Downtown Los Angeles, circa 1983

Downtown Los Angeles, circa 1983
STMcC in downtown Los Angeles, circa 1983

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

“WE ARE BECOMING THE MEN WE ONCE WANTED TO MARRY"

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FEMINIST FANTASIES
by Phyllis Schlafly (foreword by Ann Coulter)
published: 2003
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The title of this review is a statement that feminist author Robin Morgan once made to a Phil Donahue show audience. She certainly chose the right forum for it, seeing as how Phil Donahue himself had long before become the kind of woman that his Dad’s generation of men once wanted to marry.
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My favorite Anti-Feminism book is 'MANHOOD REDUX' by C. H. Freedman, and in that book he wrote: “I consider Phyllis Schlafly to be the most outstanding American in our history. Notice I did not say the outstanding American WOMAN.” Naturally, being staunchly opposed to Feminism myself, I too have great respect for the lifework and intelligence of this American icon who practically singlehandedly defeated the potentially disastrous Equal Rights Amendment.
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'FEMINIST FANTASIES' is a collection of 92 essays, all of them one to five pages long, written over parts of four decades, and covering a vast array of Feminist-related topics. Although I highlighted passages in nearly all of the essays, I consider 22 of them, in their totality, to be truly essential reading.
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Before telling you some of the many reasons you should acquire 'FEMINIST FANTASIES', let me first tell you about some of my own fantasies... uh... well... no. On second thought, let me tell you about the rare times where I thought Mrs. Schlafly went a little wrong:
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1) The first section of this book is titled 'The Revolution Is Over'. Here, Mrs. Schlafly wants to give the reader the impression that the Feminist Movement has been running out of steam as “last year’s models” begin to concede the foolishness of their youthful ideals (e.g., an op-ed piece written by a Feminst in the Chicago Tribune in October 1982 started out, “Let’s face it. The revolution is over. I just turned 31 and all I want is a husband.” ~pg.3). Well, let’s REALLY face it, if the revolution is over, it’s only because the revolutionaries have declared victory! It’s a very easy thing to call off the revolution (and even proclaim that the “revolution was a mistake” ~pg.80) after you’ve taken and now possess nearly every piece of ground you ever coveted! For the most strident TWISTED SISTERS, the war may never end until every man is lying naked at the end of a leash held by a female soldier (think: Abu Ghraib military prison which coincidentally [?] was under the control of a female brigadier general.)
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But for the more moderate Feminists (yeah, I know that’s an oxymoron) – the ones who share the ideology even if they shun the label – it’s easy to yell “truce” when you own the judiciary, the congress, academia, and the media. They may have lost the E.R.A. but they got nearly everything they ever wanted, anyway. And we may not be a full-blown matriarchy just yet, but the snowball is still rolling. And if you don’t think they’re justified in declaring victory, try reading 'LEGALIZING MISANDRY' by Paul Nathanson. While a handful of the old guard members of the movement may have died off or tempered the “Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!” verbiage, the feminists are still in high gear, and after four decades of indoctrinating youth, they have even increased their numbers. If Mrs. Schlafly wants to give us the impression that the tide is moving back out, she’s mistaken; men are now standing neck deep in it and it’s still rising!
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2) On page 112, she writes, “The true answer to the pay differential is to have open access to all occupations so that women are not barred from any.” Well, Mrs. Schlafly is playing a bit loose with her words here since we know that she (rightly) opposes women in military combat, and yet a ranking officer who leads soldiers into combat IS engaged in an OCCUPATION. Should women have open access to that position? Even Mrs. Schlafly would say no. Furthermore, I could give at least four very sound reasons why women should NOT be employed as police officers even if they were capable of passing all of the physical requirements previously demanded of men before those standards were lowered, enabling women to pass the police academies.
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3) On page 208, Mrs. Schlafly writes, “What is presumptuously called ‘the women’s movement’ has supposedly ‘liberated’ women from the drudgery of housework and given women new opportunities for careers in the paid labor force, especially in non-traditional (formerly all-male) occupations (from astronaut to coal miner).” And on page 55, concerning the feminist college student Linda LeClair, she writes, “No, Linda didn’t do something constructive based on personal achievement like Dr. Sally Ride.”
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Now, I find that just a shade disingenuous because, truthfully, Sally Ride gained her notoriety primarily as a result of the Feminist movement. I believe that since 1983, every major NASA mission has included at least one female on the flight crew. This has clearly been NASA’s way of throwing a bone to the bulldogs in N.O.W., et al. Although I do respect their dedication and their hard work to get there, the fact remains that every time a woman has donned her space suit and climbed into a rocket for a high profile mission, more technically and physically qualified male astronauts have been passed over in the name of a politically correct quota. I’m sorry, but I don’t think bashing Feminist Linda LeClair with Sally Ride in an Anti-Feminism book is a good idea. I say, hit her over the head with Amelia Earhart – now there’s a famous female flier who needed no assistance from the Feminist movement in order to reach new heights.
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But these are the only noteworthy complaints I have about Phyllis Schlafly’s erudite book. Otherwise, 'FEMINIST FANTASIES' is a clearheaded examination of the illogical and unnatural arguments that serve as the shifting, hypocritical foundation of one of this country’s worst diseases. Mrs. Schlafly comes at this false religion from every angle and the aggregate force of her keen mental swordplay slices right through the movement’s crapola to expose the heart of truth. (As I’ve written elsewhere, “crapola” is a Liberal landscape colored over with an excrement-hued Crayola crayon.) Just a few of the essays I particularly enjoyed are:
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* SEXIST SOFTWARE (“I discovered that one of the software programs will search material on the word processor, identify ‘sexist’ words, and instruct the operator how to purge all sexist words and substitute different words. ... A busboy is a clearer. The next time you dine in a restaurant, ask the ‘server’ to have the ‘clearer’ remove your dishes.”)
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* THE INTELLIGENT CANDIDATE’S GUIDE TO THE WOMEN’S VOTE (Mrs. Schlafly gives us a list of dos and don’ts for candidates who want to prepare themselves for traps laid by Feminist reporters. Number 9 is: “Don’t use expressions that some women find obnoxious. Don’t call any woman a ‘women’s libber’; call her a feminist.” When I worked for a magazine publisher in ‘93/’94, we had a card-carrying N.O.W. member in the Art Dept. I remember her once expressing great displeasure at being referred to as a “gal.”)
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* THE FEMINIST ASSAULT ON V.M.I. (In 1990, the Fems insisted that women be admitted to the all-male Virginia Military Institute because we are forbidden to recognize the differences between men and women. But once they got in, Janet Reno’s Feminist Justice Department went to court to argue that failing to make adjustments for female recruits would amount to "discrimination" because it would discourage women from applying, or lead them to drop out. Whoa! How do they pull these stunts off with a straight face?! Well, maybe “straight” wasn’t the right word.)
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In closing, let me also point out that I even like the photograph on the dust jacket of 'FEMINIST FANTASIES'. It’s a shame that she turned out the way she did, because the “women’s libber” in the picture has pretty eyes. Yeah, I gotta say, once you get past the Indian war paint, that little “gal” is kinda cute.
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~ Stephen T. McCarthy
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Monday, June 11, 2018

