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Title: Blog by Novelist William S. Frankl, MD

Archive for the ‘Film’ Category

Raymond Chandler

Sunday, July 23rd, 2017

My friend, Dan Garshman tells me that today, July 23rd is the birthday of one of my favorite authors, mystery writer, Raymond Chandler (1888) , born in Chicago, Illinois, and raised in Plattsmouth, Nebraska, before his Irish mother took him to England so he could get a proper education. Chandler’s novels explored the tough, lawless, and luxurious side of Los Angeles through the sharp narration of his most famous creation, wisecracking, chess-playing private eye Philip Marlowe, who made his debut in Chandler’s first novel, The Big Sleep (1939).

He was educated at preparatory school in England and studied international law in Germany and France before moving back to Britain. He mostly wrote poetry, managing to publish 27 poems and short story called “The Rose-Leaf Romance” before moving to Los Angeles (1912), where he found work as a tennis racket stringer and a bookkeeper at a creamery. Chandler enlisted in the Canadian air force and spent time on the front lines in France during World War I. When he returned to L.A., he took a well-paying job in the oil industry, but drank too much and had affairs with the office secretaries, so he was fired after a year.

Running low on money, he began reading pulp mystery magazines and studying the formula for stories. He said Americans were “a big, rough, rich, wild people, and crime is the price we pay for it.” He liked the lack of pretension in the pulps and the tight restrictions on word length and subject matter suited his style. He published his first mystery story, “Blackmailers Don’t Shoot,” in Black Mask magazine in 1933. It was popular, and he began churning out more stories.

It took him three months to write his first novel, The Big Sleep (1939), which was made into a film, with William Faulkner writing the screenplay and Humphrey Bogart cast as Philip Marlowe (1946). When asked about the character of Philip Marlowe, he said: “He must be the best man in his world and good enough for any world. I do not care much about his private life; he is neither a eunuch nor a satyr; I think he might seduce a duchess and I am quite sure he would not spoil a virgin; if he is a man of honor in one thing, he is that in all things.”

Chandler’s second novel was Farewell, My Lovely (1940). His clipped British upbringing mixed with American vernacular proved popular with readers, who ate up lines like “He had a heart as big as one of Mae West’s hips” and “It was a blonde. A blonde to make a bishop kick a hole in a stained glass window.” Poet W.H. Auden and novelist Evelyn Waugh were big fans, but critics found his work somewhat distasteful. A reviewer from the Washington Post called his books “rambling at best and incoherent at worst,” and others cited the “moral depravity” of a fictional L.A. filled with crime, prostitutes, cheating spouses, and murder.

Raymond Chandler wrote eight novels, including The Little Sister (1949) and The Long Goodbye (1953) before he died in 1959. All of his novels except for one have been made into films. Philip Marlowe has been portrayed onscreen by James Garner, Danny Glover, Powers Boothe, and Dick Powell.

Chandler was nearly penniless when he died. He’d returned to drinking after the long illness and death of his second wife, Cissy. He wrote The Long Goodbye while she was dying and many consider this his masterpiece, due to its blend of hard-boiled cynicism and lyrical sentiment.

Chandler worked hard to improve his writing style as he aged, but he couldn’t catch a break from the critics, saying, “The thing that rather gets me down is that when I write something that is tough and fast and full of mayhem and murder, I get panned for being tough and fast and full of mayhem and murder, and then when I try to tone down a bit and develop the mental and emotional side of a situation, I get panned for leaving out what I was panned for putting in the first time.”

He and Cissy are interred side by side. Their shared gravestone reads, “Dead men are heavier than broken hearts,” a quote from The Big Sleep.

A February Rant

Sunday, February 28th, 2016

February is the shortest month, although a “leap year” with one more day. And I’ve done nothing to discuss the awful situation we are in, at least as I see it. Frankly, it’s too discouraging. But, here goes. How is it, that this once great, wealthy democratic republic can’t come up with even one person of intellect, maturity, and honesty to run for president of the United States? What a group of shameful, avaricious specimens have come forth to lead.

The Democrats: Sanders, an old man preaching socialism or communism or anarchy, I’m not sure which and I suspect neither does he. If he’s elected, the United States will file for bankruptcy within the next five years or sooner. And Hillary Clinton? An old felon, formerly Senator and Secretary of State who has exposed United States government secrets, its intelligence, to hackers all over the globe in order to have information put on her private computer (clearly a felony) so that she could have an easy way to funnel large sums of foreign money into the Clinton Foundation; responsibility for the deaths of six people in Benghazi and lied about these tragic deaths to the victims’ survivors; and much more too long to discuss at this point.

The Republicans ––– initially 16 dimwits and fools and one pediatric neurosurgeon, and now down to four dimwits and one neurosurgeon who should know he’s through, but refuses to accept the reality. And who’s leading this group of dimwits? None other than “The Donald” Trump ––– a fat, bombastic, television star, hotel/gambling mogul and insulting machine, who understands almost nothing about dealing with the crucial issues of the day such as 10-20 million illegal immigrants, our rapid fall into certain insolvency, a psychotic healthcare system known as ObamaCare foisted on us by our present delusional president whose 8 left-leaning years governing the nation he really despises, has been one major reason we have been dumped into our present, almost science fiction dystopian world, and so very, very much more.

