Posts Tagged ‘Senator Joseph McCarthy’

This week I re-watched “good night, and good luck.” (GNGL), and “John Carter“, (JCoM) both on DVD.
During the 1960’s-70’s, when I was coming of age, the most trusted man in America was Walter Cronkite who presented the evening new for CBS.  But before Cronkite, there was another journalism legend at CBS – his name was Edward R. Murrow.   GNGL is a movie about the abuse of power by a government figure (Senator Joseph McCarthy) and the struggle to contain / curtail that abuse by CBS TV journalist Edward R. Murrow.  While Murrow did not “personally” bring down McCarthy, Murrow’s programs marked the start of McCarthy’s fall from grace.  GNGL is the story of the broadcasts which ultimately led to the vote of censure by the U.S. Senate against McCarthy.
The movie is shot in black and white to highlight the “feel” of 1953 America – in the days before color television (yes, kids, there was a time when TV was in black and white ONLY) – like watching an Ansel Adams nature portrait come to life.   It worked for me, even though I generally don’t care for new films (that is, non-classics) which don’t seem to use the drama provided by black and white as well as it appears in GNGL.  The writing and performances are crisp and David Strathairn captures Murrow perfectly (or as near as I can imagine it to be).
I did not see this film at the theater and this was my second time viewing the DVD.  I’m not sure why, but I don’t have my first viewing on this blog.  The movie is from 2005, so it’s possible I saw the DVD before I started this blog (in ’09).   In any case, this is a highly recommended!!
As an aside, as a young child, I grew up listening to a box set of 78 LP’s titled: “I Can Hear It Now“.  I still have vivid recollections of sitting in an old red armchair and listening to history over and over again: “Fear Itself”, “Day of Infamy”, “Greatest Hour”, the destruction of the Hindenburg, etc.  Some of the greatest moments of 20th century radio and the thread which linked them in my mind was the voice of Edward R. Murrow.
The second movie I watched was “John Carter“, which was originally supposed to be called “John Carter of Mars” or “John Carter and the Princess of Mars“.  I did see this movie at the theater and I’ve watched it on DVD when I first bought it, but for some reason, I didn’t review it – probably, because I watched it mid-week and didn’t get back to a review on the weekend (procrastinating me).
For those not familiar with the story, Edgar Rice Burroughs wrote a series of eleven short novels about a Civil War officer who is transported to Mars and who then has a series of adventures leading up to his becoming a War Lord of Mars.  The books were written / published over a number of decades.  I first encountered the books while I was in the Army.  My roommate knew of my interest in adventure novels (mostly SciFi) and told me about the series, which was his favorite while he was growing up.  He seemed quite surprised I had never heard of the series.  Anyway, I bought the series and carried them around for the better part of 35 years before finally getting around to reading them.  I was motivated to read them by the up-coming release of the movie.
This is one of those movies people say can never be shot because of the nature of the special effects required to convey the story.  Well, I’m happy to say technology has caught up with imagination in this age of the super-hero movie, so this movie could finally be made.  You can read my initial review here.  On re-watching the DVD, my opinion remains – it’s a VERY entertaining little movie.  Is it a great movie?  No…  Has a lot of the stuff (FX) been done before?  Yes.  Does it matter?  Nope, not to me anyway.  Summer escapism / action flick…  If the movie gets you to go back and read the books or the Tarzan series (also written by Burroughs), then the movie has served its purpose in history.
The shame is the movie was so badly marketed, it lost Disney a ton of money and there will probably not be any sequels developed.  That’s a shame because there are a lot worse movies out there that have a ton of abysmal sequels.  Strong recommendation (borderline high recommendation) – I enjoy it more each time I view it.

