Life in the Slow Lane

October 31, 2008

Abe Lincoln waxes poetic about Niagara Falls

Filed under: Life — pauljlane @ 11:26 am

As promised in Sunday Lifestyle, here’s the text of Abraham Lincoln’s poem “Niagara Falls.” To see the original article about Western New York’s ties to the White House, click on the Lifestyle link to the right.

Niagara Falls! By what mysterious power is it that millions and
millions are drawn from all parts of the world to gaze upon Niagara Falls?
There is no mystery about the thing itself. Every effect is just as any
intelligent man, knowing the causes, would anticipate without seeing it.
If the water moving onward in a great river reaches a point where there is
a perpendicular jog of a hundred feet in descent in the bottom of the river,
it is plain the water will have a violent and continuous plunge at that point.
It is also plain, the water, thus plunging, will foam and roar, and send up
a mist continuously, in which last, during sunshine, there will be perpetual
rainbows. The mere physical of Niagara Falls is only this. Yet this is really
a very small part of that world’s wonder. Its power to excite reflection
and emotion is its great charm. The geologist will demonstrate that the
plunge, or fall, was once at Lake Ontario, and has worn its way back to its
present position; he will ascertain how fast it is wearing now, and so get
a basis for determining how long it has been wearing back from Lake
Ontario, and finally demonstrate by it that this world is at least fourteen
thousand years old. A philosopher of a slightly different turn will say, ‘
Niagara Falls is only the lip of the basin out of which pours all the surplus
water which rains down on two or three hundred thousand square miles of
the earth’s surface.’ He will estimate with approximate accuracy that five
hundred thousand tons of water fall with their full weight a distance of a
hundred feet each minute — thus exerting a force equal to the lifting of the
same weight, through the same space, in the same time. . . .
But still there is more. It calls up the indefinite past. When Columbus
first sought this continent — when Christ suffered on the cross — when Moses
led Israel through the Red Sea — nay, even when Adam first came from
the hand of his Maker; then, as now, Niagara was roaring here. The eyes
of that species of extinct giants whose bones fill the mounds of America have
gazed on Niagara, as ours do now. Contemporary with the first race of
men, and older than the first man, Niagara is strong and fresh to-day as ten
thousand years ago. The Mammoth and Mastodon, so long dead that fragments
of their monstrous bones alone testify that they ever lived, have
gazed on Niagara — in that long, long time never still for a single moment (
never dried), never froze, never slept, never rested.”

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October 27, 2008

Zombie film facts, figures and fun

Filed under: Movies — pauljlane @ 3:15 pm

As promised, here are some trivia tidbits relating to zombie films. To read my review of “Zombie Movies: the Ultimate Guide,” click the Sunday Lifestyle link at right.
TOP FIVE
Following are the five highest-grossing zombie films and their U.S. ticket sales:
5. “Resident Evil: Apocalypse” (2004), $51.2 million
4. “Pet Semetary” (1989), $57.5 million
3. “Death Becomes Her” (1992), $58.4 million
2. “Dawn of the Dead” (2004), $59 million
1. “Freddy vs. Jason” (2003), $82.6 million
MIDNIGHT MADNESS
Released in 1968, George Romero’s “Night of the Living Dead” remained in demand by movie-watchers into 1970. To appease blood-thirsty crowds, theater owners began showing the film at midnight so as not to interfere with newer releases. Thus was born the midnight movie.
ZOMBIES CREEP INTO THE MAINSTREAM
Following are a few video clips pertaining to zombies in other media.

• Michael Jackson’s “Thriller”
This mini-film off of Jackson’s 1983 album of the same name cost $800,000 – more than the total budgets for many zombie films of that era. The video helped “Thriller” become – and remain – the best-selling album ever.

• “Resident Evil”
The 1990s video game franchise used zombies as its foils, as the hero tries to survive in a city that’s been wiped out by a zombie epidemic. This game gave me the heebie jeebies and remains an all-time classic.
• “Treehouse of Horror III”
No video clips are available, but the third version of this “The Simpsons” Halloween treat featured a segment called “Dial Z for Zombie” that saw everyone in Springfield but Homer become a zombie. Highlights include the zombies catching Homer in their thirst for brains, only to let him go after tapping his head and finding it empty.
•••
Finally, for your viewing pleasure, here’s the entire “Night of the Living Dead.” If you’re new to the zombie genre, this is a great place to start. If you’re a zombie-lover, why not relive the creepiness?

October 22, 2008

New ‘Friday the 13th’ trailer

Filed under: Movies — pauljlane @ 11:32 am

Here is the new teaser trailer to the upcoming remake of “Friday the 13th” that’s due out Feb. 13. Jared Padalecki, Danielle Panabaker, Amanda Righetti, Travis Van Winkle and Willa Ford are among the stars. Whether the remake is necessary is open to debate, but the film will probably draw a big audience regardless of its quality. Following the video clip are some spoilers courtesy of movie-moron.com, so don’t read them if you don’t want the movie ruined for you.

