Monday, April 23, 2012

story teller extraordinaire

I loved Jesus Music.  I was exspecially drawn to the singer/songwriters of that era who could tell as story.  Most folks know Noel Paul Stookey as a member of the folk group Peter, Paul, and Mary.  Paul started coming out with Christian albums in the late seventies.  Real to Real was released in 1977, the year I graduated high school.  Real to Reel is a live album that Paul strings together songs with stories.  It was a very influential album for me, because I wanted to do what he could do.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

we loved this man

Long before some members among  my generation decided that people over thirty were uncool and didn't understand them, we had this sweet old fellow.  His name was Art Linkletter and everyone of all ages loved him.  I remember watching his television show called Kids Say The Darndest Things.  Art Linkletter could take your average everyday run of mill backyard puddle stomping kid and ask him/her a question (I happen to know that little girls like to stomp in puddles too).  He'd just ask the questions and let the kid answer and philosophize with their small imaginative minds.

Art Linkletter had a kind and honest face, the kind of face and presence that any kid couldn't help but trust.  I guess you could say that Art was right up there with Red Skelton, Walt Disney and Santa Claus.  I was just a wee tike when I was first introduced to that man who appeared on our old Zenith in black and white.  At that time I was too little to understand what was so funny about what the children were saying.  I did  appreciated the fact that that nice grownup seemed to take so much interest in what us kids had to say.

Bill Cosby came along years later and tried to revive the show.  Bill is a friendly fellow, but no one will ever be able to replace the place in our hearts for Art.

I wonder how many people today remember him today?  He was a big star in his time whose name was known in every household.  He was a big star that seemed so down to Earth.  Not many television or movie stars today would I care to have come into our home for a visit.  Art Linkletter was an exception.  He was a super star that most families wouldn't have minded joining them at the supper table.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

build me up...

I remember being outside on the porch with our portable turntable playing a stack of scratchy 45s back to back.  The Finlayson kids could DJ our own hit tunes and dance to the music like the crazy mountain natives on the patio that we were.  Neighborhood kids could drop by and enjoy the Finlayson kid's version of American Bandstand.  What a neighborhood, what a day!

What were your favorite 45s?

Monday, April 16, 2012

tic toc

I was creating a post for my long journey blog when I found a graphic from The Time Tunnel TV show.  It was a short lived show that I really loved and hated to see vanish.  The show was about two time traveling scientist who threw themselves into their work.   They had been working on a time machine that was in danger of being defunded.  These two men ventured into time, traveling back to disastrous historic event to disastrous event.   The first episode they found themselves aboard The Titanic before it hit the iceberg.  Another episode took them to Pearl Harbor before the Japanese arrived.  They always arrived prior to disaster and would try to warn the people of that time of the upcoming disaster.  I don't recall they were ever successful.  Maybe it was a good thing that the plug was pulled on the project.

It was a great show for an eight year old boy's eyes to behold.  I haven't seen The Time Tunnel since I was a kid and wonder if this grown up kid would still think it's great.  I like time travel stories.  I know that somewhere in time, that we've all wondered what it would be like to have to  have the opportunity to go back back.

Though I don't think tampering with events of history a wise thing, it's fun to ponder.  I think if God had wanted us to go back in time, He would've made us with forward and reverse knobs.  Hey, wait a minute...what's this?

Sunday, April 15, 2012


My favorite station growing up was Ted Turner's WTCG that broadcasted out of Atlanta.  WTCG ran old movies from the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s.  They also played second hand sitcoms, dramas, and  along with old theatrical cartoons. Turner would pick up old shows at a discount and rerun them on his station.  Frankly, 17 was the best channel ever.  Later WTCG was dubbed the Super Station when the FCC allowed Turner beam his programming via satellite.  WTCG later became WTBS.  They showed a lot of old movie classics and I love old movies.

I loved coming home from school to watch re-runs of The Wild,Wild West, Man From Uncle, Star Trek, I Love Lucy, Leave It To Beaver, Abbot and Costello Show.  I even liked watching odd-ball shows like Ultra Man and the anime classic Speed Racer. 

WTCG also introduced me to my favorite late night news anchor Bill Tush.  Tush had a quirky sense of humor and had a hilarious news show that aired at 3 in the morning.

WTCG  also produced a late night horror show called FRIDAY NIGHT FRIGHTS (1972-73) that  was hosted by a fellow by the stage name of Dead Ernest.  It has been rumored that Ted played Dead, but Turner denies it.  Until someone divulges the real name of Dead Ernest, I will believe that Ted Turner is lying through his crooked fanged teeth.

Friday, April 13, 2012

too masculine

My mother likes Charles Bronson movies.  She likes him because he always gets the bad guy.  Sergio Leone liked Charles Bronson too.  Leone said of Bronson that he was the greatest actor he'd ever worked with.  Leone once offered Bronson the role of the man with no name in A FISTFUL OF DOLLARS but Bronson turned it down.  The role was then offered to Clint Eastwood that made him a star.  Leone finally got to direct Bronson in ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST.   Thinking about it, Bronson would've done well with the part if he had taken that initial to do the dollar trilogy instead of Eastwood.

Bronson started out in smaller rolls throughout the 1950's during the first decade of his acting career.  His career launched when THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN was released.   It's a another western that is well worth watching.  So I too am a fan Bronson.  He's remembered for the two previous movies I just mentioned, but also THE DIRTY DOZEN and THE GREAT ESCAPEIN ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST, Bronson was the star of the show, not just a man among men as in previous films.

