Saturday, June 17, 2023

Godspeed Glenda Jackson

Glenda Jackson, won the Academy Award for Best Actress for Women in Love (1969) and A Touch of Class (1973), died on June 15 2023 at the age of 87.

Glenda Jackson was born on May 9 1936 in Birkenhead, England. She was named for American actress Glenda Farrell, best known for playing reporter Torchy Blane in a series of films. She attended  West Kirby County Grammar School for Girls in West Kirby. She was a teenager when she began performing with the local branch of the Townswomen's Guild in Birkenhead. She won a scholarship to the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. It was while she was still there that she made her professional debut in a production of Terrence Rattigan’s Separate Tables in 1957. She made her television debut that same year in an episode of ITV Playhouse.

Miss Jackson made her film debut in an uncredited role in This Sporting Life (1963). During the Sixties she appeared in the movies Marat/Sade (1967), Negatives (1968), and Women in Love (1969). She appeared on television in episodes of Z Cars, Half Hour Story, The Wednesday Play, ITV Saturday Night Theatre, and BBC Play of the Month. She made her debut on Broadway in The Persecution and Assassination of Marat as Performed by the Inmates of the Asylum of Charenton Under the Direction of the Marquis de Sade in 1965.

In the Seventies Glenda Jackson starred as Queen Elizabeth I in the mini-series Elizabeth R. She guest stared on The Morecambe & Wise Show. She appeared in the movies The Music Lovers (1971), Sunday Bloody Sunday (1971), The Boy Friend (1971), Mary, Queen of Scots (1971), The Triple Echo (1972), Bequest to the Nation (1973), A Touch of Class (1973), Il sorriso del grande tentatore (1974), The Maids (1975), The Romantic Englishwoman (1975), Hedda (1975), The Incredible Sarah (1976), Nasty Habits (1977), House Calls (1978), Stevie (1978), The Class of Miss MacMichael (1978), Lost and Found (1979), HealtH (1980), and Hopscotch (1980).

In the Eighties she played the title role in The Patricia Neal Story. She appeared on the TV shows American Playhouse and Carol & Company. She appeared in the movies The Return of the Soldier (1982), Giro City (1982), Turtle Diary (1985), Beyond Therapy (1987), Business as Usual (1988), Salome's Last Dance (1988), The Rainbow (1989), Doombeach (1989), and King of the Wind (1990). She appeared on Broadway in Macbeth (1988). In the Nineties she appeared in the TV movies A Murder of Quality, The House of Bernada Alba, and The Secret Life of Arnold Bax.

In 1991 Glenda Jackson retired from acting. She was elected a member of Parliament, representing Hampstead and Highgate. She served in Parliament for 23 years. She returned to acting on stage in a production of King Lear at the Old Vic in London. She appeared on Broadway in Three Tall Women in 2018 and King Lear in 2019. She appeared in the TV movie Elizabeth is Missing (2019) and in the movie Mothering Sunday (2021).

Glenda Jackson was an extremely talented actress and one who could play a wide variety of roles. She was as adept in dramas such as Women in Love as she was comedies such as House Calls. She played Queen Elizabeth I twice and was very convincing in the role. She was convincing as Patricia Neal, a hard feat to accomplish particularly given Miss Neal was still alive. If she won Academy Awards, BAFTA Awards, Emmy Awards, a Tony, and many other awards, it was because she was just that good.

Friday, June 16, 2023

Eddie Muller's Noir Bar: Cocktails Inspired by the World of Film Noir

Eddie Muller's Noir Bar: Cocktails Inspired by the World of Film Noir
is a rather unusual book. After all, it takes a look at 50 different classic noirs and matches them with appropriate cocktails. And while Eddie Muller's Noir Bar: Cocktails Inspired by the World of Film Noir is somewhat unique, in some ways it is surprising that a book of its sort had not been published years ago. It is no secret that drinking figures heavily in film noir. Bars, nightclubs, and seedy backrooms are tropes of the film style. And while many film noir protagonists took their liquor straight up, cocktails do appear frequently in film noir.  There is a good reason many film noir fans are also cocktail connoisseurs.

