Archive for the ‘Funny Business’ Category

Liberated Negative Space o’ the Day: Reasonable expectations

September 30, 2011

You’re probably not expecting to drown today.

…Unless you are Wade the Duck from U.S. Acres.

Obscure 80’s reference of the day*: check. I’m ready to write for Family Guy now, dudes! (Family Guy slam of the day: check…)



*Slap my fanny and call me Annie; U.S. Acres, aka Orson’s Farm in the UK, is apparently back.

Movie Millisecond: Inquiring minds

July 11, 2011

Ginger Rogers and Katharine Hepburn in Stage Door (Gregory La Cava, 1937).


GREAT STARS! GREAT STORY! GREAT PICTURE!

(Text of original print advertisement for Stage Door.)

As you can see, caps lock has menaced innocent readers for over seventy-four years. When we will shut down this pervasive affront to eye-dom once and for all? Won’t anyone think of the children? My god, the children?

Does Rob Reiner know about this?

Liberated Negative Space o’ the Day: Danger, Danger — High Voltage

July 10, 2011

Fire at the disco. Fire at the Taco Bell.

I took this last month in San Francisco while in a vintage arcade machine museum. The door was shut, but I tried it anyway. The chain and the people around me prohibited further exploration. I have a problem with doing this. Like, a lot. Ask people who’ve traveled with me. I just really, really enjoy going where I’m not “supposed” to go. “Authorized personnel only,” “Employees Only,” “Keep Out,” “Do Not Enter,” “Door to Remain Closed” — that kind of phraseology chafes me: it does not sit well. When I see signs like that, I sort of get overtaken by impulse. Fuck you; is it not an area that can be walked in, and have I not got feet? Don’t ever say never to me.

Doubtless I will one day accidentally witness a heist in a warehouse after which physically comedic hijinks and fruit-stand-overturning mob evasion will lead to my false accusation by the police, and, in the process of clearing my name and regaining the stolen goods from the warehouse, a straitlaced cop who has a not-too-sad but semi-serious Secret from his past which keeps him from cutting loose will recognize me for the plucky diamond in the rough that I am, and, once I am proven innocent and the people of the village are Safe, we will totally see that our wacky personality differences mesh so crazily that they just might work, and we’ll fall in love and bang, and take the suitcase full of just a little bit of the warehouse goods to Monaco, where we will feast on cheese plates. Doubtless.

This is all true. Very plausible. Likely, even.

I’m surprised it hasn’t happened yet, to tell you the truth.

Fight Club Friday: From the annals of XKCD by way of Big Ben

July 8, 2011

Big ups to my old friendoh for bringing this XKCD comic to my attention.

Movie Millisecond: Ignore your instincts

July 7, 2011


via.

Waiting For Guffman (Christopher Guest, 1996).

According to the figures provided by Castle Rock, this film lost $1,107,418. Meanwhile, in the same summer, Face/Off, which everyone knows is my favorite movie of all time, grossed around $245,676,146.

May Flowers: Dolly Read, Miss May 1966 with bonus “Showdown!” dishevelment

June 1, 2011

Thought this got out last night and just checked the main page and realized it didn’t. Sorry, dudes.

You are all like, Will the girls of summer be back this year, E? And I am all like, Well of course. What kind of shoddy outfit do you think I’m running here? But first, we have to close out the May Flowers.


Photographed by Pompeo Posar.

This year’s last May Flower is the lovely and talented Dolly Read, Playboy’s Miss May 1966.


Britannia’s first Bunny-Playmate, Dolly Read, recalls excitedly the night she was spotted by staff photographer Pompeo Posar during her training stint as a Chicago Club bumper-pool Bunny. “He asked me if I would like to consider becoming a Playmate, and I thought it was a smashing good idea,” says Dolly.

(“Bunny From Britain,” Playboy. May, 1966.)


The former Miss Bristol Teenager had a budding stage career before opting for Bunny satin instead. She entered the Eleine Hartley-Hodder School of Drama at the age of eight and emerged an aspiring actress some ten years later.

(Ibid.)


Renting a flat in the Marleybone section of London, centerfoldom’s latest Commonwealth import saw several workless weeks before landing her first acting job in a local TV series called Compact.

(Ibid.)


IIt was sort of a feminine version of your own Valentine’s Day, says Dolly. “All I had was a walk-on part, but it seemed like the greatest role since Lady Macbeth to me.”

(Ibid.)



Soon after, she was signed on for her first film role in Kiss of the Vampire, and went on to play a number of “rather prosaic” video roles until Bunnydom beckoned.

(Ibid.)


Click to enlarge.

Dolly and her five British cottontail cousins arrived in Chicago last October. Each member of this sensational sextet–which includes Doreen Allen, Kathleen Bascombe, Joan Findlay, Catherine MacDonald and Magie Adam–won top ratings among 1000 entrants in last summer’s nationwide British Bunny Contest sponsored by Radio London.

