So It’s Been A While…

So…it’s been a while.

A really long while.

Over a year in fact.

And you might well be wondering, where have I been?  What have I been up to?  Do I still like classic films?

 

Well, to start with…where have I been?  Still here, still around.  I now have another child, so that definitely takes up a lot more of my time.  I haven’t been up to anything really earth shattering but life started getting busier, blogging started feeling more like a chore rather than a pleasure, so I decided to take a break.  As it so happened, the break turned out to be longer than I anticipated.

Do I still like classic films?  Of course.  I always have and I always will.  Classic films are always going to be a part of my life.  But sometimes I go through periods where they are all I want to watch and sometimes I go through periods where I don’t really want to watch them at all.  Sometimes I need a change of pace.  But no matter what, I am always going to be a classic film fan.

 

So, where do we go from here?  Well…I’m starting to get back into classic films.  I don’t have the three hour nap times in the afternoons I once had to dedicate to watching a classic film, but I do have some evenings that I can use to convince my husband to watch with me.  Or I can even watch on my own while he does something else!  I’m starting to listen to You Must Remember This again, a truly wonderful podcast about Hollywood’s first 100 years.  That’s definitely sparking my interest again.

Will I come back to blogging?  Maybe?  Hopefully?  I think I would like to, but I don’t know when exactly that will happen or in what quantity.  But it’s definitely something that is on my radar once again.

 

And so…this is just me poking my head back in and saying “Hello, I haven’t forgotten you!”

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Random Harvest of Thoughts: ONE YEAR OF BLOGGING AND SOME COMING CHANGES

Recently Fritzi over at Movies Silently published a post about growing the brand of your particular blog.  This got me thinking…

Last week sometime, I missed the actual date because WordPress didn’t remind me and I have toddler brain (it’s a thing), I reached one year of blogging.  This is shocking to me because when I started this blog a year ago I had no idea what it would become or the people that I would meet because of it.  I have truly enjoyed every moment of blogging this last year and I want to thank every person who came to read a post, everyone who left a comment, and every blogger who welcomed me into their community.

Back to Fritzi…moving forward I want to try to focus in on what my aim is with this blog.  I started this blog because I have loved classic film for as long as I can remember and I wanted to find a way to share that love. I also knew that when it came to the classic films that I love, I didn’t know half of what I wanted to about their history and the men and women who made them.

So what are we doing here?  I am not a classic film expert by any means. But I am trying to expand my horizons and increase my knowledge every day. That means I watch a lot of movies, read a ton of books, and listen to hours of podcasts all in an effort to learn about and enjoy classic films.

Moving forward I will of course be continuing with posts about films, podcasts, and books.  I will also still be putting up book and DVD hauls as I get them.  I will of course be continuing to participate in blogathons!  One thing that I think will be going by the wayside is the monthly TCM guide.  In its place I am going to try putting up monthly wrap-ups with my thoughts on what I have learned and discovered in the previous thirty days.

I am not a scholar, I am a classic film fan just like you and this is my journey of discovery. Care to join me?

Random Harvest of Thoughts: UPCOMING STUFF IN OCTOBER AND BEYOND

Just a quick post to update you all on what is coming at the blog in the next few months!

First and foremost get ready for October when I will be watching nothing but silent films!  I am really excited to get into this as silent film is an area where I feel like my cinematic education is definitely lacking.  I am interested to see how this goes and it might just end up being something I try to do every few months!

Second, it will come as no surprise at all that I am taking part in some blogathons over the next few months!  Here are the ones that are coming…

THE CMBA FALL BLOGATHON hosted by The CMBA

I will cover THE LADY VANISHES

THE SWASHATHON hosted by Fritzi of Movies Silently

I will cover THE PRISONER OF ZENDA

THE WHAT A CHARACTER! BLOGATHON hosted by Once Upon a Screen, Outspoken & Freckled, and Paula’s Cinema Club

I will cover Robert Barratt

THE CRITERION BLOGATHON hosted by Criterion Blues, Speakeasy, and Silver Screenings

I will cover RIDE THE PINK HORSE

Finally, the fabulous Fritzi of Movies Silently and I are going to be live tweeting another silent serial!  We are starting this Thursday (October 1st) with the first episode of HOUSE OF MYSTERY at 8:30 PM EST so come and join us if you have an inclination!  Judex was a ton of fun and I have a feeling this will be just as good!

