Sunday, May 30, 2021

Cowboy Church #121

 Hello my friends and welcome back for another service of Cowboy Church. 

Today's musical selection begins with The Sons of the Pioneers with their 1937 recording of Power in the Blood. This hymn was written by Lewis Edgar Jones in 1899 while he was attending a camp meeting at Mountain Lake Park, MD. Though he wrote nearly 200 hymns, this song remains his best known. Other hymns by Lewis Edgar Jones include, I've Anchored in Jesus and We Shall See the King Some Day. In this recording the lead vocal is done by Leonard Slye, who would later change his name to Roy Rogers. The bass vocal is done by Hugh Farr. Next is George Jones singing Family Bible. This song was written by Willie Nelson, when he was an aspiring songwriter hoping to make it in the country music industry. Yet when this song was first recorded Willie did not receive any credit for writing it. The credit instead went to Claude Gray, Walter Breeland, Paul Buskirk. Paul Buskirk was a guitar instructor and when he and Willie were having dinner together Willie could not pay for the check. Willie then sold this song to Buskirk for the check plus $50. Buskirk would give the song to singer Claude Gray. Claude would have the first major hit of this song in 1960. George Jones recorded the song later the same year and also had a hit off of it. Willie himself would not record it until his 1971 album, Yesterday's Wine. Speaking of Claude Gray, here he is with another song he recorded in 1960, Home Coming in Heaven. Though many music critics and Dylan fans either look down on or just overlook, Bob Dylan's Christian period, I think Bob's work of this period is simply fantastic. Bob made three Christian music albums that caught the music world by complete surprise from 1979 to 1981. These albums (Slow Train Coming, Saved and Shot of Love) received incredible criticism from his peers, who could not understand Bob's sudden change into a Christian. Long time fans became upset when at concerts Bob would only perform Christian songs, leaving out many of his biggest hits from the past. Keith Richards may have referred to this period as a cash grab, but to me it seems like personally alienating your audience and creating Christian rock music before Christian rock music became a thing is an incredible risk and not something you would do to make a quick buck. Yet I admit that his Christian albums truly touch and move me whenever I listen to them. For this Cowboy Church post I have picked Bob's 1980 live performance of Pressing On from his second Christian album, Saved (released the same year as this performance). Next comes Johnny Cash with He'll Be A Friend. The song was written by John himself and comes from his 1959 gospel album, Hymns By Johnny Cash. This was John's second album for Columbia records.  John would state that his main reason for leaving Sun Records and moving to Columbia is because producer Sam Phillips would not allow him to record a gospel album. This was especially important to John because he never set out to be a country singer or a rock and roll singer, but a gospel singer. Therefore it should come as no surprise that as soon as he left Sun he would set out to make a gospel record. Hymns By Johnny Cash became his first of many gospel albums and proved to be a success with his fans. Out of all of the recordings done of Carl Boberg's classic hymn, How Great Thou Art, Elvis Presley's 1972 live version is by far my favorite. Next is Ray Price with Now the Day is Over from his 1960 album, Faith. This is followed by Roy Rogers and Dale Evans with Jesus in the Morning. This song comes from their 1973 gospel album, In the Sweet Bye and Bye. Then comes The Charlie Daniels Band with an original song from their 1997 Christian album, Whose Side Are You On. Today's musical selection ends with Gene Autry and Dinah Shore singing Old Rugged Cross. The song itself dates back to 1913 and was written by evangelist, George Bennard. Actually the first verse was written in 1912. It was written while Bennard was a part of a series of revival meetings in Albion, Michigan. He was worried about the complete disregard for the gospel around him and wrote this verse as a repose. Of writing it Bennard said, "I seemed to have a vision ... I saw the Christ and the cross inseparable." The song wouldn't be completed for several months, when he was leading meetings at a local church in Pokagan, Michigan. He played it for Rev. Leroy (the sponsoring pastor) and his wife, Ruby Bostwick, both of whom found themselves moved to tears. It was then incorporated into a service at that church on June 7, 1913.

Because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. Romans 10:9

Then he brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” And they said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.” And they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house. And he took them the same hour of the night and washed their wounds; and he was baptized at once, he and all his family. Acts 16:30-33

The stranger who resides with you shall be to you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt; I am the Lord your God. Leviticus 19:34

Salvation belongs to the Lord; your blessing be on your people! Selah Psalm 3:8

Because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. Romans 10:9-10

Let the wicked forsake their ways and the unrighteous their thoughts. Let them turn to the LORD, and he will have mercy on them, and to our God, for he will freely pardon. Isaiah 55:7

No longer will they teach their neighbor, or say to one another, ‘Know the LORD,’ because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest,” declares the LORD. “For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.” Jerimiah 31:34 

Whoever conceals their sins does not prosper, but the one who confesses and renounces them finds mercy. Proverbs 28:13

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.  Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. 1 Corinthians 13:4-8

Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law. Romans 13:8

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16

Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Romans 12:10

But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Luke 6:35

See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ. Colossians 2:8

 For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Hebrews 4:12

For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. 1 Corinthians 15:22

 The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. Psalm 34:18

Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin condemns any people. Proverbs 14:34

Thank you for joining me come back next week for another service of Cowboy Church. Happy trails to you until we meet again. 

Saturday, May 29, 2021

Some Cartoons For Saturday Morning #125

 Hello my friends and happy Saturday Morning, once again it is time for some classic cartoons. 

In the 1930's the Fleischer Studio's Popeye cartoon had reached an incredible level of popularity even rivaling that of Mickey Mouse. These simple black and white seven minute cartoons captured the hearts of moviegoers just as much as any feature film. Because of this both Paramount encouraged the cartoon studio to create something bigger with Popeye. The result was a series of three two-reel full color cartoons starring the cartoon sailor. These films were over twice the length of an average Popeye cartoon and they felt bigger in every way possible. My personal favorite of the three is the second, Popeye the Sailor Meets Ali Baba and His Forty Thieves (1937). This one has the same larger than usual and visual gorgeous look as the others, but in my opinion the humor in this short is probably the funniest. The cartoon was later edited down to a seven minute short with some new animation featuring Popeye and his nephews for a cheater cartoon, Popeye Makes a Movie (1950). The following are some exhibitor reviews from the Motion Picture Herald, "Popeye the Sailor Meets Ali Baba and His Forty Thieves (Color Special): Popeye the Sailor - A two reel cartoon that means nothing more at the box office than a single. Does not compare with 'Sinbad the Sailor' in entertainment. Running time, 17 minutes. A. Goldson, Gold Coast Theatre, Chicago, Ill. Neighborhood Patronage." "Popeye the Sailor Meets Ali Baba and His Forty Thieves: Popeye the Sailor - Not nearly as funny as it ought to have been. Still most everyone enjoyed it. Popeye needs a change of diet anyway. One tires of too much spinach. - L. A. Irwin, Palace Theatre, Penacook, N.H. General Patronage." "Popeye the Sailor Meets Ali Baba and His Forty Thieves: Popeye the Sailor - Ran it to bolster 'Rosalie' and really believe it drove in a few. Play it. They'll enjoy it. Running time, 20 minutes. - A.E. Eliassen, Rialto Theatre, Paynesville, Minn., Small Town and Rural Patronage." "Popeye the Sailor Meets Ali Baba and His Forty Thieves: Popeye the Sailor - Played this with 'College Holiday.' We put this in as a double attraction and which met with a great success. Played the Easter Sunday with very good business. Had a large matinee. Popeye sure pleases the children. -Edelstein Amusement Company, Homer Theatre, Hibbing, Minn. General Patronage." "Popeye the Sailor Meets Ali Baba and His Forty Thieves: Color Special - This is an extra price cartoon of two reels, which was just one reel too long. They can't sustain an audience's attention for the extra length and it got boresome before it was halfway through. Don't buy it. Kids will like it of course but you don't pay off with them. - A.E. Hancock, Columbia Theatre, Columbia City, Ind. General Patronage."

