Monday, November 29, 2004

You can ask Elayne and she’ll confirm that A CHRISTMAS CAROL is probably one of my all-time favorites. I’ve read the book a number of times and have tried to catch as many adaptations of the story as I could. Doesn’t matter much if it’s animated, traditional or a musical, I’ll sit through it.

On the other hand, I have a real problem with many of the re-workings of the story. You know the type where the screen writers have tried to place the story in a contemporary setting or had Scrooge played as a female. I’m not saying that neither could work (and will even admit to enjoying Bill Murray’s SCROOGED quite a bit), but for me it’s a harder sell. The book/story is a classic for a reason.

It will come no surprise then to say that I really enjoyed the new musical version starring Kelsey Grammer. It was broadcast last night on NBC and, while not among my Top Five adaptations, certainly was better than some past attempts I’ve sat through.

Grammer himself was okay in the role of Scrooge, easily showing the emotional turmoil that the old miser goes through under the guidance of the three holiday spirits. Of course, as it is a musical, there were some scenes stopped dead simply in order to get a song & dance routine in place. The trip to the ‘music hall’ during the visit of The Ghost of Christmas Present (Jesse L. Martin, who plays Det. Ed Green on LAW & ORDER) was a waste, since it really didn’t progress the story with what looked like a Rockettes routine. Perhaps a scene with nephew Fred and his family would have been better, and certainly more in keeping with how traditional adaptations have used the Christmas Present scenes.

The highpoint, for me, was Jason Alexander as Jacob Marley’s Ghost. Marley, accompanied by about a dozen other dead spirits performed a nicely spooky number called “Link by Link” (or so it seemed). Traces of Michael Jackson’s THRILLER not-with-standing, it set up Marley’s reason for appearing and explained his goal of redeeming Scrooge. For me the scenes which are most important are this first appearance and the final confrontation with the Ghost of Christmas Future/Yet to Come (Geraldine Chaplin in a thankless role as a blind beggar and the Ghost). In these two sections we see the two sides of the character, firstly Scrooge the miser and the latter Ebenezer seeking redemption.

Jane Krakowski, as the Ghost of Christmas Past, was simply okay, with a pleasant enough voice. Unfortunately, the initial appearance in Scrooge’s bedroom has her acting more like an exotic dancer performing with a pole, rather than as the embodiment of Dickensian era memory.

I can’t find a credit for the child actor who portrayed ‘Tiny Tim’ and didn’t recognize him. I have a feeling that if he was a regular on some network program they would have made a point of promoting him either before the show or during one of the commercial breaks (as they did with the up-coming scenes for several of the name actors). The best that can be send it that he wasn’t as annoying or whiney as some past Tims.

Overall it was a nice adaptation that I enjoyed almost as much as I had hoped. I’m sure the network will put it up again next season, just to get some more revenue bucks out of it.

Saturday, November 27, 2004

You have to find it sort of amusing that this administration would have the gall to say anything at all about the election crisis in the Ukraine. Oh, geez, maybe there should be a recount or another election. This sort of thing would never happen here!

Hope you all had an enjoyable Thanksgiving. Here at Chez Chaput we had about twenty folks (adults & kids) sitting down for a wonderful feast which Donna and her sisters put together. We'll be living on left-overs for a few days, but have decided to go out to a restaurant and celebrate our anniversary tonight. We were both way to beat to go out yesterday, which was our actual fifth.

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Don't know that I'll have anything to add later today, but I didn't want to forget to wish you all a very Happy Thanksgiving.

Enjoy the holiday, whether you'll be celebrating with family or alone. I've done both over the years and family (with all the problems and emotional battering which can take place) is generally the way to go. I recall having the holiday feast with my fellow shipmates in Turkey (of all places) and at sea several times. I can also remember spending one fine T-day eating at a restaurant since I was unable to get home, having worked most of the day while managing a small retail store.

