Friday, January 30, 2009

Of Frogs, Friendship, & Flora

What is the part about my membership to the Botanical Garden of Earthly Delights that I'll miss the most when Amber moves on to Mother Goose Incorporated?

Is it the free parking? The opportunity to see my friend for four hour lunches? All the plants?

Heck, no. It's my discount at the Gift Store.

Where else can you find Fine Art like the picture below, or this one from way back when?

How do they come up with this stuff? Seriously?

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Good Birthday Come In Threes

Who knew such great Dames of America shared the same birthday?

Three ladies I like heaps are all blowing out candles today.

The eldest on our list is Miss Katharine Ross. I like her mostly because she's so pretty, but I also enjoyed her very much in The Graduate and The Stepford Wives (the original movie, not the one I saw in the theatre simply to enjoy the A/C, later to realize standing outside and melting might have been preferable.

Next up is Miss Bettye LaVette. LaVette is an old school R&B musician who had some minor hits in the early 70s, then languished for far too long. In the mid-aughts she came out with I've Got My Own Hell To Raise, followed quickly by Scene Of The Crime. These two albums blow me away - she's R&B, country, rock, everything. On the albums she covers Aimee Mann, Bruce Springsteen, Dolly Parton, Elton John, Joan Armatrading (woohoo!), Lucinda Williams, Rosanne Cash, Willie Nelson, and more. Her versions are so unique and in cases wrenching, that even if they don't surpass the originals in my mind, they stand firmly on their own. She recently did a kick-bum version of "A Change Is Gonna Come" with Bon Jovi at an inauguration event, available on the YouTube.

Here though we're going to see her do a Fiona Apple song medley'd into Sinead O'Connor. God Bless America.

And finally, cheers to Miss Ann Jillian. We know her from Kevin's third favorite sitcom, It's A Living, and as the star of the made-for-TV Mae West bio. I liked her best in Jennifer Slept Here, a comedy that ran for one season in 1983. She played the ghost of a famous actress who haunted her old house, currently occupied by a family with a teenage son, whom I swore was Jason Bateman but apparently wasn't. Georgette from the Mary Tyler Moore show had a nice part too.

Here's the opening credits to Jennifer Slept Here.

Happy Birthday, Ladies!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Cats Is The Best Medicine

Wintry Mix!

You know those days when nothing makes you cheerful except Kitty Pictures? Well, just in case today is another stinker, this is for me!

I was recently sent a picture entitled "Baby's First Snow." Before Zach met me, he lived in a different city in an apartment with a balcony. Here's photographic evidence of his first encounter with the stuff:

He's older now, yet still full of mystery and wonder, and peas and vinegar sometimes.

For example, can someone please explain to me how this cutie beast

can turn into this beast, within just seconds?

Either way, he's a furr bucket of love.

Anyway, Zach has taken a little sojourn from my place, but I received this picture of him from his travels. His caption was "all tied up!" He's such a funny monkey.

Have fun, little boy!

With this, I'm off to work through the wintry mix.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

iToss, iTurn, iTunes

So last night I bailed on my plans and stayed indoors, attempting to beat this stupid cold and to recover from a bit of yelling in the office at the end of my day. I watched the first half of a Doris Day movie that curiously starred Shirley MacLaine and Dean Martin.

It was a very traditional Doris Day mistaken identity sex farce, but as much as I like my personal friend Miss MacLaine, I didn't connect with the movie and turned it off.

And THEN, I tried going to bed but I tossed, I turned, I tossed some more, eventually falling asleep after what seemed like hours.

Before I went to bed I noticed that my alarm clock was missing. I have a feeling a certain pussycat thought it was a toy and hid it on me, I'm sure I'll find it under the stove one day. So I set the alarm on my cell phone for my regular time. My iPod alarm is set for the same time every day, for a random shuffle of music to help me wake up.

Lo! Cell Phone alarms do not have Snooze features!

For about an hour I snoozed while my studio apartment was filled with songs. I had listened to, among other things:

Blondie - "Last Contact in Red Square"

Bette Midler - "Stay With Me Baby"

Dionne Warwick - "Do You Know The Way To San Jose"

R.E.M. - "What's The Frequency Kenneth"

Evita Soundtrack - "Waltz With Eva & Che"

To what song did I eventually fully wake up? I wish I could claim synchronicity and say Miss Day's "Sentimental Journey" or even a MacLaine song from Sweet Charity, but I can't. It was the relatively mundane, yet pretty, "Daniel" by Sir Elton John.

Anyway, here's a great scene from Sweet Charity, with MacLaine, Chita Rivera, and Paula Kelly, which I will take as the theme for my day at work in the Yelling Factory. There's GOT to be something better than this.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Goonies ARE Good Enuf

Wow, thank you, New York Daily News, for this feature here.