Next comes an especially good Pink Panther cartoon, Pink of the Litter (1967). In this film like in many others, Pink's co-star is the little man. It has often been said that this little man was a take-off on producer Friz Freleng. 

The famous cat an mouse duo were not the first cartoon characters to be named Tom and Jerry. During the 1930's the Van Beuren cartoon studio made a series of shorts starring a human duo with the same name. While these shorts would never reach the same fame as the latter cat and mouse cartoons, they are often very entertaining in their own right. The duo began with the idea from director John Foster to create a Mutt and Jeff like cat and dog duo. When New York artists George Stallings and George Rufle joined the studio they thought to take this idea but turn the characters into humans. To not be confused with a more famous cartoon duo in the 1950's Tom and Jerry were renamed Dick and Larry when they aired on TV. Next is one of my favorite cartoons starring this duo, Barnyard Bunk (1932). Gene Rodemich's musical score is especially excellent in this short.

Next comes a delightful modernized version of the Cinderella tale from the Terry Toons studio. Appropriately it is titled, Cinderella (1933). 

Now it is time to sing along, I am sure you know all the words. 

Though Chuck Jones would be one of the main contributors into Daffy Duck changing from his early wild, unhinged and well Daffy personality into the later self absorbed and greedy duck, Chuck's earliest cartoons with Daffy featured the duck as completely crazy. In my opinion one of the best of these films is To Duck or Not To Duck (1943). This is a wild and crazy and very funny cartoon that is instantly quotable. This short has fallen in the public domain and therefore those who collect VHS and DVDs of classic cartoons will instantly recognize it. A review in The Film Daily stated, "Leon Schlesinger has turned out another ace Technicolor cartoon featuring the characters of Daffy Duck and the Goofy hunter."

Up next is another Chuck Jones directed cartoon, Prest-o Change-o (1939). This film features an early prototype for Bugs Bunny, as well as a pair of short lived Chuck Jones characters, know as Two Curious Dogs. These dogs didn't really have much personality despite being curious but they worked perfectly for Chuck's early love of pure pantomime cartoons. Many of Chuck's films around this time featured minimal dialogue and lots of visual acting. Pantomime is of course something that would play an important role later when Chuck did his Coyote and Roadrunner cartoons. 


Today's cartoon selection concludes with one of Walt Disney's great Oswald the Lucky Rabbit cartoons, The Ocean Hop (1927). Like the early Mickey Mouse cartoon, Plane Crazy (1928), in this film Oswald takes to the skies in his self-made plane. Here though Oswald is in a race against a variety of competitors including an early version of the later Mickey Mouse nemesis Peg Leg Pete. When it comes to the early Disney cartoons, the animator most cartoon buffs think of is Ub Iwerks. However Iwerks animates surprisingly little footage in this movie.  Still what he does animate shows his skill to its finest level. For instance there is an incredible scene (animated by Iwerks) in which Oswald's "plane" is spinning wildly out of control and rotating around the sky. Rollin "Ham" Hamilton's animation looks crude in comparison with other Disney animators, but there is some great acting in his scenes that come across perfectly. This is something that is well seen when Oswald tells a couple of mice to blow up a balloon. Hugh Harman animates the majority of action in this cartoon including a great scene in which Pete uses a stick of gum to prevent Oswald from winning. There is unfortunately a missing scene from this film. That scene involves the dog falling into a taxi's engine and coming out as a series of sausages. While that joke sounds mean spirited today, it was a common joke during this time period and Walt Disney himself had previously used a similar gag in the Alice Comedy, Alice’s Mysterious Mystery (1926). These Oswald cartoons were later released in the 1930's with new soundtracks and unfortunately scenes shuffled around and left out.

Thanks for joining me come back next week for more animated treasures. Until then may all your tunes be looney and your melodies merry.

Resources Used

Of Mice and Magic: A History of American Animated Cartoons by Leonard Maltin.

Friday, May 28, 2021

Movie Review: Cruella


Michael's Movie Grade: B

A stylish and fun (if surprisingly dark) take on the classic Disney villain.

When I first saw the preview for this movie, I had one question on my mind. How will Disney manage to make a movie where the protagonist is an evil character who was often referred to as a "devil woman?" The answer is a simple one, give the film a villain who is even more evil than Cruella. It works fantastically. Cruella herself may be cruel (as the name implies) but just like her animated counter part, she is a joy to watch. Much of this is due to an excellent performance by Emma Stone, who seems to be having the time of her life playing this role. Her energy is infectious and I found myself often fully giving in to this energy and the sense of fun. This is only heightened by the scenes she shares with the film's real villain. Much of this is due to how much pure chemistry Emma Stone and Emma Thompson have with each other and what a joy it is to watch these characters' battle of wits and egos. This movie is also a pure wonder to look at. Everything that appears on screen is as stylish and over the top as our main character and the look of the film draws us further into the mad world of these characters. Special shout outs must go to costume designer, Jenny Beavan and set designer, Alice Felton for going above and beyond in giving this film its incredible look. Plus I must praise director Craig Gillespie, for not being afraid to go a little over the top with the look of this movie, as it couldn't have worked as well any other way. The film is also helped by an excellent soundtrack. Music and song choices play an important role in this movie and every major scene is accentuated with a song. These songs are mostly rock songs from the 1960's and 70's and they not only perfectly fit the onscreen action but enhance it as well.

This movie also seems to be much more interested in an adult audience than a kids one. This is heightened by a number of surprisingly dark scenes that make one forget they are watching a Disney film. There were times when I excepted the movie to go even darker, but then remembered this is after all Disney. I was surprised at first to see that this movie was rated PG-13, but after watching it I can't help but feel it is earned. Yet the movie never becomes too dark to lose its sense of over the top fun, in fact the darkness adds to fun. 

On the downside while this movie is certainly in many ways darker than most Disney films, there are quite a few little winking references to the animated movie. These are too cute and obvious to fit the rest of the film's tone. Because of this they take you completely out of the movie. The film also features too much obvious on the nose dialogue that again takes you out of the movie. Cruella is also a bit overlong and could definitely have used a short run time. There are a few scenes that seem to drag a bit, as well as some that feel like complete padding. 

This movie is like Cruella herself, wild, crazy and a lot of fun.   

