Sunday, December 31, 2017

And Now..........A Fond Farewell To 2017!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                           With this, my final blog post for the year, I am about to transform 2017 into history!

                             Imagine--that could be me, as one of the Melies-ian Moon Beauties, sitting on that crescent moon, on that remarkably theatrically constructed set.  I am telling you, "A Trip To The Moon" is so ripe for the stage, it does not realize.  It is so retro it does not even realize it would be setting a theatrical trend.

                              So, think of me floating on that Moon Crescent, darlings!  Maybe by midnight, I will actually feel like I am doing it!  Like Evelyn Nesbitt (Joan Collins) who was, of course, "The Girl In The Red Velvet Swing."

                               Mine would have to have pink lining, darlings!

                               It has been wonderful sharing 2017 with you all.  Love from our house, and, of course, from Baby Gojira!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                                See you, when we blast off, into next year!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The Theatrical Event Of The Year Was One Not Seen On Stage!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                               But it was live, darlings!

                               On the night of August 9, just one day after her passing at 89, I went to my first Broadway lights dimming, for Barbara Cook.  David, and some of my former coworkers were there to commemorate this theatrical event, which, ironically, surpassed anything on stage, since, Bette Midler aside, which we did not see, there was not that much outstanding work on the New York stage this year.  None enough to press my buttons.

                                 Next year are two potential MUSTS--Jessie Mueller in "Carousel," and the forthcoming revival of "My Fair Lady."

                                  Both of which remain to be seen.  The salute to Barbara Cook was my best theatrical experience of the year, by far!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                                    She is, and always will be, the Greatest Of All Cunegondes!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Coffee Enricher Of The Year--Linda Richman!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                           Forget Carnation's coffee creamers, and all that crap!  All you need to complete your cup of morning coffee is a good dose of Linda Richman, which can be found on YouTube.  With or without BARBRA.  Whether you do or don't reread "The Prince Of Tides."

                            I sometimes wonder if I am channeling Linda on here.  Though, even in person I am not nearly as Long Island as she.  I choose, more to see myself as Waldo Lydecker (Clifton Webb) in "Laura."  Which is about as convincing as me looking like Heather Menzies.

                             Nevertheless, Linda kept me laughing during some not so laughable times.

                              For that, she deserves a mention!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Most Enchanting Discovery Of The Year--Amy Sedaris!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                       Amy has been around longer than I realized.  But it took her show, "At Home With Amy Sedaris," which I hope will be picked up and renewed, to capture the attention of The Raving Queen.

                        Enchanting as herself alone, Amy is equally adept with the characters she brings along--Nutmeg, Patty Hogg (my favorite), her friend, Chassie, and The Lady Who Lives In The Wood, with her lesbian friend, Esther.  Perfect name for a lesbian!!!!!!!!!!!

                          You have got to see Amy's Village tour, circa 2004.  The memories of youth it will bring back!

                             We love you, Amy, and hope to see more of you, in 2018!

                              Baby Gojira still wants to work with you!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Television's Hottest Man Of The Year-- Stephen Colbert!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                              Of course, there is the handsome face, perfect body, and the way it superbly fits into the suit.  But Stephen Colbert's blend of warmth and humor, and a willingness to go places I never thought of him as going, having seen some of "Strangers With Candy" all combine to make him the Hottest Man On Television Of 2017.

                             And, of course, he is a devout Catholic.  So I know he knows about Jacinta, you better believe it.

                                I have been after him for some time to get on his show, so we can talk about "The Song Of Bernadette."

                                  How about it, Steve?????????????????

Death Of The Year--Heather Menzies!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                                Christmas Day turned into heartbreak for all us "Sound Of Music" fans, when it was learned Heather Menzies, forever Louisa Von Trapp, passed away, on Christmas Eve.

                                 As stated, when the film first came out, in 1965, I wanted to be Heather, or Angela Cartwright; they were so beautiful.  The sadness was compounded by having just lost Charmian Carr (Liesl) the year before.

                                  With Heather goes another phase of Baby Boomers' childhoods!

                                   May she rest in peace, remaining  forever in our hearts!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Catholic Movie Of The Year--"Novitiate!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

                              Even if it was the ONLY Catholic film of the year, girls, it was a riot!  Margaret Betts' directorial debut tried for a serious turn at a convent transitioning into Vatican II, but Melissa Leo's over the top performance as the Mother Superior went for the jugular in ways Gladys Cooper never thought of!  Her almost vaginal sprawling in the altar scene is both a howler and a political statement.

                              The days when nun movies like "The Sound Of Music," and "Change Of Habit," are gone forever.  No more "Come To The Stable," either!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                               Who knows?  Perhaps a redo of "The Devils" could be in the offing??????????

Most Heartbreaking "Cold Case" Of All--"A Dollar, A Dream!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

                               This was real gem of a discovery when I first found it during my conscious period earlier in the year to watch every single episode of "Cold Case"--156, to be exact-- and write about those outstanding ones I had not covered before.  Which is how I found "A Dollar, A Dream."

                                 Paula Malcomson gave an Emmy caliber performance in the black-and-white portions of the story (a brilliant move to shoot the portions this way!) of a modern day Fantine, forced to resort to just about everything to protect her two daughters (superbly played by Darcy Rose Byrnes, as Abby and Channing Nichols as Natalie) from the painful reality of their situation, which was homelessness.

