Archive for the ‘entertainment’ Category

An Alastair Sim-Margaret Rutherford Masterpiece: The Happiest Days of Your Life

December 21, 2013

Silverwolf was tempted to call this essay “The Happiest Eighty-one Minutes of Your Life”, but since this is a film review, and not a description of a roll in the hay, it seemed more appropriate to call it by the title of the film.

“The Happiest Days of Your Life” is a masterpiece, and we wish we could have included Frank Launder and John Dighton in the hyphenated part of our title. Launder was the director and script collaborator, while John Dighton wrote the screenplay, based on his stage play of the same name. The material is of the highest, and the acting is of the highest, and in combination this film will take you out of your world, and throw you back into the world of British boy’s private schools in the 1950s.

The plot is a bit silly, and of course unbelievable, but on it is hung a whole series of very witty and clever episodes, with sparkling dialogue. It commences with the arrival of a new teacher at Nutbourne College, a boys private school presided over by the misogynistic Alastair Sim as Wetherby Pond, the headmaster. Due to an error at the British Bureaucratic Educational Ministry, a girls school, which is being evacuated, is mistakenly relocated to Nutbourne, but Sim does not find out until the last minute, and is forced to accomodate a hundred girls plus staff at short notice. The girls school, St. Swithin’s, is headed by headmistress Margaret Rutherford, who is both adamant and forthright, and will brook no nonsense. When these two personalities clash, the sparks fly.

At the same time as Pond and Whitchurch (Rutherford) are figuring out a way to deal with the situation, new spanners are thrown in the works. Whitchurch suddenly remembers that she has invited some of the girls’ parents down to see the new school, while Pond is unexpectedly visited by three of the Directors of the Harlingham School, an institution of which Pond has been aspiring to become headmaster, as he tells his staff in the introductory scenes of the film.

The efforts of Pond and Whitchurch to keep the two sets of visitors separate, and to not let them know that now the school is co-ed, require split-second timing. And there are awkward moments, as when a locker door swings open in the supposed girls’ locker room, only to reveal three pin-ups taped to the inside. See how Miss Whitchurch explains her way out of that one!

Then there are some very clever lines that the casual observer may miss the intent of: Pond laments in one scene that the British Railways “don’t know their L.M.S. from their Southern Region”, or Pond’s complaint of the Ministry of Education, which has been passing the school’s dossier from one department to another for days, that “We’ve got to sit here while they keep on passing around.” Or, while analysing John Knox’s Latin tirade, “The First Blast of the Trumpet Against the Monstrous Regiment of Women”, Pond asks the class what they should do with the word “trumpet”. Talbot, one of the students, leans forward and whispers in the ear of the boy in front of him. Pond explodes with “Talbot, take another hundred lines!”

Then there are some nice touches, like the great comedienne, Joyce Grenfell, suddenly writing here name in the dust of a table-top. Or the French Master, Jouet, who is perpetually asleep, being awakened, and coming out of his sleep conjugating a French irregular verb.

John Dighton, the playwright who turned to film, may be the most essential ingredient in this masterpiece of cinema, for it was his play on which it is based, and we imagine many of the best lines of the film must come directly from it. Dighton went on to work on two other British Comedy Masterpieces, Kind Hearts and Coronets with Denis Price, which is also a must-see, and The Man in the White Suit with Alec Guinness. Dighton also has credits for two other excellent films, “Brandy for the Parson” and “Folly to Be Wise”. 

Standouts in the supporting cast, besides Joyce Grenfell, are the ubiquitous Richard Wattis, who must have been in virtually every good British Comedy Film ever made back then, Guy Middleton as Victor Hyde-Brown, the sports master who loves to drink and smoke, gamble and chase girls, and Edward Rigby as Rainbow, the caretaker who can get you blackmarket whiskey or petrol. “Times is difficult” is his justification. Amongst the Directors of the Harlingham School we find the great actor, Laurence Naismith, whom Sir Laurence Olivier chose to act in his incredible “Richard III”, and also the very genial Stringer Davis, who was married to Margaret Rutherford, and who starred with her in several of the later Miss Marple films.

One also should mention the zippy musical score written by Mischa Spoliansky. The upbeat music has the viewer going from the get-go, and, though you probably won’t notice it on the first viewing, the score is used very wisely during the progression of the film.

The great Zen Japanese artists believed that a great work of art should always contain a flaw, since perfection was against the state of Nature, and there is one minor flaw in “The Happiest Days”. You’d never catch it if we didn’t live in the age of digital video, where you can observe a clip over and over in a short space of time. Imagine trying it with a 16mm or 35mm projector and film.

The flaw comes when Victor Hyde-Brown picks up the phone to check on his racing results with his bookie, and begins to speak to the operator (Joan dear) before he actually has the receiver and mouthpiece in place. We’ve seen this error over and over in old movies, and we suspect they didn’t bother to reshoot the scenes because they figured the audience would never catch it on the first viewing (when the mind must put itself into a state of belief in the reality of what it is seeing, or else it cannot play the game of watching and enjoying a film).