Random Harvest of Thoughts: CITY NOIR by John Adams

The Summer of Darkness has come and gone but the thirst for noir still remains.

My Dad recently told me about a piece of music written by modern American composer John Adams.  I have liked some of Adams’ other works so I thought I would give this one a try, especially after my Dad told me that the piece was meant to be part of a soundtrack to an imaginary film noir.  I listened to it and definitely felt the influence of noir on his work, and decided to share it with all of you.  I think that you’ll enjoy this piece, even if you aren’t usually a fan of modern classical music.  Here is an article about Adams’ more recent saxophone concerto (2104) which was inspired by City Noir (2009).

Without further ado…City Noir.

Random Harvest of Thoughts: Classic Film Fans Save History

Will McKinley recently wrote a truly wonderful post over at his blog.  In it he described the heartache that classic film fans suffer as our idols grow old and pass on, and how this is the price we have to pay for loving these films and their stars as much as we do.  I think that while we suffer for our love we also receive the opportunity to do and be more because of it.

Inside every classic film fan is an old soul yearning to find its counterpoint in the world.  Sometimes we get lucky and find new friends on Twitter, Facebook, or (most rare of all) in the real world.  But for the most part classic film fans are a less than popular option when it comes to finding a hobby.  And that is where I think something important happens.  It happens when we realize and accept that being a classic film fan isn’t just a hobby for the weekends but rather it is a way of life.  Classic films, their actors and directors, the music, the books, the fashion, everything from that time seeps into our hearts and souls and finds purchase there, changing us forever.  It is because of this that we are so deeply affected by the passing of yet another classic film star, but it is also because of this that we have the chance to do something greater…a chance to save history.

Let’s be honest, in today’s society things that are old are not considered worthwhile or given much respect.  This goes for clothes, books, movies, music, and even people.  Before my son was born I worked as a nurse in an intensive care unit, and I saw first hand how the elderly are treated, more often than not, like children or idiots or burdens rather than what they are which is young people who got old.  I saw how doctors, nurses, therapists, social workers, even their own family members left the room as quickly as possible instead of sitting and trying to talk with them.  I saw the empty rooms with no visitors for days and weeks on end.  I saw the people forgotten in beds, with no one to help them move to the chair next to the window.  Now I wasn’t perfect, I had days where I was busy or tired and didn’t do the best job I could have.  But for the most part I tried to give these patients a little extra time and comfort.  I tried to talk with them, to hear a story or two, to return to them a little of the respect and dignity that had been lost to them, and at the very least I tried to see if they liked TCM.  And in return I was given smiles, pats, the occasional attempt at a cash tip, a few flirts, and stories about lives and times that were long past.  I heard from a man who was supposed to be in the first wave of the planned invasion of Japan during WWII and who later travelled to New York and saw the perfect game in baseball.  A woman who used to hide the dinner rolls in her purse told me about how she and her husband travelled doing USO tours during the war.  I heard stories about children, grandchildren, sisters and brothers, and these are stories I still remember to this day.

Classic film fans are a window to a part of our past and our history that is starting to be forgotten.  As the living links to this time begin to fade away we remain, standing resolute against the dimming light.  Even though it isn’t popular or “cool” it is something that is needed and vital for what we hope society can be.  I’m not foolish enough to think that the time of classic films was an ideal utopia that we should bring back in its entirety, but I do think that there are certain pieces and attitudes of it that are needed today.  Like knowing your neighbor, like having a sense of community and pride in that community.  In this world a child can’t walk to the park down the street by himself without fear of his parents being arrested for neglect, people are more likely to text someone than call, email than write a letter, Facebook than actually go and see someone face to face.  We seem to have lost the sense of strength and togetherness we used to have, the sense of belonging to something bigger than ourselves, and the respect for each other and the world around us.  But as classic film fans we still see those values and attitudes reflected back at us in the movies we watch, the songs we listen to, and the books we read.  And we have a chance to help keep all that alive, to continue standing firm holding up our small lights in the approaching darkness, showing anyone and everyone that classic films not only matter but that they are important, smart, fun, and life changing.  And all we have to do is watch the films we love, read the books we enjoy, and listen to the stories that people want to tell us.