Whatever tomorrow may bring I hope that you find some time to think of those things for which you can give genuine thanks. No matter how bleak things can sometimes appear realize that there are those who are worse off than you and don't have the opportunity to make it better.

I hope to 'see' you all when we get back together again!

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

If you’ll take a peek over to the left you will see a new link just beneath the ‘personal blogs’. SHOT’S SHACK, which will come as no surprise to folks who know me, is another blog by yours truly. It is actually the original name I was going to give to this blog prior to beginning PS a couple of years ago.

Back in early 2000 I took an eight week online course on HTML from Kingsborough Community College. The idea was not only to pick up some basic information on HTML, but also to put together a website dedicated to the various interests and hobbies I had at the time. I eventually created the page, as part of my ‘final exam’, but never got around to doing anything beyond a few paragraphs as an introduction. Now, thanks to Blogger I can finally put together the site I wanted to from the start.

When I began PS I intended to just talk about comics, movies and such with only occasional comments on politics and such. However as things changed in the world around us I found myself writing more and more on current events and less about what I had originally wanted to do. I finally figured that it might be best to separate my postings into two different blogs entirely. Hence SS will be where I’ll be doing reviews and placing links to things like westerns, horror and comics in general, plus movie & television related material. If I do more ‘straight’ book reviews for the Joe Bob Briggs site they will be posted here. If I actually see any movies (either in the theatre or on DVD) I will probably post them here, unless they are some genre flick which might find itself double-blogged.

I don’t expect to be posting over at SS as frequently as I do here, at least not after the initial set up and reprinting of previous stuff from PS. Naturally, you are all welcome to read both blogs if you’re interested, but I’m going to try my best not to post anything political in SS. I wasn’t interested in all that stuff as a kid and it will be nice to simply have fun for a while.

See you in the funny pages!
Things have been busy both at home and at work, but nothing noteworthy enough to blog about. I finished the 'new librarian' orientation program at Queens Library (note that the system will soon be officially dropping the "Queens Borough" name to the simpler Queens Public Library). Weird to be among so many folks who have just graduated from library school or are still attending. I think I have more time working as a librarian then half the room combined.

Donna volunteered to cook the Thanksgiving feast this year. After four years in Connecticut it will be nice to just get up and not have to drive in to Brooklyn for the day. We'll also be celebrating our fifth anniversary this Friday (11/26). As I joked to someone earlier today, that's twice the length of my first marriage and half the length of my second. What sort of omen this is remains to be seen. :-)

Thursday, November 18, 2004

LOST remains one of the favorite shows here at Chez Chaput. What a surprise seeing Mira Furlan turn up as the mysterious Danielle, another survivor on the island. Shipwrecked with others for close to sixteen years, she has been alone for much of that time. It was her transmission that Sayid was trying to locate. If you’re not already watching this series you’re missing out on some interesting characters and plenty of mystery. There are still secrets about the island, as well as things about the past of many of the survivors left to be revealed. One question is what about those passengers in the rear of the plane when the craft split in half. If most of those in the front survived, couldn’t those in the other half also be stranded somewhere?

WEST WING continues to be a ‘must see’ program. Now that we know that Leo survived his heart attack the writers are allowing some humor to return to the script. The meeting of Josh with members of various alternative energy committees was nice, giving the pros and cons of each, and doing so in a light hearted manner. It was probably the first time that many in the audience had ever heard of Dr. M. King Hubbert and his oil production peak projection. You certainly aren’t getting much from the mainstream media and I don’t recall it coming up at all during the Presidential debates.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

With winter sneaking up on us I thought I'd put a couple of vacation sites over on the left.

Mystic Seaport in Connecticut is one of my favorite year-round places. Whether seeing the town and museum ground done up for Christmas or spending a summer day wandering the recreated streets, I love the place.