Movie Review: Final Account


Michael's Movie Grade: A

An important, startling and powerful documentary that will leave a huge effect on all those who watch it. 

Two questions that come to the mind of anyone who has ever read a history book is how the horrors of Nazi Germany could have ever took place and how the German people could allow it. While these questions can never have the full answers they deserve this movie gives incredible insight. In this the last film for documentary filmmaker Luke Holland, Holland speaks with the last surviving generation of those who lived in Nazi Germany. While many of us would like to think of all those who either subscribed to Nazi ideology or did not stand up to it as something inhuman, this documentary shows us something much more terrifying. What we see here is people who are just as human as anyone we might meet on the street. Some were products of a society that raised, molded and brainwashed them into believing whatever they were told to believe in. Others knew the horrors going on, but felt powerless and helpless to stand up to them, or feared for their lives if they dare say something against the party. Multiple of the people interviewed said that everyone knew of the horrors but no one said anything not in secret. Many of us like to think that if we were there we have done something but watching this movie makes us question whether we really would have or if we would have been just like the people depicted here. The fact that we will never know the answer to what we'd do is absolutely terrifying. This question is what makes this film feel much more personal and moving than so many other World War 2 documentaries.

It is also fascinating to see how differently the interviewees react to their past. Some are very regretful and are horrified by the part they played in this great evil, while others are still in complete denial. 

This movie being the last effort from director Luke Holland, it is also a very personal one. Holland was the son of a Jewish refugee from Vienna and had ancestors who were murdered by Nazi Germany. These interviews and research for this movie were made over the last decade as he felt this was a story that needed to be told. The result is a powerful movie that left me extremely affected by what I just saw and with a lot on my mind.  

Thursday, May 27, 2021

The Sacrifice (Offret) (1986)


There are few filmmakers as completely daring as Andrei Tarkovsky. Tarkovsky's cinema is one that makes no accommodations for your average audience. His film's are intentionally slow moving, ponderous and demand a lot of the viewer. To watch his movies you have to give yourself completely to the screen and if you fail to do so then they will have little to offer you. They can not be background noise or something you mindlessly have on the TV. Yet when you give a Tarkovsky film all that it requires of you, then you will find yourself very moved and affected in a way few other filmmakers can make you feel. 

Those of you familiar with the films have Ingmar Bergman, may find that this movie can quite often feel like a Bergman's cinema. This is hardly a coincidence. The movie is produced by the Swedish Film Institute (the only Swedish film from this Russian filmmaker), was shot in the island of Faro (where Bergman shot many of his movies), was shot by Bergman's regular cinematographer, Sven Nykvist, and stars Erland Josephson (who was in such Bergman movies as The Magician (1958), Hour of the Wolf (1968), The Passion of Anna (1969), Cries & Whispers (1972), Scenes from a Marriage (1974) and Autumn Sonata (1978)). However while the Bergman connections are unmistakable, this movie never feels like an imitation of Bergman, but instead like a passionate and personal movie for Tarkovsky. Knowing that the director was dying of cancer while making this film makes it feel even more personal.  

A plot summary of this film would be pointless. While this is a clearly a narrative film, the story itself is purposely vague and there are long spaces between the major plot points where not much happens. However it is these moments that stay with us. One of my favorite moments is a long scene in which our main character talks for a long period about philosophy to his young son. Both we and him know that he is really talking to himself and this becomes even clearer when the son leaves and he doesn't even notice but keeps on talking. He even notes that he is tired of people simply talking endlessly and not doing anything but this does not stop him from doing just that. This scene is told in one long shot held for what can feel like an incredibly long time. This is something that no Hollywood filmmaker would ever dare to do and something that could never be seen in a mainstream movie. Yet under the direction of Tarkovsky it becomes something beautiful and powerful. 

One thing that even those who hate Tarkovsky's cinema will admit is that his movies are visually beautiful. Add to this that he is working with one of the world's greatest cinematographers and you know you have a beautiful looking movie. Many images from this movie will stay with you and haunt your mind long after the film is over. The climatic scene is as visually perfect a moment as a filmmaker could ever capture.

This is simply an incredible work of art. 

Sunday, May 23, 2021

Cowboy Church #120

 Hello my friends and welcome back for another service of Cowboy Church. 

Today's musical selection begins with Roy Rogers, Dale Evans and the Sons of the Pioneers with a lovely version of The Place Where I Worship. Up next is Johnny Cash with The Fourth Man in the Fire. This song is based off of a story from the book of Daniel. Though this story takes place during old testament times many (including myself) believe the fourth man to be Jesus. While most of us will not be thrown in a fiery furnace, this song reminds us that there is no place that through every hardship in life, Jesus is always walking with us and watching out for us. In the liner notes for the Unearthed box set, Rick Ruben remembered this song being recorded, "I can't tell you much about the song except that again it was one that he liked , but I can tell you why it sounds like he's getting frustrated. We were working in my living room and we didn't have any editing equipment or engineering person - I'm not an engineer - we were just rolling the tape and everything was live. If you're in the studio and you're doing a song with a long spoken intro, and you got the intro right but there's something wrong with the song, you wouldn't have to do the intro over and over every time you redid the song. We didn't have that kind of editing capacity at my house, which is why when Johnny says 'Are you going to keep the intro from the last take? It was good' and I say 'We can't do that,' you can hear the frustration in his voice." Next comes Gene Autry with his 1949 recording of Bible on the Table. In this song Gene sings "People say that I'm a bit old fashioned." This is something still being said about many Christians today. However loving and trusting in God is something that will never be old fashioned. This is because the Bible is just as true today as the day the words were written and God cares just as much about us today, as he did any other generation and he wants to be just as much a part of our lives as he ever did before. God is the same yesterday, today and forever and we should never be ashamed of being Christians but instead we should feel blessed that our God wants to be a part of our lives. Recently I was re-listening to southern Christian rock band, Third Day's 1995 debut album. While I loved the whole album, Love Song especially stood out to me as I listened to the lyrics. The message of this song is simple, Jesus loves us so much that he bared the cross just for us. Yet the simplicity of this message is extremely beautiful and touching. We too often forget just how much Jesus loves us but this song reminds us how great and loving our lord truly is. This is followed by Kris Kristofferson with They Killed Him. Written by Kris himself, this song is tribute to three of his heroes, Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr. and Jesus Christ. Next is Tennessee Ernie Ford with I Love to Tell the Story. The origins of this hymn began with Arabella Katherine Hankey. At the age of 30 she was recovering from a long illness and during that time wrote a poem about Jesus. This poem was separated into two parts. The first was called The Story Wanted and the second was called The Story Told (both were published in 1886). The lyrics for this hymn came from the second part. Arabella was also a composer and wrote her own music for these words, but the tune she wrote is not the one we use today.  William G. Fisher wrote the music we know today as well as the words for the refrain. When Fisher's version of the hymn was published in 1875's  Gospel Hymns and Sacred Songs, the hymn reached a new level of popularity. This version comes from Cousin Ernie's 1960 album Sing a Hymn with me. Now for the Queen of Rockabilly, Wanda Jackson with Jesus Loves Cowgirls from her 1984 gospel album, My Kind of Gospel. Afterwards is Red Foley with his 1949 recording of Just a Closer Walk With Thee. Today's musical selection ends with The Purple Hulls with singing What a Friend We Have in Jesus. This recording comes from their 2012 album, Closer to Home

Psalm 27
1 The Lord is my light and my salvation—
    whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life—
    of whom shall I be afraid?