                                This certainly pressed my buttons, as this is one of my worst fears.  Marlene's story worked two ways--it aired the plight of the homeless, and the need in this country to help, but Holmes Osborne's performance as delusional Vincent Hopper, who kills Marlene, shows the dangers of life on the streets, where, good as one may seem, no one can really be trusted.

                                 As the older girls, a baby faced Jennifer Lawrence and Melinda Dahl registered superbly.  If there is one episode from this series I would recommend to viewers, it is this one.

                                      I started crying the second it hit me the situation Marlene and her daughters were in.  If anything else does not get you, I guarantee the reunion of Natalie and Abby at the end, with Marlene's ghost, looking on, happily, like Fantine, set to "In The Arms Of The Angels," will break your heart.

                                       I think this episode should be used as a social service film on homelessness!!!!!!!!!!

Bitch Of The Year--Matt Lauer!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                               This sets a precedent.  Matt was not named a Bitch Of The Week, yet he wins Bitch Of The Year.  Harvey Weinstein may have opened the floodgates on men of power sexually harassing women, but Matt's story had the most impact.

                                 Many were shocked by clean cut, all-American looking Matt being anything but.  It did not surprise me one bit.  From the time he arrived, his smug arrogance fooled me in only one way--I at first thought he was a great big old closet case, which made him fascinating to us, until it was revealed he was a straight horn dog.  Though no one knew how much, until his story broke.

                                  I have never seen a company get rid of an employee as fast as NBC got rid of Matt.  They did the right thing, but you know what?

                                   This arrogant bastard should have been taught a lesson, but, mark my words, he will be unable to stay out of the limelight.

                                     I hope this time he gets tomatoes thrown at him!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Personal Tragedy Of The Year--The Death Of My Childhood Friend, Douglas A. Bartha!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                                      So much sadness and anger surrounds this event.  Sadness because we had known each other since kindergarten, and suffered those first twelve years of school together.  Many who knew us then thought us joined at the hip, but such was not the case.  Especially post high school, when our lives took radically different paths.

                                         The passing was more painful, as it took place on my father's birthday, April 30, of this year.  And he is still alive, at 102.  Thank God, I had David to get me through this!

                                           Poor Doug.  Done in by bad choices, leading to alcoholism and depression, which I am convinced was brought on by additional poor choices and familial selfishness, on the part of his mother.  It was almost as though he were abandoned.  But then, as Victor Hugo wrote in "Les Miserables," "Fortunately, God knows where to look for a soul."

                                             I hope his soul now rests in peace!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The Unprecedented Event Of The Year--The Canonization Of Franicisco And Jacinta Marto!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                              Oh, my God, darlings, it literally was a Divine event.  So much so I expected a skyward appearance by Mary and the Children, not to mention a second Miracle Of The Sun!  I am sure all Heaven was watching as Francisco Marto, and his sister, Jacinta, the holiest child at Fatima, took their place alongside others by being canonized the newest, and some of the youngest, saints in the Roman Catholic Church.

                               The event took place on May 13, 2017, which was the Centennial Anniversary of the initial apparition.

                               I am so proud and happy I lived to see this event take place!

Book Of The Year--"Manhattan Beach," by Jennifer Egan!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                               Once I read this gorgeously structured, historically evocative 40's noir-ish style story of war torn Red Hook in Brooklyn, I knew I had found the Book Of The Year!  Abandoning her quirkiness for a traditional narrative--my favorite kind--Egan paints a portrait of the power women wielded during the war, when the men were overseas, and how this ultimately went on to change America.  I felt as though I read it in a single sitting--I was that absorbed!

                                It is the Read Of The Year.  Don't miss it!

Personal Milestone #2--Retirement!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                          Just ten days after our marriage, I retired from my job, after 35 years of service.   Who would have thought?????????????  And don't you just love the Norman Bates way I am cutting that cake?  Only me, girls, only me....Hmmmmm...........

                            If you thought I would have a hard time adjusting, forget it!  I never had a smoother adjustment into anything, thanks to all the love and support I get from David.

                            I can highly recommend retirement to all!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Personal Milestone #1--Marriage!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                                 The year really kicked off on January 10, when David, Baby Gojira , and I, assisted by witnesses Judy and Alvin, were married at City Hall.  We are still basking in the glow, darlings, and the married life agrees with us both.  I continue to feel so lucky, having found the right person to share my life with.  And Baby Gojira is happy, too!

Old Man Year Runs Away!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                                      Yes, we have arrived at the end, girls.  Of 2017, that is!  Tomorrow, this year becomes History!  So, it is time to sum up events in this year, though that may be more difficult than it seems.

                                        I have some goodies on hand, but it is the absence of things that bothers me.  I cannot give you a Film Of The Year, or a Theatrical Event Of The Year.  From our--mine and David's--experience, there was not much out there.  But there are some other things I can share, so let's begin!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Saturday, December 30, 2017

I Told You I Was Going To Write About Movie Money Shots!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                                 No, girls, not the kind used in porn movies.  Where is the artistry and poetry, in that?  The results are all the same, just different bodies, because these folk certainly cannot be called actors.

                                 The money shots I feature here are from classic films, featuring classic performances.  They make the heart stop, rather than the groin ache.  And it is amazing how many of them come from musicals.

                                  Let us start with what I call The Judy Garland Triptych.

                                  Judy Garland, singing "Over The Rainbow," in "The Wizard Of Oz."  Need
                                  I say more?