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I’ve been mostly in bed all week (since last Friday) with a flu-like bug which has morphed into an inner-ear infection which has resulted in pretty bad dizziness (vertigo), a hacking cough, sinus headaches and all-around misery.  Sunday and Monday I was running a pretty good fever which finally crested at 102.5 and then broke about 10:00 PM on Monday night.   If I could just get rid of this dizziness, I’d be feeling pretty decent today.  Still, I shouldn’t complain.  I’m a lot better than I was…
Today was my first day back on my feet for any real length of time.  I went to the doctor’s office yesterday, but that was getting driven to and from (by Hil) and then sitting in the front office chair until they squeezed me in.  Then straight back to bed…  Anyway, this morning I was up long enough to make myself some new “Green-Juice” in my juicer.  I don’t know if it’ll help me get better, faster, but it was nice to move around a bit.
I’m trying out a new “blend” today.  This one isn’t near the hodge-podge I’ve been throwing together.  This one is:  1 bunch Kale, 1 bunch Celery, 1/2 white onion, 2 in of ginger, 2 apples, 8 large carrots – all juiced, with a bag of spinach and a bag of salad greens (mostly Romain lettuce) blended in.  I then added a slosh of lemon concentrate, a cup of apple juice, a cup of lemonade and a cup of orange juice.  This made two 64 oz bottles of “Green-Juice”.  The taste is a LOT better than the last batch I made which included various greens, radishes and beetroots and it doesn’t taste like dirt.  It DOES taste a lot like freshly cut and blended grass with onion and a twist of lemon.  …Which isn’t too bad actually!
You just have to keep telling yourself, “It’s good for me!”
I also made a 64 oz bottle of fruit juice from apple juice, four apples, two ripe bananas, lemon concentrate, lemonade, and orange juice.  That’s blended (not juiced) and it has a nice banana smoothie taste and texture.
It all took a while, because I feel like I’m moving in treacle, and I pretty much collapsed into a chair for rest afterwards.
So, now I’ve struggled over to my desktop to do this bit of blogging…
Believe it or not, I’ve managed to plough through three books so far this week.  They are:  “That First Season“, “Marshall” and “Introducing Mathematics“.   Now I don’t promise my recollection of them to be all that great a week from now, but today I feel like I still remember the gist of each of the books.  So, here goes the review for each:
That First Season” is written by John Eisenberg (2009©).  The book traces the 1959 season of the Green Bay Packers.  This was Vince Lombardi’s first year as a head coach in the National Football League and how he turned his team around from the worst team in the league the prior year to a competitive team (they finished with a record of 9 wins and 5 losses).
The following decade, the 1960’s, was the Packer’s dynasty which included winning the first two (ever) SuperBowls.  Looking back, Lombardi was probably (definitely) one of the dominant professional coaches of my youth.  His supposed quote:  “Winning isn’t the most important thing.  Winning is everything!” is probably the most iconic quote from my childhood years.
This book is about the year when it (the dynasty) could have gone another direction (and never been).  Obviously, it didn’t go the other way and this book attempts to capture the spirit of the man, the team and the town as the dynasty is created.  And, I must admit, does a very good job of it.  I’ve read several books about American football over the last couple of years and this is definitely the best of the lot.  This book is NOT about “X’s” and “O’s”, but you can, in fact, pick out quite a bit of theory if you read carefully.  Instead this book is about a time in history and a sport, a man, a town, a team and a season.  I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in sport, leadership or even as a study in chaos theory – where a small change of a starting factor can have a profound impact on a larger event.
The second book is:  “Marshall” (2010©), written by H. Paul Jeffers with Alan Axelrod.  This book is one of the “Great General Series” about “Lessons In Leadership“.  The book traces the life and legacy of General George C. Marshall.  Marshall is probably the greatest strategic, diplomatic and effective logistician America has ever produced.  In addition to being the top non-civilian commander throughout World War II, he was also the prime architect of the rebuilding of Europe and Japan after the war.  For his plan (the “Marshall Plan“), General Marshal, who was then U.S. Secretary of State was awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace.  He remains the only military commander to have been awarded the Peace Prize.
What follows is a mixed review.  That is because this is a very good book about a great man, however, I struggle to describe anything which makes it useful as a lesson in leadership.  General Marshall was an extremely private man, so merely tracing his life does little to provide insight into how he became a leader or what he considered in making his decisions.  One is left with simply observing the decisions and actions and attempting to derive the leadership lessons from the observations.  For some, this is more than enough.  For the General, I do not get this sense.
What is the reader left with then?  (This is redundant…)  A very private, dedicated man striving to achieve personal excellence in order to protect his nation;  a man who returns to service for his country despite the petty attacks from those who are unfit to polish his shoes (Senator Joseph McCarthy from Wisconsin);  and, a man who is the ultimate logistical problem solver at a global scale.  It’s too bad there wasn’t more information on how he did things or the what he thought about things before deciding to do them.  This is the second book I’ve read (recently) on the General, and unfortunately, I don’t believe there is any such work.  I already own another biography (so far, unread) on Marshall and am contemplating purchasing the four volume “Forrest Pogue” set which is considered the definitive version.  Why?  Because the idea of such a great leader and also such a great American …  fascinates me!!  Again, a very good read and highly recommended!
The third book is:  “Introducing Mathematics”  (1999©) by Ziauddin Sardar, Jerry Ravetz and Borin Van Loon.  This is another in the “Introducing” series which hopes to bring an overview of any given topic via a series of pictures and brief sentences/paragraphs about the great people and ideas related to the topic.  This time, the topic is math and the explanation covers from the dawn of civilization to the present and all of civilization (Eastern, Western, Egyptian, American Indian, Arabic, etc) too.  If you want a broad based overview of a lot of the main topics under math – including the people and timeframes – this is the book for you.  If you’re looking for in depth coverage and knowledge, it’s only a springboard.  In either case, it’s more than satisfactory and I highly recommend it, too.
How’s that for an unlikely trilogy?  Three high recommends…
And now, back to bed I stagger…  (whew)

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