“I DON’T EXPLAIN IF YOU DON’T UNDERSTAND." ~Waylon Jennings

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THE COMPLETE MCA RECORDINGS
by Waylon Jennings
released: 2004
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At one time I owned, individually, all four of the WAYLON JENNINGS albums collected in this 2-disc set: WILL THE WOLF SURVIVE? ('85) / HANGIN' TOUGH ('87) / A MAN CALLED HOSS ('87) / FULL CIRCLE ('88).

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Then one night in 1995, Julie Newmar, Susan Dey, Valerie Bertinelli, Judy Norton, Sally Field, Gene Tierney, and Dolly Parton broke into my house. The first six held me down and -- Oh! -- the things Dolly said she would do to me unless I gave them my Waylon CDs. Well, naturally, not being a total lunatic, I turned over the Waylon discs, and back out through the bathroom window those women went. I'm a little ashamed to admit that I was a victim of strong-arm robbery, but it was either that or death by suffocation... that is, AFTER the unspeakable acts of mind-melting, "Mama!"-crying torture that would have been perpetrated upon my body -- a fate worse than life itself!
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Now, I'll admit that initially I thought perhaps this all occurred while I was fast asleep and dreaming because, at one time or another, I have fantasized about all of those women (except for the gang's BigWig, of course), and also because Gene Tierney looked awfully alluring for a woman four years dead. And because, let's face it, that Parton part smacked of Nightmare City! And why MY Waylon albums? Why wouldn't they have just sent Chauffeur James out to get their own? I couldn't say, yet mysteriously, all four of these Waylon discs were missing in the morning and I discovered that I now had some rather interesting bruises.
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At any rate, I just recently reacquired those four Waylon albums, which were stolen from me, by purchasing THE COMPLETE MCA RECORDINGS. And I gotta tell ya, they sound every bit as good as I remembered. Well, to be Cowboy Code Honest, Disc 1 (WOLF & TOUGH) is a bit uneven. Oh, heck yeah, there are some first-rate Waylon cuts here: The bittersweet WHERE DOES LOVE GO?; the barking THAT DOG WON'T HUNT; the humorously sexy I'VE GOT ME A WOMAN; the #1 C&W hit ROSE IN PARADISE, with its nimble, smoky Country pickin'; and the raw, fully rollin' and half rockin' duet with Johnny "Man In Black" Cash, EVEN COWGIRLS GET THE BLUES.
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But while Waylon's terrifically expressive baritone rumbles through everything with its trademark intensity that conveys an "approach cautiously" warning, there is some (what I would term) "filler" here. This is not a defanged Waylon, but a Waylon perhaps a bit long in the tooth, fairly tame and satisfied to just snarl from his comfortable spot on the front porch rather than charging across the yard to take a big ol' bite out of some knuckleheaded trespasser.
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But now we address Disc 2, and the return of the DANGEROUS OUTLAW, the REAL Waylon "Waymore" Jennings:
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Tracks 1 through 11 constitute Waylon's audiobiography, A MAN CALLED HOSS; each song representing a chapter in his legendary life. It opens with LITTLEFIELD, a high-powered Country Swing piece that has the sweet fiddle juxtaposed with Waylon's "bulldozing" electric guitar clearing the way and announcing the Outlaw's return in no uncertain terms: "I'll bet I was the only boy that was ever expelled from Sunday school / Lover, fighter, wild horse-rider, and purdy dern good windmill-maker / Look out world, here I come!"
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The whole album's a winner: Sad, rough and rowdy, tender, and just flat-out rocking. "Sometimes it's hard to live like I was raised, trying to survive these modern days the old-fashioned way", Waylon sings in the closer, WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE?, just before launching into a full-blown electric guitar and tenor saxophone blitzkrieg to the fade out and tearing us a new one in the process. (Crank it up!)
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And if anything, FULL CIRCLE (tracks 12-21) is even better: "I was so ugly, the doctor slapped my Mama when I was born" is the hilarious opening line of TROUBLE MAN, which quickly transforms into a ferocious Maverick Man anthem. Watch it! This ol' boy ain't bluffin' -- this one BITES! And Waylon never sounded better.
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FULL CIRCLE moves from touching ballads evoking pathos to blistering Country rockers with Waylon's guitar snapping and that guttural growl in his voice enough to scare the hell out of demons!
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Shortly after FULL CIRCLE's release, I went to see the Outlaw perform at a small club in Los Angeles. On the way there, I wondered if he'd have enough guts to sing HOW MUCH IS IT WORTH TO LIVE IN L.A.? -- a funny critique of Angeleno insanity. Ha! He wasn't called an "outlaw" for nothing... he sang it, much to my delight. (And I didn't see anyone stand up and tell him, "Hey, you can't do that song HERE!")
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This collection closes with the bonus track, a duet with John Anderson, SOMEWHERE BETWEEN RAGGED AND RIGHT -- a real wang dang doodle!
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WAYLON JENNINGS: THE COMPLETE MCA RECORDINGS (including a nice booklet) is a great buy, whether you're already a Waylon fan or just about to discover the greatest singer to ever emerge from the Country-Western genre. I'm so glad to have this music again after that unfortunate little incident way back when.
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Wait a minute -- there's someone at the door. It sounds like a gaggle of girls. Probably selling Girl Scout cookies. I'll be right back...
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~ Stephen T. McCarthy
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Thursday, May 31, 2018