                                     Judy Garland comforting a sobbing Margaret O'Brien, in "Meet Me In St. Louis.."  In a film where each shot is almost a moneyed one, the moment, following O'Brien's devastating childhood hysterics, smashing the snowmen, coming on the heels of Garland's flawless rendition of "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas," this, as far as I am concerned is the penultimate shot!

                                3.  Judy Garland (again) at the climax of "Born In A Trunk," from "A Star Is
Born." Another film abounding in rich images, but this one is like a master painting.  If I did not know George Cukor had directed this film, I would swear the scene was staged by Vincente Minnelli.

                                Julie Andrews' famous Alpine twirl at the opening of "The Sound Of Music."  This shot is so powerful it impresses even the film's detractors, who will watch it, only for this alone.
What follows, of course, is classic; how could I not include it?  It never fails to thrill me, when, seen in a theater, as the camera pans over the landscape, and the camera first spots Julie, the audience tenses with excitement, gasps, and, as the music builds, some queen will shout out, "Sing it, Jules!" And, boy, does she!

                          5,  The incredible pullback finish, as BARBRA finishes belting out "Don't Rain On My Parade," at the first act finale of "Funny Girl."  All of us want to wear that orange outfit, and do the song on the Staten Island Ferry!  How New Yawk, darlings!  And with the film due to turn 50 in the coming year, I expect a retro showing, and screaming queens yelling "Take it home, "BARBRA!," when she holds the note on "Hey, Mr. I AM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

                          6.  Ronee Blakley, as Barbara Jean, singing "My Idaho Home" in Robert Altman's 1975 masterpiece, "Nashville."  I still consider this film, both a musical and not, the "Citizen Kane" of my generation.  Altman's continuous track in shots of Blakley in performance here captures, simultaneously the passion of an artist who, even as she gives, is destroying herself, and the hope for America that many of us were not willing to accept was dying before our eyes.  Where has this kind of artistry and vision been seen before?  Worse, when will it ever again???? Never!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                          7.  And speaking of "Citizen Kane"--Another film virtually impossible to extract one single shot; all of these films featured actually are that.  This is the one here that earns it for me--the stark "K" gate against the background of the haunted Xanadu, the macabre palm trees--how Gothic can one get?  And in Florida?  If the viewer is not sucked in to the movie by this point, well, then, go back to cartoons, darlings!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                         8.  Jennifer Jones first beholding the vision in "The Song Of Bernadette"--Is it any wonder that the cinematography in this film won an Oscar?  Shot by shot, this beautifully spiritual film captures Divine mysticism, Catholicism 101, and matters of the soul, with a cast and production held together so capably, it was as though Heaven made it itself!  Colbert, I am telling you, we have
GOT to talk about this on your show!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                            9.  Roddy McDowall , carrying the dead Donald Crisp out of the mine in "How Green Was My Valley'--"  My only regret this film beat out "Citizen Kane" for Best Picture is there was not a tie.  This is John Ford's masterpiece, a beautifully evocative family saga with social realism.   And photographed by the same one who shot 'Bernadette,' Arthur Miller.  McDowall won a Juvenile Oscar for his debut performance as young Huw Morgan, whose transition from boyhood to manhood is the story's frame.  This shot so aptly captures that transition, it is heart breaking.  And the two actors play it, superbly.  A tear jerker par excellence, this is the moment where I completely lose it, every time!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

10.  And, of course.....I could not write this post without including Scarlett's declaration, at the end of Part One of "Gone With The Wind."  Who but Vivien Leigh could have played it so magnificently?  Beautiful and heartbreaking at the same time, this scene I credit with getting me through my adolescence, and then some.  It is moving and inspiring, and may it continue to be so, for future generations!!!!!!!!!!

                           I could, of course, go on.  But those are my Top Ten.  Some of you out there may have yours, so don't be shy about sharing.

                            And, be here, tomorrow, when I sum up 2017!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                            Happy New Year, Darlings!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Why Is The Winter Our Discontent???????????????

                            Two words, and two words only--the weather!!!!!!!!!  Who can stand it, when it is this cold?

                             Now, when Julie Christie is first seen, as Lara, in "Doctor Zhivago," she is veiled, only differently from here.  She happens to be on a cable car with Omar Sharif, and her face is covered in black, with only those Christie eyes peering out, letting viewers know this will be an important character.  I could not find the exact shot, but this will give the idea.

                             The only time I can appreciate Winter is in "Doctor Zhivago," where it becomes a celluloid fantasy.  The reality brings wishing I could look like Julie here, Season Affect Disorder, and a time distortion.  Winter is when Time plays its trick, seeming the longest of seasons, when really it all evens out.  Except it does not feel that way.  Look how fast Summer, in spite of days we may complain about the heat, whizzes by!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                               Winter is grueling.  But if it takes Julie Christie to get us through, so be it!

                             Look how stunning she looked, in the snow!  We should all be so lucky, darlings!!!!!!!!!!!!

Friday, December 29, 2017

Be Sure, And Stay Tuned!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                             It seems as while the year winds down, this blog speeds up.  That is because a lot of survey posts will be coming in as the end of 2017 draws near.  Things like Book Of The Year, Bitch Of The Year, and other year summing up happenings.  And don't miss my special post, which should appear tomorrow on Movie Money Shots.  No, not those kind, darlings!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  You will see some classic gems!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                             As to what 2018 will bring, it is too soon to guess right now, but I hope it brings happiness to all on here.  So, don't miss the end of 2017 on this blog!

