Real Time with Bill Maher -- Opening Monologue

The whole show will be available ON DEMAND on Comcast Cable after its first showing Friday night (2/27/09). Bank of America Commercial Parody is first.

(Hat tip to Hissyspit from the Democratic Underground.)

Saturday, February 28, 2009

This Story Will Make You Cheer... Ian, You ARE My Hero!

Are you feeling sorry for yourself in the present economy?

Watch this story and you will know what it is to pull yourself up by your bootstraps. Even when you are pretty old! (A tip of my lady's cap to you, Ian. You are a savvy gentleman, and you made the AP and CBS news today!)

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Paul Harvey Dies at 90 -- A Radio Friend Remembers...

WIOD Miami Wonderful Isle of Dreams

Steve Zeigler, retired radio engineer from WIOD, Miami, Florida, sent this to me a couple of days ago. Steve and I were together briefly in 1971-72 at this picturesque station located on North Bay Causeway between Miami and Miami Beach. This was when I took over Larry King's late night radio program after he was briefly arrested. All I can say is that Steve is a very kind man who helped me out a great deal when I was in tremendous need.

Steve: Here is my Paul Harvey story. It runs a bit long but you just might enjoy it on this winter day. Every microphone should have a black band around it, for a few days, in honor of Paul Harvey, "Mr. Radio".

Paul Harvey at the microphone WIOD Miami
Paul Harvey in the WIOD studio (1979?)

How I Met Paul Harvey

It was in 1970 when I secured a job as a radio engineer at WIOD-AM and FM in Miami. It was one of the big powerhouses in SE Florida at the time with the NBC Radio Network. A few years later, under different management, the station aligned with the ABC Radio Network, and there was an old friend, Paul Harvey. I had listened to him quite a bit while I was in the Army and looked forward to his newscasts.

I forget the year, but I’m going to say it was 1979 when Paul Harvey was invited to speak at a local function in Miami. ABC had arranged with our people for him to do his morning and noon broadcasts from our studios. This turn of events really blew me away and knocked my socks off! Here I was, about to meet the very person I have come to regard as "Mr. Radio". It was hard to believe that he would actually be in our building and I just might be able to meet him. My respect for him had grown over the years since MP school when I first learned of this radio giant. My head was swimming. Giant? Maybe not -- he was less than seven feet tall!

As things turned out, the guys in the news room highly enjoyed him, and maybe a bit of his professionalism rubbed off on them. WIOD had a Master Control Room configuration – meaning all audio was controlled and ran through my domain. I was the engineer on duty that morning. The Chief Engineer (CE) came in early to check on me and the uplink to ABC. He was impressed with PH too.

About 8:20 AM, I got a phone call from ABC, New York. They planned to talk me down to PH air time. The uplink was cool at their end, and here, my CE was pacing the floor. With the phone at my right ear, I looked up, through double glass window, into the talk studio. I see the big heavy, soundproof door slowly swing open and in walks Paul Harvey.

I was so at ease (make that at un-ease) I don’t remember how I acknowledged his presence when our eyes met, but I’m sure I made some gesture that was honorable. Paul sat in the chair at the main position where Larry King, Alan Courtney and so many other talk show hosts always did their shows. He arranged all his 3-by-5 cards in front of him – yellow ones seem to be the commercials – white for his news.

ABC, on the phone, said, "One minute". A jolt went through me. My CE was being a pest. Then ABC said, "Stand-by, ten seconds. Seven, six, five…." Silence followed. ABC stopped talking to me – I panicked, I popped the MIC switch and Paul said, "Good Morning America, this is Paul Harvey. Standby for news!"

ABC never told me why they didn’t count all the way down. I was very shaken by the incident at the time. All went well during the five minute broadcast. Then PH got up and walked out of the studio with his 3 x 5 cards tucked safely in his coat pocket for re-shuffling and editing in the noon broadcast.

Soon Mr. Harvey was in the hallway with the station big-wigs. They were all headed to the golf course. I grabbed the sheet of paper from ABC that outlined the broadcast details. Running down the hall with pen and paper in hand, I approached the group and asked Mr. Harvey for his autograph. He did so willingly and I got to shake his hand and thank him. He said, "No, no – I thank YOU! ". I think I still have that piece of paper – I sure hope so. I should frame it.

Later that morning the golfers returned to the station and PH got right to work on his noon broadcast – checking the wires and re-typing his 3 x 5 cards. I was off duty and another engineer was captain of the Master Control Room, but I hung around to get another look at "Mr. Radio" in action.

