I can recall several Super Bowl commercials, because they didn’t work, or strained for effect, or seemed to be aimed at someone other than the viewers of the Super Bowl. I mean, I don’t think they sold a hell of a lot of Pop Tarts.

The “new luxury” one was labored and seemed to rely on everyone thinking Christi Teagan is Awesome Because Reasons. The Tide guy wandering into other ads was a clever ongoing series, ergo I must now buy Tide! Never heard it before this, but it certainly made an impression! It’s cool that women can be astronauts AND moisturize properly. Also I can’t wait to visit that winona.com website. That’s what the ad was about, right?

Kidding, playing the person who likes to micturate in everyone’s corn flakes - it was Squarespace. And while I certainly knew about Tide before, I now have an emanation of a penumbra of good will around the brand that did not exist yesterday, so mission accomplshed!

Of course everyone wanted the Jeep Groundhog Day ad to go on, and on, for another hour, right? But it was just right - if ever a movie was sequel-proof, it was Groundhog Day. Although now they would try. Now there would be a Groundhog Cinematic Universe. There would be two movies and then they would reboot it with a female lead, then there would be a TV series on a streaming network, and it would all be leading up to the moment when the main character runs through the town, past Bill Murray (youthified by CGI) and that would be the crossover moment everyone was waiting for.

But in this universe the movie was self-contained and that was that, and no one felt cheated.

I did enjoy the game, even if I watched it on my computer. There’s something comforting about it being Sunday night, watching the last game, and it’s good


Backstage at Orchestra Hall.


Another lazy afternoon in my dressing room, waiting to go on to introduce the next orchestra. The second concert of the season is always the longest. Gorgeous warm day outside; bright sun, blue skies, a perfect intro to February - and here we are inside getting our cul-chah. Dvorak playing now, the eighth - first and 4th movement, because there are five groups playing today.

This is my 23rd season here, I think. Never thought this would end up being a gig this long. I’ve been blessed in the longevity of things - marriage, job, house, and, er, my gig as the guy who will do this three times a year without pay. It would be absurd to ask for money and it’s never come up. This is an honor.

I was talking to a parent about his kid, who plays the oboe in Repertory orchestra, and asked if he had started out in the String orchestra, then immediately was reminded that the answer would be no, since it is a string orchestra, and I realized that was probably the stupidest thing I would say all day. It’s rare you realize that. Usually you have no idea.

Okay, time to announce the intermission, then go outside for a cigar and baste for a while in the rays.


The sun had gone behind a church, but one sliver of light fell upon the sidewalk (note: when attempting to write poetically, because you are young, ephemeral things fall upon, not on) and I enjoyed it for a moment until a bus came along eclipsed it. But the sky was blue, and the city - my city, unto the end - was gorgeous.


I keep remembering the first times I did this, and was absolutely terrified. It’s Orchestra Hall, after all. Don’t know when I decided to go off script and improv or add a light note to event, but these days I figure, what’s the worst that can happen? They don’t laugh. So here’s the plan for the next bit: Manny, the conductor the Symphony Orchestra, just gave a great primer on the Viennese style in music, why it sounds as it does. He would have the orchestra play a passage in a pedestrian, uninflected style, and then would play it Viennese style.

So I’m going to go out, read the first sentence of my next bit, pause, and then say “I’m now going to read this in the Viennese style” and do an exaggerated German accent.

We could really be talking lead balloon time here, but what the hey.

LATER I got applause! For a joke!

What a fun way to spend a Sunday afternoon.




It's the second installment in our year-long exploration of America's Sweetheart, played by Ann Sheridan.

Previously, she’d been on a ranch in the . . . southwest? So this is a natural sequel:

You can tell straight off this is going to be a non-stop wince-fest.


We go to deepest . . . there


I can't find any such place. There was, of course, West Africa, as a term used to describe British colonies. Wikipedia's entry was written by a chap from the Home Office, it seems:

British West Africa's development was solely based on modernization, and autonomous educational systems were the first step to modernising indigenous culture. Cultures and interests of indigenous peoples were ignored. A new social order, as well as European influences within schools and local traditions, helped mould British West Africa's culture. Significant was the British West African colonial school curriculum. Local elites developed, with new values and philosophies, who changed the overall cultural development.[citation needed]

Well, it doesn't really matter, since we go straight to the backlot.


It’s a damned white place, and abounds with the usual expats in traditional cliched white garb:


They’re looking for a blonde with a suitcase. You’d think she’d stand out. But we know it’s our wacky fun-loving Maisie, ready for adventure and romance!

We immediately meet a rubber planter named Michael Shayne, who is not the Lloyd Nolan detective, but a man unaware of how poorly his facial hair will date, and how soon:


. . . and he’s brusque and mean to everyone - thereby suggesting he’s going to step into the shoes of Robert Young, who played the He-Man Woman Hater in the last one.

Why, look who’s stowed away in the bunk of a steamer going up the river!


She’s really dressed for the Congo, isn't she.

She’s headed for Lagos. She has a job waiting in Lagos.

You know, I think this worked with a small town in the southwest, but Lagos is a bit of a stretch.

The He-Man Woman-Hater is making eyes at another man’s wife, and the dialogue is not something you would hear in a movie today. To say the least.

I think you can glean the target market from that exchange, no?

This is about half-way through the movie, and by now the comedic tone of the opening reels have dissipated. Same as the other Maisie movie: we start funny, Maisie wisecracks, and then bad things start to happen. In this case, one of the planters, stuck in Deepest Africa, gets appendicitis, and the bad-mood Mr. Shayne refuses to be bad-mood Dr. Shayne, which he is.

Maisie does what Maisie does:

Duly chastened, he heals the sick man. Unfortunately for the planters, the natives are even more restless than usual.

The He-Man Rubber Planter is trying to tell the crowd that the Witch Doctors are misleading them, but they’re about to kill him. The sensible thing to do would be to challenge the Witch Doctor to a battle of strength, and plug him, but in the nick of time Maisie decides to do her nightclub act.

She does magic tricks while singing Porgy and Bess, and enchants them all.

She terrifies them all:


It is a complete nightmare, this one, and it should have killed the franchise in its tracks. But times were different, standards for the B-features were different, and it was unwise to underestimate Maisie's appeal, as well as judge from our distance the strange shift from lightweight comedy to depressing interpersonal drama

The next one's a real piece of work, believe me.

That'll do; see you around.



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