Monday, May 16, 2016

Clyde’s Movie Palace: Cool Hand Luke (1967)




Directed by Stuart Rosenberg
Screenplay by Donn Pierce and Frank Pierson


Having had the advantage of reading Donn Pearce's novel about a year before seeing Cool Hand Luke, it was with great anticipation that I awaited it's transfer to the big screen. It was one of those books that could make you laugh out loud through one chapter then send you into a state of depression a few pages later.

Cool Hand Luke could easily have been your typical by the numbers prison yarn. You know the drill. A mean despicable warden and his guards spend most of their time beating down and torturing the inmates whenever the opportunity arises until the inmates riot, escape, or play a game of football and justice prevails.

Cool Hand Luke  manages to go beyond that type of generic prison yarn. Aided by a smart screenplay by Donn Pearce (who also penned the novel) and Frank Pierson,  meticulously directed by Stuart Rosenberg, and two unforgettable performances by Paul Newman as Luke Jackson and George Kennedy as Dragline, Luke succeeds on almost every level.  There is no paint by numbers here.  Instead we get a memorable film filled with some terrific performances that have lost none of their impact almost 50 years later.

Lucas Jackson refuses to conform to the rules and sometimes unnecessary often hypocritical regulations forced upon him. In prison or out, there are always rules and regulations which Luke seems to be butting heads with. It's not that he's a bad person in the sense that he would go out and murder and maim someone. 

He wants to be able to be free and to live life in his own way without being boxed in. He views society as having instituted many rules with no real purpose in mind.  It seems to him that many regulations exist simply because somebody with a lot of free time on their hands decided it was a good idea to make more regulations because making one rule is never enough.

When you were growing up, how often after questioning your parents as to why you couldn't do something, they answered,"Because I said so."

How often have you bumped heads with any law, rule, and regulation and said aloud, "That's the dumbest thing I've ever heard of."  But you obey the rule anyway.

And that's how Luke pretty much views the world.  He can never reconcile the notion of being cornered or boxed in so that he can become the type of person society wants him to be instead of just being free to be himself and enjoy life.

When a very intoxicated Luke is arrested for cutting heads off parking meters, his explanation to the prison captain (Strother Martin) is "Small Town, not much to do in the evening", which would have us believe he was just being drunk and stupid.

Later, to one of the other inmates he mutters the same answer, but importantly adds "just settlin’ some old scores.”

It is a small but important moment that defines  Luke beyond just being drunk and damaging public property. He doesn't break the rules just because he can, he does so only when there is a reason to. All alcohol does is give him the right push to just say “fuck it” and I’m going to do what I need to do. 

As a service man, we also discover that Luke won a bronze star, silver star, two purple hearts, achieved the rank of sergeant but still came out as a buck private. Again, early evidence that Luke is willing to follow the regulations up until those regulations are deemed useless. You don't become a sergeant and win a bronze star if you don't at least try to fit in and obey the rules in some manner.  And we can only speculate that perhaps Luke found himself playing toy soldier, nothing more than a pawn of the powers that be, and decided he was no longer interested in playing those games.  Better to be a private and be yourself.

When Luke and several other inmates are settling in on their first day, Carr the Floorwalker, runs off a litany of rules as if he is reciting the Catholic Mass in Latin:

Carr:

Them clothes got laundry numbers on them. You remember your number and always wear the ones that has your number. Any man forgets his number spends a night in the box. These here spoons you keep with you. Any man loses his spoon spends a night in the box. There's no playing grab-ass or fighting in the building. You got a grudge against another man, you fight him Saturday afternoon. Any man playing grab-ass or fighting in the building spends a night in the box. First bell's at five minutes of eight when you will get in your bunk. Last bell is at eight. Any man not in his bunk at eight spends the night in the box. There is no smoking in the prone position in bed. To smoke you must have both legs over the side of your bunk. Any man caught smoking in the prone position in bed... spends a night in the box. You get two sheets. Every Saturday, you put the clean sheet on the top... the top sheet on the bottom... and the bottom sheet you turn in to the laundry boy. Any man turns in the wrong sheet spends a night in the box. No one will sit in the bunks with dirty pants on. Any man with dirty pants on sitting on the bunks spends a night in the box. Any man don't bring back his empty pop bottle spends a night in the box. Any man loud talking spends a night in the box. You got questions, you come to me. I'm Carr, the floor walker. I'm responsible for order in here. Any man don't keep order spends a night in...

