Category Archives: Film

And now for something very different. . .

And very NSFW, unless your colleagues swear a lot.

An awful lot. . .

Movie theaters have become prime plums for greedy developers.

Here in Berkeley, a former city planner is spearheading a plan that will destroy one of Berkeley’s few remaining theaters, the Landmark Cinemas, replacing them with a much smaller venue based on the false representation that the theaters were losing money [the Landmark chain says not so]. But when you stand to make a fortune from a massive high-rise luxury housing project, why let fact get in the way, right?

In London another movie theater is set for the chop to make way for a train station, this time in Soho, in the heart of London’s entertainment district.

But in Old Blighty, the Curzon Cinema‘s fans are mobilized. They’re pissed, and they don’t mind telling you.

From Curzon Cinemas:

Save Curzon Soho: Curse for Curzon

Program notes:

Curzon Soho is under threat! Developers want to demolish it to make way for a train station. Time to get angry! We want to see your best film-inspired swearing. Join the campaign and send us your video response using #CurseforCurzon #SaveCurzonSoho.
Sign the official petition here

Native American drinking stereotype busted

Another myth debunked.

From the University of Arizona Newsroom:

In contrast to enduring stories about extraordinarily high rates of alcohol abuse among Native Americans, University of Arizona researchers have found that Native Americans’ binge and heavy drinking rates actually match those of whites. The groups differed regarding abstinence: Native Americans were more likely to abstain from alcohol use.

The UA study, published online Monday in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence, was conducted by James K. Cunningham, lead author, a U.S. Fulbright scholar and social epidemiologist with the UA Department of Family and Community Medicine and the UA Native American Research and Training Center; Teshia A. Solomon (Choctaw), director of the Native American Research and Training Center; and Dr. Myra Muramoto, head of Family and Community Medicine.

The researchers analyzed data from a survey of more than 4,000 Native Americans and 170,000 whites between 2009 and 2013. The survey, called the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, was administered by the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. The UA study also used another nationally representative survey, the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System administered by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, to measure how often Native Americans and whites engaged in excessive drinking in the past month. Again, findings for the two groups were comparable.

BLOG Drinx

About 17 percent of both Native Americans and whites were found to be binge drinkers, and about 8 percent of both groups were heavy drinkers. Binge drinking was defined as five or more drinks on one to four days in the past month. Heavy drinking was five or more drinks on five or more days in the past month. Sixty percent of Native Americans reported no alcohol use in the past month, compared to 43 percent of whites.

“Of course, debunking a stereotype doesn’t mean that alcohol problems don’t exist,” Cunningham said. “All major U.S. racial and ethnic groups face problems due to alcohol abuse, and alcohol use within those groups can vary with geographic location, age and gender.

“But falsely stereotyping a group regarding alcohol can have its own unique consequences. For example, some employers might be reluctant to hire individuals from a group that has been stereotyped regarding alcohol. Patients from such a group, possibly wanting to avoid embarrassment, may be reluctant to discuss alcohol-related problems with their doctors.”



Solomon noted that comparable rates of alcohol use do not necessarily result in comparable rates of alcohol-related health problems. “Native Americans as a group have less access to medical care, safe housing and quality food, which can amplify health problems connected to alcohol,” she said.

“Negative stereotyping of groups of people who have less access to health care creates even more health disparities,” Muramoto said. “Based on a false negative stereotype, some health care providers may inaccurately attribute a presenting health problem to alcohol use and fail to appropriately diagnose and treat the problem.”

The researchers feel that their study could impact beliefs about Native Americans’ alcohol use.

“It’s our hope that the media — movies, television, newspapers, radio, Internet — will represent Native American alcohol use more accurately,” Cunningham said. “It’s time to let the myths about elevated drinking fade away.”

A summary of the report, “Alcohol use among Native Americans compared to whites: Examining the veracity of the ‘Native American elevated alcohol consumption’ belief,” can be accessed here. [For the full article, another damn paywall, $35.95, to be exact — esnl]

And now for something completely different. . .

Yet another animation from the National Film Board of Canada, today’s offering is the story of Seraphim “Joe” Fortes, a man born in the Caribbean in 1863, who transformed attitudes in one Canadian city simply by doing the things he loved best, swimming and teaching others to swim.

From the Dictionary of Canadian Biography:

Fortes came to Granville (Vancouver) on the Robert Kerr, debarking on 30 Sept. 1885. The town was booming because of the lumber industry and its designation as a railway terminus . People moved from Vancouver Island to the mainland in search of jobs, and a number of blacks came as well from eastern Canada, Alberta, the Pacific northwest, the West Indies, and even further afield. Consequently, the centre of British Columbia’s African Canadian community changed from Victoria to Vancouver as the century drew to a close. Most members of the black population there, which never numbered more than around 300, lived mainly in what became known as Strathcona or the East End.

