Grease Lightning: Not a Family Friendly Movie

Today I was going through all our old VHS video tapes, why we still have them? I havs1600_Greasee no idea. Among the pile of Star Wars and Indiana Jones films, I found Grease. I completely forgot that we had ever owned Grease. For old time sake I decided to literally dust off the VHS player and watch this classic movie. I learned a couple things —
     — Whoever did the casting has no idea what teenagers look like. Everyone in this movie looks way to old to be a high school student.
     — When I first saw this movie my parents must not have known I was watching it because it is SO not appropriate for an 8 year old to watch. It is just a good thing I had no idea what they were talking about half the time.
In light of these observations I decided to do Google research and found some of the things I came across interesting.

1. Age Doesn’t Matter—

As I alluded to eas1600_Grease+Castrlier, Grease was set in high school, but what you may have guessed (just by looking at them) was that most of the cast was well beyond their high school years. John Travolta (Danny) was 23 and Olivia-Newton-John (Sandy) was 28 when filming began. Jeff Conaway (Kenickie) was 26, and Stockard Channing (Rizzo) was the oldest in the group at 33.
2. Plastic Wrap Innuendo—

The original stage play of “Grease” has more sexual references than the censors would allow in the film. One of theses1600_John+Travolta was the use of plastic wrap as a condom. The censors made the filmmakers take this out during the production of the movie, but John Travolta found a sneaky way to put it back in. During the song “Grease Lightning” you can see Danny Rubbing plastic wrap on his junk during the dance number… classy.

3. Dancing in the Heat—

The dance contest ds1600_Dancing-Greaseuring the movie had to be filmed during the summer when the school was closed. They gym wasn’t air conditioned, and the doors had to be kept closed to control the lighting. The gym became so hot that several of the extras had to be removed and given medical treatment for heat exhaustion.

4. Real Life Addiction—
     According to an interview conducted on “Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew,” Jeff Conaway (Kenichie) stated that he first became addicted to painkillers during the filming of “Grease.” He said that during the “Grease Lightning” song and dance number, a fellow cast member dropped him and he injured his back.

5. Kenickie’s Song—
  The song “Grease Ligs1600_Grease-Lightinghtning” was supposed to have been sung by Jeff Conaway’s character, Kenichie. But apparently before shooting John Travolta had a temper tantrum because he wanted to sing the song. At first, Conaway refused to let him sing it, but after awhile, he was forced to concede. In the stage version of “Grease,” Kenickie sings the song.

6. Actor’s Porn Past Loses Him the Role—

To cast the role of the coach the director s1600_Sid-Caesar-Greaselooked to Harry Reems, a previous porn star, to play the part. Reems was cast and ready to begin filming when protests over the Star’s porn past began surfacing, threatening the movies success. Paramount relented and gave the role to Sid Caesar.

7. Stagnant Water—
The filming of ts1600_Race-Greasehe scene where the cast is near the bridge after the car race made several cast members and extras very ill. The water on the ground was stagnant and filled with trash. Apparently no one knew this until it was too late.

8. Lucie and Rizzo—s1600_Rizzo-Grease
     Although fans of the movie couldn’t imagine anyone else playing the role of Rizzo other than Stockard Channing, she was not the studio’s first choice. Paramount wanted Lucie Arnaz, daughter of Lucille Ball, to play the part. Lucy allegedly called the studio and said “I used to own that studio; my daughter is not doing that screen test!” The part then went to Channing.

Final Thoughts
Don’t misunderstand me, I love this movie. It has a very random place in my heart and I have the choreographed, made up, dance moves from when I was 10 to prove it. I Just find it interesting to look back on these things as an adult.

Movie Music- How Movie Audiences are Manipulated

     Most things about movies are Movie-Musicnot subtle. They are supposed to be in your face, visible and acknowledged. But one of the most important elements of movies is its music. Movies without music would be total crap. Music is one of the most underrated elements in movies because its entire purpose is meant to be unconsciously registered by the viewers. Music is the emotional nudge that movies include to prompt the viewer into the correct emotion or reaction to what is happening on screen. There are two major styles of music found in movies-

1. Subtle emotional manipulation     -This seems pretty self explanatory. Movies would not have any kind of emotional punch without music. A triumphant movie moment would have no euphoria without the slowly escalating jubilant swell of a symphonic orchestra to accompany it.  
2. Leitmotif-
     – This is just a fancy word for a short, constantly recurring musical “theme” that is associated with a person, place or idea (don’t worry, if this is kinda confusing I will explain).

– Emotional  Manipulation
     Music in movies helps you know how and what to feel at any given moment. Whether that feeling is making you want to stand up and go fight an army single handed or like you could run a mile (maybe some of you could legitimately run a mile, I cannot).
      I am not trying to take any credit away from actors and their fine performances, but lets face it, without the music in sad moments (or heroic moments) you would not have that old lady crying next to you in the theater because it just doesn’t deliver the same punch.
Clip #1

All the words spoken in this entire scene have been edited out (there were only a few to begin with in the first place). So why are you still bawling like a baby at the death of Gandalf in The Lord of the Rings? It is that slow, mourning singing. That beautiful music rips your heart right out of your chest. Watch the same thing on mute, and you will be totally fine. –I am telling you, composers are ninjas of emotion.  