                              And wait till you see the cute little pic I have concocted for the last post!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

If This Turns Out To Be My Final Book Of 2017, It Will Be A Bang Up Finish!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                                "The Black Spider," by the Swiss writer, Jeremias Gotthelf, and translated by Susan Bernofsky, packs quite a horrific punch at only 108 pages.  This was the record breaker for 2017--book number 115.  It is a brilliant amalgamation of horror novel and social allegory.  Yes, there really is a monstrous black spider--who I think is female-- in it, but if you think this spider is the only thing in this story that is evil, you have another thing coming.

                                  As I read, I kept thinking to myself of the Valley People in the song "One Tin Soldier," who killed those on the mountain, to steal their treasure.  An entire village populace morally decays over the passage of time.  And, when the monstrous spider, who has been concealed for a time, is finally let out, it does some good by destroying the evil people.

                                  I also saw this as a metaphor for the Black Death, or bubonic plague, that destroyed countless people during the Middle Ages, from 1346 to 1353.

                                   You can't go wrong with spiders, when it comes to horror, hons!  The story just would not have worked, had it been a French poodle!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                                    What a difference between this masterwork, and the anthology, "Haunted Nights."  This novella had me on the edge of my seat; the anthology, save for those two stories mentioned, left me only with indifference.

                                       So, is that it for literature in 2017?  Maybe, but there is still time, so  more could be revealed!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                                         If not, it has been a great reading year!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Better This Should Have Been On The Times Ten Best List Than Others!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                                     This book was the tie breaker for 2017--clocking in, at 114.   It is short, a mere 229 pages, but of such encompassing scope, it manages to cover things as disparate as America's racial and cultural divides, and the Jonestown Massacre.

                                       Of the latter, I confess I wanted a little more, though, I suppose, if I wanted a more complete picture,  there were entire books on the subject, I could read.  I cannot say I am that venturesome.

                                       The books' main character, is truly conflicted--about her fiancĂ©, about her origins, her racial status, her social status, to the point where impersonates a child's nanny just to get near a poet she meets at a party, and for whom she has the hots for.

                                        None of this sounds like much, but Senna's prose style is elegant, riveting, and covers it all, in just 229 pages.  The only thing unclear to me was what the point was, because Maria is going to end up following the program set out for her, anyway.

                                          The title also refers to a documentary film she and her fiancĂ© are appearing in. The novel is like a series of film snippets that, joined together, make for an interesting literary collage.

                                            It's quality fiction, dolls!  Read it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Now, What About Lila Wingo????????????????????

                              I will say one thing for reading "The Prince Of Tides," it helps one get in touch with connections to oneself.  Just as I wondered how much of me is Savannah, I wondered if there was any Lila in my mother.  As Tom says, he would not be the first son to be wrong about his mother.

                              My mother made some mistakes.  But she was not Lila.  Sometimes I wish she had been; Lila knew how the game went in the town she lived in, and my mother hid away from it.  By the time I reached junior high, I knew those children from the President streets got all the attention and focus, and I pleaded with my parents to move there.  My mother's only response was to say, hysterically, "You don't understand!"  These people can buy and sell us!"

                              And that's my problem, how???????????????????

                              Who knows what would have become of me had my mother possessed Lila's instincts.  I could have ended up becoming an emotional wreck, like Savannah.

                                Or, like my childhood friend, Doug, whose mother truly was Lila, selfish to the core, and willing to sell out her own children for a better life for herself.  To her, I would say, today, look how things turned out, you witch??????????????????

                                 Lila, because of a hired worker's obsession with her, led to she and her children being attacked and raped during a storm, when the father is away.   Both on film and in print, this is the most harrowing sequence, and I am sure Lila blamed herself forever for it.  But, while she thought it strong to not talk about it, it cost her her children's lives, almost lost Savannah's, and all for the shame of keeping a reputation so she could join the Colleton League.

                                  Colleton was on the mainland.  The Wingos lived on Melrose Island, off the main land, but were regarded as White Trash.  Partly because Henry Wingo was just a blue collar fisherman.  A brute of a man, recalling to me my Uncle, Bill Liddy.  I felt sorry for the Wingo children, and what they went through, and I should feel sorry for what my cousins went through.  I do, to a degree, but would moreso had not some of them, Judy (just like her no good father) especially, treated me so abysmally during my young adult years.  Not to mention what my Uncle did to my mother and I at her lowest time--when she was dying of cancer!!!!!!!!!!!

                                  Forgive?  I wish I could!  But I can't!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                                   Same with Lila.  One reason the Colleton League looked down on  her, too, was she was so much more attractive  than they.  She had poise, bearing, and with the right wardrobe, could pull class off, better than those Southern harridans could!  And they knew it!  So, this was another reason for keeping her out!

                                    I could forgive Lila a lot.  But when she sold herself in marriage to Russ Newberry, after kissing up to his dying wife, Isabelle, who had been nothing but a bitch to  her, and whose husband, Russ, slapped Tom hard across the child's face, threatening to run his family out of town if he ever told about the striking, that was it, for me.  I could not handle someone who would sell both their self-respect and children for social gain.  Just like my deceased friend's mother.

