Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Happy 122nd Halloween - October 31, 1895


"Double, double toil and trouble;
fire burn and cauldron bubble."  
 
 
   
~~ William Shakespeare, “Macbeth, 1611 

English poet and playwright, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world's pre-eminent dramatist. He is often called England's national poet and the "Bard of Avon". (1564-1616)























Google Doodle celebrates Halloween with the Memo the Cat and her Magic Academy interactive contest doodle.

Follow feline freshman Momo on her quest to rescue her  magic academy. Score points and help ward off mischievious ghosts by swiping in the shape of the symbols above the ghosts’ heads. And you’d better pounce fast—the ghost that stole the master spellbook is getting away! 



HAPPY HALLOWEEN DOODLE and BoooOooH ha ha ha to all ghastly ghosts & evil spirits!

 


Save Momo's Music Academy and earn game points by swiping the shape on top of the ghosts' heads and wipe out all the ghosts.  

I scored 1660! 


How many ghosts can you wipe out?












Much more than a just a Google doodle, today many internet surfers enjoyed spooky, interactive, search results instead of Google’s customary and “I’m Feeling Lucky” search options.

Eighteen Halloween's ago, Google posted it's very first Halloween Google Doodle.

Photo right, screen capture of Google's first Halloween Doodle, October 31, 1999.

Internationally, Halloween's first celebration traces back to 1895 in Scotland and for North America the first Halloween was celebrated in 1911.


Enjoy this collage of Halloween Google Doodles above or to experience Google Doodles of Halloween's past, visit the following links:

Halloween Momo on Her Mission 2016
Halloween Global Candy Cup 2015
Favorite Monsters Google Doodle 2014
Google Halloween 2013 doodle.
Google Halloween 2012 doodle
Google's 2011 carving pumpkin doodle celebrating 100 Halloween years
Google Halloween 2010 doodle
Google Halloween 2009 doodle
Google Halloween 2008 doodle
Google Halloween 2007 doodle
Google Halloween 2006 doodle
Google Halloween 2005 doodle
Google Halloween 2004 doodle
Google Halloween 2003 doodle
Google Halloween 2002 doodle
Google Halloween 2001 doodle
Google Halloween 2000 doodle
Google Halloween 1999 doodle

Happy Halloween to you and yours!



What do you think of Google’s Halloween doodle today?

ABOUT HALLOWEEN AND HISTORY

Halloween or Hallowe'en (a contraction of "All Hallows' Evening"), also known as All Hallows' Eve, is a yearly celebration observed in a number of countries on October 31, the eve of the Western Christian feast of All Hallows (or All Saints) and the day initiating the triduum of Hallowmas.

Trick-or-treating is a customary celebration for children on Halloween. Children go in costume from house to house, asking for treats such as candy or sometimes money, with the question, "Trick or treat?" The word "trick" refers to "threat" to perform mischief on the homeowners or their property if no treat is given.

According to Frank Leslie's popular monthly, (Volume 40, November 1895, p. 540-543) in Scotland and Ireland, guising – children disguised in costume going from door to door for food or coins – is a traditional Halloween custom, and was recorded in Scotland at Halloween as far back as 1895 where masqueraders in disguise carrying lanterns made out of scooped out turnips, visited homes to be rewarded with cakes, fruit and money.

The practice of Guising at Halloween in North America was first recorded in 1911, where a newspaper in Kingston, Ontario reported children going "guising" around the neighborhood was first noted by Rogers, Nicholas, "Coming Over: Halloween in North America". Halloween: From Pagan Ritual to Party Night. p.76. Oxford University Press, 2002, ISBN 0-19-514691-3.

American historian and author Ruth Edna Kelley of Massachusetts wrote the first book length history of Halloween in the US; The Book of Hallowe'en (1919), and references souling in the chapter "Hallowe'en in America":

"The taste in Hallowe'en festivities now is to study old traditions, and hold a Scotch party, using Burn's poem Hallowe'en as a guide; or to go a-souling as the English used. In short, no custom that was once honored at Hallowe'en is out of fashion now."

OTHER RESOURCES 

▲ Google's Halloween doodle turns you into a witch, CNET, http://news.cnet.com/8301-1023_3-57610125-93/googles-halloween-doodle-turns-you-into-a-witch/
▲ The wizards behind Google's doodles, CNET, http://news.cnet.com/8301-1023_3-57573307-93/the-wizards-behind-googles-doodles/
▲ Halloween witch: The real history behind Google's doodle, The Christian Monitor, http://www.csmonitor.com/Innovation/2013/1031/Halloween-witch-The-real-history-behind-Google-s-doodle 


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Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Happy 166th to Herman Melville's classic Moby Dick - October 18, 1851



“There she blows!-there she blows! A hump like a snow-hill! It is Moby Dick!” 
~~ Herman Melville, American author, quote taken from his book, Moby Dick, chapter 133: The Chase -- First Day (b. August 1, 1819 – d. September 28, 1891)


Hard to believe, Herman Melville’s classic, "Moby Dick," was not well received in 1851 by British reviewers and bombed big time. Who would think that it was a native New Yorker author, Herman Melville, who would coin "There she blows ~ There she blows ..."  Image above screenshot taken from Google doodle, celebrating Moby Dick's 161st as posted on October 18, 2012 at Google.com.

