Friday, October 30, 2009

Day #21,499

Walk 3161-3172: Science World to English Bay and return with Julie from Meetup group

Too rainy to take any pictures today so here's a picture I received from Suna who lives in Wonju Korea. Wonderful use of the autumn leaves! While everyone on this side of the Pacific is preparing for Halloween, it looks like Suna has Valentine's Day on her mind.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Day #21,498

Walk km 3156-3161: to English Bay via Thurlow and seawalk and return via Denman and Robson

seawalk at night
aprox km 3158 English Bay

Movie #1119: The Crash(William Dieterle, 1932)

Ruth Chatterton is a bored rich woman who will do anything to stay rich after the stock market crash of 1929. She has no personality at all so the viewer can't possibly care whether she gets to stay bored and rich or not.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Day #21,497

Walk km 3145-3156: Science World to English Bay (and return) with Meetup Group

large swimming pool (camera lens misted up)
aprox km 3152 Aquatic Centre on Beach Ave

Movie #1117: Darkman (Sam Raimi, 1990)

It's taken me 19 years to finally watch Mr Raimi's followup to his Evil Dead and Evil Dead II masterpieces. Lots of good stuff here but I much prefer the Evil Deads' cabin in the woods to the scientist in his labratory setting of Darkman. This one has a kind of Phantom Of The Opera look to it. Still lots of over-the-top nonsense for the fan of goofy movies.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Day #21,496

Walk km 3135-3138: to Future Shop & Ho-Ho's
Walk km 3138-3145: Smithe/Howe/Davie/Granville/Hemlock/Wolfe/Douglas/Oak/6th

Monday, October 26, 2009

Day #21,495

Walk km 3126-3129: Smithe/Howe/Helmcken/Burrard/Davie/Jervis/Haro/Bute/Barclay/Thurlow
Walk km 3129-3135: to Science World (via south side of False Creek) and return (via north side of False Creek)

street scene from inside HoHo's Yummy Food
aprox km 3127 Davie street

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Day #21,494

Walk km 3123-3126: Snithe/Seymour/Cordova/Burrard

Convention Centre
aprox km 3125 Canada Place

Movie #1116: Gabriel Over The White House (1933, Gregory LaCava)

Oh boy! What a find this one was. Walter Huston is a do-nothing president during the depression who becomes a hands on dictator after receiving a bump on the head in a traffic accident. The similarities with George Bush are amazing. However, instead of doing his best to destroy the country like Bush, Huston decides to try and save it (and the world). They both turn to fascism although Huston goes way past what Bush ever thought of by getting rid of congress and deploying the army to fight crime. Also, both contend that they are doing God's work.
So, the heart of the matter here is that Huston believes that democracy is a failure and must be replaced by fascism. The viewers will be hard pressed to decide whether to be in agreement or opposed to this theory. The one thing that the movie doesn't tackle is once a dictatorship is in place, who decides who will succeed him as the next dictator. Obviously, eventually the dictator will be the person with the most power and would be unlikely to have any interest in the people's welfare. Even though the last scene in this movie is the president's death, this problem is not mentioned.
Robert Osborne, who introduces the movie for TCM, contends that public response to the movie was positive and it was doing well at the box-office. So, it appears that America was ready for fascism. However, MGM pulled the movie and it wasn't seen again til TCM aired it.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Day #21,493

Walk km 3115-3123: Burrard/Georgia/Seymour/Dunsmuir/Cambie/Abbott/Water/Powell/Main/Milross/seawalk/Davie/Bute/Thurlow/Haro

underside of a bridge
aprox km 3120 Cambie bridge across False Creek

Friday, October 23, 2009

Day #21,492

Walk km 3105-3115: Science World to English Bay (and return) with Meetup group

fuzzy picture of Julie w/ umbrella
aprox km 3106 Science World

Movie #1115: The Corpse Vanishes (1942, Wallace Fox)

It's amateur hour over at Monogram pictures. Terrible acting, incompetant direction and an idiotic script all make for a fairly amusing hour. My favourite: when the insane guy is stalking the leading lady, he's also munching on a turkey leg.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Day #21,491