I mean, we all know what Sean Astin and Martha Plimpton have been up to lately. Or I think we do - Astin in the Lords Of the Ring, and Plimpton on Broadway, most recently in Pal Joey with Miss Stockard Channing.

But even though I spontaneously saw Milk recently, I didn't connect that Dan White was played by Brand Walsh. Method!

Did YOU know that Chunk is now an entertainment lawyer in LA?


Data is now a stunt choreographer, most recently with the X-Men franchise. The man who played his pop, who couldn't get his camera open, is now Lt. Tao on my favorite cop show, The Closer. Oh! And Lupe, the housekeeper? She played Gabby's mom on Desperate Housewives a few years back.

I had no idea that the man who played Sloth was really a footballer, nor that he sadly died a few years ago.

But really, my favorite grown-up from the movie was Mama Frateli, aka Anne Ramsey. She wasn't just my fave because she was in the Shelley Winters role, but that helped. (Can you imagine a Goonies made in the early 70s? With little Jodie Foster in the Andy Carmichael role and Winters as Mama F?).

She also played the titular (hee hee) character in Throw Mama From The Train, and she pops up very regularly in the old programs I frequent - I've seen her on Charlie's Angels, on the TV movie pilot for Murder, She Wrote, Wonder Woman, Laverne, & Shirley, you name it. She went to Heaven back in 1988, but she'll live on forever in our hearts. And our old programs.

Thanks for the memories, Mama Fratelli.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

A Great Lie Indeed

Last night I watched The Great Lie, with Miss Bette Davis, Mary Astor, & George Brent.

I thought it was lovely, a great example of Davis' "women's pictures" - all melodrama, all weepie. And Mary Astor was lovely as well.

My favorite part of the preview is how they seem to encourage you to talk during the movie. Times sure were different back then.

Friday, January 23, 2009

If You Seek A... Silly Town Name, Ask A Foreigner

I get the giggles. It's no secret.

If someone says the letter P two times in a row, I giggle. When I worked at a publisher that made A. L. Milne books, and we published Pooh Is Missing, A Hard Day For Pooh, Pooh's First Christmas, I would giggle in meetings. Some ice creams make me giggle. When I had a business meeting with Costco and they discussed "false bottoms" as a marketing tool, I giggled. You know what? That's OK with me.

But this article that Kevin sent last night had me ROARING with my morning coffee today. It combined some of my favorite topics - Giggle-worthy words and Foreigners. I've already blogged about Foreigners and how they don't know what to call movies, but I had no idea they didn't know what to call towns and streets!

I mean, British people are the worst of all. "Fanny" and "bum" mean their opposites there, and 'pinching a baby' means to steal it from a shopping mall. But I had no idea they lived in such silly places!

I mean, what if you lived in Crapstone? Or Penistone (pronounced "PENNIS-tun, yeah right)? Crotch Crescent, Titty Ho, Slutshole Lane, or Thong?

There's even one address that rivals Britney Spears' latest ditty / controversy, "4 Corfe Close." You have to say that real fast and think dirty thoughts.

I dunno, Foreigners. You just keep this up, we like being Amused here.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

The Daughter Of The Devil Is A Friend Of Mine

I was shocked to discover when this blog celebrated its anniversary that there were only (4) tags for Miss Shelley Winters. Whatever was I thinking?

This here movie, The Devil's Daughter, is one of my favorites with Miss Shelley Winters.

It's a made-for-TV affair, and is sort-of a sequel to Rosemary's Baby. In addition to our two-time Academy Award winning friend, it features such luminaries as Abe Vigoda, Jonathan Frid (from Dark Shadows), Joseph Cotton, and three-time Academy Award nominee Dianne Ladd.

Amber's scariest part was imagining that the Poole Sisters turned into cats.

My favorite part? Realizing that the man who wrote the film, Sir Colin Higgins, also wrote 9 to 5 and Harold & Maude.

Most folks know I don't like the horror movies. Stick in a Winters though, and I'm all over it.

Here's the preview - watch if you DARE!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Great Lake

Over the long weekend I re-watched Sullivan's Travels, one of my favorite movies. It's by Preston Sturges, and has some of his trademarks - high quality banter (BANTER!), some slapstick moments, and, of course, a dame.

This dame in question is Miss Veronica Lake. She was born, of course, Constance Frances Marie Ockelman, and at her full height was only 4' 11 1/2".

Miss Lake is lovely, and wears her trademark "peek-a-boo bangs." I first heard of Veronica Lake as a very little boy. When I would go and stay with my Nana she was always doodling, usually on the TV guide. She most often drew faces, and the face she drew MOST often was Veronica Lake's. I think she did this because it was easy - you'd have one eye and a mouth and then just drew a lock of hair over the other eye and you were done - no need to worry about symmetry!

