Tuesday, January 31, 2012

If I Tweeted - February 2012

I don't, you know.  But, if I did, here's what I would tweeted...

#LenSpeaks  I love winter in Los Angeles.  Yesterday's forecast for today said "Sunday and colder.  High around 65."

#LenSpeaks  The guy on the radio just said it's never too early to think about Valentine's Day.  Er, yeah, it is.  For me, it's too early on February 15.

#LenSpeaks  Betty White hit 90 and NBC saluted this by putting on an incredibly unwatchable tribute.  More shows like that and she will personally make sure she doesn't hit 91.

#LenSpeaks  Meanwhile, I love Betty, but she needs to take her name out of the running for all these TV awards.  Candice Bergen did the classy thing after she won all those Emmys for Murphy Brown.

#LenSpeaks  Betty, the password is "enough."

#LenSpeaks  The only way to watch the Golden Globes. Tape it and then start watching an hour and 15 minutes. You can FF through commercials, anything that idiot Ricky Gervais has to say... TYou wind up with about six minutes of watchable content.

#LenSpeaks  A real-life Titanic.  An Italian cruise ship capsizes.  The captain's reaction:  "Thatsa no good."

#LenSpeaks  You just know that, as they were evacuating the boat, some idiot was singing the song from Titanic.

#LenSpeaks  If you're asking whether I will be watching the Super Bowl, please note that neither of my hands are up.

#LenSpeaks  Giants, schmiants.  I'll be checking out what's on Turner Classic Movies.

#LenSpeaks  Watching the SAG Awards, I realized that, without Botox, most of them would.

#LenSpeaks  Strange but true:  An e-mail inviting me to back Obama for 2012 re-election fell into my spam folder.  Wow, these computers are smart.

#LenSpeaks  Screw standing at a podium.  Let's just watch Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich engage in hand-to-hand combat. 

#LenSpeaks  Our President in 2013 could be named Mitt, Newt, or Barack.  What the hell ever happened to George, Harry, and Bill?

#LenSpeaks  P.S.: I don't care about Romney's tax returns or Gingrich's tax returns or Obama's tax returns.  I care only about mine.

#LenSpeaks  Thanks to Obamacare, I have friends whose doctors have quit the business.  Meanwhile, my new health care deductible for 2012 is so high that I won't hit it till 2014.

#LenSpeaks  Body parts being found all over the place in Los Angeles. Who says you can't get a head in Hollywood?

#LenSpeaks  An elementary school in Los Angeles has been renamed after Michael Jackson. Please insert your favorite joke here _____________ .

#LenSpeaks  How come Republicans can't be rich while Democrats like Nancy Pe-lousy can be multi-millionaires?

#LenSpeaks  Sound bites from the former Speaker sound more and more incoherent.  But, then again, you try to make sense with four inches of skin pulled back and tied in a knot in the back of your head?

#LenSpeaks  Federally-approved school lunches are finding their way into cafeteria garbage cans all across the country?  That would be "Fuck you, Mrs. Obama and your apple slices."

#LenSpeaks  You know it's winter and germs are spreading all around.  The flu is here and so is a new Katherine Heigl movie.

#LenSpeaks  Watching the promos, I cannot wait for TNT's summer reboot of Dallas.  It will be a lot more fun than watching the political conventions.

#LenSpeaks  I saw the words "journalist George Stephanopoulos" in print and I couldn't stop laughing.

#LenSpeaks  Waste of Money # 225:  Stimulus money for a solar panel company. 

#LenSpeaks  The Dodgers are for sale.  Going price:  $1.5 billion.  Well, let's hope that the Federal Government doesn't bail them out.  Harry Reid would make a terrible general manager.

#LenSpeaks  The First Lady spent approximately $50,000 in a shopping spree at a lingerie store.  Does that mean they're charging more for undies that are sixed "XXL?"

#LenSpeaks  Yeah, I did write that, but you look at photos of her from behind and tell me I'm wrong.

Dinner last night:  Turkey meat loaf and succotash.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Monday Morning Video Laugh - January 30, 2012

A wonderful and completely spontaneous moment from late night television years ago.  This doesn't happen anymore.




Dinner last night: Risotto with chicken, spinach, and tomatoes. 

Sunday, January 29, 2012

The Sunday Memory Drawer - School Lunch

There was some press this week about all the Federal money being thrown into providing school children with healthy and nutritious lunches.  Of course, all of the First Lady's fervor about making sure kids eat better has been useless energy.  I hear that most of the so-called government-approved school lunches are so inedible that they are quickly lining the bottom of Hefty bags in cafeterias all across the country.

I was bemused by it all.  Mainly because, for the most part of my school years, I never got a school lunch.

Flashbacking to the Grimes Elementary School in Mount Vernon, New York, we didn't even have a cafeteria.  Since this was a neighborhood school, most of the kids lived within walking distance of the place.  None of us had any idea what the inside of a yellow school bus even looked like.  

So, as soon as we were paroled around noontime, each of us would troop home for an hour.  Our school was on 11th Avenue.  My house was on 15th Avenue.  Four relatively short blocks.  But, being me, I would dawdle around.  A stop at the grocery store for a pre-lunch Ring Ding.  Or a meander around the neighborhood to see what was doing.  All my friends were in school.  What the hell was I looking for?

God and innocent youth only know.

By the time I arrived home, my mother would have lunch ready for me.  It was very basic and simple and never changed from kindergarten to the sixth grade.

Two slices of white bread.  Wonder only.

Several slices of a cold cut.  Ham, bologna, or my personal preference, Taylor Ham.

A dab of mustard.

Cut into four equal square pieces.

A glass of milk.

And, alongside the sandwich on the plate, was my side dish.  Five green olives stuffed with pimentos.  Not four.  Not six.  Five.

How was that random number chosen to be the daily ritual?  I have no idea.  Another question that I forgot to ask my parents.

I'd sit in the living room with the prepared luncheon on the coffee table in front of me.  There would also be some game show on the television.  I'd eat slowly as if the hour break should never end.  Once the sandwich was devoured, I'd systematically attack the five olives.  I would first carefully suck the pimento out of the olive.  Then I would nibble at the olive.  Most people would pop them into their mouths whole.  Not me. I wanted to savor every delicious morsel.