2 When the wicked advance against me
    to devour[a] me,
it is my enemies and my foes
    who will stumble and fall.
3 Though an army besiege me,
    my heart will not fear;
though war break out against me,
    even then I will be confident.

4 One thing I ask from the Lord,
    this only do I seek:
that I may dwell in the house of the Lord
    all the days of my life,
to gaze on the beauty of the Lord
    and to seek him in his temple.
5 For in the day of trouble
    he will keep me safe in his dwelling;
he will hide me in the shelter of his sacred tent
    and set me high upon a rock.

6 Then my head will be exalted
    above the enemies who surround me;
at his sacred tent I will sacrifice with shouts of joy;
    I will sing and make music to the Lord.

7 Hear my voice when I call, Lord;
    be merciful to me and answer me.
8 My heart says of you, “Seek his face!”
    Your face, Lord, I will seek.
9 Do not hide your face from me,
    do not turn your servant away in anger;
    you have been my helper.
Do not reject me or forsake me,
    God my Savior.
10 Though my father and mother forsake me,
    the Lord will receive me.
11 Teach me your way, Lord;
    lead me in a straight path
    because of my oppressors.
12 Do not turn me over to the desire of my foes,
    for false witnesses rise up against me,
    spouting malicious accusations.

13 I remain confident of this:
    I will see the goodness of the Lord
    in the land of the living.
14 Wait for the Lord;
    be strong and take heart
    and wait for the Lord.

The righteous hate what is false, but the wicked make themselves a stench and bring shame on themselves. Proverbs 13:5

They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household.” Acts 16:31

He has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time. 2 Timothy 1:9

And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. Acts 2:21

Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls. 1 Peter 1:8-9

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile. Romans 1:16

For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 1 Corinthians 1:18

Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you. James 1:21

I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. Romans 8:18

The wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the young goat, and the calf and the lion and the fattened calf together; and a little child shall lead them. Isaiah 11:6

 You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the LORD. Leviticus 19:18

 For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Jeremiah 29:11

Thank you for joining me come back next week for another service of Cowboy Church. Happy trails to you until we meet again. 

Saturday, May 22, 2021

Movie Review: Dream Horse


Michael's Movie Grade: B+

An excellent feel good movie. 

The main job of a feel good movie is obviously to make the viewer feel good and judged by this standard the film does a darn good job. Much of this is due to our main character. Thanks both to the script and Toni Collette's performance, the character is instantly likable. This is true even at the start of the film when she is bored of life. The transformation between her earlier bored self and her latter passionate about life self is incredibly well done. It does not happen instantaneously. Instead we see her gradually come further out of her shell as she becomes more and more attached to the horse. The first time we see a big smile on her face, we are overcome with joy because the movie has fully earned even this seemingly small moment. Of course it has long been said that you can't have happiness without sadness. This movie knows and understands that saying. Along with the moments of great joy, we also have moments that are not so joyful. In the end we connect with these characters more because we have felt both joy and sadness with them. However this of course does not mean the filmmakers ever forget what kind of movie this is and I definitely had a big smile on my face through much of this film.  

The humor in this movie can be a bit hit or miss. There are moments were it is very funny and other times when the jokes fall a little flat. Still the funny jokes make up for the misses. 

This movie has two real problems though. The first of these is that the horse simply has too many owners, to make them all well rounded characters in the length of a less than two hour movie. Therefore some of them are very well defined, while others come off as stereotypes of movie characters. There is also the fact that we have seen this movie too many times to not know what is going to happen in any given scene. 

All in all if you want to go to the movies and put a smile on your face when you are there, this film will do a darn good job of that.  

Some Cartoons For Saturday Morning #124

 Hello my friends and happy Saturday morning. Once again it is time for some classic cartoons. 

One thing I have always loved about DePatie-Freleng Inspector cartoons is the wide variety of strange and creative villains, our hero finds himself up against. One time villains in this series prove to be just as memorable as the regular characters. Case in point here is Canadian Can-Can (1967). 

Chess-Nuts (1932) has everything I love about the early Betty Boop cartoons. In other words it is absolutely insane. In the style of the Fleischer Studio's earlier Out of the Inkwell shorts, this film starts off in live action before our cartoon heroes take over. In typical Fleischer fashion this is done to surreal and very funny effect. As the movie goes along, it only gets more surreal and funnier. This cartoon was made during the pre-code era and the short could not make this more obvious (if you don't know what pre-code means click here). Betty's dress comes off multiple times and it is obvious that the evil king is only interested in one thing. The following is an exhibitor's review (for Betty Boop cartoons as a whole) from the Motion Picture Herald. "Betty Boop Cartoons: I believe these cartoons are getting better all the time. My Patrons like them better than Mickey Mouse and I am running them both. The sound on these cartoons is wonderful and the cartoon is original and clever. Get the Betty Boop and Bimbo buttons and give them to the kids. The Bimbo and Betty Boop dolls are clever and worth the price for advertising. -S.H. Rich, Rich Theatre, Montpelier, Idaho. Town and rural Patronage." 

                                              Motion Picture Herald, 1934

Some of Disney's best and funniest cartoon shorts are those that teamed Mickey, Donald and Goofy as a comedy trio. Next up I have the second of these cartoons and the first one in color, Mickey's Fire Brigade (1935). This movie opens with the title card burning away in flames, a creative touch by effects animator Cy Young. In this short Mickey is the fire chief, a role he had played earlier in The Fire Fighters (1930). Two of the animators on this film are Bill Tytla (possibly my favorite Disney animator) and Grim Natwick, both of whom had joined the studio in 1934. They animate the majority of the scenes with Clarabella Cow. The scene where Goofy tries to take a coffee break is animated by Wolfgang “Woolie” Reitherman, who would later become a specialist at animating the character. Jack Kinney, who would go on to direct some of the funniest cartoons to ever come out of the Disney studio, animated Donald's struggles with flypaper and pails of water. It is common for cartoon fans to think of the old Disney shorts as being slow moving and sentimental, however that is not the case here at all. This is a fast moving and very funny film that puts a smile on my face every time. The following is from an issue of The film Daily (dated Sept. 5, 1935), " 'Mickey's Fire Brigade,' is to have its premiere in the New York theatrical sector this evening when it opens at the Rivoli Theater with the new Samuel Goldwyn production, 'The Dark Angel.'" A review in National Board of Review Magazine stated, "Noisier and less clever than most of this series but still better than most of its kind." A review in The Film Daily states, "This is one of the liveliest and funniest of the Walt Disney cartoon creations." The following is an exhibitor's review from The Motion Picture Herald, "MICKEY'S FIRE BRIGADE: Mickey Mouse—One of the best of the Mickey Mouse series. Running time, eight minutes.—M. H. Harrington, Avalon Theatre, Clatskanie, Ore. Small Town and Rural Patronage."