Luke: ...the box.

Carr: I hope you ain't going to be a hard case.
TThe box looms large. It is not just a tool of punishment, it is an instrument for breaking ones spirit. For The Captain, punishment alone doesn't bring satisfaction, but breaking down the will of those he oversees does.

It is clear from the beginning that Luke's main desire is to serve his two years and then get the hell out. And while he may bend and work around the rules, he never shows any intention of doing anything that will get him more time. During a visit from his mother Arletta (Jo Van Fleet):
Luke:   I tried to live always free and above board like you but I can't seem to find no elbow room".
Arletta: Why, we always thought you was strong enough to carry it. Was we wrong?
Luke:   I don't know. Well, things are just never the way they seem, Arletta, you know that. A man's just gotta go his own way.
During his final visit with Arletta, we find out more about Luke’s past.  He is most like his father (whom he never met) and was favored by his mother over her other son growing up.  Undoubtedly he was spoiled and use to doing and having things his own way.

When push comes to shove and Luke is boxed into a corner, he instinctively pushes back. After receiving word that Arletta has passed away, Luke is put into the box for several days.   It is not because he has done anything wrong.  It is supposedly done to keep him from trying to escape to go to his mother’s funeral.  But we know better. 

Luke has already shown he’s pretty much a free spirit, and it was time for The Captain and his Bosses to show Luke that individuality cannot and will not be tolerated.  The death of his mother was just a flimsy excuse to exercise that power.
 
It is ironic that it is the injustice of the punishment that is the trigger causing Luke to finally formulate an escape plan he probably never would have undertaken otherwise.  As he tells one guard when he is going into the box, "calling it your job don't make it right, Boss."

Of course there are the other inmates. Some of them wear chains, some of them do not. It is something that director Stuart Rosenberg, emphasizes early and throughout the film. We understand quickly that sooner or later you conform. You either walk the line the way the bosses tell you to, or they will find the means to get you to walk the line. As the Captain reiterates, "for your own good, you'll learn the rules"

When they are on work details, the inmates don’t walk, talk, piss, shit, drink water, or even wipe the sweat off their brow without getting permission.

What we discover about the lives of the other inmates is minuscule, despite that each and every one have their own distinct idiosyncrasies and personalities.

One is jailed for manslaughter after hitting a pedestrian with his car, another is a paper hanger, another new inmate is charged with breaking, entering and assault. The nature of their crimes is unimportant to us. It enables us to view these prisoners as men, and while we don't always feel any genuine sympathy for them, feeling disgusted by their crimes would have been a distraction from the true purpose of Pearce's story, with Luke as the focal point.  In our society, any punishment fits any crime, whether the punishment is warranted, even handed,  if it steps over the line, or in some cases whether the person was truly guilty or not.  To dwell on guilt or innocence of any of these prisoners would have muddied the waters, and given some people reason to justify their treatment at the hands of the Captain and his guards. 

Because of his willingness not to give in or go down easy, it doesn't take Luke long before he unexpectedly becomes a hero to the other inmates. It is not a role he chooses, or even wants. 

The other men see in Luke the spirit that they have had driven out of them over days of endless road work and nights of never ending drudgery in the steaming Southern heat. It unexpectedly imposes the burden on Luke of having to live up to the almost mythical expectations of the other inmates. He never truly understands the nature of this hero worship, and would be just as happy if he didn't have to deal with it.

It is Dragline(George Kennedy) who firmly establishes that Cool Hand Luke is a man who can not be beaten. In the novel it is Dragline who is narrating the story.  It is not until the end of the film that we become aware that we are actually viewing the events in the past tense as Dragline tells Luke’s story.

Dragline's admiration for Luke seems to extend from the fact that he (Dragline) has learned the rules on how to get by, but yet regrets having lost some of his own individuality in the process. When he beats Luke to a bloody pulp in a boxing match and Luke refuses to fold, he finally understands that in this particular prison camp, Luke is one of a kind.

Dragline has adopted Luke as he would a son. He is the rest of the inmates in microcosm. Dragline was the role of a lifetime for Kennedy, and he was never better than he is here and it won him the best supporting actor award for his work.