For eight months, until the great fire of June 1886, Fortes ran Vancouver’s earliest shoeshine stand, in the Sunnyside Hotel on Water Street. Afterwards he worked as a bartender and porter at such local establishments as the Bodega Saloon on Carrall Street in Strathcona and the Alhambra Hotel at the corner of Carrall and Water. Known to be clean, sober, and an expert mixer of cocktails, he was most famous, however, for his volunteer work as a swimming instructor and lifeguard. He was a common sight at English Bay beach, where he taught thousands of children to swim. It was not until around 1897 that the city, in recognition of his services, put him on its payroll as a lifeguard; at some point he was also made a special police constable. He reputedly saved more than 100 people from drowning, including many children and several adults, among them John Hugo Ross, who would die in the sinking of the Titanic.

And without further ado, from the National Film Board of Canada:


Program notes:

This animated short tells the story of Seraphim “Joe” Fortes, one of Vancouver’s most beloved citizens. Born in the West Indies, Joe Fortes swam in English Bay for over than 30 years. A self-appointed lifeguard at first, he became so famous that the city of Vancouver finally rewarded him with a salary for doing what he loved best. He taught thousands of people to swim and saved over a hundred lives. Yet there were some who did not respect him because of his skin colour. Through his determination, kindness and love for children, Joe helped shift attitudes.

Directed by Jill Haras – 2002

Chart of the day II: The death of the passion pit

Once upon a time, folks piled into their cars and headed to drive-in theaters to catch the latest feature films [often a double feature] and a couple of cartoon shorts.

While some of the clients were families, as many or more were teenagers, as much interested in each other in ways that weren’t so easy performed in an enclosed theater as they were in the images on the towering screen, hence the name “passion pits.”

Drive-ins were an adventure, starting the myriad ways kids tried to sneak in, since admissions were per head and not per car. We can remember riding in the trunk, under blankets in the back seat, and hidden in the back of a station wagon.

But drive-ins are long gone, save for a few holdouts.

And that’s the subject of today’s second Chart of the day, by way of the U.S. Census Bureau:

BLOG Drive-ins

And now for something completely different. . .

Time for another brilliant animation form the National Film Board of Canada, this time on a more serious theme than many of our previous offerings.

This time the theme is war, and the incalculable costs it brings, even in victory, the creation of Bulgarian-born Canadian animator Theodore Ushev.

From the National Film Board of Canada [and do ramp it up to hi def resolution and turn off the Annotations slider to get rid of that annoying logo]:

Gloria Victoria

Program notes:

Recycling elements of surrealism and cubism, this animated short by Theodore Ushev focuses on the relationship between art and war. Propelled by the exalting “invasion” theme from Shostakovich’s Leningrad Symphony (No. 7), the film presents imagery of combat fronts and massacres, leading us from Dresden to Guernica, from the Spanish Civil War to Star Wars. It is at once a symphony that serves the war machine, that stirs the masses, and art that mourns the dead, voices its outrage and calls for peace.

Directed by Theodore Ushev – 2012

Headline of the day: There’s no business like. . .

From the Los Angeles Times:

Paramount sued by production assistants over wages, bathroom breaks

The suit, filed last week in U.S. District Court in Manhattan, also says the workers were not allowed to take breaks for meals or to use the restroom, leaving them to instead use their cars as bathrooms. 

And now for something completely different. . .

Readers are all familiar with the melody “Arkansas Traveler,” right?


Well, how about the tune that, back when you were in grade school or even earlier, you sung these words to:

I’m bringin’ home a baby bumblebee
Won’t my mommy be so proud of me

What brought the tune to mind was an Associated Press headline, “The Latest: Zika case detected in Arkansas traveler.”

And once we saw those last two words, we were promptly infected by an earworm.

So we figured the only way to exorcise the affliction was a post, so that even if the cure fails we can live with the sympathetic understanding that at least one of you, gentle readers, will share our travail.