Not long ago I shared the post-golden age Looney Tune, Little Go Beep (2000). Here is another very good later Looney Tune effort, Blooper Bunny (1991). This short was directed by Greg Ford and Terry Lennon, who also brought us the feature length, Daffy Duck's Quackbusters (1988). 

Now to go to a much earlier Looney Tune, up next is Bosko's Store (1932). Bosko was the first major Looney Tune character and he was created by Hugh Harman and Rudolf Ising. Learning for their former boss Walt Disney not owning the rights to Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, they kept the rights to Bosko. So when in 1933, they left the Warner Brothers Studio, Bosko no longer could appear in the Looney Tunes cartoons. Harman and Ising would make a few more Bosko cartoons for MGM though. Despite this Bosko would later make apperances in Looney Tunes media with the TV show, Tiny Tunes Adventures and the feature length Space Jam (1996). The following is a review from The Film Daily, "A thoroughly entertaining animated cartoon number. Shows Bosko at work in a grocery store, where he performs various amusing antics in slicing boloney and doing other chores around the shop. Lively and tuneful."

Next comes a delightful Terry-Toon, A Hare-Breadth Finish (1957). This short is a take-off on the story of the tortoise and the hare, but more than that it bares a quite close resemblance to Warner Brothers' Bugs vs. Cecil Turtle cartoons. Some of these jokes are very similar to those used in the pre-mentioned Warners cartoons, especially the last two jokes. The hare's personality here is also quite similar to that of Bugs Bunny in those cartoons. One of the best bits of animation here is the tortoise in Hawaiian get-up, this gag was animated hilariously by Jim Tyler. In my opinion this is one of the best Terry-Toons from this time period. 

One of my favorite parts of the Garfield and Friends TV show is the Garfield quickies. These short skits were taken directly from Jim Davis' newspaper comic strip.

Today's cartoon selection ends with a classic Pink Panther, In the Pink of the Night (1969). The title is a take off of the then recent movie, In the Heat of the Night (1967). 

Thanks for joining me come back next week for more animated treasures. Until then may all your tunes be looney and your melodies merry. 

Friday, May 21, 2021

Movie Review: Those Who Wish Me Dead


Michael's Movie Grade: B

A highly enjoyable action thriller.

One thing that makes this movie work so well is that despite the big action and suspense scene this movie has its heart in the right place. The relationship between our two main characters is surprisingly well done. Much of this is due to the excellent chemistry between Angelina Jolie and Finn Little. They develop a mother and son like bond that is completely believable. The relationship between the deputy sheriff and his wife was also quite good. These relationships keep the movie grounded and more effective even when the action scenes go completely over the top. The action scenes themselves are a heck of a lot of fun. If you are someone who complains about action scenes not making much sense than this movie is not for you, but if you are like me and want to see a fun popcorn movie and doesn't care about realism in a movie like this, then you will have a lot of fun. The villains are excellent. They are quite over the top as well and much of what they do doesn't make a lick of sense, but I can't help but enjoy myself every time they are on screen. They give off a legitimately creepy vibe, while still being a lot of fun to watch. Aidan Gillen and Nicholas Hoult's performances only enhance how much I enjoyed these villains. 

The biggest problem with this film is the whole storyline of why these villains are after the kid to begin with. This is something that so obviously only exists to move the storyline forward. As soon as this part of the plot is appears, it is pushed to the side. It would be incredibly easy to watch this movie having no idea just why these villains committed this murder in the first place. This part of the story simply should have gotten more time. The story is also very predictable and anyone who has seen action movies before knows where the film is going. 

Writer/director Taylor Sheridan has previously brought us Hell or High Water (2016) and Wind River (2017) and I am sure many of his fans excepting what they got before from him will be largely disappointed. However this is not fair, because this movie is a lot of fun in its own right. 

Wednesday, May 19, 2021

Movie Review: Profile


Michael's Movie Grade: C

An engaging and stylistically successful thriller, but a lot of it makes less and less sense the more you think about. 

While this is not the first movie to use the device of having the whole film take place on a computer screen it is done very well here. This stylistic choice is not the simple gimmick that it may sound like. It works very well for a couple of reasons. One of these is that there is no reason to see our main character off the computer. The movie is about what happens when she is on the computer and anything else would be just padding. Another reason is that this is the best way for the movie to build up suspense. It brings us further into the dangerous world our main character has found her self in. It also gives us a peak into her mind as we see what she is looking at online. This makes the film an effective character study without ever having to fall into obviously expository dialogue. This device also provides the film with some of its most effective suspense moments. The idea of having to deal with calls coming in at the most inopportune and dangerous times can make even the smaller scenes edge of your seat moments. This device does present one major problem through the lack of any transitions or visual lapses in time. It can be hard to keep up with how much time has passed at times and whenever we are shown something that signals how much time has passed it comes as a complete surprise. 

The storyline is based on a gripping true story and as you watch the film it is no surprise that the filmmakers wanted to adapt this story as a movie. It is a truly suspenseful and important story and much of the suspense is seen to good advantage in this movie. Yet at the same time there are quite a few real problems with the way the story plays on screen. One of these is that our main character seems completely inept at her job. I may not be a professional reporter and I have never gone undercover, but there is no doubt that if I were going to go undercover by having long skype sessions with Isis terrorists, I would have done my research well ahead of time. She instead is learning about this and doing her research as she goes along with no preparation ahead of time. Not surprisingly a lot of the moments in which she finds herself in some sort of danger, are caused by her doing this. This makes it hard for us to believe that this character is in any way a good reporter. This movie also suffers from side characters who act as nothing more than obstacles in the story. This is especially true of her boyfriend, who has no personality outside of his basic function in the story. Characters like her boss and the IT guy, similarly only exist to move the story forward. There are also quite a few moments in the story that take more suspension of disbelief than many will have. 

This movie is a well made thriller in a lot of ways and is quite fun to watch, but when you stop to think about many scenes they make no sense.   

Tuesday, May 18, 2021

Batman vs. Two-Face (2017)


This animated direct to video movie marks the last time Adam West and Burt Ward reprised their roles as Batman and Robin and one of Adam West's last acting roles before passing. 

I honestly often prefer my superhero stories on the more light hearted and fun side. Because of this as many of you may guess I love the 1960's Batman TV show. So I am happy to say the this movie is fully in the spirit of that series. What made the TV show so special was that it was over the top and silly enough to be a lot of fun but never too over the top to become self-parody. Batman vs. Two-Face walks this fine line perfectly. Not surprisingly this movie's writers (Michael Jelenic, James Tucker) worked on Batman: Brave and the Bold, a show that did this equally as well. There are plenty of Robin's "Holy-somethings," silly puns, giant and ridiculous props, boy scout style dialogue and great humor. Yet at the time the storyline is very engaging. This movie does away with the typical Two-face origin for a new one. Yes this new origin is completely over the top, but it has a real heart to it. Two-Face is a great Batman villain, because of the tragedy behind him and while this movie is over the top and silly, it still perfectly captures this tragedy. As much as they are filled with over the top and silly moments, the moments between Bruce Wayne and Harvey Dent are actually quite effective on an emotional level. The voice acting here is perfect. Of course Adam West and Burt Ward are as fantastic as ever. Julie Newmar is equally fantastic reprising her role of Catwoman. Adding to the 1960's nostalgia, William Shatner (of Star Trek fame) is the voice of Harvey Dent and his evil alter ego Two-Face. Shatner is perfect and like Adam West he knows to play it strait and therefore make the over the top moments all the funnier. 

