My grandmother took my sister and I to a Chuck E. Cheese in the 80s when we were much too old for Chuck E. Cheese. From this podcast I learned that the audioanimatronic shows were intended for adults and that they no longer exist at Chuck E. Cheese today. And that’s just the beginning of a lot of strange stories.
Title: Saving Mr. Banks Release Date: November 29, 2013 Director: John Lee Hancock Production Company: Walt Disney Pictures | Ruby Films | Essential Media and Entertainment | BBC Films | Hopscotch Features Summary/Review:
This movie dramatizes the two week period when author P.L. Travers travels from her home in London to Los Angeles to work on the Walt Disney Studios adaptation of her Mary Poppins’ books. Since Travers is a British woman, Emma Thompson is, of course, cast to play her, while Walt Disney is obviously portrayed by American actor Tom Hanks. I jest, they both do a great job, although its more of a challenge for Hanks because Disney is already well-known from his tv appearances.
Travers is cranky and dismissive of the whimsy and sentiment that is the cornerstone of the Disney empire, and basically hopes to sabotage the adaptation. Disney comes off kind of creepy – a mansplainer who insists on calling her “Pam” when she asks to be called “Mrs. Travers” and acting as if Mary Poppins is his story as well. Hanks’ Disney sees Travers standoffishness as a characteristic of her womanhood rather than recognizing her as a fellow artist who wants to protect her creation.
Working with screenwriter Don DaGradi (Bradley Whitford), and music composers Richard and Robert Sherman (Jason Schwartzman and B.J. Novak) stirs up memories of Travers childhood in a remote part of Australia when she was known by her birthname Helen “Ginty” Goff. She is an imaginative child who looks up to her adventurous father (Colin Farrell) who takes greater interest in playing with her than his job as a bank manager. It’s slowly revealed that he is an alcoholic and that he is in failing health. An aunt who comes to help the family when he is bedridden is depicted as the firm and practical person who restores order to the household, and also the influence for Mary Poppins (albeit a surprisingly small part in this movie). Scenes in 1961 Los Angeles blend into flashbacks of the Australian outback in the early 1900s.
The movie is an excellent and emotionally-rewarding story. It’s also largely lacking in historical accuracy. But Hanks’ Disney states flatly that storytelling is creating the story we want to fix what happened in reality.
George Banks and all he stands for will be saved. Maybe not in life, but in imagination. Because that’s what we storytellers do. We restore order with imagination. We instill hope again and again and again.
It’s up to the audience to decide if that is the correct use of imagination and creativity, or if something is lost in the artifice.
When I was a kid, I loved going to the last surviving Automat in New York City, a surviving relic of Old New York. This podcasts details the 100 year history of the innovative Horn & Hardart restaurants in Philadelphia and New York that became a cultural touchstone.
Running tally of 2019 Podcast of the Week appearances:
Album: Cut & Stitch Artist: Petrol Girls Release Date: May 24, 2019 Favorite Tracks:
I have a soft spot for punk rock that features women’s voices shouting over shredding guitars. The Petrol Girls website bears the tagline “Raging Feminist Post Hardcore from the UK and Austria” which about sums it up. And while the shouted lyrics may not always be easy to understand, I appreciate that they’re saying important things, the emotion behind them is clear.
Author: Niviaq Korneliussen Title: Crimson Translator: Anna Halager Publication Info: London : Virago, 2018. Summary/Review:
I can’t say I know enough about Greenland to have any misconceptions about Greenland, nevertheless I was surprised that this novel was set in an urban area. The city of Nuuk, Greenland’s capital and largest city with 18,000 people, is described by one of the characters:
“Nuuk is big when there’s somebody you actually want to bump into. People you don’t want to see pop up all the time, but people you want to see are nowhere to be found.” – p. 170
The novel is in five chapters, each from the perspective of a different young adult in Nuuk, focusing on that individual’s experience as a queer person. They deal with issues such as the first-time feeling of same sex attraction, the shame and anger of a relationship with a Greenland politician going public, cheating, and recognizing transgender identity. The stories overlap as the characters know one another as siblings, housemates, and romantic partners. Each of the character’s writes in a different style, which includes letters, journals, stream of conciousness, and even snippets of text messages. The names of the characters also tie into gender identity in the original Greenlandic, which this translation is good about making clear.
