Saturday, December 31, 2016

"Quittin' Time!" For 2016!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                           Some, I have heard, are glad to see this year go.  Myself, not particularly, though I can think of others I was glad to see go, like 1969 and 1979. 

                             But, 2016, in less than twelve hours, becomes history.  As do its postings on this blog.  It has been my pleasure to share with you what has gone down, from my point of view, and shall continue to do so in the coming year.

                              I can't think of a better way to end than Vivien Leigh delivering Scarlett's final speech. Here it is!!!!!!!!!!!

                               Love and Happiness to all in 2017!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                               See you next year!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

What Is Ahead In 2017!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                              Now, girls, it is time for me to reveal some things you may have suspected, but I have kept hidden.  There is a lot ahead in the coming year, which I expect to spend, as always with my dear and beloved David.  So, here is what to look out for!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                                January I often find a depressing month.  But this coming one, two positive, life altering events take place.

                                 On January 10, David and I get married!  Imagine, me a bride!  What will I wear????????  A full report will surely follow, darlings!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                                 On January 20, I retire from my job, after nearly 36 years. That is right.  So, if you have suspected, it is true!

                                   On April 7 of this year, this blog turns 10 years old!  Can you believe it!  And, yes, there will be a party!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                                    On May 13, the centennial of Fatima is marked!  Watch out!  Mary and the children, headed by Jacinta, may come to visit on a sun dropping from the sky!!!!!!!!!!!!!  And those children--Lucia Santo, and her cousins, Francisco and Jacinta Marto, are expected to be canonized as Saints!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                                     Several films have decades milestones!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                                      "Wings," the first film to win the Oscar for Best Picture, turns 90!!!!!!!!!!!

                                      "Make Way For Tomorrow," made in 1937, turns 80!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                                      "Gentleman's Agreement," and David Lean's "Great Expectations," and "Miracle On 34th Street," all released in 1947, turn 70!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                                      "Peyton Place," really the best film of 1957, turns 60!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                                      "The Graduate," Doctor Doolittle," "Bonnie And Clyde," and "In The Heat Of The Night," all turn 50!!!!!!!!!!  Don't get me started with "Guess Who's Coming To Dinner!!!!!!!!!"

                                       "Star Wars," "Annie Hall," "The Turning Point," and "The Goodbye Girl" from 1977, all turn 40!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                                         From 1987, both "Moonstruck" and "Fatal Attraction" turn 30!!!!!!!!!!  I cannot believe it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                                            Oh, and watch out--Joan Didion is coming out with a new book!  Two expanded essays!!!!!!!!!!

                                          And then there is the unexpected!  May it be positive!  Time will tell, darlings!!!!!!!!!!!


My Most Impacting Performer Deaths Of 2016!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                                     I saw "The Sound Of Music," the day after Thanksgiving, 1965, when my parents surprised me with a delayed birthday gift screening we all went to, in Atlantic City, after having visited Aunt Jane and Uncle Donald, for Thanksgiving.

                                       Needless to say, I never forgot it.  It was one of those film defining viewings of my life, and while I always--and still--wanted to be Angela Cartwright and Heather Menzies, who could not help but  admire the star potential of lovely, vocally gorgeous Charmian Carr??????????

                                       As "The Sound Of Music" evolved from film to cultural icon, it was clear Charmian never needed to make another film--this was enough.  Nevertheless, a lot of star potential was on display.  But Charmian and her screen siblings settled into their roles as the film's spoken advocates.  For many, including myself, they were the Von Trapp Children!  They always would be!

                                       How illusion bursting it was that Charmian, oldest of the septet, was the first to leave us.  At seventy-three, on her departure last September 17. (she had been twenty-one during the filming, but looked every inch the adolescent ingenue!!!!!!!!!) it was sad to learn she had suffered from dementia.  But, I am telling you, the film was so ingrained in her, that even then, she could probably have discussed it, with great pleasure!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                                        Charmian's death was upsetting to me.

                                         As was Joan Carroll's, another child actress--from the Forties--known for not one but two iconic films that impacted on me--"Meet Me In St. Louis," and "The Bells Of St. Mary's."  I recently wrote a tribute to Joan, so I just want to add that, over the years, I would search for what became of her, and I believe she did some film work, in adulthood, behind the camera.

                                        It was a year of loss, darlings!  May these and others rest in peace.

                                        And may 2017 keep those near and dear to us near!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The Most Tragic Precedent Of the Year!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                            As I remarked last week, darlings, I did not hear about Carrie Fisher being stricken, until arriving at my sister's for Christmas, last Friday, December 23.  I was horrified to learn of her passing on December 27.  This was sad enough--but then came news that, while planning her daughter's funeral, Carrie's mom, actress Debbie Reynolds, had suffered a stroke!  "Not plucky Debbie!," I thought.  Only, as I discovered, Debbie was not so plucky; I had been unaware that, prior to then, she had suffered a couple of strokes.  Still, Debbie couldn't die!!!!!!!!!!!  Could she???????????  And not now, just after Carrie!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                           Guess what, girls?  She could and she did.