But, all is not the fault of politicians. They only help propel our decaying cultural lives ––– the crass, disgraceful music; all manner of drugs; the selling of baby body parts; the degrading films out of Hollywood filled with lurid sex and electrifying violence; the increasing gap between what Peggy Noonan calls the “protected” and the “unprotected;” the overt violence against women and the elderly; the utter decay of our public schools (only +/– 20% of young people know there are three branches of government!); the slow and frightening hell that is our cities at night; the predatory hedge funds that sent millions of people out of their homes to live under the bridges in 2008; and the decay of religion in our lives, the hope that sprung from our faiths seems to have abandoned us; and there is so much more that grabs at our throats, too long to even try to define.

And the world outside ––– the Middle East, Africa, Europe ––– bubbling cauldrons of hate, war, disease and human suffering. And Our failure to lead there.

I see little hope that this nation will turn itself around, be led back to a more sane and congenial state where what is right and moral and good returns to our civil life and allows us once more to lead the world out of this awful morass of the early 21st century. Happy 2016!

A POTPOURRI OF ITEMS LEFT OVER FROM 2010.

Thursday, December 30th, 2010

The Christmas/Hanukah celebrations are for family and friends and every statement of one’s religious beliefs. It is a time for reflection and peace. Therefore, I decided to leave the cannon balls for 2011. Nevertheless, so many things occurred since my last postings that I decided to take a few shots before the new year.

1. TURNCOATS ON START.

In the lame duck session, I want to draw attention to 13 Republican U.S. senators who voted with the Democrats on a key issue. I should remind those up for re-election of the possibility of primary challenges to their re-nomination.

The START treaty concedes a permanent edge in nuclear weaponry to Russia. While the treaty provides for equal and reduced stockpiles of strategic warheads, it did nothing to address the vast stockpiles of tactical nuclear warheads held by the Russians. They have 10,000 of these battlefield nuclear weapons piled up, much of them in Europe, while we have only a few hundred.

Also, START’s preamble blocks the U.S. from developing missile defenses, now especially important in light of North Korea’s and Iran’s expanding capacities.

Two senators, in particular, deserve to have primary challengers take them on in 2012 & 2014. Tennessee’s Bob Corker and Mississippi’s Thad Cochran. Corker and Cochran face re-election in 2012 and 2014 respectively. They should both be challenged for the nomination by men who put our need for national security above appeasing the Russians.

Bob Corker sits on the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee along with Sen. Johnny Isakson of Georgia. Thy are both on the Republican minority on the committee, led by Sen. Richard Lugar, the ranking GOP member on the panel. All three voted for START.

Unfortunately, Isakson is not up for re-election until 2016. When he does come up for re-election, we hope that the citizens of Georgia’s Republican party hold him to account.

Lamar Alexander, also of Tennessee, backed START and faces re-election in 2014.

So who all sold out? Which Republicans vote for this Treaty? Well, here are the Republican turncoats:

Lamar Alexander (R-TN)
Bob Bennett (R-UT)
Scott Brown (R-MA)
Thad Cochran (R-MS)
Susan Collins (R-ME)
Bob Corker (R-TN)
Judd Gregg (R-NH)
Johnny Isakson (R-GA)
Mike Johanns (R-NE)
Richard Lugar (R-IN)
Lisa Murkowski (R-AK)
Olympia Snowe (R-ME)
George Voinovich (R-OH)

Should Republican Senators Voting for START Ratification be Punished by The Voters?

There is little point in focusing any animosity against those Republican senators who are retiring from the Senate this year. However, what if anything can be done about the remaining Republican senators who voted for the Treaty. These Senators, especially, should be made to face a primary opponent in their bid for a new Senate term in 2012/2014:

Lamar Alexander (R-TN)
Scott Brown (R-MA)
Thad Cochran (R-MS)
Bob Corker (R-TN)
Richard Lugar (R-IN)
Olympia Snowe (R-ME)

Five of these should be vigorously opposed in their states by the TEA Party and by Republican conservatives. I urge conservative Republican activists in Tennessee, Indiana, Mississippi and Maine to find strong opponents to run against Bob Corker, Richard Lugar, Olympia Snowe, and Thad Cochran respectively.

In particular, Richard Lugar must be defeated. In the Senate since 1977, now in his sixth Senate term, he’ll be 80 years old in 2012. Enough already! The people spoke on November 2nd. It’s too bad everybody hasn’t listened. But we, the voting public have. Keep a close eye on all of these politicians, keep a fire under them, and vote out those who are turncoats.

2.DEATH PANELS

End of life planning touched off a political storm over so-called “Death Panels.” While this proposal was part of the House of Representatives Bill, it was dropped in the Senate bill, which became essentially the final version of ObamaCare. But now the Obama administration looks to achieve the same goal by regulation starting January 1, 2011. Under the new policy outlined in a Medicare regulation, the government will pay doctors who advise patients on options for end-of-life care, which might include advanced directives to avoid aggressive life-sustaining treatment. Those in Congress who support this new regulation are pleased by have kept it quiet because they are afraid of lighting a fire of revived opposition.