Cool Hand Luke is not without it's humorous moments especially in the early going. It is these moments that help move the film from the early stages to the darker later stages where after a while just like Luke, we can foresee the inevitable climax.

In translating his novel to the screen Donn Pearce along with Frank Pierson, has managed to bring the heart and soul of his work to the big screen. Lalo Schifrin's memorable score emphasizes often the repeated drudgery of working on the chain gang, the playfulness of the egg eating frenzy, and is used to especially great effect during the escape sequences. Director Stuart Rosenberg made more good films after Cool Hand Luke, but in my opinion never achieved the same degree of honesty in film making that he does here.

As Cool Hand Luke, Paul Newman gives one of the most memorable performances in a long and distinguished career. It is not an easy task portraying a man who travels the road from being a sincere individualist, to a man who may be beaten and defeated, yet in the end is still unwilling to accept that fate.

Although Rod Steiger won the best actor award that year, one could argue that Newman's role was in many ways more difficult, as it required substantially different subtle ranges in character but it is the flashy performances like the one Steiger gave in In The Heat of the Night that usually are rewarded. I certainly do not mean to take anything away from Steiger's performance as Gillespie.  But after many years, I think Newman’s work holds up just as well.

I'm at a loss to explain that the failure and extraordinary malfunction of Cool Hand Luke to achieve at least a Best Picture Nomination, especially when the likes of the totally crappy Doctor Doolittle, and the vastly over rated Guess Who's Coming To Dinner were nominated for the award.  But the Oscars have never been the last word on anything when it comes to quality and is far from being the final say in such matters.

Toward the end of the film Luke is in a church and just as he did earlier during a rainstorm, he stops to talk to the man upstairs:

Anybody here? Hey, Old Man. You home tonight? Can You spare a minute. It's about time we had a little talk. I know I'm a pretty evil fellow... killed people in the war and got drunk... and chewed up municipal property and the like. I know I got no call to ask for much... but even so, You've got to admit You ain't dealt me no cards in a long time. It's beginning to look like You got things fixed so I can't never win out. Inside, outside, all of them... rules and regulations and bosses. You made me like I am. Now just where am I supposed to fit in? Old Man, I gotta tell You. I started out pretty strong and fast. But it's beginning to get to me. When does it end? What do You got in mind for me? What do I do now? Right. All right.

And moments later, when the guards and the captain show up, we instinctively know what they will never understand. It is the same thing that Dragline came to understand about Luke.

You can beat a man down until he finally capitulates, but you can never take away his soul.

Cool Hand Luke is a remarkable film, and it is one of my all time favorites. And when it comes to giving out grades to my favorites I have no choice but to give a really cool A+.

Cool Hand Luke is available from Warner Home Video on DVD and Blu-ray from Warner Home Video.  The screen captures used in this review are taken from the excellent transfer of the film to the blu-ray format and I recommend that.

If interested, turn off your adblock and use the Amazon ads to help me out a bit.  Thanks.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

No Oscars For Me Tonight. I have better things to do like sticking needles in my toenails.

I almost gave some thought to live blogging the Oscars this year,  but I can't get even remotely interested to care enough to do some passive star watching let alone write about it for almost four hours. 

Most of the nominees are nothing more than pretentious self-absorbed snoozy doozy art films which enable the elitist of the Academy and the internet cabal of those pretending they are members of that group, to tell us what's really good for us.  In other words, they want your dollars for the terrifically made Candy Bar but they'll only reward the overpriced soufflĂ©.  No thanks.

I don't know why so many of the excellent "entertainment films” continually get crapped on.  It's a sin to entertain an audience I suppose. Or do the quality of these films suddenly take a dive with each 100 million in box office gross they ring up?  To be up for an award these days your film has to be able to induce you into taking a nap about 15 minutes in when you wake up to hear the newest Oscar nominated song playing over the end credits.