                            This was something only Hollywood could have made up--and yet it was real!  Maybe that is why, while tragic, it was somewhat apt Carrie should go together--both were so representative of Hollywood.  And now they will get a joint Hollywood sendoff.

                              While the rest of us are left reeling!!!!!!!!!!!  How much more can we stand!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

My Most Personal Death Of the Year!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                                   I met David Berry, the most famous person I have actually known, almost twenty years ago, at a time in my life when I was very active at the LGBT Center on West 13th Street.  Though he did not look quite like this, then, he was nevertheless tall, handsome and striking.  Of course, many of us, including yours truly, were hot for him, but with David and I, it was the  meeting of the minds; we were both writers, both arts oriented, good with words, and David was able to understand my issues, and discuss them with me, better than many a therapist I have consulted.

                                    David's claim to fame was this--he wrote "The Whales Of August."  It was semi-autobiographical, and first presented, in New York, in a production that, while not quite successful, got enough attention to have it turned into a star laden Hollywood film, with the likes Of Bette Davis, Lillian Gish, Vincent Price, and Ann Sothern.  It was the final film for Lillian, for sure, and may have been for at least one of the others.  It was a visually gorgeous, wonderfully acted film, of a kind not often seen--then or now.  David adapted his own play for the screen, and told many a tale about being on the set.  And how much he adored Ann Sothern, and how wonderful she was to him.

                                     Because of this, David was able to get through to me, like no one else, on a preconceived notion I had developed to combat my issues--the idea that fame and money solve all your problems.  By chronicling his to me, I learned this not be so.  David never told me to stop writing--he admired much of my work, including some short stories I went over with him--or seeking approval, but not to depend on it bringing me personal happiness.  And that, if it comes, fine; if not, that is fine, too.

                                    I wish David could know how happy I am today.  and how much, in his own way, he steered me toward it.

                                    Rest In Peace, David.  You will be deeply missed by this still artistic aspirant.

Here Is What You Have Been Waiting For, Girls!!!!!!!!!!!! Bitch Of The Year!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                             This is a way to segue  into something that played a big part in 2016, unfortunately-Death!!!!!!!  For a time, it looked as though fictional characters Ariel Shuman or Brandi Beaudry, from the "Cold Case" episode "The Sleepover," would win Bitch Of The Year.  Ariel would have had the edge, because she is a sociopath, and, besides, I just LOVED Brandi!!!!!!!!!!!

                              But, then I remembered the tragic August 11 suicide of young Daniel Fitzpatrick, only 13.  I did a Bitch Of The Week column on "Whomever," being anyone having anything to do, no matter how small, with this innocent child's death.  So, the award  for Raving Queen Bitch Of The Year goes to...Whomever.

                             More than others', Daniel's was the most tragic and senseless of deaths.  Not since Tyler Clementi has a death by bullying been so disturbing.  What fascinates me here is how there was no evidence of homophobia surrounding the bullying--Daniel played football, for God's sake, and let me tell you, from experience, burgeoning gay youth do NOT play football!  Hell, they don't even play or watch sports!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                             Daniel was simply bullied because he could be. And that is most horrible of all.  Just for being himself, and not fitting some preconceived notions of social conformity!  Fuck you, whomever!  Fuck you all!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                              Even Brandi killed no one!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The Documentaries Of the Year!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                                     I hardly ever used to watch documentaries; in my youth, they always dealt with war or politics, two issues I did not care to explore.  Within the last twenty years, filmmakers have been exploring more interesting and varied subjects--this, perhaps was paved the way for by the Maysles Brothers in their 1976 "Grey Gardens," wherein we all wanted to be Little Edie.  At least, I still do!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                                      This year, two very different documentaries impacted me.  "The Witness." by way of her brother, explored the tragic circumstances surrounding the iconic murder of Kitty Genovese on March 13, 1964.  I was moved by her brother, by the heartbreak of a life cut all too soon, and assured by the revelation she did not exactly die alone and abandoned.  Good as this documentary was, and is, I don't think it will change things.  Kitty's tale was always be one of urban apathy.

                                       On the flip side, "Best Worst Thing That Ever Could Have Happened" took on something close to my heart--the 1981 musical, "Merrily We Roll Along," which I not only saw in my youth, but, over the years, came to know people associated with it.  The excitement of being in a Broadway show, only to have it fall apart, is brilliantly chronicled in this film put together by cast member Lonny Price.  What is most interesting is how Terry Finn, who originated what I always thought the show's almost annoying character, Gussie, comes off as moving and heartbreaking.  Way to go, Lonny, and kudos to all involved!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                                         Interesting how these two films stood out, and apart, from more narrative films!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The Theatrical Events Of the Year!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                             Sadly, there were no new shows to rave about.  I refuse to give in to the "Hamilton" hype, so the revival of these two, but very different  classic musicals were the theatrical highlights of the year!

                              I shall always recall the heartbreak Laura Benanti brought to her rendition of "Dear Friend" in "She Loves Me!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"  Just gorgeous, in a production perfect in every way.

