2009 US Figureskating Championships: Ice Dance

Hey all!

Any figureskating (FS), esp. ice dancing, fans out there in cyberspace?  Pairs and Ice Dance have always been by fave divisions of the sport of FS.  After a few years of not paying much attn, I’ve decided to check back in w/ the world of FS. 


My most fave team in ice dance: Marina Anissina & Gwendal Peizerat (A&P) of FRA.  I followed their career for several years, discussed them w/ many online fans, and even made a little web site dedicated to them.  They were very dramatic, creative, and connected very well w/ audiences.  The choreography and lifts they did were awesome! 


As I watched the best of the American ice dancers, I saw that one couple in particular has been influenced by A&P- Meryl Davis and Charlie White.  They’ve been a team since 1997, and are ranked #1 in the US.  They both attend the Univ of Michigan, too.  Wow!  Davis and White had good speed and some very cool moves.  They won gold at Nationals this past wk.   (BTW, Belbin & Agosto, one of our best teams, was not in the competition.  I’m not sure why, but hope it’s nothing too serious.)


Meryl Davis & Charlie White



Charlie’s long-ish blonde curls and wide smile immediately reminded me of Gwendal!  This team is coached by Igor Shpilband and Marina Zueva.





Shades of A&P here…  Charlie is a very strong/powerful skater (he used to compete in Singles), and Meryl is very fluid/light in her movements.



Madison Hubbell & Keiffer Hubbell

This team was very light, fluid, and elegant over the ice.  They reminded me of the great Russian dance teams of the past.




They are brother and sister, so (of course!) are also very well-matched. 




The Hubbells also train in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and are coached by Russians.  (Hey, to beat them, you sometimes have to join them!) 


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Movie Reviews: Two Lesser-Known, Must-See Classics

Hey all,

Since I now have more-than-basic cable (YAAAY!), I’ve been able to see more older films (from the ’40s-’60s) on AMC and TCM.  There are hits and misses from “old Hollywood,” but the quality of dialogue was much, much better then.  Below are two (not very famous) movies that you MUST check out!

Thanks for reading,


No Way Out (1950)


The Biddle brothers, shot while robbing a gas station, are taken to the prison ward of the County Hospital; Ray Biddle, a rabid racist, wants no treatment from black resident Dr. Luther Brooks. When brother John dies while Luther tries to save him, Ray is certain it’s murder and becomes obsessed with vengeance. But there are black racists around too, and the situation slides rapidly toward violence.  -IMDB synopsis 

Many of you have seen Lilies of the Field, Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner? and In the Heat of the Night.  Some have also liked A Raisin in the Sun and The Defiant Ones.  


What’s NOT to like about Tony Curtis and Sidney Poitier chained together!?


But I’m betting not ALL of you have seen Poitier as an eager, intense, 22 y.o. doc in No Way Out!  Poitier lied to dir. Joseph Mankiewicz by saying he was 27 y.o. to get his 1st feature film role.  Like my dad said when he saw this film: “You can tell right away- some people are just meant to be stars!”


This is quite a smart, sensitive film for its time!  There are different types of blacks and whites depicted.  The young resident, Dr. Brooks (Poitier), has a supportive and kind white mentor, Dr. Wharton (Stephen MacNally).  Dr. Wharton is totally committed to his job, and doesn’t see race.  (A bit naive of him,  but he’s a good character).  Even more unusual for 1950- you get to see inside Dr. Brooks’ (extended) family home!  His fam included adorably cranky lil sis (Ruby Dee), jolly bro-in-law (Ossie Davis), elderly mom, and an elegant, hard-working housekeeper wife.  Can you imagine a doc’s wife as a housekeeper in OUR time!?


The Chief Resident at County Hospital, Dr. Wharton, goes w/ his protege to plead his case.  Here Brooks and Wharton appeal to waitress Edie Johnson (Linda Darnell).  They want to perform an autopsy on her deceased ex-husband, John Biddle.  Earlier, John’s brother, Ray (Richard Widmark), refused to have his brother “cut up.”