But the greatest strength of the film comes from Alastair Sim’s absolutely-flawless acting. Every gesture, every facial expression, every inflection of the voice is so professionally done, that one is aware one is watching a Master perform. Ten years earlier, Sim was an excellent actor, as can be seen in the Inspector Hornleigh series with the great Gordon Harker. By 1950 he was himself a Great Actor.

“The Happiest Days of Your Life” was also a trailblazer in the sense that it showed a comedy about a British private school could be a commercial success. This film undoubtedly was an influence on the creation of the St. Trinians series of comedies, also with Alistair Sim. You’ll note that Frank Launder, the director, also directed, wrote, and produced the five St Trinian’s Films, the first three of which are top-hole, while Ronald Serle, who did the background drawings behind the main titles, also did similar drawings for the St Trinian’s films.

All in all, “The Happiest Days of Your Life” will give you a very happy 81 minutes of viewing. It’s humor is wholesome enough that children can enjoy it, while quick-witted adults will garner an entirely different level of pleasure from its dialogue.

“The Happiest Days of Your Life” — a real Masterpiece.

Hoooooooooooooooooooooowwwwwwwwwwwwwwww! — Silverwolf

Advertisements

Silverwolf’s Apologia for His Blog’s Artistic Failings

September 1, 2013

Dear Readers —

The manner in which Silverwolf has been obliged to write his blog posts has inevitably produced innumerable blemishes in them, from an artistic point of view. The significance of many posts was only developed by degrees in the progress of the blog, but the rearrangement and amendation of the blogposts, which each day’s political news continually rendered desirable, could be effected very imperfectly or sometimes not at all, due to the fact that the blog had already been published to the worldwide web by clicking the “publish” bar. Of the defects in the constructions of the blogs, due to this cause, I am painfully aware. Especially will they be apparent to any government snoop who may be at pains to peruse these posts.

I must trust to the singular attraction of the wonderful cause of Libertarianism (i.e. Classical Liberalism or Jeffersonianism) itself to render my pages agreeable in spite of their faults. For myself, I must say, in all modesty, that the most exciting novels I have ever read have failed to hold my attention with so close a grasp as has been exerted by the fascination of my own blog posts.

If my blog posts give a clear and intelligible account of the Philosophy of Libertarianism, especially as it impinges on the American Political Scene, I hope it may derive such an interest from them as will serve in part to hide, or at least to obtain an excuse for, its faults of execution.

Sincerely yours, Lobo Silverwolf, Esq.

Hoooooooooooooooooooowwwwwwwwwwww! — Silverwolf

The Charles C. Bunkley Infallible Roulette System

March 4, 2013

The Charles C. Bunkley Infallible Roulette System

A Short Story by “Lobo Silverwolf”

Charles Bunkley stared at himself in his hotel room mirror. He looked pale around the cheeks and the chin, but his nose and forehead were a Mojave nut-brown. He’d shaved for only the first time in the last six years yesterday, as he prepared for his trip to Las Vegas. Then, early this morning, he’d began the long drive from Wonder Valley, east of 29 Palms, to Sin City, taking the back roads at 35 and trying to stay calm. Now he was finally here, and in an hour would take place the culmination of six years of study, of spinning the roulette wheel he’d set up in his cabin thousands of times a day and recording the results, of reading everything he could on roulette and its strategies, and finally, only a few weeks previously, of coming upon the idea whose result was an infallible system. For centuries men had searched for a system in roulette that would guarantee them a profit, but it was only he, Charles Calvin Bunkley, who had, amongst all men on earth, discovered that system. And now he was going to use it.

Charles dressed leisurely, putting on the unused blue suit and tie he had bought years ago for just this day. Once finished, he looked like any other nicely dressed tourist who would blend in easily with the background. There was no need to attract attention. The casino must never suspect that he had a system, or he would be banned from every casino in America once the news got out.

Instead of taking the concourse that connected the hotel to the casino, Charles went out onto the street again, to look at America one more time before he became a wealthy man. Right now, financially, he was much the same as the tourists and dressed-up single ladies that passed him in the street, but in a little while he would belong to an aristocracy that had always been worshipped in America, in spite of the lip service given to its love of the poor.

He entered the main door of the casino, detecting immediately the hated smell of tobacco smoke. It was something he would just have to put up with for a time; the money would make it worthwhile.

He went to the cashier, withdrew the 50 Franklins from his shoulder money-belt, and asked for five thousand-dollar chips. The cashier seemed unfazed by the request; she must be used to high rollers.

As Charles moved in the direction of the various gaming tables, he repeated to himself, over and over, “middle-red-28”, the three bets he must make to win, that had come to him in a flash once he’d discovered the final key to his system.

Charles went in search of a roulette wheel, looking for a table that was fairly quiet. He spotted one, manned by a young woman with such jet-black hair that Charles thought she must be partly Native American. Suddenly he felt that this was a good omen, for had not Native Americans once been referred to derogatorily as “Redmen”, and since this was not a man, the “Red” corresponded exactly to the second element in his three bets. But then he questioned why he needed an “omen”  at all to confirm the validity of his system. Did not this show a lack of confidence in the system’s infallibility, and had he not been logically sure that, willy-nilly, his system must work?

