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The New York Times noted this week that it was the 80th anniversary of the death of William Jennings Bryant, who died just before he was to give the closing argument in the famed Scopes Monkey Trial. Which got me to go back and dig out my DVD copy of “Inherit The Wind,” the brilliant 1960 movie version of that trial directed by Stanley Kramer and starring Spencer Tracy as Henry Drummond (a lightly fictionalized Clarence Darrow), Fredric March as Matthew Harrison Brady (Bryant), and Gene Kelly as journalist E.K. Hornbeck (based on H. L. Mencken).

I hadn’t seen it for a lot of years, but it was every bit as good as I remembered, with a magnificent performances by Tracy and March, and an atypically poisonous one by Kelly, who got to utter one of my favorite lines, the one that made me want to become a writer: “It is the duty of a newspaper to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.” Shot in stark black and white, you can practically feel the humidity of the southern summer seeping through the screen, and the subject matter is surprisingly timely.

A great movie, and well worth seeing because it makes you think – something I can’t say about a lot of movies these days.

From the sublime to the ridiculous…

I also have to admit to having seen – and thoroughly enjoyed – “Wedding Crashers.”


It is just a hugely funny, rude, somewhat vulgar and ultimately feel-good R-rated comedy that stars Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn as a couple of guys who crash weddings to take advantage of the women there who allow the ceremonies to make them feel…well, romantic. (By the way, I don’t know who they are, but the actresses who play the female leads - Rachel McAdams and Isla Fisher – have big careers ahead of them. They’re great, and well matched to Wilson and Vaughn.) “Wedding Crashers” won’t be for everyone, but I think there’s plenty of room out there for a solid R-rated comedy.

And then, there’s “The Aristocrats” – which I haven’t seen yet, but am dying to.

Onto other subjects…

I may be only one of five people who feel this way, but I think that the new shows that are on MSNBC between seven and ten each evening are actually terrific television – “Hardball” with Chris Matthews, “Countdown” with Keith Olbermann, and the new “The Situation,” with Tucker Carlson. They’re all fast-paced, irreverent, self-critical, generally well-written and thought-out, and manage to capture stories and attitudes from a variety of different perspectives.

Of course, they’re not “The Daily Show.” But what is?

What’s playing on my iPod? At the moment, three songs from “The Wind,” Warren Zevon’s last album before his death from cancer: “Dirty Life and Times,” “Knocking On Heaven’s Door,” and the touching valedictory, “Keep Me In Your Heart.”

Shadows are falling and I'm running out of breath
Keep me in your heart for a while…

If I leave you it doesn't mean I love you any less
Keep me in your heart for a while…

When you get up in the morning and you see that crazy sun
Keep me in your heart for a while…

There's a train leaving nightly called when all is said and done
Keep me in your heart for awhile…

Nothing like going out with style.

The weather has been unbearably hot and humid here on the east coast, which has meant that I’ve found myself gravitating toward Red Stripe beer from Jamaica…which somehow just seems perfect.

I also really like a wine from Spain recommended by my local wine guy - a 2004 Gessami Gramona, which is 60 percent Muscat and 40 percent Sauvignon Blanc, which is a great combination of grapes that goes great with seafood (especially crab cakes).

Sláinte!! Have a good weekend.
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