Musketeer Mania


“One for all and all for one.”
Musketeer Motto


As a child I was captivated by the French writer Alexandre Dumas 1844 novel, The Three Musketeers. Dumas was the Stan Lee of his time, creating the first youthful super heroes, Aramis, Porthos, Athos, and their protege D’Artagnan. The only difference is, Musketeers actually did exist and Dumas based his characters on some of the most famous of Musketeers.

Anything I could find to read or watch about the Musketeers was on my radar. Mostly because they were excellent equestrians and fencers, two of my favorite combinations, and all Musketeer entertainment had plenty of those two activities. 

My late great uncle was an Olympic fencer. I never had the honor of meeting him, but I like to imagine his passion and talent for fencing was passed on to me. I was fortunate to attend a high school that offered beginning fencing, and this was my first hands-on introduction to this 14th century sport. It’s amazing how much fencing requires a great deal of  mental and physical stamina, balance and fast reflexes. I took to this sport quickly, learning all the common moves and French words for them such as, Advance Lunge, Assault, Extension, Flick, Touché and the most famous En-garde.

Most are introduced to fencing through Hollywood movies. There have been numerous movies about the Musketeers dating as far back as the 1921 silent film adaptation starring Douglas Fairbanks. The first movie I remember watching about the Musketeers was on TV in the 1960s, and was the 1948 movie with Gene Kelly. It’s still one of my favorites because it not only had fencing and horses, but as an extra bonus it had Gene Kelly performing ballet type moves while fencing.

In the 1970s the studios came out with a Raquel Welch and Michael York Musketeer version, which wasn’t one of my favorites. As a little trivia note, this movie was originally proposed in the 1960s as a vehicle for The Beatles. 

Disney released their Musketeer movie adaptation in 1993 starring Charlie Sheen, Kiefer Sutherland, Oliver Platt and Chris O’Donnell. This became my favorite version of all time, until now.

A few weeks back, I discovered on Amazon Prime a 2014 BBC Musketeer series. This exceptional rendition of the swashbuckling Musketeers is now one of my top go to TV series. The acting, costumes, romantic locations, storylines and cinematography is awe inspiring. If you’re looking for some great entertainment to fill your evenings, I highly recommend this series. It certainly is fulfilling my Musketeer mania.

Shine On 

Funny at Any Age

“Keeping an active mind
has been vital to my survival,
as has been maintaining
a sense of humor.”
Stephen Hawking

I’ve always been a sucker for anyone with a sense of humor.

I grew up watching the Three Stooges, Marx Brothers, Laurel and Hardy, W. C. Fields, Judy Holiday, Abbott and Costello, Danny Kaye, Red Skelton, I Love Lucy, Looney Tunes, Rocky and Bullwinkle, Burns and Allen, Jack Benny, and Martin and Lewis.

In my teens I was a huge fan of sitcoms, musical comedies, and comedians such as Steve Martin, David Steinberg, Jonathan Winters, Robin Williams, The Smothers Brothers, Carol Burnett, Flip Wilson, Dick Cavett, Don Rickles, Robert Klein, Albert Brooks, Dudley Moore, Soupy Sales, Steve Allen, Rich Little, Johnny Carson, and Woody Allan just to mention a few.

In my 20’s through my 50’s the comedians and the type of humor I’m drawn to are not much different from the one’s I enjoyed in my youth. Some of my favorites are thankfully still alive today.

I still enjoy a good joke, a great sitcom and a romantic comedy. There are a lot of great comedians around today. My taste in humor hasn’t changed much over the years. Funny is funny at any age.

Shine On

Dreamy 007 Rides

“No action hero is more closely associated  
with cars than James Bond.” 
Richard Hammond 

 

 

The cars driven by the James Bond character started a Worldwide love affair with the automobile. I was not immune from this love affair. On the contrary, Bond cars were extremely influential in my taste in automobiles throughout my life. Out of the dozens and dozens of sexy cars driven by Bond, there are so many, I decided to list just five of my top favorites.

The white 1966 Toyota 2000 GT from the movie, You Only Live Twice, is my favorite of all the Bond cars. I was fortunate to see this work of art in person at the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles Mother’s Day 2019. How apropos that Bond’s first film to take place in Japan should feature the country’s first supercar. Just like Bond, the Toyota 2000 was sexy, fast, powerful, and rare. There were only 351 models produced in total. Sean Connery was too tall to move around comfortably in the Japanese supercar, so Toyota modified the traditionally hard top coupe so Connery could zip around in a special open-top version.

The 1962 Sunbeam Alpine Series II, is the car he drove in the first Bond movie, Dr. No. This little gem of a car was not Mr. Bonds most extravagant car, but the two-seater, droptop with its lake blue coat of paint was a perfect introduction to the James Bond character.

