E.T. Turns 40!

Forty years ago on this date, “E.T. The Extra Terrestrial” debuted as the final film at the Cannes Film Festival. After its finale concluded, the audience rose to its feet in a lengthy standing ovation. It would not debut in the United States until June 11, 1982, to rave critical reviews and enormous popular success.

The film was both a thrilling sci-fi adventure and an enchanting, loving story of the magic of childhood. Its terrific cast, iconic images, famous lines, and spectacular Oscar-winning, Grammy-winning John Williams-penned score [YouTube link] were key ingredients in its status as one of Steven Spielberg’s landmark films.

It even spawned a Grammy-winning album [YouTube link], released on November 15, 1982, narrated by Michael Jackson, who, 15 days later, would release a little gem of his own called “Thriller”.

I saw this film when it came out in the summer of ’82 and would see it again many times in the years thereafter, including a staging of it on the big screen at Lincoln Center, with the New York Philharmonic providing the score in live accompaniment. That May 2017 cinematic screening was one of the most moving and overpowering experiences of my life. (Folks can check out a Hollywood Bowl screening of it on YouTube.) The film remains one of my all-time favorites. Check out an edited version of the rousing finale below.

Robb Elementary School Shooting

This is not a post about the culture of violence that has been embedded in this country for eons. This is not a post about the effectiveness or ineffectiveness of gun control or the societal crisis in mental health. It is simply to acknowledge the horrifying and tragic murders of 19 children and 2 teachers at the Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas.

My heart goes out to all of those who have lost loved ones and all of those who continue to be affected by the madness of violence.

RIP

“Better Call Saul” Mid-Season Finale – Wow!

NO SPOILERS HERE!!! But just got finished with the mid-season finale of “Better Call Saul” (which started up its sixth and final season on April 18).

Whew! Shocking.

That’s all I’ll say. Can’t wait till July 11, when AMC begins the final six episodes of the show.

Ed Younkins is Savvy

My dear friend Ed Younkins (with whom I coedited, with Roger Bissell, The Dialectics of Liberty: Exploring the Context of Human Freedom) has published an essay in The Savvy Street that explores “New Perspectives on Ayn Rand’s Ideas“. Ed writes:

I believe the key is that the concern of every individual should be with truth as an integrated whole. When constructing one’s own worldview or conceptual framework, it is legitimate to take a selective approach with respect to existing philosophical positions because consistency with reality is all that really matters. It is thus appropriate for a person to extract what is true and good from the writings of Ayn Rand and others and to use those components as a basis for a better interpretation that allows for a superior understanding of what would constitute a morally right socioeconomic system. By integrating, modifying, and synthesizing ideas of others with one’s own ideas, it is possible to get closer to a comprehensive, logically consistent view of the world and a foundation and justification for a free society. Eschewing labels, each person has the ability to select the best ideas from a variety of sources, adapt them to his own purpose, and add his own views and integrate them to serve his own ends. The key is to use one’s own independent rational judgement. I have used this approach in some of my articles.

Our mutual friend and coeditor, Roger Bissell, provided some terrific additional commentary on Facebook here and here, which I reproduce below:

Some of us are old enough to remember that 7up used to be called “the uncola.” Chris himself has a long-running internet presence he styles in delightfully quasi-Hegelian fashion as “Notablog: The Blog of Chris Matthew Sciabarra.” For my part, I have received so many letters and emails addressing me as Dr. Bissell (I am master of one trade, doctor of none) that I sometimes refer to myself as “the undoctor.”Some may see this all as painfully negative and a sign of the “nihilism” of our times. But I can’t help noting that many of these are the same people who insist on defining logic as “the art of non-contradictory identification.” LOL. …

Five words: “The Divine Right of Stagnation.” This syndrome, so tellingly depicted in “Atlas Shrugged” and discussed in the essay of the same name in “The Virtue of Selfishness,” is a virus that has devastated the Objectivist movement since the very founding of the Ayn Rand Institute. You can rail against Open Objectivism and defriend people who push for research and development and expansion of Objectivism all you want, but all you do is betray that you, too, have fallen prey to the wasting, withering malady best encapsulated by James Taggart’s soliloquy about feeling threatened by new ideas and the lurid outburst “We’ve got to make those bastards stand still.”

To those who protest the idea of new, post-Rand Objectivism, I will remind readers that in her final years, Rand publicly acknowledged that Objectivism was incomplete and had gaps and that they would be worked on in the future and NOT by her. So, by whom? Only the anointed and officially approved? That, I think, is what it will ultimately amount to. Even now, we have already seen hints that Peikoff’s (and others’) writings will *eventually* be endorsed as “official Objectivism.” Will the defrienders and purists rail against this, too? Perhaps—but ultimately, who cares? And guess what? In the meantime, the “bastards”—whatever we decide to call ourselves—are NOT going to stand still.

Here, here, Roger!

Gracie’s Ghosts

There’s a real ghostly mystery developing around the residence of the Mayor of the City of New York. As if the presence of the last mayoral inhabitant of Gracie Mansion wasn’t enough to scare the bejesus out of anyone, it appears that the current resident attests that there is an other-wordly presence in the house.

During the May 10th broadcast of the NY Yankees game, Mayor Eric Adams told Michael Kay that he wasn’t too thrilled about his new digs.

“I don’t care what anyone says, there are ghosts in there, man,” Adams said. Some have claimed that it’s the ghost of the daughter of original owner Archibald Gracie, who built the country home in 1799. The mansion was later incorporated by the city, briefly used as the Museum of the City of New York and became the official mayoral residence in 1942.

But Adams attests that he sees stuff moving “all the time, man, all the time! They’re creeping around.”

I’m hoping that some of these entities might join the Mayor’s cabinet, say “Boo” — and scare away all of the city’s problems!

Baby Giraffe Gets Braces!

This is just sweet …

Wikipedia Adds New Profile Pic!

Yay! I’m very happy to report that The Mystery Photographer who took this pic of me with the Parachute Jump in Coney Island, Brooklyn as backdrop finally got clearance (since said photographer apparently held the copyright) to post this updated photo of me on my Wikipedia Profile Page, over which I have no control. I didn’t even write it!

Anyway… thanks Mystery Photographer! Much appreciated!

Song of the Day #1946

Song of the Day: Friday the 13th (“The Bed Axe”) [YouTube link], composed by Henry Manfredini, is featured in the 1980 slasher film, which went on to spawn a huge multimedia franchise. I’m not particularly superstitious—but I do have to say that I closed not one, but two (!) different book deals on a Friday the 13th! So that sounds like good luck to me! Now “Bring me the Axe!” [YouTube link].

Song of the Day #1945

Song of the Day: Georgy Porgy, words and music by David Paich, appeared on the 1978 self-titled debut album of the band Toto. Having just heard this song during Episode 5, Season 6 (“Black and Blue“) of the fabulous “Better Call Saul,” I was reminded of how much I loved its groove, especially with those backing vocals by R&B singer, Cheryl Lynn. Check out the original version (below), the “Disco Purrfection” version, and a rendition by Eric Benet with Faith Evans [YouTube links].

Song of the Day #1944

Song of the Day: Eye in the Sky, words and music by Alan Parsons and Eric Wolfson, was the most successful release by the rock band The Alan Parsons Project. The title track to their 1982 album has become a staple on rock and soft rock stations, and in its album version, it is preceded by an instrumental piece entitled “Sirius“, included here [YouTube link].