Second-Hand Hearts

I watched the chef segment of CBS This Morning. Some of Todd Mitgang’s signature recipes were Planda grilled local sea scallops, Plancha grilled yellow wax beans with schmaltz shallots and basil, Homemade cavatelli with brown butter and lemon, chive and ricotta salata, Roasted acorn squash with green chili puree and baby watercress, Crème Fraiche cheesecake with glazed blueberries and dark chocolate, and a Boulevardier. I looked up the American Top 40 playlist for the weekend. The Top 10 songs from January 26, 1974 were “The Americans,” “Time in a Bottle,” “Let Me Be There,” “Smokin’ in the Boys’ Room,” “Love’s Theme,” “The Joker,” “I’ve Got to Use My Imagination,” “The Way We Were,” “Show and Tell,” and “You’re Sixteen.” I put away the computer and walked over to the bus stop to take the F bus across the Bay Bridge. I took a walk to the farmers’ market and thought about buying a sandwich or something, but I waited for Super Bowl City to open. There were a lot of places to take photos of yourself with the Super Bowl 50 logo, a zip line, games to play, a stage, and a trailer with Super Bowl merchandise. I didn’t want to fight with the crowd to buy a shirt and a cap, so I walked back to the bus stop and headed back to Emeryville. I looked through the Star Wars shirts at Uniqlo and the magazines at Barnes and Noble. I bought a Chris Stapleton CD from Target before I finally went home. I watched the DVD of “Second-Hand Hearts.” It was a Hal Ashby movie with Robert Black and Barbara Harris the stars. Ashby still had the magic touch in “Being There” two years earlier, so it’s a bit surprising to see such lackluster results with this movie that is supposed to be a comedy. Blake had been in “Coast to Coast” with Dyan Cannon, and the indications from that movie and this one were that his career wasn’t in a good place. Barbara Harris had been in Hitchcock’s last movie, but here she is not convincing. She reminded me a bit of Karen Black in “Five Easy Pieces.” Probably one strength of the movie is Haskell Wexler’s photography. He and Ashby had worked together on “Bound for Glory,” and this movie sometimes shows some beautiful scenery. There was at least one reference to Woody Guthrie in the dialogue. There were quite a few empty and dead scenes in this picture. I don’t remember the Baretta television series, but I thought that Robert Blake was supposed to be an engaging personality in it. I don’t see much of that Robert Blake in this picture. The plot had a drunken marriage happening, and out of it were supposed to be some sort of comedy premise. Perhaps Preston Sturges could have turned this into a good movie, as he did in the time of “The Miracle of Morgan’s Creek.” I’d like to know what happened to Hal Ashby after “Being There.” What was this erratic behavior that I keep reading about? The country music on the soundtrack made me think that I was watching The Dukes of Hazzard or something like that. In one shot where two cars are supposed to be speeding, you could see that neither was going too fast from the lines in the street. I thought back to “Eat My Dust” at such moments. Blake has his chance to smile and talk about the sunset at the end, as if the last shot was meant to be like “Modern Times.” I don’t know what Ashby was attempting with this movie. It’s messy and lacking in inspiration. I wished that someone like Ruth Gordon was in it. Some of the people who died on January 31 include A.A. Milne (1956), Samuel Goldwyn (1974), Moira Shearer (2006), and Molly Ivins (2007). Today is a birthday for John Lydon (60), Nolan Ryan (69), and Carol Channing (95).  My choices for the Top 5 Biggest Jerks of January 2016 are: 5. Ethan Couch, 4. Justin Bieber, 3. Don McLean, 2. Ted Cruz, and 1. Donald Trump.

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