Saturday, December 15, 2018

She's Going to Find Out Who's Naughty or Nice


That's 1940s and '50s movie musical mainstay (and, some 20 years later, Broadway star) Ann Miller wagging her finger at that Santa mask. I'm not sure what the mask did to deserve the reprimand. Maybe Santa Mask gawked at her gams, which were put to very good use in the following clip:


Please comment? I can't. I'm speechless!

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Quips and Quotations (Podiatry Edition)




 The joke around Hollywood about Garbo was, which is bigger? Her salary or her feet? I saw her in person one time, in New York, and her feet weren't anything extraordinary. Another myth dashed to pieces!


--Jack Benny








 





Saturday, December 1, 2018

Vital Viewing (Comic Minds Edition)



Comedian Richard Pryor was born on this day in 1940 (he died in 2005.) Here he is in 1973 talking to actor James Earl Jones (The Great White Hope), at the time host of Black Omnibus, a hybrid interview-variety show that showcased African-American talent:



 Jones, the future booming voice of both CNN and Darth Vader, comes across as kind of soft-spoken here, doesn't he? He seems to have genuine respect and admiration for his guest. And I'm sure Pryor respected and admired him right back, but since he was, as I said, a comedian, there must have been someone in a similar line of work that he respected and admired even more. In fact, he you listened carefully to the above clip, he did make mention of...


...Jerry Lewis. You might recall that when he died last year, I wrote I was working on an essay on Lewis. Well, I hope to write it someday, but as he's such a complex figure, I just don't have the time right now to adequately present the man in all his contradictions. So at least allow me this one small offering from the 1960s when both Lewis and Pryor were guests on Merv Griffin's talk show (also featured are the Everly Brothers, who apparently have gone through a Beatlesque makeover, and Arthur Treacher, Merv's announcer/sidekick, formerly an actor who, when he wasn't dancing with Shirley Temple, specialized in playing butlers, including P.G. Wodehouse's character Jeeves):



 As you might have noticed, they smoked quite a bit on TV back in those days, and, man, did you see that cigarette dangling from Treacher's mouth when he shook Pryor's hand? Had he stood any closer to the young comedian, he might have set him...well, let's not go there.

I've shown Pryor when he was on stage with other people, but he was at his absolute best when it was just him and an audience (the video is a little out of sync with the audio, but even so, he's still at his best):



I bet even a mafioso would find the above clip funny. 



And who knows? Maybe that was the attraction.



Saturday, November 24, 2018

And the Winner Is...


Three dead writers. It happens, but at least two of them earned Oscars before going to that great big OfficeMax in the sky. Now the one in the middle, Norman Mailer, won nothing and was just at the 49th Academy Awards in 1977 (covering the year 1976) as a presenter, but before you feel too sorry for the man, trust me, he had a very lively literary career anyway. Mailer died in 2007, and he may pop up again on this blog sometime in the future (indeed, I'm remiss in unintentionally having ignored him up to now.)

The man to the right of Mailer is Paddy Chayefsky, who won Best Original Screenplay for Network, a film that, though it takes place in the 1970s, basically predicts 21st century political and media landscapes, minus the tweets (unless the tweets ended up on the cutting room floor.) This was Chayefsky's third Oscar win. He had previously won Best Adapted Screenplay of his own television play Marty at the 28th Academy Awards in 1956, and, at the 44th Academy Awards in 1972, Best Original Screenplay for The Hospital, a film that, though it too takes place in the 1970s, basically predicts the 21st socioeconomic landscape, minus the corporate and big bank bailouts (which again may have very well ended up on the cutting room floor.) Chayefsky died in 1981, but not without first establishing himself as a modern day Nostradamus. 