Bulletin: I was a weird kid.

Now, given that our school days were divided into two parts with the lunchtime break, the noon hour provided us all with a wonderful device if we just were not up to a whole day of mathematical word problems.  From time to time, I would attempt the following.

"Mom, I don't feel so good."

Yeah, right.

She'd put her hand on my forehead for the ultimate diagnosis.

I wasn't warm.  I was fine.

If I really, really didn't want to go back for the afternoon, I would suddenly turn into Lucy Ricardo.  My brain would work overtime in developing symptoms.

I'd sneak into the kitchen and sprinkle a little pepper into my hand.  Achoo!

"Gesundheit.  You're fine."

I'd start to walk with a slight limp.  Oh, boy, I must have sprained my ankle in that dastardly gym class.

"It's not swollen.  You're fine."

Desperate times called for desperate measures.  You want to feel my forehead, lady??

I'd go into my bedroom and close the door.  We were a radiator household and, if it was winter, the heat source for my "fever."  As much as it hurt, I'd lay my forehead across the radiator.

See, Mom!  I have a fever!  My head is burning up.

"And I can still see the indention marks that the radiator made on your skin."

Damn!

Off to school for the afternoon, I would go.

Except for the feeble attempts at feigning sickness, the lunch time pattern did not change for all the years at Grimes School.

And, suddenly, we graduated to Washington Junior School, which was further away from home.  A whole four blocks further.  Again, there was no cafeteria facility.  At lunch, you were on your own.  Cast adrift.  Free from torture for a whole hour.

But, how was I to manage a walk home that was now, oh, God, five minutes longer???

I viewed the trek home as if American forces were being asked to land on Normandy Beach all over again.  There could be no wandering off course.  There certainly wasn't time for a pre-lunch Ring Ding.  And, wait!  To save precious time, I might have to cut down to four olives?

Bulletin:  I still was a weird kid.

Okay, I wasn't exactly Abe Lincoln walking twenty miles to school every day, but this walk was sheer torture for me.  I might as well have been crawling over broken glass while wearing shorts.  To ease my pain, my mother had an ingenious idea.

"One day a week, I'll give you money and you can eat out on Fourth Avenue."

This was the main shopping district of Mount Vernon, New York.  Two blocks away from my junior high school and just loaded with luncheonettes.

Hmmmm?  If I price-shopped my meals, I could use a little of the cash for the purchase of a comic book.  But, still, I thought....

I'd be away from home for an entire day??  How would that be? 

Back then, I may have been only twelve years old, but parents were a lot more trusting of the surrounding environs than they would be today.  My mother totally trusted me to feed myself well and manage to act like a semi-adult all by myself.

So, for one lunch hour a week, I was a big deal.  My selection of my desired luncheonette for that day was something akin to filling out an Oscar ballot.  Gee, I'm feeling like tuna salad today.  Who does that better?  The lunch counter at Woolworth's or the one at H.L. Green's?  Decisions, decisions.

I'd feel like a Manhattan businessman there on that lunch stool.  Letting the waitress cater to my every need.  A perfect training ground for whatever career I would enter into.  Because, frankly, any job is all about what you're having for lunch.

I'd gobble down my sandwich with some side potato chips and a pickle slice.  I'd look around at the other patrons.  Enjoying their post-meal cigarette or a cup of coffee.  The waitress would saunter over and ask me if there was anything else she could get for me.

"Ummm, do you have any olives?"

Dinner last night:  Roast beef and creamed spinach at the Whisper Lounge.


Saturday, January 28, 2012

Classic Movie Trailer of the Month - January 2012

A great movie filmed entirely in, gasp, the Bronx.


Dinner last night:  Spare ribs, Chinese cole slaw, and beet salad.

Friday, January 27, 2012

The Bottomless Pit of Walmart

The sad thing is that he probably knew the pants were ripped when he put them on.
You can't spell "thong" without the letters t-o-n.
Usually, the road kill is underneath your car.
A homage to that old Dan Aykroyd SNL sketch about the appliance repairman.
Perhaps that text message is saying "YOU WENT OUT LIKE THAT??"
This is what they call a "ghetto fix."
Now that's what I call bloomers.
Tu tu pathetic.
A little less attitude and a lot less potato chips.
This hair do really sucks.

Dinner last night:   Baked ziti and meatballs.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Morons of the Month - January 2012

At this point, the Presidential 2012 election campaign is in full swing.  There have been more Republican candidate debates than there were episodes of "One Life To Live."  All of their supporters have all dug themselves into their trenches, vowing that their guy (or, for a little while, gal) is the best person to sit in the Oval Office.  Most refuse to hear dissenting opinions as lemmings in America are essentially the most intolerant people on Earth.

Here's a bulletin for everybody residing in somebody's political camp.

Most of the people running for President on the Republican side of the aisle?  Scumbags.

The guy currently in the White House?  A real scumbag.

Okay, so what's a reasonably intelligent citizen to do?  As he stands amongst a bunch of jerks who really don't deserve the Constitutional right to vote.

There are clowns who will simply pull the lever of their party because their parents and grandparents told them to do so.  How else can you explain such ridiculousness as the idiots of Delaware and Massachusetts who repeatedly re-elected schmucks like Joe Biden and Ted Kennedy to the U.S. Senate over and over?

There are dummies who will vote Democratic regardless of whether their candidate is qualified to do anything but count the number of paper clips in his or her desk.  Most of these stooges are still voting against the vile and despicable Richard Nixon.  They think the Watergate case is still open in the courts and that anybody even remotely Conservative is actively involved in the cover-up.

There are other loonies who vote and vote and vote based on sex or skin color or the size of a forehead mole or because they think that Barack Obama is going to pay their monthly cell phone bill.  Most of them have never cracked an American history book in their lives.  They don't know that anybody was President prior to Bill Clinton and think that World War II was nothing but a Sega video game.

Democracy is a grand and noble notion.  If only it weren't being completely wasted on the stupid.

The more I watch the political landscape that unfolds before us, my father's words on our governmental leadership echo even louder than before.

"They all stink."

