Archive for December, 2011

‘Tis the Season…

Posted on: December 24th, 2011 by Quinn No Comments

It’s A Wonderful Life

Since three is a magic number, since Jimmy Stewart is one of the only men in competition with Cary Grant in my ranking of 1930s and 40s actors, and since I just had the immense privilege of watching this film at the Michigan Theatre (Read: breath-taking, vintage, perfect and all other adjectives that could possibly be used to describe a theatre standing for film preservation, culture, and just about everything this writer loves about Ann Arbor [it even serves previously-mentioned Bell's Best Brown Ale- a true Christmas Miracle,]) I’ve selected perhaps my favorite holiday movie, Frank Capra’s It’s A Wonderful Life, as the third recommendation for the ‘Tis the Season series.

Say what you will about its transformation from an under-performing box-office release to its status as “America’s Christmas movie,” about the financial and legal implausibility of its resolution, about Donna Reed and Mary Bailey being absolutely gorgeous, about the silent tears that somehow find their way down my face every time I watch this film; It’s a Wonderful Life simply IS Christmas for this writer. The genius life-story-plot lulls you into a friendship with George Bailey, a sympathetic, understanding relationship that you can’t help but admire and adore. The humor, especially at the start of the film with the prom-night swim and Mary’s refuge in the convenient bush, produce some of my favorite, and most-oft quoted, lines (“Oh, why don’t you stop annoying people,” and “I could sell tickets…”). The scene when the soon-to-be plastics baron Sam Wainwright phones from New York in Mary’s parlor, and Jimmy Stewart yells, “I wanna do what I wanna do” replays in this writer’s mind ever-more-often as he makes his own decisions and values. The close-up shot later in the film of Jimmy Stewart slowly turning his deeply-shadowed face as he realizes how crazy his present situation is, is absolutely and unequivocally beautiful. And this is only the surface of a poorly and quickly conducted film criticism.

The moral impact of the film is equally incredible. I’ll let you, viewer and reader, draw your own conclusions, learn your own lessons, interpret your own symbolism, and take from it what you may; suffice to say look for the needle-point quote, “All you can take with you is what you have given away,” hanging beneath the portrait of Peter Bailey in Jimmy Stewart’s office. Perhaps, yes it is over-simplified, yes it is emotional, yes it is a classic “Capra-corny,” but in this writer’s viewpoint, there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.

And as this is a classic Christmas film, I suggest a classic Christmas drink: egg-nog. Serve this warming, indulgent, sweet nectar chilled in an Irish coffee glass and combine with gold rum, or, for an interesting change of taste, Gosling’s Black Seal spiced rum, and finish with a dusting of ground nutmeg. You can also try this BOMB Pennsylvania Dutch Egg Nog. No words. Trust me.

So mix some eggnog, pack your loved ones into the family room, throw another log in the wood-stove, enjoy the It’s A Wonderful Life, and bask in the warmth radiating from of all four. Cheers, and enjoy!

J. Frank Quinn

P.S. As a side and almost unrelated note, listen to Clarence. My junior year of undergrad at Michigan I was fortunate enough to take a poetry class focusing on “Fork Theory.” This is an area of study popularized by the professor that centers on the “ripples,” each and every person makes with his or her simplest actions. When I first began studying “Fork Theory” the scene where Clarence at last reveals to George Bailey why he has granted his wish of never having been born was the first thing that I thought of. I think that this is a perfect, and incredibly complex and thought-provoking, example. Again, perhaps wait until school starts again in January for analysis, but please really do take three-to-five minutes at some point and think about this scene’s implications in your own life.