SET THE "WAYBAC MACHINE" TO SEPTEMBER, 1969

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GROOVY '60s
2-Disc Compilation by Various Artists
copyright: 2001 by Medalist Entertainment
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Back in the day, all the smart kids dug 'The Rocky And Bullwinkle Show', so I'm sure that you remember the segment featuring that brainy dog, MR. PEABODY, his boy, SHERMAN, and their time travel device called THE WAYBAC MACHINE. Well, if Mr. Peabody escorted us back to September of '69, do you know what we'd find?
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* The city of Los Angeles is still gripped by fear after the bizarre Tate & LaBianca murders. Rewards are being offered by private citizens as LAPD seems stymied. (It will be a couple more months before the world hears the name Charles Manson.)
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* Julie Newmar (37"-22"-37") sans her Catwoman outfit -- or any other outfit, for that matter -- appears in the pages of Playboy magazine, making every MAN BATTY and every BOY WONDER.
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* A groovy little kid named Stephen T. McCarthy sits day after day at his desk in Mr. Oldham's fifth grade class at Grant Elementary School in Santa Monica. He doesn't learn much but he enjoys flirting with the girls and making a tie-dyed T-shirt in class.
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* "The Real" Don Steele of KHJ is spinning these 26 songs through transistor radios all over Southern California.
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Only a few Septembers ago {September 17, 2002}, my Brother and I drove across the desert to visit the lost kingdom of our Boyhood. We were listening to old tunes along the way. When "Aquarius" by The 5th Dimension played, I said that it was, for me, one of two songs that most exemplifies the day-glo paint & black-light poster daze of the late '60s. The other candidate being Oliver's version of GOOD MORNING, STARSHINE (both songs, coincidentally, originating with the Broadway musical HAIR, a dippy hippie sign of its times). It then occurred to me that I'd really like to own Oliver's trippy hippie flashback...
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When we got to our earliest childhood stomping grounds in Orange County, I spent 45 minutes looking through compilations at the Tower Records store at 220 N. Beach Boulevard in Anaheim, but to no avail. I was just about to give up when my Brother holds up the 2-disc set GROOVY 60s and says, "Does this Go-Go Girl give you any ideas?" I replied, "Nah, she's not my type. ...But let me see that!" And sure enough, there was Oliver with his "far out" musical tribute to Hippiedom: Disc 2, Track 7, GOOD MORNING, STARSHINE. "Right on!"
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There are two things that I especially like about this collection:
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1) It does not indulge in the outrageous excesses of the era. Not to be found are... Frank Zappa's "SUZY CREAMCHEESE" nightmare; the acid-induced "EXPERIENCE" of Jimi Hendrix; the shameless BLUES HEIST of Led Zeppelin; or the (for me) unbearable artsy pretentiousness of The Beatles and their "TOE JAM FOOTBALL" and estimate of "HOW MANY HOLES IT TAKES TO FILL THE ALBERT HALL". Instead, you'll find the mainstream mid to late '60s AM radio favorites.
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2) Unlike many collections that claim to capture an era but actually offer mostly minor hits, GROOVY 60s really does represent the apex of the Pop Music charts. 22 of these 26 cuts found their way into BILLBOARD's TOP TEN in their day. Of those, 14 climbed within the TOP FIVE, with 5 making it all the way to NUMBER ONE!
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Some of these tracks go beyond just the novelty of nostalgia: Nilsson's EVERYBODY'S TALKIN'; The 5th Dimension's WEDDING BELL BLUES and UP, UP & AWAY; Sergio Mendes' THE LOOK OF LOVE; Dionne Warwick's I SAY A LITTLE PRAYER; and The Percy Faith Orchestra's THEME FROM "A SUMMER PLACE" are genuinely fine musical pieces.
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Finally, we've found a first-rate collection of AM radio-friendly songs that gives us an authentic everyday taste of the groovy, psychedelic '60s. And now if we could just find someone who can actually remember the groovy, psychedelic '60s!
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(*I couldn't help noticing that the only other person to post a review of this 2-disc set at Amazon.com was also living in Phoenix, Airheadzona. Well, I guess now we know where all of the "freaks" went.)
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~ Stephen T. McCarthy
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Sunday, May 27, 2018

THOREAUly Enjoyable!

