David Knights' Weblog

January 18, 2019

Russia loses two Su-34s

Filed under: General — dknights @ 9:54 am
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Looks like Russians lost two Su-34s off the Asian coast of Russia.  Note: that at the time I linked to the story, the photo with the story was an Su-27UB, not an Su-34.  We’ll see if they correct that.


January 17, 2019

Movie review: The Thin Man Goes Home (1945)

Filed under: General — dknights @ 3:47 pm
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This is the fifth of the sixth Thin Man movies and the first that doesn’t take place mainly in NYC or San Francisco.  The fourth film was filmed in 1941, before America’s entry into WWII.  This film was originally slated to begin production in 1942, but Myrna Loy declined the job and instead she moved to NYC to marry the heir to the Hertz car rental fortune and to work in the Red Cross in New York.  Like many celebrities of the time, she threw herself into war related activities and did not return to film until shooting this film in mid and late 1944.  The film premiered in early 1945.

Though Nick and Nora have a child, he does not appear in this film.  It is explained in dialogue that Nicky is in kindergarten and they didn’t want to take him out of school.  If my guess about Nicky’s age in the fourth film is correct, that would mean that though 3-4 years have passed between production of the last film and this one, in the film world’s time, this film follows closely on the heels of the last one.

Though this movie was made while the US was deeply involved in WWII, there is no direct reference to the war in the film, though there are many oblique references to it.  The opening scene where Nick and Nora are traveling on a train to go to Nick’s old home town show plenty of men in uniform and the train traveling conditions are extremely crowded as was the case in the wartime USA.  In addition, a character is referred to as having returned from “the South Seas” and is waiting for his discharge from the Army.  The victim is shot with a Japanese Nambu light machine gun, though it is called a sniper rifle in the movie.  Finally, it turns out the reason for the murder is a plot to steal propeller plans for “a foreign power”.

While several years in real time have passed, neither Powell or Loy have lost any of their spark.  Their interplay is as good as in any of the films, and the writing really sparkles.  In fact, this may be the funniest film since the first one, with Loy stealing several scenes, including the climactic reveal of the killer, where she lampshades the entire process in a running commentary to Nick’s father.

I really enjoyed this one.  5 stars.


January 15, 2019

What in the world is going on?

Filed under: General — dknights @ 9:37 am
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A devastating report on the lack of preparedness leading to a naval tragedy.  Though not mentioned in this report, I have read another report elsewhere suggesting the duty officer and the officer in charge of the CIC, were not speaking to each other at the time of the accident.

January 13, 2019

TV review: Project Blue Book (2019)

Filed under: General — dknights @ 6:47 am
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I will say up front that I am a UFO skeptic.  However, I have an open mind, and I love a good TV show.  I was a big X-Files fan.  I first became aware of the USAF program, Project Blue Book, from the 1978 TV show Project U.F.O. which was supposedly based on the files of Project Blue Book.  I used to like the show.  So naturally, I was excited to see the History Channel was coming out with a new series based on the same premise.

I watched the first episode and it is….OK.  Nothing great.  Its no X-Files.  The stars don’t really bring anything to the table.  Based on the first episode, they plan on taking great liberties with the underlying actual UFO incidents.  I’ll watch at least a few more episodes, and give it a chance.

January 12, 2019

Medieval Manuscripts

Filed under: General — dknights @ 6:43 am
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How dental archaeology is giving us new insights into how illustrated manuscripts were produced, and by whom. (h/t to my favorite Twitter nun, @pursuedbytruth).

January 10, 2019

American history

Filed under: General — dknights @ 6:53 am
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American history is filled with interesting stories.  I stumbled across this one recently.  Instead of another comic book movie, someone in Hollywood should turn this story into a movie.

January 9, 2019

Wonder how these got there?

Filed under: General — dknights @ 2:47 pm
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In England a couple of unfired 5 inch artillery rounds found in a garden.  Story here.

Movie review: Shadow of the Thin Man (1941)

Filed under: General — dknights @ 12:28 pm
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This is the fourth entry in the Thin Man series and the weakest of the four so far.  Not that its bad, it isn’t.  It just doesn’t have as much of the interplay between Nick and Nora, which is the heart of these films.  This may be, in part, due to the presence of Nick and Nora’s child, Nicky, who was a baby in the last film, but who appears to be about 5 in this film.  The film also stars famed acting teacher Stella Adler in one of her only 3 or 4 film roles.  Also, a very young Donna Reed, plays a key role.  This is several years before her breakout in It’s A Wonderful Life and decades before her sitcom.

For this film we are back in San Francisco.  Nick and Nora and their son Nicky are ensconced in the hotel St. Cloud.  This is interesting, as we established previously, Nick and Nora have (had) a home in San Francisco, which they returned to at the beginning of the second film of the series.  Have they sold it?  Is it just a continuity gaff? We don’t know.  When the last film (released in 1939) ended, Nick and Nora were celebrating Nicky’s first birthday.  As this film opens, Nick and Nicky are walking in the park together and Nicky appears to be about 5, which would put the events of the film occurring about 4 years after the end of the last film.  Young Nicky’s play outfit is a soldier’s uniform, and it serves as a reminder that the film was shot in August 1941 as Europe was at war and the US was gearing up it’s military.  The film was released in November 1941, only a few weeks before Pearl Harbor.

The film features a scene of the, at the time, brand new San Francisco-Oakland bay bridge.  It also features a scene at a wrestling match, giving the viewer a view of the early years of the development of professional wrestling.  As usual, the film ends with Nick gathering all the suspects together and figuring out who the killer is.  In the climactic scene, Nora gets to play the hero, wrestling Nick’s gun away from the revealed killer as he was about to shoot Nick.  It turns out the gun was unloaded, but of course Nora didn’t know that.

In the course of watching these films, I did learn two interesting things. 1. The original Thin Man film was nominated for an Academy Award.  2. Though they starred in 14 films together, including the 6 Thin Man films, and had fantastic screen chemistry, Powell and Loy were never romantically involved in real life, unlike a lot of screen couples of the time. (i.e. Bogart and Bacall, Gable and Lombard, etc.)

I’d give this film, 4 out of 5 stars.

January 6, 2019

Dunn’s River Falls

Filed under: Family,General — dknights @ 6:24 am
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I’ve been to it and it is beautiful.  Do to liability and environmental issues, you’d never have an attraction like it in the US.  Like many things in Jamaica, it is apparent suffering from mismanagement. Unfortunately the news story is very short on details.

January 5, 2019

Movie review: After the Thin Man (1936)

Filed under: General — dknights @ 11:35 pm

The second of the Thin Man films, and some argue the best story, picks up three days after the first film ends, with Nick and Nora returning to San Francisco from their New York adventure in the first film.  This film flips the first one on its head.  In the first film, we meet all of Nick’s friends and acquaintances many of whom are of questionable character.  In this film, we meet Nora’s Knob Hill family who are as upper crust as possible and very disapproving of lower class Nick.  Clearly part of Nick’s charm to Nora is that he irritates her upper crust family.

We knew from the first film that Nora was an upper crust socialite, and here we learn she is a Knob Hill San Francisco socialite.  As in the previous film, Nick wants to simply live the life of leisure enjoying his wife’s money, while Nora enjoys the excitement of the detective life.  Additionally, Nora wants to have Nick prove the innocence of her cousin Selma.

As before, the chemistry between Powell and Loy is amazing.  Additionally we get to see a pre-WWII Jimmy Stewart staring as the bad guy, a role he rarely played.  5 years after this film he’d be a B-24 pilot in Europe.

As with all these films, I highly recommend it.  5 stars.

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