Scenes that make me laugh

From Whit Stillman’s “Barcelona” released in 1994 and set in the city of Barcelona in 1987. Chris Eigeman, plays Fred a US Naval officer in Barcelona. He’s staying with his cousin Ted, an American salesman working in Spain. To watch a Whit Stillman movie you need to be prepared to listen. His characters like to talk.

Wanna fight?

Wanna fight? Thankfully I haven’t ever heard those words… well not since that one time we won’t speak about, or the other time that I don’t care to mention. Course, the time before that is the one that got all the press and there is no need to go into it any further. Other than to say,  don’t believe everything you read in the paper. They got most of it wrong, like for instance, that one guy was already broke like that when I got there.

Anyway, none of what I’ve seen or allegedly been a part of and I stress allegedly, beats this bar fight between and betwixt Marlene Dietrich, Una Merkel and Jimmy Stewart.This is from the 1939 film Destry Rides Again. It is so gleefully violent and comedic. For the life of me, it looks like Marlene is doing a lot of her own stunts. Also, if you watch this movie you’ll get a good idea of the origin of the character of Lili Von Shtüpp portrayed by Madeline Kahn in Blazing Saddles.

You ever find the perfect shell?

You ever go walking along the beach and see a perfect shell, but a wave is coming in? You know what I am describing, perfect shell, wave and you in your Sunday best? And you’re thinking, “that is a damn fine shell, but I’m standing here in a three piece suit” or maybe “a nice dress with a fine bonnet”.

But still the lure of the shell wins out?

Yeah, I know you know, happened to me the other day. I was wearing this tuxedo, tails, top hat, the works. I know you’re asking yourself where I got such a nice set of threads and truth be told, I conned a tailor out of them. I gave him some magic beans in exchange for this tux. He told me the material was imported and I said the beans were magic. Well, I was feeling bad about the trade since the beans weren’t any kind of magic. Then I checked the label and it turned out the tux wasn’t any kind of imported. So, I guess with both pulled a fast one. All of that is neither here nor there or even over to yonder.

What matters to this story is that I was wearing this tux, walking on the beach wearing this amazing pari of Lucchese sharkskin boots. Now the story on the boots and how I got ’em is a bit simpler to tell. I knew a guy with the boots and then he didn’t want them anymore on account of the boots were shark and they yearned for the sea. He gave em to me if I promised to take ’em to the beach every now and then. Well this was then and I had the boots out for a sandy stroll. Then I spot this shell, this prefect shell tumbling in the sand. I decide to throw caution to the wind and run after it. As caution caught a good breeze and floated into the sky, I dove for the shell and another wave washed over me, knocking me down. I had a good grip on the shell and tried to get it and myself above water, but something had a hold of the other side of the shel and it was pulling on me and pulling hard. I was heading out to sea and heading out fast. At some point I must have blacked out, but I had a death grip on that shell.

So I come to in this underwater magic kingdom. There’s seahorses swimming around with prawns riding on top of them and mermaids fanning me with kelp. Let me tell you, kelp does not make a good fan. I still got a grip on this shel and I slowly become aware of this tugging on the other end of the shell. There’s this big dude tugging and saying “leggo, leggo of the shell. It’s my shell. Gimme.”

So I wake up completely and say, “No. It’s my shell and you leggo.”

And then this guy pulls this crap, “I am Poseidon god of the oceans and this is my shell.”

I say, “I’m holding it and from where I’m sitting, it looks like my shell. Also, I thought the god of the sea was named Neptune.”

“I am known by many names. Neptune, Poseidon, Bangpūtys, Morskoi, Manannán Mac Lir, Yam, Ezili.”

“So, you got a lot of aliases. You don’t sound like a god. You sound like a straight up criminal. Also, wait, Ezili is a goddess not god.”

“Don’t judge. Just let go of my shell.”

“No. Make me.”

“Someone, fetch my trident.”

“You can go and get your trident and you know what happens when you do, you let go of my shell and it is mine. Possession is nine tenths of the law. You try to take the shell and I will sue your ass.”

“You surface dwellers are so selfish.”

