Sunday, June 24, 2012

Top 10 Movie Quotes

The American Film Institute presented this year's Life Achievement Award 2012 to Shirley MacLaine. The ceremonies aired on TVLand cable Sunday night, June 24.

And in honor of that, I thought this might be a good time to present the AFI Top 10 Movie Quotes along with some insight into what actually makes a movie quote memorable…something that lives with us over the decades.

"I'm king of the world!" This Leonardo DiCaprico one-liner from 1997's TITANIC is one of the most quotable moments in movie history. But do we know why? Was it the way he said it? The scene content when the line was spoken? Well, thanks to science we seem to now have an answer.

A team of researchers at Cornell University recently conducted a study about how and why movie lines became popular and concluded it was a combination of factors. The two most important being familiar sentence structure and general statements that could apply to any situation. Other factors include: use of third-person pronouns (she, her, he, him), definite articles (the as opposed to a), and use of past tense. More syllables and fewer conjunctions (and, or, but) also help.

To figure out the formula for a memorable movie quote, researchers used thousands of scripts along with a list of famous quotes. They detected two patterns to identify the memorable choice from a script—distinctiveness and generality. Then they programmed their findings into a computer and the final results are this top 10 list.

One actor has the distinction of claiming two of the top 10 quotes from movies that were released 18 years apart.

"Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn."
Rhett Butler (Clark Gable)

"I'm going to make him an offer he can't refuse."
Don Vito Corleone (Marlon Brando)

"You don't understand! I coulda had class. I coulda been a contender. I could've been somebody, instead of a bum, which is what I am."
Terry Malloy (Marlon Brando)

"Toto, I've got a feeling we're not in Kansas anymore."
Dorothy Gale (Judy Garland)

"Here's looking at you, kid."
Rick Blaine (Humphrey Bogart)

"Go ahead, make my day."
Harry Callahan (Clint Eastwood)

7) SUNSET BLVD. 1950
"All right, Mr. DeMille, I'm ready for my close-up."
Norma Desmond (Gloria Swanson)

8) STAR WARS 1977
"May the Force be with you."
Han Solo (Harrison Ford)

"Fasten your seatbelts. It's going to be a bumpy ride."
Margo Channing (Bette Davis)

10) TAXI DRIVER 1976
"You talkin' to me?"
Travis Bickle (Robert De Niro)

There are, of course, many more memorable movie quotes that will be around for years to come.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

The History Of Father's Day

Mother's Day was, indeed, the inspiration for Father's Day, but it was a long time before it became an official reality. The governor of the state of Washington proclaimed the nation's first Father's Day on July 19, 1910. It was not until 1972, 58 years after President Woodrow Wilson made Mother's Day an official holiday in 1914, that President Richard Nixon gave Father's Day its official federal holiday status.

The campaign to celebrate Father's Day did not meet with the same type of enthusiasm as Mother's Day. One florist explained it as fathers not having the same sentimental appeal as mothers. In 1909 a Spokane, Washington, woman who was one of six children raised by a widower was successful in establishing a day for male parents like Mothers enjoyed. The state of Washington celebrated the nation's first statewide Father's Day on July 19, 1910.

The idea slowly spread. In 1916 Woodrow Wilson honored the day. President Calvin Coolidge urged state governments to observe Father's Day, however many men continued to scoff at the idea claiming it was a sentimental attempt to domesticate manliness with flowers and gift-giving and also claiming it was only a commercial gimmick to sell more products often paid for by the father himself.

In the 1920s and 1930s there was a movement to do away with both Mother's Day and Father's Day and create a Parent's Day in their place, their idea being that both parents should be loved and respected together. The gathering enthusiasm for this idea was basically stamped out during the depression. Struggling retailers and advertisers redoubled their efforts to make Father's Day a gift giving holiday for men. With the onset of World War II advertisers set forth the argument that celebrating Father's Day was a way to honor American troops. By the end of the war, Father's Day was a national institution but not yet an official holiday.

