Today's Horses In The Fifth Race

1. Passionate Lady
2. Bare Belly
3. Silk Panties
4. Conscience
5. Jockey Shorts
6. Clean Sheets
7. Thighs
8. Big Dick
9. Heavy Bosom
10. Merry Cherry

At the Post:
And they're off! Conscience is left behind at the post. Jockey Shorts and Silk Panties are off in a hurry. Heavy Bosom is being pressured. Passionate Lady is caught between Thighs, and Big Dick is in a very dangerous spot.

At the Halfway Mark:
It's Bare Belly on top. Thighs open and Big Dick is pressed in. Heavy Bosom is being pushed hard against Clean Sheets. Passionate Lady and Thighs are working hard on Bare Belly. Bare Belly is under terrific pressure from Big Dick.

At the Stretch:
Merry Cherry cracks under the strain. Big Dick is making a final drive. Bare Belly is in and Passionate Lady is coming.

At the Finish:
It's Big Dick giving everything he's got and Passionate Lady takes everything Big Dick has to offer. It looks like a dead heat but Big Dick comes through with one final squirt and wins by a head. Bare Belly shows. Thighs weakens, and Heavy Bosom pulls up. Clean Sheets never had a chance.

I don't know why I found this so funny...

Queen produced this lp in 1976 as a rushed follow up to A Night at the Opera with similar graphics and title taken from a Marx Brothers film. Has unfortunately been slated by pop historians since as it was very similar to previous work but how do you improve on perfection? They managed, ten beautiful pop bites such as the millionaires Waltz and Teo Torriate, a much over looked classic which Brian May wrote as a thank you to Japanese Fans, it was released as a single in Japan only and became a traditional end to concerts there.

A Day at the Races features some of the finest and funniest performances the Marx Brothers turn in; this alone should tell you that this is one of the most entertaining strips of black and white film ever crammed into a VHS. From the opening, where Chico offers to take people from the train station to his employer's hospital (needless to say, they'd rather go to their hotel), to the finale (Groucho: Emily, I really am a horse doctor. But marry me, and I'll never look at another horse.) the Brothers Marx keep your sides in major pain.

The plot, such as it is, only exists as a joke framework: Judy Standish needs money to keep her sanitarium running, and her boyfriend, Gil Stewart, buys a horse to help out. The horse wins the big race at the end, saving the hospital. If that's all you have, then you have a decent sports centered romantic comedy. But then you add the Marx Brothers. Groucho, the horse doctor who has treated a rich widow (the ever lovable Margaret Dumont). Chico, an ambulance driver who also sells ice cream and tips at the local race track. And Harpo, a jockey fired because he refuses to throw a race (Chico: He's honest, but you've got to watch him). (Note: technically, these aren't the names of the characters. However, with all due respect, there is no difference between any Harpo, Chico, and Groucho character in any movie). Zeppo isn't in this one. Nobody cares.

As was mentioned above, the Standish Sanitarium needs money. Otherwise, its loan will be foreclosed, and Mr. Morgan, who also owns the racetrack and the Night Club where Gil sings, will turn it into a casino. In order to get money, Gil buys a horse, Hi-Hat, hoping to enter it into a race. However, there is another hope: Margaret Dumont, who is being treated there and (as often happens) is rich. Dumont, who is perfectly well despite what Groucho has convinced her, is outraged when the hospital staff informs her of her health, and prepares to leave. To get her to stay, Chico sends Groucho a telegram, asking him to come at once. As often happens, Groucho doesn't know Chico and Harpo at the start, although they know each other. Groucho comes, insults Mr. Whitmore, the Standish Sanitarium's business manager (who is league with Morgan). From there, Groucho's chief aim is keeping Whitmore from finding out he is a veterinarian. Meanwhile, Gil deals with the horse, finding two major problems with him: he is slow, and he can't stand Mr. Morgan's face or voice; he goes into a frenzy.