Widmark was apparently very uncomfortable with some of the racist comments his character, Ray Biddle, made, especially given his friendship with Poitier.  As a result, after some of the takes involving particularly venomous remarks, Widmark actually apologized to Poitier for the remarks his character had made.  -IMDB trivia

Edie feels a connection to Wharton, though they are from two very different backgrounds.  She needs a protector, too, as she’s being pulled back to her old ‘hood by former bro-in-law/lover Ray.  In one scene, she’s taken care of by Wharton’s housekeeper.  Then they have an interesting conversation.  It’s VERY rare, and cool, to see a housekeeper with more than simple dialogue!

This film recently came out on DVD, so you can check it out for yourself.

A Patch of Blue (1965)


Accidentally blinded by her mother Rose-Ann at the age of five, Selena D’Arcy spends the next 13 years confined in the tiny LA apt that they share with “Ole Pa”, Selena’s grandfather. One afternoon at the local park, Selena meets Gordon Ralfe, a thoughtful young office worker whose kind-hearted treatment of her results in her falling in love with him, unaware that he is black. They continue to meet in the park every afternoon and he teaches her how to get along in the city.   -IMDB synopsis

WARNING:  You’ll cry (or at least get teary-eyed) while watching this film, esp. the first time!  I’ve seen in 3 times now, but I STILL get affected.  It’s a simple story w/ few characs., but very emotional.  You’ll have to pay attn to the little things said and done by the actors.

Sidney Poitier was already a BIG star when he made this little gem of a pic; 18 y.o. Selina is played by an unknown actress, Elizabeth Hartman.  But once you get into the relationship, the would-be couple/friends don’t seem like such opposites!  Gordon empathizes with  Selina from the get-go; they are both “outsiders” in their society.  They both take pleasure in the little things in life.  Though Gordon is disappointed about race relations, he’s hopeful about the future.  His little brother/roomie, Mark, is VERY surprised by the friendship btwn Gordon and Selina.  He exclaims: “Let whitey take care of its own women!” when he hears of Gordon’s plan to better Selina’s life.

Gordon has a nice apt, works in an office, and has a bro doing medical residency.  He’s a middle-class guy, for sure.  Selina, though she is white, has a bleak life with her (often) abusive mother (Shelley Winters) and (often) drunk grandpa.   Selina has never been to school!


Now the BIG question…

We know Selina is (totally) in love with Gordon by the end of the film, but how does HE feel?  Does he love her like a friend, a little sister, or is there potential for a (future) relationship?  You’ll be the judge; it’s open to interpretation!



Classic Movie Review: “Wuthering Heights” (1939)



 This classic film stars Laurence Olivier (Heathcliff) and Merle Oberon (Cathy), and David Niven (Edgar Linton).  The music (at times) is a bit too much, but the acting is top-notch.  The characterization is close to the book, b/c HC can be quiet, intense, yet sweet.  C is quick, proud, and changeable.  The narrator, Ellen (sometimes also called Nelly) is the calm, observant housekeeper.



The boy Heathcliff (HC) tries to ride away on Mr. Earnshaw’s horse before his protector can even take him inside the house!   Hindley (H) grabs HC’s horse by the reins, then attacks him w/ a rock and his fists.  H also threatens to tell his father that HC will throw H out of the house when he was old enough.  (This is all made up by H, of course.)  Instead of crying, the little HC vows to “pay him back, no matter how long it takes.”


I really liked the scenes btwn the kids, such as riding fast though the moors, H pretending to be a prince defeating “a black knight,” and making C queen of his (actually a large crag).  HC, who is put in the role of stableboy, after Mr. E’s sudden death, is referred to by Hindley as “gypsy beggar” several times.  Finally, HC collapses into tears, realizing he has no protector, and won’t be able to speak to C.  HC works alongside Joseph, the older scripture-quoting manservant. 



The teenage HC tells C that “nothing’s real down there [Wuthering Hts], our life is here” when they hang out (as teens) at the crag.  C is the one who urges him to “run away and come back a prince” to “rescue me” from the controlling older brother.  (Since we’re talking about Olivier, HC really does look like a prince!)