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THE DAYS OF HENRY THOREAU
by Walter Harding
published: 1965
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'THE DAYS OF HENRY THOREAU' by Walter Harding is as fine a biography as I have ever read.
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On August 8, 1984-- my twenty-fifth birthday -- my very good friend, Marty Brumer, gave me the tome 'WORKS OF HENRY DAVID THOREAU'. I had no way of knowing at the time that Thoreau would become one of my very favorite writers, nor that Marty (just beginning to establish a career as an actor in Hollywood) would be killed 5 years later when a man in a stolen car, trying to elude the police, would run a red light at high speed and collide with my friend's Volvo in the intersection. In a way, Marty still lives through my interest in Thoreau, which he played a significant role in establishing.
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In the Introduction to my copy of Thoreau's collected works, editor Lily Owens writes, "Thoreau was not a naturally political man. He was essentially an individualist and moralist. What he wanted most from government (and from most people) was to be left alone. Thus, few can embrace his philosophy whole." I'm hardly a naturalist; my interest in Thoreau originates from his wry observations about human nature, his passion for self-reliance, his Transcendentalist ideals & ethics, and his "plea that each follow his own inner light." And because there is so much "Thoreau" in me, I probably come as close as one can to embracing "his philosophy whole."
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I acquired Walter Harding's, 'THE DAYS OF HENRY THOREAU' in preparation for my Summer vacation (from which I've just returned) that took me to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (the country's birthplace), and Concord, Massachusetts (site of "The Shot Heard 'Round The World" -- the first battle for American self-determination -- and Thoreau's beloved hometown with its Walden Pond, the body of water he made so famous). 
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But I read the book with some trepidation: biographies have not always been kind to my heroes. I always felt that Samuel Clemens was THE genius of letters, but unfortunately, I learned through a highly esteemed biography that the man had a materialistic bent which disappointed me. I felt that Andrew Jackson was arguably our last truly principled and heroic president, primarily because of his courageous and righteous battle with America's third central bank. ("You are a den of vipers! I intend to rout you out and by the Eternal God, I will rout you out!" Jackson thundered at Nicholas Biddle and the other supporters of the dictatorial Bank of the United States. And rout them out he did. That's the stuff legends are made of!) But a biography made me too aware of Jackson's many character flaws. I half regretted having read it.
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And so I wondered if perhaps I'd be better off knowing Thoreau only through his own written words; remaining blissfully ignorant of the details of his life. But I took a chance and read Walter Harding's extensive examination of the life of Henry David Thoreau, only to find that my misgivings were unfounded.
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Harding paints a very balanced portrait of Thoreau, the writer / naturalist / abolitionist, showing why some contemporaries found him insufferable while to others he was an inspiring leader, known to be fully committed to his high vision and avowed way of life. What I most appreciated was how Harding was able to remove himself from the picture and simply state the facts and the opinions of those who knew the man, allowing each reader to extrapolate what he or she will, and arrive at their own conclusions. Too often, the biographer can't resist trying to psychoanalyze their subject, meddling in the mind and seeking to unveil cloaked motivations and read into the most insignificant details, grandiose theories and subconscious meanings. Like a good detective, Harding sticks to the facts and lets the story tell itself. Along the way, the reader is treated to a lot of very interesting information. For example:
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* How appropriate that one of America's most influential writers should have revolutionized the pencil-making process in America while working for his family's pencil production company.
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* It was Thoreau's friend, Ellery Channing, writing from New York City who proposed the idea that the naturalist build himself a hut to live in at the shore of Walden Pond.
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* Evidently Thoreau was far from a natural carpenter: when his Walden house foundation was excavated a century later, hundreds of bent, antique nails were found discarded in the cellar hole.
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* In adding raisins to his dough before baking it, Henry invented raisin bread; the Concord housewives were shocked at the idea.
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* The abolitionist, Thoreau, was a regular conductor on the Underground Railroad and his Walden Pond cabin was used as a station on a couple of occasions.
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* True to his own solitary ways, Thoreau was more fond of the independent and aloof cat than of the loyal, but sociable dog.
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When Thoreau was very ill and dying, it was a touching scene to read of his friends and neighbors flocking to his bedside to say their "goodbyes". Greatly moved by the genuine outpouring of their affections, he commented that had he known, he wouldn't have remained so standoffish.
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All in all, 'THE DAYS OF HENRY THOREAU' by Walter Harding is a prime example of the biographer's art. It will be enjoyed by anyone who wants to learn about: the nativity of the conservation movement; the life of a naturalist; one of the founders of the Nineteenth Century Transcendentalist movement; and one of America's foremost men of letters and philosophy. I highly recommend it!
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Hey! Whaddaya know?
I read the biography
And I STILL like Thoreau!
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"Man flows at once to God when the channel of purity is open...
He is blessed who is assured that the animal is dying out in him day by day, and the divine being established."
~ Henry David Thoreau
'WALDEN'; chapter XI
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~ Stephen T. McCarthy
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Monday, May 21, 2018

Ol' Stephen T. Rescues Another Album From OBLIVION!

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[This review was originally published at
BigBitch.com on June 29, 2005]
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LIVE OBLIVION -- Vol. 1 & 2
Brian Auger's Oblivion Express
released: 1974 & 1976
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Well, here I am again, posting a review for something th t's been utterly neglected. Of my current 67 reviews, 10 or 11 of them  re the only posting for their respective product. In the song 'THE SOUNDS OF SILENCE', P ul Simon mentions, "writing songs that voices never share". In my case, however, it is "writing reviews that no one ever reads." What does that say  bout me? I guess, as in those immortal words of Waylon Jennings, I'm either "one step ahead, or behind." At any rate, I'm cert inly not a "Helpful" votes hound.
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In 1978 (when this recording was but 4 years old), I was driving North on Highland Avenue in Hollyweird, and shortly after crossing Sunset Boulevard (yes, THAT Sunset Boulev rd), this live version of 'BUMPIN' ON SUNSET' was pl yed on the AM radio station I was listening to (yes, AM radio! Unbeliev ble, I know!) I was immedi tely spellbound. It was one of those instances in which I started silently pleading, "Oh, ple se Mr. D.J., tell me who this is!" Well, he did, nd I went right out and bought LIVE OBLIVION, Vol. 1 (in those days, this was p ckaged as two separate LPs). I liked it so much that I later purch sed the 2-record, Vol. 2 set also. At th t time, I was a Rock 'N' Roll junkie, and these were the first JAZZ albums I ever owned. By the early 1980s, I had gravitated to The Blues, but since the mid-'80s, Jazz has been far nd away my musical preference.
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My favorite instrument is the Hammond B-3 Organ -- it is so soulful, so expressive, and so electrified and "electrifying!" Some of the B-3 Masters I like re Jimmy McGriff, Bill Doggett and of course, Jimmy Smith. But BRI N AUGER is my favorite -- he plays with such passion. Herbie Hancock (yes, THAT Herbie Hancock!) has s id, "Brian Auger is one of the best B-3 artists I have ever heard in my life. His technique is awesome nd the amount of energy he generates is unparalleled and relentless."
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So, when I affix 5 Stars to THE COMPLETE LIVE OBLIVION, you must take into consider tion my affinity for its featured instrument, the nostalgic value this set holds for me, nd the fact that THIS version of 'BUMPIN' ON SUNSET' remains one of my 5 f vorite instrumental pieces of all-time. (I'm const ntly whistling it.)
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Recorded at the intimate WHISKEY-A-GO-GO nightclub on Sunset Boulev rd in Hollywood, this is the rare live set that really conveys th t "you are there" feeling. Most of the pieces are top-notch: this is easily my f vorite version of Auger's signature tune 'BUMPIN' ON SUNSET', as the livelier pace makes the funky groove more pronounced. I really dig 'TRUTH', nd the closer, 'COMPARED TO WHAT?' (with its then-contempor ry Watergate reference), is a flat-out barnburner! (Too bad bout the "G-damn" lyric that infringes on my enjoyment of it.)
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But will YOU like this? It is JAZZ/ROCK/FUNK FUSION with a pronounced 1970s feel. The first few notes of 'BEGINNING AGAIN' immedi tely propel my mind back to that ancient decade. And I prefer these extended jams taken at a slightly quicker pace than their studio counterparts, even if it me ns a sound qu lity that is just a bit raw. In the liner notes, Auger wrote, "Although the sound on the lbum may not be all we would wish it to be, I am satisfied th t the spirit shines through." Indeed it does. I'm not a fan of Alex Ligertwood's frequently over-the-top voc ls, but since they are largely incidental to these lengthy and searing improvis tions, they rarely detract signific ntly.
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The currently "out-of-print" status of this  lbum means an inflated price for a used copy. I'd pay it, as THE COMPLETE LIVE OBLIVION makes my Top 25 album list. Listen to the song samples,  nd if you're already an AUGER fan, consider acquiring it. This IS a hot live set,  nd the band can really work that thang! But if you're fairly new to this surprisingly funky English B-3 bloke, you might w nt to start with the anthology [link> AUGER RHYTHMS: BRI N AUGER'S MUSICAL HISTORY, which is a more sonically varied and re sonably priced 2-disc collection. It presents a decidedly inferior 'BUMPIN' ON SUNSET', but otherwise, has A LOT to offer.
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I hope you didn't have too much difficulty in deciphering this review. For some reason, the letter " " on my keyboard isn't  lways registering, and I'll tell you this much: it's a real p in in the ss!
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~ Stephen T. McC rthy
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Monday, May 14, 2018