“Surface dwellers, what the hell? You a Morlack and me an eloi? An Eloi wearing a tux? Can you be any stupider? Who do you think you are?”


“You sound like a spoiled brat. I had the shell, it’s my shell and I’m not letting go. You aren’t letting go. No way to solve this.”

“Yes, there is, Ariel, get dad’s phone from the charger and call Sol.” One of the mermaids, the red headed one, swam off and came back shortly.

“He’ll be here in a couple of minutes.”

So, we sat for a couple of minutes, each holding our side of the shell. Then this guy come bopping in. Looks at the two of us and says, “Not again.”

So, Poseidon or Neptune or whatever the hell his real name is says his part of the deal and I say my part and then Sol thinks for awhile and says, “I know, we will cut the shell in half.”

“Solomon, that is always your solution and it never works.” That’s when I notice that most of the stuff down there was cut in half. Shells, barnacles, this IKEA dining table, an anchor, a limited edition Hell Boy figurine.

“It always works. Always. Always, always, always.”

“Guys. Guys. Guys!” They finally turned my direction.

“This just got really stupid. I have no idea why King Solomon is down here. That’s just a bit much for me to take. Plus the fact that you have so much crap cut in half shows that you are just a petulant child and you’d rather have stuff destroyed then admit you’re wrong. So, I’m just gonna go.”

“Pretty preachy all of a sudden.”

“Shut up, King Solomon.” I was getting tired of all of this.

“Sol’s right, you’re pretty preaching for a guy with no shoes.”

Then I looked down. My boots had swum away. 

So, I left the two of them high fiving and looking at the shell. Who high fives anymore?

Anyway, I bought a better shell at Neptune’s gift shop on the way out. I’ll miss those boots, but I’m sure they are happier now.

Strange Days

I have been absent online during this time of crisis in the world of 4381 Productions. The offices have been vacant and extremely cold these last several days. I am hoping people read Parry’s post on staying warm before all the lights went out.

The main office of 4381 is located in the wonderfully warm world of Texas. Cold is generally not our concern. Most of the northern part of the world might be wondering why this winter storm has hit us so hard. The majority of people have electric based heating. Even if you have a gas furnace, the temperature controls are electric. Most people have electric ovens and stoves. No electricity and you’ve lost all heat sources for most people around here.

I know that I am extremely worried for everyone at the office as well as everyone in Texas, everyone except Bill Magness and the “fine folks” on the board of ERCOT. Of course, a lot of those folks aren’t actually living here. I do not want to spend precious time on someone who will hopefully be out of a job and possibly in jail in the coming weeks.

Everyone, stay safe, stay warm and stay focused on those things that are most important to you.

Experientia docet

View of Main Street’s $1,000,000 fire, May 19, 1912, Houston, Tex.

Experientia docet
Latin – experience teaches

This was a week of highs and lows. A churning tumult of emotions, actions and reactions. At the end of the day, we are all still here. At the end of the day, we know that tomorrow it begins again. Another day and another opportunity to be something. Another day and another opportunity to create something.

Up and down, milestone and mistake, apology and apathy, over and again. Ideally, there are more highs than lows. Ideally the highs are higher than the lows will ever be.

Just remember that every day is part of a grand journey. One false step does not mean the end.


#learning, #fire, #houston, #journey, #discovery, #starwars, #thinman, #falsestep #largerworld, #highsandlows


How Green Was My Valley

How Green Was My Valley is a 1941 John Ford film about life in a Welsh mining town. It was adapted from the 1939 book of the same title written by Richard Llewllyn. The original intent was to shoot on location in Whales, but there was this thing happening in Europe at the time called Work War II. You might have heard of it. Instead of Whales, John Ford had Fox Studio build an 80 acre replica of a Welsh mining town. The cinematographer has so much more control anytime a film can build to suit the story rather than the film fitting a found location. Compositionally there are some stunning shots in the movie and it is worth a look sometime.