Of course, Eddie Muller would be the ideal person to write a book that combines film noir with cocktails. Mr. Muller is familiar to Turner Classic Movies fans as the "Czar of Noir" and host of the programming block Noir Alley. He is founder and president of the Film Noir Foundation, the non-profit organization dedicated to preserving, exhibiting, and educating people about noir. He has written multiple books on film noir and other aspects of cinema, and has provided commentary on many DVDs. What many might not know about Eddie Muller is that he also trained to be a professional bartender and worked as one earlier in his life. Eddie Muller is not only an expert on film noir, but an expert when it comes to tending bar and mixing drinks as well. He definitely know both subjects well.

It is because of Eddie Muller's expertise that Eddie Muller's Noir Bar: Cocktails Inspired by the World of Film Noir serves well as an introduction to both film noir and making cocktails. The first part of the book deals with stocking an at-home bar, the tools one needs to properly make cocktails and the glassware one needs as well, and the basics in making a drink. Not only do these chapters serve as a good primer for those new to the art of making cocktails, but Mr. Muller has many useful tips and suggestions for those with a bit more experience. Having read Eddie Muller's Noir Bar: Cocktails Inspired by the World of Film Noir, I now have more confidence in making cocktails than I had previously.

When it comes to Eddie Muller's Noir Bar: Cocktails Inspired by the World of Film Noir, I expect most noiristas are looking forward to the pairings of classic film noirs with cocktails, and Eddie Muller does not disappoint. Among the movies covered are such classics as The Asphalt Jungle (1950), The Big Sleep (1946), Gilda (1946), Nightmare Alley (1947), and Sweet Smell of Success (1957). As to the cocktails featured in the book, they are a wide variety. Eddie Muller includes such classic cocktails as the gimlet, the mai tai, the bloody Mary, and the martini. There are also more recently developed cocktails, such as the Left Hand. Finally, Eddie Muller includes some cocktails of his own creation, such as the Crimson Kimono and Sailor Beware. In most cases Eddie Muler not only provides us with the recipes for cocktails, but also some of their backgrounds as well. 

As a matter of full disclosure, I must admit that I have not yet tried some of the cocktails featured in  Eddie Muller's Noir Bar: Cocktails Inspired by the World of Film Noir, so I cannot speak to how some of them taste. I do plan to try every single one of the cocktails I have not yet had, except for the boilermaker. I have an allergy to hops, so I cannot drink beer (and I really don't like beer's flavour anyway).

Eddie Muller's Noir Bar: Cocktails Inspired by the World of Film Noir is parts a primer for making drinks, film history, cocktail history, and a recipe book for cocktails. For those who like watching their film noir with a drink on the side, it is definitely a must read.

Thursday, June 15, 2023

The Late Great John Romita Sr.

Artist John Romita Sr., best known for his work on the comic book The Amazing Spider-Man, died on June 12 2023  at the age of 93.

John Romita Sr. was born in Brooklyn, New York. Among his influences were Milton Caniff, Roy Crane, and Alex Toth. He graduated from the School of Industrial Art in Manhattan in 1947. His first professional work as an artist was from Manhattan General Hospital when he was 17. He was paid by an anaesthesiologist  to create an exhibit on pneumatology.

His first work in comic books came in 1949 on the comic book Famous Funnies, although the story he worked upon was never published. That same year he went to work for the  company Forbes Lithograph. His first work for what would become Marvel Comics was in 1949, when he worked on a 10 page story as a ghost artist. He also worked as a ghost penciller for inker Lester Zakarin on Trojan Comics' Crime-Smashers and other titles.

In 1951 John Romita Sr. was drafted into the United States Army. In the Army he did layouts for recruitment posters and spent his entire time in the military stationed stateside. It was while he was still in the Army that he began doing work for what would become Marvel on a regular basis. In the Fifties he provided artwork for a wide variety of titles at Marvel, including Westerns, war comics, sci-fi comics, and romances. He also did work on the short-lived 1954 revival of Captain American. John Romita's first credited work as penciller and inker of the story "The Bradshaw Boys" in Western Outlaws no. 1 (February 1951).

