Happy July 4th: Presenting Some Art to Celebrate the Holiday

Happy July 4th!

It is hard to believe that the year (2015) is half over. Where does the time go? As has been my custom, I present my annual July 4th trip to the virtual art museum. Actually none of us need leave our desks, homes, or go anywhere to visit these artworks. And of course there is no admission fee for this virtual museum.

There is no overriding theme for my selections, and except for a couple of July 4th graphics – the art does not truly pertain to Independence day. Generally, I bring you art that has simply caught and attracted my eyes. Some art work will be included because of the bold and striking colors, or the design. Others because they show some activities that you or I might find ourselves involved with over this weekend. Or places that we might visit. And still others because I simply like both the look and feel of the art, and that the paintings display beauty as well as invoking thoughts of happy times.

I’ve included landscapes, figurative, impressionist, classic realism. Most are oil paints but some have been created by water colorists. Enjoy.

We will lead off with a trio from Terri Kelly Moyers. Terri grew up in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, and now lives in Sante Fe, New Mexico. Whether she’s painting a portrait or a landscape or a cowgirl riding a horse, Moyer’s subjects are things that she sees beauty in, and things that create an emotional response.

She has said “I want to share what I see with other people and help them have the same pleasure I have. Each artist interprets and edits things in a different way, infusing his or her work with a different quality or emotion.”

The first from Moyers is called Morning Exercise – Santa Anita. I know that many folks will attend race tracks and enjoy horse racing today. This image portrays what takes place in the hours of the early morning before the tracks open to the general public. This is when the track grandstands are empty and the people at the track are mostly trainers, grooms and handlers, exercise boys or girls, horse owners, and clockers.

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Looking Back Twenty Years – Crimson Tide (1995)

crimsontide_s

Capt. Ramsey: Those sailors out there are just boys… boys who are training to do a terrible and unthinkable thing, and if that ever occurs the only reassurance they’ll have that they’re doing the proper thing is gonna derive from their unqualified belief in the unified chain of command. That means we don’t question each other’s motives in front of the crew. It means we don’t undermine each other. It means in a missile drill, they hear your voice right after mine, without hesitation. Do you agree with that policy, sailor?

Hunter: Absolutely, sir.

Capt. Ramsey: We’re here to preserve democracy, not to practice it.

That was a dialogue between Gene Hackman as Captain Frank Ramsey and Denzel Washington as Lt. Commander Ron Hunter as the XO of the submarine, the USS Alabama. This 1995 film was called Crimson Tide and it is the latest in my Looking Back Twenty Years film series.

Structurally the film is so much like so many other naval films. There’s usually an up from the ranks Captain. He’s almost always an older man, he may be crusty or even cantankerous, or someplace in between. He is set in his ways, can be petty, mean-spirited, and selfish, He doesn’t brook any dissenting opinions from his subordinate officers who are always younger, smarter as in better educated, and have different philosophies on everything from commanding men to taking orders.

You already know some of the main players in this genre – Captain Bligh and Fletcher Christian from Mutiny on the Bounty, Captain Queeg and Lt. Steve Maryk from The Caine Mutiny, Cmdr Rich Richardson and Lt. Jim Bledsoe from Run Silent, Run Deep, and to keep the list manageable, Lt Commander Morton and Lt J.G. Doug Roberts from Mr. Roberts.

Some of Hollywood’s biggest names have appeared in films about the naval warfare and men under stress during those conflicts. James Cagney, Clark Gable, Burt Lancaster, Humphrey Bogart, Van Johnson, Mel Gibson, Cary Grant, Tony Curtis, Jack Lemmon, and Henry Fonda to name just a few. Of course in Crimson Tide, Hackman and Washington get above the title star billing. But this film also featured the then relatively unknowns James Gandolfini and Viggo Mortensen. as well as George Dzundza who also appeared in The Deer Hunter and No Way Out.

As the film begins, NBC News correspondent Richard Valeriani is aboard a French aircraft carrier somewhere in the Mediterranean.

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True Detective: Season 02 Episode 02 –

The second episode of True Detective, called Night Finds You, aired on HBO tonight. I liked what I saw, and will readily admit to being hooked, but the shocking end to this episode really threw me for a loop. Let’s have a look at some theories – half-baked and otherwise.

