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May 27: Happy Birthday Paul Bettany and Louis Gossett, Jr.


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Paul Bettany celebrates his 46th today.  He made his acting in a London revival of J. B. Priestley’s play An Inspector Calls (directed by Stephen Daldry), and began working in British cinema in the late 1990s.  In 2000 he received his first starring role, in Gangster No. 1, and then made his first Hollywood features, playing Geoffrey Chaucer in A Knight’s Tale and Charles Herman in A Beautiful Mind.  During the filming of the latter, he met his wife-to-be, Jennifer Connelly.  Two years later he starred as Dr. Stephen Maturin in Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World, receiving a BAFTA Award nomination.

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Spring Break at Walt Disney World: Four Parks One Day! – Daffy Does Disney


I began the last full parks day of my vacation with the plan to hit the Magic Kingdom early, have my lunch there at Skipper Canteen, and then hop over to Hollywood Studios later in the day. That was the idea. But with the new Express Transportation service paid for and sitting there on my MagicBand, a more ambitious (and admittedly somewhat slapdash) plan popped to mind. The concept of hitting all four of the major Disney World parks in a single day is not a new one. But it occurred to me that with this new service it had become much easier to accomplish. Almost laughably so. So what the heck? Why shouldn’t I have this particular meaningless feather in my cap? Why not come along for the ride?

May 26: Happy Birthday Miles Davis and John Wayne


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We have a pair of legends as headliners today, each pictured with his “instrument” of choice.

Miles Davis (1926-1991), one of the most influential figures in the history of jazz, began taking trumpet lessons at the age of 12.  He started at Juilliard in 1944 but soon dropped out to perform full time, playing with Charlie Parker among others.  By the late forties he was leading his own bands and issuing regular recordings on the Prestige label.  In 1955 a young saxophonist by the name of John Coltrane began playing with Davis; they collaborated for several years before Coltrane emerged as a leader himself.

In 1957, two of Davis’s most innovative and influential albums came out.  Capitol released Birth of the Cool, a set of sessions that had been recorded several years before, which contains exactly what the title promises—some of the tracks which define the sound called “cool” jazz.  The same year brought Davis’s first of many great albums with Columbia, ‘Round about Midnight, which exemplifies the “hard bop” style of jazz.

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Worst to First: Ranking the Pirates of the Caribbean Movies


Fans of the Pirates of the Caribbean rides at Disney theme parks have always known that dead men tell no tales.  Amazingly Disney managed to release four Pirates movies without using the memorable catch-phrase as a subtitle.  Today sees the release of the fifth and supposedly final entry in the Pirates franchise.  So it seems like as good of a time as any to rank the Pirates of the Caribbean movies from Worst to First.

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May 25: Happy Birthday Cillian Murphy and Ian McKellen


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Irish actor Cillian Murphy, who celebrates his 41st today, made his debut with the Corcadorca Theatre Company in Cork, Ireland, his hometown.  He began appearing in independent Irish and English films in the late nineties and first became well known for his role in Danny Boyle’s 28 Days Later.  In 2005 he had his first major Hollywood roles, in Wes Craven’s Red Eye, and as the Scarecrow in Batman Begins.  But he continued to work in English and Irish cinema as well, starring a year later in Ken Loach’s drama of the Irish troubles, The Wind That Shakes the Barley.

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Why’d it Hit? Boss Baby


For a new section, I’m going to do the opposite of Why’d it Bomb? and look at movies that did much better at the box office than most people expected. I don’t think I’ll crank out as much of these as I do with Why’d it Bomb‘s, because I think most movies that were hits were movies people expected to do well, but I’ll definitely write a few of these.

A few years ago, Dreamworks was in a rut. Their movies, for the most part, were getting good reviews but most of them were flopping at the box office. Lately, though, their fortunes have been reversed and their movies have been doing better as of late. Two of these movies were Trolls and Boss Baby, both of which also looked awful and I have no interest in seeing either.