The final ObamaCare legislation authorized Medicare coverage of yearly physical examinations or so-called wellness visits. This new regulation has been injected into this benefit indicates that Medicare will cover “voluntary advance care planning” to discuss end-of-life treatment as part of the annual visit.

The new law does not mention advance care planning but the Obama administration is now able to achieve its policy goal through the regulation-writing process, a strategy that could become more prevalent in the next two years as the president deals with the strengthend Republican opposition in Congress. This new regulation was included in a huge Medicare regulations setting setting payment rates for thousands of services including arthroscopy, mastectomy, and x-rays.

The rule was issued by Dr. Donald Berwick, interim administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid services. He is a cancer specialist who has long advocated end-of-life care. According to him, “Using unwanted procedures in terminal illness is a form of assault.” He has also said, “in economic terms, it is waste.” The new Speaker of the House, John Boehner, in the past has said, “Obama’s death panel would decide who was worthy of healthcare. This provision may start us down a treacherous path toward government encouraged euthanasia.”

Eternal vigilance is necessary. This Administration is willing to do almost anything to thwart the will of the people. This behind-the-scenes effort to get around both the people and the Congress is the modus operandi of the Obama regime. As expected, once the news was leaked, denials and half truths came from an Adminisration spokesperson. The Wall Street Journal in its report on this matter on 12/27 indicated that the White House was quick to distinguish the new regulation from the system envisioned originally in the healthcare reform legislation. White House spokesman Reid Cherlin is quoted as saying, “The only thing new here is a regulation allowing the discussions…to happen in the context of the new annual wellness visit created by the Affordable Care Act”( ObamaCare).

3. INTERQUAL

I suggest everyone read the article “Inpatient or Outpatient? The Battle to Control Costs.” (Philadelphia Inquirer, Sunday, December 26, 2010. www.philly.com). The article discusses the problems Abington Memorial Hospital (an excellent Philadelphia suburban Hospital) is  encountering in its emergency department regarding admission of patients for inpatient status or observation status. Payment to the hospital by insurance companies for inpatient status is about 2 to 3 times higher than for observation status. This is determined not by the physician but by InterQual.

InterQual was developed in the 1970s but has grown in influence and has been the primary tool that many insurers and hospitals use to determine if a patient qualifies for admission. For almost every ailment, InterQual has two categories: severity of illness (is the patient sick enough to warrant and mission?); and the intensity of service (is the hospital doing enough to warrant admission?). In other words, are you sick enough and is the hospital doing enough?InterQual is absurdly rigid. If the heart rate must exceed 100 beats a minute for inpatient admission, 99 beats are not enough.
This problem is not confined to Abington Hospital. This is a nation-wide problem. The bean counters are beginning to determine life-and-death issues. Welcome to the New Age of American Medical Care.

4. OVER THE COUNTER DRUGS

Because of an Obamacare provision taking effect on Jan. 1, Americans won’t any longer be able to use their flexible spending account (FSA) or health savings account (HSA) pre-tax dollars to purchase non-prescription, over-the-counter medicines (except insulin).

Under current rules, health consumers can use these pre-tax accounts to purchase non-prescription, over-the-counter medicines. But on 1/1/11, the 40 million Americans who use FSAs and HSAs won’t any longer be able to use their accounts to buy over the counter medicines like the following:

* Aspirin
* Antacids
* Laxatives
* Menstrual pain relievers
* Antihistamines
* Stimulants
* Anti-ulcer medicines
* Athlete’s foot cream
* Cough medicine
* Motion sickness medicine
* Anti-diarrheal medicine
* Decongestants
* Hemorrhoid cream
* Anti-flatulence medicine

This provision is just one of Obamacare’s 24 new or higher taxes that total almost $600 billion over this decade.

The tax increase will affect any family with an HSA or FSA. There is no medical insurance program that gives patients freedom of choice in health care that the Obama regime doesn’t want to destroy. Oh, yes, and I forgot Obama’s promise not to raise taxes on any family making less than $250,000/year.

5. A NEW FILM

However on the pleasant side of life, I recommend everyone see “THE KING’S SPEECH. It is superb. Don’t miss it.It’s a story about someone acting like a grown up, someone doing his job, someone taking on enormous responsibility. It’s about a time when someone could take on the mantle of leadership as a great and important challenge, someone who was willing to sacrifice his comfort for his country. Someone who was old-school, someone who wasn’t cool. Someone, unfortunately, who is an avis raris in our society, an avis raris in the western world today.

My Favorite Films Of All Times

Tuesday, August 31st, 2010

I recently saw again an old film, Rashamon, that came out in about 1960. This prompted me to list my favorite dozen films. Below is my list, see if you agree, and if not tell me what you think.

1. Casablanca

2. 2001 A Space Odyssey

3. For Whom The Bell Tolls

4. Lost Horizon

5. Rashamon

6. The House of Sand and Fog

7. The Lives of Others

8. The Secret in Their Eyes

9. The Razor’s Edge (1946 version)

10. Atlas Shrugged

11. Match Point

12. The Maltese Falcon


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