Monthly Archives: June 2015

On RABBIT – and “60 is the new 30″ – (Part I)

https://www.movieposter.com/posters/archive/main/98/MPW-49400

Note the prominent “restricted” rating, for a film that would seem pretty tame these days…

 

I recently got a copy of A Sequel, “Rabbit Remembered.”

Which is another way of saying that Harry “Rabbit” Angstrom is dead.  (Heck, I didn’t even know he was sick.)   I first met Harry back in 1971, when I took a junior-college class in American literature.  One of the books was Rabbit, Run, and it made a deep impression.

Sixties Series Program thumbMore Rabbit novels followed – one at the end of each decade – and I read them all.  (One benefit was seeing how others got through the 1960s, interpreted at right.  Also the 1970s and 1980s.)  Then came  Rabbit Remembered, the novella by John Updike published in 2000.  That novella marked an end of an era – five books on Rabbit Angstrom.  (Wikipedia.)

(But see also Still Wild About Harry:  “Another decade has come and gone and here[‘s] the latest installment in the [‘Rabbit’] saga.”   The reviewer added that one hesitates to declare it the final installment, then gave a pithy synopsis of the whole series.)

The saga began in 1960 with Rabbit, Run, the only one of the five to be made a movie, as seen in the poster at the top of the page.  (It’s also very hard to find a copy.  See ‘Rabbit,’ lost.)  

As noted, a new Rabbit novel came at the end of each new decade, and so each became a time capsule, based on the density of Updike‘s writing.  (His attention to detail.)   Just to review, a time capsule is a “historic cache of goods or information, usually intended as a method of communication with future people,” and here’s what one obit said:

The detail of his writing was so rich that it inspired two schools of thought on Mr. Updike’s fiction:  those who responded to his descriptive prose as to a kind of poetry, a sensuous engagement with the world, and those who argued that it was more style than content.

The-1970sSee John Updike, Lyrical Writer of the Middle-Class, Dies at 76.  But in this case, those “future people” include us aging Baby-boomers, as we look back and wonder how the heck we survived relatively intact.  (Considering all the garbage we went through.)

The original Rabbit Run showed “three months in the life of a 26-year-old former high school basketball player named Harry ‘Rabbit’ Angstrom, and his attempts to escape the constraints of his life.”  (Wikipedia.)  But then escaping constraint was pretty much what the ’60s were about.  (The ’70s – at left – were a whole ‘nuther story…)

We’ll get back to that, but first consider what the same obit said of Updike (who died in 2009):

His best-known protagonist, Harry Rabbit Angstrom, first appears as a former high-school basketball star trapped in a loveless marriage and a sales job he hates.  Through the four novels whose titles bear his nickname — “Rabbit, Run,” “Rabbit Redux,” “Rabbit Is Rich” and “Rabbit at Rest” — the author traces the funny, restless and questing life of this middle-American against the background of the last half-century’s major events.

Which is another way of saying that the Rabbit novels are a great way to remember the major events of our formative years, from 1960 to 1999 – and then on to a New Millennium.

Again, in Rabbit Run Harry is a 26-year-old has-been whose life peaked in high school.  (He was a star basketball player and quintessential BMOC.)  Then one day at age 26 – trying to escape the “constraints of life” – he leaves his pregnant wife and infant son Nelson.  He first plans to drive south to Florida – where he eventually gets, in a sequel – but ends up bedding and moving in with Ruth Byers, a woman with a shady past.  (He gets her pregnant, and their daughter Annabelle ends up finally meeting her brother in Rabbit Remembered.)

In the midst of all this drama, Harry’s wife Janice accidentally drowns their new baby daughter, Rebecca.  Also, Harry puts the move on the Lucy Eccles, wife of the Episcopal priest trying to get him to “do the right thing.”  (It would have been nice to find out how the Eccles’ turned out – after all those years – and especially Lucy, whose “rump” Harry found so pleasant to pat…)

RabbitReduxbookcover.jpgIn Rabbit Redux, Harry gets a bit of comeuppance.  While he couldn’t keep his hands off Janice in the first novel, here she’s the one at her sexual peak.  It’s Harry who falls short in that department.  So Janice runs off to live with her lover, Charlie Stavros.  (Charlie later ends up as Harry’s only real friend – and fellow car-salesman at Springer Motors – in a sequel.)