The dealer invited the few players standing at the table to place their bets, and Charles placed his five thousand-dollar chips on the middle column, which paid 2-to-1. She spun the wheel, spun the ball in the other direction, and finally called out “eight”. Of course, Charles had won, and she pushed two stacks of five similarly-colored chips next to Charles’ original five. Then Charles placed the three stacks of chips on Red. The dealer spun the wheel again and Charles watched the ball intently. When it fell onto a red number and stayed there, he didn’t even notice what number she called out; he was waiting for that fresh supply of 15 thousand-dollar chips, which were pushed towards him a few moments later.

Deftly, he crammed the six stacks of $5,000 each onto number 28. He noticed that the young woman now watched him, and the betting table, intently. He caught the pit boss, standing off to one side, eyeing the proceedings and tightening his lips slightly. The other players and spectators at the table quickly became hushed as they realized the magnitude of the bet. Then the dealer spun the wheel, and sent the ball circumnavigating the bowl in the other direction. Charles watched the ball, then looked up, repeating to himself, over and over, “My system is infallible; my system is infallible.” He closed his eyes.

He didn’t hear the color called out, only the words “twenty-eight”.

He’d done it! His infallible system had worked and he was a millionaire! He’d done what no man had ever done before!

He could not help but grin, and several spectators actually broke into a small round of applause. He supposed they thought him plucky; but Charles knew that there was no luck involved.

He tipped the young woman a thousand-dollar chip, and placed it on “seven” for her, then walked away. He had not used the system when he placed that bet, but just random chance, and it didn’t surprise him, as he moved away from the table, to hear “thirteen” called out. She must have been sorely disappointed, but at least she’d had a momentary thrill. And it was important for the casino to see him lose a bet; they must not know of the  system.

At the cashier’s window, Charles asked for 50 Franklins, which he replaced in his shoulder money-belt, and a cashier’s check for one-million and forty-four thousand dollars. Tomorrow, when he got back to 29 Palms, he would deposit the check in a large bank, and, when it had cleared, spread the money around several banks so that it was all Federally Insured. He wasn’t going to lose it after six years of struggle.

Returning to his hotel room, he took the concourse that joined it to the casino. There was no need to walk on the street now, with the rabble. Did these well-dressed couples that now passed him know that they were passing the first man in history to successfully figure out an infallible system in roulette? No, of course they didn’t, but it was a fact which he obviously must keep secret. No, he would never tell anyone.

But, now that he knew the system actually worked, he would use it again and again, until he was one of the wealthiest men in America. A wave of euphoria swept over Charles: all things were possible for him now.

Back in his room, he prepared to leave, feeling too elated to sleep, and not even considering now that he was paying for a room till tomorrow, so he ought to stay to get his moneysworth. He would never have to think in such mean terms again.

He opened his suitcase, and began to carefully pack the few belongings he’d brought. Then he noticed his large, three-ring binder notebook with his six years of statistics; within that book lay the secret of his success. He picked up the notebook with a feeling of affection; it was his old, old friend. He put it down again, and opened the front cover. Then, carefully unclipping it, he removed the essential element in his system, the element that had eluded him for six years until recently when, in a flash, he’d conceived in his mind the infallible system.

As he removed the Smith and Wesson snubnose, he smiled at it. It felt heavy and powerful in his hands, like gold. He released the cylinder catch, twirled the dial, and removed the single bullet it held. Then he went to the bathroom, and dropped the bullet into the toilet bowl, flushing it so it moved out of sight.

This time he hadn’t needed that part of the system.

The End

Hooooooooooooooooooowwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww! — Silverwolf

La Cinematheque Youtube: The Ancient Film Student’s Dream

September 27, 2012

If you could have told some of those film students 40-odd years ago that the films they were paying $2 (silver coinage) to see once in the theatre, they could, two score hence, see over and over for just the cost of their internet service, they wouldn’t have believed you. But that is the current reality on youtube and various other archives that have large stores of films in the public domain.

Never has the student of cinema had such an array of films to choose from, and one could, in the course of one twenty-four hour period, see all or most of the major works of countless great cineaste “auteurs”. The French were really the ones to push the “auteur” theory, that films are the direct and sole inspiration of one man, the director-writer, instead of the insipid Hollywooden-American factory technique (you can’t call it a theory) of churning out exactly what it knew it would take to bring them into the boxoffice. The “auteur” theory was prominent in Italian Cinema too, and in Svensk it was manifest in Ingmar Bergman. (Svensk cinema is where they take flickas to the flickers). In Hollywood, only a few survived the factory-production rigidity, like Hitchcock, but most were soon forgotten, as are most good technicians.

In Britain, one gets the feeling it was a combo of auteur and studio demands. But starting in the late fifties, it certain feels like films were becoming the expression of the director as auteur more than a puppet on the strings of the producer. However, everywhere, even in Europe, those who chose to go their own way often had horrendous problems financing their movies, like a compulsive gambler who has suckered so many friends out of money, he can no longer raise a stake. Welles and Fellini both had this problem sucking energy out of their creative drives. Welles bitterly described it as having to put 99% of his creative energy into raising money from producers and put only 1% of it into actually creating the film. We can only imagine what would have been produced if he could have put 100% into his films.