Classified as American Romanticism, in Britain it was first published by Richard Bentley in London on October 18, 1851 and on November 14, 1851 in the U.S.

"Moby Dick" sold only 500 copies in the United Kingdom, compared to 6,700 for Melville's first book, "Typee."

According to The Christian Science Monitor“shortly after Melville's death in 1891, his publisher reprinted several of his novels, including "Moby Dick."

These new editions excited New York's literary scene. Like long-smoldering embers, this underground movement kept Melville's name alive.

Eventually, the flame spread. So much discussion surrounded "Moby Dick" that many people gave the book a second chance.”






Other Resources 
 The Christian Science Monitor, Herman Melville books: At first, 'Moby Dick' was a total flop
Moby Dick on Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moby-Dick

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Sunday, October 15, 2017

New York Film Festival Reviews (NYFF)



After seeing over a dozen movies at TIFF last month, I attended four more at the New York Film Festival (NYFF) in its 55th year run by the Film Society at Lincoln Center.  Although it is a few days longer than TIFF, NYFF is much less hectic because all films are held on the Lincoln Center campus and seats are reserved at the main venue, Alice Tully Hall.

I also tend to see films that I missed at TIFF here, since there is always some overlap. This year is no exception as I saw two films I was not able to schedule at TIFF.  Those were the documentary Boom for Real: The Late Teenage Years of Jean-Michel Basquiat and Greta Gerwig’s acclaimed directorial debut, Lady Bird.  The two others were Todd Hayne’s Wonderstruck and Woody Allen’s Wonder Wheel. (Counting Professor Marston and the Wonder Women, which I saw at TIFF, that makes three festival movies with “wonder” in the title!)

Here are my thoughts as well as award season possibilities.



Wonderstruck (Release Date October 20):  Having already played at Cannes, Venice and Telluride, Wonderstruck came to NYFF with some mixed reviews.  Director Todd Haynes (Carol, Far from Heaven, Velvet Goldmine) adapts Brian Selznick’s 2011 novel about two 12-year-old deaf kids (Rose was born deaf and Ben loses his hearing when he’s struck by lightning), born 50 years apart and their adventures in Manhattan, winding up at the Museum of Natural History, which plays a pivotal role in both stories.

Having not read the novel, I still saw the connection between Rose and Ben coming from a mile away but the pleasure gotten from the film are the parallel narratives, one told as a 1920s silent film and the other a gritty tale of the 1970s. Julianne Moore is arguably the star here, and she shines in two supporting roles in both narratives but the kids take front and center.  Deaf actress Millicent Simmons plays young Rose with an adorable haircut, expressive face and her emotions always authentic.  Oakes Fegley as Ben (who speaks throughout since he just lost his hearing) is also sympathetic in his quest to find where he belongs.  He has a nice chemistry with Jaden Michael, who plays his new hearing friend, Jamie. (Michelle Williams is also briefly in the film in flashbacks as Ben’s late mother)

Overall, I enjoyed Wonderstruck and Haynes brings the story to the screen with a lot sensitivity and creative vision.  It’s a very sweet and sentimental story of two children who don’t let their deafness stop them from seeking adventure or a place to belong.  Haynes seems to want the film to be seen by a deaf audience, with close captions used throughout.  He even used a sign language interpreter during the on-stage introduction to the film! (4/5)



Wonder Wheel (Release date December 1st):  Written and directed by Woody Allen, Wonder Wheel features a tour-de-force performance by Kate Winslet, who plays a neurotic 40ish waitress in 1950s Coney Island.  (Viewers might recall Cate Blanchett in Blue Jasmine, with her character wistful for the past as she descends into a state of semi-madness – harkening back to Blanche Dubois).

Justin Timberlake channels a younger, handsomer Woody as a 30ish playwrighting student who works as a lifeguard and serves as our slightly unreliable narrator.  He has an affair with the unhappily married Ginny while desiring her twenty-something stepdaughter, Carolina (a luminous Juno Temple) who is on the run from her abusive mobster ex-husband and the mob. Rounding out the cast are a very good Jim Belushi as Ginny’s blustery husband and Jack Gore as her pyromaniac-in- training son from a previous marriage.

