Saturday, September 27, 2008

RIP Paul Newman


I first saw Paul Newman in "Somebody Up There Likes Me", the story of Rocky Marciano. It was shown on TV about the time I was five or six. I was enthralled on how cool he was. "The Hustler" was next, and I think it was the first movie I ever watched in the theater. I was six. He was the ultimate cool guy who seemed affable and humble. "Cool Hand Luke","Butch Cassidy" "The Sting" and "The Road to Perdition" were some of my favorites and probably a bit to do with shaping my life. He was married to the same woman for fifty years, yes, the epitome of cool. Man, I will really miss him and his contribution to society. Rest easy "Cool Hand" and thanks so much.


WESTPORT, Conn. (AP) - Paul Newman, the Academy-Award winning superstar who personified cool as an activist, race car driver, popcorn impresario and the anti-hero of such films as "Hud,""Cool Hand Luke" and "The Color of Money," has died. He was 83.
Newman died Friday after a long battle with cancer at his farmhouse near Westport, publicist Jeff Sanderson said. He was surrounded by his family and close friends.
In May, Newman he had dropped plans to direct a fall production of "Of Mice and Men," citing unspecified health issues.
He got his start in theater and on television during the 1950s, and went on to become one of the world's most enduring and popular film stars, a legend held in awe by his peers. He was nominated for Oscars 10 times, winning one regular award and two honorary ones, and had major roles in more than 50 motion pictures, including "Exodus,""Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid,""The Verdict,""The Sting" and "Absence of Malice."
Newman worked with some of the greatest directors of the past half century, from Alfred Hitchcock and John Huston to Robert Altman, Martin Scorsese and the Coen brothers. His co-stars included Elizabeth Taylor, Lauren Bacall, Tom Cruise, Tom Hanks and, most famously, Robert Redford, his sidekick in "Butch Cassidy" and "The Sting."
He sometimes teamed with his wife and fellow Oscar winner, Joanne Woodward, with whom he had one of Hollywood's rare long-term marriages. "I have steak at home, why go out for hamburger?" Newman told Playboy magazine when asked if he was tempted to stray. They wed in 1958, around the same time they both appeared in "The Long Hot Summer," and Newman directed her in several films, including "Rachel, Rachel" and "The Glass Menagerie."
With his strong, classically handsome face and piercing blue eyes, Newman was a heartthrob just as likely to play against his looks, becoming a favorite with critics for his convincing portrayals of rebels, tough guys and losers. "I was always a character actor," he once said. "I just looked like Little Red Riding Hood."
Newman had a soft spot for underdogs in real life, giving tens of millions to charities through his food company and setting up camps for severely ill children. Passionately opposed to the Vietnam War, and in favor of civil rights, he was so famously liberal that he ended up on President Nixon's "enemies list," one of the actor's proudest achievements, he liked to say.
A screen legend by his mid-40s, he waited a long time for his first competitive Oscar, winning in 1987 for "The Color of Money," a reprise of the role of pool shark "Fast" Eddie Felson, whom Newman portrayed in the 1961 film "The Hustler."
Newman delivered a magnetic performance in "The Hustler," playing a smooth-talking, whiskey-chugging pool shark who takes on Minnesota Fats - played by Jackie Gleason - and becomes entangled with a gambler played by George C. Scott. In the sequel - directed by Scorsese - "Fast Eddie" is no longer the high-stakes hustler he once was, but rather an aging liquor salesman who takes a young pool player (Cruise) under his wing before making a comeback.
He won an honorary Oscar in 1986 "in recognition of his many and memorable compelling screen performances and for his personal integrity and dedication to his craft." In 1994, he won a third Oscar, the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award, for his charitable work.
His most recent academy nod was a supporting actor nomination for the 2002 film "Road to Perdition." One of Newman's nominations was as a producer; the other nine were in acting categories. (Jack Nicholson holds the record among actors for Oscar nominations, with 12; actress Meryl Streep has had 14.)
As he passed his 80th birthday, he remained in demand, winning an Emmy and a Golden Globe for the 2005 HBO drama "Empire Falls" and providing the voice of a crusty 1951 car in the 2006 Disney-Pixar hit, "Cars."
But in May 2007, he told ABC's "Good Morning America" he had given up acting, though he intended to remain active in charity projects. "I'm not able to work anymore as an actor at the level I would want to," he said. "You start to lose your memory, your confidence, your invention. So that's pretty much a closed book for me."
He received his first Oscar nomination for playing a bitter, alcoholic former star athlete in the 1958 film "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof." Elizabeth Taylor played his unhappy wife and Burl Ives his wealthy, domineering father in Tennessee Williams' harrowing drama, which was given an upbeat ending for the screen.
In "Cool Hand Luke," he was nominated for his gritty role as a rebellious inmate in a brutal Southern prison. The movie was one of the biggest hits of 1967 and included a tagline, delivered one time by Newman and one time by prison warden Strother Martin, that helped define the generation gap, "What we've got here is (a) failure to communicate."