‘Tis The Season…

Posted on: December 21st, 2011 by Quinn 1 Comment

For the second installment of “Tis the Season,” I most humbly suggest Henry Koster’s The Bishop’s Wife. This 1947 film features Loretta Young as Julia Brougham, the wife of newly-promoted (and unfortunately mis-guided) Bishop Brougham, played by David Niven. The star and center of the film, despite what the title would have you believe (perhaps it’s the strange hats, but Loretta Young just doesn’t do it for me) is the ever-charming, ever-sophisticated, ever-suave Cary Grant as Dudley. Dudley is an angel sent to help Bisphop Brougham remember and regain his role as builder of a community, not a cathedral. In his fifty-first credited screen appearance, Grant turns in yet another wonderful performance as Dudley, full of witty puns (always sure to make this writer chuckle), roguish smiles and angelic humor, and he is helped along perfectly by the talented Niven as the straight-laced man.

     Grant is simply that man we love to hate
                                 because everyone else loves him so.

              But just look at him.
                          Who can REALLY hate him…
                                                 He’s Cary Grant.

Although I would love to recommend a bottle of the self-refilling Sherry (yet another reason [yes this will be a longer bracketed outburst] that I can’t help but feeling this movie is not as ostentatiously Christian as the presence of angel would make it seem – you have a liquor container which refills itself and a deified figure who takes on human form only to fall in love with a mortal; that is the stuff of Greek myths. Suffice to say ‘Tis the season and we should watch and enjoy now and save the analysis until January when school starts again) the best I can recommend is a nice accompanying beverage for all of you in the Mid West is Bell’s Best Brown Ale.

For me this beer is Winter; it is crunching through snow and listening to a crackling fire and putting on the coziest pair of slippers you can find.  For those of you unfortunate souls (my favorite East Coast friends included) who are outside of the Kalamazoo-based brewery’s shipping area, the best alternative I can suggest is Samuel Smith’s Nut Brown Ale.

And as every good black and white Christmas film should, The Bishop’s Wife reminds us not only how to laugh (not just at the comedy on screen but the comedy in ourselves), to love, and to remember what this time of year is all about. 

Below you will find the ENTIRE film on YouTube. Win. So sit back, relax, grab your brew and do your self a favor, and dont be afraid to get caught up in the mystery, the faith, and cheer of it all! If you only have a couple minutes, I’ve cued the link up to the charming skating scene that is sure to put you into the holiday spirit.

And just for fun look for the young boy who is captain of the snowball war and who gets hit in the face by young Debby’s enchanted snowball; you’ll see him again in perhaps the next edition of ‘Tis the Season as the young George Bailey in It’s A Wonderful Life.

Here or there, Best Brown or Nut Brown…
Cheers & Enjoy The Bishop’s Wife!
J. Franklin Quinn

Prove it! ….I Dare You: SLAM

Posted on: December 18th, 2011 by Patrick Fromuth No Comments

Photograph - Andrea Gibson

I came across this incredible artist and wanted to share her passion with you all. One of the most beautiful sentiments of companionship, love, loss, and goodwill. Drink her in…

Andrea Gibson performs “Photograph” from her album, When The Bough Breaks at The Rockwood Music Hall in NYC feat. music by Chris Pureka. Gibson has headlined prestigious performance venues coast to coast with powerful readings on war, class, gender, bullying, white privilege, sexuality, love, and spirituality. Now, on her fifth full-length album FLOWER BOY and her second book THE MADNESS VASE, Gibson’s poems continue to be a rally cry for action and a welcome mat at the door of the heart’s most compassionate room. For more:

Check out her website for more http://www.andreagibson.org

“Tis The Season: The Muppets’ ———–Christmas Carol———-

Posted on: December 15th, 2011 by Quinn No Comments

As the snow begins to fall, I happily don my scarf each morning, and I reluctantly turn on my heat, it becomes time acknowledge some facts:

1) Winter is upon us

2) We can bemoan that fact or we can celebrate it

3) The easiest way to celebrate the winter is to get into the holiday spirit.

4) One of my favorite ways to get into the holiday spirit (apart from Charlie Parker’s excellent cover of “White Christmas,” 

…a freshly cut tree, and a wonderful [bordering gaudy] Faire Isle sweater) is to watch those great holiday films.