Walk km 3097-3105: Robson/Georgia/Beatty/Cambie bridge/(skytrain)/Cambie/50th/Ash/52nd/Ash/54th/Neal/57th/Heather/59th/Fremlin/Marine/(skytrain)/Georgia/Hornby/Smithe

more trees
aprox km 3100 Commodore Road (from Cambie bridge)

Movie #1114: Within The Law (1939, Gustav Machaty)

Watched this one because Gustav Machaty was the guy who directed Hedy Lamarr in the scandalous "Ecstasy" (nudity in a 1933 movie!). Both Gustav and Hedy moved to Hollywood with mixed results. Hedy Lamarr became a star while Gustav got to direct a few grade B programmers. I didn't have much hope for this one but Ruth Hussey gives a good performance in the lead and the plot about a woman trying to get revenge when she is sent to prison for a crime she didn't commit keep my interest throughout.

Song Of The Day: Church Bells May Ring

Here's another cover tune by The Diamonds. The way it used to work (in the 50s) was that African-American and European-American radio was fairly segregated. An Elvis Presley or a Nat King Cole could slip over the line but this was the exception. Lots of white recording artists would give a listen to black radio and if they heard a song they liked, they'd record it for white radio. The Diamonds were famous for doing this but they stood out from the rest for two reasons: they were European-Canadian and they were extremely good at what they did. Here's the original (1956) version of "Church Bells May Ring" by The Willows who were from Harlem. How does it compare to Toronto's The Diamonds. Both are pretty darn good.
If you'd like to hear a female version, we have Sunny Gale (pictured) on the video (audio only).

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Day #21,490

Walk km 3086-3097: Science World to English Bay (and return) with Meetup walking group

Movie #1112: Sin Takes A Holiday(1930, Paul L Stein)
Movie #1113: Bed Of Roses (1933, Gregory LaCava)

One good thing about still being on Asian time: when TCM has a Constance Bennett double feature that starts at 3:30 AM...... no problem. The only thing I knew about Constance was that she was Joan Bennett's sister. That's a good enough recommendation for me. As it turns out, she's no Joan but when she gets an interesting character to play (like in Bed Of Roses) she's all right (in a kind of Carole Lombard way). The less said about Sin Takes A Holiday the better - it's a dull drawing room drama. Plenty of spiffy dialogue in Bed Of Roses and Constance gets herself a real leading man in Joel McCrea.

Today's Tune: Silhouettes
This one is from 1957. The Rays were from Chicago but the song was written by Bob Crewe & Frank Slay who were working out of Philadelphia. The song was covered by Canada's The Diamonds. Bob Crewe went on to write a slew of hit records in the 60s for The Four Seasons. Also in the 60s, the song was covered by Herman's Hermits who had another hit with it. In addition, we have the Jamaican version by Dennis Brown and a Spanish version by Los Salvejas. The original version by The Rays is on the video.

Day #21,489

Walk km 3079-3086: Smithe/Smithe Mews/seawalk/Denman/Haro/Nicola/Robson/Burrard

alien spaceship from bad SiFi movie?
aprox km 3081 False Creek along seawalk

Monday, October 19, 2009

Day #21,488

Walk km 3075-3079: to the Canadian Tire store

aprox km 3077 from Cambie bridge

Movie #1111: The Bad Sleep Well(Akira Kurozawa, 1960)

There's one little problem with this movie: people commit suicide when their boss tells them to. I know the Japanese are famous for their obedience to authority but.....commiting suicide because your boss asks you to?!?!?
To me, that seems to go against human nature. You need a pretty big reward for taking your own life. Can pleasing your boss really fill the bill? There is an interesting scene where a would be suicide gets to listen to the conversation of his bosses after they hear that he has commited suicide. He seems upset that they're not upset. Can he really be that stupid?
Anyway, this has a very complex plot which is fascinating to follow. Basically, it's the good guys vs the bad guys. In order to triumph the good guys have to turn bad themselves. But because they are inherently good, they are doomed to fail. The one character who is totally ruthless comes out the victor. Not the kind of ending you're likely to see in a Hollywood picture, but a much more honest one.

Song Of The Day: Mambo Italiano
Bob Merrill (an American) wrote this one in 1954. But he actually based the song on an old Italian one. So Rosemary Clooney (an American) records it in 1954 and has a big hit. So, Carla Boni (an Italian) does the Italian cover version of an American song which was really an Italian song. She also has a hit with it (in 1956).