                                    In the end, all it brought them was grief.  My mother may have made some mistakes, but she was not Lila.  To this day, I have gratitude she lived to see me graduate from college--and with honors!  I knew how important that was to her.

                                      I always had a premonition I would lose her early, so I kind of bargained with God to let her see me graduate college.  And I thank Him.

                                       Kate Nelligan nailed Lila in all her maternity and monstrosity.  She ended off walking away with the movie, and an Oscar Nomination.

                                         Just as Lila commands attention on every page of the book in which she appears!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Am I Savannah?????????????????????

                            As I  read "The Prince Of Tides" the third tine around, I felt a strong connection to characters and situations in the book.  And one of those happened to be Tom's troubled twin sister, the poet Savannah Wingo.

                              Who, by the way, was beautifully played in the movie by Melinda Dillon, in one of her rare appearances, but brilliant performances.  One thing I have to hand to BARBRA--she cast the movie perfectly.

                                Certainly, there are externals I relate to in Savannah.  She is a highly emotional, and creative child, and that has to come out somehow.  I love the story of how prideful mother Lila burns all the journals, and Savannah counters by furtively writing in the beach sand with her fingers. An artist is driven to do what they do, no matter what.  I get it.

                                  Savannah hated the South.  She grasped its narrow mindedness, racism and bourgeois social behavior, as quickly as I grasped that of New Jersey. And, where did we both flee to? New York, which, then, was the place writers or theatrical artists fled to.  The way things have gone in the now more than 34 years I have lived here, I am not sure where young aspiring artists go to, now!  Do they still go to New York? It seems to me like the city has closed ranks.

                                  Savannah wrote poems.  I wrote think pieces, stories of exaggerated Gothic horror, fictionalizing the worst traits of people I knew, until I found my niche, with this blog.

                                   And, yes, like Savannah, I was sexually attacked, when young, by someone on my hometown street.  But, unlike Savannah, I did not bury it. I talked about it to everyone I could.  When Tom says Lila made Savannah into a schizophrenic, he is only half right.  Lila, putting her social climbing desires first, threatened abandonment of them--her own children!!!!--if they talked about the attack and rape of them all by the escaped convicts.  Three days later, Savannah tried to kill herself.  As Tom rightly said, she could keep a secret, but she could not lie.  The more Savannah emerges, the more the truth emerges.  In some ways, there would be no story, without Savannah.

                                    Now, suicide.  Ah, that's a tough one.  I have known several people who have done it, and that is painful enough.  The closest I came to it, myself, was a night in May, of 2008, where I felt everything was closing in on me.  I was sitting in my bedroom in Woodside, Queens--a place I hated!!!!!!!!!!!!--and was having these hallucinatory visions of a movie marquee flashing before my eyes.  The movie playing on the marquee was "SUICIDE."  Some part of me that still had it together called 911 and I spent one night in a psych word.  Forget Polly Bergen, darlings!  No one looks good in a psych ward.  Eventually someone--who, by the way, no longer exists--came and got me, so I could be released.

                                   That was as close as I came to Savannah's experience.  It was just close enough for me to know I did not want to skirt near it again.

                                    So, am I Savannah?  Yes, and no.  I have her insight, her creativity, and, to a degree, her strength.

                                     Out of my Walpurgisnacht came an arrival to a place where I now am that I never thought I would be.  It pays to stick around, dears!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                                      Savannah's story helped me reconnect and rediscover that, dears!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The Movie Was "Like Buttuh!!!!!!!!!!!" But The Book Is Even Bettuh!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                                         I can't get too Linda Richman about "The Prince Of Tides," but this much I can tell you.  BARBRA only scratched the surface in the movie.  If all you know about "The Prince Of Tides" is the movie, then you need to read Pat Conroy's novel, which was even better on my third reading, than the last two.

                                          Let's start with the title.  Now, for those who recall the movie, the film tries to make out that Tom Wingo, played by Nick Nolte, is the titular character, but, in fact, it is older brother Luke.  Whose presence in the film is downplayed after the convicts' attack.

                                          The identity of Savannah Wingo and Renata Halpern is clarified more, and, best of all, Savannah's book, "The Southern Way," a thinly disguised criticism of the family and the South she hated, the reader gets to read in all its disturbing glory.  When "The Prince Of Tides is read, it is clearly the story of Luke Wingo, his sister Savannah, and their mother, Lila.  They have the largest through lines.  In the movie, Tom and Susan Lowenstein, who in the novel should have been given Greek chorus status, are the major figures in the movie.  Hey, it was BARBRA, so I get it.  But in wanting to film a story she was so enthusiastic about, she actually undercut its impact and intention.

                                         The excursion Conroy takes the reader on here into the mind of Savannah is the most frightening and penetrating examination of mental illness I have read since Sylvia Plath wrote "The Bell Jar."  Savannah turns out to be the real hero of the piece, because she is able to do what Tom cannot--confront her past.  No wonder, in the novel, Tom kind of fades into the background.

                                         And, darlings, if you cried at "Old Yeller," get out the hankies at the climactic end of the story of Luke and Caesar, the tiger, which sort of parallels the relationship I have with all the animals in the neighborhood.  I put the book down, right there, and cried.

                                         I understand why Caesar could not have been in the movie.  But how much better things would have been, if he had?  He is such a strong presence?

                                          Conroy's novel and these characters are so compelling that Tom, Susan, Sallie, even the whole Bernard thing, fade into the background.  As good a film as BARBRA made, the movie is not all it could have been.