In 1972 Richard Nixon signed a proclamation making Father's Day a federal holiday. It's estimated that there are more than 70 million fathers in the United States and that Americans spend more than $1 billion each year on Father's Day gifts.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Travel Trivia: 10 Miscellaneous Facts From Around The World

Memorial Day in the U.S. was two weeks ago. We are now in the middle of June and definitely into the summer vacation season, at least here in the Northern Hemisphere. So, I'd like to offer you another blog filled with miscellaneous vacation travel tidbits and trivia.

I came across an article recently that listed bits of trivia about various travel destinations. Little snippets of miscellaneous information usually not included in travel guides. Things I found interesting. I hope you find them interesting, too.

1) Mt. Everest
It's a commonly known fact that Mt. Everest, on the Nepal–Tibet border, is the highest point on earth. You'd think that would be enough, wouldn't you? Well, apparently it isn't. The precise height of Mt. Everest is somewhat disputed. It's generally thought to be 29,029 ft (8848m) above sea level. And that interesting little fact? It's still growing! Mt. Everest is pushing upward at a rate estimated to be 4mm a year thanks the clash between two tectonic plates.

2) Mexico City
While Mt. Everest is growing, the interesting little fact about Mexico City is that it's sinking at an average rate of 10cm a year which is 10 times faster than the sinking rate of Venice, Italy. And the reason for this? Mexico City was built on a soft lake bed and subterranean water reserves have subsequently been pumped out from beneath the city. The result? The city is sinking.

3) Vatican City
The world's smallest independent state, 44 hectares (110 acres) is totally encircled by Rome. The Vatican's Swiss Guard still wears the uniform inspired by Renaissance painter Raphael. Its population is 800 with only 450 of those being citizens. It even has its own coins which are legal tender throughout Italy and the EU.

4) El Pueblo de Nuestra Senora la Reina de Los Angeles
What is all that? In English it's Town of Our Lady the Queen of the Angels. It's the shortened version that's better known today—Los Angeles, California. The town came into being in 1781 and today, in an area of downtown Los Angeles referred to as Olvera Street, there is a cluster of museums, ancient plazas and lively markets providing a taste of life in 1800s Los Angeles.

5) Nuestra Senora Santa Maria del Buen Aire
What is all that? In English it's Our Lady St. Mary of the Good Air, better known today as Buenos Aires, Argentina. It's the best spot to savor the tango. Don't take the tango lightly in Buenos Aires. It's serious business.

6) London Underground
London's Metropolitan Railway was the world's first subway, opened in 1863. The first section ran between Paddington and Farringdon and was a hit in spite of the steam engines filling stations and tunnels with dense smoke. Today, if you take the Circle Line between Paddington and Covent Garden, you'll travel part of that original route.

7) Venice, Italy
As mentioned earlier, Venice is sinking. But in the interim…one of the things immediately associated with Venice are the gondolas on the canals, especially the Grand Canal. Each gondola is made from 280 pieces of 8 different types of wood. The left side is larger than the right side by 24cm. The parts of a gondola represent bits of the city—the front echoes its 6 districts, the back is Giudecca Island, and the lunette is the Rialto Bridge.

8) Great Wall of China
Most everyone knows this is the largest military construction on earth. However the part about it being the only man-made structure able to be seen from space is an urban myth. The sections were built by independent kingdoms between the 7th and 4th centuries BC then unified under China's first Emperor Qin Shi Huang around 210 BC. A not well known fact is that the sections near Beijing which are most visited by tourists are reconstructions done in the 14th to 17th centuries AD.

9) Table Mountain, South Africa
This large plateau of sandstone looms over Cape Town. But this huge table has its own table cloth. The plateau's cloud cover gathers across the flat top and spills over the sides when the wind whips up from the southeast. You can reach the top by hiking trails or cable car.

10) Uluru, Australia
This is probably the world's largest monolith, rising from the Australian desert. More commonly known for years as Ayers Rock, it is now referred to by the Aboriginal name of Uluru. The rock glows a fiery orange-red color, especially at sunset. Where does its red color come from? It's made from arkosic sandstone which contains iron. When exposed to oxidation, the iron rusts thus providing the red color.