The man to the left of Mailer is William Goldman, who won Best Adapted Screenplay for 1976's All the President's Men, originally a non-fiction book by Washington Post reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein about the Watergate scandal. Now, if you're too young to remember Watergate, it was basically an attempted hit on the Bill of Rights, though unlike current attempted hits, the main hit man, one Richard M. Nixon, tried to do it surreptitiously before the Post reporters (as well as his own voice on tape) made it publicly known. So what did screenwriter Goldman contribute to the cinematic retelling of this nonfiction? "Follow the Money!", which is what an informant nicknamed Deep Throat (who we all found out 12 years ago was actually FBI Associate Director Mark Felt) tells Woodward, played in the film by Robert Redford. Except in real life Felt didn't exactly say that to Woodward (played by himself originally.) He did tell the young journalist to follow up on a lot of others clues, and some of those clues did involve money, and so Goldman simply and cleverly brought all that together in a single, memorable sentence. This was Goldman's second Oscar. In 1970 at the 42nd Academy Awards, he won Best Original Screenplay for the comedy-drama anti-Western Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, which with its snappy dialogue, breathed new life into the buddy-buddy movie. Though he was better known as a  screenwriter, Goldman was also a successful novelist, having wrote The Princess Bride, Marathon Man, and Magic, all of which became movies, and, yes, he also wrote the screenplays. He died eight days ago. R.I.P. William Goldman.

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Vital Viewing (You're Going Out There a Pilgrim but Coming Back a Star Edition)



If you're like me and want to occasionally take in a Broadway show but can't afford the tolls on either the Ohio or Pennsylvania Turnpikes, there's always the Macy's Thanksgiving Parade, one of the highlights of which has actors, singers, and dancers of the Great White Way performing musical numbers in front of the department store that gives said parade its name. The spirited young woman in the following video will give you an idea of what to expect:


If she hadn't pointed it out at the beginning of that clip, I don't think I would have noticed the lady had any problems with her one eye.But now that I do know...


...I'm told this stuff works wonders.

Now here's an off-off-off-off-off-Broadway Thanksgiving production:



I eagerly await the cast album.

Saturday, November 17, 2018

Quips and Quotations (Marvel Age of Comics Edition)

Stan Lee 1922-2018

Just some of the characters, or group of characters, co-created by Lee:

The Fantastic Four
The Hulk
Spider-Man
Thor
Iron Man
Doctor Strange
The Avengers
Daredevil
Nick Fury
The X-Men
The Silver Surfer
The Watcher

Note I said "co-created". Lee was a writer, but not an artist, in a very visual medium: comic books. The pictures were left in the hands of the likes of Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko, while Lee focused on the words. That he's now seen by many (though not without some controversy) as one of the most important people to have ever worked in comics, is testament to just how good he was with words. 

The following quotes has been culled from interviews, books Lee wrote, and the very pages of the comics he made famous. Here then, in his own words, is Smilin' Stan:

Marvel is a cornucopia of fantasy, a wild idea, a swashbuckling attitude, an escape from the humdrum and prosaic. It’s a serendipitous feast for the mind, the eye, and the imagination, a literate celebration of unbridled creativity, coupled with a touch of rebellion and an insolent desire to spit in the eye of the dragon.

[Being a ‘geek’] has become a badge of honor. It’s geeks who really make or break a TV show or movie or video game. They’re the ones who are passionate about these things and who collect [the paraphernalia] and talk about them. A geek is really somebody interested in communication and entertainment and [finding] the best way to avail himself or herself to it..

For years, kids have been asking me what’s the greatest superpower. I always say luck. If you’re lucky, everything works. I’ve been lucky.



I thought it would be great to do superheroes that have the same kind of life problems that any reader—that anybody—could have. ... Just because you have superpowers, that doesn't mean your love life would be perfect. I don't think superpowers automatically means there won't be any personality problems, family problems or even money problems. I just tried to write characters who are human beings who also have superpowers.

Okay! If you've read this far, we figured your hooked! There's no turning back now! So hold onto you hats...Here goes one of the most exciting super-adventures you've ever read.

The editors sincerely feel that this may well be one of the most gripping tales of the year!




[Publisher Martin Goodman] said "Hey, maybe there's still a market for superheroes. Why don't you bring out a team just like the Justice League. We could call it the Righteous League or something. I worked for him and had to do what he wanted, so I was willing to turn out a team of superheroes. But I figured I'll be damned if I'm just going to copy DC.

To keep it from getting too goody-goody, there is always friction between Mr. Fantastic and the Thing, with Human Torch siding with Mr. F.



Although a costume isn't required of superheroes, the fans love costumes. The characters are more popular if they wear costumes (don't ask me why.) In the first issue of The Fantastic Four, I didn't have them wear costumes. I received a ton of mail from fans saying that they loved the book, but they wouldn't buy another issue unless we gave the characters costumes.