                                          For that, darlings, you have to go back to the book.

                                          One last thing.  In the movie, everyone talks about the fingernails.  Those are never mentioned in the novel, but you know what is, and surprised me?

                                            The novel really ends, with Tom driving over the bridge, musing, to himself, "Lowenstein.....Lowenstein....Lowenstein!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

Bambi Bennett Was No "Doe, A Deer!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

                               Between illness and the Holidays I have a lot to catch up on with all of you.  One of these is Bitch Of The Week.  I had to run to the doctor yesterday, so no time to blog.  AND I broke my 9 year record of having read 114 books a year, set back in 2008.  The tally for 2017 now stands at 115.  And I am not through yet.

                                But Bitch Of The Week.  When I saw the ID story on the murder of Myrtle Beach Florida couple, Charlie and Diane Parker, back on April 11 or 12 in 2005, I knew one thing--their no good daughter (actually Diane's by a previous marriage) Bambi Bennett, was involved.  Though her bad boy druggie boy friend, Richard Gangon, was charged with burglary and murder, no one thought Bambi had anything to do with it.

                                Bambi was an insult to Scarlett O'Hara.  Scarlett cared for money and land, but for family's sake.  Bambi just wanted her goods for herself--she had inherited some land, and her mother signed it over in her name, because she knew Bambi would just drug it away--but this was the motivation for the murder.

                                 Then, in 2009, Bruce Antwain Hill was charged with the murders.  It is not clear how he pops up, though he must be connected to Rick Gangon.

                                  One thing I can tell you.  This was all Bambi's idea, and done at her instigation.

                                   What a bitch that Bambi Bennett is!  She is no Barbie Benton.  All Benton did, back in the 70's, was act as a PG-rated prostitute by whoring her body out on national television to some Hefner lodge in Great Gorge.  Remember the commercial?   "Come to my country place," she would sing.  Yeah, right.

                                   Bambi thought highly of herself, but she did not have the goods Benton had.  All Benton did was the most generalized form of free enterprise.

                                    Bambi Bennett, who must be so ugly I could not find a picture, is probably zoned out in some Florida crack ho' place in a trailer park.

                                      But don't worry, girls!  Jail is still in her future!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

What About The Kentucky Lizard Man????????????????

                                What is it with The Lizard Man?  Does he get around, or what?  Or does every state have its own variation?

                                   In one of the lesser stories  within the horror anthology, "Haunted Nights," I just posted about, one of the lesser stories referenced the Kentucky Lizard Man.  When I did some research, I found this legend is located around Stephensport, KY.  A man now 49-years-old, claims he witnessed the thing looking at him through his window at night, when he was a young boy.  The kid was probably using some KY himself, so hot jerking off into that tube sock he confused his homo erotic 60's Aquaman fantasies--and who can blame him for that?--with some hot, chesty green thing, like Lizard Man.

                                   Supposedly, there is one, or, at least another, in Scrape Ore Swamp, around Lee County, South Carolina!!!!!!!!!!  Blood kin, or what?  Hey, did they get as far north as Jersey?  The Pine Barrens and the Marshlands--you know, out along the train tracks to New York, and out over the Meadowlands, where Jimmy Hoffa is buried?--would be perfect for a Jersey Lizard.

                                     Jersey has enough to call its own, God knows.

                                     I am telling you, those Big Green Men are hotties!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Only Two Stories In This Collection Are Worth Any Merit!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                                  That is the trouble with short story anthologies, and especially horror ones.  The reader picks one up, hoping to discover the next potential Shirley Jackson, and is lucky if there is any substance anywhere.  Such is the case with "Haunted Nights," edited by Ellen Daltow and Lisa Morton.  Out of sixteen stories, only two--one eighth of the entire text--are of merit. They are "A Small Taste Of The Old Country," by John Mayberry, and "Lost In The Dark," by John Langan..

                                   The Mayberry story is a variation on "The Uninvited Guest," but it has the ability to grip the reader, until it takes him/her to a twist I did not see coming.  But it is Langan's "Lost In The Dark" that is the real thing.  Perhaps the most lengthy story in the book, the title refers to a cult 'Blair Witch Project' type of film, which gives the story its title.  Every aspect of the film is explored, from synopsis, to the back story of Agatha Mayberry, to the filmmaker's present, and its mysterious matters still haunting her.  I almost wish this could have been expanded into a novel.  Really, it is on a par with "Night Film," by Marisha Pessl.

                                   Let me save you the trouble, dears.  Pick this volume up, and read these two stories alone.  Skip the rest.  None are exceptionally bad, just not exceptionally good, like these two.

                                   The Halloween theme, fascinating though it is, gets a little tired in some of the lesser stories.  But the ones by Mayberry and Langan sizzle with pure horrific brilliance.

                                     Two Johns to keep an eye on, dears!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Is The Utz Girl Simply A Glammed Up Version Of Nancy??????????????

                                   I have to wonder about this, girls, because, every time I see the Utz girl, I think of Ernie Bushmiller's Nancy.  The head shape and hair style are extremely similar, though Nancy, raised by glam careerist Aunt Fritzi, couldn't compete with someone who looked like Maureen O'Hara in "Miracle On 34th Street," and so she butched herself up, to become a burgeoning beans n' franks lesbian.  Hell, Nancy was butcher than Sluggo!