Then Harry gets finagled into having a runaway named Jill – and her black lover Skeeter – move in with him and Nelson.  But all this is set against the rich back drop of the summer of 1969, and Neal Armstrong’s setting foot on the moon.

There’s more on that in Part II.  Meanwhile, in Rabbit is Rich, “Harry has reached a paunchy middle-age without relocating from Brewer, Pennsylvania, the poor, fictional city of his birth.”  (Actually, Reading, PA.)  The book was published in 1981, on the cusp of the decade that led to the end of the Berlin Wall…  And Rabbit is indeed rich, thanks to Janice.  (She inherited her dad’s Toyota dealership.)  But he’s also restless.  He covets the young wife of his golfing partner, while the wife of his former high-school teammate – Ronnie Harrison – has the hots for him.

Incidentally, Ronnie and Janice end up married in Rabbit Remembered.  Nelson is living with them too, in the old house Janice grew up in.  That’s until Ronnie calls Annabelle – visiting for Thanksgiving –  “the bastard child of a whore and a bum.”  (Referring to Ruth and Harry.  That dramatic turn of events leads to the novella’s denouement…  Also incidentally, Ronnie too knew Ruth in the Biblical sense back in the original, Rabbit Run.  (Which may explain his hostility.

For the rest of the story, see On RABBIT – and “60 is the new 30″ – (Part II).

 

 Who could have foreseen this, back in 1960 and the first “Rabbit” novel?

 

The upper image is courtesy of https://www.movieposter.com/poster/MPW-49400/Rabbit_Run.html.  See also Rabbit, Run (film) – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, and Rabbit, Run – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  Note also ‘Rabbit,’ lost – Reading Eagle, which said “finding a copy of Reading’s most famous feature-length film is just as hard as obtaining an interview with the novel’s elusive author.”

(And you might want to check Symbolic Rabbit Meanings…)

Re: the rating system.  See Motion Picture Association of America film rating system:  “The ratings used from 1968 to 1970 were:  Rated G: General audiences, Rated M: Mature audiences – parental guidance advised, Rated R: Restricted – admission limited to persons older than 16, unless accompanied by parent or adult guardian, and Rated X: No one younger than 16 admitted.”  In 1970 the ages for “R” and “X” were raised from 16 to 17, but regardless, the system “has had a number of high-profile critics.  Film critic Roger Ebert argued that the system places too much emphasis on sex, while allowing the portrayal of massive amounts of gruesome violence.  The uneven emphasis on sex versus violence is echoed by other critics, including David Ansen, as well as many filmmakers…”

Other sources used in writing this post included John Updike Facts, information, pictures | Encyclopedia.com, The 100 best novels: No 88 – Rabbit Redux by John Updike, In Reading, Pa., Memories and Monuments of Updike, and Rabbit at Rest – The New York Times.

 The 1960’s poster-image is courtesy of www.cecil.ebranch.info/blog/?tag=1960s-series.  See also Americans Have Changed in a Big Way Since the 1960s, for a different spin on today’s theme…

The 1970s poster-image is courtesy of www.retrowaste.com.

The lower (1980’s Berlin-wall) image is courtesy of 1980s – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The caption:  “The fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 marked the beginning of German reunification.”

On RABBIT – and “60 is the new 30” – (Part II)

http://blog.modernmechanix.com/mags/SaturdayEveningPost/2-1969/cover.jpg

The last issue of the Saturday Evening Post, published on February 8, 1969…

 

Welcome back to the “Georgia Wasp…”

We were remembering the last decades of the 20 century, as memorialized by and through John Updike’s series of five “Rabbit” novels.  (Or four novels and a novella…)

I’d noted that Janice Angstrom – by now Harry’s widow – ended up married to Ronnie Harrison in Rabbit Remembered, the last of the series.  (Thelma Harrison – Ronnie’s wife – had also died, and was one of the women with whom Harry had “an affair.”)  And not to put too fine a point on it, Harry and Ronnie had known – and hated – each other since high school, when they were teammates on the basketball squad.  (They also “shared” Ruth Byers, at different times.)

So now that your up to speed – he wrote sarcastically – let’s get back to the Rabbit is Rich time frame.  In mid-winter 1979 the Angstroms jet off to Jamaica, where they end up in an initial wife swap with two other couples.  (That’s when Harry first learns that Ronnie’s wife Thelma has the hots for him.)  But then they have to go back home before the second swap, where Harry would have “known” the wife he really wanted (Cindy Murkett).   Son Nelson is causing no end of problems at the dealership, including smashing up two trade-in convertibles.

