Sunday, January 27, 2013

The Bird Watcher Takes Flight....

Let the record show that one weekends, when he could get away from his family, my honorable father would tip toe into his room and using a pair of binoculars (this a man who'd be half blind from the age of twenty three) would bird watch for hours on end. He knew nothing about ornithology, he simply found the birds that loafed in our back yard droll and interesting. There may have been something of the "consider the lillies" variety going on, who can say, The Old Boy declined to discuss his hobby with the family. When you are Francis L. Galligan Sr, you have endured much and must therefore find grace wherever it may be found. Because if there was a man in this life who suffered, it was my father. He survived being orphaned, The Battle of the Bulge (St. Vith, the 168th Combat Engineers, his first Purple Heart), the Crossing of the Rhine (second Purple Heart wherein he stopped a shell with his head and lived). He endured forty separate plastic surgical procedure six years of hospitalization, a shoulder separation, partial loss of eyesight & hearing, a round of sepsis and a ruptured ulcer that damn near killed him right before my eyes in 1966. In later years there was anemia, vertigo, skin cancer, a prostate problem, eyesight issues, a god-awful stomach hernia, pesky digestive issues, UTIs dementia (induced by "blunt force impact trauma") and a fractured hip. And at long last, eight days ago, at the age of ninety one, the flu and pneumonia fetched Him off to that final muster, the one place I may no longer stand the honorable watch over him. He finally died for his country, it just took him sixty plus years, ah but that was my Old Man, he always took his time with the Big Challenges. And never once in all that time and in all that pain and suffering did I ever hear him express so much as an iota of self pity, he treated his problems with amused contempt and soon enough his problems learned to fear him. That is the secret of being an old disabled veteran, laugh and make witticisms, it scares Inscrutable Fate shitless. And oh how my father liked to laugh and crack jokes, a mere month ago up at the VA Hospital that was tasked with his care these last three years my mother asked my wheelchair bound father if he needed to use the bathroom in an unctuous syrupy tone. My Father templed his fingers with academic hauteur and muttered "That is an awful personal question dear don't you think..?" The man could have taught timing and dry wit to "Bert and I". Along the way he collected some titles: "All Highest, Son of Destiny, Supreme Leader, Boss of Bosses and King of Heroes", only about half of them were in fact tinged with irony. My boisterous uncles all dummied up when he sat down at the holiday feast, at Robbins Farm in Arlington dogs would cease barking & seek him out for vigorous petting and he could use the word "nomenclature" in a sentence correctly and despite the eye patch he taught me how to drive (wanna learn to drive the Right Way? Get a one-eyed man to teach you). The whole cult of "The Greatest Generation" left him cold "everyone has challenges" Father once muttered in response to it all. He was mild, gentle, peaceful, people looked out for him instinctively, he was patient and kind with one and all. What an Honor to be his son. But alas it is required of old men, that they die, it is a miracle he lived so long, truly if ever a man overthrew destiny, it was Francis Leo Galligan Senior, Last of the Stoics my departed Father. Take Care Boss, you are making a sentimental wreck of me at age fifty.

Wednesday, January 02, 2013

My Top Ten Movies of 2012

(Frankly I am still shocked that I saw enough movies in 2013 to fill up a Top Ten List...Way to go complicated private life!) 1.) Coriolanus Directed by and starring Ralph Fiennes. Ralph will always get props from me for adapting a Shakespeare play for the screen that the late Orson Welles insisted was "Shakespeare's worst play for film treatment". And moreover, he got Gerard Butler out of the action movie ghetto and into a serious part, what more can we ask of any Shakespeare movie? 2.) The Avengers. Stan Lee is a credit stealing hack who loves money the way a hog loves slop. Just needed to establish that...because Joss Whedon did indeed take Stan Lee's superhero franchise and did something seemingly impossible, he pulled off a great multiple super hero team up. That and he got Mark Ruffalo off the rom com circuit...hell Ruffalo is best Incredible Hulk since....Bill Bixby. For better or worse this is will be the Gold Standard Superhero movie they will all be riffing off of for the next twenty years. Remember this when it comes time for Superman and Batman to team up in the movies. 3.) The Dictator Normally I can't stand Sacha Ben Cohen's act, mostly because it is predicated on persecuting the unsuspecting in comical ways...but give him a script and a character to play lo Cohen can really step up. Kudos to his sentimentally unsentimental ending as well. 4.) Moonrise Kingdom Best movie I saw all year hands down, Wes Anderson is a genius, Harvey Keitel in a Boy Scout Uniform and a walrus moustache is worth the price of admission alone. 5.) Hit and Run There are some old genres I will always linger over, we thought the car-chase movie had gone the way of Burt Reynolds' hairline...but no thank Ghod Dax Sheperd and Kristen Bell and co-director David Palmer believed enough in this project loopy gearheadeness and all to invest their own money!. And anyway, one willing to drag Tom Arnold out of obscurity and dress him up as a gay US Marshal is ace's high in my books! 6.) Bachelorette Y'know, Kirsten Dunst is funny because she realizes when she has to throw her beauty and poise onto the comic bonfire. The rest of the cast, Isla Fisher, Rebel Wilson, Lizzy Caplan have to squeak thru by being merely excellent in every way. Besides we are long past due for a purely distaff response to the berserker antics of Seth Rogen and Jonah Hill...and these ladies threw down with aplomb. 7.) Seven Psychopaths Another scene stealing triumph from Woody Harrelson who shines here in every way when he isn't being upstaged of course by Christopher Walken. Yeah I know Colin Farrell is in this thing somewheres as well. 8.) The Queen of Versailles Cautionary tale on what happens when David Siegel a real estate mogul and GOP fundraiser builds a bloated super mansion to dwarf Hearst's own ode to Gigantism, San Simeon, only to have the economy crash as the tile is being laid...How will his willfully optimistic trophy wife Jacqueline ever adapt? I could be a Chevy Chase comedy or a bad sitcom starring Mark Harmon, but no...did I mention this is a documentary? 9.) Flight Denzel Washington has been in some bad movies, but he rarely if every turns in a bad performance. So it's all the more pleasurable when he gets a script worthy of his talents. 10.) Lincoln I was skeptical of Daniel Day Lewis as the Great Emancipator, but this guy IS LINCOLN...the midwestern drawl, the clumsy grace the weird charisma of the man and even the tendency towards prolonged anecdote it is all there in once package. This is another film that'll be the measure of future Lincoln based projects going forward.