The movie Casablanca premiered in New York City 79 years ago today, in 1942. The film starred Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman, with notable support by Claude Rains and Paul Henreid. It’s the story of a cynical American expat, Rick Blaine, who runs a bar in Morocco’s largest city during World War II. He’s unexpectedly reunited with his former love, Ilsa, who is now married to a leader of the French Resistance. By the end of the movie, Rick finds he still has a selfless heart under his bitter exterior. The movie was originally intended for release in January 1943, and that is when it came out in the rest of the country, but the producers moved up the New York premiere to take advantage of the free publicity surrounding the landing of Allied forces in North Africa.
The film was based on an unproduced play called Everybody Comes to Rick’s, by Murray Burnett and Joan Alison. A story analyst called it “sophisticated hokum,” but recommended it to Warner Bros. anyway. Unlike most movies, Casablanca was filmed in story order rather than out of sequence, because the screenplay was only half done by the time filming began. Ingrid Bergman wrote in her autobiography, My Story (1980): “We were shooting off the cuff. Every day they were handing out dialogue and we were trying to make some sense of it. Every morning we would say, ‘Well, who are we? What are we doing here?’ And [director] Michael Curtiz would say, ‘We’re not quite sure, but let’s get through this scene today and we’ll let you know tomorrow.’” She didn’t know which man her character ended up with until the final scene was filmed.
The movie was filmed almost entirely indoors, because a Japanese submarine had been spotted off the coast of California and everyone was worried that Japan might attack the mainland. The production crew also had to cope with war rationing and shortages of things like rubber and aluminum. They couldn’t use nylon or silk in the costumes, so Ingrid Bergman wore cotton.
Casablanca received great reviews, but at the time most people just seemed to think it was going to be one of many boilerplate movies intended to raise American morale during World War II. The New York Times wrote, “Yes, indeed, the Warners here have a picture which makes the spine tingle and the heart take a leap.” The Hollywood Reporter called it “a drama that lifts you right out of your seat” and added, “Certainly a more accomplished cast of players cannot be imagined.” Variety wrote, “Casablanca will take the [box offices] of America just as swiftly as the AEF took North Africa.” Another reviewer said, “It certainly won’t make Vichy happy — but that’s just another point for it.” It was nominated for eight Academy Awards, and won three of them: Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Adapted Screenplay.
In what now seems another lifetime my younger sister, a grammar school teacher, insisted I read a book:
I have long forgotten my response but it must have been along the lines of, “Are you kidding me, Lynnette?” I do, though, recall her response, which was, “Oh Michael, you will LOVE IT!” I had my doubts…Nevertheless, I read the book because my sister had never previously recommended any book. Turned out my little sister was right… I even read a few more of the series until it seemed the author was writing the same story again and again.
The book was made into a movie I did not see because, well, you know, I read the book. When putting this post together I found the following video, of which I was completely unaware, as I was unaware of how well the movie did at the box office. I watched the video several times while telling myself the time spent was for “research” when the truth is that it contains Andie McDowell, whom I adore, after meeting her in Asheville, North Carolina, at the Earth Fare grocery store on the east side of town, while living in the mountains. I was next in line when, all of a sudden, Ms. McDowell comes barging in from the front in a failed attempt to check out before me. “I am in a big hurry,” she said. “Sounds like something a city girl would say,” said I. She shot me a look which reminded me of the time I was walking to Fantasyland Records (https://fantasylandrecords.com/) near the corner of Peachtree Street and Rumson road in the Buckhead section of Atlanta, Georgia, where I resided, and there was Virginia Gunn, a local television personality, sitting in a sports car smoking a cigarette. “You’re Virginia Gunn,” I said. She shot me a look before saying, “Buzz off, buster!” That was the kinda look given by Andie… I smiled when saying, “Go ahead, ma’am, celebrity has some privilege.” She gave me another look that was the definition of perplexed, and began unloading her cart. “I saw you on the David Letterman show before you married your high school sweetheart and you sure were happy.” Ms. McDowell replied, “Yeah, well, it didn’t work out. It never does…” She left hurriedly as I proceeded to check out. After exiting I walked by her car and she seemed to be having trouble getting it together. By the time I was near she dropped a rather large pizza box and I nabbed it before the thing touched the pavement. She again looked at me strangely before saying, “You’re my hero.” Unfortunately it did not sound like I was “her hero,” if’n you get my drift… Sometime later I was having brunch at the Earth Fare on the west side of town. I was at a large table all by myself reading the Sunday New York Times, oblivious to the fact that the lunch crowd had quickly filled the place. When I looked up there was Andie, with a young girl I took to be her daughter. There they stood, looking at me and the empty surrounding seats with longing in their eyes. “Would you like to sit down?” I asked. “I thought you’d never ask,” Andie said. I began making arrangements to leave as quickly as possible when the daughter said to her mother, “That’s the chess guy. He was in the newspaper,” said the young girl. Andie again gave me a look that’s difficult to describe before saying, “So, you’re famous?” I smiled before saying, “Not like you. I’m a local yokel.” She smiled, and that was the first time I had seen her smile. I told her about beginning as an extra on the movie filmed at Atlanta Stadium, The Slugger’s Wife (https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0090036/?ref_=fn_al_tt_1), and how I had to join the screen actor’s guild to be shown in the movie (I had to run out to centerfield and man the camera when the ‘slugger’ slugged the record ball the chicks love outta the park), but my “part”, was cut outta the movie, which is now considered one of the worst movies ever produced. I told them about getting to eat with the actors and ball players, like Mark, “The Bird” Fidrych, a “flash in the pan” but what a flash!