 One night, HC & C peep in on the Linton family having a big, fun party (music, dancing, fancy clothes).  These things appeal to C as she has no experience w/ them. 






When C returns after several wks, in new clothes, w/ Edgar (E) in tow; she’s surprised that HC is still there.  Instead of hugging him, she treats him coldly.  There is great sadness in HC’s eyes in this scene.  But when she’s alone w/ Edgar, he calls HC a “begger” and “gypsy.”  C becomes very angry, and admits her feelings for HC!  E is shocked; he says that some of HC has rubbed off on C. 

HC & C are attacked my guard dogs outside (just as in other film versions), but here HC goes in and refuses to leave w/o C.  HC embraces the injured C, then she quietly tells him to leave.  Before he goes, HC curses the Lintons.  HC vows to return “and bring this house down.” 




In the next scene, C casts off her new finery- the civilized world.  She runs to the crag, into HC’s arms, and exclaims that she “will never change.”  HC tells her how he (almost) sailed off to America while she was gone.  Then, while gathering arm heather, the young folks share their first kiss!


“My moods change indoors,” C lightly tells HC when he asks why Edgar is coming to W Hts again.  HC says that her “vanity” has changed her; C calls him “dirty.”  She says that he had a chance to escape and “be somebody,” but he didn’t take it.  Suddenly, HC slaps her with his dirty hands.  When walks down the stairs, his face is struck with regret.  Later, he shatters the barn windows with his bare hands!  Ellen is shocked to see what HC has done to himself; he admits his feelings to her.  When C comes down after her “date,” HC hides in a corner.  Next up is (perhaps the most important) scene in the book and film…


C is disappointed b/c HC has “grown worse” day by day.  She has decided to marry E, because she sees no other (sensible) choice.  “It would degrade me to marry him,” C says, but she also compares the Lintons to “angels” and “frost.”  She confesses that “HC is more of myself than I am.”  HC is suddenly heard galloping away from the house!  The horrified C runs out (in the wind, rain, and muck), calling his name and crying.  (In this version, she runs for a long while!)


When C is finally found, the Dr. Kenneth recommends that she stay for some time w/ Mr. Linton, Edgar, and his little sister, Isabella (I), at their house.  Staying with (the often drunk) HC would not give her “quiet” and “order,” the local doc comments.  E wants C to stay forever, so she agrees to marry him.  C tells him that she’s become “who I wanted to be.”  Though a “cold chill goes over the heart” moments after the wedding, C and E have “a growing love” the next few years.  


Then one night, Ellen announces that HC has returned (from America); he’s now “a fine gentleman.”  This is another crucial scene; HC and C are conversing (though their eyes).  HC bought W Hts and surrounding area secretly; H loaded down w/ gambling debts, could do nothing to change that.  When H asks for a drink, Joseph says that Dr. Kenneth forbade it.  (In this film, he doesn’t lose his young wife in childbirth, but he’s deeply depressed still.)  HC, the new master, tells Joseph to let H drink.  “I allow you to stay here,” HC coolly tells his former “brother.”  H, his hands shaking, threatens HC with a pistol.  But he can’t bring himself to kill.    


One day, I (who noticeably has a huge crush on the guy) makes up an excuse to visit HC at W Hts.  She says C is upset with him, as is E.  She wants to be a friend to HC.  He boldly tells her that she is “lonely,” and it “must be hard to be lonely in a happy house”.  


I invites HC to a party at the Grange, much to her father and brother’s surprise.  I says HC can hold her hand, but he only has eyes for C.  When I wants to dance the waltz w/ him, he comments that gypsies can dance, too.  (I thinks he refused b/c of his “high moral character.”  Poor, deluded girl!) 


Out on the balcony, C politely calls HC “grand and handsome.”  He quietly replies: “Life has ended for me.”  C gets distressed when he mentions their old life (they still changes moods so quick!), and tells him to never enter her house again.  He says their love is more powerful than both of them, and that “you willed me here across the sea,” he says. 