As air time approached, ABC New York called again to give the usual talk-up and to relate that the uplink was standing tall. Our engineer was over-the-top, nervous about doing a national feed. His forehead was wet, as were his palms. He turned from his chair at the console and asked me to do it for him. I was a bit surprised but I understood and I assumed the seat of power for the next twenty minutes.

Again, ABC counted me down, and this time the guy went all the way to one. I opened the MIC for Paul Harvey for the second time that day. About three minutes into the feed, ABC decided everything was OK. They said "thank you" and "goodbye". Flawlessly, we had completed the noon broadcast of Paul Harvey News and Commentary. I went home, a very "happy camper" with my ABC autographed paper in my pocket.

Steve Zeigler
Venice, Florida
Other background:
Former US Army MP
WHOF [Canton OH] 1964
WOIO [Canton] 1967
WIOD [Miami FL] 1970-1997
Steve says (5/08), "Following 33 years in local radio, Dave Graveline and I started the nationally syndicated Into Tomorrow in 1996. As of October 2007, I am retired and living in Venice, Florida."

Saturday, February 28, 2009

One of the Best Renditions of this Folk Song -- HAVA NAGILA!

Dear Readers,

February is interwoven into our extended family by three ceremonies. First, my husband and I celebrated our 36th Wedding Anniversary on February 4. Next comes Valentine's Day, February 14, the day for love. It's also the date when my daughter Linda and her husband married sixteen years ago in a beautiful ceremony in Boston.

This is for the happy couple and their two children -- who live a kind and gentle life just a few miles from us. Have a glorious Valentine's Day and a wonderful anniversary celebration.

From Grandma Ellen and Grandpa Al

Andre Rieu on the violin

February 14, 2009

Coraline: You Do The Review!


Ellen says: I'm feeling much better this week, but my husband is still sick. I haven't seen "Coraline" yet, but given all the publicity, I'm going the first chance I get! Thanks for your remarks here and blessed be... E/

Metacritic Contributors rate the new movie Coraline


MPAA RATING: PG for thematic elements, scary images, some language and suggestive humor

Starring Dakota Fanning, Teri Hatcher, Dawn French, Jennifer Saunders, and Ian McShane

A young girl walks through a secret door in her new home and discovers an alternate version of her life. On the surface, this parallel reality is eerily similar to her real life - only much better. But when this wondrously off-kilter, fantastical adventure turns dangerous, and her counterfeit parents (including Other Mother) try to keep her forever, Coraline must count on her resourcefulness, determination, and bravery to get back home - and save her family.m (Focus Features)

The average user rating for this Movie is 9.3 out of 10 (based on 46 Votes).

Darrel R gave it a 10:
Delight, creative and artfully executed. Unlike most stop action animation, this production left me completely unaware of the techniques used to make the visuals, and focused my attention on the magic of the story, Bravo!

Melanie L gave it a 10:
Fun story and very artfully done- awesome in 3-D!

Tom N gave it a 10:
A brilliant piece of animation. Sets a new standard.

j b gave it a 5:
A good amount of scenes show real beauty and imagination, but I found myself not ever caring for these characters. Not once. Someone else mentioned that the story was reminiscent of a video game, and it is. What a shame. Unless of course your really swept away by video games. Also, paying close to 3 bucks for glasses that belong to a technology that wasn't worthwhile even fifty years ago is quite a shame as well.

Brian S gave it a 7:
A very accomplished, beautiful film.--visually stunning, and the 3D was very effective without being obtrusive. That said, I thought the last third of the film lacked energy. A lot of reviewers have mentioned the "creepy" tone, but I felt that the film never really engaged at an emotional level toward the end, which would have elevated this from a good to a great film.

Thanh-Tam H gave it a 10:
Coraline was fabulous to see in 3D, and possessed a fanciful sort of creepiness that both scares and delights. It's a movie both parent and child can enjoy equally.

Dana M. gave it a 9:
Very enjoyable movie. The 3D effect was worth the extra couple dollars admission. Incredible animation and imagination by the animators. Note the this is not a kids movie, or even a young teenager movie. A lot of the plot would just go over their heads. Bring your imagination, put on your 3D glasses and enjoy!

Noelle B. gave it a 10:
A beautifully frightening story; gracefully rendered. Loved it!

Grady P. gave it a 10:
If this had been released last year, it could easily give WALL-E a run for its money for the Oscar. It's an amazing film that's sure to become a classic, and it easily rivals The Nightmare Before Christmas (which in and of itself is one of the best animated movies of all time). Well worth seeing, can't wait for the Blu-ray release!!