They laughed uproariously after being told that I found myself in line at the buffet, behind one of the stars, Rebecca De Mornay,
and when she looked back at me I said, “You’re Rebecca De Mornay.” She scowled before replying, “And who the hell are you?”
Before leaving Andie asked me which of her movies was my favorite. I looked at her daughter and hesitated…”It’s OK, she knows all my movies.” The reply came immediately, “Sex, Lies, and Videotape.” She looked at me for a moment as a faint smile began to appear before saying, “Really?” To which I responded, “I liked Four Wedding and a Funeral, too.” Her smile grew larger and I looked at her daughter, who was absolutely loving this. Then Andie said, “Most people choose Groundhog Day.” The response was, “I am not most people.”
“It’s the birthday of American horror novelist Anne Rice (books by this author), born in New Orleans (1941) and best known for creating the novel Interview with the Vampire (1976)
in which a young man interviews a 200-year-old vampire named Louis about his life. The book introduces the character of Lestat the Vampire and was later made into a film. There are 14 books in the Vampire Chronicles saga, most of which have been international best-sellers.
Rice was inspired to write Interview with the Vampire after the death of her six-year old daughter from leukemia. She said:
“I was a sad, broken atheist. I pitched myself into writing and made up a story about vampires. I didn’t know it at the time but it was all about my daughter, the loss of her and the need to go on living when faith is shattered. But the lights do come back on, no matter how dark it seems, and I’m sensitive now, more than ever, to the beauty of the world — and more resigned to living with cosmic uncertainty.”
Rice based the character of the girl vampire, Claudia, on her daughter.
It took Rice five weeks to write 358 pages about the relationship between two vampires for Interview with a Vampire. She researched vampires during the day and wrote at night, once even attending a concert by the heavy metal band Iron Maiden for inspiration.
When asked why she chose to write about vampires, Rice answered:
“Vampires are the best metaphor for the human condition. Here you have a monster with a soul that’s immortal, yet in a biological body. It’s a metaphor for us, as it’s very difficult to realize that we are going to die, and day to day we have to think and move as though we are immortal. A vampire like Lestat in Interview … is perfect for that because he transcends time — yet he can be destroyed, go mad and suffer; it’s intensely about the human dilemma.”
When asked who makes a better literary subject, vampires or zombies, Rice answered:
“The vampire is an articulate character in our literature. In the last 30 years or so, the vampire has been an articulate, charming, beguiling complex person so he’s miles away from a zombie. The vampire is the poet and the writer of the monster world. The zombies are the exact opposite. They’re not sexy, they don’t listen to good music and they don’t wear good clothes.”
Across a painted desert lies a train of vagabonds All that’s left of what we were it’s what we have become Once our empires glorious but now the empire’s gone The dead gave us the time to live and now our time is done
Now we are victorious, we’ve become our slaves A land of hope and glory building graveyards for the brave
Have you seen the writing on the wall? Have you seen that writing? Can you see the riders on the storm? Can you see them riding? Can you see them riding?
Holding on to fury is that all we ever know Ignorance our judge and jury all we’ve got to show From Hollywood to Babylon ~ holy war to kingdom come On a trail of dust and ashes ~ when the burning sky is done A tide of change is coming and that is what you fear The earthquake is a coming but you don’t want to hear You’re just too blind to see
Have you seen the writing on the wall? Have you seen that writing? Can you see the riders on the storm? Can you see them riding? Can you see them riding, riding next to you?
Have you seen the writing on the wall? Have you seen that writing? Can you see the riders on the storm? Can you see them riding?