The remake will actually compact the key events of the first three Friday 13th movies. So, after negligent camp counselors let a young Jason drown, his mother comes to Camp Crystal Lake seeking murderous revenge. She is beheaded by a counselor, then Jason rises from the lake to continue her work.
It’s also confirmed that Jason will don the burlap sack from part 2, then later the signature hockey mask from part 3. …
Producers say the kills will be “in the double digits”, and that there will be “tons” of “drinking, smoking weed and having sex”. So the intentions seem to be noble at this point.

October 21, 2008

An awards show for an awards show? Ridiculous!

Filed under: Music,Television — pauljlane @ 3:44 pm

This from CBS, which announced that it’s going to run a live show during which the Grammy nominations will be announced that will feature live performances and other theatrics.
Give me a break.
Awards shows are bad enough, but an awards show (of sorts) for an awards show?
Barf.
There’s nary a lower form of entertainment than an awards show. Sure, it might be interesting to see who won what honor. But just announce a list like the Nobel committee and get it over with. No one needs the unfunny monologue, poorly crafted live musical numbers or montage of dead people during which the crowd only applauds for the single most popular person.
If music’s biggest night is Grammy night, as opposed to any night during which music is actually made and/or released, that doesn’t say much for the industry.
•••
THE GRAMMY® NOMINATIONS CONCERT LIVE!! – COUNTDOWN TO MUSIC’S BIGGEST NIGHT®, a new entertainment special, will be broadcast live Wednesday, Dec. 3 (9:00-10:00 PM, ET/delayed PT) on the CBS Television Network.
For the first time ever, nominations for the annual GRAMMY® Awards will be announced live on primetime television. Nominations will be announced in at least six categories, and the special will feature live musical performances by past GRAMMY winners, setting the stage for THE 51ST ANNUAL GRAMMY® AWARDS on Feb. 8, 2009. The special will also celebrate the grand opening of the GRAMMY Museum at L.A. LIVE and will be broadcast live from NOKIA Theatre L.A. LIVE. Presenters and performers will be announced at a later date.
“Every year, millions of music fans and people around the world anticipate the announcement of our GRAMMY Nominations, anxious to learn which artists from every genre represent the highest levels of musical excellence,” said Neil Portnow, President/CEO of The Recording Academy. “The ability to showcase GRAMMY-winning artists combined with the nominations for the 51st Annual GRAMMY Awards represents a milestone for The Recording Academy as we begin the next decade of our important missions. And with the grand opening of the GRAMMY Museum – directly across from our Los Angeles home at STAPLES Center and now the NOKIA Theatre – we are proud to introduce the world to this extraordinary facility which will showcase our rich history, unique and classic GRAMMY moments, and the ongoing legacy exemplified by this very special evening of live music.”
“With this special, we want to emphasize the stories behind great GRAMMY-winning artists and their music, and set the stage for nominees to thrill audiences at the annual GRAMMY telecast,” said Ken Ehrlich, co-executive producer of the GRAMMY Awards. “This event allows us to spotlight even more once-in-a-lifetime performances by great GRAMMY-winning artists in anticipation of the 51st GRAMMY Awards.”
“This special will provide viewers a unique opportunity to witness a great live music event while enjoying the GRAMMY nominations, jumpstarting the road to Music’s Biggest Night®, the annual GRAMMY Awards in February,” said Jack Sussman, Executive Vice President, Specials, Music and Live Events, CBS.
Following the one-hour live telecast, guests will experience a one-hour exclusive concert by one of the evening’s performers in celebration of the grand opening of the GRAMMY Museum. Tickets to “THE GRAMMY® NOMINATIONS CONCERT LIVE!! – COUNTDOWN TO MUSIC’S BIGGEST NIGHT” will be available to the public and will go on sale on Mon., Oct. 27, at all Ticketmaster outlets, via phone at 213-480-3232, or online at http://www.ticketmaster.com/.

Charlie Brown Halloween special air date named

Filed under: Television — pauljlane @ 11:11 am


How glad I am this morning to see that “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown” does in fact have an airdate this year. The Peanuts special will air at 8 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 28 on ABC. I can’t wait to watch with my daughter, who I hopes enjoys Peanuts as much as I did growing up. No word yet on when the Thanksgiving and Christmas specials will air.
As a reminder for anyone who read my Night & Day column last week, “The Simpsons” will air its “Treehouse of Horror” special at 8 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 27. Horror film fans can catch Bravo’s broadcasts of the specials “100 Scariest Movie Moments” and “Even Scarier Movie Moments” from 4 to 11 p.m. Oct. 31 and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Nov. 1.

October 16, 2008

Best of the TV Halloween specials

Filed under: Television — pauljlane @ 11:34 am

As referenced in my Night & Day column, here are some of my favorite Halloween cartoon specials. Let’s start with a couple clips from the “Treehouse of Horror” series from “The Simpsons.”