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Spring Break at Walt Disney World: Chowing Down in Adventureland! – Daffy Does Disney


Don’t let my initial peevishness this time around make you think I’m not having a great time. In fact, few things in life fill me with greater satisfaction than being a critical know-it-all. So sit back and watch me indulge in one of my very favorite activities…and then watch me hang out at Walt Disney World!

May 24: Happy Birthday Bob Dylan and Kristin Scott Thomas


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We have had a number of Nobel Prize winners mentioned in the birthday articles (as recently as yesterday), but this is the first time we have had a Nobel Laureate as the headliner.

Bob Dylan is 76 today.  The legendary singer-songwriter dropped out of the University of Minnesota at 19, moving to New York, where he visited the institutionalized Woody Guthrie and began to make a name for himself in the Greenwich Village folk music scene, eventually signing a recording contract with Columbia.  Although his debut album sold poorly, Johnny Cash, then one of Columbia’s biggest stars, helped persuade the label to stick with Dylan.  By the time Dylan’s third album came out in 1964, he was one of the stars of the folk movement, who had composed more than one of the anthems beloved of activists both then and now.

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Morgan Freeman: The Latecomer


I remember watching Morgan Freeman as Easy Reader on The Electric Company as a kid.  Like most people, I had no idea who he was.  Freeman spent decades trying to make a name for himself as an actor.  His efforts finally paid off in 1987 with the one-two punch of Street Smarts and the stage version of Driving Miss Daisy.  For the next decade, Freeman slowly built up his resume until he became Hollywood’s go-to guy for mentor characters.  In this interview from the May 1997 issue of Movieline magazine, Freeman describes his struggles and the attitude that got him through the lean years.

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May 23: Happy Birthday Joan Collins and Douglas Fairbanks


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Dame Joan Collins is turning 84 today.  She began acting in film in her late teens, appearing in a number of English films before Howard Hawks brought her to Hollywood to star in Land of the Pharaohs.  She kept busy for the next seven years or so, appearing in films such as Seven Thieves and the last of the Hope/Crosby “Road” pictures, The Road to Hong Kong.  After taking a few years off in the early sixties, she began working regularly on television, making a memorable guest appearance on Star Trek as Edith Keeler in the episode “City on the Edge of Forever.”

In the late seventies, Collins film roles included starring as Fontaine Khaled in two adaptations of novels written by her younger sister, novelist Jackie Collins.  While the films were critically panned, they were commercially successful and brought her to the attention of Richard and Esther Shapiro, who were creating a prime-time soap opera that gave Collins her most famous role.  She was a six-time Golden Globe nominee, winning once, in the role of Alexis Carrington on Dynasty.

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Why’d it bomb? Ted 2


Ted (2012) was a surprising success at the box office, grossing over $200 million dollars in America alone! While Ted 2 didn’t exactly bomb, it failed to make quite as much as its predecessor. In fact, it made $216 million worldwide while the original made $218 million domestically. What happened?

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Spring Break at Walt Disney World: Good Morning Magic Kingdom! – Daffy Does Disney


With my last full day in the parks in front of me, I intend to take full advantage of the resources available to me, including the early morning extra magic hours at the Magic Kingdom. My misunderstanding of how the new morning entry protocol works yet again puts me there a little on the early side – and with an empty stomach. Oops. But, of course, once the morning gets rolling all of that gets left behind in great theme park fun!

Twin Peaks: The Return – Parts 1 and 2


Twin Peaks is back.  The show’s opening moments remind us how long we have been waiting.  In a clip from the final episode from its original run, Laura Palmer tells Special Agent Dale Cooper that she will see him again in twenty-five years.  It’s actually been twenty-six years for us, but who’s counting?  We had Fire Walk With Me to tide us over.  That conversation took place in the mysterious Black Lodge where Agent Cooper still resides.

Flashbacks remind viewers of the show’s infamous second season cliffhanger in which our hero was trapped in the Lodge while his evil Doppelganger took his place in the real world.  I wondered if Lynch and company might sidestep this dangling plot thread but the new episodes offer no easy solution.  Coop is still trapped and his Doppelganger is a terror that needs to be stopped.  This is the story I have waited a quarter century to see completed and Twin Peaks didn’t disappoint.

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