Like costumed heroes? Confidentially, we in the comic mag business refer to them as "long underwear characters." And, as you know, they're a dime a dozen! But, we think you may find our Spider-Man just a bit...different!



And a lean, silent figure slowly fades into the gathering darkness, aware at last that in this world, with great power also comes--great responsibility!

Why don't things ever seem to turn out right for me? Why do I always seem to hurt people, no matter how hard I try not to? Is this the price I must always pay for being...Spider-Man??!



I don't get it! How do other superhuman guys, like the Fantastic Four and the Ant Man, get away with it?? Nobody bothers them! And they always seem to make enough dough!

I wonder how many other guys with super-powers get scolded by their aunts if they don't toe the mark?

Sure! Sure! Every time I turn around I get "doomed" by someone else!

If anyone asks what happened to you guys, make sure to spell my name right! There's a hyphen in it, remember!



Hmm, now what do I do with you? You're too bad-tempered to keep as a pet, and much too old to adopt! I guess I'll just leave you hear 'till the police find you--if you [Kraven the Hunter] promise not to try and hunt the first little bunny rabbit or squirrel that comes by!




Get outta here! You costumed freaks should all be outlawed! Ever since Spider-Man entered my life, even my ulcers have ulcers!






We sort of give the idea that our characters are reasonably normal people who won't turn the other way if a pretty girl comes by. We don't attempt to play up the sex in anyway, but if a story should who is attracted to somebody of the opposite sex or whatever, we try to put it in so it makes sense.



This demonstrates how some people in big positions are idiots. [Lee's boss, publisher Martin Goodman, nixed the idea of calling a group of superheroes The Mutants on the basis that kids wouldn't know what the word meant, so they they became the X-Men instead.]   

I wanted them to be diverse. The whole underlying principle of the X-Men was to try to be an anti-bigotry story to show there’s good in every person.



Have you noticed the sorry mess of  Marvel IMITATIONS making the scene lately? Imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery and all that jazz, but we wanna make darn sure no dyed-in-the-wool Marvel Madman gets stuck with one of those Brand Echh [Lee's name for rival DC Comics] versions of the real thing.



Everybody's favorite guessing game these days is trying to figure out the real identity of the Sub-Mariner's powerful penciller, "Adam Austen" [Gene Colan, who was still on DC's payroll.]

I put in everybody's name. I even put the letterer's name down. I wanted it to be a bit like a movie. I wanted the readers to get to know who we were and become fans. I wanted to personalize things and not just "These are the books. You buy them or you don't buy them. You don't know who did them and you don't care." I wanted to give it a friendly feeling, as though we're all part of one group of fans and we enjoy what we're doing and we know each other.

Written in the masterful manner of Stan Lee!
Illustrated in the magnificent mode of Jack Kirby!
Inked in the majestic mood of Joe Sinnott!
Lettered in the nick of time by Sy Rosen! 

Written in the white heat of inspiration by: Stan Lee
Drawn in a wild frenzy of enthusiasm by: Steve Ditko
Lettered in a comfortable room by: Art Simek 


Written by: Stan Lee (the poor man's Shakespeare)
Illustrated by Steve Ditko (the poor man's da Vinci)
Lettered by Art Simek (the poor man's rich man)

Written by: Spidey's godfather, Stan Lee
Illustrated by: Spidey's big daddy, Steve Ditko
Lettered by: S. Rosen (Spidey's second cousin on his uncle's side!) 



Although a costume isn’t required of superheroes, the fans love costumes. The characters are more popular if they wear costumes. (Don’t ask me why.) In the first issue of the Fantastic Four, I didn’t have them wear costumes. I received a ton of mail from fans saying that they loved the book, but they wouldn’t buy another issue unless we gave the characters costumes.

Read more: https://metro.co.uk/2018/11/13/stan-lee-quotes-on-superheroes-and-heroism-as-the-marvel-creator-passes-away-at-95-8134093/?ito=cbshare
Twitter: https://twitter.com/MetroUK | Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MetroUK/


Another definition of a hero is someone who is concerned about other people’s well-being, and will go out of his or her way to help them — even if there is no chance of a reward. That person who helps others simply because it should or must be done, and because it is the right thing to do, is indeed without a doubt, a real superhero.’