Kirsten J. gave it a 10:
I'm a college student, so for financial reasons and time constraints, I rarely go to the theatres for movies. This one was an exception. I had read the book, and it had blown my mind. I saw the very first tiny clip released online in which Coraline met the ghosts, and I was fairly unimpressed. One line, the last line in the clip, changed that. "We don't remember our names." It sent chills down my spine, and I was hooked. So, I had my father take me to see it on opening night. I was once again swept off my feet. I was a little unsure at first whether the movie would compromise the story in order to play to the 3D clich├ęs as so many had before it, but my fears were put at ease. Only once in the entire film, during the opening credits, did anything come off the screen straight for the audience, and even that was an amazing artistic decision that foreshadowed with its foreshortening. The artistic direction and the cinematography were mindblowing. I had been impressed with Sweeney Todd's artistic direction, but Coraline puts it to shame. One scene explores a garden with plants so exotic and whimsical that one might expect to find them in Willy Wonka's chocolate factory. The 3D made it so tangible that it was almost impossible not to feel the thick waxy petals and leaves. The flawless marriage between Neil Gaiman's incredible story and the meticulously created masterpiece was what made this work so well. The entire reason that the 3D was not a tacky disappointment was because Selick didn't shove it in the audience's faces. So yes, the movie was visually a treat. But Coraline was much more than eye candy. The story was incredibly true to Mr. Gaiman's book. One or two differences obviously existed, but overall, I don't think I've ever seen a more accurate book adaptation. And so it, like the book, was filled to the brim with the odd mixture of characteristics that Mr. Gaiman intended. It was eerie, bizarre, delightful, funny, cute, and downright frightening. Sure, plenty of movies have parts that are scary and parts that are funny and so on... But it's a rare movie indeed that can incur all of those feelings in the same instant. Mr. Gaiman himself put it best, in a sneak peek interview: "If audiences take away terror and joy in roughly equal doses, I will be very happy."

Bob T gave it a 7:
An enjoyable film. I'm thinking that even if I hadn't read the book, I'd know where this story was going. The pacing of the story was excellent as were the 3D renderings, i.e. the acting. Now I will have to re-read the book, I seem to remember it as a bit more creepy. I'd warn folks with young (<9) kids that some content may scare the bejezus out of them for the next little while.

Charlie B gave it a 10:
This is one of the best movies I've seen in a very long time. Coraline has stunning animation, and a very original plot. I saw the 3-D version, which was just awesome. This movie is not Bambi 2, so don't bring your three year old to this movie. In short, this movie is fantastic if you like animation, and dark toned movies. I read one review that complains because a character said 'oh my god.' Frankly, that's a very typical and common expression, and is an integral part of the English language. What's funny is that those three words popped into my head about half a second before the character said it!

Logan M gave it a 9:
It hardly comes as a surprise, but Neil Gaiman has done it again! With the help of screenwriter/director Henry Selick and Laika, Coraline has become a major success. For good reason. The star power of Dakota Fanning, Teri Hatcher, and arguably They Might Be Giants add a lot to the film's success, as do their talents, but this is far and away a writer's movie. Don't mistake me, the movie's a visual feast. The modelers, "costumers" and animators at Laika are best in class. The cinematography is astounding. The 3D can sometimes be jarring, but no more so than in any other production using the technology. Many of those effects are just tremendous, however. The organic pixelizations, animated gardens and looms (of all kinds) add a great deal to a feel of enchantment viewers of all ages can really enjoy. As I said, this is a writer's movie, and that's one of the esteemed Mr. Gaiman's great talents; breaking the age barrier. It's a tradition in animation, of course, layering adult humor into child-friendly themes, but this is a writer who doesn't need animation, or even illustration, to accomplish the feat. I haven't read the book. Sorry, Neil. But rest assured I shall! In fact, I may just order it now. While I was tremendously disappointed with the screen treatment of Stardust (2007), I expect less was changed here. It would certainly make sense as Mr. Gaiman's Hollywood clout continues to grow. It's good to see genius and persistence rewarded in such a big way. The merit is clearly visible in Coraline. This movie is so charming I can hardly stand it. There are scenes that melt the heart, and few that make it skip a beat. The imagery is eternal, as are the well-stated themes of love, disaffection and fear. Layer into that timeless story the aforementioned visuals, an excellent musical score, great voice acting and Burton-beating production values and what do you get? A film like the perfect layer cake. A cake with creamy frosting, and the words "Welcome home" ringed in candles. Or a deep forgotten well surrounded by a faerie ring. Either is good. Better than good: superlative. You must not miss this film! I give it 9 of 10 points!