The next sequel, Rabbit at Rest, starts with Harry and Janice spending the winter of 1988-89 at their condo in Florida.  They leave Nelson in charge of the dealership, which turns out to be a mistake.  (He’s hooked on cocaine, which leads Toyota to “pull out,” Freudian slip intended.)

Other incidents include Harry having a heart attack – based on his crappy diet – and having a one-night stand with Nelson’s wife Pru while he recuperates.  (Not to mention brief appearances by Annabelle, Harry’s daughter, who’s become a nurse’s aide.)

“Janice’s anger over this betrayal prompts Harry to escape to Florida.” (Wikipedia.)  Which leads to one inescapable conclusion:  Harry was a bit of a sleazeball, albeit loveable to some.

And finally came Rabbit Remembered, set in late 1999.  (On the eve of the New Millennium noted above. )  Harry has died – of another heart attack – while living alone in the Florida condo he “ran” to at the end of Rabbit at Rest.  Nelson is still living with his mother, and her new husband Ronnie Harrison, Harry’s old nemesis ever since high school.  Nelson’s wife Pru has taken their two children Judy and Roy back to Akron Ohio.  Then Annabelle shows up at Janice’s door; her mother Ruth has just died as well.

Aside from Ronnie calling Annabelle “the bastard child of a whore and a bum” at Thanksgiving, the saga includes a tale of childhood sexual abuse, and one of Nelson’s clients committing suicide.  (After his bout with cocaine, Nelson became a certified mental-health counselor, thanks in part to a course of study at the “Hubert F. Farnsworth Community College.”  Farnsworth was the surname of the same “Skeeter” who’d lived with Harry, Nelson and Jill in the summer of 1969.  Skeeter later died in shootout with Philadelphia police.)

To cut to the chase, the final book ends with an uncharacteristic – for Updike – note of hope.

In the rush to make the Y2K celebration, Nelson drives recklessly through an intersection – the stoplights have all gone out – and faces death in the form of a “cocky brat in a baseball cap.”  The cocky brat drives an SUV and goes out of turn at a four-way stop.  Nelson – with decades of “wrongs, hurts, unjust deaths press[ing] behind his eyes” – faces death and comes out unscathed. (As Winston Churchill – seen at right – said, “There is nothing more exhilarating than to be shot at with no result.“)  This act of bravery magically rekindles Pru’s love; “Oh honey, that was great…”  Then too, riding in the back seat are Annabelle and Nelson’s childhood friend – and part-time nemesis – Billy Fosnacht.  In the end these lost souls start “seeing each other.”

As noted, this happy ending was uncharacteristic of Updike, but aside from that the last novella was enjoyable.  And as was characteristic of Updike’s writing, the detail is so thick that I found myself skipping much of it to get to the action.  As Charles Portis might say, Updike’s writing lulls you into a sense of woolgathering, and then he socks it to you with an unexpected twist.  The result was that I went through Rabbit Remembered the first time quickly, from a sense of impatience more than anything.   But now I’ve gone back and started re-reading it, to get the full flavor of the aforementioned Updike attention to detail.

More than that, I pulled out my worn and battered copy of Rabbit Redux, now some 40 years old itself.   (I bought the 1971 “Alfred A. Knopf” edition four or five years after it was first published.)  And re-reading Rabbit Redux brought back some points I’d forgotten.

For example, on page 9 there’s a bit of foreshadowing, one of Updike’s lesser-known fortes.

It’s the summer of 1969.  Harry and his father Earl have gotten off work “from the little printing plant at four sharp.”  They have a drink at a neighborhood bar, before taking separate buses home, in opposite directions.  Earl asks his son to visit “some evening before the weekend.”  (Mary Angstrom “has had Parkinson’s Disease for years now.”)  Harry responds:

“I don’t like to leave the kid alone in the house.  In fact I better be getting back there now just in case.”  In case it’s burned down.  In case a madman has moved in.