Although there are some humorous moments in the script, it is not a typical Woody Allen comedy and plays out as a tragedy.  Timberlake’s character loves Eugene O’Neill and characters with tragic flaws and the film is written and directed almost like an O’Neill play.

As for Oscar chances, I think Winslet may snag a nod for Best Actress as she captures Ginny’s neuroses, passion and roughness into a vividly memorable role.  Allen may get direction and screenplay as well. (4/5)


Lady Bird (Release Date November 3rd): Greta Gerwig’s hilarious and touching directorial debut is not about the former First Lady, but a coming of age story of a Sacramento teen at a Catholic high school. Saiorse Ronan plays Christine aka “Lady Bird” who is navigating her senior year of high school in the early aughts.  Ronan perfectly channels a younger Gerwig in the role and Laurie Metcalf is excellent as her prickly mother.

The supporting cast is excellent with Tracy Letts as her loving, recently laid off dad, Lois Smith as one of the school’s nuns, Beanie Feldstein as her BFF, and Timothee Chalamet and Lucas Hedges as her love interests.  The central tension is Lady Bird’s wish to go to college in NYC and the financial strain this desire puts on her parents.

I thoroughly enjoyed Lady Bird and I hope it gets showered with nominations.  It would be nice to see Gerwig get a directing and screenplay nod along with Ronan and Metcalf for their acting. (4.5/5)




Boom For Real, the Late Teenage Years of Jean-Michel Basquiat (Release date TBD):  Brooklyn born artist Jean-Michel Basquiat has been the subject of multiple films and documentaries since his death from a heroin overdose in 1988 at the young age of 27.  Sara Driver’s Boom For Real covers his formative years of 1979-1981 as a teenage artist making his mark on the Lower East Side of Manhattan.  Many of his peers and friends were interviewed such as Fab Five Freddy, Jim Jarmusch, Alexis Adler, Patricia Field and many more.

Basquiat hovers over the film in a ghost like manner, which was intentional, according to Driver in the post screening Q&A.  We barely hear him speak (mostly b/c he rarely did any video interviews) but instead see films of him creating graffiti or photographs of him creating art or poetry.  Driver also spends time setting the stage of what life was like for young artists in the late 70s/early 80s NYC, which was going through an economic transformation.  NYC is just as much as a star in this documentary as Basquiat, both relentlessly creating art and eventually commerce. (4/5) 

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Saturday Night Live turns 42 today - Happy birthday to SNL


"Talk about a live show! It's nice to see you, welcome, and thanks for joining us -- live. I’m kinda glad that we’re on at night so that we’re not competing with all the football and baseball games. So many man … Football represents something we are. We are Europe Junior....What was the Europe Game?.... Let's take their land away from them...Football is a ground acquisition game... " ~~ George Carlin, (5/12/37 – 6/22/08) Comedy Icon, activist, actor, and author. Quote from opening line of George Carlin where he hosted the first “Saturday Night Live,” broadcast 10/11/1975. Photo SNL information courtesy of Wikipedia.org; Video below embedded from hulu; SNL 1st Season, 1st Episode; Video George Carlin opening skit, http://www.nbc.com/saturday-night-live/video/george-carlin-monologue-1/n8596; SNL monologue script at http://snltranscripts.jt.org/75/75a.phtml
First SNL broadcast, 10/11/75, featuring first host, George Carlin video

Happy 42nd  SNL! Saturday Night Live may be over the hill  but this skit-driven variety show is still going strong 42 years later making live audiences and TV viewers laugh hard as ever. American late-night live TV sketch comedy/variety, SNL, premiered 42 years ago (10/11/75) on NBC.

Originally called "Saturday Night, the opening sketch roughly 5 minutes begins with a special celebrity guest host performing and ends with the signature catchphrase, "Live from New York, it's Saturday Night!

Wolverines segment with John Belushi, aired 10/11/1975 
 

Created by Lorne Michaels and developed by Dick Eberson, SNL is one of the longest-running network television programs in the United States. The show is broadcast from Studio 8H at NBC's headquarters in the Comcast Building.


In 1977 the show changed its name to Saturday Night Live (apparently there was a name conflict "Saturday Night Live with Howard Cosell" which debuted on ABC 9/20/75, was cancelled two months later).

Performed live in front of a studio audience, SNL immediately established a reputation for being cutting-edge and unpredictable. It became a vehicle for launching the careers of some of the most successful comedians in the United States.

Throughout four decades on air, Saturday Night Live has received a number of awards, including 36 Primetime Emmy Awards, two Peabody Awards, and three Writers Guild of America Awards. In 2000, it was inducted into the National Association of Broadcasters Hall of Fame.