(Ibid.)



Having since graduated from Bunny Training School and now completing a seven-month apprenticeship at the Chicago Club — with equal emphasis given to such curricular requirements as the Bunny Dip, tableside photography, tending the Playboy Club Gift Shop and Door Bunnying, bumper-pool playing and the extra-special VIP Room service.

(Ibid.)



This group will return to England shortly for the upcoming opening of the ultra-U London Playboy Club.

During off-hours, Dolly and her compatriots bunked in one of the Playboy Mansion Bunny Dorms and spent many fascinating hours fancy-that-ing most of the Second City’s sights. “Chicago’s a bit of all right,” reports the 21-year-old Miss May in her charmingly clipped British accent, “and Mr. Hefner’s house is a proper palace, but we’re all a trifle homesick.”

(Ibid.)


Dolly recently added several promotion trips for Playboy to her busy Stateside schedule, including visits to Michigan State University (“What I liked most about American college men is, they never let studies foul up their dating”), Great Lakes Naval Hospital and a trip to Boston for Playboy’s opening night there.

(Ibid.)


“I’ll start as the Door Bunny,” Miss May explains, “but eventually I hope to put in some time as a Croupier Bunny in one of the Club’s gaming rooms. More excitement there, you know!”

(Ibid.)

Dolly got even more excitement when she wung her way west to Hollywood. After appearing in the low-budget lesbian film That Tender Touch, Dolly landed the lead in Beyond the Valley of the Dolls, one of the greatest camp films of all time. Written by Roger Ebert and directed by Russ Meyer, the film is unforgettable, and Dolly shines in it. Highly recommend. Depending on your cult film tolerance.


Favorite shot.

Ms. Read married Dick Martin of Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In in 1971, then divorced him in ’75, and remarried him in ’78. They must have worked things out because they remained married after that until his death in May of 2008. She continued to appear in film and television cameos throughout the 1970’s and beyond.

You can try and hit Mrs. Martin up on the myspace (current mood: none), but it looks like she may not use it much.


Scans of the original spread. Click to see full-sized.

The similarity of the poses, lighting, and makeup in the following three pictures inspired me to finally do another “Showdown!” feature. So, pick your poison! Which “Dolly Read in dishevelment” shot rocks your socks?

One of these days we’ll have a full-on Beyond the Valley of the Dolls movie moment, but for now, enjoy this final screencap:

Catch you on the flip!

Music Moment and Hot Man Bein’ Hot of the Day: The Song Remains the Same, Jim Carrey — “I Am the Walrus” edition

April 28, 2011

From the album In My Life, compiled by Sir George Martin, 1998, this is a shockingly good cover of the Beatles’ cryptic classic by a dude who holds a special place in my heart.

Jim Carrey — I Am the Walrus (Lennon/McCartney, 1967).

I do not care one whit about the Ace Ventura movies or Dumb and Dumber: I’ve never even seen them. That’s deliberately due to the fact that I really, really like everything else about Jim Carrey. I just think he’s an excellent, sensitive, even somewhat tragic human being. A real person.

Not long ago, someone started that old, “If you could have dinner with one person, living or dead–” question, and I immediately blurted out, “Jim Carrey!” Then I felt bad for not saying Jesus.

I guess I just want to see if I’m right about him. He seems like such a levelly cool guy.

Listen for Jim on both vox and keyboard in this cover.


I am he as you are he as you are me and we are all together.
See how they run like pigs from a gun, see how they fly.
I’m crying.

Sitting on a cornflake, waiting for the van to come.
Corporation tee-shirt, stupid bloody Tuesday.
Man, you been a naughty boy, you let your face grow long.
I am the eggman, they are the eggmen.
I am the walrus, goo goo g’joob.


Girls Like A Boy Who Plays Music.

Mister City Policeman sitting
Pretty little policemen in a row.
See how they fly like Lucy in the Sky, see how they run.
I’m crying, I’m crying.
I’m crying, I’m crying.

Yellow matter custard, dripping from a dead dog’s eye.
Crabalocker fishwife, pornographic priestess,
Boy, you been a naughty girl you let your knickers down.
I am the eggman, they are the eggmen.
I am the walrus, goo goo g’joob.



Sitting in an English garden waiting for the sun.
If the sun don’t come, you get a tan
From standing in the English rain.
I am the eggman, they are the eggmen.
I am the walrus, goo goo g’joob g’goo goo g’joob.

Expert textpert choking smokers,
Don’t you think the joker laughs at you?
See how they smile like pigs in a sty,
See how they snied.
I’m crying.