SPOILERS AHEAD

I’m stumped about Farrell – it does seem too early for  the lead actor (in star billing) and leading character to be killed off in the second episode… But maybe he was wearing a Kevlar vest. Which I doubt. We haven’t seen in him one earlier.

Second, who could it be that was behind the shooting or had sent or ordered someone to watch Caspere’s playpen. I doubt it was Semyon (Vince Vaughn) who while he may have been pissed at Farrell’s Velcoro – it seemed that it wasn’t necessary to send him up to that house to be killed – especially since Semyon had provided the address and needed to know what Velcoro might find.

Second likely candidate to have arranged it might be Richie Costner as the Vinci Mayor. But then again this isn’t sensible either, as likely The Mayor of Vinci already knows what there is to find. And if the Mayor had Caspere killed for Semyon’s money – why bother with Velcoro?

Which leaves us with the CHP now special investigator – but he doesn’t seem likely unless Caspere’s playpen was located in Ventura where he was. The apartment was no where near Ventura unless the entirety of Beverly Hills had been relocated overnight. He clearly stated that he would be heading south to LA.

Bezzerides? Doesn’t seem likely. How would she know that Velcoro was heading to Caspere’s playpen, plus as far as we know – Bezzerides didn’t know where the playpen was. Ditto for Velcoro’s wife. But Bezzerides clearly hinted at a twisted youth.  2 of her siblings have been incarcerated, and two others attempted suicides. She? She signed on to become a detective? Plus she hasn’t any apparent motive.

I don’t think so but that points us toward Bezzerides father – the self-help spiritual guide, played by David Morse, and mentor up at the commune. But how would he be connected to the land deal (which is the whole story) to buy the land then sell it to the high-speed rail link developers, because his land was a coastal property and the land for the rail link was going up the center of the state.

There’s that sunglasses Doctor who Velcoro and Bezzerides visited. The shrink who treated Caspere. But he didn’t seem the type to do wet work, or don a crow’s head mask (this is true ONLY if you ignore the fact that he had the Crow’s Head artwork on the wall of his office). But I’m working without evidence here. Maybe the Caspere playpen is actually owned by this doctor, who may or may not have something to do with the girl with the facial scars who Ray spoke with,

So I admit to being stumped.

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Dicte: The Second Season of the Popular Danish TV Series

After thoroughly enjoying Season 1 of the Danish TV series Dicte, which aired last fall on Netflix, I hoped that there would be a second season. Well there was. Season 2 aired on Danish TV beginning September 24th, just about the same time I was watching Season 1.

This is a series about a journalist working for the Internet edition of a Danish newspaper. She is the crime reporter and she’s based in Aarhus which is Denmark’s second biggest city. Her name is Dicte Svendsen. Iben Hjejle has the role.

Svendsen worked on reporting crime stories and quite often she uncovered information which both got her into a few difficult as well as life threatening situations as well as being helpful to the police. On the police side we had Detective John Wagner and his assistant Linda Bendtsen.

At the newspaper there was the older editor Kaiser, and a hunky staff photographer called Bo.

On the home front, Svendsen lived with her teen-age daughter Rose, had dealings with her ex-husband Torsten. Then there were Svendsen’s girl friends – Anne Skov Larsen, a midwife working at Aarhus University Hospital, and Ida Marie Svensson. a woman in an unhappy marriage.

What made this show appealing was the seamless blending of the crime stories and the personal sides to the characters.

That's Kaiser, the older editor standing on the right

That’s Kaiser, the older editor standing on the right

The second season consisted of 10 episodes, or stated more accurately 5 stories each with two parts. To make the series more intriguing, both the crime stories as well as the personal stories worked as on going threads. By this I mean that events and crimes that started in the first episode of the season continued straight through until the end.

Bo and Dicte

Bo and Dicte

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Murder in the First – Season 02 Episode 03 – Blue on Blue

*****SPOILERS AHEAD*****

TNT’s Murder in the First aired the 3rd episode of the current season tonight. They called this one Blue on Blue, which apparently is a kind of euphemism for cop killed by cop.

If you recall, last week I made an issue of pointing out that one cop, the short burly Hispanic detective, Edgar Navarro, seemed almost pleased that Walt Martin had been killed. So the I.A. cops interviewed the cops on duty that night, which turned up a list of 30 cops who were on scene in the North Tunnel.

Meanwhile Terry English met with the M.E. in the lab who told him that the bullet that killed Walt was a 40mm, and neither Alfie nor Dustin had used that kind of weapon. Point being, as that was the caliber used by the SFPD, it was a blue on blue shooting.