Nana also told me how during The War Miss Lake had to change her hairstyle, because too many Rosie The Riveters were mimicking her and getting their bangs caught in the machinery. Despite the fact that I regularly forget my locker combination and get confused about the cross street for my local grocery store, this nugget stays in my head.

In the recent spirit of All Things America, here's Veronica Lake's Public Service Announcement for how ladies should not wear their hair in front of their eyes while making bombs.

Thanks, Veronica!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Patriot Cat, take 2

For all of you who wish for more than one post per day...God Bless America.

Home of the Free, & the Cheeseburger

Whew. Now, I had the last three days off, not only from work, but from BLOGGING. I know, I know, Amber made like forty posts yesterday. Well, sometimes you have the energy to blog, and sometimes you don't.

Today though I am getting filled up on HOPE with a capital H-O-P-E. Is it because I slept until 8:30am? Nope. Is it because the reason I slept so late is because I was up until almost 2am, turning, tossing, and randomly flipping through Lauren Bacall's memoirs? Nope.

I'd like to think this Kitty Cat sums up my feelings.

But really, no one says anything better than the Muppets.

God Bless, America.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Past 'tense

Yesterday I read in the NY Times Obits that Hortense Calisher had died. Now, she was 97 and had a good long life, so while death is always sad, hers is one in which we can focus on the good stuff from her almost-century down here on Earth.

Calisher was an unusual writer - she started writing late in life, and would switch genres between novels - sprawling complex family dramas set in New York, then science fiction, then something else again entirely. The novels were never my interest with her, I gravitated more towards the short stories.

One story I really like is "In Greenwich There Are Many Gravelled Walks." It's about a boy and his relationship to his eccentric mother, with that typically dense Calisher plot. The boy is off at boarding school and his mother rebels against their Upper West Side, somewhat rigid lifestyle. My favorite line has to do with the mother moving back to Greenwich Village, "to those few important blocks where she felt safe and known and loved."

The narrator describes all the eccentrics in the Village who accept his mother, including "the anomalous, sandalled young men." I just love that one.

I met Ms. Calisher once at a reading. After the reading she did a little signing, and since she came without a publicist she also came without a pen. I donated mine to the cause and told her I was just discovering her work for myself. She smiled and said, "I've written a lot. You've got a LONG trip ahead of you."

Bon Voyage to you too, Hortense! Thanks for all the books.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Murder, Amish Style

So last night I had some chums over for over-priced treacherous burritos and programs. What else is knew, you say?

Well, one thing that was new is that after we watched Honey West we put on a Murder, She Wrote.

Oh, what's NEW, you say? What's new is that on this particular Murder, She Wrote, Jessica was in Amish Country (which looked suspiciously like southern California). And then, there was a MURDER! One of the Amish killed another one...pitchfork style! Mrs. Fletcher got to the bottom of it (and no, it was not her wrongly-accused friend, nor was it frequent guest-star Gwendolyn Pierce).

Now, this reminded me very much of Violent Saturday, a lovely little Victor Mature/Lee Marvin movie I saw with some chums a few months back. The humdinger of Violent Saturday is that Ernest Borgnine plays an Amish fellow, who gets caught up between some bank robbers. True to its name, this movie is Violent, and takes place on a Saturday. And true to murder in the Amish-fashion, Ernie has to protect his family the only way he knows how...pitchfork-style!

And so - spoiler alert - here's a rather gripping scene from Violent Saturday. Enjoy!

In Kevin's immortal words: God Bless, Lee Marvin.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Happy Birth-Faye!

Today we celebrate the birthday of Miss Faye Dunaway.

I like Miss D very much, though I find her perplexing as all get out. She's great in Bonnie & Clyde, The Thomas Crown Affair, and even that over-rated Network. And then she's so Over The Top Camp in Mommie Dearest and Supergirl (costarring the fabulous Brenda Vaccaro). She was nominated for three Academy Awards (one win), and ten Golden Globes. After the 70s though, she started working less and less in the movies, or at least in the good ones (sorry, Dunston Checks In!), and more on her face.

She dated everyone from Lenny Bruce to Marcello Mastroianni to Peter Wolf from J. Geils Band to Lord knows who else. And her seductive chess game with Steve McQueen in Thomas Crown is as goofily-flirty as anything I've ever seen.

Most recently I saw her in Alias - she had a recurring spooky Over the Top role in keeping with the current taut-ness of her kisser.

These buddies did a fancypants remix of Mommie Dearest, which I think is pretty fun (if overly long and repetitive - just like the movie itself!)

Happy Birthday, Faye!

Monday, January 12, 2009

Laverne & Shirley & Kevin & Christopher

Kevin and I got into a humdinger of an argument recently at Stew Club.