In the 1970's, Charles Bronson took on tough guy roles that began with the successful vigilante film DEATH WISH, a role that Henry Fonda had turned down because he was disgusted by the storyline.  I am not a fan of the Death Wish movies that followed.  They were low budget films that Bronson was paid well to do, but not as good as the original.  He did make some good tough guy movies from the 70's - 80's.  THE MECHANIC has recently be remade, but like always, you can't beat the original.  TELFON is an unusual spy- thriller about hunting down Russian sleeper agents that's well worth watching.

One of my favorites is MR. MAJESTYK where Bronson played a melon farmer who took on the mob.  Majestyk is a movie that seems to be overlooked, but it's a part that suited Bronson well.  Bronson is as low key and cool as Steve McQueen.  One film critic said that Bronson was like "a Clark Gable who had been left out in the sun too long".  True, his rugged face looked like a thousand miles of bad road - but it was an honest face.  Bronson once said of his looks, "I guess I look like a rock quarry that someone has dynamited."

Not too long ago Liam Neeson was in a movie called TAKEN.  It's a great action flick.  The entire time I was watching the film, I kept thinking to myself, "this is a Charles Bronson part".  Jodie Foster recently played a female version of Bronson in THE BRAVE ONE.

Not all of Bronson's movies are note worthy.  I used to rent his movies as they were released through out the 80's into the 90's.  He starred in a good many small production company (Cannon Films) B-movies that played on his Death Wish kind of character  They were low budget movies, yet his celebrity status commanded high a salary.  When he died, his net worth was 12.5 million dollars. 

I read where Bronson grew up in a very poor coal mining family.  His dad died when he was 10 years old and he took on the role of provider for the family.  He was so poor that he once had to go to school in his sister's dress because he didn't have anything to wear.  He was the first child in his family to graduate high school. When the war came along, like Clark Gable, he joined the AAF and served as an aerial gunner on a bomber.  Gable in a B-17 and Bronson in a B-29.  So Charles Bronson was more than a celluloid hero, he was a real hero.

Monday, April 9, 2012

far out man

I didn't watch Star Trek when it first came out in 1966.  I discovered the show a few years after it went into syndication.  I remember riding the bus home after school and discovered the reruns.   Mom and dad had a television in their room, so I'd watch the show while plopped on their bed.  By that time in Finlayson family history, mother was working with dad at his law office and the kids ruled the domain until they returned home.

Apparently, during the Enterprise's first three year flight, it ran against very popular shows of the day.  One of these shows was Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In.  The show didn't reach it's true (younger) audience until ratings dropped and the show was canceled.  It wasn't until the Star Trek was aired late afternoon and early evenings that the show found it's young audience and the rest is Star Trek history.

Gene Roddenberry had written for many television Westerns and had sold the concept of Star Trek as a Wagon Train to the stars.  Like Rod Serling and Twilight Zone, Roddenberry wanted to use his Sci-Fi creation as social commentary.  Roddenberry saw the future as multicultural and peaceful.  Ironic how Roddenberry's vision of the future wasn't really that peaceful.  People were getting vaporized every episode.

I guess you could say I'm a fan of Star Trek, but never understood the Trekkie thing that followed.  I don't know the names of the episodes.  One of my all time favorites is called Bread and Circuses.  It's the one where they go to a Roman-like gladiator world, where there are people in hiding who worship the 'sun'.  Another episode is where they land on this weird planet where all their wishes come true and they all start getting offed one by one.  As it turns out, they are on some kind of vacation planet.   I'd like to see some of those old episodes again.

My late friend Jim Thompson once told me that he was on an episode of Star Trek.  He had won some kind of contest and got to fly out to California to be in a show where he was part of a herd of child actors.  He was just a young face in the crowd, but did get to meet all the stars of Star Trek. He told me the name of the episode  at the time but I don't recall.  There are several episodes that involved a bunch of children.  Was it Miri?

Friday, April 6, 2012

retreading it to death

Howard Hawks & The Duke
Howard Hawks directed the John Wayne classic Rio Bravo.  It was a cinematic masterpiece on all accounts.  He then retold the story in El Dorado.  Both movies are good, but the original telling could never be out done.  For some odd reason, Hawks tried to repackage the same Rio Bravo story for a third time and failed miserably.  I watched Rio Lobo last night and it simply couldn't hold my interest.

The story had a great cast.  Robert Mitchum had declined to costar in this film because he said that the script was crap.  He was right.  His son Chris Mitchum had a roll in the film and did a good job.  Chris and Jack Elam seem to be the only characters that really stood out in this tale - even over The Duke.  All the actors did good job, but the script was of course unoriginal and uninteresting and basically crap.

This wasn't one of John Wayne's best works.  Pretty much everything about Rio Lobo is lack luster - from script to direction to the end.  Heck, I didn't even wait till the end of the movie.  I don't recall ever walking out on a Duke movie from sheer boredom.  I turned it off during the final gunfight.  I read where John Wayne was really sick during the production of Rio Lobo.  Maybe that just added to the train wreck of a movie.

Speaking of train wreaks.  The movie actually started off nicely...when the Confederate soldiers highjacked the Union train.  What would've been nice is if Hawks had tried not so hard to re-write Rio Bravo and just tell a different tale.  It's unfortunate because Howard Hawks was a good director and sad that this was his last work.