History Box Office -- 05/19/02

I'm just wondering if HBO stands for Home Box Office or History Box Office?

I spent a lot of time on Saturday watching made-for-HBO movies that were historical enactments.

Friday night was rainy... Saturday also began with lots of rain and wind. I went grocery shopping in the morning -- between Shaw's supermarket and Belmont Produce I spent two hundred bucks! Ouch! Okay, so not everything was food, I did pick up paper towels and toilet paper and bandaids, but even so...

In mid-afternoon Nancy told me that The Gathering Storm -- the HBO movie about Winston Churchill -- was going to be on. I had missed its Saturday night premiere a few weeks ago and couldn't seem to connect with it since then, so I was pleased that it was going to be on. I did have other errands to run but decided that a rainy Saturday was a good time to relax and watch a good movie. I'm glad I got to see it -- I have always been fascinated by Churchill and Albert Finney did a very good Churchill.

The rain had been slacking off and came to an end while I was watching the movie. I had been thinking about doing a mile on the treadmill as a warm-up and then doing a workout with weights but since the rain seemed to be over I decided to do that mile outdoors. The end of the rain had not brought any increase in warmth -- it felt more like October than May -- and so I ran in the sweatpants and sweatshirt I had been wearing, but I did a bit over a mile and a half. That was a good warmup for a weight session -- please don't think I do some kind of super workout, it's not that rigorous or intense -- bicep curls, military press, French press, leg lifts, seated row, etc., mostly with a pair of ten pound and a pair of twenty pound dumbells and forty-five pounds for the leg lifts.

Saturday night HBO premiered its latest original movie, Path to War, a look at the decision-making process in LBJ's White House as we sank deeper and deeper into war in Vietnam. It was as fascinating as I had anticipated, a decent and well-researched script, a good cast and director. They kept the focus on the key players -- except for few brief clips of bombers and explosions, they resisted any temptation to turn this into a combat movie. I would quibble over things -- the key military advisors were generic foolishly pompous and optimistic generals, played as such obvious buffoons that nobody in his right mind would have given any weight to their advice -- oh, okay, in real life, Westmoreland may have been the worst American general since the incompetent fools Lincoln had to deal with early in the Civil War; however, Westmoreland only has brief scenes in this film, but all of the other generals are complete morons as well) The key players all seemed to be acting from the best of motives. There is a bit of a whitewash of MacNamara -- he is shown beginning to feel the doubts about the war that he expressed in his recent book, but those doubts came far too late and he was played by Alec Baldwin as being just too noble and honorable. Nobody really seemed to be maneuvering for personal political gain; LBJ is shown putting some political moves on George Wallace but that is all to further the cause of civil rights, etc. The key decision makers are shown going forth and putting a brave and united face on what had been some divisive meetings, but the film did not show the blatant and deliberate deception of the American public, the outright lies told by LBJ and his henchmen. Okay, end of quibbling... despite those flaws, it was definitely worth seeing... I think they were attempting to portray an American tragedy because the president and his advisors blundered in deeper and deeper, led to doom by their own strengths. Well, LBJ's personal tragedy was losing the potential of being remembered as a great president, but certainly that pales into insignificance compared to the damage he did to the country, leading to the deaths of more than fifty thousand Americans and perhaps as many as two million Vietnamese, wounds and injuries to millions, dividing Americans into factions, sowing distrust of government, damaging our economy, and leading to the election of Nixon. Personal tragedy for LBJ? He earned every last bit of it. However, it is a very interesting movie, worth watching.

Today was sunny but cool... I had a nice three and a half mile run in mid-afternoon. Other than that (and fixing meals and cleaning up after meals, etc.) and reading the Sunday paper, I've been working, watching sections of a computer-based course that covers some areas I'm working with and also reviewing the lectures I have to deliver in the class I'm teaching this coming week.

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