Guardians of the Galaxy had a 91 per cent rating at Rotten tomatoes.  I could make a damn strong case that The Hunger Games series which is continually crapped on by Hollywood Elite and Film Snobs alike is just as relevant and that it's dark themes regarding war, the price we pay, and the inner political manipulations,  is every bit as important as any of the insomnia curing nominees trotted out this year.  But gee, with such massive audiences how could Hunger Games actually have a message to deliver?  According to Hollywood, any cinematic achievement with a box off of over $20 million dollar doesn’t deserve anything more than to be frowned on, ridiculed, ignored or all of the above.

More evidence:  Trade papers who went out of their way to proclaim that The Hunger Games was going to be a box office failure, yet went on to become the highest grossing film of 2014 even beating Guardians of the Galaxy.  But one thing we do well in this country is to bring down and make a failure out of that which is successful.  Lionsgate is laughing all the way to the bank.

And I’m not the only one who feels this way.  From Variety:

The fact that “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay — Part 1” isn’t being heralded as a contender in the best picture race is ridiculous. The box office juggernaut, which opened to $123 million over the weekend, is precisely the reason why the category was expanded in 2010 to include up to 10 nominees. Yes, “Mockingjay—Part 1” is the third movie based on a popular three-book series divided into two parts for financial gain, but director Francis Lawrence pulls it off. And the Academy owes the franchise, after it foolishly didn’t nominate last year’s “Catching Fire” for anything. Not even best song.

The truth is, the Oscars need “The Hunger Games” more than the series need the Oscars. It’s not that the Oscars should mimic the MTV Movie Awards. But at the same time, the ceremony is at risk of looking like a day-late shadow of the Independent Spirits Awards. Every single major winner at the last Oscars (with the exception of Alfonso Cuaron) had picked up a Spirit Award just before the telecast.

And, in the past decade, the Academy has given the best picture Oscar to a studio film only three times. Despite the expansion of the best picture race to include more populist titles, Oscar voters frequently give those extra slots to arthouse favorites like “Nebraska,” “Tree of Life” and “Amour.” So far, this year’s best picture competition is again shaping up to be another indie race — with frontrunners “Boyhood,” “The Imitation Game,” “Theory of Everything,” “Birdman” and “Foxcatcher.” This is a problem, because fewer hits among the list of nominees generally means fewer viewers watch the Oscars.

“The Hunger Games: Mockingjay” is a blockbuster that’s good enough to be considered art. It’s an impressive accomplishment to keep a beloved franchise fresh, from the script (by Peter Craig and Danny Strong, which delicately builds on Suzanne Collin’s final book) to the special effects, cinematography and sound. In an industry that rarely allows women to headline blockbusters, Jennifer Lawrence delivers yet another layered performance as Katniss — every bit as rich and nuanced as her Oscar-winning role in “Silver Linings Playbook.” In a weak year for lead female performances in movies, why isn’t she being talked about like Meryl Streep (“Into the Woods”) or Rosamund Pike (“Gone Girl”)?

Of course, the writer was ignored and excoriated in the comments section and if anybody really cared about what I wrote, I’m sure the same thing would happen here.

The best reviewed animated film of the year  and one of the best reviewed films of the year, The Lego Movie, wasn't even nominated in the animation category, while two unknown foreign animated films that nobody gives a shit about, The Tale of the Princess Kaguya and Song of the Sea were trotted out instead.   Saw the trailer for Song of the Sea and it absolutely looks is if it was animated by the guys at South Park.  Sorry, not interested in screen doodles in this day and age.  It absolutely makes no sense.

And it’s very hard even for the Oscars to muck up the documentary category, but they manage to do so anyway and this year is no exception.  They nominated the let’s fellate Ed Snowden Documentary Citizen Four.  That would have happened regardless of how propagandistic or crappy the movie was. It was inevitable.

I can hear the speeches now:  Snowden, Snowden, Snowden, NSA, NSA, Pardon, Pardon, Pardon, Snowden, Pardon, Pardon Pardon.  All the while they’ll forget that this traitorous narcissist bastard lied about his intentions from the get-go, exaggerated much of his other claims, and then headed over to Russia to give that great defender of human rights and privacy, Vladimir Putin, a rim job.  Make me vomit.

Meanwhile, the documentary on Roger Ebert, Life Itself, wasn’t  nominated.  This was a terrific documentary about a guy who probably did more to convince audiences to see exactly the kind of bologna covered hot air exercises nominated this year than anybody on the planet.  Ebert in fact, did more to bringing critical viewing to the masses than this entire auditorium of tuxedo clad “ain’t we just great” crowd.  The only explanation is that many of these people aren’t over some of his more scathing reviews.  Talk about carrying a grudge.