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Day #21,487

Walk km 3071-3075: Burrard/Davie/(bus)/Arbutus/3rd/Anderson/Lamey's Mill/Charleson park/Moberly/(skytrain)/Georgia/Howe/Robson/Burrard

aprox km 3074 from walking path above Charleson Road

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Day #21,486

Walk km 3065-3071: to Hastings @ Main and return

Saturday evening in Chinatown
aprox km 3067 Main Street

Song Of The Day: A Hard Day's Night
Have I done this one already? If so, it's been deleted and the Shockabilly version is now available on eMusic. The song was the title track from a movie released in 1964 that featured a Liverpool band called The Beatles.
On the video we have an out-of-focus Maurindaa singing with gusto.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Day #21,485

Walk km 3048-3061: Science World to English Bay (and return) with the walking meetup group and then home from Science World
Walk km 3061-3065: Robson/Denman/seawalk/Thurlow

street scene at 4 AM
apox km 3061 Robson Street

Song Of The Day: Happy Happy Birthday Baby

In 1957, The Tune Weavers had a hit record with this song. The Tune Weavers were from Boston and consisted of singer Margo Sylvia with her husband, brother and cousin. Margo wrote the song with her brother.
Wanda Jackson made her cover version a year later. Naomi & The Boys (from Singapore) recorded their version in 1965. There is a YouTube video of Naomi singing this at a 1982 concert. They do not allow that video to be shared but you can see it by clicking here.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Day #21,484

Walk km 3039-3043: Robson/Denman/seawalk/Thurlow
Walk km 3043-3048: Robson/Bidwell/Barclay/Denman/seawalk/Thurlow/Davie/Bute/Thurlow

autumn street scene
aprox km 3045 Barclay St. Vancouver

Song Of The Day: Stop Your Sobbing
Here's a Ray Davies tune from his early days written in that melodic "english invasion" style that he was so adept at. We have a version by his band, The Kinks. We have a version by his girlfriend's band, The Pretenders. And we have a version by a band that had no relationship with the songwriter at all (that we know of), Singapore's The Cyclones.
On the video, The Pretenders lip sync to their recording but the verisimilitude is ruined by the double tracked vocals.

Movie #1110: Bad Boy Bubby(1993,Rolf De Heer)

This one starts out kind of weird, then it gets weirder. Then a "meaning" is added and it gets quite normal. Why in the world do people need to add a deeper meaning to a harmless bit of entertainment. If they're good at it they can add it without anyone knowing it's there. But here they just have actors giving speeches. I believe it was Jack Warner who said about Warner Brothers movies "If I want to send a message, I use Western Union".
There is a big problem with the sound. I initially tried to watch this on my laptop but had to stop because even at top volume I couldn't hear the dialogue. It turns out that they were recording the sound from two microphones that were planted in the lead actor's hair. This caused some noises to be quite loud and others to be too quiet depending on how far the sound was from the lead character in the scene. Unfortunately, a lot of dialogue is missed using this technique.

Day #21,483

No walking: flying

Movie #1109: Whatever Works(2009, Woody Allen)
Movie Rewatch: The Big Combo(1955, Joseph H Lewis)

Watching movies on a airplane is not the best cinematic experience. It rendered a great movie like "The Big Combo" into a so-so crime drama. You just don't get that underworld atmosphere from that little screen in the seatback in front of you. The Woody Allen fared much better as Woody relies on dialogue rather than atmosphere to fuel his movies. The Woody Allen was listed at 88 minutes whereas IMDB has it clocked at 92. It appears that there was 4 minutes that had to be removed in order not to upset the sensibilities of the AirCanada customer.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Day #21,482

Walk 3035-3039: a couple of quick walks to get something to eat and photo taking

evening street scene
aprox km 3038 Mabini Ave

Movie #1104: Shanghai Triad(1995, Zhang Yimou)
The first half of the movie is pretty much a waste as it's a period piece more concerned with recreating old Shanghai than telling a story. Once the setting changes to a small island the movie improves considerably. But not enough to save it.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Day #21,481

Walk km 3023-3029: up to Taft, across to United Nations, back via Baywalk
Walk km 3029-3035: Quinino to Pedro Gil to General Luna to United Nations and back

searching for treasure amidst the garbage
aprox km 3028 Baywalk

a jeepney
aprox km 3025 M Malvar @ Taft

another jeepney
aprox km 3025 Taft Ave

Movie #1100: The Party(Blake Edwards, 1968)
Afraid not. Just a bunch of strung together vignettes starring the bumbling Peter Sellers. And when he needs a break they use the drunk waiter or the elephant. It has a 74 on IMDB so I guess I'm just not the physical humour type.