A detailed new study from the C.D.C. found that an unvaccinated elementary school teacher in Marin County, Calif., spread the coronavirus to half of her 24-student class in May and June when she lowered her mask to read aloud, in violation of the district’s rules.
Twelve of her students, who were masked but too young to be vaccinated, subsequently contracted the virus. The Delta variant outbreak subsequently spread to at least 26 people.
“I thought I respected its contagiousness,” Dr. Lisa Santora, deputy health officer the Marin Health and Human Services and an author of the report, said of the Delta variant. But its efficiency in overtaking the classroom “surprised and humbled” her.
Bibb County, Georgia, Schools sends classes home for remote learning
The district says they made the decision after seeing rising COVID-19 cases
“In reviewing the number of COVID-19 cases for schools each day, officials noticed the number of positive COVID-19 cases is slowly increasing in these schools,” according to a Bibb County Schools press release. “In order to ensure the safety and wellness of our students and staff, we made the decision to switch these schools to asynchronous learning for a brief period. This will help reduce any possible spread of COVID-19.”
I was born in the South, seventy one years ago one week from today, in the back seat of a ’49 Ford convertible on the way to Emory University Hospital in Atlanta, Georgia, as the story goes. When I leave the South it is akin to what most of you feel when you leave the country. When I am out of the South I feel like the world is a tuxedo and I am a brown shoe. Coming back to the South feels like returning home.
There was a time, before the War Between the States (I refuse to call it by the more popular name because, as the writer Shelby Foote
so eloquently said, “There was nothing civil about that war.”) when the South led the nation in most everything. It was easy to accumulate wealth when not having to pay for the work done by enslaved people. I rue the day the northern people brought Africans here to be enslaved, against the wishes of the Southern people, I might add. It should go without saying, but I will say it anyway, no human should ever be enslaved because, well, you know, how would you like to be a slave?
Once again the South is leading the nation, but not in a good way. This is a map of the somewhat United States copied today from the New York Times. The darker the color the more the Covid:
This is not a post I wanted to write, but it needs to be written. I followed the action at the 2021 US Open last week and immensely enjoyed the time spent watching. There were several interesting articles posted at the USCF website by J.J. Lang (https://new.uschess.org/author/jj-lang) during the event. I found an interesting game from round seven which became a post (https://xpertchesslessons.wordpress.com/2021/08/09/nm-steven-cookley-vs-im-victor-matviishen-us-open-round-7-bishops-opening/). In addition I managed to utilize two games from the last round which became the two previous posts. To do so I had to transfer all of the moves from the online DGT board to the analysis board at 365Chess (https://www.365chess.com/analysis_board.php). It would have made my task easier if the USCF had broadcast the games at ChessBomb (https://www.chessbomb.com/), or Chess24 (https://chess24.com/en). The Charlotte Chess Center & Scholastic Academy broadcast all their tournaments at Chess24, and also at the ChessBomb, as does the Mechanics Institute in San Francisco for their Tuesday Night Marathon (https://www.milibrary.org/chess). Yet the National Chess Organization, the United States Chess Federation broadcast the games on DGT in lieu of the much more popular previously named venues. Go figure…This matters because there is an immediacy today that was lacking ‘back in the day’. For example, back in that day and age one waited until the next issue of Chess Life appeared to see the games. During the Karpov vs Kasparov clashes, while driving a taxi for Buckhead Safety Cab overnight, I would nab the early edition of the New York Times newspaper, knowing which hotel was the first stop, to see the moves from the World Championship match. There is no waiting today, as one can watch the games in real time. Therefore, it is really true that by tomorrow everything is “yesterday’s news.”