Don’t even get me started on best song.  In my recent memory, no song has ever been as important to a film as The Hanging Tree was to Mockingjay but it wasn’t even considered.  So we have more pointless songs up there being sung that add nothing to the films that spawned them. 

The only smart thing they did this year was hire Neil Patrick Harris.  And I might have watched just for him to see if he could make a silk purse out of pig droppings.  But then I think back to the final season of How I Met Your Mother and his part in that mess and I’m not in a forgiving mood.

The Oscars are pretty much a waste of time.  Writing this was probably a waste of time.  But I started writing a few things on Facebook that turned into a lot of things and here we are. 

Maybe next year will be better, but that’ll happen  only if people quit watching this annual ode to Sominex in its current state.  Most of the income the Academy has comes from the sponsors and the network broadcast of their annual masturbating extravaganza.  Don’t watch, ratings go down, sponsors don’t pay, Network doesn’t want to donate as much to the coffers of the Academy, and then maybe, just maybe, they’ll get the message that making an entertaining high quality film is not a crime.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Rambo…..and friends.


 

Sylvester Stallone doesn't get older. He only gets more wrinkles. Just when you thought it was safe to go back into the jungle...or wherever, here comes Rambo: Last Blood.

And it looks like Rocky may be coming back as well. This time as a trainer for Apollo Creed's Grandson.

No word on if Gabe Walker will be climbing Mt. Everest in the near future. Come to think of it, I think Michelle Joyner may still be falling and hasn't landed as of yet. There may still be time for Gabe to race down the mountain to catch her, but only if he hurries.

If you've never seen Cliffhanger you'll have no idea what I'm talking about so that's on you.

Variety:

After months of speculation, Sylvester Stallone has finally announced the title for the fifth (and seemingly final) “Rambo” movie, “Rambo: Last Blood.”

The actor simply tweeted earlier this week that he’ll be filming a gangster biopic about Gregory “the Grim Reaper” Scarpa after shooting “Rambo: Last Blood.”
Seven years have passed since Stallone last reprised the role of Vietnam vet John Rambo. The last film, “Rambo,” earned $113 million worldwide.

Since 2008, he’s talked about both retiring the character (who first appeared in David Morrell’s 1972 novel “First Blood”) for good and bringing him back for a last hurrah. Stallone apparently decided on the latter as he’ll be writing and directing and “Rambo: Last Blood,” in addition to starring in the film.

Stallone will be returning to another familiar franchise this month. He also tweeted that he’s headed to Philadelphia to play Rocky Balboa for the seventh time in director Ryan Coogler’s “Creed.” He’ll play the trainer of Apollo Creed’s grandson, portrayed by Michael B. Jordan. Coogler last directed Jordan in 2013’s critically acclaimed “Fruitvale Station.”

Celebrity Apprentice

I don’t know why I thought that this stupid, idiotic, pointless, show was finished.  Going over the television listings, I see it is still with us proving once again that there are literally millions of brainless vacuum brained people out there who would watch a squirrel eat nuts if you put it on top of someone’s head.  Any hope I had for mankind left the building a long time ago, and a seventh season of Celebrity Apprentice won’t bring it back.

C’mon people, quit being The Stupid.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

The Return of Shane (1966)

 

When it comes to classic TV, you never know what show is going to hop out of the vault and make it onto DVD.  Or in some cases, whether a classic series is being left to waste away in the vault.  (I’m looking at you Disney and those classic shows from World of Color/Disney).   Some series you think should be released never are, and some you didn't think would ever see the light of day again,  end up in the marketplace. 

That’s how I would categorize this release.  Shane, based on the classic movie from 1953 that starred Alan Ladd, Van Heflin, Jean Arthur, and Brandon De Wilde.  It ran less than one full season (10 episodes), and starred the late David Carradine and the late Jill Ireland who was married to both David McCallum of NCIS and Charles Bronson.  Carradine would go on to star in the Wester/Martial Arts mix known as Kung Fu, a series that had a three season run in the seventies.(Don’t mistake it for the remake which also starred Carradine).