I had never heard of Aston Martin before seeing the 1964 movie, Goldfinger. The silver 1963 DB5 Aston Martin was the first to make its motion picture appearance with James Bond. Aston Martins continued to show up in future films such as the 1965 Thunderball, 1995 Goldeneye, 1997 Tomorrow Never Dies, 2006 Casino Royale and 2012 Skyfall. Since its 007 film debut, the Aston Martin has become one of the most infamous Bond franchise movie cars. It is often referred to as, “James Bond’s car.” Some even argue that James Bond films were what really put Aston Martin on the map.

A yellow 1970 Triumph Stag was driven by Sean Connery in the movie, Diamonds Are Forever. Loved the design of this sports car but due to its unreliable engine, the Triumph Stag was not a big success.

In the 1999 movie, The World is Not Enough, starring in his first 007 role, Pierce Brosnan drove a silver 1999 BMW Z8. The appearance of this roadster screams BondIt was a sleek and classic designed sports car, and of course was equipped with surface-to-air missile launchers.  BMW’s decision to put James Bond in their car was a good choice because every movie they were featured in caused a huge spike in their sales. 

Throughout the James Bond film series, Q Branch has given 007 a variety of vehicles to battle his enemies. They have been equipped with various modifications to include elaborate weapons and anti-pursuit systems, and various other functions to make memorable dreamy James Bond rides.

Shine On

James Bond

 

“There is nothing like a challenge 
to bring out the best in man.”
Sean Connery

 

We lost a movie legend this past weekend. To my generation, Sean Connery was the one and only James Bond. He set the standard for all Bonds to follow.

Over the last 58 years, Connery starred in 7 of the 26 Ian Fleming Bond movies. Not only did these movies introduce the World to James Bond, secret agent with a license to kill, but also introduced us to state-of-the-art technology and some iconic automobiles of its time.

Connery at age 31 had been acting less than 10 years when he was cast for the first James Bond movie, Dr. No. Actors such as Cary Grant, Richard Burton and even Rex Harrison were all considered for the part. Point of fact, Ian Fleming didn’t want Connery for his James Bond character. The author quickly changed his mind when he saw Connery on the screen and realized the magnetism and sexual chemistry Sean exhibited for the part.

His last Bond movie in 1983 was appropriately named by his wife, Never Say Never Again, because he had vowed never to play Bond again. He went on to make numerous successful movies including the 1998 movie, The Untouchables, which won him an Oscar for best supporting actor.

One of my favorite movies of Connery’s was the little known 1964 Alfred Hitchcock thriller, Marnie. This was my introduction to this charismatic actor.

His last movie was the 2003 film, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. Then after receiving the American Film Institute’s Lifetime Achievement Award on June 8, 2006, he confirmed his retirement from acting. He turned down the role of Gandalf in The Lord of the Rings, declaring himself tired of acting and sick of the “idiots now making films in Hollywood”. However, in 2012 he briefly came out of retirement by voice acting the title character in the Scottish animated movie, Sir Billi the Vet.

Sean Connery embodied Hollywood but always hated the Hollywood lifestyle. He preferred a more private life with his second wife, Micheline Roqubrune. He spent his time playing golf at his homes in Spain, Portugal and the Caribbean. He believed that to get anywhere in life you have to be anti-social, otherwise you’ll end up being devoured.

The latest new Bond movie, No Time To Die starring Daniel Craig is scheduled to be released next year. Connery was undoubtedly responsible for the success of this multi-million-dollar franchise and will be forever recognized by those unforgettable words, “The name’s Bond… James Bond”.

 Shine On

King of the Five String World


“A day without sunshine is like, you know, night.”
Steve Martin


Today while I was detailing my car, I was listening to my favorite banjo music. Well, not only my favorite banjo music and musician but also one of my all time favorite performers.

I’ve been a fan of Steve Martin since I was in my teens. On July 4th back in 2014, my dear son bought tickets for us to see “Steve Martin and the Steep Canyon Rangers” perform at the Hollywood Bowl.

My son knows who Steve Martin is, but he was unaware of the banjo musician side of the man. He had a great time and we both were thoroughly entertained by not only the great music, but by his comedy throughout the performance. A great evening was had by all.

Shortly after the Hollywood Bowl concert, Mr. Steve Martin received the 43rd AFI Life Achievement Award, one of the highest honors for a career in films. That same year he also received a Grammy for Best American Roots Song. The song, “Pretty Little One” is from his album Live (with Steep Canyon Rangers featuring Edie Brickell) and is such an amusing song, everyone should check it out.

I love all his bluegrass music that he has produced the last few years. But the one CD I listen to the most is, “Live”. Not only because it reminds me of the Hollywood Bowl performance, but because each and every song is pure perfection. It amazes me that one person can have such talent in so many areas of entertainment.

There was a time when some people I knew looked down on banjo music as just silly hillbilly music. But with entertainers such as Steve Martin, Bela Fleck, The Steep Canyon Rangers, and the recent interest in Pete Seeger, I’m glad to say it’s making its way back up the music charts.

In a sea of six strings, in my opinion, Steve Martin is king of the five string world.

Shine On