Paradoxically, we could say that there are now so many important movies that the serious film student “must” see, that if he were to see them all, his entire life would pass in the movie theater, and his lack of real life experience would make him unable to empathetically respond to the situations that arise in the film. Film is a veritable opium den where hundreds-of-millions, perhaps billions, of human beings live away their lives, watching a real-seeming fantasy that could never actually occur to them, especially in a socialist society that crushes and fragments the energy of the individual into a thousand superficial directions, and leads to a life lived in lines, dealing with bureaucrats.

Still, there have been so many amazing films made, one cannot but admire the medium as a vehicle that can say so much, almost everything, although it can never duplicate the interior thoughts and reality that a writer of fiction, especially in the first person, is capable of. Film can never express subjectively all that writing can, but no writing can duplicate the cinema’s specific moulding and manipulation of the viewer’s consciousness by the film maker so that they see only what he wants them to see, by his directing their attention. Writing is a dream created by the writer, but seen differently in the mind’s eye by every individual reader. Film is a dream in which everybody sees exactly the same images, but whose emotional reaction in the viewer always differs. (Though notice how, in intelligent discussion of a film, two different people can share the same subtle perceptions as to style or effect that show hardly any difference.)

Whether the film student should watch films at all, or start virgin with only the images in his head to guide him, and never let any other influence him (or even make films without ever having seeing a motion picture or operated a camera, as in the anthropological experiment of Worth and Adair’s, conducted in 1966, in which they gave cameras to a group of Navajos and asked them to film whatever they wanted from their own perspective, in order to learn how certain cultures look at things, something that never could be gleaned from just making films of the people in these cultures)— this is a decision that now few can make given the almost immediate stationing of the tot in front of the television or DVD player. Even the government schools are getting into the act, robotizing the brains of the small children in front of the computer screen, so that those brains can quickly become mechanical and uncreative, and fodder for that “high-paying job” that will never exist.. Soon there will be no unspoilt individuals.

But given the popularity of film, and its amazing possibility of letting us see Shakespeare’s Globe anytime, anywhere, and in any form we like, and for not even that while-a-way-a-shilling Shakespeare charged, we know that people are not going to give up this new form of crack cocaine, invented such a short time ago. And for those who want to study the past milestones of this medium, there never has been such an amazing school and campus of Film Studies as youtube, the cinematheque in a box on your desk.

Hooooooooooooooooooooooooooowwwwwwwwww — Silverwolf

The Olympics Travesty: The World’s Great Escape

August 10, 2012

Once again the Socialists and Nationalists of the world are providing bourgeois entertainment for their masses, as those who preach the brotherhood of man breed competition both nationalist and individual. Only 2,197 miles away, women and children are having their throats cut, being buried under concrete rubble, and being gunned down by snipers as they search for food and water. But the world seems to be far more interested in the “agony” of the athletes, in their puerile competitions, rather than the agony of the children being slaughtered. Such is the morality of the Social Democrats of Euroland, and the Socialist regimes around the world, which is virtually all of them. All they seek is entertainment and the corn dole: bread and circus.

And, to exacerbate the crime, the Individual Capitalist taxpayer is looted of the fruits of his labor to subsidize this mass entertainment, and the government-run radio stations in England, America, Australia, and Canada, can get away with wasting their taxpayer’s money on providing this pablum of non-essential news just because the vaste majority of the populace lap it up like cats licking radiator coolant. This crime against Capitalists and Capitalism, this vast dissipation of life energy that could be put to survivalist use, or merely conserved for future utility, — all this energy is dissipated and wasted in the name of providing mass entertainment.

The same hypocritical politicians who preach brotherly love, equality, and internationalism, are right up front there talking out of the other side of their mouths about the spirit of the Olympics, the greatness of cutthroat-competitive sports, and why didn’t our great country win more of these stupid tokens. Anything to divert the masses from the misery which Government brings on the Individual, especially the young.

Just as in ancient Rome, the modern Citizens of Rome — the Bourgeoisie in North America, Europe and Australia — are once again enjoying their Bread and Circus, while all around in their surrounding Empires, slaves work in mines, tow the galleys of the taxman’s exploitation, and starve in the face of the continuing central bank’s inflation.

Escape, Mankind, into your dream life of useless sports entertainment for a few hours, for when it’s over, you’ll be faced with the same brutal, ugly, vivisectionist world.

Hooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooowwwwwwwwwwwwww! — Silverwolf

Roy Orbison Dreams Up Rock Music’s Most Original Song

September 12, 2010

Silverwolf is growing hungry, for it is well past his oatmeal and banana, (with  side order of boiled stinging nettles), breakfast time. But it can’t be helped because he has been captured by the necessity, now eighteen times repeated in a row, of listening to Roy Orbison’s masterful Masterpiece, “In Dreams”.