Yep, Dad, they do.  And, unfortunately, in this polarized yet personally empowered world, so do the legions of dopes that follow them blindly off the cliff.

Just when you think that a candidate's supporting bloc couldn't be more dumber, there comes a group that even defies the limits of stupidity.  This month's slamdunk nominees for "Morons of the Month."
Yes, that would be the Ron Paul supporters.

These folks are an amazing bunch.  A lot of them are young.  They are fanatics.  They are working tirelessly to push the exploits of their proposed leader on the internet and social networks.  They can't talk enough about "their guy."

They are as idiotic as they come. 

Anybody supporting a raving lunatic like Ron Paul for the office of President should also be on a very short waiting list for lifetime accommodations at the Bellevue Hospital psychiatric ward.

Think about this man who is a complete and utter embarrassment.  Listen to him speak for five minutes.  He is incoherent.  A blabbering fool who makes Ross Perot look like Benjamin Franklin on the eve of the discovery of electricity.  While his views on the nation's economy are on target, his stance on America's position as a world leader is straight out of 1886.  Paul wants us to go back to the "laissez-faire" attitude that the United States adopted as long as it could.  Enter World War I and, frankly, that scud missile has now sailed.

Here's a man who is completely out of touch with the realities of the world in 2012.  In his late 70s, Ron Paul's major goal in life should be to ensure that his nursing home features more than one flavor of Jell-o at dinner every night.  And, even that decision might be a little too much for him.  As the leader of the free world?  God help our globe.

Try to tell that to one of his supporters who bloviate ad nauseum about how Ron Paul is the answer to all our problems.  These are lunkheads who don't even know what our problems are.  A lot of them look like their personal vistas have yet to expand past living in their mother's basement.  Surfing the internet to sell their Star Wars action figures on e-Bay.  They watch the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy at least five times a year.  Bar soap is a luxury item.

And none of them have a sense at all about American history and the importance of the office of the Chief Executive.  If they did, they wouldn't be wearing the campaign buttons of a full-fledged maniac, whose craziness is so immense that it has its own zip code.

Yet, march on, they do.  Cheer on, they do.  Push the envelope of insanity, they do. 

Ron Paul has zero chance to be the Republican nominee for President.  Actually, much less than zero.  His fans remain undaunted.  Well then, he can run as an independent third party.

Goofballs, your vote now counts for nothing.  You might as well take that ballot, which was fought and bled over by American soldiers throughout the years, and use it to roll up your next doobie.  Their sheer presence in the voting populace threatens to throw the election next November into a downward spiral that could be the penultimate nail in the coffin containing this once-great land.

I've said it before and I will say it again.  In order to vote in this country, you need to pass a test. 

And, if that were the case, every single one of the Ron Paul voting bloc would probably be disqualified.

Dinner last night:  Boboli pizza with pepperoni.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

This Date in History - January 25

This is Henry the Eighth, not Sebastian Cabot.  More coming below.

41:  AFTER A NIGHT OF NEGOTIATION, CLAUDIUS IS ACCEPTED AS ROMAN EMPEROR BY THE SENATE.

It pays to have Scott Boras as an agent.

1348:  A STRONG EARTHQUAKE STRIKES THE SOUTH ALPINE REGION OF FRIULI IN MODERN ITALY, CAUSING CONSIDERABLE DAMAGES TO BUILDINGS AS FAR AWAY AS ROME.

1348 and they're already calling it modern Italy???

1533:  HENRY VIII OF ENGLAND SECRETLY MARRIES HIS SECOND WIFE ANNE BOLEYN.

So this really happened?  It wasn't just a Herman's Hermits song?

1573:  IN JAPAN'S BATTLE OF MIKATAGAHARA, TAKEDA SHINGEN DEFEATS TOKUGAWA IEYASU.

You type that sentence fast and see what happens.

1787:  AMERICAN DANIEL SHAYS LEADS A REBELLION TO SEIZE FEDERAL ARSENAL TO PROTEST DEBTOR'S PRISONS.

#OccupyShays.

1791:  THE BRITISH PARLIAMENT PASSES THE CONSTITUTIONAL ACT OF 1791 AND SPLITS QUEBEC INTO UPPER AND LOWER CANADA.

Did this divide a hockey franchise in half, too?

1858:  THE WEDDING MARCH BY FELIX MENDELSSOHN BECOMES A POPULAR WEDDING RECESSIONAL AFTER IT IS PLAYED ON THIS DAY AT THE MARRIAGE OF QUEEN VICTORIA'S DAUGHTER AND FRIEDRICH OF PRUSSIA.

Some now confuse this song with Taps.

1881:  THOMAS EDISON AND ALEXANDER GRAHAM BELL FORM THE ORIENTAL TELEPHONE COMPANY.

Did they even know what country they were living in at the time?

1882:  WRITER VIRGINIA WOOLF IS BORN.

Anybody afraid of this?

1890:  NELLIE BLY COMPLETES HER ROUND-THE-WORLD JOURNEY IN 72 DAYS.

Can you imagine what she could have done with more vacation time?

1915:  ALEXANDER GRAHAM BELL INAUGURATES U.S. TRANSCONTINENTAL TELEPHONE SERVICE, SPEAKING FROM NEW YORK TO THOMAS WATSON IN SAN FRANCISCO.

So he finally got off that Oriental Phone kick.

1919:  THE LEAGUE OF NATIONS IS FOUNDED.

With no designated hitter.

1919:  JOURNALIST EDWIN NEWMAN IS BORN.

A journalist?  What the heck is that?

1931:  ACTOR DEAN JONES IS BORN.

And Herbie the Love Bug finally gets his driver.

1937:  THE GUIDING LIGHT SOAP OPERA DEBUTS ON NBC RADIO.

And it lasted on CBS television until September of 2009.  That's a whole shitload of residuals for the original writers and creators.

1942:  DURING WORLD WAR II, THAILAND DECLARES WAR ON THE UNITED STATES AND UNITED KINGDOM.

What were these idiots thinking?  Mismatch!!

1945:  THE BATTLE OF THE BULGE ENDS.

Woo hoo.  We can have dessert again.

1947:  GANGSTER AL CAPONE DIES.

It was a heart attack and not a tommy gun that got him.