Anna P. gave it a 9:
This was gloriously filmed in 3D, with great depth and astonishing color. Yet it's subtle - not many of the "gotcha, 3D!" moments in this, which was nice. The story is solid, although I prefer the book version to the movie version. Nevertheless, it's a great movie for kids of all ages, and for their parents too. A breath of fresh air compared to the normal kids fare, for sure.

[Anonymous] gave it a 10:
Brilliant, dark, adventure movie. Strong plot, wonderful characters, and beautiful visual effects. Coraline is an instant classic.

Ted U. gave it a 10:
Best use of 3D ever. You really can't grasp the quality of the experience on a flat screen. And the creepiness is profound. Like E.T.A. Hoffman animated by Miyazaki.

kairi C gave it a 9:
It was really visually stunning, the 3d was a little distracting in a few places, it was really spot-on the spirit of the book, even with the changes. It was fun and creepy and me, my husband, and my 12 year old daughter all enjoyed it. Amazing stop-action like I've never seen.

Billy gave it a 10:
Excellent. Incredibly creative and one of the most entertaining and fun films I have been to in years. The stop motion is incredible. A must see at a theater, I wish my area had 3D, it would have been amazing. 2D was incredible enough.

Otto O. gave it a 10:
Visually stunning and ultimately the best what 3D has brought us so far. Some say it's dragging at times, but I beg to disagree. Everything is so well crafted is mind boggling. Wouldn't chance a thing. I newer knew stop motion animation could be done this beautifully. It's gonna be a classic. No question.

david k gave it a 9:
Excellent animation and story... I saw it in 3D and was blown away by the quality of the imagery...not for the little ones...but for teens and up it's a great film going experience.

Paul K. gave it a 10:
This is a beautifully brilliant film. So much thought, time and labor went into this, it's mindblowing. It's stop-motion animation at it's finest and the 3-D puts the whole thing over the top. If you find time, stay through the credits for the last 3-D sequence!

Jason H. gave it an 8:
I REALLY enjoyed watching this movie, and my only gripe is a strange one: About half way through the movie, it starts seeming like it's a video game.

Steve O gave it a 9:
One of the most visually entertaining experiences of my life. It's a strange, fun trip!

Jim S. gave it a 10:
The extra money for the rich 3D is absolutely a must. I was sad when the movie ended that's how much I enjoyed my experience.

Rhett R. gave it an 8:
This rating is for the non-3D version. Parent section: First off, I would not recommend taking children under 8 to this movie. The plot is a bit complex and too deep to keep the attention of younger children, and it is borderline too scary for children 6 and under. My children (8,6,3,3) love Nightmare Before Christmas. But I think this movie hits a bit too close to home since the main character is a young girl and story a twisted variation on her reality. NBC is fantastical. I regret bringing my younger children. Jury is out with the 6 YO boy. There are also a few scenes completely inappropriate for children. During the theater scene with the old ladies. one of the old ladies is in pasties and a thong. They sing about breasts, coraline points out how naked they are and even blurts out an OMG. The innuendo and nudity is completely unnecessary and adds nothing to the story. I was very taken aback that this HAD to be in the story. Once again, a perfectly good family movie (albeit for older children) is ruined by a disconnected and ignorant writer, director, producer. why does hollywood find this necessary? It only creates an awkward moment for parents and children. Of all the money spent on marketing and demographic, where is the market research on this subject? OK stepping off my soapbox. Movie section: As far as the movie goes. The stop motion is unbelievable. You will have a hard time comprehending how Selick and team accomplished what they did. And the textures and shadows created by the tangible medium cannot be matched with CG (I draw a similar comparison of the original star wars trilogy to the recent prequels. The magic and artistry of stop motion cannot be matched). There were a few choppy spots in the film (i.e. framerate) but perhaps it was a prob with our theater. The story is exquisite. it evokes thoughts of other stories of childrens' twists on reality (Alice in Wonderland, Wizard of OZ, Pan's Labyrinth) Here are my gripes: Character development is a bit rushed, but not so much you don't feel a connection with them. The story development is bit rushed also, but at the same time, the movie feels a bit stretched out at some points. All in all a great movie for adults and older children. Fans of Selick and the like will not be disappointed. Those not interested in the genre will be impressed with the technique, but the story will not change their opinions.

February 10, 2009

Pink Panther 2 Opens Friday, February 6!

Dear Readers:

The dog didn't eat my homework. Heck, I don't even have a dog, or any homework, either. However, critical family matters and illness have caused me to pause my reviewing and blogging, hopefully until things are resolved soon.

Until I return, I'm posting the review of The Pink Panther 2 written by Mr. Movie, Gary Wolcott. Here's Gary!