Okay fair enough. But soon after, Walt Martin’s partner, Officer Kaleb Peat,  was told to take a vacation. As in leave the job behind for a while, find a beach somewhere, clear your head, and don’t come back until you’re ready. Again this is kind of standard.

But that caused a rotation within the detective ranks. As English had been promoted, Hildy needed a partner. You’d be right if you thought it would be Navarro.So far no lights have focused on him – other than the fact that he is now Hildy’s partner. Is that what we might call a misdirection?

Koto is back up on his feet although still in the hospital. The very hospital where Shooter 1 (Dustin Maker) is under heavy guard as he recuperates.

But there was another violent killing in one of the local ‘grow houses’. As in growing pot. What had been likely a robbery ended with a shooting. The vic was a Victor Chen, a Chinese émigré. There was a young kid in the vicinity, Jalil Thompson, and as he had blood on his shoes, he was brought in for questioning. As it turned out, Jalil was the ‘good’ kid in a family of known gang=bangers and hoodlums. We heard this from the boy’s mother who begged Hildy to not question him or keep him in the lockup.

But English wanted to press murder charges against the kid. Hildy told him not to, as it would basically ruin his life. Jalil was just 13.

But Jalil was not so innocent as his mother though he was. Jalil knew the local drug boss – one Sugar Cascade. As did English. And this Sugar Cascade also kept tabs on English whose career he had studiously followed. Sun Tzu anyone? Know your enemy…

Also in play was Mario Siletti, the acting DA, who made the TV news when he appeared at a vigil for the dead students, the ones killed by Alfie and Dustin in the first episode. His quote was newsworthy as he promised that those dead students deserved justice as did the city of San Francisco.

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Murder in the First Season 2 Episode 2 – Schizofrenzy

Murder in the First aired the second episode of its Second Season tonight. The episode title was called Schizofrenzy. Being honest and truthful, I’ll say that much like the word schizophrenic or frenzy – this episode was all over the place.

*****SPOILERS AHEAD*****THIS IS A RECAP*****

From the streets of San Francisco to the subterranean tunnels beneath those very streets to hot storeroom sex is what we saw. There was a nearly complete absence of stress or tension for the majority of the show. It’s not like they didn’t try; rather it simply didn’t work. Read on.

. The show opened with the death of one of the uniformed cops who was a part of the ground team searching for the remaining shooter from last week. Yes it was tragic, and we see as much from most of the faces of the police on the scene.

Then we followed Raffi (played by Emmanuelle Chriqui) into one of the tunnels. She was sent into a narrow crawl space because she was small and had some experience in similar tunnels in Gaza or Israel. Yeah, it was spooky and she nearly went over the edge of an abyss. But she didn’t – after all this is just the second episode. You don’t hire a performer like Chriqui for a smidgen more than one episode and then kill her off.

From there we found out that Lieutenant Koto, who had been shot in the Season’s opening episode was okay and out of surgery but he would be hors de combat for the time being. Since Koto would be unable to perform his duties for a while, The Chief of Police promoted Detective Terry English to Lieutenant and named him acting head of the detectives.

Pointedly the Chief asks English, When was the last time you slept or had something to eat? English had no answer for the Chief – who then said – do something about that.

Meanwhile the shooting suspect, Alfie Rentman is showing up on various surveillance equipment as he flit around the city. It wasn’t like he was hiding, you know, holed up somewhere – it seemed almost seemed like a game – as he seemed to be hiding in plain sight – as if to taunt the police. The ‘gaming’ aspect was confirmed by the boy’s parents,

Hildy: Help us get inside his head...

Hildy: Help us get inside his head…

as well as the police techie, Kami Keefer, who had hacked into Alfie’s game records and notes on his laptop.

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Baby

Quite a few films have ‘Baby” in the title. Far too many to mention here and now beyond a few. But rest assured that this film is not about children, or a cute pig (Babe), or the spawn of the devil (Rosemary’s Baby), and it has no reference in the world of sweethearts as in romantic comedies, or sexy clothing on nubile young things (Baby Doll), or even screwball comedies (Bringing Up Baby).

What we have here is a first-rate action thriller. Baby is actually a reference within the Intelligence and Operations arm of the Indian government – specifically in the Anti-terrorism branch. It is simply a small outfit that handles black ops and will be disavowed by the government in worst case scenarios.