We begin with one of the earliest flat disk recordings of the tune, a 1923 rendition by the first fiddler to record Country Music commercially, via Ranch Radio:

Eck Robertson – Arkansas Traveler

Program notes:

Eck Robertson – Arkansas Traveler Eck Robertson is famous as the first person to record a commercial country music record. This he did, in company with fellow fiddler Henry C. Gilliland, on June 30 and July 1,1922, for the Victor Talking Machine Company in their New York studios. Eck and Gilliland, a Civil War veteran from Altus, Oklahoma, after entertaining veterans at the 1922 Old Confederate Soldiers’ Reunion in Richmond, Virginia, decided to go to New York for the express purpose of making records. Gilliland, a former justice of the peace, knew an influential lawyer there named Martin W. Littleton. After their first night in New York, the two men stayed with Littleton who provided them with grand tours of the city, including a visit to the Steinway piano factory, a visit Eck remembered fondly forty years later. The image of Gilliland and Eck touring New York, attired respectively in full dress Confederate uniform and flashy western “regalia” (satin fuchsia shirt with pearl studs, wide-brimmed black hat, leather cuffs and pants tucked into high-topped boots) and undoubtedly carrying fiddle cases, would be striking even today. Eck and Gilliland recorded “Arkansas Traveler”and “Turkey in the Straw’‘on June 30th,with Gilliland playing the melody and Eck a high harmony. The next day Eck returned alone, this time recording “Sallie Gooden” and “Ragtime Annie” solo, and two additional tunes accompanied by a studio piano player. Two tunes from these sessions, “Sallie Gooden” and “Arkansas Traveler,” were released in April, 1923, thus becoming the first commercial record ever released by a country musician. Eck stayed in New York ten days, finally returning home to Vernon, Texas, full of memories and stories

Next up, a rendition by one of the greatest guitarists of all time recirded during a Grand Old Opry broadcast, via Arnescountry:

Chet Atkins Arkansas Traveler

Next, a rendition played on the instrument esnl most associates with the tune, performed with humorous commentary by the late, great Pete Seeger, via thewhitestripes93:

Arkansas Traveler by Pete Seeger

Program notes:

Pete Seeger’s version of “Arkansas Traveler”, with lyrics so you can sing along! The purpose of this video is to share the wealth of music Pete Seeger gave the world. It is to be preserved and that’s my goal. I do not own any part of this song. The song, among others, are at

For our next version, we turn to a traditional Southern setting, the string band, via Duelingbanjos123:

2nd South Carolina String Band – The Arkansas Traveler

Program notes:

2nd South Carolina String Band – The Arkansas Traveler

Album, Southern Soldier

Our next selection features a collection of the greatest fiddlers of Country music, including the late, great Johnny Gimble [in the blue shirt], who played with them all, from Bob Wills to Johnny Cash. Via Mark O’Connor:

“Arkansas Traveler” by O’Connor, Daniels, Kershaw, Gimble, Clements, Spicher, Texas Short

Program notes:

“Arkansas Traveler” by Mark O’Connor, Charlie Daniels, Doug Kershaw, Johnny Gimble, Vassar Clements, Buddy Spicher and James Chancellor “Texas Shorty”

Celebrating the release of the Mark O’Connor Warner Bros. album, “Heroes.”

Music Director: Mark O’Connor – TNN

American Music Shop Band Mark O’Connor; violin, bandleader and music director Jerry Douglas; Dobro, Lap Steel Brent Mason/Brent Rowan; Guitars John Jarvis/Matt Rollings; Keyboards; Glen Worf; Bass Harry Stinson; Drums, Background Vocals

Producer; Rusty Wilcoxen
Director; Dennis Globe
Sound Mixer; Kim Raymer
Executive Producer, Show Creator; Brian O’Neill
American Music Shop on TNN in Nashville featured Mark O’Connor as bandleader accompanying various musical guests each week. (1990-1993)

Next, a rendition on an instrument never associated with the song, via dbherring:

Arkansas Traveler Doug Yeo England

Program notes:

Here is one of Doug Yeo’s (Bass Trombonist Boston Symphony) performances of my piece for Bass Trombone and brass band “Theme and Variations on Arkansas Traveler” He is playing with the Natural State Brass Band on their European tour summer 2010

And another rendition on another instrument never associated with the venerable melody, the Japanese shamisen, via shamikami:

Bluegrass Shamisen -Arkansas Traveler!

Program notes:

Monsters of SHAMISEN. on tour on hokkaido japan. A bluegrass tune called Arkansas Traveler. Special thanks to Kyle and the Abbots for teaching us this tune!

Finally, given that the tune has appeared in countless films, here’s a performance by Marvin Hatley [not a player piano] as a setting for two of the greatest comedians of the last century, Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy, in their 1932 short film The Music Box, via Kanaal van westfriesland:

Marvin Hatley featuring Laurel & Hardy – The Arkansas traveler-I wish I was in Dixie (US, 1932)