                              As for "Runaways" a new generation of unknowns electrified me with the energy--oh, to be young again!!!!!!!!--and passion they performed the piece, which holds up theatrically, but, sadly, is still relevant today.  Not dated at all!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                               Even though Mary-Louise Parker and Celia Keenan-Bolger gave outstanding performances in their shows-- "Heisenberg" and "The Cherry Orchard"--the vehicles themselves were not strong enough.

                                 But that's the lullaby of Broadway, darlings!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The Mistake Of the Year!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                               The election of Donald Trump as President Of The United States.  Enough said!!!!!!!

The Book Of The Year!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                                   It is that time--to wrap up the year 2016, fast on its way to becoming History, with the most impacting items.

                                    Nathan Hill's first novel, "The Nix" was the best thing I read all year, a moving, Dickeseque tale, with Doctorow overtone, of a boy and his mother navigating their way through the American social fabric of the Sixties to the present.

                                      I could not tear my eyes away from it, while reading, devouring this faster than other, shorter volumes read all year.  A stunning debut, by an author I want to follow!!!!!!!!!!!

It Took Me Several Days To Process This Film!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                                 OK.  Let's talk about "Manchester By The Sea."

                                  It is a very good movie, but not, as I was expecting to write, the Movie Of The Year.  There is something in Kenneth Lonergan's writing that holds it back from this distinction I was expecting to list is as.

                                  Or maybe I was over warned.  Everyone told me that, with my sensitive nature, I should not see this film alone.  I did not, though, while the film is truly haunting and wrenching, forcing me to examine issues in my own past life, I did not emerge from the screening a sobbing mess.  Though the film is undeniably impacting.

                                  Almost everyone knows by now that things start with Lee Chandler, (Casey Affleck) forced by the tragic death of his brother, Joseph (Kyle Chandler) to take care of his teen aged nephew, Patrick (Lucas Hedges).  True enough, but also true, as I had been warned, this is just the tip of the iceberg.

                                  "Manchester By  The Sea" may not be the Film Of The Year, but it IS the Best Acted Film Of The Year.  Lonergan's direction surpasses his writing, offering up an ensemble cast where every major character stands out; none more so than the acting pas de deux between Casey Affleck and Lucas Hedges,

                                    Mr. Affleck, nice to look at, and whom I always considered a better actor than his full-of-himself brother, Ben, fulfills all that promise with an extremely internalized performance of the type men rarely get to do.  He digs so deep into Lee's pain, sometimes only visible in his face, that it seems to transfer itself to the audience.  I am as different from Lee as they come, but Affleck made me feel what Lee is going through.  It is not comfortable.

                                    Lucas Hedges is a fine young man.   Here, he fulfills the promise displayed when he portrayed Richie in "The Slap."  Patrick is as different from Richie as they come, but Mr. Hedges burrows deep, showing his bravado belies a lot of pain. These two care about each other so much, but they are also very much alike, which is why the resolution that is reached takes place.

                                    As for Michelle Williams, my only criticism is she not being in the film enough.  Her big scene is heartbreaking, but her earlier scenes have a comic amusement to them that reveal how in love she and Lee were--and probably still are.  It was plain to me she is as pained as Lee, and while her moving on may at first seem cold, when you see her with her husband, it is apparent that all of it is a distraction--one that certainly will not last.  She is just as damaged as Lee.  She is just not dealing with it well. But neither as Lee.

                                     C.J. Wilson's performance as George, Joe's friend, should not be overlooked, as it gives the film its moments of warmth and empathy.  Wilson's work conveys an understanding of both Lee and Patrick they don't yet have themselves, and he is the touching and grounding force that centers this film, emotionally, when it runs the danger of going awry.  Which it does not.

                                     So, what is it about the writing that does not work.  Not enough background on Michelle's character, nor forcing us to conclude about Gretchen Mol's, rather than confirming our suspicions about her--that she is a dry drunk and not out of her woods, yet.

                                     But, then the film might have run over three hours.  At two hours and seventeen minutes, it is so absorbing, the actors so engaging that the time spins by.  Kenneth
Lonergan might have known what he was doing, after all.  The film forces audiences to think, gives each actor a big, emotional moment, (just like the playwright Lonergan is!!!!!!!) rather than draw things out tediously by doing the work for viewers.  At first, I disagreed, but, in retrospect, I think this is what Longergan intended, and I think he was right, after all!!!!!!!!!!!

                                    Besides being the Best Acted Film Of The Year, this is also the Most Visually Beautiful Film Of The Year, incorporating stunning sea vistas--the one opening the film is breathtaking and mood setting--and various styles of music, much of it Celtic and spiritual in nature.  Aside from all this, I learned never to set foot inside a New England bar.

                                   "Manchester By The Sea" may also be the year's Most Difficult Film To Sit Through," but it deserves to be seen.

                                      And keep your eyes on Casey and Lucas.  Two portrayals destined to pass the test of time.