While watching the last round of the US Open online I had a brainstorm, or fart, depending on how one looks at it, I suppose. Thing is, I have recently been helping a father of two children who were captivated by The Queen’s Gambit to learn the ropes, so to speak. One day he asked about the names of the openings and I was attempting to explain how an opening could start with one name but change to another by transposition. With that in mind I decided to go to 365Chess and copy the new names of the opening with the twelve games given on the DGT boards. My intention was to wait until they were posted at the USCF website and download them, saving me all the time necessary to transcribe all twelve games. As stated, I did record the two aforementioned games, which can be found in the two previous posts. Unfortunately, the games were not forthcoming. They did not appear Monday, the day after the event and neither did the final article at the USCF website. Ditto for Tuesday, the tenth of August. Finally, Wednesday morning, there was an article concerning the 2021 US Open, but it was not at the USCF website, but at Chessbase! The title read, U.S. Open: Chess games, awards, signings, meetings, by Alexy Root. (https://en.chessbase.com/post/u-s-open-chess-games-awards-signings-meetings) Hooray! I thought, but was soon disabused of that euphoric feeling when reading the article and finding only three, THREE!, games out of the many thousands of Chess games played during the US Open! Frankly, the article, although well written and somewhat interesting, was far below the usual Chessbase standard of excellence. The article contains what the title proclaims, which is much fluff; the kind of thing one expects from Chess Life magazine, or an USCF online article. I refuse to bore you with the details. After a quick check at the USCF website I see an article by J.J. Lang has finally been posted. (https://new.uschess.org/news/victor-goes-spoils) It is dated August 11, but I did not see it on the website yesterday, but I did turn in about eleven, leaving an hour for it to be posted…Seriously, I cannot recall the time the last time I looked for the article, so maybe it was posted earlier, but I would not wager on that being the case. I did not check this morning as was done each previous day because, frankly, I had given up all hope of ever seeing a final article on the 2021 US Open…
Every day I went to the USCF webpage looking for the last round, the ninth round, games to be posted. I just looked at four pm, August 12, 2021 and the last round games have still NOT BEEN POSTED! Check for yourself here (http://www.uschess.live/). It is sad…pitiful, really…In addition, the fifth round games cannot be downloaded, and have never been able to be downloaded…I asked someone to check and he, too, was unable to download the fifth round games.
So here’s the deal…What I am about to give you is my working notes, excepting the two aforementioned games already posted, to what would, and could have been a post about the top twelve games of the 2021 US Open. There were some interesting games and theoretical novelties in the opening, but you would not have known that if up to the USCF. That has got to say something about the organization, and I use the word loosely. Someone dropped the King, or Queen, or Rook, or even the Bishop and Knight, along with the pawns, and even the CLOCK, on this one.
Before reading the following please keep this in mind:
Board one: C01 French, exchange variation
Board two: B12 Caro-Kann, advance variation
Board three: After move 2: A48 King’s Indian, East Indian defence After White move 3: E60 King’s Indian, 3.Nf3 After Black move 4: D90 Gruenfeld, Three knights variation After White move 5: D91 Gruenfeld, 5.Bg5
Board four: After Black first move: B06 Robatsch (modern) defence. Timur came up with TN of 4…Nf6!
Board five: After Black 3…Nf6: C11 French defence After White 4 e5: C11 French, Steinitz variation After White 7 Be3: C11 French, Steinitz, Boleslavsky variation
Board six: After first move: C20 King’s pawn game After White second move: C40 King’s knight opening After Black second move: C44 King’s pawn game After White third move: C60 Ruy Lopez (Spanish opening) After White fourth move: C70 Ruy Lopez After Black fourth move: C77 Ruy Lopez, Morphy defence After White fifth move: C78 Ruy Lopez, 5.O-O After Black fifth move: C78 Ruy Lopez, Moeller defence
Board seven: After first White move: A10 English opening After first Black move: A20 English opening
Board nine: After Black first move: B20 Sicilian defence After White second move: B27 Sicilian defence After Black second move: B30 Sicilian defence After White third move: B30 Sicilian, Nimzovich-Rossolimo attack (without …d6) After black third move: B31 Sicilian, Nimzovich-Rossolimo attack (with …g6, without …d6)
Board ten: After Black second move: B30 Sicilian defence
Board eleven: After first White move: A40 Queen’s pawn After first Black move: D00 Queen’s pawn game After second White move: D06 Queen’s Gambit After second Black move: D10 Queen’s Gambit Declined Slav defence After third White move: D10 Queen’s Gambit Declined Slav defence, exchange variation
Board twelve: After third White move: C03 French, Tarrasch After third black move: C05 French, Tarrasch, closed variation After sixth black move: C05 French, Tarrasch, Botvinnik variation
10 a4 by IM Alexander Katz appears to be new move.
I spent my morning reading a ONE MILLION word article in the New Your Times concerning the origin of the Covid pandemic, or as former POTUS Donald J. Trumpster called it, the “China” virus.
After spending over a quarter of and hour reading the massively worded Op-Ed by Zeynep Tufekci, this is what was gleaned: “With so much evidence withheld, it’s hard to say anything about Covid-19’s origins with certainty, and even a genuine investigation would face challenges. Some outbreaks have never been traced to their origin.”
While reading I recalled hearing something the comedian, Jon Stewart, said recently concerning the origin of the pandemic, so I let my fingers do some punch’ & pokin’ research, finding a film of about 8 minutes, which, if I know my readers, they will be far more likely to watch than read the lengthy article.