In some ways, this is one of the most amazing songs Silverwolf can recall. Firstly, because unlike many great rock songs, it begins with a conventional introduction so trite sounding, as if it were the beginning of a thousand other songs that were written in that era, that Silverwolf might easily have raised the stylus (he means hit cancel) before the 27th second, when the meat of the song begins. How many songs you strongly like begin with something you don’t like? We’d bet not many.

But once past this hurdle into musical paradise, one enters the Realm. Orbison writes a song like no other every written in pop-rock music that Silverwolf can ever recall.

Listen to it. What is so unique about it? Well, in the word “unique” lies the seed that produces the nutshell, for if you attend the song several times effortlessly, your consciousness may discern the fact that this song, unlike all others, really has no repeatable pattern to it. Virtually all rock songs one can think of, let’s say the first 98% of them, have a beginning chorus or verse, a middle break section, and then either a return to chorus or verse, or both. But in Orbison’s “In Dreams” you will notice that there is no repetition, but rather a growing, or constant movement or evolvement towards something else, always indefinable except as a vector in a certain direction, and that something else seems to grow in intensity and feeling as the song progresses. Towards the end, Orbison’s amazing tenor voice seems to redouble in strength and soar parabolically like a third Elliott wave, as pellucidly clear and penetrating as a bell tone, unwavering in its true pitch, and truly amazing in a man who had been singing from the time many of us were wolfcubs to the time we became “greytinges” (the first mark of wisdom, or rather the first recognition of foolishness, amongst aging silverwolves).

But what will really amaze you when you come out of the dream of listening to this song is that aforementioned lack of repetition or form in a song that could really be said to be one complete musical phrase or movement taking place over two-and-a-half minutes, raising the listener ever higher, ever higher, like Phoebus, until one burns out with the intensity of the song as it approaches its zenith. Can you recall another like it in Rock?

And lastly, if the creation of such a song, and its masterful arrangement, were not enough from the Genius Orbison, we get live performances from Orbison that sound as true to pitch, and as chillingly pellucid to the ear as a violin, as were the originals recorded long before. Perhaps no other rock singer has ever kept their voice so incredibly unaltered into old age as Orbison did (though Joe Cocker’s performance almost 40 years later of “The Letter” comes close), but when one hears him actually singing into the microphone with it, one realizes one is witnessing a miracle, a Mi Dori (child prodigy violinist) in reverse, a miracle that is a fact.

A song that is a miracle; a voice that is a miracle. And it is a fact before your eyes and in your ears: Roy Orbison

We can have the oatmeal, banana, and boiled nettles a little later, Silverwolf thinks to himself. Let’s hear it again!

Hooooooooooooooooooooooooowwwwwwwwwwww! — Silverwolf

The Acid Machine of Music: Liberation Corelli

March 15, 2010

With what conceit modern man thinks his inventions and shortcuts the ultimate in levels of happiness. The invention and intervention of the internet into modern life has made many of its users regard the past hassles of doing without it as a kind of Dark Age, preceding the beginnings of decency. Life was never really worth living, or was insufficiently liberated, before the internet (or B.I. as the new dating system introduced by the World Government now classifies years), is the attitude unconsciously implanted in us by the net. No need to listen to 20 minutes of commercials to get to a weather report that was vital to you 15 minutes ago. Now you have it in advance, and your life is more commodious as a result.

But this conceit overlooks a psychological reality that few ever bother to contemplate, and that is that in previous times every liberating transformation of society, whether through technology or art, was viewed by its possessors as an equally liberating and equally significant event in Human History. Its aficionados were just as enthusiastic and eager about its liberating effects as we are about the internet, or the possibilities of influencing the world through blogging or other net activities. Yet, if they (or we) knew for certain what the next development would be, and could see it,  they and we would not be so currently enamoured with our current paramour.

Such advances in technology can seem puerile now to the modern generation, but to those who lived through the reality of them, they did not seem so. Silverwolf was reminiscing with Blue Dog about the thrill we both experienced as cubs and pups when we acquired our first crystal radios, little diode jobs that you clipped onto a piece of metal, and listened to with one earpiece. In an age when you had to buy batteries to power the “new” 6 transistor radios (made in Japan), the idea of being able to listen to Thomas Cassidy’s incredible voice presenting the Gas Company’s Evening Concert for free, even under the covers if you clipped it to a house ground, was a thrill not incomparable to getting hooked up to hi-speed internet.

Likewise, earlier thrills must have been equally rushy or more so to the participants. A horseless carriage! Well, hoss, what will that lead to? An electric percolator? No need to build a stove fire on a sub-freezing morning to have a hot cup of wolfbane. An electric typewriter? Doubled the firm’s productivity in the first year. A chain saw? Hang up the “misery whip” pushed back and forth for an hour by two men in the fog. The wheel? Well, that sure makes things a lot easier, Pharaoh.

And the electric guitar and amplifier: now every teenage boy whose parents have a garage can sound not that far different from the 45rpm he just played on that newfangled phonograph that even has the speakers come off, so you can put them where ever you want, as long as it’s within three feet of the console.  A band that actually sounds like the band on the record, and without a whole lot of talent needed to do it. Wow! And then Stereo. Why, it sounds like it’s live, right in the room! Who needs a real band?