Garfield’s special wasn’t mentioned in my column, but it’s also worth watching. Here it is.

Finally, just in case the special doesn’t air or you don’t want to wait, here is “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown” presented in three parts.

October 14, 2008

Ringo Starr does Beatles fans a disservice

Filed under: Music — pauljlane @ 3:10 pm

Here’s a report from The Associated Press about Ringo Starr, who apparently has had enough of his fans.

Ringo Starr doesn’t want to hear from you.
If you do write, your letter will end up in the trash. That’s the message from Richard Starkey, aka Ringo Starr.
After 45 years of stardom, he doesn’t want to spend any more time answering mail or sending signed photos back to fans. The fan fatigue led the former Beatles drummer to post a sometimes angry sounding short video clip on his Web site telling fans that any mail sent to him after Oct. 20 will not be read or answered. British television stations broadcast the video on Tuesday.
“It’s going to be tossed,” he says on the video. “I’m warning you with peace and love, I have too much to do. So no more fan mail. Thank you, thank you. And no objects to be signed. Nothing. Anyway, peace and love, peace and love.”
The drummer and singer did not elaborate on the reason behind his decision to cut off a major point of contact with his many fans.
Starr, 68, has maintained a very active touring and recording schedule in recent years, drawing large crowds for performances with his All-Starr band. The band plays a mix of old Beatles hits, Starr’s many solo offerings, and other classics from the 1960s and 1970s. Starr usually serves as front man, though he sometimes plays the drums.
But he has angered longtime fans in Liverpool by telling interviewers that he does not miss his native city. Vandals there beheaded a topiary sculpture of Starr earlier this year — he was the only one of the four Beatles whose likeness was desecrated.

Now here’s a clip from “The Simpsons” that, although is from 1991, seems to tell quite the contradictory tale. Has he gotten crotchety in his old age?

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‘The Express’ is a football delight

Filed under: Movies — pauljlane @ 2:47 pm

We went to see “The Express” opening night last week. I am unabashedly biased being a Syracuse alum, but I thought the film was great.

The movie, a biography of former Orangemen football star Ernie Davis, told of his journey from a broken home in the Southern Tier to high school phenom to the first African-American to win the Heisman Award.

The story was sweet and sappy, of course, but it wasn’t without gritty moments detailing the racism Davis went through. Davis’ coach, ben Schwarzwalder, was also rightly kept as a “real person” who preferred not to think aobut the racial overtones of the days’ events, deflecting the issue whenever possible and even warning Davis not to “cross that line” when he gawked a white cheerleader during practice.

Anyone who knows anything about football knows how the story ends; Davis, drafted into the pros, was diagnosed with leukemia and never played a game, dying at age 23. The film does a good job of honoring his life rather than making the viewer simply feel sad for Davis’ fate.

Even when I was on the Syracuse campus some 40 years after Davis, stories continued to circulate about him and the other parts of the three-headed monster of Syracuse’s glory days (Jim Brown, who wore No. 44 before Davis, and Floyd Little, who wore it after Davis). I was at the Carrier Dome when the number was retired a few years ago, but the jersey holds a special place in the heart of all Orange fans; I still proudly wear my No. 44 jersey whenever possible.

The film did not fare that well, opening last weekend at No. 6 ($4.56 million box office gross). Perhaps people don’t want a football film during football season, but this movie is worth seeing anytime, anywhere.

For a group of football fans who have nothing to root for these days, “The Express” was a great reminder that things weren’t always this bleak. All in all, the film served the man and the instution well.

•••

ESPN did a great piece (click here to see it) breaking down the fact vs. fiction of “The Express.”

Frank Warren a fairly fun time

Filed under: Life — pauljlane @ 10:28 am

My wife and I went to see PostSecret founder Frank Warren speak last week at the University at Buffalo. A lot of what he said was covered during our previous conversation (written about here), but the evening was still a pretty good time.

The highlight was when Frank invited audience members to share their secrets. One woman revealed to her sister (also in attendance) that she was pregnant. Another man read a secret he found stuck inside a PostSecret book, with the woman behind him revealing that by coincidence, that secret was hers (it was about her clinging to the hoodie of an ex-boyfriend and fantasizing about them remaining together). Other secrets were darker, but nearly all of them were captivating.

Frank did a good job keepin the audience engaged through what could have been a rather mundane evening. He also went about a half-hour past his one-hour time limit, allowing as many people as possible to speak. The line to get an autograph was several hundred people long, so we had to pass on that, but it was still a good time. In a generous move, Frank pledged all of the money from sales of his book that night to the university.

Frank teased about returning to Western New York in February or march, so look back for details if/when they become available. In the meantime, anyone who has Frank coming near them would find it worth the time and money to check him out.

Spookiest Halloween songs

Filed under: Music — pauljlane @ 10:10 am

I wrote a list of the spookiest Halloween songs on another Web site. Check it out at

Hauntingly Good Halloween Songs for Your Party

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