I've been to Las Vegas four times and would gladly go back at any point. The place absolutely amazes me, even without dropping a few hundred bucks in the casinos. There is so much going on for free or at reasonable prices that you could spend a week there easily and never see half of them.
So Pedro talked to George about coming to NYC. If it happens the same fans screaming "Who's Your Daddy?" will be cheering Martinez when he comes to the mound, simply because he is now 'one of us.'

Highly paid jocks playing a game for kids, but then we all know that even when we start cheering. Some how when they are wearing the hometeam uniform they are forgiven past sins.

Oh, and of course with the horrendous situation continuing in Iraq and the murder of Margaret Hassan the thing that has everyone upset is Nicollette Sheridan jumping into the arms of Terrell Owens at the beginning of Monday Night Football. We shouldn't ask for a vote recount, but should begin requesting an IQ test before you cast a ballot.

Monday, November 15, 2004

I don't think any of us are surprised to see Colin Powell step down. He was obviously all but ignored after the administration got snubbed by the UN and went into Iraq anyway. It also should not be a surprise to see Aunt, Condoleeza Rice quickly move into his office. The former General was given little respect by others in the administration, and I think it is obvious that he was out of step with the agenda of the Bush White House. It simply would have been too much of an embarrassment to all concerned if he had left before or during the campaign.

Oh, and does anybody seriously believe that Cheney's hospital visit this past weekend, is really the first time since 2001 that there has been a health problem. I would lay money that when the facts finally come out and this administration is history that we'll find that Cheney probably suffered several minor heart attacks or had other health problems which were kept secret. Face is, it the White House under Reagan could keep a lid on the Commander and Chief slipping into senility it should be a shock that other health issues are kept under wraps by the most secret of administrations.

On a baseball note: I can't imagine the New York Mets without Mike Piazza. He has come to symbolize the team for the past few years. It would be a shame to see him heading west to the Dodgers, but the sports pages (and radio shows) seem to see it a pretty likely. The Mets do need to make some changes in the field, but it would still be a shame to see a guy who can still sell tickets catching a flight to LAX.

Friday, November 12, 2004

Perhaps there is some justice in the world, and the family of Laci Peterson can take some comfort in seeing the man held responsible for her death convicted. I think we can see appeals of the conviction, but I'd be very surprised if there is another trial.

I have my doubts about the death penalty in most cases, and in this case I think that Scott should spend the rest of his life sitting in prison thinking about what he did. Whether in a 'fit of passion' and then covering up the crime, or premeditated, he took the life of his wife, then continued an affair even as both his family and hers believed her missing or abducted. It seems to be that behavior, almost more than the murder itself, which has caused him to be reviled.

Up next: Robert Blake, innocent or guilty. Damn, but I love Court TV. :-)

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Before the coming of Air America Radio, progressives had little choice when it came to non-mainstream information on the airwaves. Unless you were able to pick up a college station which did some independent news or listened to National Public Radio (the slant of which is questionable and also depends on what local affiliates would allow). Fortunately, there were some markets in the U.S. which had another option.

The Pacifica Foundation has about a half dozen stations around the country which air a number of local and national programs of information & news. The most well-known being "Democracy Now!" the program begun at WBAI (99.5 FM in NYC), hosted by Amy Goodman. I was first introduced to 'community supported radio' back in 1980, while working as the manager of a small retail store in Westport, CT. The reception wasn't all that good, depending on time of day and weather, but I became hooked on a number of the programs broadcast throughout the day and evenings.

I've placed a link to the main Pacifica page over at the Left, and it will enable you to further link to both the DEMOCRACY NOW and FREE SPEECH RADIO pages. More links are available to the various independent 'sister' stations which make up the Pacifica Network. Most allow you to hear either live feeds or archival broadcasts via your computer.
Well, we're officially on 'baby watch' here at Chez Chaput. One of Donna's neices (whom she helped raise) is expecting her second child and began having contractions last night. This was the second time she thought something was going to happen, but again it proved a false alarm. Her doctor says that she will probably give birth next week, but you can never tell with these things. Naturally, every time the phone rings we jump. The 'plan' calls for Donna to be at the hospital with her neice, until her husband can get there from work (he works for the MTA as a bus driver and he just can't leave the bus, as much as that may surprise regular riders :-). The mom-to-be's own mother will be taking care of her grandson while the action takes place.