But Silverwolf thinks that one of the biggest explosions ever of what he wants to call “the acid machine” came with the liberation of music during the transition of Renaissance to Baroque music, under the aegis of the Italian composers like Vivaldi, Corelli, and Albinoni. But let him first explain what he means by “an acid machine”.

An “acid machine” is a social process, technological or artistic, that provides its enthusiasts with a mechanism with which they feel they can control or conquer either the world, or their own artistic aspirations, while eating away at all the restrictions that formerly hampered that art or technology. It usually feels like a revolution. The video recorder and VHS cassette are one example which those readers not yet gaga will still remember. Frailer minds may recall that in frailer times, in the kinematic arts, the same effect was accomplished by the 8mm and Super8 mediums, which gave the amateur a crack at duplicating the effects of the multimillion dollar feature film, for a fraction of the cost. As Jean Cocteau so rightly observed, film would never be liberated until it was as easy to make a film as it was to write a poem. 80 years later, the accurate predictions of that opium visionary have come true with the point and click video card camera.

So an acid machine can be the internet, a crystal set, a Fender amp or pickup, a bicycle, or an entirely new way of looking at an art that has slumbered for centuries and millenia in a comatose state of underdevelopment. Such was the state of Western European music going into the 1500s, and by the emergence of the 1700s it was as radically changed as is our internet world from the world of 1880.

And if you want to hear what this “acid machine” of music really meant to the composers of that time, listen to the works of Corelli, Albinoni, and Vivaldi, and hear for the first time a joy and energy that would have been impossible to express if not for the  advances of Monteverdi and Frescobaldi. In that ebullient euphoria of their music, you can hear the excitement of the men of that time as they discovered their “acid machine”.

787 years from now, Trina Sorensen will be sitting under the palm trees of the University of Uppsala in Sweden, working on her required paper on “early bloggers of the 21st century”. It will seem a bore, and she will wonder how they could get so excited over such a primitive technology as the internet. And she will hardly be able to wait to get home and explore the “acid machine” of her times.

What will it be then?

Hoooooooooooooooooooooooowwwwwwwww! — Silverwolf

Pathetics Row, KGO, San Francisco

January 26, 2010

It comes as no surprise to Silverwolf that the economic and political ignorance in the San Francisco Bay Area can elect charlatans and charlatanettes like Speaker Pelosi, Gavin Nuisance, and Willie His Royal Highness Brown, when he considers the pathetic line-up of economic and political pablum that is served up most nights on radio station KGO. While the station  maintains a nominal adherence to a wide panoply of political prejudices, its typical night is liberally sprinkled with Liberal and so-called Moderate Demagogucrats, the folks that have been working so hard to brainwash the American public into the lie that there is a principled difference between the Dems and Repubs. Considering that these people are being paid good, soft, unsound, U.S. federal reserve notes to flap their lips for a ten hours, its a shame that it is done in the cause of obfuscating the understanding of the American public, instead of leading it into the light.

In reverse order of appearance, we start off with that former Republican, now longtime super-Liberal Ray Taliaferro. Silverwolf has long ago discussed his reverse racist hypocrisy during the presidential campaign of ’08 (that’s 2008 for you historians of the future). But to now hear Taliaferro have to come up with nightly justifications of Obama’s obvious Fascism, and to hear him completely ignore or gloss over Obama’s vicious assaults on Habeas Corpus, his promotion of involuntary servitude in the form of a national service requirement, his escalation of the war, and his utter kowtowing to the corporate interests in America, as if he were not part of them, is really a disgusting display of sin by omission by Taliaferro. The years of whining about Cheney and Bush have given way to a deafening silence as Obama continues essentially the exact same policies as Bush, and fulsome praise when Obama occasionally gets one right. When it comes to political integrity, Taliaferro is completely lacking. Another running dog for the corporate Fascists, who worked extremely hard during the campaign to put their agent in power. Thanks Ray for the War and the Fascism. Looks like you were wrong again, and we who supported the Peace and Civil Rights candidate, Ron Paul, were right. Again.

Next up is that master of political obfuscation, John Rothmann. Now, Rothmann is an interesting speaker, and has many cogent political observations to make. His choice of topics too is usually highly topical. But since guessingly 80% of his callers are preaching to the choir, their quality of economic analysis is usually lacking. Typically, some woman who seems to know exactly what is wrong with every aspect of the government, will call in and tell us that profit needs to be taken out of the medical profession, the usual leftist call that would lead to a horrendous shortage of doctors and nurses. One wonder why else people would go through the arduous horrors of medical school, and the arduous discipline of maintaining a surgery, or are doctors supposed to be saints, and not be interested in money, unlike every other working person in this society, from the bus driver to the plumber, who is working solely for the profit motive? And there are no shortages of busdrivers and plumbers.