Read more: https://metro.co.uk/2018/11/13/stan-lee-quotes-on-superheroes-and-heroism-as-the-marvel-creator-passes-away-at-95-8134093/?ito=cbshare
Twitter: https://twitter.com/MetroUK | Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MetroUK/

 I’m a frustrated actor. My goal is to beat Alfred Hitchcock in the number of cameos. I’m going to try to break his record.

We told you this story would be a bit different, didn't we?? So far as we know, it's the first time in history that an adventure hero had no actual fight with any foe!



Be sure to keep your eyes on the startling Scorpion! We predict he's definitely a candidate for the Super-Villains Hall of Fame!  

Marvel is a cornucopia of fantasy, a wild idea, a swashbuckling attitude, an escape from the humdrum and prosaic. It’s a serendipitous feast for the mind, the eye, and the imagination, a literate celebration of unbridled creativity, coupled with a touch of rebellion and an insolent desire to spit in the eye of the dragon.’

Read more: https://metro.co.uk/2018/11/13/stan-lee-quotes-on-superheroes-and-heroism-as-the-marvel-creator-passes-away-at-95-8134093/?ito=cbshare
Twitter: https://twitter.com/MetroUK | Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MetroUK/

Marvel is a cornucopia of fantasy, a wild idea, a swashbuckling attitude, an escape from the humdrum and prosaic. It’s a serendipitous feast for the mind, the eye, and the imagination, a literate celebration of unbridled creativity, coupled with a touch of rebellion and an insolent desire to spit in the eye of the dragon.’

Read more: https://metro.co.uk/2018/11/13/stan-lee-quotes-on-superheroes-and-heroism-as-the-marvel-creator-passes-away-at-95-8134093/?ito=cbshare
Twitter: https://twitter.com/MetroUK | Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MetroUFor years, kids have been asking me what’s the greatest superpower. I always say luck. If you’re lucky, everything works. I’ve been lucky[Being a ‘geek’] has become a badge of honor. It’s geeks who really make or break a TV show or movie or video game. They’re the ones who are passionate about these things and who collect [the paraphernalia] and talk about them. A geek is really somebody interested in communication and entertainment and [finding] the best way to avail himself or herself to it..I wanted them to be diverse. The whole underlying principle of the X-Men was to try to be an anti-bigotry story to show there’s good in every person.

Everybody has Doctor Doom misunderstood. Everybody thinks he's a criminal, but all he wants is to rule the world. Now, if you really think about it objectively, you could walk up to a policeman, and you could say, 'Excuse me, officer, I want to tell you something: I want to rule the world.' He can't arrest you; it's not a crime to want to rule the world. So [...] it's unfair that he's considered a villain, because he just wants to rule the world. Then maybe he could do a better job of it. So I'm very interested in Doctor Doom, and I'd like to clear his name.



 'Nuff said!










Although a costume isn’t required of superheroes, the fans love costumes. The characters are more popular if they wear costumes. (Don’t ask me why.) In the first issue of the Fantastic Four, I didn’t have them wear costumes. I received a ton of mail from fans saying that they loved the book, but they wouldn’t buy another issue unless we gave the characters costumes.’

Read more: https://metro.co.uk/2018/11/13/stan-lee-quotes-on-superheroes-and-heroism-as-the-marvel-creator-passes-away-at-95-8134093/?ito=cbshare
Twitter: https://twitter.com/MetroUK | Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MetroUK/

















Although a costume isn’t required of superheroes, the fans love costumes. The characters are more popular if they wear costumes. (Don’t ask me why.) In the first issue of the Fantastic Four, I didn’t have them wear costumes. I received a ton of mail from fans saying that they loved the book, but they wouldn’t buy another issue unless we gave the characters costumes.’