Friday, December 30, 2016

Now, THESE Are Devil's Donuts!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                                Don't they look enticing, darlings??????  Better than that ridiculous TV commercial that is still being aired--I wrote about it several weeks ago--and that uses the double D phrase.  So, I decided to look up the real thing myself, and look what came up with!  Now, if that red color is just confectionery sugar, we are in.  But if it tastes like strawberry, or peppermint, or hot stuff, forget it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                                 There is such a thing as Devil's Donuts!  And it's not crap, darlings!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Girls, How Could I Have Missed "The Dolly Sisters????????????"

                            This recent Christmas eve might have started a new tradition, darlings!  Worn out by The Mormon Tabernacle Choir, unable to face another viewing of "It's A Wonderful Life," my beloved and I discovered "The Dolly Sisters," a movie I have always had a peculiar relationship with.

                               The problem was I always had the wrong film, and the wrong Betty.  I always mixed this up with another 1940's film, "And The Angels Sing," released in 1944, and featuring Betty Hutton, who does the show-stopper, "His Rocking Horse Ran Away."  This was not that.

                                  Both film are about sister acts, but this one features Betty Grable--she of the million dollar legs--with the oft repeated song, "I'm Always Chasing Rainbows."  It also has character actor S.Z. Sakall, and these fabulous Orry-Kelly costumes, and the technicolor photography is just so breathtaking, girls, it demands to be seen.  And I want to wear some of those gowns!  The visual beauty of this rather ordinary film had my jaw dropping!!!!!!!!!!!

                                    The big surprise is John Payne.  Of course, we all know him from "Miracle On 34th Street," and, while I know he did other movies, that was the only one I had ever seen him in.  Handsome as all get out, a decent actor--but who knew he could sing????????  Not only is he a graduate of Columbia--here in NYC--he studied at a place just getting on its foot, a little school called Julliard.  Wait till you hear his gorgeous voice!  After doing so, I cannot imagine why Metro did not try to snap him up, or why, in the Fifties, he did not go to Broadway and score triumphs on the stage.  I am told he was heard in some other Fox musicals, so now I have to see for myself.

                                    But, girls, you gotta hand it to Betty!  The way she maintains her hair and make-up gives us all something to aspire to.

                                      What a Christmas treat!  You have GOT to see it!

                                       It was always said Fox insured Grable's legs for a million dollars.

                                       I wonder how much I could get for mine??????????

Can You Believe It, Darlings????????????????????

                                      Within the all too brief, and sad, interval between Carrie and then Debbie's passing, I learned that one of my favorites had died. Two days before my before, this past November 16, Joan Carroll, best known to those of us on here as Agnes Smith in "Meet Me In St. Louis," and Patsy in "The Bells Of St. Mary's," left us at the age of 85.

                                        Joan was a child of the Broadway stage.  She appeared with Ethel Merman on stage in "Panama Hattie," demonstrating a set of vocal chops that Hollywood, unfortunately did not take full advantage of.  (You get some seconds of it, in the opening of 'St Louis,' but that is it). But she was also a first rate dramatic actress, and that is what she is remembered for.

                                          She also quit at the top of her game.   "The Bells Of St. Mary's" turned out to be her last movie.

                                           What did Joan do after that?  Well, she married, raised four children of her own, and became the relative of  14 grandchildren and 19 great-grandchildren. She was beloved by all.

                                              To me, Joan's passing was as iconic as Charmian Carr. Both played important roles in films having a lasting impact on my life.

                                               Thank you, Joan, and Rest In Peace.

                                                To many, you will always be Agnes or Patsy!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

This Could Be My Final Book Of 2016!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                                 It may very well be, as "The North Water," which I have just started, may take me more than two days to get through, short though it be.  Eileen Rendahl's book is a quickie that is a fun wrap up to what was a very literary reading year.

                                  Linda Farmingham, the mother of heroine Amanda Fisher, commits suicide in the mental institution she is confined in.  The reason she is confined is because, while in a cult, she was driven to kill Amanda's youngest brother, Jackson, and wanted her daughter's help in killing other brother, Dylan.  Amanda got smart, and called the cops.

                                    But did she commit suicide?  And what is going on with Amanda, at work?  And who is the corporate spy?  And why is what's happening to Amanda happening?

                                     "Cover Me In Darkness" deftly answers all these questions.  I quickly figured out who the corporate spy was, but the rest was surprising, yet made sense when revealed.

                                        Cultists should read it, to see how they are being exposed.  Readers should read it if looking for  a fun, enjoyable read.  The trouble is, since "Gone Girl" and now "The Girl On The Train,' every mystery writer wants to be the next Gillian Flynn or Paula Hawkins.  Just be yourselves, darlings, let Gillian and Paula take care of themselves.

                                           A worthy end to reading in 2016!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Oh, My God!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Not Debbie, Too????????????????????

                              It is a story that only could have been told in Hollywood. Maybe that is why Fate dealt a Hollywood hand in causing screen icon Debbie Reynolds to pass on, just one day after her daughter, Carrie Fisher.  All of us are still trying to get over Carrie; now there is Debbie to contend with. I feel most sorry for Carrie's daughter and brother, Todd.  The Raving Queen and his readers offer condolences.