Of course wrong-way Rothmann has been pushing the Clinton corporate-healthcare bill as “better than nothing”. Rothmann uses the Marxist/LBJ argument that if they can just get their foot in the door with this new massive intrusion of the government into the most private lives of the citizenry, that it can be expanded later and made even more intrusive when the political climate is more responsive. Well, Ron Paul warned us this was exactly what the Collectivists would attempt, so we saw this forkball coming and dropping, a la Elroy Face. Rothmann, ensconced in his Bay Area  Liberal cocoon, completely missed the vast anger that welled up in the American public at the Townhall meetings, an anger generated by that public suddenly realizing that this new healthcare boondoggle that the Democrats were forcing down their throats as fast as they could be induced to swallow it, was going to choke a lot of folks to death, economically speaking. No, Rothmann’s only wish was to get this massive new inflationary program underway, no matter how bad it was, because that is part of the agenda that Rothmann believes should be part of government. He talks about a “flexible” Constitution; you can see why it is so essential to talk thusly, because the Constitution was designed exactly to prevent the kind of government impositions on the Citizens that this Healthcare Bill imposes.

It shouldn’t surprise us that wrong-way Rothmann was on the staff of, and supported, Richard Nixon when he was in the White House, but finally woke up, and supported George McGovern. One must wonder about the native intelligence of Rothmann, who is a virulent anti-Nazi for obvious reasons, when one considers that Nixon was instrumental in getting key Nazi War Criminals and Collaborators into America, where most of them lived happily for several decades. Yet Rothmann was on the staff of this anti-Semite. Thirty years later, and Rothmann, in spite of all his political exposure and knowledge of American history, is still on the wrong side of the fence. Well, at least he and Silverwolf stand shoulder-to-shoulder in our opposition to that most fundamental abridgment of Libertarian values, the Death Penalty, or legalized judicial murder carried out by the Leviathan State.  Rothmann, to his credit, has long argued against this abomination, as has Silverwolf. But we have yet to convince the whole world.

Perhaps most pathetic of all the contestants in Pathetics Row is Gene Burns, if only because Burns had the most to promise, but seems to have burned it. Burns, whose political positions seem very similar to Rothmann’s, was once a Libertarian, and was, in fact, seriously considered as a powerful candidate from that party for the presidency. Listen to Murray Rothbard as he praised Burns back around 1990 as a great speaker, and an up and coming light in Libertarianism. What happened?

Now Burns seems to be nothing more than an Obama and Democratic apologist, ignoring, like Taliaferro, all the horrendously anti-Libertarian legislation (indefinite prolonged detention without charge) that our anti-Constitutionalist new President has floated in his speeches to make these abominations more palatable. Obama is a master of the propaganda of the word; like Clinton he uses words to create impressions which he can then backtrack on by saying he meant something else, and that his words had been misconstrued.

A mountain of bullscat, and these Democratic apologists act as if it’s a bed of roses. How pathetic!

Hoooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooowwwwww! — Silverwolf

Bogarde’s Rocket: Cast a Dark Shadow (1955)

January 17, 2010

Perhaps one of the earliest vehicles that helped launch the film-acting career of Dirk Bogarde was his excellent performance in “Cast a Dark Shadow” (1955), directed by Lewis Gilbert. In this film we can see all the characteristic strengths of Bogarde’s acting in protean form: the shifting in and out of working-class accents, the ability to charm and dissemble convincingly, the “losing control” of one’s emotions when pushed too far, all these are included in the character of Edward “Teddy” Bare, the evil protagonist of the film.

Basically, the film concerns Teddy Bare’s successful murder of his wife, a woman twenty to thirty years his senior (played by Mona Washbourne), for money; a successful murder attempt which backfires when “Tedeh”, as his first wife calls him, finds out that she left him no money, only the house they live in, although she was on the brink of re-writing her will so that Teddy got the filthy lucre too. Unfortunately for him, he murders his wife the day before she calls in the lawyer to change her will, a decision her barrister strongly councils against. But Edward doesn’t know this, so his successful attempt lands him nothing but the house, but “not a sausage” muneratively speaking.

So Edward sets about finding a new, well-heeled older widow, and finds her in the person of Freda Jeffries, played very strongly by Margaret Lockwood. Thinking he’s found another treacly pushover like his first wife, Edward tries to stampede her into buying a piece of property, but the strong-willed Mrs. Jeffries, now Mrs. Bare the Second, will have none of it, as equally she will have none of “Ed” sleeping in a separate room, as he casually suggests. (The transition from his first wife Monica’s “Tedeh” to his new wife’s straightforward “Ed” is a subtle but revelatory mutation.) As she puts it, she’ll go “pound for pound” with her new husband, but nothing more. As she laughing jokes before they are married, she had been tempted a couple of times to re-marry, but then she discovered that her suitors were “more interested in the money-bags than in the old bag”. The fact that she can laugh so heartily at this joke shows Mrs. Jeffries is not only a good sport, but also a realist. And Lockwood gives such a strong, believable performance throughout that one would have to say she actually steals the best acting award from Bogarde in this flick. And one can see why Hitchcock pegged Lockwood for her role in “The Lady Vanishes”, although “Cast a Dark Shadow” affords her a much wider range of acting situations to display her talent. And director Lewis Gilbert doesn’t lose the opportunity to capitalise on Lockwood’s legs, as did Hitchcock in that early scene from “The Lady Vanishes” where Lockwood prominently displays her nice appendages while standing on a chair. Here, Gilbert photographs Lockwood from a low angle, with her legs crossed, and we start to gather that Edward Bare was not wholly without carnal motives when he hitched up with Lockwood. But looks are incidental to the acting talent which serves Lockwood well in this film.