When word finally does leak out, Grouch flees into hiding, along with Gil and Hi-Hat(because Gil hasn't paid his bills, and would lose the horse otherwise) and Chico and Harpo-just because. In certainly barn there is singing, dancing, and many blacks (certainly a scandal at the time, having colored in the movies!), until John Law comes to arrest the lot of them. Well, besides the blacks. In the escape that follows, Hi-Hat demonstrates a flair for jumping over fences. So, they enter him in the Grand Steeplechase, which is all about jumping fences, with Harpo riding him. Using a picture of Morgan, and later his voice, Harpo is able to speed his horse greatly. But on one of the jumps, he and another rider take a spill; the other rider crosses the line first, with Harpo second. The Sanitarium will be closed, a new casino will be opened, and Morgan congratulates the winner...

But, no. The other jockey's horse goes crazy! Harpo wipes the mud off of the horses numbers, and sees that they somehow switched horses! (Had the film been in color, we probably would have noticed. Hooray for black and white, I guess.) The Standish Sanitarium is saved, Morgan's plot is foiled, and the black people, who it turns out had bet on Hi-Hat, are all rich.

Now, this is just a basic plot summary. Don't see it for the plot. See it for the humor. See it because you need to know about "Tootsie-Frootsie" to function in Western Society. See it because Harpo and Chico play the harp and piano, respectively, and you've never seen a harp or piano make music until you see them do it. See it because there's some real nice songs. See it because there's wackiness. Just see it.

Now, for the technicals:
The cast included:
Groucho Marx .... Doctor Hugo Z. Hackenbush
Chico Marx .... Tony
Harpo Marx .... Stuffy
Allan Jones .... Gil Stewart
Maureen O'Sullivan .... Judy Standish
Margaret Dumont .... Emily Upjohn
Sam Wood directed, it was filmed in 1937 at MGM, and it clocks in at an hour, 51 minutes. Or 111 minutes, if you don't want to hear about hours.

In a lot of ways, your career with us is going to be a lot like being in the military during wartime: long periods of boredom punctuated by moments of stark terror. A Cell doesn't make it any better by parceling out information in dribs and drabs on a "need to know" basis, which has gotten some good men and women killed over the years...but I digress. Perversely, there's so much popular fiction that skirts along the edge of the truth that there's a strong temptation to try and sift through the sludge in order to find the occasional pearl of information, but on the other hand, in this business, the more you know, the sooner you die or go completely batshit crazy. Or both. Quite aside from the distinct possibility that if you know too much, it attracts attention, and it never seems to be the right kind of attention, if you know what I mean.

Anyway, I like to read some of those books myself, comparing notes, so to speak, though some of this's just out there. Take this guy Gross, for example. He's got a bunch of books out about this guy, Rob Howarth I guess his name is, who works for the Brit equivalent of Majestic 12. They're pretty interesting stories, but the guy's trendy, nihilistic atheism gets up my nose after a while. Also, I have to admit I get annoyed by all the high-tech stuff, and the widespread use of magic/higher maths. Maybe that's just an institutional thing; after all, a night at the opera usually involves killing things and blowing people up (or vice versa) as opposed to unleashing eldritch wizardries from our IPhones. Because we don't want to know. We just want to stop these goddamn people - or things that used to be people, or things pretending to be people - from unleashing the end of the world, and if we can destroy some of the blood-soaked tools they're using, so much the better.

Which brings us to this other guy, Coelho, the one that writes about the accountant turned werewolf. Now, what I like about this is not the smartass accountant, but the Monster Containment Bureau agent who might pass for one of us in a bad light, if any of us were built like Arnold Schwartzenegger and as tough as Ahnuld's most famous character. This Agent French, not only is he a serious badass, he has exactly the right attitude: going into battle against a small army of demons, outnumbered and outgunned, what's the order he gives? "Fucking kill everything".

Yeah. He'd fit right in, for as long as he lasted. You want another beer?

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