In the Fifties, while John Romita Sr. was still working freelance for what would become Marvel, he also did uncredited work for National Periodical Publications (now known as DC Comics). By 1958 he worked for National Periodical Publications exclusively. His work at DC was on such romance titles as Falling in Love, Girl's Romances, Heart Throbs, and others.

It was in 1965 that John Romita Sr. began freelancing for Marvel Comics again, serving as inker on The Avengers no. 23 (December 1965). At the same time he was working in advertising at BBDO. He left BBDO when Stan Lee offered to match his advertising salary and allow him to work either at the office or at home. Mr. Romita chose Marvel, and he worked on Daredevil for a brief time, beginning with Daredevil no. 12 (January 1966). It was with Amazing Spider-Man no. 39 (August 1966) that he took over the title as artist. John Romita Sr. would ultimately work on Amazing Spider-Man until no. 95 (April 1971), returning to the title with no. 105 (February 1972) and working through no. 115 (December 1972). He would ink most of the cover art through no. 168 (May 1977). In the Seventies he also provided art for such Marvel titles s Captain America, Fantastic Four, Doctor Strange, Marvel Tales, My Love, and others. He worked on The Amazing Spider-Man newspaper comic strip from 1977 to 1980.

It was in July 1973 that John Romita Sr. was promoted to art director at Marvel Comics. As art director he would help design such characters as The Punisher, Wolverine, Luke Cage, and others. John Romita Sr. also worked on the crossover between DC Comics and Marvel Comics, Superman vs. the Amazing Spider-Man, inking the pencils of Ross Andru.  He continued as art director at Marvel Comics into the Eighties.

From the Eighties into the Naughts John Romita Sr. would provide art for The Amazing Spider-Man Annual no. 16 (1982),  The Amazing Spider-Man no. 238 (March 1983),  Peter Parker, the Spectacular Spider-Man no. 121 (December 1986), The Amazing Spider-Man no. 365 (August 1992), Peter Parker, the Spectacular Spider-Man Annual no. 13 (1993), Tales of Spider-Man no. 1 (January 1999), Webspinners: Tales of Spider-Man no. 1 (January 1999),  Spidey: A Universe X Special (2001),  The Amazing Spider-Man #500 (December 2003), Captain America vol. 3, no. 50 (February 2002),  Iron Man vol. 3, no.40 (May 2001),  Daredevil vol. 2, #50 (October 2003), Daredevil vol. 2, no. 94 (February 2007),  and The Amazing Spider-Man no. 642 (November 2010).

The very first issue of The Amazing Spider-Man I remember reading featured the art of John Romita Sr., and he has remained my favourite Spider-Man artist ever since. His work was obviously influenced by the war and romance genres, both of which he had worked in extensively. His art was realistic, with more attention paid to anatomy  and emotion than earlier comic book artists. At the same time there was an elegance to his art. He established the most iconic look of Spider-Man, and it was after Mr. Romita took over as the artist on The Amazing Spider-Man that the title overtook Fantastic Four as Marvel's best selling title. Few artists ever had the impact that John Romita Sr. did, and few ever will.

Wednesday, June 14, 2023

The Late Great Treat Williams

Treat Williams, who appeared in such movies as Prince of the City (1981) and starred in the TV series Everwood, died in a motorcycle accident yesterday. He was 71 years old.

Treat Williams was born Richard Treat Williams in Stamford, Connecticut on December 1 1951. His family moved to Rowayton, Connecticut when he was three years old. He attended the Kent School in Kent, Connecticut. While he acted in high school, he did not seriously consider acting as a profession until he was in college. He Franklin and Marshall College in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.

Treat Williams made his film debut in Deadly Hero in 1975. His first lead role was in Hair, based on the stage musical of the same name, in 1979. In the late Seventies he also appeared in the movies The Ritz (1976), Marathon Man (1976), 1941 (1979), Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back (1980), and Why Would I Lie? (1980).