                                   I would not call the Utz girl a lipstick lesbian, because she is a product endorser, and of consumed by children, so I don't think the manufacturers would allow lesbianism to come into play here.   But I would love to know who designed her.  Bet he/she had Nancy in mind!

                                    The Utz girl is prettier than Nancy, and better coiffed too.  She may not look this good after decades of gorging on her product, but in advertising, one can get away with anything!

                                     Poor Nancy!  Having Fritzi Ritzi as an aunt, what chance did she have for glam success!

                                     Now, if Fritzi had raised a gay boy...............!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The Year Is Winding Down, Darlings!!!!!!!!!!!! What Am I Going To Do?????????????

                          I recently finished "The Prince Of Tides."  I need some real time, before I can sit down, and write about that one.  As well as about Lila, Savannah, and how it all connects with me.

                           Right now I am a third of the way through a horror anthology called "Haunted Nights," by two editors, Ellen Daltow, and Lisa Morton.  Entertaining enough, some very clever, but I have not spot, in these new writers any potential genius, of the Shirley Jackson kind.

                            Ah, well.  The point here is, once completed, this will book #113 for me.  My record is #114.   I have to make it to #115, and I have only five days left, in which to do it.

                             I guess I could read non-stop every day now, once I am awake.  But that would get in the way of all my girls!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                             Still, I will do my best!  Wish me luck, girls!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Monday, December 25, 2017

I Have Posted This Pic Before! But, Today, For A VERY Sad Reason!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                              I will start by saying it again.  Angela Cartwright and Heather Menzies were two of the most beautiful children ever.  Is it no wonder, during the heyday of "The Sound Of Music," I wanted to be them???????????????

                               Imagine the sadness to awaken--on Christmas morning yet-- and discover that one of my favorites, Heather Menzies, forever to be known as Louisa Von Trapp in "The Sound Of Music," died last night--Christmas Eve; how beautiful and poetic--four weeks after a diagnosis of brain cancer that, obviously, took her fast.  She was only 68.

                                 Last year, on September 17, we lost Charmian Carr, who played Liesl.  Now, just a little more than fifteen months later, we lose Heather!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                                  I hope this is not some kind of SOM curse, where a Von Trapp child dies every year!  Please stick around, guys!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                                   Louisa will always be Heather's legacy, but Heather did so much more.  How I would love to have seen her as Merricat Blackwood on Broadway in "We Have Always Lived In The Castle!"   Who could forget her as the female half of the TV series of "Logan's Run??????"  Not to mention her sensational star turn as Strother Martin's daughter, in the 1973 "Ssssssssss......," where she freaks out, when her boy friend turns into a snake before her eyes!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                                    Not to mention Heather managed to land then one of the then hunkiest men in Hollywood, Robert Urich, having two of this generation's most gorgeous hunks, by him.  When Urich died of cancer, in 2002, Heather advocated, establishing the Robert Urich Foundation, making cancer and
"The Sound Of Music" her causes celebres.

                                    I seem to recall a period in between here, where Heather battled cancer--ovarian, I think????--earlier??????   But she seemed to weather it.  And now. Alas.

                                     Those of us who remember the original release and run of "The Sound Of Music," and who admire beauty, shall always recall Heather with fondness.  I feel as though I have lost one of my friends, though we never met.  To Nicholas, Duane, Angela, Debbie, and Kym, I can only say how sorry I am.

                                        Rest In Peace, Heather.  You will be missed by all  on whom you had an impact!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
                              Here is Heather, far right, at my favorite moment in the film--the end of "Do Re Mi!"  Go, Heather!  Wish I could do those steps!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Yes, Darlings, "For Some Christmas Is A Time Of Remembering......." And I Have Reached That Point!!!!!!!!!!

                               This quote, and illustration, comes from the Joan Walsh Anglund book I owned as a child, called "Christmas Is A Time Of Giving."  I used to look in this page in fascination, thinking it would be ages, if ever, before  I reached this point!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                                Well, guess what, girls?????????  I HAVE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                                 That said, I am going to share with you the three most memorable Christmases I can recall.  Of course, they are the ones where something went wrong; who can recall the ones that went right?

                                    Which is the point, I suppose!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                                     There are only three.  I will begin with the earliest.

                                      December 25, 1960-- I had just turned six a month before.  Christmas at our house went well,  The tradition was, on that evening, we would go over to my grandparents and spinster aunt, who lived on Nassau Street, off of Georges Road, in North Brunswick.  The route was always the same, and it involved turning onto Commercial Avenue from Memorial Parkway, and going up it, until transitioning at Georges Road.
                                       We were almost at the top--I could see the bus storage facility, even though it was dark, there were plenty of street lights and Christmas lights, when something went wrong.  To me, at six, it seemed as though we had stopped for a red light, except we hadn't.  Then I saw something in front of us come forward, and crash into us, hearing the impact of what was metals on metals.  My sister, sitting next to me, grabbed me.  The next thing I knew, the police had come, we were being pulled out of what was the wreckage of this recently purchased car.  People came outdoors to see, and help us.  My mother was holding me, we were all waiting for the police and ambulance to come.  I couldn't stand it, any longer, and began bursting out crying.  The woman next to my mother reached out, and said, "Here, let me take the baby!," in soothing, endearing tones.  I remember having the presence of mind to think, "I'm not a baby!"  My mother did hand me over, and while, at first, I might have thought this strange, and so might you, readers, understand, my mother was suffering from a fractured, if not broken rib, and had been hit in the eye against the dashboard, looking, for all the world, like a battered woman.  I would not know this till later.