Which is of course just what happens later in the book.  A madman – in the form of “Skeeter,” later identified by the Brewer Vat as Hubert Farnsworth – does in fact move in with Harry.  He does so at the invitation of Jill, a runaway from Connecticut.  She in turn dies in the fire set by neighbors repelled by the “goings on” in the house, after Janice had moved in with Charlie…

But a more personal tidbit comes a bit later, when father and son are settling the bar bill.  Earl Angstrom had a Schlitz beer, and tells his son, “Here’s my forty cents.  Plus a dime for a tip.”

“Are you kidding me?”

Which is being interpreted:  “Do you mean to say there once was a time when you could go into a bar, pay 40 cents for a beer and leave a dime for the tip?  And not get thrown out or insulted?”

The answer?  Rabbit Redux reminds us that, “Yes, Virginia, there was such a time.”

But the really interesting tidbit – so far – turns on Harry’s mother turning 65.  Updike wrote of Earl Angstrom that he “looks merely old” once outside the bar, “liverish scoops below his eyes, broken veins along the sides of his nose.”  When Harry asks about their finances Earl responds, “Believe it or not there’s some advantages to living so long in this day and age.  This Sunday she’s going to be sixty-five and come under Medicare.”

On Sunday Harry goes to the house with Nelson.  (Janice is at Charlie’s.)  His mother greets him:

“I’m sixty-five,” she says, groping for phrases, so that her sentences end in the middle.  “When I was twenty.  I told my boyfriend I wanted to be shot.  When I was thirty…”  “You told Pop this?”  “Not your dad.  Another.  I didn’t meet your dad til later.  This other one, I’m glad.  He’s not here to see me now.”

St Pete Florida Vintage PostcardSo notwithstanding the fact that Mary has Parkinson’s, Updike’s overall image of 65-year-olds in 1969 is of people who really are over the hill.  (“Living so long in this day and age?”  Really?)  Or as they used to say of St. Petersburg, they were in “God’s Waiting Room” (shown at left):

St. Pete became a mecca for retired people.  They flocked to the sunshine and lived in the many residential hotels in the downtown area.  The symbol of St. Pete became old people sitting on the many green benches that dotted the sidewalks of the city.

But just like 40-cent beer you could buy in 1969 (plus a dime for the tip), those days are long gone.  See for example “60 is the new 30,” and also “Why 60 Is The New 30.”  The latter post noted that the “55-64 age group has shown the largest increase in entrepreneurial ventures, now accounting for more than 20 percent of all start-ups.”  (Thus literally “starting over when our grandparents would be strolling around golf communities in Florida.”)

I should note that there is some debate on whether 60 is the new 30, or the new 40.  See Is 60 the New 40? –  which noted that what elderly “meant to the Greatest Generation doesn’t hold for their offspring, the baby boomers.”  There’s also 60, Not 50, Is The New Middle Age – Huffington Post, and New research shows 60 is the new 40 – KING5:

Increasingly, people over 60 feel more like 40, and now they have the science to back them up…   The new research argues that since life expectancy continues to rise, age 60 should not be considered old.  It’s more “middle age,” because for many, there’s a lot of living left to do after age 60, even embarking on second or third careers.

Or as you might say of the Christie Brinkley image below:  “Now that’s turning 60!

 http://img2-2.timeinc.net/people/i/2014/news/140210/christie-brinkley-300.jpgA good argument for “60 is the new 30…”

 

The upper image is courtesy of blog.modernmechanix.com/issue/?pubname=SaturdayEveningPost.

The Churchill image is courtesy of Winston Churchill – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

The Armstrong-on-the-moon photo is courtesy of 1969 – Wikipedia.

The lower image is courtesy of People magazine, www.people.com/people/article/0,,20780764,00.html.

“Great politicians sell hope”

 “Great politicians sell hope.”

June 12, 2015 – I heard that quote a few days ago, listening to a “book on CD” by Chris Matthews.  And when I first heard it I thought, “What rock have you  been living under?

But then Chris went on to cite examples from American history, in his book, Life’s a Campaign.

He wrote that looking back, our best presidents – including JFK and Ronald Reagan – were able to “sell themselves.”  They were able to sell themselves by giving Americans a sense of hope for the future.  That led to a thought:  “Maybe that’s what this blog should be about…

But then I had another thought:  “He could be right, but what happened?

What happened to those politicos selling hope?

But let’s get back to how I happened to be listening to Chris Matthews’ book-on-CD in the first place.

