hoot.


Encyclopaedia Britannica, also based in Chicago’s northern burbs, had its name to trade on, but turned in this funny mess. George, a tiny fellow, wants to take Mildred, who is at least a head-and-a-half taller, to the Winter Frolic. While discussing his cold feet with his chums, the diving coach overhears and urges George to “take the plunge.” So they go to the Winter Frolic, where the children dance to music performed on piano and a lone snare drum -- sort of a proto-White Stripes. The best part is when George and Mildred are walking to the dance, in a medium two-shot. George considers conversation topics, which magically fill the ample space above his wee head -- topics such as MILDRED’S NEW DOG and COMIC BOOK. Priceless! Oh, and the diving coach? A young Studs Turkel.


Once given the MST3K treatment. John sits alone in a dark hallway, a nearby clock ticking ominously. He is sitting near a phone, waiting for a call that will decide his fate on the Student Council. through flashbacks we learn that he’s been caught cheating on his algebra test. The film is intended to elicit classroom discussion, and so ends with a big question mark. CHEATING attempts to throw some creative filmmaking into the works -- noirish, expressionistic shadows, that damn clock. From Centron studios in Kansas. Director Herk Harvey, of CARNIVAL OF SOULS fame, worked at Centron for years, doing about 400 films.


Another Centron production, this one less arty and more whacked-out. Tomboyish Cindy is hurt when she hears about a party she’s not invited to. But then her fairy godmother appears and gets Cindy all gussied up and into the shindig. There the F.G. dispenses party etiquette tips, which appear in large letters with a wave of her wand. Cindy has a grand time, but it turns out to be a dream! Cindy awakes to find that she does have a party invite after all -- the hostesses older sister (the fairy godmother!) was late in delivering it. All is well.


low-budget wizard Sid Davis was a one-time standin for John Wayne. His social guidance and safety films were relentless affairs, full of dire consequences for boys and girls who have it coming. LIVE AND LEARN may as well be Chutes and Ladders: The Movie. It’s a series of vignettes of Kids Who Should Know Better suffering Horrible Consequences. A young girl (played by Sid's daughter) uses scissors inappropirately and is impaled on them. Kids start fires with gasoline, get their eyes shot out with BB guns, and so on. Definitely a favorite of the evening.


Okay, you boys get to go to the gym and play dodgeball. Now girls, this representative from Modess (tm) has a film to show you, and she can answer any questions you may have. Important thing to note here is that one should only do moderate square dancing while having one's period. Got that? Moderate sqare dancing. Don't go nuts, ladies. The appearance of the napkin belt inspired knowing laughter or bewilderment, depending on the age pockets in the audience.


This slick color cartoon, funded by the pro-business Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, features people representing Labor, Management, Farmers, and Politicians quarreling until they meet Dr. Utopia, a snake oil salesman who offers them everything they’re looking for in a bottle of “ISM.” Fortunately, John Q. Public comes along and warns the would-be dupes to read the fine print. Capitalism wins.

Saturday, November 9, 2002

vocabulary lesson, courtesy of FOX

I am down to four TV shows: Buffy, 24, Firefly, and John Doe. Due to a pretty busy schedule, I taped them this week and only got around to watching the last three this morning. I was surprised to hear the words sanguine and/or sanguinary used in all three episodes, with definitions given on Firefly and John Doe. It's as if a suit heard sanguine used in 24, thought it beyond the ken of the average FOX viewer (and, well, yes), and quickly decided to work lessons on the Latin root sanguis into the two Friday programs.

Also, on John Doe: Hey, what kind of cool-ass bar shows CFL football in Seattle?

election stuff

Cook County may be known for voting irregularities, but not involving the butterfly ballot, apparently. We've used them ever since I've lived here, and with no glaringly obvious problems. This year there were signs all about, telling us to CAREFULLY CHECK for chads not punched all the way through. I checked mine and lo, there there two dimpled. One was for deputy dogcatcher or something, the other was for my statehouse rep.

Most amusing candidate: Stephanie "vs. The Machine" Sailor, a Libertarian running for Congress. Not amusing enough, I'm afraid. But The Bruce liked her a lot.

On the national scene: it's clear the Democrats spent too much time bitching about Nader in 2000, and not enough fixing their problems. A change in leadership will be a good thing, and was probably long overdue.

Tuesday, November 5, 2002

Ah yes, what a month. So, we had:

increased busyness at work

Chicago Film Festival movies to attend (9 of 'em)

the start of curling season

my perhaps-foolish agreement to take on webmaster duties for the curling club (I might post a link at some point)

...all of which caused further trouble due to my procrastination about TRASH questions.

But I'm mostly out of those tunnels.

Curling is going well, despite the sore back I developed Sunday while playing back-to-back games. But I think what I'm feeling now has more to do with sitting at a desk all day and my usual horrid posture than anything else. I'm in four different leagues, playing lead in three men's events and second in a mixed event. We're 2-0 in one, 0-2 in another, and 0-1 in the other two. Pretty sad Monday night, where we got six-ended in the second end (there are perhaps three people reading who know what I mean by this, and two of them live in Michigan. Trust me when I say it's not something you want to happen). We clawed our way back into the match, and forced them to make their last shot to beat us. Which they did. On a personal level, I've improved from abysmal to bad. Which is fine; there is a marked improvement -- I've gone from most rocks entirely out of play, to some rocks staying in play, to most rocks remaining in play *and* a few actually going where they're supposed to go.

Due to two byes this week, I'm off the ice until Sunday. Tomorrow and Thursday we're going to the Siskel Film Center to see three programs of Mental Hygiene shorts; those ephemeral films from the 50s through 70s. I'm hoping, but it's sure not to happen, that they have a 16mm projector in the middle of the auditorium, and that they ask for volunteers to thread it. Sunday it's Seven Samurai at the Music Box. Whooo!