1949:  IN HOLLYWOOD, THE FIRST EMMY AWARDS ARE PRESENTED.

Regis Philbin was the host.

1961:  IN WASHINGTON DC, PRESIDENT JOHN F. KENNEDY DELIVERS THE FIRST LIVE PRESIDENTIAL TELEVISION NEWS CONFERENCE.

Giving Edwin Newman something fun to do on his birthday.

1971:  CHARLES MANSON AND THREE FAMILY MEMBERS ARE FOUND GUILTY OF THE 1969 TATE-LABIANCA MURDERS.

Apparently it was possible for a Los Angeles jury to get one right.

1971:  IDI AMIN LEADS A COUP AND BECOMES UGANDA'S PRESIDENT.

Now there's a real charmer.

1990:  ACTRESS AVA GARDNER DIES.

A stunning movie star and even more noteworthy because she was the only woman who actually could beat Frank Sinatra in a fistfight.

1996:  BILLY BAILEY BECAME THE LAST PERSON TO BE HANGED IN THE UNITED STATES.

You should have listened.  We told you to please come home.

1996:  COMPOSER JONATHAN LARSON DIES.

He did "Rent" and now his lease is up.

2010:  METS ORGANIST JANE JARVIS DIES.

She ran out of Mets to meet.

Dinner last night:  Chicken breat with olives and capers plus brown rice with dried cranberries.



Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Saul and Heshe's Oscar Nomination Morning Breakfast

Our two favorite Hollywood veterans, Saul and Heshe, didn't get up in time to hear the Oscar nominations this morning.  But, I'm betting they're chatting them up over bagels, lox, and a schmeer at breakfast.

 "Oy.  It's so goddamn early.  Why are we eating breakfast now?  I didn't finish burping up my dinner."

"You on the Prilosec?"

"Nah, the Tums I pop like crazy.  I should grind them in the Cuisinart and make them into a smoothie."

"It's the big Hollywood morning.  The Oscar nominations and all that mishigoss."

"Big deal and excuse me for that last belch.  Wow, that's last night's cucumber salad."

"Let's see.  What have we got this year?  Did you see the silent movie?"

"That Mel Brooks thing with Marty Feldman.  It's on the Encore all the time."

"No, no, there's a new one and it got a lot of nominations.  Made by the French and, you'll pardon the expression, that rat bastard Harvey Weinstein."

"If I wanted to see a silent movie, I think I still got Buster Keaton in my rolodex." 

"He's been dead since 1965."

"So are most of the people in my rolodex."

"You should put all that personal stuff in one of those iPads."

"I need one of those things like I need another peptic ulcer.  Just one more thing for the missus to break."

"Woody Allen is up again."

"Taking the Viagra?"

"No, he made that Midnight in Paris.  I saw it.  He's still got it in him."

"And he's still got it in the teenager.  Taking the Viagra."

"What about The Help?"

"Mine stinks and she won't do laundry."

"I meant the movie.  About all those housekeepers in the South."

"Oy.  More hand wringing by the schvatzas.  You never heard Hattie McDaniel bitch and moan when she was at the Oscars."

"That's because they made her sit in the kitchen at the Cocoanut Grove."

"Meryl Streep was Margaret Thatcher."

"Well, somebody had to do it and I guess Joanne Worley was busy."

"The Iron Lady."

"You mean the bitch that was my first wife."

"No, no, that's the name of the Streep movie."

"Clooney is nominated again for some movie set in Hawaii."

"Every year now for that little pisher.  Who knew?"

"He must get laid a lot."

"Obviously, he never met the bitch that was my first wife."

"There is something called the Tree of Life."

"Yeah, the board game that Art Linkletter invented."

"No, it's really a movie.  And it's like six days long."

"Just like the war in 1967.  I'd rather sit through that than see this dreck with Brad Pitt Schmitt."

"He's nominated, too.  For that Moneyball."

"Baseball movie.  I swore them off since I saw Bill Bendix play Babe Ruth."

"Oy."

"Oy."

"Glenn Close got nominated for something called Albert Nobbs.  Impersonating a man."

"Well, then, Albert had some knobs.  Speaking of which, I wonder whatever happened to Pamela Tiffin."

"Oy vey iz mir.  Your mind is wandering around like it's on the desert."

"I'd love to wander around the desert with Pamela Tiffin.  Va-va-voom.  And I would not need the Viagra, Wood-ila."

"Thank God this year none of that 3-D chazzerai is nominated."

"Oy."

"Oy."

"3-D, Schmee-dee.  It don't work.  And when I have those big friggin' glasses on, I look like Carlo Ponti."

"But the little kiddies like it.  Me, it's a headache I wouldn't wish on my proctologist."

"At least Billy Crystal is hosting this year."

"Isn't he dead?"

"Not according to Imdeebeebeedee.  Or whatever they call that mishigoss on the World Wide Web."  

"I looked myself up on it.  I'm still here."

"Me, too.  L'chaim!"

Dinner last night:  Chili.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Monday Morning Video Laugh - January 23, 2012

If you always wonder why the U.S. Postal Service is losing money, watch this.  More idiots on parade.


Dinner last night:   Turkey salad sandwich.


Sunday, January 22, 2012

The Sunday Memory Drawer - Another Average Night in Hollywood

Last Sunday, we flashbacked several decades to an innocent third-grade class in Mount Vernon, New York.

This week, the memory is a little fresher from a few years back.  A name in the news prompted my thought pattern.  Frankly, it's a story I thought I told before.  My mind does tend to bring back to me rerun episodes.  But, as it turns out, it's virgin material as far as this here blog is concerned.

Of another ordinary night in Hollywood.  And it all started as a way to deliver a more unique Christmas present.

I don't know about you, but it has become next to impossible to give clever and original Christmas gifts to good friends.  After many, many Yuletides, the novelty has totally worn off.  You do run out of ideas eventually.  These days, my pals have virtually eschewed the exchange of Christmas gifts and prefer now to use the dough to share a good meal at a really top notch restaurant.

But, about eight years ago, we were all still racking our brains  and I was having a major struggle trying to find something really cool for my writing partner.

God brought me the answer.  Well, actually, the lazy postman did. 