After the party, C warns I about HC.  (The two ladies have it out here- loudly!)   I says that HC loves her and wants them to marry.  C slaps her, telling her that “HC is not a man- but a dark thing!”  I says that C is jealous and doesn’t want HC to be happy, only “pine for you.”


C goes to see HC to corroborate I’s story.  More really good dialogue here…  C says not to punish I for what she has done.  HC says that if only C would love him like she used to, he’d “be her slave forever.”  But she has chosen “virtue” and “the world,” thinking of his kind of love as “vile.” 


When she tells E about the impending marriage, he runs up to I’s room.  Too late- she’s written a letter saying she’s run off w/ HC.  Watch C’s face as she tells her husband to “go after him with you pistols and stop them.”  It’s good stuff!  E realizes the strong hold HC still has on C.


Old, concerned Dr. Kenneth comes to see H (close to death), and notices how weak I is, too.  He sadly comments: “Whatever ails in this house is beyond my healing powers.”  The doc advises I to go back to her brother.  E needs her b/c C is “gravely ill.”  I’s reaction to this shocks the doc.


Soon after this, Nelly comes to W Hts to fetch I home.  But I still clings to HC, though he says that “only hate is in this house.”  HC quickly guesses that C is dying, and rides off toward the Grange.  Then we have the (very dramatic) scene at C’s deathbed; I liked this almost as much as the 1992 film (w/ Binoche and Fiennes)!   




There were certain crucial scenes where Ralph Fiennes chose to play HC as quite dark and uncontrolled.  There is often an unstable look in his eyes, and a sneer on his face. 






There is GREAT chemistry btwn Fiennes and (always terrific) Juliette Binoche.  Maybe this is b/c they are both so comfy in these roles; they don’t have to push to relate to these characs.  Binoche has ALL the right qualities to portray Cathy.





Olivier, who looks powerful and striking even in rags, has a more controlled anger.  He’s able to become a (believable) gentleman, like in the book.  Fiennes was more threatening, even as a posh gent.  The moments of sadness/regret are very well done by both actors.  (It takes a mulit-faceted guy to get Heathcliff right!) 




Check out BOTH of these films!











Must See TV: Masterpiece Theater’s “Wuthering Heights”

Love, obsession, jealousy, revenge- it’s all pretty engaging!




Hey, I know this new Heathcliff from somewhere!  This was my first thought when I saw the clips of this new adaptation of Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights




The actor is versatile 31 y.o. Brit Tom Hardy; he had a major role in Star Trek: Nemesis.  You may’ve seen him in Black Hawk Down and Band of Brothers as well.  Notice the resemblance to Patrick Stewart…




My action figure is great! It’s big and bald. It’s very disturbing to look at a toy and see yourself. At the same time, it’s very cool.

 – Hardy on his Shinzon action figure (from Star Trek: Nemesis)


I just watched Episode 1 of Wuthering Heights tonight (SUN, 9-10:30PM) on the MPT channel.    Tom is doing a good job with Heathcliff; my mom agrees.  She said “he’s very handsome.”  I’d say his looks are unusual (for a leading man).  This can be an asset for Heathcliff; his origins are mysterious.  Maybe his real parents were gypsies?   The voice and eyes stand out to me. 




Whatever character you play, remember they are always doing something. They are not just talking. They are alive; going through a drama in which they will go through some sort of dramatic human experience. Keywords: Alive and Experience. It is your job to make them become so. Anything you do on stage or film has a direct relation to something you have experienced in one form or another in real life. Use your imagination to exaggerate or lessen that sensation. Then, disguise it in characterization and don’t forget to make lots and lots of mistakes, and look like a complete asshole. You’ll do fine.

– Tom Hardy, giving acting tip on a movie or play  



Cathy looks too modern, sorry to say.  But who could compare to the fab Juliette Binoche?




The use of the Yorkshire accent is a change from the other film.  I like the music- it’s not too much.  Tune in to see more…



Links you may like:

The Readers Guide to Wuthering Heights



The PBS site re: this film



Unofficial fan site of actor Tom Hardy