They are headed up in New Delhi by a civilian officer (Feroz Ali Khan) played by Danny Denzongpa, who has enough juice to be able to get in and see the country’s Prime Minster on extremely short notice. The chief field operative is Ajay played by the film’s lead Akshay Kumar.

The film opens in Istanbul, Turkey. Ajay is tracking down a former associate in Baby (the nickname for this Anti-terrorism group) who has now gone rogue. The group is so new that they’re on what is called a five-year trial basis, so new that no one knows the specifics about them (to ensure plausible deniability), so secret that Ajay cannot even tell his wife about what he does for a living, and they work the absolutely most dangerous of missions with full knowledge that the Indian government will not protect them.

They are simply super patriots if they succeed on their missions, or sacrificed if they don’t.

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Murder in the First: Season Two Begins

Murder In the First opened its Second Season on TNT last night.

*****SOME SPOILERS AHEAD*****

Lieutenant Koto (Ian Anthony Dain) is back as the Supervisor for Homicide Detectives Terry English (Taye Diggs) and Hildy Mulligan (Kathleen Robertson). Also returning are some of the other detectives. There are multiple newcomers this season which would be the natural outcome of a new crime and a new case; among the new cast members are Emmanuelle Chriqui (Sloan in Entourage) as Raffi Veracruz,

who is a plain clothes detective in the Gang Unit (according to Chriqui) who is on hand for English and Mulligan’s cases. Laila Robbins who played the Ambassador in the most recent season of Homeland is also in the series this year, but she didn’t appear in this first episode that was called Twenty-Fifteen.

As you know, this is a police procedural show with a single case arching over the season. So Twenty Fifteen began with a school bus filled with high schoolers. And before you can say ‘filled with high schoolers’ twice, one guy takes out a gun and shoots one student. Then a second student brings out an automatic weapon and the bus explodes in gunfire. There’s your opening.

While the idea of mass killings by students seems like it is ripped from the news headlines, this opening episode was quite less than scintillating. Probably this is due to the fact that though the police got one of the shooters – as Detective English would later say – Shooter 2 is in the wind.

And he got away because of the multiple smoke canisters that the perps released – the day was wind free and he managed to get away in the chaos – despite the fact that the police had cordoned off the area before either of the shooters had even gotten off the bus. That seemed somewhat far-fetched to me.

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Entourage

Those boys from Queens are back. Yes I do mean the crew from Entourage. Vinny Chase, Eric Murphy, Johnny ‘Drama’ Chase, and Sal ‘Turtle’ Vacara. Also back are Sloan, Ari Gold, Dana Gordon, John Ellis, Mrs Ari, Lloyd, and the crew’s publicist – Shauna.

The film opened on Wednesday and the title is Entourage. The last episode of the Entourage HBO TV Series aired on September 11th, 2011. That episode was called The End. Despite the passage of 3 3/4 years in real-time in our own lives, the film resumes a mere 10 days after the last episode ended.

Vinnie and the boys plus Mr. & Mrs Ari had taken off in a private jet for Paris, where Vinnie was to wed the columnist from Vanity Fair; in another private jet, E and Sloan were off to parts unknown. In the simplest of terms, the series ended with what could only be called happy endings for all.

The film opens 10 days later in story time. The new bride and Vinny had some differences (off-screen) and agreed to jointly annul the marriage. Ari Gold and his Mrs had been ensconced in a beautiful villa overlooking the Mediterranean in Positano, Italy – but Ari couldn’t resist when John Ellis offered him the opportunity to run a film studio.

So Vinnie and the boys are heading for a party being held on a large yacht near Ibiza, Spain . Party time! Would you expect anything less – boobs and booze – after all – this is Entourage.

Flash forward some months – Sloan is expecting her and E’s new baby any moment now – but E is spreading himself around to any number of beautiful women. Turtle is still filthy rich having struck it rich with Avion Tequila.

And Vinnie? Well Vinny got a deal to both star in and direct a film with a 100 Million dollar budget – Ari’s first project as studio head. Only Vinnie has gone over budget. And they need more money.

The film within the film has been bankrolled by a Texan and this Texan has given his own son the task of seeing if the film merits more money or should they cut their losses now. The thing of it is that Vince is not all that eager to show what he’s got so far.

His line is that he doesn’t want to screen the film until it is perfect.

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