It was ranked tenth in TV Guide‍‍ '​‍s "50 Greatest TV Shows of All Time" list, and in 2007 it was listed as one of Time magazine's "100 Best TV Shows of All-TIME". As of 2012, it has received 156 Emmy nominations, the most received by any TV show. The live aspect of the show has resulted in several controversies and acts of censorship, with mistakes and intentional acts of sabotage by performers as well as guests.


RESOURCES 
▲   First season of SNL, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saturday_Night_Live_(season_1)
▲   Tickets to see SNL, http://www.nbc.com/tickets-and-nbc-studio-tour
▲   SNL Season 1, Episode 1, http://www.tv.com/shows/saturday-night-live/george-carlin-janis-ian-and-billy-preston-98658/
▲   SNL on Wikipedia,http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saturday_Night_Live
▲   SCHILLER'S REEL, "Don't Look Back In Anger" skit with John Belushi, https://screen.yahoo.com/dont-look-back-anger-000000945.html
▲   28 'SNL' catchphrases that have kept us laughing for 40 years, Mashable, http://mashable.com/2015/02/13/snl-catchphrases/#1y.mCQ_Id5qC
▲   The 35 best SNL Skits of All Time, HuffPost, http://www.aoltv.com/2010/10/14/best-saturday-night-live-skits/
▲   The Killer Bees: Home Invasion, NBC, http://www.nbc.com/saturday-night-live/video/the-killer-bees/n8622
▲   SNL 1st Season, 1st Episode, George Carlin Monologue on NBC video link at http://www.nbc.com/saturday-night-live/video/george-carlin-monologue-1/n8596;



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Monday, October 2, 2017

Happy 67th BDay Peanuts: Did you know that Americas most beloved, pop culture comic strip turns 67 today? October 2, 1950

“My life has no purpose, no direction, no aim, no meaning, and yet I'm happy. I can't figure it out. What am I doing right?” ~~   Charles M. Schulz,   “Sparky, most influential “American cartoonist, “Peanuts” creator, Charlie Brown protagonist, based on his life as a child, 10/2/1950.


Photo courtesy of Wikimedia.org
Sixty-seven years ago today, "Peanuts," known by many as the most influential popular culture comic strip, premiered on October 2, 1950 in nine newspapers: 

The Washington Post,
The Chicago Tribune,
The Minneapolis Tribune,
The Allentown Call-Chronicle,
The Bethlehem Globe-Times,
The Denver Post,
The Seattle Times,
The New York World-Telegram & Sun,
and The Boston Globe.

Trials, tribulations and life lessons of 8-year-old Charlie Brown with subtle racial and gender equality issues, and dashes of politics were celebrated throughout this cherished, American comic series which appeared in print for over five decades, and quickly finding the way to TV, Theater, Film and later on, Digital.

Originally a daily comic strip -- the first strip was only four panels long.

Charlie Brown is shown walking by two other friends, Shermy and Patty. Shermy greets Charlie Brown as he walks by, but then tells Patty how he “hates him.”
Photo of first comic strip above, courtesy of Wikimedia.org



This marked the ultimate precedent -- the first time ever (1950s) where comic strips depicted a child expressing hatred for others.

Another early famous character in the strip, Snoopy, Charlie Brown's pet dog with uncanny mind abilities, first appeared in the third strip, which ran on October 4.

The first Peanut Sunday strip appeared January 6, 1952, in the half-page format.

Photos courtesy of Wikimedia.org

The final daily original Peanuts comic strip was published on January 3, 2000.


The last Peanuts strip to run in papers was on February 13, 2000, the day following Schulz's passing.

The strip began with Charlie Brown answering the phone with someone on the end presumably asking for Snoopy.

Charlie Brown was the only character to appear in both the first strip in 1950 and the last in 2000.

A Charlie Brown Christmas is the first prime-time animated TV special based upon the comic strip Peanuts, by Charles M. Schulz. It was produced and directed by former Warner Bros. and UPA animator Bill Melendez, who also supplied the voice for the character of Snoopy.
Initially sponsored by Coca-Cola, the special debuted on CBS in 1965, and has been aired in the USA during the Christmas season every year since -- on CBS through 2000, and on ABC since 2001.

The story touches on the over-commercialization and secularism of Christmas, and serves to remind viewers of the true meaning of Christmas (the birth of Jesus Christ).

Today the animated Christmas special is shown at least twice during the weeks leading up to Christmas. The special has been honored with both an Emmy and Peabody Award. 

Photos courtesy of Wikimedia.org 
RESOURCES 
▲   Peanuts Official Web Site http://www.peanuts.com/
▲   Cartoonist Charles M. Schulz Museum, History of Peanuts, http://www.peanuts.com/museum/
▲   Charlie Brown on Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charlie_Brown 



This is an updated repost of previous Charlie Brown celebratory posts. Please visit this blog frequently and share this with your social media and professional network. Thanks.