It all started back in December 2014, when I attended a funeral back home in Florida.  The funeral was for my step-mother, who’d married my father back in January 1986.  (After my mother died the year before; it was the second time around for both of them.)

At the reception after the service – inside the parish hall  – I saw a table of used books for sale.  I found one that piqued my interest, The Presidents Club:  Inside the World’s Most Exclusive Fraternity.  I’ve been meaning to review it ever since I started this blog.  (In March 2015.)

But one thing I’ve learned during these busy days of retirement:  It’s a whole lot easier to listen to a book on CD – driving around town – than it is to actually read it.  And that’s why I found it far easier to review Life’s a Campaign than The Presidents Club.

Again, that book-on-CD was Chris Matthew’s Life’s a Campaign “What Politics Has Taught Me about Friendship, Rivalry, Reputation, and Success.”  (The quote on “great politicians” is from Disc 2, Track 6.)  And while by now I’ve listened to most of Life’s a Campaign, I’ve only managed to read portions of The Presidents Club.

But the really strange things is – suffice it to say – that both books have given me an inkling of a sense of hope for the future.  (For example, one thing The Presidents Club pointed out was that a funeral – and especially the funeral of former president – really puts things in perspective.)

Put another way, The Presidents Club gave me a sense that – generally speaking – the men who occupied the White House have been – overall – decent, honorable and capable.  Then too, Life’s a Campaign gave me a sense that maybe the same applies to politicians in general.  (Gasp!)

But then came a third thought:  Maybe today’s politicians seem especially nasty because many voters they’re trying to woo are just that way.  Maybe today’s politicians are simply a reflection of the nastiness that seems to have taken hold of a large part of our population.

On that note, see the Wikipedia article on dichotomy.  That article included this paragraph, about two-thirds of the way down under “Usage and examples:”

C. P. Snow believes that Western society has become an argument culture (The Two Cultures).  In The Argument Culture (1998), Deborah Tannen suggests that the dialogue of Western culture is characterized by a warlike atmosphere in which the winning side has truth (like a trophy).  Such a dialogue virtually ignores the middle alternatives.

(Emphasis added.)  In turn, if that is true, then we swing voters need to figure out what a politician really stands for, beyond those nasty things he has to say to get elected.

George WallaceTake George Wallace…  Please!  Though he’s widely known as one of the most race-baiting politicians in American history, his “final term as Governor (1983–1987) saw a record number of black Alabamians appointed to government positions.”  See Did George Wallace repent his racism? | Yahoo Answers, and The Redemption of George Wallace.

The gist of the Wallace story is that he changed his tune after his attempted assassination in 1972.  But there are other examples of politicians using shady tactics during an election campaign, then going on to serve honorably.  Think “George Bush the Elder” and Willie Horton in the 1988 election.  (In hindsight Bush I comes through in history as a &^%$ genius!)

Then there’s the other side of the story.  Take Tip O’Neill and Ronald Reagan.  (Reviewing another Chris Matthews book.)  Or for that matter Ronald Reagan and Ted Kennedy.

http://inapcache.boston.com/universal/site_graphics/blogs/bigpicture/kennedy_08_31/k15_20120853.jpgEven though the two men were politic arch-enemies, Kennedy admired the fact that Reagan “knew how to manipulate symbols for his causes yet could sup with his enemies:”

He’s absolutely professional.  When the sun goes down, the battles of the day are really gone.  He gave the Robert Kennedy Medal, which President Carter refused to do…   He’s very sure of himself, and I think that people sense that he’s comfortable with himself…   He had a philosophy and he’s fought for it.  There’s a consistency and continuity at a time when many others are flopping back and forth.  And that’s an important and instructive lesson for politicians, that people admire that.

(Bronner, 104)  Which brings us back to Harry Golden and his Carolina Israelite.  See also Great but Forgotten:  “If Golden were writing today, The Carolina Israelite would be done as a blog.”

Golden – who inspired this blog – wrote from 1942 to 1968.  Those years included McCarthyism Vietnam War protests, and the Civil Rights Movement.  Those years featured violence and political rhetoric of a harshness equal to or greater than that of today.  Yet throughout it all, Golden kept a sense of hope and a sense of humor.  (As in his satirical “Vertical Negro Plan,” which involved “removing the chairs from any to-be-integrated building, since Southern Whites didn’t mind standing with Blacks, only sitting with them.”)