The only thing I can tell you is that at the time, I thought it was a really good show, although I have no memory of individual episodes.  I think its short run had more to do with some pretty heavy competition, and the fact that it was a more quiet story driven Western then the usual shoot ‘em up people were used to.  Unfortunately it also came at a time when the popularity of Westerns was just beginning to fade.

The series premiered in 1966,
and holds a lofty 7.1 rating on the IMDB.  So obviously somebody besides me remembers it. 

While people continue to moan and groan about theatrical classics wasting away, there is hardly anything said about the many hundreds and hundreds of television series that are crumbling in some vault.  Many are gone forever.  These shows deserve better.  These shows tell as much about who we are and who we were as a nation at any given point in our history.  And for just about anybody, this stuff is all new material since you’ve never seen it before, and all of it is a million times better and more fulfilling then turning into the endless reality bullshit cranked out like so much waste products these days.

As for Shane, the price is hovering between $14 and $16.  That averages out to about $1.40 an episode.

These TV shows are heavy with guest appearances by well known actors and actresses, some who would go on to win many movie and TV awards.  For instance, guests appearing in Shane include Robert Duvall, Wayne Rogers, James Whitmore, Diane Ladd, Charles Grodin, J.D. Cannon, J. Pat O’Malley, Daniel J. Travanti, Constance Ford, Joseph Campanella and many more.

If you’re interested either click the picture or use the ad (turn off adblock).  I’ve already ordered mine and release date is in March.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

What Do These Songs Have In Common?


1. Mistletoe and Wine, Sir Cliff Richard (1988)
2. Blue Christmas, Shakin' Stevens (1985)
3. Christmas Wrapping, The Waitresses (1981)
4. Little Saint Nick, The Beach Boys (1963)
5. All I Want For Christmas Is You, Mariah Carey (1994)
6. When A Child Is Born, Jonny Mathis (1972)
7. Christmas Time (Don’t Let the Bells End), The Darkness (2003)
8. Do They Know It’s Christmas? Band Aid 20 (2004)
9. Merry Christmas Baby, Mae West (1960)
10. Wonderful Christmas, Paul McCartney (1979)


I guess it depends on your taste in music.  But these were the ten finalists in a most hated Christmas Songs contest held in 2013 by the British coffee house chain, Costa Coffee.  I ran across this list because I was looking up some information on song number one, Cliff Richard’s Mistletoe and Wine, a Christmas tune I was unfamiliar with but was going to add to my collection which tells you a lot about my shitty taste in Christmas Carols.

The prize for the winner of this dubious distinction was banned from being played in all of Costa Coffee’s stores. 

Sir Cliff Richard's singles may be as synonymous with Christmas as turkeys and tinsel, but you won't hear them in Costa Coffee during this festive period. The British coffee house chain has banned Sir Cliff's yuletide number Mistletoe and Wine from their 1,600 stores after the 73-year-old's song was named the most hated Christmas song of all time in a poll. Songs by Sir Paul McCartney, Shakin' Stevens and Band Aid 20 also made the top-10 list, based on Costa's survey of 3,000 Brits. Kevin Hydes, Costa's UK retail marketing director, said the song would be banned from all Costa's in-store playlists over the Christmas season because "the festive happiness of our customers and staff is our upmost priority".

In an effort to rejuvenate familiar Christmas songs, Costa has given £10,000 to Youth Music, a charity which gives young people the opportunity to make music to overcome personal challenges in their lives.

How popular was Mistletoe and Wine at one time? Damn popular I guess until the Brits got tired of overplay and it became more like Stilted toes and Whine than anything to do with Christmas.

Mistletoe and Wine became Sir Cliff's 12th number one single when it was released in 1988. It spent four weeks at the top of the UK chart, and sold over 750,000 copies that year. It also secured the 1988 Christmas number one spot. Sir Cliff's other Christmas hits include Saviour's Day and Millenium Prayer.