While those who prefer a dark and brooding Batman may not care for this film, its intended audience (which I am a part of) will completely love it. For those who love 1960's Batman, this is a true treat.   

Sunday, May 16, 2021

Cowboy Church #119

 Hello my friends and welcome back for another service of Cowboy Church. 

Today's musical selection begins with The Sons of the Pioneers with their 1937 recording of Dwelling in Beulah Land. This song was written by Austin Miles (who also wrote In the Garden) in 1911. The melody of this song is also used in The Fiji National Anthem, God Bless Fiji. The lead singer on this recording is Roy Rogers (Leonard Slye at this time), during his last year as a member of the band. This is followed by Johnny Cash performing Have Thine Own Way Lord. This hymn was written by Adelaide A. Pollard. It was partly inspired by how in 1902, she heard an old woman praying at a prayer meeting, "It really doesn't matter what you do with us, Lord -- just have your way with our lives." Adelaide wanted to be a missionary in Africa, but this was not happening as quickly as she would have hoped it would happen. Not long before writing this song, she tried to raise funds to go to Africa but this proved not as successful as she had hoped. This lead her to follow into what she called a "distress of soul." It was then that she attended this prayer meeting, heard that prayer and wrote this hymn. She eventually did become a missionary in Africa, even if it was only for a brief time. This recording features only Johnny Cash and his guitar with no backing band. Chet Atkins was known as "Mr. Guitar" and was easily one of the greatest guitar players in country music. At a time where most of country music was centered around the singers and the lyrics, Chet made a great number of hits with instrumental guitar tracks. Yet the way he played this guitar was just as soulful and elegant as many of the great country singers. In 1962 he released an album of instrumental versions of classic gospel songs called Chet Atkins Plays Back Home Hymns. This is a truly lovely album and from this album is our next hymn, Just a Closer Walk With Thee. Next is Waylon Jennings singing Precious Memories on his 1976 album, Are You Ready For The Country. Though this is a sweet uplifting song, it was based upon a tragedy. In 1922, John Wright lost his five year old son. Wright would later say about this song, “’Precious Memories’ was born in the midnight hours as I bathed by pillow with tears, likewise all my songs came through life’s severest tests.” Though this is a very famous hymn, John Wright only received $36 for writing it. He would remain a janitor that was always struggling to make ends meet for his entire life. Though Waylon did not record a great many gospel songs, he more than proved himself as an incredible gospel singer. The pure soul, emotion and power in his voice could not be more perfect for gospel music. Personally Waylon's version of Precious Memories remains my favorite version of this classic hymn. Now appropriate for Cowboy Church comes Roy Rogers with A Cowboy's Sunday from him and his wife's (Dale Evans) 1959 gospel album, Jesus Loves Me. This is followed by Kris Kristofferson singing Why Me Lord. Before singing the song he tells the story of what inspired him to write it. Next is Mel Tillis with Peace in the Valley. The hymn was written by Thomas A. Dorsey who later explained the origins of this song, “Peace in the Valley,” “It was just before Hitler sent his war chariots into Western Europe in the late 1930s. I was on a train going through southern Indiana and saw horses, cows and sheep all grazing together in this little valley. Everything seemed so peaceful. It made me question, “What’s the matter with mankind? Why can’t men live in peace?” Out of those thoughts came “Peace in the Valley.” Today's musical selection ends with Jeannie Seely singing One Day at Time. This song was written by Kris Kristofferson & Marijohn Wilkin. 

The following is Roy Rogers talking about his faith in God.

The following is Billy Graham talking about prayer. 

From that time on Jesus began to preach, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” Matthew 4:17

Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord. Acts 3:19

Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, forbearance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance? Romans 2:4

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another. John 13:34-35

Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. 1 John 4:8

God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.  Romans 5:8

This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth. 1 John 3:16-18

 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God not by works, so that no one can boast. Ephesians 2:8-9

 If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.  For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. Romans 10:9-10

The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make His face shine upon you, and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up His countenance upon you and give you peace. Numbers 6:24-26

And if it seems evil to you to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.  Joshua 24:15

But the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Do not look at his appearance or at his physical stature, because I have refused him. For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.  1 Samuel 16:7

Hear O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.  Deuteronomy 6:4-5

Samuel said, “Has the Lord as much delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed than the fat of rams." 1 Samuel 15:22

Boast no more so very proudly, do not let arrogance come out of your mouth; For the Lord is a God of knowledge, and with Him actions are weighed. 1 Samuel 2:3

Thanks for joining me come back next week for another service of Cowboy Church. Happy trails to you until we meet again. 

Saturday, May 15, 2021

Movie Review: Finding You


Michael's Movie Grade: C+

A charming and fun romantic comedy, if one that is extremely familiar.

Finding You is like a Hallmark movie but on the big screen (and characters drink tea instead of Folders coffee). Like a Hallmark movie it is nothing that I would proclaim as a great movie or one that will leave a big impact on me, but it is one that I truly enjoy watching. The storyline is basic and follows all the conventions of this type of movie. There is a misunderstanding, a romance between two characters that at first don't like each other, characters are looking to find more meaning in their lives and do and a lesson about truly living life. In many ways these are checkboxes that the movie fills out and leave everyone in the audience knowing what will happen next. However clichés are clichés for a reason and that is because they work and they work here. While I did feel some clichés were too drawn out and left me waiting for the obvious next step in that storyline (plus the movie had too many "endings"). Yet I still found myself really enjoying watching the film. The two romantic leads are very likable and the chemistry between  Jedidiah Goodacre and Rose Reid is fantastic. The best emotional scenes take place between our young couple and an old lady (Vanessa Redgrave) who has become an outcast in a small town where rumors travel fast. These scenes are surprisingly touching and were my favorite part of the movie. Another supporting character who stole the show whenever on screen was an Irish fiddle player (Patrick Bergin), whose scenes were quite charming. The humor in this movie is also surprisingly good and while I didn't laugh through the whole film, I definitely laughed more than a thought I would. The main character's self-proclaimed "little Sister" (Saoirse-Monica Jackson) provides the film with its funniest scenes and is just another supporting character who steals the show. Unfortunately the male lead's father (Tom Everett Scott) and co-star (Katherine McNamara) are simply clichés of movie characters and feel like nothing more than obstacles for our lovers. 

All in all this is a charming and fun romantic comedy, but it is also nothing you haven't seen a million times before. 


Some Cartoons For Saturday Morning #123

 Hello my friends and happy Saturday Morning. Once again it is time for more classic cartoons. 