                                 Other performers had a far more reaching impact on my life, but there can be no denying Debbie Reynolds was present, at certain spots along the way.

                                  One of my earliest toys, a hand-me-down from daughters of a couple my parents were friends with was The Colorforms Debbie Reynolds Dress Designer kit.  This came out during Debbie's "Tammy" phase, and I could not have been more than four or five when presented with it. Of course, I was thrilled.  I did not know who this Debbie Reynolds was, but  I dressed Debbie in all her fashions. I have to wonder about my parents, whom, in retrospect, I cannot say were THIS forward thinking.  Especially when I turned out gay!  Maybe they thought because I was a baby, it would not do me any harm. But, this, THIS, darlings, started me on my way!  Thanks, Debbie!!!!!!!
Then, several years later, while I was in Fifth Grade, out came the movie of Debbie Reynolds as "The Singing Nun."  This was a fictional biopic of Sister Sourire, the Belgian nun, who scored a big hit with the song "Dominique."  Debbie sang that, of course in the film, the purpose of which was to cash in on the success of the big nun film of 1965, "The Sound Of Music."  It hardly equaled that, but, oh, my God, the scene where Debbie sings the "Alleluia" before the shrine of Mary was emotionally devastating, and brought tears to be eyes. The film, in trying to be exploratory for its time, also introduced to me a new vocabulary word that I had no idea of--abortion!!!!!!!!  Can you imagine the furor in my house that evening????????  Debbie scores again!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Who could forget Debbie in 1971's "What's The Matter With Helen?"  The final scene, with Shelley Winters frantically playing "Goody Goody" on the piano, the look on her face, and Debbie's murdered, costumed corpse, placed stage center!!!!!!!!!   This represented Debbie at her best, and it made me want to run away to Hollywood, and open a school for aspiring child performers, like Debbie in this film.  I probably would have eventually ended up as a prostitute on the Sunset Strip!!!!!  But Debbie saved me from that!!!!!!!!!!!

In 1973, Debbie opened the then brand new Minskoff Theatre on Broadway, with a revival of "Irene." It was a hit, though I did not get to see Debbie in it.  I saw another of her MGM colleagues, Jane Powell, when she replaced Debbie. Jane was great, and, fortunately, is still with us.

Debbie was the trouper who carried on.  From "Singin' In The Rain," (how could I forget that?) to "The Unsinkable Molly Brown," (an Oscar nomination) to her comic brilliance in "Mother."  Debbie was quite something, quite a mother.  Not to mention surviving the marital breakup of the last century--when Eddie Fisher left her for Elizabeth Taylor.

And now, Debbie and Carrie have both gone to that galaxy, to await us all, watching over us, as we remember them, here on Earth. As if they could be forgotten, because they can't. As if their like will ever be seen again, because it won't.

Rest In Peace, Carrie and Debbie.  I will sign off with two of Debbie's biggest hits, and my favorites!!!!!!!!!!!!  

Here are "Tammy,"  and "French Heels!!!!!!!" Debbie at her best!!!!!!

But wasn't she always, darlings???????????????

A Mirthful Collection Of Malevolent Fun!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                                  Girls, I am telling you, if anyone out there, who saw it, thought the film "Mr. Sardonicus" was brilliant--and it was-- then you must read this story collection, wherein the original story is featured, demonstrating it goes the movie one better.

                                   The highlight of the entire collection is what I call The "S" trilogy--"Sardonicus," "Sagittarius," and, my favorite, "Sanguinarius."  This last demonstrates what "Fifty Shades of Grey" could have been if a real writer had written it.  This story is as violent and sexual as they come, but not in the prurient or pornographic.  Russell uses language like Mario Bava uses visuals.  It was obvious whomever directed "Mr. Sardonicus" was replicating Bava's visual style. So does the imagery in Russell's prose.

                                      And, to think, Russell was an Executive and Fiction editor at...Playboy!!!!!!  I kid you not!!!!!!!!!!!  So, in retrospect, the eroticism, or aura of it, behind his tales is not so surprising at that. The real mystery is why he has seemed to be forgotten among horror writers, because this is the most mesmerizing collection of horror stories I have picked up, since Shirley Jackson at her best!  He should be in the pantheon with her.

                                       That Dorottya!  What a bitch!  But I just LOVED her!  This evil gypsy, featured in "Sanguinarius," outdoes Maria Ouspenskaya by miles!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                                         This book is a must!  If it turns out to end my book year, what a way to go out!!!!!!!!!  If not, it is the best recent example I have seen of where a book can be judged by its cover--as it lives up to it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Darliings, If This Is Not The Face Of A Psychotic!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                                  I am sorry to have to end this year's Bitch Of The Week column with such a mundane choice. Steven Nichols is just your garden variety insurance killer.  His girl friend, Rhonda Castro, suffered a fatal fall on the famed Trail Of Tears, otherwise known as the Trail Of Tears, in the Columbia River Gorge, on March 16, 2009.

