Thursday, June 21, 2007

JUNE 21, 2007

By all accounts, yesterday's Keep Kern County Cool Fan Drive was a big success. I spoke with one of the organizers yesterday who said it had been a few years since the last fan drive, and they had hoped to break their record of 300 fans... Well, guess what? You did it! As of 6 PM last night, over 400 fans had been donated. Thanks for your help and generosity.

And if you know someone who needs one of the donated fans, have them contact the Volunteer Center... the number is (661) 395-9787.

The years have been kind to "Citizen Kane," including the last decade. The 1941 Orson Welles classic — the story of a wealthy young idealist transformed by scandal and vice into a regretful old recluse — was again rated the best movie ever Wednesday by the American Film Institute.

In the CBS special "AFI's 100 Years ... 100 Movies — 10th Anniversary Edition," "Citizen Kane" held the same No. 1 billing it earned in the institute's first top-100 ranking in 1998.

There were notable changes elsewhere, though, with Martin Scorsese's 1980 masterpiece "Raging Bull" bounding upward from No. 24 in 1998 to No. 4 on the new list and Alfred Hitchcock's 1958 thriller "Vertigo" hurtling from No. 61 to No. 9 this time.

Charles Chaplin's 1931 silent gem "City Lights" jumped from No. 76 to No. 11, while the 1956 John Ford-John Wayne Western "The Searchers" took the biggest leap, from No. 96 all the way to No. 12.

Francis Ford Coppola's 1972 epic "The Godfather" ranked No. 2, up one notch from 1998, switching places with Michael Curtiz's 1942 favorite "Casablanca," which dipped from second-place to third.

Both 1967's "The Graduate" and 1954's "On the Waterfront," which ranked Nos. 7 and 8 respectively in 1998, fell out of the top 10, "The Graduate" coming in at No. 17 and "On the Waterfront" finishing at No. 19.

The other five films in the new top 10 also were among the original 10 best, though they shuffled positions: 1952's "Singin' in the Rain (No. 5 now, No. 10 in 1998), 1939's "Gone With the Wind" (No. 6 now, No. 4 in 1998), 1962's "Lawrence of Arabia" (No. 7 now, No. 5 in 1998), 1993's "Schindler's List" (No. 8 now, No. 9 in 1998) and 1939's "The Wizard of Oz" (No. 10 now, No. 6 in 1998).

The top-100 were chosen from ballots sent to 1,500 filmmakers, actors, writers, critics and others in Hollywood from a list of 400 nominated movies, 43 of which came from the decade since the first list was compiled.

Of those newer films, only four made the top-100: 2001's "The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring" (No. 50), 1998's "Saving Private Ryan" (No. 71), 1997's "Titanic" (No. 83) and 1999's "The Sixth Sense" (No. 89).

Older films that did not make the cut on the 1998 list broke into the top-100 this time, led by Buster Keaton's 1927 silent comedy "The General" at No. 18. Others included 1916's "Intolerance" (No. 49), 1975's "Nashville" (No. 59), 1960's "Spartacus" (No. 81), 1989's "Do the Right Thing" (No. 96) and 1995's "Toy Story" (No. 99).

Films that dropped out of the top-100 this time included 1965's "Doctor Zhivago," which had been No. 39 on the 1998 list; 1984's "Amadeus," which had been No. 53; 1977's "Close Encounters of the Third Kind," which had been No. 64; 1990's "Dances With Wolves," which had been No. 75; and 1927's "The Jazz Singer," which had been No. 90.

While AFI officials have not decided if they will continue the annual lists in coming years, Firstenberg said the institute will do a new list of all-time best American films every 10 years as a guide to changing tastes in future decades.

For the complete list of all 100 films, click here.

Wal-Mart is struggling. Last year, its same-store sales increased the smallest amount in more than 20 years. So they've come up with a plan to completely and totally rejuvenate their business: Get their employees out of those blue polyester vests.

Seriously. Celia Swanson, a spokeswoman for Wal-Mart, says, quote, "The vest is being retired and replaced with blue polos and khakis. [That way,] our customers can see our associates more prominently in the stores."

What's going to happen to all the old vests? They're being recycled into materials that can SUPPORT OUR TROOPS. The vests will become blankets for wounded soldiers and, quote, "land cards that soldiers can use to write their loved ones."

Wal-Mart will provide each employee with two polo shirts and reimburse them for one pair of khaki pants. It also has a website where employees can buy more shirts or pants at cost. . . about $3 to $5 for a shirt, $10 to $15 for pants. The vests were provided free.

So let me get this straight... Wal-Mart is getting rid of their employees' vests and replacing them with blue polo shirts and khakis? How confusing. Now when an employee is ignoring me, I won't be able to tell if I'm at Wal-Mart or Best Buy.

According to a new survey from Visa, this summer, the average American is going to spend $1,654 on a vacation. 15% of people will spend $0, and not take a vacation; 4% of people will spend more than $5,000.