Today cartoon selection starts off with a real treat. Here are some commercials created for TV's The Bugs Bunny Show. The following is from a 1960 issue of TV Radio Mirror. "Behind the scenes at ABC there is ecstasy, over of all things, the new Bugs Bunny Show, which premieres October 11th at 7:30pm. 'The Bugs Bunny series' whispered one confidante, looks like the best of all the new stuff.' Doing all the voices is one comedy genius named Mel Blanc, who has long been doing Bugs and a million other voices and making about a million at it too. He says, 'The easiest money was maybe the $800 I got paid for doing a cats Hiccough for the picture 'Pinocchio.'" Mel even makes that horrible sound which represents Jack Benny's old Maxwell. During this season Mel will also be heard weekly as Barney Rubble on The Flintstones and as usual will make frequent appearances with Jack Benny in character parts. He says 'People don't believe who I am so I have to run around saying, 'What's Up Doc?' But the most gratifying thing happened to me last season when I played a drunk on Benny's show and got laughs without making a sound.'" 

Just as The Pink Panther cartoons came out of the animated opening credits for Blake Edwards' feature length movie, The Pink Panther (1963), The Inspector cartoons came out of the opening credits for its sequel A Shot in the Dark (1964). As that movie no longer featured The Pink Panther diamond, an animated cartoon opening based around an animated inspector (since the series starred an inept police inspector) was created. Though that animated version of the inspector looked a bit different there is no doubt that he is the same inspector we see in the cartoon series. Also as The Pink Panther cartoons used the theme music from the first movie so did The Inspector cartoons use the theme music from A Shot in the Dark (both themes were composed by Henry Mancini). Though all of Blake Edwards further feature length movies of the series used the Pink Panther for their opening credits, The Inspector would appear in the opening credits of director Bud Yorkin's feature length take on the series, Inspector Clouseau (1968) and there he was very much the way we see him in the short cartoons. What is interesting about the Inspector shorts is that while they are somewhat based on the character of Clouseau from the Blake Edwards movies, the two characters are not the same and it never feels like the makers of these shorts were ever trying to copy the features in any way. The Inspector series was an excellent cartoon series and unlike many other series of theatrical shorts, these cartoons went out on a high note. The final Inspector cartoon was the excellent Carte Blanched (1969).

Now we come to a short starring the first star of the Looney Tunes cartoons, Bosko. This movie, Bosko's Holiday (1931), was the first to feature Bosko's name in the title and all the following (with the exception of The Tree's Knee's (1931)), all the Looney Tunes starring Bosko would follow suit. Watching this movie, you will probably feel that it more closely resembles an early Disney cartoon than a later Looney Tune and that was true of all the Warner Brothers cartoons of this era. In his landmark book Of Mice and Magic: A History of the American Animated Cartoon, film historian Leonard Maltin quotes animator Jack Zander, "We were doing something and Hugh Harman [who co-directed the early Warner Brothers cartoons with Rudolf Ising] said 'You remember that scene in the Disney picture where Mickey Mouse did do-and-so?' I said 'You want me to do almost the same thing?' and he said 'No I want you to do exactly the same thing.'" 

Motion Picture Herald 1931

Now comes a Terrytoon starring everybody's favorite Dinky Duck, Dinky Finds a Home (1946). A review in Showman's Trade Review referred to this cartoon as "a nice Technicolor subject and especially good for the children." Despite Dinky being a boy a review in Motion Picture Daily refers to Dinky as female stating, "The little black duckling and her adventures in a hen house provide the plot for this Terrytoon." Reviews in Showman's Trade Review and Motion Picture Herald got Dinky's gender right however. 

Motion Picture Herald, 1933

Up next comes The Pink Panther in Pink-A-Rella (1969).  This is one of my favorite Pink Panther cartoons. 

Up next is the first Mickey Mouse cartoon made, Plane Crazy (1928). This was back in the days when Mickey was still a simple country mouse who went around barefoot and didn't wear gloves. These early Mickey cartoons have a genuine rural feel to them (partly because Walt always considered himself a farm boy at heart) that I personally find irresistible and definitely prefer over the later and bland suburban settings featured in his later cartoons. In this movie Mickey dreams of being a pilot and makes himself a homemade plane that would make the Our Gang kids jealous. This is because aviation was a popular topic around this time due to the fame of Charles Lindbergh (briefly caricatured in this movie) after his New York to Paris flight of 1927. Walt had already had his earlier star, Oswald the Lucky Rabbit in an aviation themed cartoon with The Ocean Hop (1927). This cartoon began production in March, 1928. The production of this cartoon was done in secret due to the fact that Walt was still under contract to make Oswald cartoons for Universal. Animator Ub Iwerks (who animated the film by himself) was separated from the artists working on the Oswald shorts so that he could not be seen by them. Hugh Harman later described this saying, "They curtained off part of the studio with a great black drop, black skirm of some kind, so that I and a few others who were leaving couldn't see the great secret that was going on." Ub Iwerks was one of the fastest animators of the time and finished this cartoon in only a matter of weeks. It has been said that he made as many as 700 drawings in one day. This movie was originally made as a silent film, yet you will notice the opening title card says "Sound Cartoon." The reason for this is that after the success of Steamboat Willie (1928) with sound, a soundtrack was added to this cartoon. 

The Film Daily, 1929

Before Pluto received his own cartoon series he made a couple short films without Mickey that were released as Silly Symphonies. These were Just Dogs (1932) and Mother Pluto (1936). Up next is the first of these, Just Dogs. In this movie, the animation of Pluto is mostly split between two animators, Norm Ferguson and Tom Palmer. However Les Clark animates a brief scene were Pluto and the little pup hide in a barrel and Dick Lundy animates them digging up the bone. The pup Pluto costars with did not appear in any other animated cartoons, but Floyd Gottfredson would use him in the Mickey Mouse newspaper comic strip. A song used early on in this movie is Guy Massey's The Prisoners' Song. This song was prominently used in the Mickey Mouse cartoon, The Chain Gang (1930), which many people believe is the first appearance of Pluto. A review in Motion Picture Reviews stated, "Amusing for Children but not up to the usual Disney standard." A review in The Film Daily disagreed stating, "Right up to the standard of the Walt Disney shops [sic]" The following are two exhibitor's reviews from The Motion Picture Herald, "JUST DOGS: Silly Symphony—This is a fairly s:ood cartoon comedy but still no better than some of the others. United Artists should produce better cartoons or cut the price of these cartoons. Here's hoping to get better cartoons in the future from United Artists. Running time 9 minutes. -J.J. Medford, Orpheum Theatre, N.C. General Patronage." " JUST DOGS: Silly Symphony—Didn't think that this was any too good. - Mayme P. Musselman, Princess Theatre, Lincoln, Kansas, Small Town Patronage." Working titles for this movie were The Dog Pound and The Dog Symphony

Thanks for joining me come back next week for more animated treasures. Until then may all your tunes be looney and your melodies merry. 

