Tuesday, March 31, 2009

DNT letter to the editor...

Thanks to Michael Harnois for the support and his "letter to the editor" appearing in today's Duluth News Tribune. (The letter may now be read on the DNT web site, "Reader's view: so much ado about Latto, so little about Heffernan.)  Sad to learn, nevertheless, about my friend, Lew Latto and TV/radio personality, Rhonda Grussendor, who  ended long standing and popular radio programs.
"A Balanced coverage?
I'm bumused by the amount of attention the News Tribune paid to the saga of Lew Latto ('Air time is up for the Duluth radio personalities, Latto, Gurssendorf, ' March 27).

I don't recall front-page coverage when the newspaper pulled the plug on columnist Jim Heffernan.

Michael Harnois, Duluth"

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Some movies that changed my life...

by Jim Heffernan

Minnesota Public Radio this week (March 24) asked listeners to write their Web site describing movies that changed their lives. It made me stop and think about movies that changed my life in some way.

When I was a kid I loved movies. Went to them every week, sometimes twice a week – even two double features adding up to four movies on a single weekend. I didn’t give a hoot about baseball or other sports, spent a lot of classroom time dreaming (about movies), and my first thought upon waking up each morning was if I could go to a movie that day.

So, did any movies change my life? Some did, at different stages of my life, in different ways. At least some made a lasting – permanent – impression if not a drastic life change, like running off with the circus.

One truly scary movie changed my lifestyle when I was about 11. “The Thing” (the original version) was so frightening that I refused to stay home alone at night, after having progressed in life to the point where my parents could go out for the evening and not worry about sitters.

The idea of a seven-foot-tall space alien from a flying saucer found in Arctic ice, who was vegetable, not animal (or mammal), and who thrived on drinking human blood (also sled dog blood), scared the bejezuz out of me. It changed my life for a couple of years.

About that same time – around 1950-51 – I saw two other movies that had a profound impact on my life. I was stunned by the voice of Mario Lanza in “The Great Caruso,” and it planted the seeds for a lifelong love of (some) opera. It caused me to judge every male singing voice against that of Lanza, with most falling short.

The second movie from that era – I was about 11 years old – that changed my life was “Come Back Little Sheba,” based on the Broadway play. It was considered pretty steamy for its day, especially love scenes between actress Terry Moore and Richard Jaeckel that stirred me in ways that Randolph Scott kissing his horse or the frontier town schoolmarm had not. Of course the onslaught of adolescence confirmed the suspicions wrought by seeing “Come Back Little Sheba” at a time in life when the facts of life were still fiction, but fading fast.

I saw “Gone With the Wind” for the first time when I was in junior high, one of the many reissues of that 1939 classic. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve seen it since. It set a standard for moviemaking against which I judged all other movies, so it changed my life that way.

Later in my life – college years – a couple of movies I’ll wager never get mentioned in listings such as these but which made a big impression on me at the time were the remake of “ The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse,” starring Glenn Ford, and “Tender Is the Night,” based on the F. Scott Fitzgerald novel, with Jason Robards Jr. and Jennifer Jones. These are lush, romantic movies that at the time swept me into worlds of sophistication unknown to me. No one thinks they are worth seeing today, but I’d give them a look if they came on Turner Classic Movies. Boy, would I.

There are so many other movies that, if they don’t actually change your life, alter it because you never forget them. There are the usual suspects, “Casablanca” and “Citizen Kane” of course, and more recently “Animal House” and “Amadeus.” I’ll never get over the impact of seeing “Amadeus” for the first time –impact so strong I saw it again the very next night, this time with my then-teenage kids in tow. Who would mention “Animal House” and “Amadeus” in the same breath? I would.

Can’t leave without mentioning “The Seven Year Itch,” with Tom Ewell at the grand piano playing the Rachmaninov Second Piano Concerto, Marilyn Monroe by his side, and murmuring to her, “I’m going to take you into my arms and I am going to kiss you, very quickly, and very, very hard.”

I can only say: Don’t try that at home.

Do you have a movie or movies that changed your life in some way? Blog it here. It’s fun.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Reality check...

Just thought you'd like to see the humungous snow pile that accumulated from a winter's worth of snowplowing left in a special spot in our neighborhood. Actually, the picture below was taken of me by the snow pile last year for a contest with neighbors to see when the giant snow pile would melt. You know... sort of like when will the ice melt on the lake so that the car placed there falls through. (A Minnesota winter contest tradition.) Our snow pile looks the same as it did last year right now and we have a new contest going with our neighbors. Bye-bye white sands of Florida  and hello snow piles of Minnesota. Ah...spring!

Back in the northland

Hello bloggers,
We arrived home safely and soundly from our winter sojourn in Florida. And... it was pretty darn nice to see that spring had progressed to the point that the snow was barely visible. Of course, those of you living here in Duluth know that it snowed yesterday. So I guess spring will have to wait a bit longer for all of us up in the northland. It's nice though to be home, see the kids/grandkids, witness the beauty of our home region, and get back into the swing of regular life. We had just a great time while away and  now we're trying to get back to normal. Guess that takes a while. But please stay tuned as those fingers get itchy!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Bye-bye spring and hello winter...

We're heading out of our winter vacation perch on Sunday and will be back to the thrill of Minnesota winter soon. I love a good snowstorm and really do love winter. Thankfully we got to experience some good snowstorms before we left for this trip. While winter is lovely in Duluth, it can get a bit long and this bit of a winter vacation break is perfect. Of course, you probably have to be retired to do it... but I highly recommend it to all. And I want to make it clear... we're not snowbirds....just winter vacationers! Stay tuned.....

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Indiscretions of a Wal-Mart Customer

A fly-by-day encounter...

So... I’m walking into a Wal-Mart in Florida, and striding toward me is a guy in brown shorts (they wear shorts down here in March, but brown?), his fly gaping open like a… well…like a barn door.

It can happen. Speaking for all men, I can safely state that when it does, you want to know. So I walk right up to this 60ish fellow, engage his surprised gaze and, when he stops, I whisper simply, “Your fly.”

“What?” he says, bending an ear toward me.

“Your fly.” That is all.

“Oh, thank you, I’m glad to know that.”

“Yeah, I’d want to know, too,” I said as I walked on toward the auto lube department where they were taking three hours to change the oil on my car. This was, perhaps, at the two-hour point.

So I had to wander around the Wal-Mart for another hour, not a happy prospect, but what can you do? Well, you can people watch.

I was doing just that as I passed my brown-shorted, fly deficient friend again. He was looking over some merchandise and as I passed I noticed a flash of white you know where. I let it go this time.

Things are different here in Florida, I ruminated as I strolled on, discreetly checking the status of a certain zipper on my own shorts.  -- Jim Heffernan

Saturday, March 7, 2009

All good things....

must come to an end.
It's almost time to head home and face the remains of Minnesota winter. 
But in the meantime.......