SHARIN' DARIN

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MACK THE KNIFE: THE BEST OF BOBBY DARIN -- VOL. 2
by Bobby Darin
released: 1991
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It strikes me that the individual human response to music is one of life's most intriguing mysteries. What is that unexplainable thing inside us that resonates to a certain combination of musical notes, or to the tonal quality of particular instruments, but not others? And why is this response not universal?
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For me, the melody of MY FAVORITE THINGS is so pretty, so clever, so addictive that I can't hear it once without it bouncing around inside my skull for the next several hours. And yet I know people who are apathetic about it. How can that be? We even find this mystery taking place between people who inhabit the same musical orbit. The "King Of Rock 'N' Roll" might have two devoted fans; the first who loves SUSPICIOUS MINDS and MEMORIES, but is not overly thrilled by HOUND DOG and IN THE GHETTO. The second fan's opinion is the complete reversal.
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Some might think that this is comparable to our myriad responses to food flavors, but in that example there is a physiological explanation -- something to do with chemical reactions in the glands, the taste buds. With music it's entirely intangible: some "it" within the inner being responds and makes the body move, the toes tap, the mind rejoice... or mourn.
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That "it" within me loves Bobby Darin's music, but "it" is selective. "It" doesn't care for Darin's pop hits, of which only a few appear on this collection. And although "it" really digs LAZY RIVER (which has one of the greatest, most energetic vocal performances ever) we play this album for the fabulously moving standard ballads -- some with Big Band arrangements. WAS THERE A CALL FOR ME; I GUESS I'M GOOD FOR NOTHING BUT THE BLUES; DON'T DREAM OF ANYBODY BUT ME; WHAT A DIFFERENCE A DAY MADE; BLACK COFFEE; SKYLARK; and even CHRISTMAS AULD LANG SYNE -- these are the reasons you find me in this place. "It" likes 'em!
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There is a certain quality in Darin's voice that can be discerned on his ballads. It's an innate melancholia that can't be taught, nor faked. I have found this in the voices of only two other singers: the Jazz vocalist, Astrud Gilberto, and Karen Carpenter, who had it in spades! In fact, Karen had it so much so that it sometimes bled through even on her uptempo numbers like TOP OF THE WORLD and SING. It's a kind of faint whisper of an intense inner aloneness, or a vague remembrance of something; a wistful yearning for what has passed and can't be retrieved -- like a dream of something that glowed golden way back when, in the recesses of the mind. Hell, I don't know what it is, but "it" sure loves it!

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Anyway, that ("saudade") quality permeates so many of these recordings and that's why "it" makes me play them so often.
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If you know what I'm yakking about here, and if it appeals to your "it" too, then also obtain a used copy of the "out-of-print" album 'CLASSIC DARIN', if you can locate one at a reasonable price. That collection also contains many ballad tracks like WHERE LOVE HAS GONE; FLY ME TO THE MOON; A TASTE OF HONEY; SOFTLY, AS I LEAVE YOU; and SOMEWHERE, with Bobby's "blue" voice thang goin' on.
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According to his [link> 2004, July 13th Amazon.com review of this album, it seems that 'The-Big-Dong' doesn't have this same "it" inside of him. You think maybe I should go see if his priest can exorcise my "it", too?
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~ Stephen T. McCarthy
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Thursday, May 10, 2018