Resources Used

Walt Disney's Mickey Mouse: The Ultimate History by J.B. Kaufman and David Gerstein 
Walt Disney's Silly Symphonies: A Companion to the Classic Cartoon Series by Russell Merritt and J.B. Kaufman
Of Mice and Magic: A History of the American Animated Cartoon by Leonard Maltin
Hollywood Cartoons: American Animation in its Golden Age by Michael Barrier



Friday, May 14, 2021

Mickey Mouse: The TV Star

 The following is a page from a 1957 issue of Radio TV Mirror advertising The Mickey Mouse Club. If you have trouble reading it click on it and use your touch screen to zoom in. If that doesn't work click here

Wednesday, May 12, 2021

Movie Review: The Water Man


Michael's Movie Grade: A-

A top notch family movie in every way. 

One of the most amazing things about this movie is how well it ties together fantasy and real life. The story involves a young boy (Lonnie Chavis) whose mother (Rosario Dawson) has leukemia. When he learns a folktale involving a man who has discovered the secret to immortality, he sets out to search for him to heal his mom. This film's since of real life drama keeps what is very much a fantasy movie into something that feels real and relatable. The character's basic incentive is one that all of us can relate to. Many of us have seen love ones in spots where we knew they might not make it out of. How many of us if we believed it could heal that person would go on a dangerous journey to save them? Also heightening the drama is the boy's relationship with his father (David Oyelowo (This was also his directorial debut)). His father is a Marnie, who is often away from home. While the two clearly love each other, they have no idea how to connect to the other. This is a situation not to often handled in family movies like this, but one that certainly leaves an emotion impact. Along his journey he strikes a friendship with a girl named Jo (Amiah Miller). This friendship is also very well done, as Jo evolves from using the kid to truly caring about him. This is never done in a forced or cloying way but in a way that seems completely believable. Most of all though when it comes to the emotional center of the film, the movie never talks down to its audience and treats the kids in the audience like grownups, while making the grown ups forget that they are not the only audience.  The fantasy elements themselves are fantastic. The woods are incredibly atmospheric. They are equal parts creepy (without ever being too scary for a young audience) and completely magical. Scenes like the snow falling in the middle of the forest will stay in one's mind long after the movie is finished. This fantasy world becomes just as real and believable to us as the scenes dealing with real life problems and relationships. 

It has been said that some movies work on two levels, one for the adults and one for the kids. This film does much better than that. This movie is so smart, mature and direct that it appeals to adults and kids on the same deep level. Simply put this is a must see.

Video: TCM Remembers Norman Lloyd (1914–2021)

Sunday, May 9, 2021

Cowboy Church #118

 Hello my friends and welcome back for another service of Cowboy Church.

Since it is Mother's Day today's musical selection begins with George Jones singing She Loved a Lot in Her Time. This song comes from George's 1991 album, Along Came Jones. This is followed by Skeeter Davis singing Oh Come Angel Band. This hymn was written in 1860 by Jefferson Hascall. This version comes from Skeeter's 1967 gospel album, Hand in Hand With Jesus. Up next is Southern Raised with Blessed Assurance. This hymn was born when Fanny Crosby visited Phoebe Palmer Knapp. Phoebe played Fanny a piece of music she had been working on. When Pheobe asked Fanny what she thought, Fanny replied,  Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine. Fanny then continued with more of the hymn's lyrics. Pheobe wrote these words and down and fit them to the tune, creating the song we know today. The hymn was first published in 1873 for Palmer’s Guide to Holiness and Revival Miscellany. Next comes Roy Rogers, Dale Evans and their children singing Watch What You Do. This recording comes from Roy and Dale's 1959 gospel album, Jesus Loves Me. Next comes Alan Jackson with Leaning on the Everlasting Arms. This hymn began creation with a man named Anthony Showalter. As a fan of gospel music and an elder in a Presbyterian church, he held many "singing schools" at various churches in the south. One day he received two letters from former students who were struggling after their wives had passed. To respond to these letters, Showalter consulted scripture. He came across Deuteronomy 33:27, "The eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms." After reading this verse lyrics for a song chorus went through his head and he wrote down, "“Leaning, leaning, safe and secure from all alarms; Leaning, leaning, leaning on the everlasting arms.” After using this in the letters to his former students he sent this chorus to his friend hymnist, Elisha Hoffman. In the letter he also wrote, “Here is the chorus for a good hymn from Deuteronomy 33:27, but I can’t come up with the verses.” Hoffman then wrote the rest of the lyrics to which Showalter put to music. The hymn was published in 1887. Next is The Sons of the Pioneers with their 1937 recording of Power in the Blood. This hymn was written Lewis Edgar Jones in 1889 while at a camp meeting at Mountain Lake Park, Maryland. It was first published in Songs of Praise and Victory the same year and Gospel Praises. Though he had written well over 100 hymns to his name (including I’ve An­chored in Je­sus and We Shall See the King Some Day), this remains his most popular hymn. The lead singer is a young man named Leonard Slye, who would later change his name to Roy Rogers and have a major solo career. We continue with Connie Smith singing Gathering Flowers For the Master's Bouquet. This comes from her 1969 album, Connie's Country. Today's musical selection closes with Maddox Brothers and Rose with their 1949 recording of What a Friend We Have in Jesus. This hymn was written by Joseph Medlicott Scriven. However it did not appear in his published collection of self-written hymns. It is not known why this is, but many guess that it is because it was a personal poem to his mother when she was very sick. While this has not been proven, it seems very likely. Biographer James Cleland stated that perhaps the hymn reached the public through his mother. The hymn was first published (anonymously) in 1865's Social Hymns, Original and Selected.

Psalm 91

1Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High
    will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.[a]
2 I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress,
    my God, in whom I trust.”

3 Surely he will save you
    from the fowler’s snare
    and from the deadly pestilence.
4 He will cover you with his feathers,
    and under his wings you will find refuge;
    his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.
5 You will not fear the terror of night,
    nor the arrow that flies by day,
6 nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness,
    nor the plague that destroys at midday.
7 A thousand may fall at your side,
    ten thousand at your right hand,
    but it will not come near you.
8 You will only observe with your eyes
    and see the punishment of the wicked.

9 If you say, “The Lord is my refuge,”
    and you make the Most High your dwelling,
10 no harm will overtake you,
    no disaster will come near your tent.
11 For he will command his angels concerning you
    to guard you in all your ways;
12 they will lift you up in their hands,
    so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.
13 You will tread on the lion and the cobra;
    you will trample the great lion and the serpent.

14 “Because he loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him;
    I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.
15 He will call on me, and I will answer him;
    I will be with him in trouble,
    I will deliver him and honor him.
16 With long life I will satisfy him
    and show him my salvation.”

And Jesus came and said to them, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age." Matthew 28:18-20

Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." John 14:6

For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 6:23

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28

But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose coming forth is from of old, from ancient days. Micah 5:2

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction. Proverbs 1:7

The wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the young goat, and the calf and the lion and the fattened calf together; and a little child shall lead them. Isaiah 11:6

  if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land. 2 Chronicles 7:14

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. Romans 1:16

There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. Galatians 3:28

Thanks for joining me come back next week for another service of Cowboy Church. Happy trails to you until we meet again.