Even the title of his best-selling Only in America conveyed a sense of hope and wonder:

The most outstanding ingredients of [Golden’s] personality are a built-in independent way of thinking, an infallible nose for sham and prejudice on any level (which he immediately exposes, lightly but decisively), a special Golden brand of wit and whimsy, and a love of people and learning…   “It could happen only in America,” is his most apt comment.

Carl Sandburg wrote in his introduction to the 1959 edition that “whatever is human interests Harry Golden.  Honest men, crooks, knuckleheads…”  He added that Golden was the perfect antidote for “too much of conformity and complacency, particularly among the young.” (OIA, xv-xvi.   Also on that note see Seinfeld takes on political correctness on college campuses.)

Sandurg further noted that it must have been someone like Golden who was “in the mind of the Yankee, Ralph Waldo Emerson, who wrote:  ‘Whoso would be a man must be a nonconformist.'”

Golden himself said he drew “heavily on history, literature, philosophy,” in addition to “stories of the Lower East Side of New York where I was born.”  And he didn’t present a simplistic Pollyanna view of history, either his own or as it happened before his eyes.  Aside from those turbulent times he lived in, Golden went through five years in prison on an “embezzlement rap” – wire fraud.  Yet through it all he maintained a sense of hope and humor:  “As I continue to write of the passing parade, I am as happy as a mouse in a cookie jar.” (OIA, xx.)

All of which brings us back to the old saying noted in the Peanuts cartoon above, that in “bad times or hopelessness, it is more worthwhile to do some good, however small, in response than to complain about the situation.”  See also Better to light a single candle.  And that great bloggers – like great politicians – should work harder on “selling hope.”

That’s what this blog will try to do.  Harry Golden, “The torch has passed

 

http://www.notable-quotes.com/h/hope_quote.jpg

 

The “stupid darkness” cartoon is courtesy of You Stupid Darkness! | Kurtis Scaletta’s Site, which in turn links to comics.com/peanuts, “one of the most amazing but little-known Internet resources.”  See also lightasinglecandle.wordpress.com, and The 5 Greatest (newspaper) Comic Strips Of All Time.

The Matthews image is courtesy of Chris Matthews – Wikipedia.  For more on the audio version of his book, see Chris Matthews Audio & Video – LearnOutLoud.com, and/or Life’s a Campaign.

Re: Funerals and “perspective.”  See Reminders death provides about what’s really important in life.

Re: “argument culture.”  The full title of Deborah Tannen‘s book is The Argument Culture: Stopping America’s War of Words.  Tannen wrote an earlier book, You Just Don’t Understand: Women and Men in Conversation (1990).  According to Amazon, in that earlier book “Tannen showed why talking to someone of the opposite sex can be like talking to someone from another world.”

The George Wallace picture is courtesy of The American Experience | George Wallace:

In March, 1965, a violent confrontation between Alabama state troopers and peaceful civil rights marchers horrified the nation. The troops that beat and tear-gassed the demonstrators were under orders from Governor George Wallace…   Thirty years later, George Wallace would sit next to the podium at a ceremony commemorating the Selma-to-Montgomery civil rights march, holding the hand of the president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.

Re:  “Take George Wallace…  Please!”  This refers to a classic Henny Youngman joke.  Youngman (1906-1998) was known for his one-liners, and his best-known was ‘Take my wife… please.’”   Henny Youngman – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  For more on the technique illustrated, see below.

Re: Willie Horton.  See also Willie Horton – Top 10 Campaign Ads – TIME and The legacy of the Willie Horton ad lives on, 25 years later.

Re:  Ted Kennedy on Ronald Reagan.  See Battle for Justice: How the [Robert] Bork Nomination Shook America, by Ethan Bronner, Anchor Book edition (1989), at page 104.  The Reagan-Kennedy image is courtesy of www.boston.com/bigpicture/2009/08/senator_ted_kennedy.

Re: “the torch has passed.”  See The elements of styling a great inaugural address: , noting that in 1961, President Kennedy gave “what is considered to be one of the greatest inaugural addresses.”

The lower image is courtesy of  www.notable-quotes.com/h/hope_quotes_ii.