I'll have some more travel related blogs as the summer progresses.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

10 VERY VERY Short-Lived Television Series

In fact, so short-lived that they were cancelled after the first episode.

In today's world of weekly television series, having new shows cancelled after only a few episodes is common practice…just business as usual. In fact, there are several highly successful television series of years gone by that wouldn't have lasted beyond the first few episodes in today's television business atmosphere.

Coming to mind immediately—MASH on the air for 11 years and winner of 99 Emmys yet barely made it as a renewal after a full first season of very low ratings and didn't really find an audience until the second season, ground breaking sit com ALL IN THE FAMILY where Archie Bunker et al didn't find an audience until the summer reruns following the first full season of poor ratings and was eventually responsible for several successful spin-off series (MAUDE, THE JEFFERSONS, GOOD TIMES), and the original HAWAII 5-0 which barely made the cut for a second season renewal after struggling through its first season yet went on for several successful seasons and added those immortal words to our lexicon…book 'em, Danno…and was brought back to life with a successful new version a couple of years ago.

But entire series, planned to certainly last out the first season, that were cancelled after only one episode had aired?

Well, by coincidence I came across a list of 10 such series. And also (I think understandably so), there's only one of these series that I've ever heard of. I guess I was one of those millions who did not watch them. :)

A sitcom starring Heather Graham. Apparently ABC committed to the series without even seeing so much as a script. All that good faith disappeared when the first episode aired. They immediately pulled the plug.

LAWLESS (1997)
Ten years after his Seattle Seahawks football prime, Brian Bosworth (the Boz) was selected by Fox to star in this action-drama series. It was so bad that Fox pulled it after the pilot aired.

On the heels of the success of Ozzy and family's reality show, Fox starred them in a variety show featuring a mixture of sketches, stunts, etc. and placed it in an excellent time slot immediately following AMERICAN IDOL. More than 25 of the Fox network affiliated stations refused to air it following the first episode. Fox pulled the plug and the other 5 episodes never aired.

TURN-ON (1969)
When ABC attempted to cash in on the popularity of ROWAN & MARTIN'S LAUGH-IN with this series, they loaded it with what was at that time deemed totally sex-obsessed material as cutting edge pushing the envelope type of programming. Unfortunately for them, several of the ABC affiliated stations refused to return to the program following the first commercial break. That put an end to the series.

Apparently NBC didn't understand that internet stardom does not necessarily relate to TV stardom. They bought the rights to this web video series that aired on MySpace (you remember that, it was pre-Facebook) with plans to air the episodes on network television after they aired on the internet. Well…surprise, surprise for NBC—nobody watched it on television.

Several years before NBC bombed with QUARTERLIFE, ABC purchased this internet based show. After placing 87th in the Nielsen ratings, the network pulled the plug after airing only one episode.

This Cartoon Network animated series had only one airing of the pilot episode. Cartoon Network cancelled it claiming it was too expensive to make more episodes.

This British sit com followed the day-to-day life and high jinx of Adolf Hitler and Eva Braun in the same premise as The Honeymooners. After massive public outcry, Galaxy TV removed it from the schedule and the remaining filmed episodes never aired.

You could call this desperation reality TV. This Fox series focused on an adopted woman who tried to identify her biological father out of a group of imposters. There was so much backlash before it even aired that Fox dropped the concept of a series, aired the first episode as a special and never spoke of it again.

Unlike the above listed series that actually aired one entire episode, this one didn't even last on the air that long. Australian network TCN-9 attempted a risqué take-off of AMERICA'S FUNNIEST HOME VIDEOS. The network's owner (mogul Kerry Packer) had not seen the show before it aired. He was so angry when he saw it, that he called and had it pulled off the air immediately. The rest of the episode was replaced by a Technical Difficulties sign.

Do you recall any particularly bad television series that were cancelled very quickly?