Newman's hair was graying, but he was as gourgeous as ever and on the verge of his greatest popular success. In 1969, Newman teamed with Redford for "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid," a comic Western about two outlaws running out of time. Newman paired with Redford again in 1973 in "The Sting," a comedy about two Depression-era con men. Both were multiple Oscar winners and huge hits, irreverent, unforgettable pairings of two of the best-looking actors of their time.
Newman also turned to producing and directing. In 1968, he directed "Rachel, Rachel," a film about a lonely spinster's rebirth. The movie received four Oscar nominations, including Newman, for producer of a best motion picture, and Woodward, for best actress. The film earned Newman the best director award from the New York Film Critics.
In the 1970s, Newman, admittedly bored with acting, became fascinated with auto racing, a sport he studied when he starred in the 1972 film, "Winning." After turning professional in 1977, Newman and his driving team made strong showings in several major races, including fifth place in Daytona in 1977 and second place in the Le Mans in 1979.
"Racing is the best way I know to get away from all the rubbish of Hollywood," he told People magazine in 1979.
Despite his love of race cars, Newman continued to make movies and continued to pile up Oscar nominations, his looks remarkably intact, his acting becoming more subtle, nothing like the mannered method performances of his early years, when he was sometimes dismissed as a Brando imitator. "It takes a long time for an actor to develop the assurance that the trim, silver-haired Paul Newman has acquired," Pauline Kael wrote of him in the early 1980s.
In 1982, he got his Oscar fifth nomination for his portrayal of an honest businessman persecuted by an irresponsible reporter in "Absence of Malice." The following year, he got his sixth for playing a down-and-out alcoholic attorney in "The Verdict."
In 1995, he was nominated for his slyest, most understated work yet, the town curmudgeon and deadbeat in "Nobody's Fool." New York Times critic Caryn James found his acting "without cheap sentiment and self-pity," and observed, "It says everything about Mr. Newman's performance, the single best of this year and among the finest he has ever given, that you never stop to wonder how a guy as good-looking as Paul Newman ended up this way."
Newman, who shunned Hollywood life, was reluctant to give interviews and usually refused to sign autographs because he found the majesty of the act offensive, according to one friend.
He also claimed that he never read reviews of his movies.
"If they're good you get a fat head and if they're bad you're depressed for three weeks," he said.
Off the screen, Newman had a taste for beer and was known for his practical jokes. He once had a Porsche installed in Redford's hallway - crushed and covered with ribbons.
"I think that my sense of humor is the only thing that keeps me sane," he told Newsweek magazine in a 1994 interview.
In 1982, Newman and his Westport neighbor, writer A.E. Hotchner, started a company to market Newman's original oil-and-vinegar dressing. Newman's Own, which began as a joke, grew into a multimillion-dollar business selling popcorn, salad dressing, spaghetti sauce and other foods. All of the company's profits are donated to charities. By 2007, the company had donated more than $175 million, according to its Web site.
In 1988, Newman founded a camp in northeastern Connecticut for children with cancer and other life-threatening diseases. He went on to establish similar camps in several other states and in Europe.
He and Woodward bought an 18th century farmhouse in Westport, where they raised their three daughters, Elinor "Nell," Melissa and Clea.
Newman had two daughters, Susan and Stephanie, and a son, Scott, from a previous marriage to Jacqueline Witte.
Scott died in 1978 of an accidental overdose of alcohol and Valium. After his only son's death, Newman established the Scott Newman Foundation to finance the production of anti-drug films for children.
Newman was born in Cleveland, Ohio, the second of two boys of Arthur S. Newman, a partner in a sporting goods store, and Theresa Fetzer Newman.
He was raised in the affluent suburb of Shaker Heights, where he was encouraged him to pursue his interest in the arts by his mother and his uncle Joseph Newman, a well-known Ohio poet and journalist.
Following World War II service in the Navy, he enrolled at Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio, where he got a degree in English and was active in student productions.
He later studied at Yale University's School of Drama, then headed to New York to work in theater and television, his classmates at the famed Actor's Studio including Brando, James Dean and Karl Malden. His breakthrough was enabled by tragedy: Dean, scheduled to star as the disfigured boxer in a television adaptation of Ernest Hemingway's "The Battler," died in a car crash in 1955. His role was taken by Newman, then a little-known performer.
Newman started in movies the year before, in "The Silver Chalice," a costume film he so despised that he took out an ad in Variety to apologize. By 1958, he had won the best actor award at the Cannes Film Festival for the shiftless Ben Quick in "The Long Hot Summer."
In December 1994, about a month before his 70th birthday, he told Newsweek magazine he had changed little with age.
"I'm not mellower, I'm not less angry, I'm not less self-critical, I'm not less tenacious," he said. "Maybe the best part is that your liver can't handle those beers at noon anymore," he said.
Newman is survived by his wife, five children, two grandsons and his older brother Arthur.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Mad Men Marathon