The Awesomeness of the Warner Archive Podcast

Being a classic film lover in these modern times often means that we are finding new and technologically advanced ways to express, share, and cultivate our collections and enjoyment of classic films.  In days past there were fan clubs, magazines, records, VHS tapes, running home to set your VCR for the movie playing that night, and radio shows.  Today we have blogs, DVDs, Blu Rays, DVRs, Twitter accounts, Facebook, and of course the podcast.  I am always on the look out for enjoyable and informative podcasts, especially those that relate to my love of classic films and television.  A few months ago I discovered the Warner Archive podcast but have only recently begun to fully appreciate the awesomeness of the thing.  For those who haven’t had the chance to experience it for themselves allow me to inform you just what makes this podcast so great.

The Films

This sort of goes without saying, but let’s say it any way.  I have been a fan of the Warner Archive for a long time, pretty much since it’s inception.  As a young twenty-something, while my friends were spending money on shoes, clothes, or dinners out…I was buying the 1929 version of THE LETTER and a copy of RIPTIDE.  I remember spending hours sitting in front of my computer with my copy of Leonard Maltin’s Classic Movie guide browsing the latest additions to the Archive.  I was always able to find something that piqued my interest or captured my attention, and this still remains true when listening to the podcast.  Inevitably, at least once during the episode I will hear some movie mentioned that I have never seen before but one that just sounds too good to miss out on!  And now with the ability to watch these films on my iPad…well let’s just say that my spare time could be taken up very easily.

The Fan Interaction

Not only can you post a question on Facebook or Twitter and get an ANSWER, but it will be from a real person!  And it will be in a reasonable amount of time!  But wait, there’s more!  Fans are invited to send letters in to the podcast to ask questions, request titles, or just talk about what movies are in their DVD collection, and they will all be read on the podcast!  Not only that, but if people send a self addressed stamped envelope along with their letter, I have heard tell that they will receive a gift from the podcast in return.  This might not seem like a big deal but I have found the fan interaction a real joy and a big component of the enjoyment I get from the podcast.  Part of being a fan of anything is being able to not only share your enjoyment with other fans, but also those “powers-that-be” for lack of a better word.  It really makes the entire experience more like a one-on-one conversation with a fellow enthusiast versus lip service from a corporation.  And at the end of the day, the classic film fan community is more like a family and this easily accessible communication definitely has friendly feeling.

The Hosts

George, DW, and Matt are really the linchpin of the whole podcast experience.  If the hosts aren’t good then usually the podcast won’t work as well as it could.  Luckily, this trio is fantastic!  They each have their own areas of expertise, but they all have a great deal of knowledge about the films and television shows that they talk about.  Listening to them discuss various movies or shows, you feel like you are sitting around listening to three friends chat, argue, and share their thoughts and opinions.  But for me, the thing that really makes this podcast special is the palpable enthusiasm coming from these three.  It is a situation where you don’t always have to like the subject or movie being talked about, just the passion and glee that George, DW, and Matt have when talking about them will suck you in.  And at the end of the day, isn’t that what you want in a podcast?

Every week I look forward to listening to a new episode of the podcast, and luckily there are plenty of old episodes backed up to get me through during the interim.  It’s is definitely a podcast that all classic movie fans would enjoy and I definitely recommend it highly!  So, thanks George, DW, and Matt!  I’m a big fan!

I’m always on the look out for new classic film podcasts to enjoy so tell me, what podcasts do you listen to?  Let me know in a comment below what podcasts you think are great and what ones you think I should give a listen to!

How to Make Friends and Influence People (to Love Classic Films)

Recently I came across a blog post written by the fantastic Vanessa over at bawler.blogspot.com.  Her post, which can be found here, is about the solitary nature of being a classic film fan.  It extends into all aspects of your social life, including your romantic entanglements as Vanessa describes.  Her post got me thinking…and inspired me to write one of my own.

If you can name the two actors and the movie, we should be friends! Also, do you feel like this when you try to convince someone to watch a classic film with you?

