Itchy Heart – The Follow Up to The Seven-Year-Itch: Fifty Years Later

Back when your grandparents were dating – let’s make that era sometime in the 1950’s, a film star was known the world over for simply standing on a grating on a Manhattan street and having a wind draft from below lift up her skirt.

That would be the legendary Marilyn Monroe and the film was called The Seven Year Itch. Monroe’s career was already in high gear by that time (1955), and an iconic picture like what was used in the film’s poster (to the right), only added to her allure. Sadly, she died in her sleep in 1962, having made, in fact, only six more films after this one.

This film was a male fantasy of course. Tom Ewell played the male lead whose wife goes out of town for a period of time, and then, a dreamy, single, sexy blond bombshell moves into the apartment upstairs. Fantasies ran rampant through his head after chatting with her, when she said to him, “When it’s hot like this, you know what I do?  I keep my undies in the icebox.”

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Happy Thanksgiving – 2009

First, let me wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving. Even if where you live, Thanksgiving as a holiday isn’t celebrated, it is always correct to offer thanks for all the good things we have. A lot of turkeys help us celebrate today, and for all of them, it was the last thing they did in their short lives. I guess we could lay the blame for turkey on our Pilgrim forefathers and their friends and families of long ago.

Bitin' Up

Chuck Wagon

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The Actress Who Never Was or The Mysterious Case of Aya Takanashi

The Actress Who Never Was or The Mysterious Case of Aya Takanashi: Recognize the Name? Probably not. Most movie resources only show one film on her resume. You will be hard-pressed to find anything at all about her besides this one film. [Edit: Some additional facts have been discovered by people more willing to do research since I wrote this in the fall of 2009. These facts were not uncovered by me. So thanks are due to the readers. Find these in the comments section. Thank you.]

There are lots of listings which present her bare-bones mini biography. Aya was born in Chiba, Japan, in 1963. That would make her about 52 right now (Edited 062815 for age). She acted in a featured role in a movie made in 1992 when she was just 29. She’s 5′ 2 1/2″ inches tall. Now you have what has been called her bio in a trusted web source called IMDB – The Internet Movie Data Base.

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Do You Wanna Dance?

Some of you may recognize our title this month. Does it take you back to the late 60s and early 70s, when America’s youthful males were obsessed with gas guzzling muscle cars, and had high hopes that the girl of their dreams would fast become a woman during their courtship?

America’s young people were edging towards a growing idealistic counter-culture, and during that era, The Beach Boys were the pre-eminent American music group.

Their songs focused on the nearly eternal sunny days of Southern California, surfing, and the pursuit of fun.

In the album Today, which was released in 1965, and was on the best seller charts for 50 weeks, they did a cover of the Bobby Freeman song, Do You Wanna Dance?

Do you wanna dance and hold my hand
Tell me baby, I’m your lover man
Oh baby, do you wanna dance?
Do you wanna dance under the moonlight
Squeeze me, squeeze me baby, all through the night
Oh baby, Do you wanna dance?
Well, do you, do you, do you, do you wanna dance…

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Two Artistic Views of Japan: by Sofia Coppola and Jeremy Barlow

I remember not rushing off to the movies theater to see Sofia Coppola’s Lost In Translation when it came out in 2003. Probably because I was in Asia at the time. But later I did see it. My initial reaction was that the film was dark and depressing. It was like witnessing a collision of automobiles at an intersection only instead of cars – Love and Life collided with Lost and Lonely.

I’ve since watched this film a few more times. Maybe to see if my understanding of the film had changed because of my own experiences in Japan, as well as my connections to Japanese culture via many Japanese TV drama series that I’ve seen.

Of course when you make a long-haul flight like that  going to Japan from New York or from San Francisco, you will have that kind of physical/mental disorientation that can’t be avoided.

Then factor in the language barrier, with the possibility of insomnia, and it can be daunting. Staying in a hotel like The Park Hyatt in Tokyo in a room high above the streets  can only add to one’s sense of isolation. Continue reading

Buckaroo

Recently I watched the movie, The Hunt for Red October (1990). This is a real man’s movie filled with submarine warfare, geo-politics and its offspring – political brinksmanship, as well as great heaping gobs of pure testosterone. There’s no sex or romance in this tale, in fact there may not even be any speaking roles for women in the movie.

As the movie begins, we learn that the Captain of The Red October, which is the USSR’s newest and most technologically advanced nuclear powered submarine, has disobeyed his orders, and is heading for the United States. The question is – is he defecting or is he a madman who will bring about Armageddon by firing nuclear war heads at major US coastal cities?
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Colors: Past & Present

It is early 1969. The colorful word counter-culture had begun to creep into your consciousness. Your name is Dennis Hopper. You are 33 years old and have a growing acting career. But you haven’t gotten ‘there‘ yet. Stardom is still around a few more corners. Somehow you, fellow actor Peter Fonda, along with writer Terry Southern write a screenplay for a movie about hippies, bikers, pot, and the freedom of the open road. You’ve hounded enough suits or backers to raise about $400,000. A paltry sum by Hollywood standards even then, in 1969, but enough to enable the production to begin with you as the film’s director. The movie is entitled Easy Rider; and becomes a runaway success, both artistically as well as at the box office. It would become the definitive counter-culture road movie.

Get your motor runnin’
Head out on the highway
Lookin’ for adventure
And whatever comes our way

40 years later, Steppenwolf’s classic Born to Be Wild, still comes to mind as the anthem of Easy Rider. Powerful music and a powerful film, thank you Mr. Hopper. So Dennis Hopper went from being a rather unconventional actor to being a sought-after, fair-haired, wunderkind. Ka-ching! But success is quite hard to sustain, and Hopper went from being an A-List actor/director to someone whose work and personal life headed downhill. He became someone who might be found at a rehab center during the aftermath following Easy Rider’s release and rise. Continue reading