SHORT ON STORY; LONG ON STYLE AND PERCUSSION

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BLACK ORPHEUS
directed by Marcel Camus
released: 1959
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I had seen BLACK ORPHEUS in the late 1980s and remembered being underwhelmed, but I procured a copy from my library to see it again as I’ve just discovered that I’ve been in love with Bossa-Nova music most of my life. (A long story and not worth retelling.) But my impression of the film remains mostly unchanged.
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BLACK ORPHEUS is of course based upon the Greek myth in which Orpheus -- the offspring of the god Apollo and Calliope -- is able to tame beasts and alter nature with his music, but is unable to save his true love. In this movie, the “beasts” are represented by roosters, goats, kittens, song birds, and puppy dogs (they ALL taste like chicken), and the manipulation of nature is the belief among the poor children residing in the hills above Rio de Janeiro that the sound of Orpheus’ guitar and songs cause the rising of the sun.
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The story takes place in the days leading up to Rio’s famous Carnival and, thus, the sights and sounds of that festive event just explode on the screen. The cinematography is a delight, featuring imaginative camera angles, compositions and movements, and gorgeous panoramic shots above and around Rio de Janeiro. 
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I have very little desire to travel outside of the U.S. (Egypt and The Holy Land being my dream destinations), and other than a couple of misadventures South-Of-The-Border, I’ve stayed “home”. (The accommodations in a Mexican calaboose leave EVERYTHING to be desired -- another long story not worth retelling... or reliving.) But my second viewing of BLACK ORPHEUS has convinced me that an all-expenses-paid trip to Rio offered by a wealthy Brazilian woman desiring a (tired & old) kept man / love slave isn’t something I would automatically reject. Additionally, this is one of the most colorful movies I’ve ever seen; there’s enough color on the screen to turn Walt Disney from blue to green with envy in his cryogenic tube!
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Most of the acting is of the amateur variety and it’s apparent (in ANY language). BLACK ORPHEUS sports two of the more annoying female film characters in my recent memory: Mira (played by Lourdes de Oliveira) and Serafina (played by Lea Garcia). But despite the non-professional status of their performances, Breno Mello (as Orpheus) and Marpessa Dawn (as Eurydice) are watchable: Mello for his charisma and handsome looks, and Dawn for her innocent charm and exotic attractiveness (pretty features and dark skin dressed in a crisp, virginal white dress. Yikes! Put me on her dance card!)
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Orpheus’ true love, Eurydice, is pursued by a mysterious man (the personification of Death) throughout the picture, but nobody -- including Eurydice -- bothers to inquire why. (Ah, them Greek myths -- never overburdened by genuine character motivations.) And there are a few other problems: During the Carnival, it goes abruptly from morning light to the black of night while we’re in the midst of a single dance. (Man, the days are short in Rio, and when its Sun falls, it falls FAST!). And the story (what there is of it) periodically bogs down in excessive lingering over some sequences. (Say what you will about what a moral cesspool the U.S.A. has become, but when we tell stories well on the silver screen -- an increasingly uncommon occurrence in recent decades -- no country tells ‘em better.)
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The truth (according to Stephen T.) is that, really, unless the viewer is paying their admission fee to vicariously experience Rio’s Carnival and/or to enjoy the complex rhythms of the Bossa-Nova beat and the simple beauty of composer Antonio Carlos Jobim's melodic lines, there isn’t a great deal of reason to spend 107 minutes with BLACK ORPHEUS. The score, however, is the main attraction here, and the payoff is rewarding if you’re a fan of Brazil’s great music. (I myself would be willing to view this movie yet again someday, just for that.)
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I’ll add that the final scene wherein three small children begin to reprise the Orpheus / Eurydice story theme while the sun rises to illuminate them gave me a wistful, inarticulate joy -- a kind of Saudade. Their enthusiasm was infectious, making a lovely ending to a so-so movie. But, of course, we know that ultimately Enduring True Love, the “Happily Ever After”, will slip through their hands like a... well... like a myth, as it does to us all. (But I suppose that for me, living in Rio and listening to Bossa-Nova daily as a wealthy Brazilian woman’s kept man / love slave would be the next best thing.)
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GOT BOSSA-NOVA?
[link> Bossa Nova for Lovers
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~ Stephen T. McCarthy
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Monday, April 30, 2018

SURFING WATERS BOTH DEEP AND SHALLOW

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[This review was written and originally published 2006, March 5th.]
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GREATEST HITS, VOL. 3:
BEST OF THE BROTHER YEARS, 1970-1986
by The Beach Boys
released: Feb. 1, 2000
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THE BEACH BOYS are one of those bands that have provided the soundtrack to my life. Growing up in Southern California, their music really does become a part of one's experiences.

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Examples: I can't hear 'Help Me, Rhonda' or 'The Girls On The Beach' without recalling my years of bodysurfing the waves near Santa Monica's Lifeguard Station #26. 'Good Vibrations' automatically transports me back to Santa Monica High School -- located conveniently 2 blocks from the Pacific Ocean. (Sometimes the sound of the surf called more insistently than did the school bell.) Samohi's official school song, 'Hymn Of Praise' written by Ken Darby from the Class of 1927, starts out,
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Oh Samohi, dear old Samohi
Queen of the setting sun
For you we toil, for you our banners fly
We win for you when victory's won!
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But every pep rally I attended from '74 through '77 ended more "excitationally" with...
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Good, good, good, good vibrations
(oom bop bop)
I'm pickin' up good vibrations
She's giving me excitations
(oom bop bop)

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'In My Room' humorously reminds me of the time in 1986 when I found it on a jukebox in a Reno lounge and drove every other patron out of the place with it. I was in the bartender's doghouse, but what are ya gonna do with a liquidated cowboy who wants to hear 'In My Room'... 18 consecutive times?