 

Re: More on the Henny Youngman joke.  The joke relied on the principle of dislocation, used in comedy as well as magic and the martial arts. See, Shinogi – Budotheory.ca, which noted three types of dislocation: positional, temporal, and functional.  And a magician is also known as an illusionist.  See the Wikipedia article, Magic (illusion) – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, and also Alex Davies – Dislocation.  Finally, see The Internet Classics Archive | The Art of War by Sun Tzu, which noted the saying of Sun Tzu (q.v.), the ancient Chinese philosopher who said, “The fundamental principle of the Art of War is deception,” or in other words, dislocating your opponent.

So anyway, in the classic one-liner – told literally “a century ago” – the audience was led to expect Youngman to say “for example” when he began; as in, “Take my wife… for example.”  But instead of saying “for example,” Youngman dislocated his audience by saying, “Take my wife…  Please!

See also On praying in public.

On “Entourage,” the movie

 

 

The “characters of Entourage…”

 

 

 

 

Welcome to the “Georgia Wasp…”

The name of the blog alludes to the Carolina Israelite.  (Get it?)

Note that I’ll do mostly film reviews, and also good reads, good music, and – from time to time – politics and politicians.  (For a recent post of musical interest see “On Pink Floyd….”)

In the meantime:

Mi Dulce and I went to see the new film Entourage.  (Mostly because she wanted to.)

Let’s put it this way:  If we’d gone to the Carmike and paid the $6.75-apiece matinee price, it might have been worth the price of admission.  Instead we went to the more-expensive AMC mall theater, and paid their more-expensive $10.75 apiece.  (Mostly because she wanted to.)

With that in mind, I’d say the film wasn’t worth the price of that admission.  (Let alone the added $13 for popcorn and soda.)  On the other hand, when reviewing a film I’ve always tried to say something nice, even if I didn’t like it.  That started back in the 1970s when I did reviews for my college newspaper.  Back then I followed a “one-third, two-thirds” rule.  A good film got good words for two-thirds of the review, “not so good” for the remaining one-third, and vice versa.

So here’s the positive third:  Entourage is to Hollywood what A Few Good Men was to the world of the Marine Corps and Birdman was to Broadway actors:

Birdman is to Broadway actors what A Few Good Men was to the Marine Corps and the military justice system.  It gives a fascinating, inside view of the world of [those] Broadway actors.  (Which alone makes it well worth the $10.68 that “we” paid to get the tickets, but not worth the extra $13.29 for the one large soda and large popcorn…)

See On “Birdman,” the movie.  (Which could be another way of saying that theater “treats” – like popcorn and soda – are just way over-priced.)  But the strange this was that by the time the  movie ended, we almost felt like we’d gotten our money’s worth.

Which is another way of saying the first half-hour of the film challenges your intelligence.

Note first that according to Wikipedia, “Entourage is a 2015 American comedy-drama,” a sequel to the “HBO TV series of the same name,” featuring the same stars:

The series … chronicles the acting career of Vincent Chase, a young A-list movie star, and his childhood friends from Queens … as they navigate the unfamiliar terrain of Los Angeles…  Mark Wahlberg and Stephen Levinson served as the show’s executive producers, and its premise is loosely based on Wahlberg’s experiences as an up-and-coming film star.  The series deals with themes of male friendship and real-life situations in modern-day Hollywood.

So like I said, Entourage was to Hollywood what Birdman was to Broadway actors.

The plot turns on Vince and his “former agent-turned-studio head Ari Gold” working together on a new film, a “risky project that will serve as Vince’s directorial debut.”

You should know that according to Rotten Tomatoes, only 30% of the critics liked the movie, while 80% of the audience liked it.  (Wikipedia said the movie “received generally negative reviews from critics, and has grossed over $17 million,” since it’s release on June 3.)  The “RT” consensus was that the film “retains many elements of the HBO series, but feels less like a film than a particularly shallow, cameo-studded extended episode of the show.”

Which brings up one big thing that was enjoyable.

Remember the old Alfred Hitchcock movies where he appeared in a cameo?   (See List of Alfred Hitchcock cameo appearances – Wikipedia, including the image at left.)  The fun part was watching the beginning of his movies, to see when he “popped-up.”

There’s a lot of that in Entourage as well.  Wikipedia listed some 50 such cameos, including but not limited to Tom Brady, Warren Buffett, Gary Busey, David Spade, George Takei, Russell Wilson,  and Mark Wahlberg.  The cameos alone were enough to keep you from falling asleep.  (Which I did when we saw the movie Aloha the week before last.  But I woke up in time to mumble, “He’s gonna blow it up.”  That was right before the scene where “Brian and Ng hold hands as the rocket is ruined and explodes.”)