That is not what I am writing about today. I wanted to write about one of the many moments that make up the story. The whole thing is narrated from the view of an adult Huw, the youngest of six children born to Gwilym and Beth Morgan. Young Huw was played by a very young Roddy McDowall who you might know from any of the 269 projects he acted in or from just one:

I am not writing to discuss his portrayal of Cornelius in the original Planet of the Apes. I am writing to discuss his Huw’s day of school. The clip that follows comes in the second half of the film. Huw is the first of the family to go off to school. The first to have a chance for an education and a life outside of a coal mine. He is given the gift of a nice new pencil box by his family and sent off to school. Think about the sequence that follows, the economy of word and image used to paint our villains; how quickly one villain is redeemed in our eyes; how satisfying the comeuppance of the other. The voice over is that of the narrator an adult Huw.

Also, think on what the film is saying about honor, integrity, respect and responsibility. If you know other Ford works then you have some familiarity with these themes.

Finally, a few stills from that purely artificial Welsh village that is now a golf course in California.

Screen Shot 2020 11 08 at 4 11 16 PMScreen Shot 2020 11 08 at 4 11 37 PM



I knew a man Bojangles and he danced for you…

Jerry Jeff Walker passed away. From an interview #paulschneider and I shot some years back.



In the best of times and in the worst of times

It is that time in the offices of 4381 Productions where things get tense and anxious fills the air. If you were allowed to breathe without a mask, you could take a deep breathe and get agitated out from all second hand tension in the air. Maybe is the hope of cooler weather or the frustrations from darkness arriving sooner and sooner each night. It could also be caused by the tremendous amount of worked heaped on everyone. Basically, it can all be blamed on me.

So, in an uncharacteristic moment of inspirational and motivational talk, allow me to share the following from Johnny Clegg. Most will be completely unfamiliar with this talented individual who left the world too soon. Cancer cares not who it takes. Anyway, getting into the un-motivational side of things.

Listen to the song and the lyrics are translated below.

As Clegg explains, the song says that things will work out in the end and if they don’t work out; then it ain’t the end.

Your Time Will Come

(You were lying, do not tell lies)
(You told lies, trying to mislead me,
So that I would give up my faith and hope.)
(That is what you said — you said that our future is hopeless,
Our tomorrow is bleak, you were lying,
Trying to mislead us)
(No can do! we will never relinquish our faith)
(Everything will be all right —
It’s just when this will be, we cannot know)
(Everything will come right, I tell you friend]]
(Do not throw away your hope)
(Me holding on one side, you holding on the other side
Together we will pull through)
(You and me, you and me)
(My spirits are down)
(I say to you child of my aunt, you have caused me great fear)
(You told lies, trying to mislead me,
So that I would give up my faith and hope.)
(That is what you said — you said that our future is hopeless,
Our tomorrow is bleak, you were lying,
Trying to mislead us)
(No can do! we will never relinquish our faith)
(Everything will be all right —
It’s just when this will be, we cannot know)
(Everything will come right, I tell you friend)
(It will be all right my friend, I’m telling you)
(Come true courage, for it is you who gives
Life and takes it away
(Me on this side, you on the other,
We will hold it together)
(Don’t listen to the lies of my compatriot)
(We will be victorious in the end, just you and me)
(Just you and me)
I saw the Berlin Wall fall
I saw Mandela walk free
I saw a dream whose time has come
Change my history — so keep on dreaming
Dreamer, dreamer, dreamer
In the best of times and in the worst of times
Gotta keep looking at the skyline
Not at a hole in the road
Your time will come, sister, your time will come
Nobody’s gonna rush history, we have to ease it along
— just ease it along
Remember to keep looking at the skyline and not all the damn holes in the road.
Clegg was an important musical figure in the fight against Apartheid. At 17, he formed a band with Sipho Mchunu, a Zulu migrant worker. They were regularly arrested because it was illegal in South Africa for a white and black man to perform together. After that band, which grew to six members – three black and three white, gained international success, broke up he formed another interracial band that performed as Johnny Clegg and Savuka. That band broke up when his band member Dudu Zulu was assassinated while trying to negotiate peace in a war between rival taxi companies in Greytown in KwaZuluNatal. I saw him perform in 1990 or 1991. I can’t find my t-shirt from the show. I have seen many, many, many performances in the decades since. That performance from Johnny Clegg and Savuka is still, hands down, the most energetic, enthusiastic, powerful and fun concert I have ever attended.