                                    Rhonda plunged 150 feet to her death, in what was ruled an accident, but which our end year Bitch Of The Week, Steven Nichols, helped with by pushing Rhoda off the trail, so he could collect on her one million dollar insurance policy.  Also, the several years relationship had been falling apart, and he did not want to pay child support. The two then had an infant daughter.

                                       Nothing a bit remarkable about this bitch, but when I found out he was a Day Trader, I thought, "Well, that he is a psychopath makes total sense."  That, and just look at his face.  The face of psychopathy.

                                          Of course he is arrogant.  Of course he maintains his innocence. And of course, I hope he spends the rest of his life in prison before sent to Hell, where he belongs.

                                           The Old Life Insurance Ploy.  How many times do people expect to get away with that?

                                            Sorry to end on a whimper.  May 2017 bring us more fabulous bitches, and later on this week I will reveal Bitch Of The Year!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                                              Till then, girls!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

May The Force Be With Her!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                                    Come  on, girls!  There just could NOT be another obit headline!!!!!!!!!!!!

                                     I did not hear about Carrie Fisher having suffered a heart attack (or cardiac arrest) on the plane, until I arrived at my sister's, last Friday evening.  Like the rest of the world, I was stunned, and a bit angry--Oh, my God, I thought, if Carrie dies, how dare she upstage Charmian Carr?????????  Well, now Carries has gone, and I am faced with having to choose as to who is the Death Of The Year, when time--soon--to sum up 2016.

                                      Carrie will always be Prince Leia Organa.  But she was also a talented writer, satirist, with a keen-eyed sense of humor, and a mental health advocate.  Between being bi polar and part of the drug scene during her heyday--and how about that marriage to Paul Simon, now??????--Carrie played in the fast lane, and suffered its consequences.  Including an enormous weight gain.

                                       In these pursuits, she went the way of her father, Eddie.  Mama Debbie (Reynolds) is still bouncing, and must be pained, having outlived one of her children.

                                         So, may the force be with you, Carrie.  "Star Wars" turns 40 this coming year, and between that, and honoring Carrie, may there be theatrical screenings of the gem that started it all.

                                          Remember when we all wanted to wear that hair style, darlings??????????
Briefly, at least!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Vintage Chabon!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                            Here is the dire truth, darlings.  Michael Chabon will never (or at least let me say it is highly unlikely) write another novel as good as "The Adventures Of Kavalier And Clay."  That said, let me say, while "Moonglow" tops his last, "Telegraph Avenue," this should have been the one to duplicate the quality of 'K and C.'  With a plethora of cultural references, ranging from the history of rocketry and Werner Von Braun,  to a set of fortune telling cards recalling the Tarot, called Lenormand Cards, which I had never heard of, but now want to investigate, and learn to read.  Even, "Vampira," whose real name was Malia Nurmi, is mentioned.

                              All this is within the framework of an almost Doctorowesque historical treatise on aviation technology in the latter half of the Twentieth Century.  It is also a fictional memoir of Chabon's grandparents on his mother's side, one of whom was a pioneering rocketeer, and the other, Granny, everything from a TV personality to mental patient at then famed Greystone, in New Jersey--a place my parents threatened to send me to when I was a child, while I threatened to take them up on it, and give the staff a real run for their money!!!!!!!!--and should have moved at rocket speed.  But that is the problem.  It does not.

                             While acting as an all-purpose chronicle--of his family, and the entire Baby Boomer generation--I don't know quite what goes wrong.  Is it worth reading?  Definitely!  But, for all Chabon's details and skill, it is not as compelling a read as it ought to be.  I had to force myself to go back to it, and, while glad I did, recalled that with other works of his, I never had that feeling.  At first, I thought he was trying to cover too much, but that is Chabon's specialty.

                                So, what goes wrong here?  What's wrong with me?  Has Chabon lost his touch? 
Not really.  The problem, I think, is he has entered that  pantheon of authors--like Donna Tartt and Jonathan Franzen --from whom all readers expect gold to pour forth every time.  And those are hard odds to beat.  In some cases, "Moonglow" would be better suited to those having never read Chabon, so there will be nothing to compare it to.  For those of us who have, let me say proceed with caution.

                                   It is not explosive, like the Challenger.  But the reader does not blast off, either.

"Do You Believe In Jesus???????? Yes, Ah Do, Yes Ah Do!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

                             Girls, I am back from the Holidays, so let's talk about it.

                             For starters, right before their start, last week, the elevator on our side of the building, went kaput, and we haven't got it back yet.  Last Thursday, I was returning from shopping, struggling up the walk up stairs--something we both wanted to escape--when I tripped, and went down on the marble floor in our hallway, just before reaching our door.  Actually, it happened on the stairs, so, in a sense, I went, almost literally, up the down staircase!!!!!!!!!!!

                              I lie there, afraid to move, not sure if I could.  I cursed. I screamed. A downstairs neighbor, named Mary, who somewhat resembles my next door neighbor, Jennifer, came and helped me.  Once inside, Baby Gojira tended to me, and it was all he could do to keep me in check emotionally.  I was in such pain I wanted Brandi Beaudry's synthetic morphine.  But I toughed it out.