Did I mention that I was a film minor in college?  (See About than “Wasp” name.)

So anyway, the Mark Wahlburg cameo brings up ‘Entourage’ Star Mark Wahlberg Reveals His Own Real-life Entourage.  Basically, his entourage kept him grounded, he said:

The former rapper and model credits his own real-life entourage for his success in Hollywood, saying “I wanted people around me whom I could trust.”  He says: “We’ve enjoyed this great friendship and camaraderie over the years.  It’s good to be faithful to your roots.  It keeps you grounded and reminds you that even though you may have more money and a certain stature, your friends will always know who you really are.”

Of course it must be added that this was after a “chequered history, including drug addiction, crime and emprisonment.”  On a positive note, Wahlburg doesn’t try to hide that history…

But we digress.   The point is that an entourage is defined as agroup of attendants or associates, as of a person of rank or importance.”  Synonyms include retinue, following, cortege, escort.  And the point of the movie is that an entourage is a good thing to have.  

So, borrowing from Rotten Tomatoes, the thing to remember is that the film is rated R for “pervasive language, strong sexual content, nudity and some drug use.”  (As an artist, I must say that I personally enjoyed the “celebration of feminine pulchritude.”)  Or as one reviewer said:

There’s precious little effort made to adapt a Hollywood that is evolving away from the era when bros would be bros and women existed mainly to stand around in tiny bikinis.

Which is another way of saying:  Sure it’s fluff, but it’s enjoyable fluff.

And one final word.  The movie starts slow and pretty much insults your intelligence.  Then too, the film’s denouement was pretty lame.  Vince and his buddies spent most of the movie worrying about getting financed by the Billy Bob Thornton character and his idiot son.  But as it turned out, when Billy Bob pulled the plug, they had enough money on their own to finance the “risky project that will serve as Vince’s directorial debut.”

But by the end of the movie – in an exercise of pure American stick-to-itiveness – both my partner and I found that we liked it.  (We’re both saps for happy endings.)  Somehow, some way – maybe it was the cameos – the plot held together enough to make it all work.

I just wished that I’d paid the Carmike matinee price…

 

 A former badass who turned his life around…

 

The upper image is courtesy of the TV series of the same name link in the Wikipedia article on the film The caption:  “The main characters of Entourage. From left to right: Ari Gold (Jeremy Piven), Eric ‘E’ Murphy (Kevin Connolly), Vincent ‘Vince’ Chase (Adrian Grenier), Turtle (Jerry Ferrara) and Johnny ‘Drama’ Chase (Kevin Dillon).

Re: price of admission.  See also pay to play.

Re: Hitchcock cameos.  The full caption in the Wikipedia article was:  “In To Catch a Thief (1955), Hitchcock appears as the bus passenger on the right.”  See also Watch Alfred Hitchcock Make Cameo Appearances in 37 of His Films.

For other views, see Entourage (2015) – IMDb and “Entourage” the Movie – Who Cares?

Re:  Mark Wahlburg’s “chequered history.”  See Mark Wahlberg – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, which noted that he is an American actor, producer, former model and rapper, to wit:  “frontman with the band Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch.”

Wahlberg was addicted to cocaine and other drugs by age 13.  He was later charged with attempted murder, for separate assaults on African-American children and two Vietnamese men.  He pleaded guilty to assault and was sentenced to two years in Suffolk County Deer Island House of Correction, but ultimately served only 45 days.  There were other incidents as well, but after “going to prison for assault, he decided to improve his behavior.”

“I was there, locked up … and I realized it wasn’t what I wanted at all.  I’d ended up in the worst place I could possibly imagine and I never wanted to go back.  First of all, I had to learn to stay on the straight and narrow.”

The lower image is courtesy of Mark Wahlberg: ‘My faith in God makes me a better man’, an article in Christian Today.  (Not to be confused with “Christianity Today.”)  Christian Today is a non-denominational Christian news company, with its international headquarters in London, England.”  See Wikipedia, the free encyclopediaRecent articles of possible interest include Why the Duggars serve as a warning against fundamentalist Christianity, and  Is it OK to be angry with God?