Read more: https://metro.co.uk/2018/11/13/stan-lee-quotes-on-superheroes-and-heroism-as-the-marvel-creator-passes-away-at-95-8134093/?ito=cbshare
Twitter: https://twitter.com/MetroUK | Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MetroUK/









Monday, November 12, 2018

Smart Art (Anatomy Edition)





Let's get physical, physical
I wanna get physical





Let's get into physical



Let me hear your body talk, your body talk




 Let me hear your body talk



 Let's get physical, physical
I wanna get physical

 
Let's get into physical


Let me hear your body talk, your body talk

 

Let me hear your body talk


 

Let's get physical, physical
I wanna get physical


 Let's get into physical



Let me hear your body talk, your body talk



Let me hear your body talk


 

 Let's get animal, animal





 I wanna get animal



Let's get into animal





Let me hear your body talk, your body talk


  

 Let me hear your body talk


 
French sculptor Auguste Rodin was born on this day in 1840, about three years after Queen Victoria ascended to the throne (what a difference a channel makes.) Rodin died in 1917, but, as you can see, he left behind an impressive body of work













 



























 

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Quips and Quotations (Election Day Edition)



 We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

--Declaration of Independence.

 We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men and women are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness

--Declaration of Sentiments, Seneca Falls Convention

Whoever degrades another degrades me,
and whatever is done or said returns at last to me…
I speak the pass-word primeval--I give the sign of democracy;
By God! I will accept nothing which all cannot have their counterpart of on the same terms…

--Walt Whitman

I believe the only way to protect my own rights is to protect the rights of others.

--Dwight D. Eisenhower

 It takes no compromise to give people their rights...it takes no money to respect the individual. It takes no political deal to give people freedom. It takes no survey to remove repression.

--Harvey Milk

 O, let America be America again--
The land that never has been yet--
And yet must be--the land where every man is free.
The land that's mine--the poor man's, Indian's, Negro's, ME

--Langston Hughes





A republic, if you can keep it.

--Benjamin Franklin, when asked just what kind of government had come out of that Constitutional Convention. 


Men who look upon themselves born to reign, and others to obey, soon grow insolent; selected from the rest of mankind their minds are early poisoned by importance; and the world they act in differs so materially from the world at large, that they have but little opportunity of knowing its true interests, and when they succeed to the government are frequently the most ignorant and unfit of any throughout the dominions.

--Thomas Paine

Pit race against race, religion against religion, prejudice against prejudice. Divide and conquer! We must not let that happen here.

--Eleanor Roosevelt



...government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

--Abraham Lincoln




Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Fashion Icon


Halloween, 1962: What exactly are we looking at here? A phantom? The Grim Reaper? The Cuban Missile Crises had ended just a few days earlier, so maybe it's some kind of radiation suit, one that comes in basic black. Actually, it's none of those things. According to multiple sources, it's someone dressed as a...



 ...garment bag. You know what a garment bag is. It has a zipper and a hanger, and when you go traveling, it's what you might put a suit or nice dress in so it's less likely to get dirty or wrinkled. I don't know if it works all that well when there's a human being inside, but it's this particular individual's Halloween costume. If nothing else, it's original.


Or maybe not so original, because in this color picture, someone else decided to dress up as a garment bag, though this one was red. The two children in-between the garment bags have relatively more conventional Halloween costumes. The little boy appears to be a skeleton, and the little girl a witch. Anything else to say about this picture? Well, it's a very elegant-looking bedroom.


 Here they are again in the, um...living room? Dining room, maybe? With all that fancy furniture, it's certainly not a rec room.


 Here they are walking down what appears to be a rather large hallway, or a humongous foyer. Look at those big windows. I bet it takes a lot of Windex keeping them clean.

OK, I've kept you in suspense long enough. Let me tell you who these folks are. I'll start with the red garment bag:


It's Jean Kennedy Smith, sister of...


...the then-President of the United States, John Fitzgerald Kennedy. And the black garment bag? According to multiple sources (including the JFK Library) it's...


...none other than First Lady Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy (I wonder if Oleg Cassini designed her costume.)


As for the two children, the little boy skeleton is Steve Smith Jr., Jean's son, and the little girl witch is Carolyn, the President's and First Lady's daughter. Carolyn's brother John-John may have been too young for Halloween at that point.


However, a year later (again, according to the JFK library), John-John did indeed get into the act (looks like some recycled costuming here.)


It's nice to know Jack and Jackie weren't above having a little fun during their short stay at the White House, but the joke may have been on them, because all these years later...



...they've become Halloween costumes themselves.