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And while the richly melancholic 'The Warmth Of The Sun' is my all-time favorite Beach Boys song, there is a lot to be said for many of the tracks found on this compilation.
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This is the final part of Capitol's Beach Boys Greatest Hits trilogy series. This one -- which features 20 of The Boys' late period minor hits and non-hits -- will be ignored by the casual Beach Boys fan, and that is an unfortunate mistake. True, these "leftovers" were recorded and released after the height of the band's popularity and creative success according to the music critics, but the Beach Boys --though they had largely moved away from their gorgeous and complex trademark vocal harmony arrangements -- were still making some magic music. And some of it as sensitive and more intense than anything that preceded it.
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For every lightweight and silly 'SUSIE CINCINNATI' and 'PEGGY SUE' on this collection, you'll also find a brooding 'TIL I DIE', or nostalgic 'DISNEY GIRLS (1957)', or yearning 'SURF'S UP'. No, we didn't need another version of 'ROCK AND ROLL MUSIC' or 'COME GO WITH ME', and yet I'd hate to have missed out on the world-weary but defiant 'LONG PROMISED ROAD' (my personal "Fight Song") or the intricate protest song 'THE TRADER', with its catchy movements that force my toes to tap or my feet to stomp.
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Some of these songs, being more melodically subtle and lacking that instantly recognizable sound of The Boys' early hits, will require a bit more patience from the listener, but with time, that open-minded patience will certainly be rewarded. Of course, 'SAIL ON, SAILOR' you probably already know (I invented my pen name while it was playing through the sound system in a Coco's Restaurant); the lovely 'GOOD TIMIN'' is reminiscent of that lush harmonizing adopted from The Four Freshmen during The Beach Boys' infancy. And the well-chosen closer, 'CALIFORNIA DREAMIN'', with its urgent tenor sax solo actually eclipses the classic Mamas And Papas version. (Yeah, I couldn't believe it either!)
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If all you desire is a balanced career retrospective of some of The Beach Boys' best music on a single disc, then go with 'Classics: Selected By Brian Wilson'. But the REAL fan will want the 3-part Capitol compilation series: 'The Greatest Hits, Vol 1: 20 Good Vibrations'; 'The Greatest Hits, Vol. 2: 20 More Good Vibrations'; and this disc, 'THE GREATEST HITS, VOL. 3: BEST OF THE BROTHER YEARS, 1970 - 1986'.
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~ Stephen T. McCarthy
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Monday, April 23, 2018

You’ll Need A Bottle Of “MESCAL” To Get Through This One!

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THE QUICK AND THE DEAD
starring Sharon Stone and Gene Hackman
released: 1995
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In THE QUICK AND THE DEAD, Sharon Stone plays a cheroot-smoking, Clint Eastwood-mimicking 1800s gunslinger, and Gene Hackman plays Gene Hackman -- think of a wood plank; you know, something just a little less rigid and a little more emotional than Clint Eastwood.

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For the intelligent reader, this is all the review that should be necessary. Sure, I could proceed point-by-point in illustrating what makes this movie such a putrid corpse (a real “Boot Hill” special), but frankly, it is not even worthy of a serious critique.
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THE QUICK AND THE DEAD -- along with Jack Nicholson’s THE SHOOTING (1967) and Jane Russell’s THE OUTLAW (1943) -- represents “The Dreck Of The West” on celluloid, and it is a good example of why I completely stopped going to the movies two decades ago. I was tired of paying money to have my intelligence insulted (as well as having Hollywood’s immorality paraded before my eyes).
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Although this movie is an empty-headed, overly-produced, ultra-dippy “cartoon” (the Biblical allusion was especially stupid and any Yosemite Sam cartoon would be funnier and equally believable), it did amply show me what I borrowed it from the library to see -- namely, MESCAL.
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MESCAL is a frontier town movie set where numerous Westerns have been filmed. It is located near Benson, Arizona, just three miles North of Interstate 10 (exit #297) and on “the other side of the tracks.” (I’ve always wanted to say that!)

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My brother, Napoleon, my friend, Pooh, and I sneaked into MESCAL quite a number of years back (a REAL Outlaw Trio), but I have since longed to take the “official” $8.00, 45-minute guided tour, and on a day in May, that dream was finally realized.
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The tour begins in the large saloon built specifically for THE QUICK AND THE DEAD, and there are no phones, johns, or refreshments available. (No saltwater taffy here, folks! This is the REAL West... uhm... built for moviemaking.) Some other FAR BETTER Westerns than The Quick And The Dead that have largely or partially utilized the MESCAL set include:
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The great [link> MONTE WALSH (1970) featuring Lee Marvin and Jack Palance. MESCAL represented both towns, Harmony and Charleyville.

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MESCAL was Roy Bean’s Langtry, Texas, in THE LIFE AND TIMES OF JUDGE ROY BEAN (1972), and Paul Newman’s courthouse/saloon is still standing!
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If memory serves me, it stood in for (if memory serves me) Hays, Kansas in THE OUTLAW JOSEY WALES (1976), where that old cigar-store Indian of an actor, Clint Eastwood, asked the Confederate soldiers, "Are you going to pull those pistols or whistle Dixie?"
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And it played the part of Tombstone, Arizona, in Val Kilmer’s TOMBSTONE (1993). On the MESCAL tour, you will walk into The Oriental saloon (now an empty shell of its former self) where Kurt Russell slapped around Billy Bob Thornton and where, later, Ol’ Doc Holliday matched Ol’ Johnny Ringo’s gun tricks with a fancy exhibition of silver cup-handling.
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The MESCAL Tour operates on a very limited schedule, so call ahead: (520) 883-0100; press menu option #7.
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I watched THE QUICK AND THE DEAD -- filmed entirely at MESCAL -- solely to see the movie set. And if you haven’t got any gardening to do; a house to clean; children to watch; a good book to read; quality music to hear; a dinner to cook; letters to write; bills to pay; windows to wash; a dentist to see; a room to paint; a leaky faucet to fix; a friend to visit; a car to repair; a play to attend; a wife (or husband) to love; a drawing to sketch; a good movie to view; an enemy to fight; a dog to walk; a cat to kick; a geriatric to help; a mouse to catch; a fly to swat; a walk to take; dishes to scrub; laundry to fold; prayers to pray; shopping to do; a bank to rob; a supermodel to stalk; a nap to sleep; a game of solitaire to play; or a Louisville Slugger-wielding friend to batter you into unconsciousness, then by all means, I recommend that you borrow THE QUICK AND THE DEAD from your local library.
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But be forewarned, if you do borrow it from your library and your trigger finger doesn’t hit that “eject” button QUICK enough when the movie turns stupid (which it does very QUICKLY), then this movie might render you brain-DEAD. Of course, if you actually PURCHASE this movie, then you probably already are!
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For more information about Mescal and Old Tucson Studios, click HERE.
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"Sneaking In Directions":
Take I-10 East out of Tucson approx. 35 miles to exit #297 -- Go north 3 miles to where the pavement ends. Proceed West up the hill to town. Be quiet so as not to wake the security guard sleeping in the old recreational vehicle.
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~ Stephen T. McCarthy
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Wednesday, April 18, 2018

DAVID VERSUS GOLIATH REVISITED

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ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS BASEBALL CAP
by New Era Cap Company
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"...For who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he should defy the armies of The Living God? ... Then David said to the Philistine, 'You come against me with a sword and with a spear and with a shield; but I come against you in the name of The Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. ... And all this assembly shall know that The Lord saves not with sword and spear; for the battle is The Lord's and He will deliver you into our hands'... And David put his hand in his bag and took thence a stone, and slung it..." 