  – Leitmotif
   This style of movie music is a tad different. This deals with music directly linked to specific characters or events. What I mean by this is when you, as the viewer, hear a specific melody, it makes you think of one particular person/place or thing. Clip #2 is a perfect example.
                                                                Clip #2

This is the Darth Vader leitmotif. It is his theme, a short melody that, whenever played, means this character is present, or is about to be present. This is the same with the Jaws theme, the Indiana Jones theme, the Jack Sparrow- Pirates of the Caribbean theme and many others. If you hear the music, you associate it with a specific character.
In films, music goes generally unnoticed. And rightfully so. The composers goal is to be the puppet master behind the scenes pushing and prodding you to feel a certain way without realizing that it is happening.
— As a viewer how can you know that Darth Vader is coming without having seen him yet? His theme is playing. Almost the entire movie of Jaws goes without the viewer ever seeing the shark. How do you know it is coming? Because the Jaws theme (leitmotif) is playing.
Final Thoughts
     I have decided that music composers are magicians (or have sold their soul to the devil to gain unnatural power. I am not sure what I have settled on yet). How do they write music to make an entire viewership feel and react how they want them to? I have no idea, but I greatly enjoy the result.
—– What movie music do you like the best?

Awesome J.R.R Tolkien Facts Even the Craziest Fans Won’t Know

s1600_Tolkien     The Lord of the Rings was one of the first books I read cover to cover when I was a kid. It sparked my imagination as well as a love for reading that has ruined many nights of sleep (and not just because I would read all night. I also was terrified that Gollum would come strangle me while I slept).
I have always been blown away with the amount of detail, thought and care that went into The Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit as well as the Simarillion. J.R.R Tolkien didn’t just create a whole different world, he gave them identities, cultures, grudges, histories, poems, music, and even an entirely made up (but functional) language. Side note– I have actually met some rabid, albeit harmless, nerds that know how to read, write and speak Elvish.
A mind like this is actually somewhat frightening to me. Such brilliant originality and detail shows a true genius of more than just literature. So I decided to try and find things about this giant of a man, that even the most obsessed fan probably doesn’t know.
1. Tolkien Had A Dramatic Flair
As a linguist and expert on Old English and Old Norse literature, Tolkien  was a professor at Oxford University from 1925-1959. Although quiet and unassuming in public, Tolkien wasn’t the stereotypical uptight British professor. Tolkien would go to parties dressed as a polar bear, chased a neighbor dressed as an ax wielding Anglo-Saxon warrior and was known to hand shopkeepers his false teeth as payment. As one of his students put it, “He could turn a lecture room into a mead hall.”
2. He Felt Many of His Fans Were “Lunatics”
Tolkien saw himself as a scholar first and a writer second. The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings were largely Tolkien’s attempt to construct a body of myth, and their success caught him largely off guard. In fact, he spent years rejecting, criticizing and shredding adaptations of his work that he didn’t believe captured its epic scope and noble purpose. He was also utterly skeptical of most LOTR fans, who he thought incapable of really appreciating the work, and he probably would have been horrified by the movie fandom dressing up like Legolas.
3. He Was Quite The Romantic (and he’s got a geeky gravestone to prove it)

s1600_JRR-Tolkien-Grave At 16 years of age, Tolkien fell in love with Edith Bratt. His guardian, a Catholic priest, was horrified that his ward was seeing a Protestant and ordered the boy to have no contact with Edith until he turned 21. Tolkien obeyed, pining after Edith for years until that fateful birthday, when he met with her under a railroad viaduct. She broke off her engagement to another man, converted to Catholicism, and the two were married for the rest of their lives. At Tolkien’s instructions, their shared gravestone has the names “Beren” and “Luthien” engraved on it, a reference to a famous pair of star-crossed lovers from the fictional world he created.4. He Liked Clubbing     -Not the kind of clubbing you are thinking of. I mean the extra curricular, after-school sort. Wherever Tolkien went, he was intimately involved in the formation of literary and scholarly clubs. As a professor at Leeds University, for example, he formed the Viking Club. And during his stint at Oxford, he formed the Inklings- a literary discussion group. I find this so delightfully nerdy!
s1600_Tolkien-Soldier5. When It Came to War He Knew What He Was Talking About
Tolkien was a veteran of the First World War. He was present for some of the most bloody trench fighting of the war, including the famously horrific Battle of Somme. The deprivations of Frodo and Sam on their road to Mordor had their origins in Tolkien’s time in the trenches, during which he contracted a chronic fever from the lice that infested him. He later said that all but one of his closest friends died in the war. Giving him an all to keen awareness of its tragedy that shines through in his writing.

6. He Invented Languages For Funs1600_Tolkien-Elvish_watermarked
A philologist by trade, Tolkien invented languages just for shits and giggles. That is what you do for fun right? He invented languages such as Elvish, Quenya and Sindarin. He even wrote songs and poems in his fictional languages. In addition, Tolkien worked to reconstruct and write in extinct languages like Medieval Welsh and Lombardic.

7. He Wasn’t Nearly as Fond of Nazis as They Were of Him
Tolkien’s academic writings on Germanic history, language and culture were extremely popular among the Nazi elite, who were obsessed with recreating ancient Germanic civilization. But Tolkien was disgusted by Hitler and the Nazi party, and made no secret of that fact. He considered forbidding a German translation of The Hobbit after the German publisher, in accordance with Nazi law, asked him to certify that he was an “Aryan.” Instead, he wrote a scathing letter asserting, among other things, his regret that he had no Jewish ancestors. He wrote “I have, in this War, a burning private grudge — which would probably make me a better soldier at 49 than I was at 22: against that ruddy little ignoramus Adolf Hitler … Ruining, perverting, misapplying, and making for ever accursed, that noble northern spirit, a supreme contribution to Europe, which I have ever loved, and tried to present in its true light.” —-Now THAT is an OH SNAP moment if I have ever heard one!!