Sir Cliff Richard's singles may be as synonymous with Christmas as turkeys and tinsel, but you won't hear them in Costa Coffee during this festive period. The British coffee house chain has banned Sir Cliff's yuletide number Mistletoe and Wine from their 1,600 stores after the 73-year-old's song was named the most hated Christmas song of all time in a poll. Songs by Sir Paul McCartney, Shakin' Stevens and Band Aid 20 also made the top-10 list, based on Costa's survey of 3,000 Brits. Kevin Hydes, Costa's UK retail marketing director, said the song would be banned from all Costa's in-store playlists over the Christmas season because "the festive happiness of our customers and staff is our upmost priority". In an effort to rejuvenate familiar Christmas songs, Costa has given £10,000 to Youth Music, a charity which gives young people the opportunity to make music to overcome personal challenges in their lives.
Mistletoe and Wine became Sir Cliff's 12th number one single when it was released in 1988. It spent four weeks at the top of the UK chart, and sold over 750,000 copies that year. It also secured the 1988 Christmas number one spot. Sir Cliff's other Christmas hits include Saviour's Day and Millenium Prayer.
But maybe you love the song and can’t get enough of it. If that should be the case you can buy it at Amazon and Maybe I’ll make two or three cents. Use the ad link, turn off your blocker to see it. Merry Christmas

Quill Pen How Do You Brighten Up My Day?

You write up a pretty good takedown of the Ebola of Texas known as Rick Perry, and the state of Texas that continually gives refuge to these diseases.  I have no regard for Perry at all, and damn little regard for Texas at all.  Funny how a state that likes to talk about how big they are is the stomping ground for so many backwards thinking small minded politicians and the people who keep them in office.

This entertained me so much, I just had to share.  Here are some highlights but you can read this essay “No Texas Messiah: A Requiem for Rick Perry” in its entirety at Politics USA:

Governor Rick Perry is another in a growing collection of Republican banditti, though one with less personal integrity than his more famous counterpart across the border, Pancho Villa, who at least was fighting for more than personal aggrandizement.

Pancho Villa actually cared about the future of Mexico. Rick Perry cares only about his own future. The United States does not enter into the picture. In the old days, the Texas Rangers would have been hunting Rick Perry down. In today’s Texas, he was their boss.

It must be remembered here that Perry (and this is to take nothing away from Perry’s complete lack of a moral compass) is a symptom of a greater ill: Texas. Under Republican governance, Texas has produced not only Rick Perry, but George W. Bush, and now provides refuge for Allen West, who couldn’t summon sufficient IQ points to qualify as a Floridian.

Texas is also a state in which Perry’s successor as Governor, the equally unethical Greg Abbott, can meet with a “patriot” militia leader (and shake his hand) days before his arrest on weapons charges, and still win election to governor.

And I haven’t even mentioned Rick Perry’s mythical “Texas Miracle” yet: In Two Sentences Team Obama Shatters The Myth Of Rick Perry’s Texas Miracle. That’s right, there is no Texas miracle, unless you’re a corporation, in which case you can blow Texans up with impunity…….


…………That’s right, you can check all the boxes: Rick Perry hates immigrants, hates women, loves himself some Religious Right theocrats, and hates gays. He’s a Republican all right, bona fides confirmed. And that doesn’t even get into his gun infatuation (because everybody needs a grenade launcher)………..

……..at a big speech he forgot what state he was in, or when he said America’s ally, Turkey, is our enemy. Here we had Bachmann fearful of the Soviet Union, two decades gone, and Rick Perry who wants to attack our allies.

And then there was the time Gaffer-in-Chief Rick Perry thought Solyndra was a country. Considering he once wanted to invade Mexico (a dream he shares with fellow GOP border bandit Sheriff Joe Arpaio), Solyndra should be worried……..

………And I’ll just let Rick Perry’s belief that he can pray away drought and other problems speak for itself. The thought of a president who thinks he can pray away problems also speaks for itself.

Perry is leaving center stage now, and thinking about a bigger venue – President of the United States – which is pretty funny because the secessionist tenther once entertained the idea of being President of Texas. Of course, if Texas Republicans get their way, he may still get that chance.

Which would negate my earlier concerns about Santa Anna’s generalship.

But Rick Perry’s ego is bigger than his prospects will ever be. A new bandit has taken his place in Austin, and Perry wants to take his crime spree to the nation’s capital. But stature-wise, Perry is nothing more than a male version of Sarah Palin or Michele Bachmann.


As I said, you can read the article in its entirety at Politics USA and it’s well worth your time.  You will be entertained.