Honestly? Gary is a great guy who has been reviewing movies for 15 years. I wish I had a younger brother like him. (Only child, here.) I always enjoy his reviews, and 'though we disagree sometimes, not often, I always respect his opinion.

Gary writes for the Tri-City Herald, in Kennewick, Washington. I totally agree with this review. In fact, the preview showing of this movie, which my husband and I attended with our eight-year-old grandson, was the best thing that happened to me all last week. Other stuff? Not so much. Enjoy!

'The Pink Panther 2' too funny
By Gary Wolcott,

Typically, second movies are usually light-years inferior to the first.

Not so with The Pink Panther 2.

Steve Martin reprises the roll of detective Jacques Clouseau and his all-star co-star cast list includes Andy Garcia, Alfred Molina, Jean Reno, John Cleese, Jeremy Irons, Yuki Matsuzaki, Bollywood’s Aishwarya Rai and Emily Mortimer.

They have a blast sparring, spoofing and doing word play with Martin and each other. Nothing here is gut-busting, but you will catch yourself laughing out loud on occasion and completely entertained by the comedy.

By the way, if you’re tempted to pop up and refill the popcorn or hit the powder room, don’t do it during the scene at the Vatican. After the pontiff’s ring is stolen, a clueless Clouseau and the gang of detectives investigate. It is the funniest scene in a film full of them.

Another highlight is Martin and old friend/comedienne Lily Tomlin doing some spot-on politically incorrect bits on political correctness. By my count there have been 11 Pink Panther movies. Originally a main character in a Blake Edwards heist spoof, the late Peter Sellers played Inspector Jacques Clouseau five times. Some viewed Sellers as a genius.

Others—me included—didn’t find Sellers or his movies that funny. Comedian Steve Martin—modeling his interpretation of the character after Sellers—nearly put an end to a brilliant comedy career doing his vision of The Pink Panther.

It wound up on lots of worst of the year lists in 2006.

Though it isn’t likely to end up on anyone’s best list, after a long week of financial worries, children worries, job worries, The Pink Panther 2 hits all the right notes and is an excellent 90-minute escape.

Mr. Movie rating: "4 stars -- Good -- see it if it's your kind of movie."

Rated PG for mature themes. It opens nationally on Friday, Feb. 6. Check your local movie listings.

For more information, check out

CS Videos: The Pink Panther 2
Source: Heather Newgen February 4, 2009

This Friday, Steve Martin will be returning as Inspector Jacques Clouseau in Sony and MGM's The Pink Panther 2. The character, made famous by the late Peter Sellers, was revived three years ago when Martin and his Cheaper by the Dozen director Shawn Levy decided to reinvent the character. Now, Clouseau is back, once again trying to find thieves who've once against stolen the priceless Pink Panther Diamond, this time paired with a team of international detectives by his aggravated boss Chief Inpector Dreyfus (this time played by John Cleese). The cast is rounded out by Emily Mortimer, returning as Clouseau's love interest Nicole, Jean Reno as Clouseau's friend and partner Ponton, Andy Garcia, Alfred Molina and Lily Tomlin.

February 6, 2009

Our 36th Wedding Anniversary on February 4th -- A Vow of Silence

This is the only digital copy of the only Polaroid photo of the occasion. The two cherubs by my side are now 40 and 39 years old.

The date was February 4, 1973. This is silent applause to the loving Digital Geezer who has willingly shared this path of life with me. My dear husband has been courageous enough to stay with me through many difficulties. He tells me I am not easy to live with. Actually, he screamed it at me on Sunday night, and I screamed back enough to totally lose my voice. I have been told to not talk, sing, or even whisper.

He's right. I am tough to live with. However, years ago, while I was working through some issues regarding the death of one older mentor in my life, he was kind enough to assure me he planned to stay until the end -- and until he has outlived all of my husbands and lovers. (You may chuckle, but there is still one left in the "formerly married to" category, a semi-retired doctor from New York who was alive and well, living in New Jersey in 2006. One former lover passed in 2006, and sadly, one husband also. So, at last count, it's two down and.... several more to go.) These days, when I want to see if someone I used to know is still around, I don't use, I go to the Social Security Death Index.

I'm sharing a neat congratulatory thread put up last year on which kind people at the Democratic Underground saluted us. My affiliation with them lasted only until late July 2008 due to strong but inaccurate opinions about me. So the owner, David Allen, has banned me.

In the interest of brevity, the soul of wit, I offer you last year's link.

Enjoy the photos. My Photobucket account is also completely open if anyone wants to peek.

2/4 - Memories of Grandpa Martin Kovacs, Albert Grubair, and CDZ, who would have been 84 today

February 4, 2009