Semolina pilchard, climbing up the Eiffel Tower.
Elementary penguin singing Hari Krishna.
Man, you should have seen them kicking Edgar Allan Poe.
I am the eggman, they are the eggmen.
I am the walrus, goo goo g’joob g’goo goo g’joob.

Goo goo g’joob g’goo goo g’joob g’goo…

And finally —

— because it’s extremely true. (I do not number among the nameless hordes of diehard Titanic haters, I simply disagree with many of the characters’ choices.)

Teevee Time: Simpsons category Inaugural Edition feat. plea for help

April 26, 2011

Woo-hoo! (Homer voice)


via.

Oh, my goodness, dudes. The classes for the credential program into which I’ve been busting my ass to get accepted during my absence from the journal are so right-hand-to-Jeebus insanely expensive that I’d seriously sell my blood if I hadn’t been turned down in the past.* Anybody got any far-fetched ideas that are “so crazy they just might work” as to money-making schemes that don’t involve illegal activities or door-to-door knife sales (I consider those two things on a par)? I am taking ideas.





*Tragically true story.

Talk nerdy to me: You and me and everyone we’ve ever fucked is a Tusken Raider

February 12, 2011


via.

Stumbled over this picture and it really tickled me. “I don’t care what you say, Daddy! I love my Tusken Raider!” [Cue: “He’s A Rebel (And he’ll never, ever be any good)”.] It inspired me to share a little sad personal Funny Business.

I have a lengthy sketch I’ve written about a woman who’s dating a Tusken Raider. She’s not dating him because she’s a sand-person-perv or because she’s particularly desperate, per se. She just is. Everyone with whom she interacts stands in as the audience’s interlocutor, recognizing the bizarre fruitlessness of what she’s doing in various situations involving her dating a Tusken Raider, but to her this is all perfectly normal.

In developing this idea, I had to ask myself some questions along the way, which is the way I prefer to work — I think of something I think is funny and then ask myself questions that will help me expand on the kernel of (usually weird) humor. In this case the one question that truly lit the lamp which shed light over the whole bit was, “Can they talk to each other?” It shed light because of this:

First, I tried to picture them sitting in the Olive Garden and her saying, “This is nice. I’m glad we came, I haven’t been here for awhile.” And him hooting and waving his walking/beatdown staff around (yes, he always has the gaderffii, including at his job as an accounts payable clerk for a cafeteria supplies vendor), his bellows unintelligible.

Would she then nod and say, “Of course, they’ve changed the decor. New sconces! You’re right”? Mm. No. Not funny enough. Not right.

How about he hoots and waves the gaderffii and she pretends to understand him? “Wawawarr! Baahh! Garghh!” “My day? How sweet of you to ask. Pretty good. How about yours?” Deluded and a little funnier, but no. Still not right.


“I can’t believe you let me get two desserts! I have to go to the gym.”

Finally, I made a writing choice: No, they absolutely cannot talk to each other. At all. Their words are totally meaningless to one another’s ears. Everything they do together is a case of tandem solitude, parallel behavior uncouched in any deeper meaning, more like comfortable coincidence than love.

“This is nice. I’m glad we came, I haven’t been to the Olive Garden for awhile.” “Bluloodoomarr! Grah! Waahh!” “Do you want to split an appetizer?” “Barrgh. [stamps gaderffii] Aroo!”

You know why that was just right on my funny meter? Because it demonstrates the frustrating absurdity of attempts at human connection. In the same place at the same time and full of totally different thoughts, dreams, and ideas of what it means? Just noising at each other in context but taking no notice of the content? That’s dating.*

You and me and everyone we’ve ever fucked is a Tusken Raider.

Unpleasant truths: now that’s Funny Business. Barrgh. Aroo.






*Unless you find that special someone, blah blah blah. Not knocking those who’ve made, or think they’ve made, it work. Just observing.

Talk nerdy to me: That droid’s got game

February 7, 2011


via.

Favorite part is WD-40 in the champagne bucket. Baby, you look tense. Let me grease up your ball bearings. Ow!

Mean Girls Monday: Gremlins edition

February 7, 2011


Still from Gremlins (Joe Dante, 1984). Silliness by me.

It took eleven minutes of my life to make this, minutes which will never again present themselves to me for use in a different or more meaningful way.

No regrets.

Teevee Time: George Carlin’s pet peeves

February 1, 2011


via littleredhead on the tumblr.

George Carlin, ‘You Are All Diseased.’ (Rocco Urbisci). February 6, 1999. Beacon Theater, Manhattan.

Daily Batman: Batman City

January 21, 2011


Comic by H. Coldwell Tanner, via iheartbatman.

Holly Jolly Christmas Day: Vintage funny business — all-occasion Saint Nicks

December 25, 2010

Gerry Gersten for Playboy, December 1966.

Holly Jolly Christmas Day: Don’t mind Hitler

December 25, 2010

Don’t mind Mr. Hilter. He’s just chatting with that nice Mr. Bimmler and Ron Vibbentrop about a proposal at the next National Bocialist rally to annex Poland.


Foam at the mouth and fall over backwards. Is he foaming at the mouth to fall over backwards or falling over backwards to foam at the mouth? … What do I mean by the word ‘mean’? What do I mean by the word ‘word’? What do I mean by ‘what do I mean’? What do I mean by ‘do’ and what do I do by ‘mean’? And what do I do by do by do and what do I mean by wasting your time like this? Good night.

(“Mr. Hilter and the Minehead by-election.” Monty Python’s Flying Circus. Series 1, Season 1, Episode 12: “The Naked Ant.” Original airdate January 4, 1970. Recorded December 21, 1969.)

12 Days of Highly Tolerable Holiday Movies: A Christmas Story

December 25, 2010

You knew it was coming.

A Christmas Story (Bob Clark, 1983).

Ralphie has to convince his parents, teachers, and Santa that a Red Ryder BB gun really is the perfect gift for the 1940’s.

(the imdb)

I think this movie, with rare competitors like Stand By Me, might be one of the best depictions on film of the weird mix of the jaded, the melodramatic, and the credulously bittersweet that encapsulate experiences that comprise childhood.


A Christmas Story is a 1983 American Christmas comedy film based on the short stories and semi-fictional anecdotes of author and raconteur Jean Shepherd, including material from his books In God We Trust, All Others Pay Cash, and Wanda Hickey’s Night of Golden Memories. The film has become a holiday classic and is known to be shown numerous times on television during the Christmas season.

(the wiki)

Man, whose leg do you have to hump to get “and raconteur” appended to your primary job description? That is sick as hell. I think I’m going to start referring to my friendohs like that. “This is my old friend Ben, chef and raconteur.” “I’d like you to meet noted drafter and raconteur, George.” “Will executive assistant and raconteur Dre be joining us?”


Three of the semi-autobiographical short stories on which the film is based were originally published in Playboy magazine between 1964 and 1966. Shepherd later read “Duel in the Snow, or Red Ryder nails the Cleveland Street Kid” and told the otherwise unpublished story “Flick’s Tongue” on his WOR Radio talk show. [Director] Bob Clark states that he became interested in Shepherd’s work when he heard “Flick’s Tongue” on the radio in 1968.

(the wiki)


(crying) Daddy’s going to kill Ralphie!

Daddy is not going to kill Ralphie.

When we’d first moved to a large city and I was very small, we had a neighbor who told her children, in front of me, that if they didn’t stop screaming when they played, she was going to cut off their hands and bury them in the backyard. What made the threat chillingly genuine was how batshit insane this poor woman was. Like, unhinged, so’s as a child can see it in thirty seconds of conversation. I could not get out of that house fast enough. It was not even up for debate — I ran out the door, and the only issue on which I was torn was whether to run to my own house or to the police station.

I remember sitting in the bathtub after telling my mother, who assured me soothingly that Rich would never let Debbie cut off the children’s hands, sure that the next time I saw my friends, they’d have stumps at the end of their wrists. Kids know when grown-ups aren’t fooling around. She used to wear ankle weights to her doctor’s appointments so he’d think she was eating, and crowed about only needing a training bra. She told me I had “real potential” as a ballerina, but I couldn’t start talking to boys. That’s when everything would go south, she warned.

Once, when my mother asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up (before the backyard hands-chopping thing) I told her, “I want to be just like Debbie.”

Whenever I think of her, Debbie is thin and fabulous in our community swimming pool, resplendently 80’s-riffic and prepubescently cocaine-and-gin anorexic in her hot pink and black bikini, sporting mirorred Ray-Ban knockoff sunglasses and a super-long Virginia Slim. Debbie would pitch nickels across the kidney-shaped pool and let them settle at the bottom, and then I would kick-launch off of her sunscreen-slicked thighs from the shallow end to claw frantically for the coins ahead of her daughter: I wanted so desperately to impress her. I hated to see my reflection in her super-cool shades, so imperfect with my lanky, boy-pixie-cut uselessness. She would ruffle my hair and call me Miz Liz. I thought she was sensational but terrifying — so pretty, so “different,” and so. danged. crazy.

She’s dead now. Brain tumor. When we were caught up by a neighbor we ran into at a grocery (we’d left that neighborhood many years before), the neighbor said, “Sad. It was enormous when she died; I guess she’d had it for years and it had just been pressing on her brain.” My father said, “I wonder if that’s what made her —” then turned and looked at me and said, “Um, you probably don’t remember her, but she was a little … erratic.”

No fucking shit, I thought.

Miss Shields is depicted as the Wicked Witch of the West, standing beside Ralphie’s mother, Mrs. Parker, in a jester outfit. Later, the kid with the goggles in line to see Santa tells Ralphie, “I like The Wizard of Oz. I like the Tin Man.” The Wizard of Oz was released in August of 1939, which has become part of the chronology fans try to pin on A Christmas Story to make a definite timeline for when the events are supposed to take place. (Waste of time: the writer and the director deliberately kept it vague.) Kind of funny though since both movies received middling critical acclaim at their release and went on to quietly become classic frequently-aired favorites.

Tedde Combs returned as Miss Shields in the sort of sequel, My Summer Story, making her the only original cast member to reprise his or her A Christmas Story role.

It’s a major award!

Both [author Jean] Shepherd and [director Bob] Clark have cameo appearances in the film; Shepherd plays the man who directed Ralphie and Randy to the back of the Santa line and Clark plays Swede, the neighbor the Old Man was talking to outside during the Leg Lamp scene.

(the wiki)



You used up all the glue on purpose.

The infamous leg lamp, the Old Man’s “major award,” was based on an actual lamp, in the shape of a logo for Nehi soda.



The character of Red Ryder, whose name bears the BB Gun Ralphie is desperately trying to acquire, is a real comic book (and radio) character that existed in the 1930’s-40’s, akin to popular western heroes like Roy Rogers, Gene Autry, and the Lone Ranger.

(the imdb)

But of course here he is fighting Black Bart.





The Red Ryder BB gun was available beginning in 1938 and for many years afterward (and indeed, still is), but never in the exact configuration mentioned in the film. The Daisy “Buck Jones” model did have a compass and a sundial in the stock, but these features were not included in the Red Ryder model. The compass and sundial were placed on Ralphie’s BB gun but on the opposite side of the stock due to Peter Billingsley (Ralphie) being left-handed.

(the wiki)


The film was written by Jean Shepherd, Leigh Brown and Bob Clark. Shepherd provides the movie’s narration from the perspective of an adult Ralphie, a narrative style later used in the dramedy The Wonder Years.

(the wiki)

Which is exactly why I always ascribed to Fred Savage and Peter Billingsley an adult intelligence and wisdom that is developmentally unlikely for their ages as child stars. But I couldn’t help myself. The kid from Sandlot too. They just sounded so smart.

You simply cannot swing your arms without hitting someone who has run in to this guy at the grocery or the library or a blindfolded furry party. By all accounts he is a rad dude, but I need to say, Enough with the accounts. We get it: he is a man, who is affable and does not have yellow eyes, and he prefers haricorts verts to cut green beans. No, please, continue to regale me with your riveting story of how you briefly encountered a person who exists. He likes puppies? No way. How about oxygen, does he breathe it? He does?

Aw, I’m fronting. I’d totally tell you if I met him. Unless it was at a blindfolded furry party. What happens at Paws Off* events stays there. Except the staph infection. That, unfortunately, comes home with you. Sorry.




In 2008, two fans from Canada released a fan film documentary that visits every location used in the movie. Their film, Road Trip for Ralphie, was shot over two years and includes footage of the film makers saving Miss Shields’s black board from the garbage bin on the day the old Victoria School was gutted for renovation [to be converted in to a women’s shelter], discovering the antique fire truck that saved Flick, locating all the original costumes from the movie and tracking down the real-life location of the movie’s Chop Suey Palace in Toronto.

(the wiki)


He looks like a pink nightmare.

I don’t really feel the need to catch you up on what all the cast members are up to these days, because it seems like the news outlets run a “Where are they are now” story on the A Christmas Story cast, like, every single December. But you can easily look it up, some of the stuff is pretty fun.

In the meantime, Merry Christmas and may all your holiday wishes be granted! Try not to shoot your eye out.






*Rejected blindfolded furry club names:
•Chasing Tail
•Pussy Ga-whore
•Bible study
•Bad to the Boner
•Call of the Wild (I know, not even funny, right? now you see why it was rejected)
•Fur Balls
•Charlie Sheen’s house on Wednesday nights

Got any more?

12 Days of Highly Tolerable Holiday Movies: National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation

December 21, 2010

National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (Jeremiah S. Chechik, 1989).

The Griswold family’s plans for a big family Christmas predictably turn into a big disaster.

Bing Crosby and the Andrews Sisters — Male Kalikimaka.

Mele Kalikimaka is the thing to say on a bright Hawaiian Christmas Day
That’s the island greeting that we send to you from the land where palm trees sway
Here we know that Christmas will be green and bright
The sun to shine by day and all the stars at night
Mele Kalikimaka is Hawaii’s way to say Merry Christmas to you!

Randy Quaid said that he based a lot of Cousin Eddie’s mannerisms and delivery on a guy he knew growing up in Texas. Also, wearing the extremely obvious black dickie under his white sweater was Randy Quaid’s wife Evi’s idea.

Even more exciting fact about Randy Quaid: He went to high school with Brent Spiner! (That’s Data, if you are not a dork and have one of those “lives,” or whatever you people call them. And if you are still lost, Data is a character on Star Trek: The Next Generation, and may I add that it is weird that you are even reading this blog because you are way too cool for this school. I assume you are here for soft-core porn and nothing more.)

John Hughes, departed King of the Eighties, wrote but did not direct this modern holiday classic, in which the star-crossed Griswold clan takes a stab at Christmas. He based the screenplay on a story he wrote for National Lampoon magazine in December, 1980.

That story, “Christmas ’59,” was his follow-up to “Christmas ’58,” his story from the previous year, on which National Lampoon’s Vacation was based. “Christmas ’59” is referenced in the movie when Clark goes up to the attic. As he goes through old tapes and reels, he passes a box that says “Xmas ’59.”



What are you looking at?

Oh, the silent majesty of a winter’s morn. The clean, cool chill of the holiday air. An asshole in his bathrobe, emptying a chemical toilet into my sewer.


You set standards that no family activity can live up to.

Wha– When have I ever done that?

Parties, weddings, anniversaries, funerals, holidays, vacations, graduations…


The scene where the cat bites on the Christmas lights cord and gets electrocuted was nearly cut from the movie. Prior to the first test screening. the studio execs wanted the scene taken out, fearing that it might offend some viewers, but producer Matty Simmons begged them to leave the scene in, and they eventually gave in to his request. After the first test screening, the test audience had scored the cat electrocution scene as the No. 1 favorite scene throughout the entire movie.

(the imdb)

I’m not the least surprised: test audiences are notoriously bloodthirsty.

I’m not sure from where they pull these twisted test audience members, but it’s a super-prevalent problem. As an example, it was a test audience who suggested that scene where the witch is drinking horse blood from a hollowed out hoof be left in My Little Pony: The Movie.

All the houses on the street in the Griswolds’ neighborhood are on the Warner Bros. backlot. The house in which the a-hole yuppies live is the Murtaugh house from the Lethal Weapon film series. The housefront in the home movie when Clark is upstairs in the attic was first used in Bewitched and then in the 1980’s in The New Gidget.


I am not a fan of defining gals by the dudes they’ve notched on their belts but I do bring it up if it’s as noteworthy as this case. Beverly D’Angelo has had a very, um, varied love life that includes marriage to a duke who is a descendant of Lorenzo de’Medici, Al Pacino, director Neil Jordan, and Anton Furst, who committed suicide after their separation. She’s got twins with Pacino and will be seen next year in Nailed, a David O. Russell picture also starring Jessica Biel, Kirstie Alley, Jon Stewart, Tracy Morgan, and Catherine Keener. Juts a bunch of super-cool funny guys. No big deal.

This was all brand-new news to me. I’m pretty surprised. I guess I did not know shit about Beverly D’Angelo.

The film is aired every Christmas night in Australia on the Nine Network. In America, it has a more tortured television history involving corporate games and censure. And let us not speak of the Cousin Eddie Island Adventure sequel.


Bethany is played by Mae Questel. The former mimic and vaudeville sensation is probably most famous for providing the squeaky voices of Olive Oyl and Betty Boop. This was her second to last role: she retired from show biz and died of complications related to Alzheimer’s in 1998.


As the unsinkable Clark Griswold of “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation,” Chevy Chase survives a holiday season that would try Job’s patience. His dreams of “the most fun-filled old-fashioned family Christmas ever” soon give way to the realities of bulbs that won’t light and a pine that’s too big for the living room.

(Kempley, Rita. “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.” December 1, 1989. The Washington Post.)



Never mind. Clark’s faith in family tradition is Rockwellian, his spirits up there with the mistletoe. When the yule log smolders and the turkey explodes, this avowed family man counts his blessings, such as they are.

(Ibid.)

12 Days of Highly Tolerable Holiday Movies: Elf

December 17, 2010


Actually, I tolerate this movie at a rate of only medium, rather than “highly,” but I picked it over Gremlins because I had more to say about it, I’d seen it more recently, and I had found better screencaps. Plus there is Zooey Deschanel as a blonde. Singing. In the shower.

Elf (Jon Favreau, 2003).

After inadvertently wreaking havoc on the elf community due to his ungainly size, a man raised as an elf at the North Pole is sent to the U.S. in search of his true identity.

(the imdb)


Please answer the phone that way at least once this week. I plan to but, then, I almost always answer the phone weird, so I won’t have that element of surprise that you will. (My new favorite? Ask the person who’s calling you if they’re there instead of saying hello. Example: it comes up on caller I.D. as “Joe Brown.” Answer the phone, “Is Joe there? Can I speak with Joe Brown, please? Mr. Brown? You’re probably wondering why I’ve called …”)


That’s another thing. (sigh) Buddy, you should know that your father — he’s on the Naughty List.

Nooooo!

I remember thinking when this came out how odd it was that Jon Favreau directed it, but Buddy’s father Walter Hobbs, as interpreted by James Caan, is certainly what I would think of as a Favreauvian creation: a nasty, singleminded piece of work who needs the familiar but lonely high ground of distance from others, and congruent distance from the emotions intimacy might entail, above all else.

(Psst, it is Amy Sedaris. Woo-hoo!)

I think we should call security.

Good idea.

I like to whisper too!

Buddy is a nuisance to his own father not only because of his inconvenient bumblings, but also because he is a deviation from the norm. To confront a person who won’t let you push them away is to confront yourself, and people like Walter Hobbs seek to avoid that at all costs. I believe Favreau is a genius at whipping up these mean little slaves to the system, as an actor and as a director.

That said about a keen and critical eye for slaves to the system, the product placement in this film is almost beyond belief. One of the most blatant things I’ve seen since E.T. I do not count the scene in Wayne’s World II because they did that on purpose (albeit they got paid).



Zooey Deschanel: I don’t know about elves. I didn’t think much about elves because I was trying to think about the man in charge, the one that was going to bring me presents. I believed in Santa Claus until I was, like, 14. [I believed] if my parents think I do, then they’ll give me two sets of presents. And if Santa Claus really does exist, then he’ll appreciate my support.

(“Zooey Deschanel talks about Elf.” Rebecca Murray. 2003. About.com)


Make work your favorite. That’s your new “favorite.”

When the threads of this project were spun out of the distaff of Hollywood nothingness in 1993, Jim Carrey was originally attached to star as Buddy the Elf. I truly love the guy but I am pretty glad he didn’t get it. He’s got far too much pathos in his eyes and the film would have flopped. Will Ferrell gives Buddy an unblinking, irascible cheerfulness that you get the sense would not flag in the face of finding himself engulfed in flames, like a grip of Terminator robots grimly marching across the ocean floor in pursuit of John Connor. Oh, hey, marriage-made-in-heaven sequel idea? “Come wit’ me if yoo be-leaf in Santa!”


Now what can I get you for Christmas?

Don’t tell him what you want, he’s a liar.

Let the kid talk.

You disgust me! How can you live with yourself?

Just cool it, Zippy.

You sit on a throne of lies!

See? I told you Zooey Deschanel showers in this movie. She also eats top ramen. Tell a friend.

Yeah, pretty much. Where this film succeeds for me is in its treatment of the redemption of characters peripheral to Buddy the Elf: namely, his father, Walter, and Jovie, his would-be girlfriend. Grating as he is, if Buddy had changed to accept the new world in to which he thrusts himself, it would have been a cheap and deflating transformation à la Enchanted.*

To see people rise above themselves and protect a dumb, innocent guy is at least affirming. Buddy doesn’t have to change, because the world will always have burpy rays of sunshine: we need to change enough to take care of them, to share their optimism and deserve their devotion. I can hang with that.

Extra-tolerable bonus: Buddy’s supervisor at the North Pole is Peter Billingsley, of A Christmas Story. “You’re not a cotton-headed ninny-muggins, Buddy. You’re just … different.” Aw. Super-cool!





*Enchanted had nice music but, really, Giselle goes from being a full-throated maiden of the forest to Chi-ironing her hair and operating a dress shop in Manhattan. Conform, little girl! For all the posturing at positioning a new kind of feminist anti-hero that that script threw at us, in the end, it pandered to the same “princess-demographic” ideals it was purporting to rebel against. But, dang, that Amy Adams is cute as a button, yes?

Liberated Negative Space o’ the Day: Textual healing — Art of the cover with guest tour through E’s “process.”

November 23, 2010


via lemonlove on the tumblr.

Great. Now what am I supposed to name my first album?

  • alternate joke based on a joke I made in 2004: This reminds me of that time when Frank Zappa took all the good names like Moon Unit and Dweezil for his kids and I was stuck with the Bible.
  • alternate joke with more brevity but no personal touch: Backing vocals by Heywood Jablome.
  • I didn’t want to retread the first joke because I feel weird stealing from myself, plus I had to manhandle it too much to make it work for this post (the original joke referred to my daughter, who was in utero, and had been shorter and far more topical). As for the latter, it not only did not include a small, personal way of tying us all together as poster and readers, but it more importantly repeated the word “blow” too much for my taste, since it just appeared in the picture already. Ergo, “what am I to call my album,” which had instinctively been my joke when I saved the thing to begin with, won.

    Aren’t you pleased as punch by this glimpse in to my ultra-sophisticated process?

    Baby, It’s Cold Outside: Inaugural Edition featuring Stella Stevens, Miss January 1960

    October 27, 2010

    Welcome to the Inaugural Edition of “Baby, It’s Cold Outside!”

    The lovely and talented Stella Stevens made a great name for herself in movies and on television after posing as Playboy‘s Miss January 1960.


    Photographed by Don Ornitz and Frank Schallwig.

    Stella Stevens, an eye-filling inhabitant of Southern California, was summoned thence from Tennessee to test for the lead in a film about Jean Harlow, but the movie never came off and bella Stella had to content herself with so-so assignments in Say One for Me and The Blue Angel, films in which she appeared fleetingly and rather out of focus in the B.G., which is script talk for background, not Benny Goodman.

    (“Dogpatch Playmate.” Playboy. January, 1960.)


    While the Playboy lensman was snapping away, the phone rang, and on the other end was great and giddy news for Miss Stevens — she had plucked one of the acting plums of the year, in the film version of the hit musical, Li’l Abner, playing Appassionata von Climax, the role created on Broadway by Tina Louise.

    (Ibid.)

    I have no idea why the Dane is there in that shot, nor why the article is titled “Dogpatch Playmate,” but I want a Great Dane so badly. Or an English mastiff. Or a Newfoundland. Maybe a horse or a big gorilla. Something bigger than my boyfriend.

    Just kidding. I don’t have a boyfriend. But I desperately want one. It’s actually really bumming me out. My husband says I’m making a big deal out of nothing, but what does he know.*

    *Entirely a humorous bit with no truth in it. Except for the stuff about the dogs. I don’t just “want” the biggest dog possible, it’s like I have to have it. This is not a joke: I spent at least an hour and a half on the internet last night looking for bombass adoptable giant dogs. I don’t know where this is coming from.

    Stella’s turn as Appassionata in Li’l Abner was followed by roles in films such as The Battle of Cable Hogue, The Nutty Professor, and The Poseidon Adventure. Ms. Stevens also did an incredible amount of television, appearing in Bonanaza, Riverboat, and Ben Casey, among many super-famous vintage television series —

    — including, germane to the last post, Wonder Woman. Ms. Stevens portrayed Agent M./Marcia in “The New Original Wonder Woman,” the made-for-TV-film that would become the pilot episode of The New Adventures of Wonder Woman, which aired November 7, 1975.

    Marcia is the secretary to Steve Trevor, Wonder Woman’s rescuer and a Navy pilot during WWII, following the comic plotline. Marcia is (gasp!) a double agent for the Nazis and tries to get Diana killed by sneakily having someone else attempt to machine gun her to death while she is onstage doing her “act.”

    Those kinds of shenanigans will simply not be stood for. That Marcia totally needs tied up.

    Ms. Stevens did not appear in subsequent television movies or the final series that was spun out of them, but she was probably too busy to notice. She is a true working actress, the kind of performer with at least one or three credits for every year they are active.

    As the 60’s, 70’s, and beyond progressed, Ms. Stevens continued to act, appearing in popular television series like Love Boat, Fantasy Island, Highway to Heaven, and Magnum, P.I. in the 1980s. Nineties credits include The Commish, Highlander (helllll yeah — cue Queen’s “Princes of the Universe”), and Nash Bridges.

    Through the years, Ms. Stevens may’ve stayed beautifully built but it is almost definitely her wacky sense of humor which saved her from landing at the bottom of the “pretty girl” bit-part scrapheap. She ably held her own opposite comedic talents like Jerry Lewis, Dean Martin, and Slim Pickens. That picture above is an outtake that appeared in The First 15 Years, which wonderfully captures Stella’s sense of the absurd even in a serious, nerve-wracking situation. Love it.

    And she has not slowed down. Last year, she lent her voice to the documentary Dante’s Inferno: Abandon All Hope, performing the role of Speaker for the Thieves in the 8th Circle of Hell. The 8th Circle is described in Bolgia 7, Canticles XXIV and XXV; the thieves are pursued by reptiles whose bites cause nasty transformations in them, which not only hurt but prevent the thieves from ever knowing the comfort of a steady, protective and genuine identity, a state of flux and anxiety which is the perfect punishment for the security they stole from their victims in life — identity theft, basically: Sr. Alighieri was ahead of his time, as usual.

    You can look for Stella Stevens next in 2011 or ’12 as Jill in The Human Factor, an in-development film project to which Michael Madsen, Danny Trejo, and Charisma Carpenter are also tentatively attached. Get it, girl!

    edit: Looking closely, I’m not so sure that picture with the dog is even Stella Stevens. Someone want to help out?

    edit 2.0: Astute superfly Gridley says the article is titled “Dogpatch Playmate” because Dogpatch is the name of the fictional town in which Li’l Abner takes place. Thanks!