                                      Eventually, the police and ambulance came.  For some reason, at this early stage, ambulances excited me, so I was actually thrilled--can you believe this, darlings?????????--and we were taken to what was then Middlesex General Hospital, but has evolved today into the Robert Wood Medical Center.  We were separated, which I did not like, and, as they looked me over, feeling for broken bones, looking for abrasions, they said I went into some kind of shock, and the next thing I knew, I was sick to my stomach, and throwing up into a bed pan.

                                      My Aunt Kathleen, whom we all called Katty, drove over to meet us.  When we reassembled, we all looked like casualties of the war.  Katty drove us over to the house, and we had our Christmas visit, amidst much concern.

                                        And then she drove us home, when the evening ended.

                                       The next day, we were all at breakfast, nursing our wounds. As I spun a peppermint stick into my mug of hot chocolate milk, I could see, looking on the side of our toaster, a cut on one of my cheeks.

                                         Suddenly, the phone rang.  My father took the call.  It was not till years later that I found out it was the cause of our accident--a Black man, named Charlie Collins.  Commercial Avenue was a heavily Black area then, and he had been coming out of a nearby near, and hit us, head on.  Obviously, he was intoxicated.  I thought it nice of him to remember and apologize.  I give him credit, to this day.

                                          I don't remember if there were lawsuits.  I don't think so, as I would eventually have found out. The car was insured, so it paid for itself, and we got a new one.

                                          That is as much as I remember.  Except to be grateful that it was a mere accident, and not a major tragedy.  I could have lost my entire family that night.  The idea did not escape me.  God was watching, for a reason.

                                            Maybe one of those was to share it with you.  Since then, not a Christmas night goes by that I do not recall this event.

                                             Three people from that night are still alive--my father, at 102(!), my sister, and, of course, myself!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                                             Tonight marks 57 years!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                                              December 25, 1973-- Thirteen years later.  I had just turned 19, completed my first semester of college at Seton Hall University, and was on Christmas leave.  We were spending the day at my sister's--they had lived East for only two years, and the children, Jenni and Jonathan, were small.  We were all younger, heartier, and my sister very creative.  So the Christmas meal for many years was a roast beef, with Yorkshire pudding, and other staples--veggies, mashed potatoes, ambrosia, and a gelatin mold.

                                                                            Now, I don't recall what night it happened--Christmas, or Christmas Eve.  I will guess the latter.  But there was a man living in the neighborhood who liked dressing up as Santa Claus, and going from house to house, giving out small presents to each child living there.  I remember the delight of watching this, seeing the Santa stand outside on the porch, door open, cold air pouring in, as he handed Jenni and Jon their packages.  It was fun, and we did not think anything of it.

                                                                              Unknown to us, we did not realize he had been ill, and was carrying a viral pestilence!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                                                                             Nor did we think anything of it, when, the next day, in the middle of Christmas dinner, Jenni got sick, and had to be removed to her bedroom.  I thought it no big deal; small children do get sick.  But then, like something out of "We Have Always Lived In The Castle," the pestilence went from person to person at the table.  I was sick, so were the older children, Keith and Ian.  Only my parents, sister and brother-n-law stayed afloat.  I remember leaving earlier than planned, sick all the two hour drive home.  When we got there, it finally hit my mother, and my sister was left with a sick household, since, I believe, Bill, her husband, and a pediatrician, had the call that night.

                                                                               "The Night We All Got Sick," we called it.  It is one of the most talked about stories in our family.

                                              December 25, 2017-- Here we are, this year!   I guess the passing of 34 years is enough to produce another Memorable Christmas.  This one will be short, as it has been repeated.  This Christmas will remain memorable as the year we did not go to my sister's this year.  Not because we did not want to, but because of a viral pestilence, which swept through here like Dracula and his wives, starting Sunday afternoon, and not letting up in time for us to make the trip on Saturday.  At the height of it, I was so miserable, I was wishing I was Barbara Steele, as Asa, daughter of the House Of Vajda, cursing her brother Greobi, Prince Of Vajda, in "Black Sunday!!!!!!!!!"  So, this shall be remembered as "The Christmas We Stayed Home."

                                              There you are.  My three most memorable Christmases.  May the next one to come--and it will--be humorous, and fun!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Merry Christmas, Darlings!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                                              Mother: Dawn!  Come see what Santa brought you!
                                              Dawn:  Oh, Christ!  I'm coming!
                                              --"Female Trouble" (1974)

                                        Girls, I am almost as excited as Dawn, because, for the first time in the history of this blog, I am writing a genuine Christmas post, on Christmas Day.  The reason for this is we--David and I--are at home, in Brooklyn, due to illness, preventing us from making the trip.

                                           Due to the technical differences of my sister's computer, which I cannot do the things with my blog I can on here, I never posted, once we were there.  This year, most unfortunately, we are not!

                                        Last night, we watched the Yule Log, "Homicide For The Holidays," and other fun things.  I could not stomach "It's A Wonderful Life."  A beautifully made and acted film; should be seen by all once, but I have issues with it.

                                         However, I want you all to have the best Christmas you can, in your own way!!!!!!!!!!

                                          And here are two special ways to remember this day!

                                         Merry Christmas, one and all!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!