As a card-carrying member of the American Cinematheque in Hollywood, I get invited to participate in special screenings and film events.  Most of it I ignore.  An opportunity to see a sneak preview of some new Japanese animation?  Well, that's a yawn.  But this letter gives me something to consider.

A SPECIAL SCREENING OF ALFRED HITCHCOCK'S CLASSIC "VERTIGO."  QUESTION AND ANSWER TO FOLLOW WITH FILM STAR KIM NOVAK.

Hmmm? 

The fine print below, however, was what hooked me.  For an added donation to charity, you and a guest could attend an exclusive cocktail with Ms. Novak.

Hmmm squared.  I could solve a Christmas gift dilemma and a tax deduction in one shot.

American Cinematheque, may I give you my credit card number now or later?

Now, truth be told, my writing partner probably would have preferred an audience with Ann-Margret, since he once drove up her driveway to take a photo of her garbage cans.  But, hell, a Hollywood starlet is a Hollywood starlet.  Plus my dad was a big fan.  I remember once going to the Elmsford Drive-In with my father and one of Kim's films was on the double bill.  Her first appearance in the movie was a stunner.  And, in a rare display of testosterone, my father uttered one word.

"Wow."

That's also what my writing partner said when he found out where we were going.

The screening was held on a chilly January Saturday night at the legendary and impressive Egyptian Theater on Hollywood Boulevard.  The place was sold out for the movie, but I scoped out the crowd and wondered how many of these suckers were getting to go to the after-party at the Cecil B. DeMille museum a half-mile away.  The capacity of that venue was only about 100 people. 

I suddenly became as self-important as everybody else in Tinseltown.

The head got a little larger when I got past the security guard for the "exclusive" gala two hours later. 

Officially, this was my first real Hollywood party. A truly odd sensation.  And that's where my snootiness would begin its quick decline down a very slippery slope.  We were really non-entities.  And we realized it pretty darn quickly.

You are standing with a drink. Somebody walks up and will stare you in the face for about 30 seconds. When they discover you’re a nobody, they walk away without saying a word. And, believe me, there were a lot of people staring and walking away. 

Welcome to Hollywood.

The party was full of C list celebrities. Folks that don't get invited to the really big affairs and are more likely to be found eating a bowl of soup at the Cheesecake Factory in Brentwood.  I spotted the alleged Mayor of Hollywood, Johnny Grant.  He's dead now, but, on that night, he was all full of himself in the presence of Kim Novak.  I decide to engage him in a conversation.  I remembered that he had a small role in one of my favorite all-time movies, "White Christmas."  So I mention this to him. 

"God, who remembers that???"

And the Mayor of Beverly Hills walked away with his two cold shoulders.

My writing partner spotted actress Diane Baker standing by herself.  And another dialogue is broached.  He points to me and tells Diane that I'm a big fan of some dreary movie of hers called "The Best Of Everything."  Supposedly, I watch it all the time.  Ms. Baker looked at me quizzically.

"You watch that all the time?  Why?"

I found it very surreal to be watching Tippi Hedren eat a piece of chicken and film buffs will get that inference.  With her fingers all greased up, she totally avoided our overtures for a conversation.

Ms. Novak, however?

Incredibly gracious when we chatted her up.  And insisted on a photo.  This clearly is not the best photo of me.  I look like an Office Depot night manager from Tarzana.  But, you can focus on Kim Novak and understand why my dad uttered "wow" years earlier. 
Seconds after this snapshot was taken, she ran her hand across my writing partner's chest and said "oooh, nice sweater." 

He probably hasn't had it dry cleaned since.

So, two weeks ago, the usually reclusive Kim Novak gets her name back in the press when she is appalled by the use of the "Vertigo" love theme as part of the score of "The Artist."  And the memory of this special and weird night bounces to the forefront and this blog all over again.

Yes, Dad, wow.

Dinner last night:  Proscuitto and mushroom pizza at La Piazza.


Saturday, January 21, 2012

Classic TV Theme of the Month - January 2012

Nobody ever admits it, but lots of people I know watched this show.  Including, ahem,......



Dinner last night:  Panini wih proscuitto, provolone, and spinach.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Your Weekend Movie Guide for January 2012


Now that's the way to see a movie. In Cinemascope 55. I'm sure that became Cinemascope 56 the very next year.

The way we see movies in 2012 is not nearly as much fun.  Because the films are not nearly as much fun.  But, if you insist on finding a flicker this weekend, here's your handy dandy guide to sorting out the junk playing in our multiplexes.  I'll flip through the Los Angeles Times movie pages and give you my knee jerk reaction to what's out there ready to burn your retinas.

The Artist:  Everybody's talking about it.  Except me.  And, of course, the people in the movie.

Carnage:  I saw this screen adaptation of the award winning play "Gods of Carnage."  I never saw it on Broadway.  This is clearly an idea that works better on stage than on the silver screen.  All the characters are so annoying that you would rather watch a Republican Presidential debate.  Plus it runs an hour and 19 minutes.  There are Disney cartoons that take up more time on the screen.

We Bought A Zoo:  And, from what I can see, very few people bought tickets.

Contraband:  To protect his brother-in-law from a drug lord, Mark Wahlberg heads to Panama to score millions of dollars in counterfeit bills.   What?  He can't get enough from that syndication deal for "Entourage?" 

The Iron Lady:  On my list purely for Meryl Streep's supposedly bravura performance as Margaret Thatcher.  Except I hear the movie is quite mediocre.

Mission Impossible - Ghost Protocol:  Well, shut my mouth.  Having hated the first one in the franchise and not seeing the sequels, I somehow wound up seeing this fourth chapter.  And loved it.  It was like two episodes of "24" tied together.  But, have no fear, Keifer Sutherland.  You can still act rings around the consistently one-note Tom Cruise.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo:  How did Len see this movie?  I was waiting for Toyota to put two new tires on my car.  I had three hours to kill and there's a movie theater right next door to the dealership.  Timing wise, it was between this and Alvin and the Chipmunks - Chipwrecked.  So, there.  Meanwhile, this David Fincher swill is cold, dark, violent, and dirty.  The Chipmunks never looked so good.