Bringing up third place in the Thespian honors is Kay Walsh, who gives a straightforward, realistic performance so different from her later role as a neurotic medium in “Seance on a Wet Afternoon”, Bryan Forbes’ little masterpiece, which co-starred Richard Attenborough in a character that looked and acted very similarly to his performance in “10 Rillington Place”. And rounding out the cast are Robert Flemyng as the lawyer who sees through Bare’s game immediately, and Kathleen Harrison as Amy, the maid, who is about as bright as paint — dull, matte latex.  But Silverwolf digresses.

The final scenes, in which Lockwood realizes she has married a cold-blooded killer, and the final denouement which gives the reader a certain “schadenfreude” as evil reaps its own reward, leave the satisfied feeling one should feel at the end of a detective novel (the film is based on one by Janet Green) or thriller film. And the genre differs from the typical whodunit, in that the audience knows early on who the murderer is, and the main question is: will he get caught and if so how? This is a technique used frequently by Georges Simenon in his psychological novels, which has become quite widespread in mystery-detective-thriller literature, and which probably originated with Dostoyevsky in “Crime and Punishment”.

Before going we should also mention the highlighting of Lita Roza, the former singer with the Ted Heath Orchestra, in the nightclub scene, a chanteuse whose brief appearance  matched her brief career in films. But what is of interest in her performance is not her herself, but the performance of the bald-headed extra in the slightly out of focus background, who nods his head approvingly, seems to speak to some invisible companion as he points out the singer with his cigar, and smiles. Truly a stunning performance from an extra, so subtle that most viewers will miss it, and one of the best efforts by an extra since Silverwolf saw that hog run out of the roadway as the gang of outlaws galloped into town in Michael Winner’s “Lawman”. But Silverwolf digresses again.

All in all, one must say that Bogarde’s performance in this film shows him as an artist way ahead of his age in maturity, a quality one sees in many top-drawer actors. Albert Finney, Alan Bates, and Tom Courtney all exhibited a similar feeling of mastery in their acting at a very early age. In modern times one can sense this quality also in Dominic Monaghan and Honeysuckle Weeks. But in Bogarde’s case we can plainly see that extraordinary acting talent that launched him into that vaunted circle of the top British actors of the 60s to 80s period: Lawrence Olivier, John Gielgud, Ralph Richardson, Alan Bates, Albert Finney, and Tom Courtney (and please forgive Silverwolf for leaving out the legions of other incredible actors that seemed to spring up like mushrooms after a warm rain in the British Theatre and Cinema). In fact, the role is probably a bit too thin and confining for Bogarde (as mystery characters are prone to be) but it still gives him a wide scope to show his acting talents.

So, if you want to take your mind off your short positions in the stock indexes and the currencies for a few, brief, blissfully worry-free hours, Silverwolf would strongly recommend you take a decko at “Cast a Dark Shadow”, one of the early booster stages of that extraordinary acting phenomenon known as Dirk Bogarde.

Hoooooooooooooooooooowwwwwwwwwwww! — Silverwolf

Cats are More Fun Than Dead Leaves

November 2, 2009

Silverwolf had a wondrous sartori today, a deep insight that came to him suddenly after days of experimentation. The sartori was thus: cats are more fun than dead leaves. This insight arose spontaneously after an assay in which Silverwolf spent 48 hours playing with his cat, Sooty, followed by 48 hours playing with some dead oak leaves and comparing the amusement derived from the two states of being (author’s note: wolves require sleep the way camels require water). While playing with Sooty proved a never ending stream of fascination for Silverwolf, he was far less enthusiastic about his experience with the dead leaves. For example: if you stroked and petted Sooty, he would respond with purring, rubbing his body against your shins, and ramming his head upwards into your paw, to get you to keep petting him on the head. The dead leaves, on the other hand, responded to stroking and petting with deep indifference, and hardly stirred, save when the wind happened to blow on them. Then they would exhibit some short-lived enthusiasm by moving a millimeter or two, but would quickly calm down, and relapse into quietessence. We thought perhaps the type of dead leaf might make a difference, so we tried our experiment variously on bay leaves, tan oak leaves, dogwood leaves, and even pine needles, but all seemed to share that utter indifference so characteristic of dead objects.

It’s truly hard to pin it down, but there definitely is some quality, inchoate in outline though it be, that makes a live cat more fun than a dead leaf (or even a herd of leaves), although you may say Silverwolf is prejudiced in favor of cats, and you yourself may not share his sartori, but feel deeply within yourself that dead leaves are infinitely more amusing than live cats. So be it. Silverwolf will not argue with you. As Mark Twain said, differences of opinion, that’s what makes horseraces.

Hooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooowwwwwwww! — Silverwolf