Archive for the ‘Movies’ Category

A Christmas Story (1983)

December 25, 2014

Another seasonal event, this almost impossible-to-avoid movie. From Wikipedia:

A Christmas Story is a 1983 American Christmas comedy film based on the short stories and semi-fictional anecdotes of author and raconteur Jean Shepherd, based on his book In God We Trust: All Others Pay Cash, with some elements derived from Wanda Hickey’s Night of Golden Memories. It was directed by Bob Clark. The film has since become a holiday classic and is shown numerous times on television during the Christmas season on the American network TBS, often in a 24-hour marathon.

The TBS marathon is going on right now. And TBS is not the only channel showing the movie. All this makes me long for marathon re-runs of totally non-holiday series, ideally things on the gritty side, to balance out the sentimentality of so much holiday television. Evil elves would be nice.

Just in case you’ve managed to avoid it, two notes from the Wikipedia article:

[the plot set up:] Nine-year-old Ralphie Parker wants only one thing for Christmas: a Red Ryder Carbine Action 200-shot Range Model air rifle with a compass in the stock and “this thing which tells time”, a sundial. Ralphie’s desire is rejected by his mother, his teacher Miss Shields, and even a department store Santa Claus, all giving him the same warning: “you’ll shoot your eye out”.

[reception:] [the Rotten Tomatoes] site’s consensus reads: “Both warmly nostalgic and darkly humorous, A Christmas Story deserves its status as a holiday perennial.”

Bunnies run amok

July 5, 2014

(Only a bit about language.)

Xopher Walker wrote on Facebook a couple of days ago about the plague of rabbits in his yard and garden (which his dog Dolly was doing her best to address), and cited the absurd monster flick Night of the Lepus:

Night of the Lepus, also known as Rabbits, is a 1972 American science fiction horror film based on the 1964 science fiction novel The Year of the Angry Rabbit.

Released theatrically on October 4, 1972, it focuses on members of a small Arizona town who battle thousands of mutated, carnivorous killer rabbits. (Wikipedia link)

The movie belongs to the large genre of horror/suspense movies (and fiction etc.) — think of Hitchcock’s Psycho — about human evil of one kind or another, and embracing ghost stories, as well as the subgenre of monster movies (and fiction etc.), where the creepiness comes from humanity gone awry in some crucial way, and indeed to the subsubgenre of “natural horror” movies (where natural means ‘having to do with nature’):

Natural horror is a sub-genre of horror films “featuring nature running amok in the form of mutated beasts, carnivorous insects, and normally harmless animals or plants turned into cold-blooded killers.” (Wikipedia link)


Chuck Jones

June 15, 2014

On Facebook, this Looney Tune pair offered by Roy Calfas:


The War Between Bugs and Daffy. The creations of animator Chuck Jones.


Noir 1949

June 14, 2014

The Zippy from the 11th takes Zippy back, in a Pontiac, to a cinematic 1949:


The film noir movies in question (from that year) are, in order, The Big Steal and Cover Up. And the first features one of the major figures of film noir, the icon of masculinity Robert Mitchum:

Robert Charles Durman Mitchum (August 6, 1917 – July 1, 1997) was an American film actor, author, composer and singer. … Mitchum rose to prominence for his starring roles in several major works of the film noir style, and is considered a forerunner of the anti-heroes prevalent in film during the 1950s and 1960s. (Wikipedia link)


May-June turnover

June 1, 2014

A One Big Happy from yesterday (May 25), on conversational organization; and then three from this morning’s (June 1st) crop: a Bizarro with an ambiguity introduced by truncation; yet another meta-Zippy, this time on reports of Zippy’s death; and a Rhymes With Orange with a pun from the Black Lagoon.


Eating and nothingness

April 22, 2014

Today’s Zippy, on the emptiness of the Automats, with a nice pun in the title:



Another cultural allusion

March 6, 2014

A recent Joe Dator New Yorker cartoon:

What does it take to comprehend (and then enjoy) this cartoon? A Martian would need to know about  texting and the language conventions available to texters. My 10-year-old grand-daughter would get that much, but would still be baffled by the cultural allusion.


More deaths

February 14, 2014

Two recent deaths in the news. First, funny man Sid Caesar, who transformed the face of American comedy in the 1950s through Your Show of Shows. Tributes and recollections are everywhere, Second, and less well known, is filmmaker Gabriel Axel.



January 30, 2014

Yesterday’s Bizarro, in a truncated version:


This is funny as it stands, but it takes a considerable amount of pop-cultural knowledge to comprehend. The keys are the reference to motels and to stabbing: Psycho.


My Favorite Year

December 17, 2013

Peter O’Toole died a few days ago, and there are tributes everywhere. Mostly for his most famous performance, in Lawrence of Arabia. But here I want to celebrate a comic performance that has given me pleasure for 40 years: in My Favorite Year (1982).