I spent the weekend catching up on a show that I now cannot get enough of. Instead of watching one of the world's most pathetic football teams (Rams or Chiefs, take your pick) I spent Sunday by watching five episodes of "Mad Men" featuring John Hamm ( a St. Louis native). This is set in 1960 at an ad agency on Madison Avenue. Everybody drinks all day and EVERYONE smokes. The inter office politics are incredible and there were more than a few times where I went .."Whoa." (as in, I can't beliege the twist on this scene..). Incredibly entertaining and difficult to put down. I tried to get the Tivo to record the "Mad Men marathon" on Bravo last month. I didn't get the first season but the beginning of the second, so I had to rent the first season on DVD to get caught up. The women all smoke, some while pregnant and the styles and clothes of the day remind my of my mom and our neighbor who used to come over all time, drink coffee, smoke cigarettes and gossip about the family and neighborhood. The main character is a guy whose morals are all fucked up but, he is a great dad. He cheats on his wife just about every day and comes home to dinner on the table every night. Very cool show, the best I've seen in a while. I am not surprised at the recognition it got at the Emmys. Here are some of the characters, dressed for Emmy night...John Hamm is far right.Christina Hendricks plays "Joan" and yes, she is the hottest of them all but plays a great bitch

Happy Birthday Bruce

Thanks for the great years, you wear it well.

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame


The RandR HOF released it's nominees for the class of 2009...

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Hip Hop group Run-DMC, heavy metal band Metallica and musician/songwriter Bobby Womack are among nine nominees announced on Monday vying for five spots in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Guitarist Jeff Beck, disco and R&B band Chic, rock and roll singer Wanda Jackson, doo-wop group Little Anthony and the Imperials, rock band The Stooges, and the California funk band War were also nominated.Artists become eligible for the Hall of Fame 25 years after the release of their first single or album and are represented in an exhibition at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Cleveland, Ohio.
More than 500 music industry professionals will choose five of the nominees for the 24th annual induction on April 4 in Cleveland. The inductees will be announced in January.
New York hip hop group Run-DMC are credited with setting the "template for modern hip-hop, from their everyday-teenager style to their blazing live shows to a catalog of classic songs that few rappers have matched," the Hall of Fame Foundation said in a statement.
Founded in the 1980s by Joseph "Rev. Run" Simmons, Darryl "DMC" McDaniels and Jason "Jam Master Jay" Mizell, the group's hits include "It's Like That," "It's Tricky" and "Walk This Way," their collaboration with Aerosmith.
Los Angeles band Metallica -- founded by vocalist James Hetfield and drummer Lars Ulrich -- rose "to become the most successful and acclaimed heavy metal band of their era - a position they've consistently held for over a quarter century," the foundation said.


THIS IS CRAP. How could Stevie Ray Vaughn in his first year of eligibility be bypassed? No Moody Blues, Doobies, Chicago, Three Dog Night? Run DMC had ONE song, and Aerosmith had to rescue their career on that. While I agree with the Bobby Womack and Jeff Beck selection, my advice on the Beck pick is...what the hell took you guys so long? He has only single handedly changed the way we play guitar. His "Blow By Blow" CD will rank as among the greatest of our time. Chic? Rock and Roll? I am reminded of the movie "Scanners" where eevryone's head explodes. I can't deal with this or there will be pieces of my cranium on my desk. How utterly disappointing.
UPDATE:
I just found out that "War" is also being inducted and that, I can see. Great songs from a great band. "Four Cornered Room" has nothing on Hendrix.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Ed Freeman

You're an 18 or 19 year old kid.
You're critically wounded, and dying in the jungle in the Ia Drang Valley, 11-14-1965. LZ Xray, Vietnam.

Your Infantry Unit is outnumbered 8 - 1, and the enemy fire is so intense, from 100 or 200 yards away, that your own Infantry Commander has ordered the MediVac helicopters to stop coming in. You're lying there, listening to the enemy machine guns, and you know you're not getting out. Your family is 1/2 way around the world, 12,000 miles away, and you'll never see them again. As the world starts to fade in and out, you know this is the day. Then, over the machine gun noise, you faintly hear that sound of a helicopter, and you look up to see a Huey, but it doesn't seem real, because no Medi-Vac markings are on it. Ed Freeman is coming for you. He's not Medi-Vac, so it's not his job, but he's flying his Huey down into the machine gun fire, after the Medi-Vacs were ordered not to come. He's coming anyway. And he drops it in, and sits there in the machine gun fire, as they load 2 or 3 of you on board. Then he flies you up and out through the gunfire, to the Doctors and Nurses. And, he kept coming back...... 13 more times.....and took about 30 of you and your buddies out, who would never have gotten out.

Medal of Honor Recipient Ed Freeman, soldier, American, died August 20, 2008, at the age of 80, in Boise, ID......May God rest his soul.....


Never heard about his life untill after he died. Thanks Sarah

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