~ 1 Samuel 17
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Certainly there have been many upsets in world history: Buster Douglas knocking out Mike Tyson; the Jets beating the Colts in Superbowl III; the 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey team triumphing over the Russians. Of course, when Al Gore lost the 2000 Presidential election to George "W", he was plenty "upset", too! And there's no denying that when Eve tasted the forbidden fruit, she really "upset" the applecart.

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One of the biggest upsets in the world of professional baseball was the 2001 World Series when the New York Yankees, 3-time world champions with the most storied legacy in professional sports (and not coincidentally the deepest pockets) met the 4-year-old underdog Arizona Diamondbacks -- a team comprised mostly of has-beens, cast-offs, and overachievers. It was supposed to be "no contest" and it very nearly was, but not in the manner that the Yankees had imagined.
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After many years of inattentiveness to baseball, something about that team from Airheadzona caught my eye early on. Come-From-Behind Victory after Come-From-Behind Victory was gradually making a believer out of me. ("My gosh!", I thought, "They really remind me of the '88 Dodgers -- 'The Little Team That Could'.")

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I'll never forget my Brother walking into the room one June afternoon and stopping to stare, dumbfounded. He looked at the TV. He looked at me. He looked at the TV, and back at me. "What're you doin'?"
"I'm watching the ballgame," I answered.
"What! Are you a Diamondbacks fan now?" he asked incredulously.
"Well, I watch 'em once in awhile," I confessed.

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By July I had informed my Ma (the REAL D-Backs fan) that she could get me a Diamondbacks baseball cap for my upcoming birthday.
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September 2001 saw history's most devastating attack on U.S. soil occur in New York. It was quickly followed by the most exciting World Series in baseball history: David (Arizona) versus Goliath (New York). Even if the result had been reversed, I'd still be calling it the greatest Fall Classic ever played (although admittedly less gleefully). The record book shows that David prevailed over Goliath (again), 4 games to 3, in a Series that saw great pitching, 3 remarkable last-gasp victorious finishes, and one historic drubbing: the D-Backs "must-win" Game 6, which ended  AZ 15 -- NY 2. (*It was REALLY 16-2, but the umpire horribly missed one call at home plate. And that STILL makes me mad!)
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My Brother and I had driven to our Ma's house to watch Game 7 with her. With Airheadzona losing 2-1, Mariano Rivera struck out the side consecutively in the 8th inning, and my Brother headed for the door. He was sure it was over and that The Wealthy Giant had purchased yet another championship. But I had been watching this little team all season long. "I don't think you should leave just yet," I nearly cautioned him. But then I thought: No, let him go if he has no faith.
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I sat down next to my dear Mother and said, "I might as well watch the end of it with you." I later learned from my Brother -- who had the game's broadcast tuned in on his car radio -- that when Mark Grace led off the bottom of the 9th inning with a single, he stomped on the accelerator and got to our apartment's TV just in time to catch the final, astounding Come-From-Behind Victory of the Diamondbacks' improbable 2001 season.
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For me, the Arizona Diamondbacks baseball cap symbolizes every unlikely victory against overwhelming odds. It is an excellent way to tell the world that you support life's underdogs, its overachievers and never-say-die combatants. It says to all of the philistines that you believe in the little guy -- David over Goliath; you believe that dreams DO come true; a determined person CAN fight City Hall; and that money doesn't necessarily determine every outcome! You, too, can own and wear this Everyman badge and silently celebrate every "David's" victory. Of course, this cap is also a pretty decent way to keep the bright, hot sun outta yer eyes and off of yer headbone.
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The hat is made in the U.S.A. by New Era, a company that has been in the baseball cap business since 1920, and supplies the actual Major League Baseball clubs with theirs. This is really Big League and top quality. It's life-affirming headwear. You ladies shouldn't shy away from purchasing this authentic piece of Diamondbacks' uniform either. You may be interested to know that some guys find a baseball cap on a woman to be unexplainably cute!
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True, this is the Arizona D-Backs' "road" cap, and every game of the 2001 World Series was won by the "home" team, but here in Phoenix, we all prefer the logo on the road cap. (A rattlesnake in the form of the letter "D".) And since it's predominantly black, it goes with everything, and is acceptable attire at Airheadzona black-tie affairs, as well as our funerals. Visit us sometime and you'll see 10 to 15 "road" caps on Phoenician heads to every 1 "home" cap worn.
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After the D-Backs dethroned the mighty Yanks and broke their magic spell (N.Y. hasn't been able to BUY a championship since), naturally, the loud-mouthed New Yorkers loudly protested that Arizona "just got lucky". Let's see what the 2001 World Series statistics have to say about that...
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AZ. TEAM STATS:
65 Hits / 31 Earned Runs / 17 Walks / 3 Errors / .264 Batting Avg. / 1.94 Earned Run Avg.
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NY. TEAM STATS:
42 Hits / 14 Earned Runs / 16 Walks / 8 Errors / .183 Batting Avg. / 4.41 Earned Run Avg.
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The Diamondbacks were superior in virtually EVERY SINGLE IMPORTANT CATEGORY! We may be pretty stupid here in Airheadzona, but we don't call that "luck"; we call that, "A good, old-fashioned azz-whuppin'!" We call that, "Bringin' the Phoenix Heat!"

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The truth is that the Yankees were very fortunate that a couple of last-minute heroics snatched victory from certain defeat. This Series really shouldn't have gone beyond 5 games. But then that's what made the 2001 World Series baseball's best!
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Remember the great Series and celebrate the overachievers everywhere by proudly donning the ultimate underdog's baseball cap. No, the "D" doesn't only mean "Diamondbacks", it also stands for "DAVID".
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~ Stephen T. McCarthy
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