I have always been a fan of classic films, even before I knew that they were classic films.  I grew up watching THE ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD, and THE GREAT ESCAPE with my Dad.  My sister and I watched THE WIZARD OF OZ so many times there are parts of the VHS tape that are worn down.  I loved MR. HOBBES TAKES A VACATION, THE TROUBLE WITH ANGELS, and the “Road Movies” from Bob Hope and Bing Crosby from the time I was ten years old.  I still remember the summer I was fourteen and had just finished reading GONE WITH THE WIND.  What better way to celebrate than by going to see the film as it was re-released in theaters?  I have always been watching classic films.  It was just a part of who I was.  So imagine my surprise when I found out that most people my age didn’t share my passion.  Imagine my shock when, after telling one of my friends that I liked “old movies”, she responded “Oh, you mean from like 1980?”.

It was the same story whenever I tried to talk classic films with people my own age.  They usually said something along the lines of, “I don’t like black and white movies” or “Old movies are boring”.  Boring?!  How could they say that?   Hadn’t they ever seen the sword fights in THE ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD?  Steve McQueen in THE GREAT ESCAPE?  The madcap antics of BRINGING UP BABY?  The quick patter of any of the “Road Movies”?  SOME LIKE IT HOT?!  It didn’t matter.  No matter what I said or examples I gave, my friends usually just shrugged and changed the subject.  Forget getting a boyfriend who liked classic films, I couldn’t even get a friend to watch one with me!  So, I spent my time watching classic movies either alone or with my family.  And it was fine, really lovely actually, spending that time and sharing those films.

But after reading Vanessa’s post, I started thinking about it again.  You see, I have a son.  He isn’t old enough to watch movies with me yet, but I am hoping that he will grow up to share Mom’s passion for classic films.  I am already planning a ROBIN HOOD viewing party.  I also have a husband who, though initially resistant, has started to watch movies with me and even enjoy them.  I know that he liked Daphne in SOME LIKE IT HOT, and after watching TO BE OR NOT TO BE he declared his favorite part to be “The part when they were in Poland” which I take to mean that he liked the whole movie. But I still have no friends my own age who share my love of classic film.  The only people who have ever looked at me with surprise and recognition when I start talking about Cary Grant, Myrna Loy, or William Powell are well above my age bracket.  Why is that?  Why don’t more young people love these movies?  I don’t mind talking to someone’s grandma or great uncle about why THE PHILADELPHIA STORY is so great (answer, because it is!), but there is a part of me that would really love to have a friend my own age to go to lunch with and discuss who was the better son in the Charlie Chan series (my vote is for number one son).

I have some theories.  Maybe it has something to do with the fact that most classic film fans have a love of reading.  Not just reading, not just HUNGER GAMES and FIFTY SHADES OF GREY, not just a quick skim of a magazine or an iPhone screen, but READING reading.  The kind of reading that means Dickens, Tolstoy, Austen, and even G.R.R. Martin.  The kind of reading that goes everywhere with you, on the train, at lunch, even to the shower.  The majority of classic film fans that I have come across seem to have a love of reading and books.  I count myself among them.  I have shelves and shelves of classic films on DVD, and piles and piles of books.  Along with a love of classic films, I have always had a love of reading and books.  And this is another thing that most of my friends don’t share. Let’s be honest, the majority of people today don’t read that much.  For most people in their thirties or younger reading isn’t a pleasure activity, its homework.  But classic films are far more literate than the popular films made today.  Of course every once in a while a movie is made today with witty dialogue and a complex story.  But the majority of films, the ones that make the most money, are not on the same literate scale as THE PHILADELPHIA STORY, HIS GIRL FRIDAY, or TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD.  Could this be a reason?  Could classic films be considered “too hard” to be enjoyable?  Or is it something less intellectual?  Is it something as simple as the world has changed?  Looking at what is considered important in today’s culture, looking at what is of value to the majority of the younger population, looking at what is considered “cool”, it doesn’t seem to mesh up with the values, standards, and stories put forward in these classic films.  With so much emphasis placed on being cool and accepted, no wonder most younger people reject classic movies.  But my Dad used to say that certain books and movie were like candy, easy and enjoyable but not that fulfilling.  And while I enjoy having candy every now and then, who doesn’t, I really prefer to have something that I can sink my teeth and my brain into.

So Vanessa, if you are reading this, I am a thirty year old classic film fan who loves to read…let’s be friends!  🙂