In the Eighties he made his television debut in the TV movie Dempsey, playing legendary boxer Jack Dempsey. He appeared in the TV movies A Streetcar Named Desire, J. Edgar Hoover, Third Degree Burn, and Max and Helen. He appeared in the mini-series Echoes in the Darkness and Drug Wars: The Camarena Story. He guest starred on the TV shows American Playhouse and Faerie Tale Theatre. Treat Williams appeared in the movies Prince of the City (1981), The Pursuit of D.B. Cooper (1981), Stangata napoletana (1983), Once Upon a Time in America (1984), Flashpoint (1984), Smooth Talk (1985), The Men's Club (1986), Sweet Lies (1987), La notte degli squali (1988), Russicum - I giorni del diavolo (1988), Dead Heat (1988), Heart of Dixie (1989), and Oltre l'oceano (1990).

In the Nineties Treat Williams starred in the short-lived drama Eddie Dodd and the sitcom Good Advice. He guest starred on the shows Tales from the Crypt and Road to Avonlea. He was a guest voice on Batman: The Animated Series. He appeared in the mini-series Journey to the Center of the Earth. He appeared in the TV movies Final Verdict, Till Death Do Us Part, The Water Engine, Deadly Matrimony, Bonds of Love, Parallel Lives, Texan, In the Shadow of Evil, Johnny's Girl, The Late Shift, Escape: Human Cargo, Every Mother's Worst Fear, 36 Hours to Die, and Hopewell. He appeared in the movies Where the Rivers Flow North (1993), Hand Gun (1994), Mulholland Falls (1996), The Phantom (1996), The Devil's Own (1997), Cannes Man (1997), Deep Rising (1998), and The Deep End of the Ocean (1999),

During the Naughts, Treat Williams played the lead role of neurosurgeon Andy Brown on Everwood. He later had a recurring role on the TV show Brothers and Sisters and starred on the medical drama Heartland. Mr. Williams guest starred on the shows UC: Undercover, Going to California. He appeared in the mini-series The Storm and the TV movies Guilty Hearts,The Staircase Murders, Front of the Class, Good Behaviour, Chasing a Dream, Safe Harbour, and Boston's Finest. He appeared in the movies Crash Point Zero (2001), Hollywood Ending (2002), The Circle (2002), Miss Congeniality 2: Armed & Fabulous (2005), Moola (2007), Il nascondiglio (2007), What Happens in Vegas (2008), Howl (2010), 127 Hours (2010), and L'estate di Martino (2010).

In the Teens he was a regular on the TV shows Against the Wall, American Odyssey, and Chesapeake Shores. He had recurring roles on the show White Collar, Chicago Fire and Bluebloods. He guest starred on the shows Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, Leverage, Hawaii Five-0, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, and All Downhill from Here. He was a guest voice on The Simpsons. He appeared in the TV movies Beyond the Blackboard, Confirmation, Rocky Mountain Christmas, and The Christmas House. He appeared in the mini-series Eve of Destruction. Treat Williams appeared in the movies A Little Bit Of Heaven (2011), Taiheiyou no kiseki: Fokkusu to yobareta otoko (2011), Maskerade (2011), Deadfall (2012), Attack of the 50 Foot Cheerleader (2012), Flores Raras (2013), Age of Dinosaurs (2013), Barefoot (2014), Operation Rogue (2014), The Congressman (2016), The Etruscan Smile (2018), Second Act (2018), Drunk Parents (2019), The Great Alaskan Race (2019), and Run Hide Fight (2020).

In the Twenties Treat Williams he continued to appear on the shows Chesapeake Shores and BlueBloods. He is set to appear next year in the mini-series Feud.

Treat Williams was an aircraft pilot and a certified flight instructor. He wrote the 2010 children's book Air Show!.