Alvin and the Chipmunks - Chipwrecked:  Compared to the tattoo chick, how bad could you have been?

War Horse:  I hear this is classic Spielberg over-directing to epic proportions.  But, a good sign is that, for once, there are no sharks, dinosaurs, or Jews in a concentration camp.

Beauty and the Beast - 3D:  I'm going on record.  I don't think 3-D works.  There.  I said it.

Sherlock Holmes - A Game of Shadows:  This got tons of American dollars over the holidays.  None of it from my wallet, thank God.  Anybody who enjoys this incarnation of the great detective is too stupid to read the original books by Sr. Arthur Conan Doyle.

Joyful Noise:  Dolly Parton and Queen Latifah in what looks to be a cross between an episode of "Green Acres" and "Glee."

We Need to Talk About Kevin:  Tilda Swinton as a mother who tires to come to terms when her son commits an unspeakable act.  Finally getting a wide release after it opened briefly last year in Hollywood to enable Swinton to qualify for an almost-certain Oscar nomination.  As for me, please don't make me see the film to find out what the unspeakable act is.  I will gladly accept spoilers.

Carol Channing - Larger Than Life:  A documentary on Broadway's legendary Dolly.  Don't judge me if I go to see this.

Underworld - Awakening:  When human forces discover the existence of the Vampire and Lycan clans, a war to eradicate both species commences. The vampire warrioress Selene leads the battle against humankind. So, there was another movie before this?  People know who Selene is?  Where have I been?  Apparently not at any theater playing this shit.

Man on a Mission:  A documentary that tells the story of legendary computer game developer Richard Garriott's spaceflight in October 2008.   Officially the dumbest idea ever for a documentary.  Not counting, of course, anything by Michael Moore.

Coriolanus:  A banished hero of Rome allies with a sworn enemy to take his revenge on the city.   Directed by Ralph Fiennes and a co-writing credit for William Shakespeare, who I didn't think was still working.  He must be trying to keep his WGA health benefits.

The Adventures of Tintin:  Please insert gaping yawn.  What's worse than a Steven Spileberg over-directed epic?  A Spielberg over-produced cartoon.

The Devil Inside:  In Italy, a woman becomes involved in a series of unauthorized exorcisms during her mission to discover what happened to her mother, who allegedly murdered three people during her own exorcism.   Paging Father Merrin.  This stuff was done much better years ago by director William Friedkin.  Skip this and rent "The Exorcist" in Blu-Ray.

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close:  Reviewed here earlier this week.  If you have short term memory issues, can I suggest some Gingko Biloba?

Film Socialisme:  This three-part film portrays scenes aboard a Mediterranean cruise ship, a French family home, and moments throughout human history.  If that sounds weird, it was also directed by the over-rated Jean-Luc Godard.  What's the French word for "nap?"

Red Tails:  A crew of African American pilots in the Tuskegee training program, having faced segregation while kept mostly on the ground during World War II, are called into duty under the guidance of Col. A.J. Bullard.   Produced by George Lucas, who bitched to high heaven how much trouble he had getting a release for a smart movie about African-Americans.  For that, he has to thank Tyler Perry, Martin Lawrence, and any film with the word "booty" in the title.

Haywire:  A black ops super soldier seeks payback after she is betrayed and set up during a mission.   Directed by Steven Soderbergh and it stars Gina Carano.  Yeah, I asked the same question.  Who the hell is she???

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy:  I hear the movie forgot to include one more occupation.  Intepreter.  I understand that folks are struggling to understand all the fast-talking Brits.

Loosies:  A young pickpocket in the New York subways, living a fast, free, lifestyle is confronted by a woman with whom he had a one night affair.   From that plot description, it doesn't sound like I will love Loosies.

Miss Bala:  The story of a young woman clinging on to her dream to become a beauty contest queen in a Mexico dominated by organized crime.   How will she be able to keep her tiara on as she hops the border fence?

The Flowers of War:  The always hammy Christian Bale as a Westerner who finds refuge with a group of women in a church during Japan's rape of Nanking in 1937. Posing as a priest, he attempts to lead the women to safety.   If you're cooped up with a bunch of ladies, why would you pose as a priest?  That takes all the fun out of this movie.

Young Adult:  Jason Reitman directing and Diablo Cody writing the script.  How could this go wrong?  Well, trust me, it does.  A huge, huge disappointment.

The Descendants:  Soon to be riding the crest of Oscar nominations.  As written here before, this is nothing but a Lifetime movie with a bigger production budget.

Dinner last night:  Pepperoni pizza from Maria's Italian Kitchen.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

What's All This Fuss About Jesus?

Well, by now, everybody knows.

God took the Patriots....and a whole lot of points.

Yep, Tim Tebow, the Denver Broncos, and probably the city of Nazareth lost big last Saturday and I guess that means this media frenzy is over for now.  Praying can resume when training camp re-opens in July.

Frankly, I do believe, in my heart of hearts, that the young quarterback doesn't just wait for a touchdown to hit his knees and talk to the guy upstairs.  This is a kid who has been raised with religion and is still incredibly in touch with his faith.

The horror.

I was astounded by the bashing Tebow took over his thanking God every time he managed to allude some tackle for a score.  How dare he rub our faces into his beliefs?  Some of these comments come from the same people who are always hysterically amused at the gyrations of some players in the end zone after scoring a touchdown.  Did you see the way some of those common ass wipes on the New York Giants carried on during their victory against the Green Bay Packers?

Yeah, we live in a world where it's okay to be a moron, but not a person who "talks" to God.

Shameful.

And, as if this is something new?

Last week, the MLB Network was running a lot of clips from the 1988 World Series, which was the last time the Los Angeles Dodgers played in (and won) the Fall Classic.  Orel Hershiser is pitching and gets the last out in Game Five to close down the series victory.  So, what does he do?  He hits his knees and prays.  For perhaps no longer than ten seconds, but he genuflects nonetheless.  A private moment between him and his Lord and Master---the one not named Tommy Lasorda.

I don't remember the flurry of disdain upon Hershiser.  As a matter of fact, I don't recall a single word of dissent.  Now, I'm fully expecting that history will repeat itself if current Dodger pitcher Clayton Kershaw ever gets to achieve the same feat.  Kershaw's deeply religious and even goes to Africa every January to work with his Christian missonary wife amongst some needy villages.  Clayton will no doubt thank God as well.  Expect hand wringing to ensue.