Day #21,480

Walk km 3015-3020: shopping then to StarCity
Walk km 3020-3023: walk downtown to get night pictures

StarCity amusement park
aprox km 3018 Vicente Sotto

Movie #1098: Autumn Afternoon(1962, Yasujiro Ozu)
Movie #1099: Late Spring(1949, Yasujiro Ozu)
It was a Yasujiro Ozu double feature today. Little did I know that both movies were going to be the same story. A widower must decide if he should get his daughter to marry or if he should try to keep her at home to take care of him in his old age. In 1949, the decicision is easy but it is hard to convince the daughter to desert her father. In 1962, the father is about to make the wrong decision but he comes upon a former teacher who made the same decision and now regrets it. Both movies are elegant in the Ozu style but it's the 1949 that is better because we are left to try and figure out why the daughter is so reluctant to marry. In the 1962 everything is out in the open. Ozu usually doesn't bother much with plot development, his is more a slice-of-life type of thing. However, just that small mystery in Late Spring made all the difference to me.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Day #21,479

Walk km 3012-3015: Casa NicaRosa Hotel to Roxas & Padre Faura (and return)

garbage in the water (imagine the smell!)
aprox km 3013 Baywalk, Manila

Movie #1097: Anna Karenina (1935, Clarence Brown)
The main problem I have with this movie is Fredric March. Not exactly the dashing figure that Count Vronsky is supposed to be. They could have used a Clark Gable type here. Also, always hard to sympathize with the trials and tribulations of the idle rich.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Day #21,478

street scene (view from my hotel room window)

Walk km 3007-3012: from City Hall station to Rochor and Selegie to Outrum Park station

Cape Of Good Hope art gallery
aprox km 3009 Hill Street

Song Of The Day: Mohair Sam
Here's a spotlight on some local Singapore talent. I spotted a 5-CD set of Singapore hits of the 60s while I was out shopping today. Here are The Thunderbirds with their version of "Mohair Sam" (originally a hit for Charlie Rich). The contemporary version is by Kitty Daisy & Lewis.
The video is by Carola from Finland.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Day #21,477

Walk km 3004-3007: shopping

street scene at dusk
aprox km 3007 Eu Tong San street

Walk km 2997-3004: to Orchard St via Raffles Quay and back via Clemenceau/River Valley

water breathing dragon
aprox km 3000 the Bund

Song of the Day: Rock Around The Clock
This song needs no introduction but possibly Chiemi Eri does. Here's what the wikipedia has to say. And here's the fellow who bought the 78 on eBay and decided to share it with the rest of us.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Day #21,476

Walk km 2991-2997: north to Singapore River, south to Cantonment Road

aprox 2996 Cantonment Road, Singapore

a temple?
aprox km 2996 Neil Road, Singapore

Movie #1095: Nobody To Watch Over Me(2008, Ryoichi Kimizuka)
Watching a movie on an airplane is probably not the best movie going experience. However, there is not much good I can say about this one. It's a shooting-fish-in-a-barrel movie where all the bad guys are especially obnoxious and the good guys are so terribly nice. You just can't help but be outraged by how the bad guys always come out on top. You can't unless you can see how the film is trying to manipulate you without supplying a decent story or interesting characters. A 7.9 on
IMDB? Not worth watching (unless you're stuck in an airplane seat with no other alternative).

Movie #1096: Death In Brunswick (1991, John Ruane)
Kudos to Sam Neill for a wonderful portrait of the most hopeless sad sack loser of all time. A movie guaranteed to make everyone of us happier in the knowledge that no matter what our own situation might be, there are bigger losers out there!

I can no longer "right click" with my laptop slider. This will affect the picture quality until I get back home or until I can figure out an alternative to "right clicking".