Treat Williams was an actor of remarkable talent. Although often counted as a leading man, he had the versatility of a character actor. In Prince of the City he played not-quite honest narcotics detective Daniel Ciello. Earlier he had played a role as far from Detective Ciello as one could get, hippie George Berger in the movie Hair. Chances are good he will be remembered best by many as Dr. Andy Brown on Everwood, a role for which he was twice nominated for the SAG Award for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor. He played his share of historic figures, appearing as D. B. Cooper in The Pursuit of D. B. Cooper and J. Edgar Hoover in the TV movie J. Edgar Hoover. He also played his share of heroic roles including Captain John Finnegan in Deep Rising and his share of villains, including  Xander Drax in The Phantom. Treat Williams could play a wide variety of roles and play all of them well.

Tuesday, June 13, 2023

"Can the Can" by Suzi Quatro

It was fifty years ago that "Can the Can" by Suzi Quatro topped the UK singles chart. The song was Suzi Quatro's first major hit and her first no. 1 record. It was also significant in that made Suzi Quatro the first female bassist to achieve rock stardom. In that respect it opened up the doors for future female rock stars. Oddly enough, while "Can the Can" went to no. 1 on the UK and Australian charts, it only went to no. 56 on the Billboard Hot 100. Suzi Quatro would always have more success in Britain that she would her native United States.

Monday, June 12, 2023

Spoutible: An Alternative to Twitter

Ever since Elon Musk took over Twitter, people have been looking for an alternative to the social media platform. One of the newest is called Spoutible. Spoutible launched in January 2023. It was founded by Christopher Bouzy. Mr. Bouzy had earlier founded Bot Sentinel in 2018. Bot Sentinel is a Twitter analytics service that tracks disinformation, inauthentic behaviour, and harassment on Twitter.

As might be expected, Spoutible resembles Twitter a good deal. Like Twitter, it has a timeline to which one can make "spouts" (as posts are called). Like Twitter, one can post images and videos. While Twitter has "retweets," whereby someone can share someone else's tweets, Spoutible has echoes, whereby one can share someone else's spouts. Spoutible even has its own private messaging, much like Twitter.

While Spoutible does resemble Twitter, there are some important differences. First, Spoutible has no algorithm. While most people I know do not use the Twitter algorithm, it certainly seems as if Twitter would prefer they do. Second, Christopher Bouzy is African American, making Spoutible one of the few social media services owned by a person of colour. Indeed, it could quite possibly the only one owned by a person of colour. Third, Spoutible has a focus on protecting its users. It has rules against harassment, threats, disinformation, and spam. Indeed, Spoutible relies on the same technology as Bot Sentinel to help fight against disinformation and targeted harassment.  Fourth, one can edit spouts up to seven minutes after one makes them. If one makes a typo, then, one can edit the spout and not delete it entirely.

I have been using Spoutible now for around two months and I have been enjoying it. I have not seen the sort of harassment many have experienced on Twitter, nor I have seen any of the sort of spam one sees on Twitter. I have yet to be followed by a pornbot there, nor have I seen any. And while I haven't many followers yet, I receive more interaction than I do on Mastodon or many other social media sites. Nearly every day people like and echo my spouts. When I post a link to my one of my blog posts, it seems as if people will actually go and read the post, rather than ignore it and scroll on by.

One disadvantage with Spoutible is one I think may eventually be corrected with time. As of yet it does not seem like there are a lot of people on the platform. Right now I only have 41 followers, as contrasted with the 277 followers I have on Mastodon. At the moment there is not much in the way of a classic film and classic television community at Spoutible. I think there are only a few of us who spout regularly about classic movies and TV shows. Of course, this is something that I think will change with time. As Spoutible continues to grow, people will get more followers and eventually classic film and television communities will develop.

Now I do have to point out that like any young social media service, Spoutible has had occasional glitches. Pages would fail to load or the timeline would fail to update. While these glitches happened from time to time when I first joined Spoutible, they have declined considerably just in the past two months. From what I have read some have complained about Spoutible's Adult Content Policy, maintaining they are much too vague. Now I don't post Adult Content myself and I have yet to actually read the policy, so I cannot say much about it myself.

Spoutible is hardly the only Twitter alternative out here, as several seem to have sprung up of late. That having been said, I think that it succeeds in many ways that the others don't. Only time will tell if it takes off.