So, what's changed in the 26 years between Orel Hershiser and Tim Tebow?  Little, you say?  A lot, I say.

Let's face it.  America's almost maniacal need to be all things for all people has now fatally backfired in all of our faces.  Suddenly, you cannot practice your own Christian religion for fear of offending somebody else.  Because, you know, we need to be conscious of that mosque being built around the corner.  Or the temple that is meeting in the basement next door.  Every religion but Christianity seems to be getting a hall pass to roam the campus freely.

A young quarterback kneeling down in the end zone?  The nerve.

This all comes on the heels of my own Christmas Eve service at church, where my screwball-of-a-liberal pastor felt a need to include elements of interfaith in the celebration.  Come on, I don't begrudge anybody's religious beliefs, but I'd also appreciate it if you didn't infringe upon mine either.  I'll make a deal, please.  You stay out of my way on Christmas Eve and I'll steer clear on Yom Kippur and any of those Allah-based holy days that are too numerous to mention.

Every one asks "can we all get along?"  I ask "can't we just leave each other alone?"

Don't get me wrong.  Tebow is obviously a Fundamentalist Christian and those folks can get in your face a bit.  Some of the "John 3:16" coincidences were dragged out ad nauseum.  Gee, did you know that Tebow had $3.16 in his locker at the time he scored the winning touchdown?  Come on.  Enough.  And, personally, I do take issue with some of the basic tenets of their faith, especially in regard to ethnicitiy, sexual preference, and abortion.  And I certainly can make similar arguments with other religions as well.  Last time I heard, those terrorists weren't exclaiming "I'm coming home to you, Jesus" when they flew those planes into the Twin Towers on 9/11.

But that, my friends, is old business.  Once again...

There is no one single religion that is right or wrong.  It all works for the same purpose.  To help keep somebody grounded and on the righteous path, regardless of who is doing the final judgment at the end of your mortal days. 

Isn't that what it's supposed to be?

You want to achieve world harmony?  Let everybody do what they need to do.  In their own way. 

I pray that this can happens in my lifetime. 

No, wait.  Can I say that?

Dinner last night:  Tortellini with chicken and pesto.


Wednesday, January 18, 2012

This Date in History - January 18

Happy birthday, Ollie!  

350:  GENERALLUS MAGNENTIUS DEPOSES ROMAN EMPEROR CONSTANS AND PROCLAIMS HIMSELF EMPEROUR.

Generallus Magnentius?  Sounds like something you take for constipation.

474:  LEO II BRIEFLY BECOMES BYZANTINE EMPEROR.

Briefly translates to...

474:  BYZANTINE EMPEROR LEO II DIES.

He probably didn't even get to try out the throne.

1126:  EMPEROR HUIZONG ABDICATES THE CHINESE THRONE IN FAVOR OF HIS SON EMPEROR QINZONG.

Tough day to be an emperor anywhere.

1520:  KING CHRISTIAN II OF DENMARK AND NORWAY DEFEATS THE SWEDES AT LAKE ASUNDEN.

Or a Swede, for that matter.

1535:  SPANISH CONQUISTADOR FRANCISCO PIZARRO FOUNDED LIMA, THE CAPITAL OF PERU.

And I suppose the Lima bean.

1670:  HENRY MORGAN CAPTURES PANAMA.

Obviously he wasn't content to simply have a seat on the "I've Got a Secret" panel.

1778:  JAMES COOK IS THE FIRST KNOWN EUROPEAN TO DISCOVER THE HAWAIIAN ISLANDS, WHICH HE NAMES THE SANDWICH ISLANDS.

Hold the mayo...and the pineapple.

1782:  STATESMAN DANIEL WEBSTER IS BORN.

Say hello to the Devil.

1871:  WILHELM I OF GERMANY IS PROCLAIMED THE FIRST GERMAN EMPEROR IN THE PALACE OF VERSAILLES.  THE EMPIRE IS KNOWN AS THE SECOND REICH TO GERMANS.

Yeah, well, the third one was the real killer.

1886:  MODERN FIELD HOCKEY IS BORN WITH THE FORMATION OF THE HOCKEY ASSOCIATION IN ENGLAND.

And the first fight was...?

1892:  COMEDY STAR OLIVER HARDY IS BORN.

Well, here's another fine mess you got yourself into.

1896:  THE X-RAY MACHINE IS EXHIBITED FOR THE FIRST TIME.

Prior to this, broken bones were simply unhappy surprises.

1903:  PRESIDENT THEODORE ROOSEVELT SENDS A RADIO MESSAGE TO KING EDWARD VII---THE FIRST TRANSATLANTIC RADIO TRANSMISSION ORIGINATING IN THE UNITED STATES.

First message was "please send moustache trimmer."

1904:  ACTOR CARY GRANT IS BORN.

The birth certificate read "Archie Leach."

1913:  ACTOR DANNY KAYE IS BORN.

I never quite understood his appeal.

1916:  A 611 GRAM CHONDRITE TYPE METEORITE STRIKES A HOUSE IN STONE COUNTY, MISSOURI.

They were looking to put in a sky light anyway.

1933:  INVENTOR RAY DOLBY IS BORN.

He's the reason we cover our ears at the movies.

1941:  DURING WORLD WAR II, BRITISH TROOPS LAUNCH A GENERAL COUNTER-OFFENSIVE AGAINST ITALIAN EAST AFRICA.

Talk about picking on the smallest kid in the school playground.

1941:  SINGER BOBBY GOLDSBORO IS BORN.

Honey, I miss you.

1952:  STOOGE CURLY HOWARD DIES.

Hey, look, Moe, it's the Grim Reaper.

1954:  ACTOR SYDNEY GREENSTREET DIES.

Road closed.

1955:  ACTOR KEVIN COSTNER IS BORN.

If your water breaks, he will come.

1958:  WILLIE O'REE, THE FIRST AFRICAN CANADIAN NATIONAL HOCKEY LEAGUE PLAYER, MAKES HIS NHL DEBUT.

