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When Mork Met Robin Williams

Me
Unsurprisingly, I have been thinking about Mork and Mindy, the 70s sitcom that made Robin Williams a star.  It was not, despite Williams's outsized talents, a great show.  But it had a lot of great moments during its four year run.  One of the oddest moments was when Mork and Mindy (the latter a TV reporter) manage to get in to see Robin Williams for an interview.  It's a weird scene, meta before everything was meta, and set in a parallel universe where Robin was as big a star without a TV show.

But there is a certain amount of poignancy and honesty in what Williams says.  Looking back, knowing what we know now, it's hard not to see that even then his insecurities were not that far away.  I would say that the clip is worth seeing for that, and for a glimpse of both Williams when he was young and when he was Mork. 

Oh Captain, My Captain

Daffy
Robin Williams has left this world.  In his heyday, he was one of the claimants to the title of "funniest man on Earth.":  That he left us so young and so tragically does not take away from the mirth he created over the years as Mork and the Genie and in countless films and in his standup routines.   My condolences to his grieving family and friends and fans.

Star Wars: Clone Wars

Me
Just finished watching the second Clone Wars cartoon, the one that was CGI and ran five seasons (plus one on Netflix).  And my love of Star Wars is back.  Oh, it's not perfect.  A few too many episodes concentrate on political and philosophical matters to be exciting (recalling some of the draggier scenes in the prequels).  Jar Jar pops up every so often and some of the original characters are almost as annoying or shallow.  And on occasion the writing is subpar, especially a few written by Katie Lucas, George's daughter.

But for the most part, the vision Lucas was striving for in the prequels comes to life much better here than there.  Anakin, working with a padawan of his own, flourishes.  The full extent of both the war and Palpatine's schemes becomes clear.  The clone troopers become real characters, a testament to both the writing and the voice work of Dee Bradley Baker, who does ALL of them.  The animation is often stunning, the voice work is strong, and sometimes the whole package is amazing.  Interestingly, Lucas was involved on the show, and it seems like his ideas are still viable.  They just need some help from people who aren't him.

I highly recommend Clone Wars to Star Wars fans.  Even if you didn't like Anakin or much else in the prequels, the richness of the Star Wars universe is still quite alive and well.  Here's hoping that future interpreters of the stories do as well.  (PS: Executive producer Dave Filoni is working on the upcoming Rebels series with Greg Weisman.  That should be fun, too.)

Credit Where Credit Is Due

Me
Many of you are running to see Guardians of the Galaxy.  (Can't say it appeals to me enough to spend NYC movie money).  What you might not know is that Rocket Raccoon was co-created by a writer named Bill Mantlo, along with still-popular artist Keith Giffen.  Mantlo was hit by a car over 30 years ago, and has never truly recovered.  The comics industry has done what it can over the years to help.  

That would include Marvel Comics.  They've paid Mantlo a fee for use of his character in GotG (which is unusual).  They gave him (and Giffen) creator credits in the movie (which is also unusual).  And they arranged a private screening so he could see his strange, once forgotten sentient raccoon on the big screen.  Details are here.

Since I am one to criticize Marvel's policies regarding creators and the movies, I think it is only fair to say, nicely done!

HYPE: The Jewish Museum's New Website

Me
After eighteen months of development, and after years of patch jobs and temporary fixes, the Jewish Museum has a brand new, totally rebuilt website!  Come and see all the new features.  Let me know what you think.

Oy

Daffy
 You know that it's a rough news day when a war involving Israel is NOT the lead.  Or the scariest story of the day.  I seriously feel like building a blanket fort inside a blanket fort.

And seriously, Malaysian Airlines AGAIN?  

In addition to that and Israel, there is the much less significant but still sad news of Elaine Stritch's passing.  The woman was a Broadway legend.  Search for the clip of her recording "The Ladies Who Lunch" from the film chronicling the making of the cast album for Company.  She was something.

If you need me, I'll be my blanket fort.

Regarding LeBron

Me
In the grand scheme of things, where LeBron James plays basketball doesn't matter a lot.  Playing in Cleveland won't bring peace to the Middle East, or cure AIDS, or solve any of our society's many other problems.  But if such things are going to matter, it helps when the person making the decision is doing it for more reasons than just money (not that money isn't part of it.

LeBron explained his reasoning here.  He does so (with help) rather eloquently.  He talks about family.  About returning to his hometown.  And about the role can play in his community.  And he comes across as that rarest of things, an adult.  The over the top spectacle of "The Decision" four years ago, which rubbed a lot of people (including me) the wrong way is gone.  In its place, a thoughtful and understated announcement.

There isn't any doubt that LeBron is currently the best basketball player on the planet.  It's good to see that he is also one of the better people in the sports world.  Here's hoping that he continues to show the way, and to use his fame for more than just being a star (as he did in leading the protests against Donald Sterling.)  I bet when all is said and done, he will leave his mark in ways that go far beyond the NBA.

If the Knicks aren't going to win, I have someone else to root for.  That's pretty cool.

Wright Thompson in South America

Me
 So ESPN has this reporter named Wright Thompson.  He is fairly literate and very literary, and writes about a very wide range of topics that aren't the usual.  ESPN sent him to South America.  To cover the World Cup, as he is one of the best soccer writers around.  And to cover the continent.  He has been all over the place, examining the intersection of the Beautiful Game and the nations that might love it most.  And also occasionally looking at things beyond the pitch.

I recommend visiting his World Cup blog.  Even if you don't like soccer, you might find some of the best sportswriting around these days.

Early Wednesday Thoughts

Me
- Eli Wallach has passed away at the age of 98.  What a great character actor.  Who better, it seems, to play Mexican banditos in classic Westerns than a New York Jew?  I am sure much better film fans than I will have a lot to say today.

- Speaking of which, if you are a film buff, I highly recommend The Dissolve, a relatively new website started by the best writers from The AV Club.  The reviews and essays are fascinating, and the discussions by the readers are very intelligent.

- I am doing something I never thought I'd do: returning a Terry Pratchett book to the library unfinished.  Raising Steam is fitfully well written, but it's otherwise a slog.  Whether this is a sign that Sir Terry's Alzheimers has affected his ideas, or just  a sign that dictating a book into a computer is not the same as typing it, it's still a sad thing that we might be at the end of the Discworld as we know it.

- Seriously, Luis Suarez, biting someone?  For the third time?  Hoping that FIFA throws the book at him, but not sure it will happen.

- Loving that ESPN has unleashed British soccer broadcasters on an unsuspecting American audience.  They are not what we are used to, at all.  Sometimes a bit crude, and unsurprisingly even a bit racist, but also less predictable and reserved and more fun than the usual talking heads.  Can't say I would want to watch them all the time, but for a month it works.

- So, supposing an American wants to try out the Premier League, anyone out there have any suggestions about how to pick a team to follow?  I make no promises that I will do this, but it seems worth considering.

Batman Day

DC Fanboy
 To mark Batman's75th anniversary, DC Comics has declared today Batman Day.  Why today?  I am not sure, but today is the 25th anniversary of the release of Tim Burton's Batman film. Warts and all, that film is one of my all time favorites, and pretty much made Batman the ubiquitous presence he is today.  

FThree quarters of a century after Kane and Finger created him, Batman remains vital and fascinating.  Superman might still be the icon.  But Bats is the you can use to tell new stories.  I figure he's got at least another 75 years in him.

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sdelmonte
Alex W_______g aka Simon DelMonte

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