The author translated the book into Danish which is the source of this English translation. The book was originally titled Homo Sapienne and is also being published under the title Last Night in Nuuk. This book is a good glimpse into contemporary life in Greenland and is a great LGBTQ read for Pride Month, as well as being an excellent work of contemporary literature.
Title: Legally Blonde Release Date: July 13, 2001 Director: Robert Luketic Production Company: Type A Films | Marc Platt Productions | Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Summary/Review:
Some time ago, I saw online that Legally Blonde is a better movie than it appears and added it to my Netflix queue. Since I saw that it was leaving Netflix, I decided that it was time to watch it. And it was pretty much as bad as I thought it would be. The basic premise of this movie is that a prosperous, white woman has to overcome prejudice against her blonde hair to succeed at Harvard Law School. It’s really that cringeworthy. And worse, her reason for applying to Harvard is to prove her self worthy of her snobby ex-boyfriend, Warner (Matthew Davis).
There are two saving graces to this movie. One, is that Reese Witherspoon plays Elle Woods with a lot of charm and nuance. She could’ve easily been characterized as selfish, snarky, or snobby, but instead she is kind. Elle never says anything bad about anyone unless they were mean to her first, and she’s usually trying to help people and share her joie de vivre. Some of the best parts of this movie are when Elle is hanging out with Paulette (charmingly played by Jennifer Coolidge), a shy, older woman who works at a Cambridge nail salon. The other saving grace is that the movie sets up Vivian, a preppy woman from Connecticut engaged to Warner, as a rival, but in a nice twist they become best friends. I also enjoy watching the transitions from establishing shots outside the real Harvard campus to locations on a campus that’s obviously not Harvard.
For the most part, the jokes miss more than the hit, and the plots is absurd, with Elle becoming an intern on a murder defense case, and then actually being hired as council, being the most ridiculous.
Title: Fleabag Release Dates: 2019 Season: 1 Number of Episodes: 6 Summary/Review:
The second season of Fleabag is even better than the first. These tightly scripted and plotted episodes tell a story of human fraility and resilience that is full of laughs and heartbreaks. The series begins a year after the first series and Fleabag has been ostracized by her family in the interim due to her actions in the first series. But the show begins with the family reunited for Dad and Godmother’s engagement dinner. Claire is still with Martin, but commuting regularly to Finland for her new job there. A sixth guest at the table is the priest who will preside over the wedding. Christened on social media as “Hot Priest” and portrayd by the excellent Andrew Scott, he has a lot of similarity to Fleabag, including the tendency to say inappropriate things out loud and drinking too much, but the good qualities as well. The main focus of the series is the friendship and the illicit romance between that grows between Flebag and Hot Priest. But the show also delves further into Fleabag’s trauma over the deaths of her mother and her best friend, Boo, as well as her efforts to repair the relationship with her surviving family. It’s an excellent, bawdy comedy that somehow also delves right into the heart of humanity and relationships.
The issues of increasing urban density, building social housing, and deprioritizing the automobile in cities are near and dear in my heart. And yet, even Leftists tend to fall into the pro-car/pro-sprawl trap, so it’s good to hear these arguments for a more livable urbanism.
I have a lot of nostalgia for De La Soul’s debut album which came out when I was a nerdy high school student. The Sound Opinions crew explore how the album was created and explain why it’s so hard to find the album today.
If you turned on the radio in the mid-1980s, you were likely to hear music by members of Genesis (Phil Collins, Peter Gabriel, and Mike and the Mechanics) while the band Genesis continued to make hits. Chris Molanphy explains this unusual situation in pop music history.
Running tally of 2019 Podcast of the Week appearances: