Thursday, May 30, 2019
Actress and singer Idina Menzel was born on this day in 1971. Obviously, though an attractive woman, she doesn't look anything like Queen Elsa of Arendelle. But that's not necessarily a bad thing, as standards of beauty in the real world are quite different than that of the world of animation. Now, don't get me wrong, I'm not making some feminist argument that Disney cartoons create an impossible standard for real life females to live up to. Quite the opposite. I think real life creates an impossible standard for a Disney cartoon female to live up to! Think about it. In the real world that we all live in, a female with eyes as large as Elsa's in proportion to the rest of her face would not be asked out on a date but instead send a flesh-and-blood human, straight or gay, male or female, running and screaming in the opposite direction.
This is Idina as she looked in the 2007 Disney movie Enchanted. But she doesn't remain that way. It's all very complicated, but by the end of the film, she's a...
...cartoon. As you can see, her eyes have expanded in size, though they're still not as ridiculously large as Elsa's. It really doesn't work that way in Enchanted, but if she could retain the above look in a real world setting, it might be biologically plausible, though she'd save money on eye liner.
Here from the same film is Susan Sarandon, cast by Disney (and, lately, in the minds of many Hillary Clinton supporters) as an evil queen:
Again, from the same film, Susan Sarandon:
I'm not sure there's that much of a difference.
But then she's always kind of had cartoon eyes.
Of course, there's Bette Davis.
But even her eyes were no match for a Looney Toons counterpart.
Anyway, it's Idina's birthday, so let's get back to her. Whether she resembled Queen Elsa or not, she voiced her in Disney's 2013 computer animated flick Frozen. In the following interview, she tell us what that all involved:
In the following scene from Frozen, Idina sings her version of Foreigner's "Cold as Ice". No, no, just kidding. It's actually called "Let It Go" which may very well be what Lou Gramm is trying to convince...Well, let's not go there. Just watch and listen:
Maybe it has nothing to do with the computer animation. Could it be that cold weather causes the face to shrink but the eyeballs to expand?
Prior to Frozen, Idina was perhaps best know for originating the role of Elphaba in the 2003 Broadway musical Wicked (and no, David Letterman wasn't in the cast, but it sure would have been cool if he was):
Even with green skin, Idina makes a very fetching witch.
Now, this woman, playing a 1939 version of supposedly the same character, is not fetching at all! But the situation is far from hopeless. If she can use her magical powers to conjure up a Beverly Hills plastic surgeon, she might want to get a nose job, have that wart removed, and do something about that pointy chin. Afterwards, maybe see a dentist about the overbite, get the eyebrows plucked, put on some lipstick and eye shadow, ditch that dreary black ensemble and slip into something a little more flattering to the figure. Do all that, and she could end up looking just like an...
...Orion slave girl.
One drawback, though. There's more money to be made in casting evil spells.
There's money to be made in repeating yourself as long as what you're repeating strikes a chord with certain segments of the population. If you listen carefully to the lyrics of "Letting Go" and "Defying Gravity", you might notice that both songs express the same basic idea: the liberation one feels when (according to the AP style book I'm allowed to use the following word in the singular sense) they finally defy orders and stop waging war on their own authentic self (something to keep in mind if you happen to watch a parade in the next few weeks.) Someone with a YouTube account certainly noticed the similarities and came up with this ingenious amalgamation:
Be she witch, cartoon character, or even flesh-and-blood human, Idina Menzel's own authentic self beautifully comes through loud and clear.
Friday, May 24, 2019
Has the coarsening of the culture got you down? If so, return with me to a more innocent, wholesome time, some forty to fifty years ago, when the TV censor ruled with an iron fist...
Q: Paul, we've all heard the old phrase "pig in a poke". What is a poke?
A: It's when you're not really in love.
Q: Paul, Elizabeth Taylor recently stated "It wasn't easy," and hubby Richard Burton added, "But we both sleep a lot better." They were both talking about the same thing. What?
A: Separate bedrooms.
Q: Paul, true or false. Research indicates that Christopher Columbus liked to wear bloomers and long stockings.
A: It's not easy to sign up a crew for six months.
Q: Paul, before a cow will give you any milk, she has to have something very important. What?
A: An engagement ring.
Q: Paul, according to psychologists, when a child gets curious about sex, what is the one question it will ask mommy and daddy?
A: Where can I get some?
Q: Paul, does Mark Spitz believe swimming in the nude helps you go faster?
A: Well, it's easy to steer
Q: Paul, can you get an elephant drunk?
A: Yes, but he still won't go up to your apartment
Q: Paul, Teddy Roosevelt maintained that he had something removed from two United States coins purely for the sake of art. What?
A: The bottom half of the buffalo.
Q: Paul, Burt Reynolds is quoted as saying "Dinah Shore is in top form. I've never known anyone to be completely able to throw herself into a..." What?
A: A headboard.
Q: Paul, during the war of 1812, Captain Oliver Perry made the famous statement, "We have met the enemy and..." What?
A: They are cute
Q: Paul, Nathan Hale, one of the heroes of the Revolutionary war, was hung. Why?
Q: Paul, when is it a good idea to put your pantyhose in the microwave for two minutes?
A: When your house is surrounded by police.
Q: Paul, it's considered in bad taste to discuss two subjects at nudist camps. One is politics. What is the other?
A: Tape measures.
Q: Paul, it used to be called "9-pin". What's it called today.
Q: Paul, why do the Hell's Angels wear leather?
A: Because chiffon wrinkles too easily.
Q: Paul, Dale Evans recently revealed the three secrets behind her happy marriage with Roy Rogers. Now, listen carefully: "We work together, we pray together, and we're darn good..." What?
A: In the saddle.
Q: Paul, can anything bring tears to a chimp's eyes?
A: Finding out that Tarzan swings both ways.
Q: Paul, it may be the most abused part of you body. What is it?
A: Mine may be abused, but it certainly isn't neglected.
Q: Paul, from what animal do you get silk blouses?
A: An animal to you, Peter, but kind and generous to me.
Q: Paul, in a survey of teenage mothers, most of them said they were listening to this when they got pregnant. What is it?
A: A pack of lies.
Q: Paul, is it normal for Norwegians to talk to trees?
A: As long as that's a far as it goes.
Q: Paul, is it true that lightening once fused a man's zipper shut?
A: Yes, it was God's way of telling him to slow down.
Q: Paul, in Greek mythology, what would the god Morpheus do to you while you slept?
A: I don't know, but I got an enchanted hickey.
Q: Paul, is there such a thing as an F cup in bra sizes?
A: Yes, it sleeps four.
Q: Paul, the great writer George Bernard Shaw once wrote, "It's such a wonderful thing, what a crime to waste it on children." What is it?
A: A whipping.
Q: Paul, is it possible for the puppies in a litter to have more than one daddy?
A: Why, that bitch!
Q: Paul, what unusual thing do you do if you have something called "the gift of the tongues"?
A: I wouldn't tell the Grand Jury. Why should I tell you?
Q: Paul, Glen Campbell recently stated, "Love to me is something..." Something to what?
Q: Paul, did the recently deceased Smokey the Bear leave a widow?
A: Let's just say at the services they had to sedate Ranger Bob.
The TV censor may have ruled with an iron fist, but that doesn't mean he had a clue.
Monday, May 20, 2019
born Doris Kappelhoff, well, you can look it up on Wikipedia. But since Conway was born right here in my hometown of Cleveland (actually, Willoughby, a suburb of Cleveland) I've decided a little more detail is necessary, since you might not get it anywhere else. First off, Tim Conway was known as Tom Conway here in Cleveland. Not that he was all that well-known here in Cleveland before he was anywhere else, but that's the name he went under when he first went on the air here.
Waggoner left the show, Conway went from being a frequent guest star to castmember, but no one probably noticed the promotion (or, arguably, demotion, since being a guest star was supposed to be kind of a special thing) because they thought he had already been one for years! It's hard to pin down what he did as a guest star and what he did as a cast member, but there were several recurring characters. The World's Oldest Man, who moved at the World's Oldest Snail's pace. Mr. Tudball the stuffy businessman with the odd accent. And in the Mama's Family sketches (later spun off as a sitcom) he was hard-of-hearing country yokel Mickey Hart (was Conway a Grateful Dead fan?) But mostly, there were sketches where he played one-shot characters whose main goal seem to be make Burnett castmember Harvey Korman break up laughing on the air. In fact, it's said that these sketches were taped twice, first with Conway sticking to the script, and second with Conway allowed to ad lib, and the funniest version is what ended up on the air. Much to the chagrin of Burnett's writers (some of whom also wrote for Mad magazine), the second tapings often won out.
Tim Conway finally got to do a PG-rated movie when cult filmmaker and Corman protege Paul Bartel (Death Race 2000, Eating Raoul) agreed to direct a screenplay of his titled The Longshot, a thoroughbred racing comedy (Conway's father was a horse groomer.) I found the film funny, but it tanked at the box office, thus depriving the world, or at least the segment of the world that likes to go to midnight showings of movies, of further Conway-Bartel collaborations. So Conway went back to more innocuous fare, a good chunk of which involved a very little man with even littler feet and an odd accent, similar to Mr. Tubury's except this fellow's name was Dorf. Conway first played the character--supposedly a world-famous racehorse jockey--in a sketch on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson. After that there was a how-to video parody titled Dorf on Golf that sold extremely well, leading to eight more videos, each of which had Dorf giving a lesson in a sport that he hadn't come close to mastering himself. It was shamelessly broad comedy, but the sheer technical brilliance and slapstick skill in which it was carried out--Conway had to stand in a hole with fake shoes taped to his knees--was worthy of Buster Keaton.
So what else is there? In 1999 he was reunited with his McHale's Navy castmate Ernest Borgnine, as both lent their voices to the characters Barnacle Man and Mermaid Man on the animated SpongeBob SquarePants show. And he did guest shots on a lot of other shows, both animated and live-action, picked up several cabinets-worth of Emmys and lifetime achievement awards, and was a ubiquitous pop culture presence up until about a year or so ago when declining health finally got the best of him.
For all his show biz success, I think Tim Conway was an underrated comic, and maybe even a bit of a misunderstood one. Though all his awards and I suppose his bank statement would suggest, would affirm, otherwise, and Conway himself never expressed any regrets, I can't help but wonder if his career was somewhat mismanaged. When he was on talk shows rather than in sketches, he could still be funny but funny in the course of a conversation. He actually came across as droll, even cerebral, closer to Bob Newhart than Robin Williams. What I've heard from the two comedy albums Conway did with Ernie Anderson suggests he could have gone in that direction, as they kind of remind me of the early '60s classic, The Buttoned-Down Mind of Bob Newhart. But, as I said before, no one bought Conway's albums, and he probably decided that there was only room in the entertainment mainstream for one Bob Newhart at a time. So Tim Conway broadened his shtick considerably, but never to the point where his penchant for a dryer form of comedy was completely hidden. The combination of the two worked wonders.
Earlier I mentioned a fellow by the name of Chuck Schodowski, who directed Ernie's Place, even though Conway was supposed to direct it. Well, like Ernie Anderson before him, he eventually became a late-night horror movie host. For over forty years, "Big Chuck" and, originally co-host Bob "Hoolihan" Wells, later "Little" John Rinaldi, presented Friday night viewers in Northeast Ohio Laugh-In-style blackout gags along with the usual black-and-white vampires, werewolves, and tentacled aliens. In the following two such sketches, an old friend pops up:
Tom Conway never forgot where he came from.