Day #21,475

Walk km 2986-2991: last walks in Melbourne including to Southern Cross Station to catch SkyBus

km 2991 Brisbane Airport

Movie #1094: Inglourious Basterds (2009,Quentin Tatantino)
It appears that the only kind of movie this guy can make is movies about movies. Lots and lots of movie references in this one. Nothing special.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Day #21,474

Hi Jennifer, this is the last of the Melbourne pictures as I'm leaving for Singapore tomorrow. I guess you're already saving up for airfare so you can get back here?

Walk km 2975-2986: to Port Phillips Bay then south along the beach to Langridge, over to Albert Park then back along Clarendon Street

walking path
aprox km 2977 just west of Turner Reserve Pathway

aprox km 2981 Beaconsfield street (across from the beach)

treelined street
aprox km 2983 Richardson Street

Song Of The Day: Sparkling Brown Eyes
The best song about eye colour? Well, there's Van Morrison and "Brown Eyed Girl" and Willie Nelson with "Blue Eyes Crying In The Rain" but Webb Pierce with the Wilburn Brothers doing "Sparkling Brown Eyes" would be my pick. And you have to be careful out there: there is another version by Webb Pierce that it not nearly as good. I believe the difference is that the vocal stylings of the Wilburn Brothers are on the version heard here. The Wilburnless version is to be avoided.
I don't have another version but Roy Acuff's "Answer to Sparkling Brown Eyes" comes close except that he changes eye colour to blue for his "answer".
This song goes out to Suna who can sing a mighty fine "Beautiful Beautiful Blue Eyes".

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Day #21,473

Walk km 2967-2975: to Port Phillip Bay and return

aprox km 2972 Beacon Vista

quiet Sunday afternoon
aprox km 2973 Clark St

old Mercedes
aprox km 2973 Clark St

Song Of The Day: Nowhere Man
The Hahn Dae-Soo version is from his "Best Of Hahn Dae-Soo" CD which I bought when I was in Korea. The Low version is from the Rubber Soul tribute CD by "various artists".

Movie #1093: La Bamba(1987,Luis Valdez)

Not that great. A lot of scenes come off as awkward and all that plane crash imagery during the movie is too heavy handed. I liked the music though.

Day #21,472

Walk km 2963-2967: downtown to shop and snap a few pictures

a couple of trains
aprox km 2865 Southern Cross Station

fish sculpture
aprox km 2865 north side of Yarra, across from the convention centre

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Day #21,471

Walk km 2955-2963: through Docklands to some amusement park then back via Spencer Street

Hotel Spencer
aprox km 2960 Spencer Street

Song Of The Day: I've Been Everywhere
I don't have many songs on my laptop so I haven't been putting up any "songs of the day" while on the road. But, I still have eMusic. And since I'm currently downunder, here's everyone's favourite Aussie tune: "I've Been Everywhere" sung by both some Aussies (the LeGarde Twins) and a Canuck (Mike Ford).

Movie #1092: Invasion USA (Afred E Green,1952)

I've had some luck with "red scare" movies before but this one has to be on the short list for worst movie ever made. The main reason is that they only shot half a movie: stock footage of WWII makes up about half the time of the movie. This stock footage is supposed to show the Russian invasion of the USA. The other half is strictly amateur hour. It may be just a tad better than "Plan 9 From Outer Space" but that stock footage reduced it to sub Ed Wood standards. Then there is the "red scare" tactics about how the USA should invest all of it's money into building a giant military to beat those commies at their own game. Amazingly, once the invasion from Russia is underway, everyone in the cast keeps asking for the radio or tv to be turned off: for some reason, an invading army dropping A-bombs on America's cities doesn't seem to interest them! There are a bunch of unintentional laughs plus the sequence where the guy from Arizona picks up his family along the roadside only to have them all drown because Boulder Dam has been bombed is right up there on a par with the best (worst) of Ed Wood. And this was directed by Alfred E Green who used to be a contender. He had directed some of Hollywood's brightest stars back in the 30s but obviously by 1952 he was reduced to trying to eek out a living on skid row. So, there are some interesting moments here but none that the makers of this movie intended.

Book #260: The Brass Verdict (2008, Michael Connelly)

I haven't read too many Connelly's lately because a) I always forget which ones I've read and b) "Chasing The Dime" was such a clunker. This one may not be one of his best but it kept me turning the pages at a decent rate.