First African?  Come on, Wikipedia!  He was Black.  Deal with it.

1967:  BOSTON STRANGLER ALBERT DESALVO IS CONVICTED OF NUMEROUS CRIMES AND SENTENCED TO LIFE IMPRISONMENT.

He could look at the bright side.  He didn't have to watch the Red Sox anymore.

1969:  UNITED AIRLINES FLIGHT 266 CRASHES INTO SANTA MONICA BAY KILLING ALL 32 PASSENGERS AND SIX CREW MEMBERS.

Wow....that happened like right down the road.

1978:  THE ROOF STRUCTURE OF THE HARTFORD CIVIC CENTER COLLAPSES AFTER A SIGNIFICANT SNOWFALL.

Fittingly, the Ice Capades was appearing there at the time.

1978:  ACTOR CARL BETZ DIES.

Judd no longer for the defense.

1983:  THE INTERNATIONAL OLYMPIC COMMITTEE RESTORES JIM THORPE'S OLYMPIC MEDALS TO HIS FAMILY.

Available on e-Bay the very next day.

1990:  WASHINGTON DC MAYOR MARION BARRY IS ARRESTED FOR DRUG POSSESSION IN A FBI STING.

All of you who voted for him should be ashamed.

1990:  ACTOR RUSTY HAMER DIES.

Make room for Daddy's son.

1993:  MARTIN LUTHER KING JR. DAY IS OFFICIALLY OBSERVED FOR THE FIRST TIME IN ALL 50 STATES.

Go to J.C. Penney's for their annual White Sale.

1995:  UMPIRE RON LUCIANO DIES.

You're out.

2000:  THE TAGISH LAKE METEORITE IMPACTS THE EARTH.

Hopefully this one didn't land in Missouri.

2011:  POLITICIAN SARGENT SHRIVER DIES.

Peace Corpse.

Dinner last night:  Ginger chicken and rice from P.F. Chang's.





Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Pleasantly Surprised and A Bit Confused

Granted this was a book first, but the title of this movie lends to all sorts of gags for film reviewers.  How many of them used a variation of it for the headline over their review?  Well, at least one of them.  Look at what's at the top of today's blog entry.

From the trailer and some of the negative reviews, I had resolved to avoid "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close," citing that most of the buzz was that it was extremely manipulative and incredibly heavy-handed.  Indeed, how can you not be when the 9/11 incident, termed by young Oskar in the movie as the "worst day ever" is the focal point of the whole film.  As time wears on, we are likely to see more and more movies devoted to how people reacted on that fateful morning. 

Eventually, we'll get more and more comfortable with the inherent drama and we may even wind up with a dark comedy around the event.  Who knows?  Maybe there will be a film where the collapse of the Twin Towers is completely thwarted by Jason Statham in a gaggle of special effects.  My guess is there's such a script in development as we speak.

Nevertheless, the wounds are still fresh so we'll get plots like this book and movie, which are a bit stilted and overly sentimental.  Mallets when small hammers will do just fine.

Trust me, "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close" is stilted and overly sentimental.  But, somehow and some way, I liked it.  Despite of itself.  Indeed, its heart is in the right place, although several of the valves get easily clogged with blockages of fat and sugar.  As do most films these days, the director here, Stephen Daldry, can't decide on one single ending so he includes all of its choices.  As a result, the movie is about a half-hour too long, but, then again, so are most films in 2012.

You may be aware that "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close" tells the tale of young Oskar, whose dad is fatally trapped in one of the World Trade towers on 9/11.  A year later, the kid, still badly in need of some grief counseling, finds a key in an envelope his dad labelled simply "Black."  He sets out on a journey across the five boroughs of New York to find which of the 240 plus people named "Black" in the metropolitan area matches up to the key.  Talk about your needle in the proverbial stack.  But, that's this boy's way of keeping his father alive, so I can't quibble.   My own father let behind for a locked suitcase.  When I opened it, the valise was full of light bulbs.  Certainly not an anecdote that inspires a whole movie treatment, but you get the idea.

Young Oskar is a bizarre little chap with enough psychological issues to keep Dr. Phil on the air for enough three seasons.  His multiple quirks and tics make you wonder if he grows up to be Sheldon Cooper on "The Big Bang Theory."    As annoying as he is, the movie hangs completely on the child and it's to actor Thomas Horn's credit that you like him and actually root for him during his quest for mailbox closure.

The acting all around is top notch.  Bloated Tom Hanks plays the dad and, of course, gets very little screen time for which lots of us are extremely glad and incredibly grateful.  Never has one Hollywood actor been as overrated as the pompous Hanks.  Meanwhile, Max Von Sydow scores mightily in a supporting role which will net him an Oscar nomination shortly.  This is noteworthy since he does not utter a single word of dialogue during the entire movie.

And, stop the presses, Sandra Bullock does her best acting ever as Oskar's confused or maybe not so confused mom.  I've never liked her, since her emoting actually lets you physically see her acting.  Not so in "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close."  She is tempered, nuanced, and organic in her scenes.  This role is worthy of an Oscar, not that manic dribble she gushed with in "The Blind Side" several years back.

But it is young Horn's picture.  It's always risky to put the entire success of your movie on a child.  While certainly no Mickey Rooney, Thomas answers the bell with a more difficult subject matter.  But then again, nobody ever bothered to make "Andy Hardy Meets A Terrorist."

Glowing words aside, there are problems with "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close."  Besides the fifteen or sixteen false endings, I came away asking about inconsistencies in the plot.  Why did?  How did?  How come?  And, since Oskar is self multilating himself during his grief, I'm a bit confused how his mother did not see this on his body.  A whole year and Mom didn't see her young son with his shirt off even once?  Hmmm?  I'm thinking there are whole chunks of dialogue that were mysteriously lost someplace, much as was the case with lives on 9/11.

So, you'll come away extremely puzzled and perhaps even incredibly annoyed.  But, nevertheless, the film holds you firmly in its grasp and perhaps one of the dozen or so endings will grab you in the throat and squeeze out a tear or two.  "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close" is dying to do just that. 

And maybe that's not such a bad thing.

Dinner last night:  Roast beef sandwich from Clementine's.