                              Traveling was a nightmare of pain that I managed to get through.  I thought of Jacinta, but I am so far from her, it is not worth mentioning.

                               What is worth discussing is this photo, taken in front of the home of my beloved Cujo!!!!!!!!!  See how brightly his house is decorated????  The prettiest on the block!  Cujo would not have it any other way.  And I just KNOW he LOVED the HUGE bone we gave him--our annual Christmas gift to him!  And, for the first time, beginning a tradition, miss Chloe got a gift, too!!!!!!!!!!!  Milk Bone treats!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                                  While in Pennsylvania, I learned Kensington is a place to avoid, and that Chestnut Hill was not the desirable place it once was when Brandi, Ariel, Tiffany, and Rita lived there.  Guess area affluence does not last forever.  Except, of course, for the President Streets in Highland Park.

                                    But Christmas was a blast.  The change of routine confused my 101-year-old father, but he managed to make it through, we are all set to tape my great-niece, Fiona's, dance performance on TV tomorrow.

                                     Still, when we finally boarded that bus, yesterday, we were glad to get back to New York City!

                                      Merry Christmas, darlings!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  Make those New Years Eve plans NOW!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Krampus Is In A Playful Mood!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                                As the Holidays get closer, Krampus is more playful than ever, having such fun hunting down naughty children he is beaming his exultation.

                                Who knows, he could be hunting for you, right now, so you had better be good!

                                 Meanwhile, Mary has to get ready for that journey with Joseph!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                                 Krampus sends his best to all! Especially Mary!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Is This Third Or Fifth Avenue??????????????

                              I cannot tell, darlings, because time is speeding up on this end.  Four days till Christmas!  How fast the time has flown!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                             But the visuals this time of year are stunning.  Lana Turner would have loved it. 

                             And finally--FINALLY--as the big musical guns are hauled out, here is "Lo, How A Rose E'er Blooming."  You can't beat The Mormon Tabernacle Choir!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Krampus Is Getting More Excited!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                           What a morning, girls, I am telling you!  Because we had to get up a little earlier this morning, Baby Gojira was fussing and fuming.  That got Krampus all worked up, so now he is determined to go on the prowl.  You had better watch yourselves, with Krampus on the prowl. Safety is not guaranteed.

                             Just five more days till Christmas.  Can you imagine, darlings?  And not yet have I heard "Mary's Boy Child," or "Lo, How A Rose E'er Blooming.  I mean, really!

                              No wonder Krampus is steamed!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Another Shot Of Third Avenue!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                              Now that we are moving into Twenties, the arrival of the Holidays really speeds up.  I am frantic, darlings, with shopping still to do, bus tickets to buy, and it is so damn cold!!!!!!!!!

                               Few streets look as lovely this time of year as Third Avenue in our neighborhood.

                               Let's see--a Christmas song?  How about "O Little Town Of Bethlehem?"

Monday, December 19, 2016

Girls, It Is High Time We Talked About "The Baby!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

                               Having recently seen this 1973 trash gem for the first time in decades, I had almost forgotten what a hoot it was.  I used to see it frequently; during my college years; from the mid to late Seventies, on into the early Eighties, Channel 9 would broadcast this film periodically.  I think I watched the first time out of curiosity.  I was so knocked out by it, I was hooked.

                                So much has been said about "The Baby."  And none of it is wrong.

                                 It is a masterpiece.

                                 It is a piece of crap.

                                 Feminists masturbate to it.

                                 It is a study of how today's Millennials have been raised.  (This last is my favorite, darlings!!!!!!!!!!!!).

                                 I have to wonder. Were the writer Abe Polsky and the director, Dick Post, one and the same?  Let's dispense immediately with the reality aspect for this post--this film had an actual basis--a recent case, back then, in California, where parents were trying to milk the Welfare system by keeping their 13-year-old daughter Genie, as an infant!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                                  Which is pretty much the situation in the movie, which I see as a sort of feminist "King Lear."  Ruth Roman, looking really butched up, resembling almost a cross between Tyne Daly and Nathan Lane, is Queen Lear; ie, Ann Wadsworth, who has two daughters, Germaine (Marianne Hill) , the Goneril of the piece, and her sister, Alba (Suzanne Zenor), this version's Regan, and my favorite of the the girls.  Though you can't top the line Ruth speaks midway through the film, when she and the daughters come home and find Baby and the babysitter in his bedroom.  You have not heard anything till you have heard Ruth bellow--"Nothing happened?  Your goddamned tit is in his mouth, and you tell me nothing happened?"

                                    I mean, where is Alexander Wolcott????????  They just don't write them like this anymore.

                                    Aside from the family dynamics, (Ann Wadsworth's children are each by a different father, and the Baby's father walked out on her, hence she hates all men, and so keeps Baby what he is.) the hair and acting styles are the most interesting aspects of the film. Each is going for something else, nothing blends together, and yet it all seems to work.  Butch as Ruth may look, with that wig, and those tits, she is definitely going for an Adrienne Barbeau look.  Hey, Adrienne herself, NOW, would be terrific for a remake.  If only Rue McClanhahan were still alive!!!!!!!! Oh, boy!!!!!!!!!