Much to my surprise (and amusement), Donna has actually signed up to be text messaged when the Scott Peterson jury comes in with a verdict. She and I are both in agreement that her being between jobs is beginning to get to her. She is actually reading the Court TV "Peterson trial blog", which I find funny since she usually doesn't read mine.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Now that I'm back to working for a public library, part of my job is 'readers advisory'. Since it is all but impossible to keep track of everything out there I can use every bit of help. Book Reporter is one of the resources that I use. It's geared towards both the lay and professional, so unlike some of the 'librarian' sites you don't need to know things about publishing and librarianship to understand what is going on.

Book Reporter has reviews, interviews, trivia and even contests aimed at the general reader, even allowing regular folks to review and talk about what they are reading at the moment. It's not the New York Times Book Review or the New York Review of Books, so the reviewers tend not to talk over the heads of the folks simply interested in seeing what might be out there.

I've added a link over to the left and hope that it may be useful, or at least entertaining.
Looks as if we have a 'death watch' on Arafat, and a 'jury watch' on the Scott Peterson trial. I have heard at least three times that the PLO leader had already died, then retractions saying he was in a coma and now that he is awake. It's going to be a ugly situation for all Palestinians when he does pass away. At least as far as I can see, no apparent successor stands ready to assume the Chairmanship position. Israelis on the other hand, will likely make use of initial confusion and in-fighting to ensure that nobody is able to consolidate the power which Arafat has amassed.

The latest reports out of California appear to indicate that the jury may be deadlocked. I'm assuming that it is between first and second-degree murder, rather than a 'not guilty' verdict. I don't see a hung jury doing either side any good at this point. Just prolonging the agony that both families are going through.

For those who care, Donna and I caught the episode of LAS VEGAS last night, which ended the cross-over with CROSSING JORDAN. I thought this was a better use of all the show's characters, and James Caan appeared more in character than he had in the previous night's program. Could have done without Snoop Dogg, but that jokes gotten stale and when viewed in years to come he'll be this season's Vanilla Ice. :-)

Monday, November 08, 2004

A generally relaxing weekend with nothing major to report. Actually, it's a relief to have the election over and I can now go about ignoring the news except for updates on the Scott Peterson trial. :-)

I have been on the verge of coming down with a cold for a few weeks now. Over the counter medications, plus my prescription to Flonaze seems to have kept the worst at bay. I really felt lousy yesterday, so Donna and I just remained in the house, after running around doing assorted errands on Saturday.

We took our cat, Babie, in for her annual physical and shots, then grabbed lunch at Wendy's. I've suffered from a gluten intolerance for about ten years, but in the past few months I seem to be over the worst. In fact, in my last checkup there were no signs of the problem. I have actually been able to have a couple of slices of pizza, which was something I thought I'd never be able to have again. (Trust me, the 'rice/soy' flour pizzas you can get in health stores, are okay, but can in no way compare to REAL Brooklyn pizza!)

Donna and I have made flight reservations to fly out to California at Christmas. We both miss her daughter Kristina, and look forward to spending a few days with her, her partner and Donna's ex-husband. We had considered going in January, but since we have moved up our plans we are now considering possibly going to San Diego next summer. I hear there's a comic convention out there. :-)

On the 'vast wasteland' front, Donna and I caught CROSSING JORDAN last night and are looking forward to the conclusion of an interesting cross-over with another favorite show VEGAS. Personally, I felt that James Caan's character, Big Ed, came across a bit too heavy handed in last night's show, but other than that it was kind of cool with two mysteries going on.