It was over the time-setting of Laverne & Shirley. I put forth that even though it was a spin-off of Happy Days, set in the 1950s, it was set in the present day of the late 70s, when the show aired. Kevin insisted it took place in about the same time period as Happy Days.

Our good friend wikipedia settled the tiff.

Laverne & Shirley was an American television situation comedy that ran on ABC from 1976 to 1983 ... Set in roughly the same time period as Happy Days, Laverne & Shirley started in approximately 1959, and when the series ended, it was 1967.

Eh, you can't win them all.

One thing we can all agree on is that there was also, apparently, an animated Saturday morning cartoon, "Laverne & Shirley Join the Army," which none of us remembered. For some reason - according to the opening credits a cross between a handsome recruiting officer, patriotism, and the fact that the army accepts signatures with no last names, the dames enlisted.

I'm still not sure why their commanding officer was a pig, but there's no explaining everything.

Cheers, buddies!

Friday, January 9, 2009


Boy howdy, did I send oh-eight off in the Gay Style. Within the span of a week, I saw both Liza! At The Palace and Patti! Lupone in Gypsy. I can now check off these living legends from my To See list.

Fortunately for you, gentle readers, you can save yourself some Benjamins and just see them here!

Here's Ms. M on the Muppet Show, doing one of my favorite songs. About half-way through you realize it's a bit of a dark song for the kiddies, but eh, they'll turn out OK.

And try as I might, I can't find anything better from Ms. LuPone than this here clip, which I first posted about a year ago. It really just shivers me timbers every time.

Thanks, Ladies.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Cleaning Out the Junk Drawer

Just like how I cleaned out my desk at work last week to rid myself of emotional clutter, I've been trying to do the same thing at home. So far, I have taken many bags to the Salvation Army, even getting rid of the ugly pillows that came with my couch in 2004, and have been in the Up High Place ever since, never used.

Anywhere, here's some Bits & Bobs I've found cluttering up my hard drive.

I giggled like a little perv when I noticed the tag line on my multi-pack of deodorant.

This was one of the many confusing road signs in South Africa. I think I almost understand it.

Here's another one, same highway. Do you call this number if you see a cow on the street? Or for a cheeseburger?

This is one of the many confusing signs on the way to Kevin and Diana's house. I never knew that Rabbit was Poultry.

Anyway, I feel better. And now maybe I have more room on my hard drive to download pictures of Shelley Winters from the Life Magazine archives.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Private Eyeful!

God bless the day I discovered Miss Honey West!

Honey West is an Aaron Spelling TV show from 1965, based on a character from 50s pulp detective novels. Apparently Spelling was in the UK and saw the Avengers and decide to make an American version, with these books as the basis.

I'm not sure what's not to like about it. Here's what IS to like about it:
  • she's a private eye and fights bad guys
  • she wears Mrs. Peel leather suits and does karate
  • she has a pet ocelot
  • the complete series is available now on Netflix - except note that Disc 1 has a Very Long Wait
  • it's only 30 minutes long!

So basically, it's a pre-cursor to Alias, but with an ocelot.

Here's the opening credits. Bam!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

A Stritch in Time

I love 30 Rock and would never deny it, even if the cock crowed three times before midnight.

There's a lot to like about this program, but probably my favorite thing is when Elaine Stritch guest stars as Alec Baldwin's mother. I love Stritchy: I have all both of her albums, and I always light up when she's on screen. It's really probably her greatest role since the lesbian landlord in Who Killed Teddy Bear. Or maybe since Company.

This scene made me laugh so much that I shook the laptop and hulu reset. All you need for the set-up is to know that Baldwin accidentally hit his mom with his car, and then waited eight minutes before calling 911. Stritchy has just figured it out and is confronting him.

Pure genius.

Monday, January 5, 2009

2008: Not All Bad

As I sit here on my couch and reflect on the year that passed, I realize I was a bit of a grump as Aught Eight wound down. I was focusing on the bad stuff, but then I remembered that there were some good things last year too.

For example:

Amber finally moved back to town. I could finally unravel that quilt from my loom.

I saw the most beautiful thing ever.

David and I went to Alligator Island.

Colleen got married.

I went to Governor's Island.

My sister got knocked up and my parents got drunk.

I discovered Bones, and I learned about Henry the Ennui Cat.

Sarah and I went to the Cape, and we played Badminton.

We had a road trip to the Hamptons.

Seth visited from Iceland.

I became an Uncle - first to Karen's baby then to my sister's.

I went to San Francisco to see Sarah, and David and I road-tripped to Montreal.

So, not as bad as I had thought. Let's see what you got, 2009!

(Remember the TV writer's strike in the 80s? When all the characters would sit around the kitchen table and reminisce about all the good times they had the previous season, so they didn't have to come up with new material? I loved those episodes)