                                     Meanwhile, Marianne Hill, as Germaine, resembles a young Ann Wedgeworth, and with that hair, seems to be, at first, going, and foreshadowing Ronnee Blakley's look in "Nashville," but by the party scene has sort of morphed into Bernadette Peters on speed.

                                       And the party scene is something else!  With Baby crawling around, Ruth doing the Frug, or whatever, and that creep trying to get at Alba, anyone just tuning in on this point would think they were watching a documentary about the Manson cult.

                                        My favorite, by far, is Suzanne Zenor, as Alba.  She is foreshadowing the look Pamela Blair created for Valerie Clark, whom she played in the Original Cast of "A Chorus Line."  No one in this household seems to work.  Germaine claims to do "commercials...sometimes," but would even an on-the-skids agent hire her, with that changing hair?  She might make a good stock Rapunzel!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                                          I much prefer Alba. She is slutty, dangerous, like Regan, and gives tennis lessons...but only in the afternoon.  The scene where sadomasochistically tasers Baby is rather squeamish inducing, but this is why I love Alba.  Did you know Suzanne Zenor was originally cast as Chrissy on "Three's Comapny?"  She had the world on a string--for a moment--but it was taken from her.  Someone on the production staff must have suddenly seen this film.

                                           As for Anjanette Comer, a dead ringer for Susan Strasberg, she goes about her role so seriously, you would think she was doing classical drama. Or at least Susan's role in "The Diary Of Anne Frank."  I have to give the film this--none of its performers phone in their performances. They give it their all!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                                           And that includes David Manzy, as Baby!  Today, he is in his seventies, and teaching Media Studies somewhere in the Midwest. High school.  He goes at his role like Patty Duke, going for the Oscar gold in "The Miracle Worker," except this script is no match for William Gibson's great play!

You have GOT to see "The Baby," darlings!  There never has, nor ever will again, be anything like it!
What were the Messrs. Polsky and Post thinking???????????

You know the expression, "You can't make this shit up?'  Well, here, darlings, it all is!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Could This Photo Have Inspired "The She Creature??????????"

                         Krampus is unquestionably masculine, but I have to confess, when I first saw this photo, I thought it was an outtake from that Fifties film.  Why is he carrying this adult woman?  She must have done something really bad, to get Krampus all worked up.  Maybe she was an unfit mother.  Krampus does not like bad children, but even worse he did likes bad mothers.  It is said, each Christmas Eve, he visits Susan Smith and Casey Anthony, because they are on high on the Bad Mothers list.  And, of course, he visits that cheap Alice Crimmins.

                           Krampus does not like bad children, nor mothers who mistreat them.  Like me, he detested Susan Dey for years, after seeing her in "Mary Jane Harper Cried Last Night!!!!!!!!!!"

                             Season's Greetings, from Krampus!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Here Is Third Avenue, Lit Ablaze, For Christmas!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                               This street has been ready for the Holidays since November.  With just six days--less than a week to go--the countdown has really begun, so there is no stopping it.

                                 Yesterday, our beloved canine friends, Cujo and Miss Chloe, received their well deserved Christmas gifts.  I felt like we had done our good deed for the day.  After, of course, listening to Sister Camille.

                                 Moving on to the more reverential, here is The Mormon Tabernacle Choir, with the classic, "Away In A Manger!"

                                 Baby Jesus is on his way, darlings!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Saturday, December 17, 2016

It's Not "Moonstruck!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

                                        Everyone seems to be crazy about Elena Ferrante, and her Neapolitan Novels.  After reading the first one, "My Brilliant Friend," I, too, was craving more.  But, after finishing "The Story Of A New Name," the second in the set, I have to admit that, while I will finish the set, it lacked the momentum of the first book.

                                         Maybe childhood is  a more interesting stage for both writers and readers.  This picks up where the first left off, following both Elena and Lila into young womanhood, marriage, sexual discovery, with plenty of screaming Italian theatrics along the way.  Unfortunately, where the men are concerned, character descends into caricature.

                                          Once again, the most is when the girls discuss the pursuit and importance of education and reading.  Then Ferrante is really cooking, hons!  As for the rest, it is overlong and repetitive.

                                           Which makes me hesitant about the third book.  But maybe things will pick up; one never knows.

                                             Ferrante knows what she is doing.  But, here, I got lost along the way.

                                             Maybe her next will steer me back onto the path!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

There Is Something Disturbing About The Look Of That Child!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                                  See the smirk on that little girl's face?  I think she wants to go with Krampus!  The mother is trying to stave him off, but the kid gleefully wants to go.  Maybe she is an aspiring sociopath, like that Ariel Shuman!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                                    Krampus could teach her a thing or two!  She would have no idea what she was in for!  By the time she was returned to Mother, all deviance would have been erased. 

                                     Krampus only takes the bad children, because he doesn't want them to be bad.  So, he straightens them out!

                                      He's really sweet!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!