Thursday, November 04, 2004

Bloggers far wiser than I have decided to cut back on their political rants and I think I'll follow their lead. Not that I won't have a few remarks now and again, but like many other liberal/progressives I think I'm a bit burned out right now.

I expect to start catching up on some of my backstock of books & magazines, plus some comics that I have stashed. I don't know if I'll be reviewing anything for Joe Bob in the next few weeks, since they haven't sent anything. I also want to add some links to non-political sites which might be a bit more fun.

Speaking of which, you might want to take a peek at a division of NBM (which publishes a wide variety of graphic novels and trade paperbacks). They are going to begin putting out a series of graphic novels utilizing the HARDY BOYS & NANCY DREW. You can get a look at the manga style art over there and tomorrow (11/5/04) they promise a one-day preview of the HB book.

To be honest, I was more a fan of TOM SWIFT, JR. when I was a kid, but the Hardy Boys were also a fun read. I hope that the books take off and that NBM picks up the licensing on some other 'teen favorites'.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

This morning before getting up to get ready for work and later on the subway, I thought of all sorts of clever things to say about the results. Upon further reflection I realize that there are plenty of smarter folks already posting. Bringing up the likes of Orwell, Huxley and Sinclair Lewis probably wouldn't do much to make any of us feel better.

We can't even look forward to a balance in Congress to offset whatever mandate G.W. will surely feel he has to continue down the road to imperial dynasty. We are a one-party system with a barely competent 'opposition party' incapable of doing anything. The Democratic Party is useless as it now stands and it is now time for it to either totally remake itself into a progressive force for change or go the way of the Whigs and Bullmoose.

Maybe we can rebuild the Democratic Party at the local and state level, but as it is now it is obviously not in touch with enough of the national electorate to accomplish any of the goals we of the Left desire.

If the Constitution (as interpreted by the GOP) will still allow an election in four years it might be possible to put forward something other than a watered-down centrist.

The most frightening thing (and there are plenty to choose from) is that there will be no investigations into the wrong-doings of this Administration. Any that are currently underway will either be dropped or stone-walled until they are forgotten.

Hey, it was nice living in a democracy while it lasted, huh?

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Sunday morning, when I went out to pick up the paper I discovered that someone had placed a small pamphlet on the railings of all the houses in the neighborhood. It was about the size of a gift certificate, with a black & orange wraparound cover featuring a smiling jack-o-lantern and the word BOO! Imagine my surprise when I found that it was a mini-comic from those wacky folks at Jack C. Chick.

For those of you unfamiliar with the good Christian group, Jack Chick has been around for years. He pushes a born-again brand of Christianity, very anti-gay & anti-choice. Some folks have said he's anti-Semitic, as well as anti-Catholic, but I'm not going to go that far, having only had the chance to read a few of his publications.

Most are in the format known as mini-comics (or Tijuana Bible style, for those of you more familiar with that) and generally run from eight to sixteen pages. Usually in black & white, with occasionally another color added for effect in some panels. I've never seen any credits in the book, other than the indicia stating that it's from Jack C. Chick.

You can learn a bit more about the Chick "tracts" over on their site

Warning: Not for the squeamish!
Donna will be picking me up after work today and we'll go to vote. I would suppose that there's no surprise in telling you that we will both be voting for John Kerry. Also, for the first time in the past few elections I'll actually be voting a 'straight' Democratic ticket. I generally pick and choose from the different parties, voting for Republicans who appear moderate and sometimes for Third Parties if neither of the major party candidates are to my liking. This year I think that not only the Presidency, but the makeup of the House & Senate are too important to leave to chance.

Personally, I doubt that we will know the winner of the Presidential election by this time tomorrow. I hope that it will not turn into the circus of 2000, but I think there will be enough dispute in several states to keep us all guessing. Still in the end I feel more confident that John Kerry will be the next President of the United States.

Get out there and vote!