Fact 5) Fromuth Productions is open to just about everyone and everything; any type of religious sentiments indicated in any of the following films bears no prejudice.

Those are the facts, and now the reality. There’s only so much time for J.F. Quinn to throw snowballs, go skating, enjoy the various microbrewery Winter Selections, watch these excellent films, indulge in some egg nog, write a couple of blogs, and attach wreaths to my whip (all, of course, while wearing above-mentioned sweater pictured below).

So, the following shall be several shorter reviews of what are in my opinion the *greatest* (read: sometimes sappy, often musical, black and white, uplifting, occasionally animated, and always best when accompanied by a warming beverage, complimented by a fire, and shared with a loved one) holiday movies ever made.

Today’s ‘Tis The Season: 

Fitting because the new Muppets was just released, and because I just watched this film on Saturday after cutting down a Christmas tree, I decided that this would be a good place to start. Brian Henson’s 1992 adaptation of the Charles Dicken’s classic features Kermit the Frog and Miss Piggy as Mr. And Mrs. Cratchit, Fozzi Bear as Fozziwig (old Mr. Fezziwig himself), The Great Gonzo as the narrator and author Charles Dickens, Rizzo the Rat as himself, and a wonderfully cruel and an eventually equally heartwarming Michael Caine as Ebenezer Scrooge. Perhaps because it is shorter than his usual (wordy) novel, perhaps because it is ever-relevant in its socio-economic commentary, Dickens’ A Christmas Carol is my absolute favorite of his works. And perhaps I have some long-forgotten childhood happiness associated with this movie, perhaps it’s the literature-lover in me, perhaps it’s the pure genius of the Muppets, but this is, and always has been, one of my absolute favorite Christmas movies and by far my favorite adaptation of the Dickens novella.

As I promised earlier, this will brief, so i will conclude by simply saying that it is nice to feel unashamed to proclaim how uplifting and unabashedly hopeful this film is. Because that’s what this time of the year is all about. If you can’t sing about goodwill towards men and peace on earth now, and of you can’t watch and thoroughly enjoy skating penguins, a singing Michael Caine, and the most heart-warming frog-version of Tiny Tim ever seen on-screen, then I honestly pity you, and I wish you luck the rest of the year.

I mean…how can you say no to THIS face?!

In closing may I humbly suggest a chilled bottle of Sam Adam’s Old Fezziwig Ale (In addition to being the perfect dark, sweet conclusion to a snowy day as it swirls around your brandy snifter and down your gullet, the name is just too appropriate.), family and friends to share both movie and ale with, and a warm fire to accompany this excellent film. Should there be no convenient fire place, I just discovered that Netflix now includes not one, but two fire videos (crackling, and Yuletide logs) in its Instant Video selections. The pure New Englander in me rejects, yet the opportunist commends their effort. More “Tis The Season” to come soon!

Cheers and Enjoy!

J. Fezziwig Quinn

Pillow talk with Perry

Posted on: December 8th, 2011 by Patrick Fromuth 1 Comment

Dearest Ricky,

First off, THANK YOU for sharing your feelings. Secondly, fetching coat.

I’m not ashamed to admit that I’m a homosexual, but you don’t need to be in the club every Friday night at Necto to know there’s something wrong in this country when gays can serve openly in the military, but our politicians can not. As a citizen AND Christian, I’ll end your war of self-loathing and hatred, Ricky, and I’ll fight against conservative attacks on your human rights and religious freedom.

Faith made America strong.   

She found Christmas, and I bet she can help you find your rainbow that’s already peeking out of the closet. Speaking of closets!!! Look at you:

“Don we now our gay apparel…”

I’m Patrick Fromuth, and I approve this message.

If you want to see a true leader speak on the subject of Religion, Human Rights, and Freedom, sit down with a nice cold Belgian/Brazillian Budweiser and let Hilary “take you to CHURCH!”