Posts Tagged ‘divorce’

Heinlein Month: Nobody lives without love

July 8, 2011

Pierrot le fou (Jean-Luc Godard, 1965).

But, damnation, no matter how many times you get your fingers burned, you have to trust people. Otherwise you are just a hermit in a cave, sleeping with one eye open.

(Robert A. Heinlein, The Door Into Summer. New York: Doubleday, 1957.)

Of course the idea of ending up a hermit in a cave, even sleeping with one eye open, has its attractions: namely, 100% control over your life and emotions, and the certainty that others cannot hurt you. But as Heinlein points out, that’s no way to live. Love hurts. Does loneliness hurt more? It’s a conundrum. I honestly don’t know. I guess I’ll keep you posted.

Take-two Tuesday — The Way They Were: Egon and Wally

July 5, 2011

This entry was originally posted March 1, 2010 at 11:50 am.

Yesterday I was reminded that I had a bunch of these “Way They Were” entries planned and had only followed through on one (Jayne and Mickey). That’s cowardly. I’m going to try to motor through more in the coming months.

“Sitzende Frau mit hochgezogenem Knie”/”Seated woman with bent knee”, 1917.

Although artist Egon Schiele had been separated from Valerie “Wally” Neuzil and married to Edith Harms for two years by the date of this painting, most everyone agrees this is from an earlier study of Wally. It looks too much like her not to be, and he uses the colors that are associated with the Wally work. It’s my favorite work by him. It was on the cover of the Schiele book that my husband, who is a painter, had at our house in Portland, and was the entire reason I found myself opening and reading the book one day. I was interested in Schiele’s work, which is provocative and weird and has many shockingly modern features, all things I like, but, because his life was tragically cut short by disease, his career arc is brief. Coming away from the slim book about his life and art, I felt that his work was dominated by the chief feature of his life, which is to say in a nutshell his time with the real love of his life, which he royally fucked up, and it was the story of that, of Egon’s eventually jacked-beyond-repair relationship with Wally Neuzil that really sucked me in.

“Das Modell Wally Neuzil”/”The model Wally Neuzil.” 1912.

Artist Egon Schiele and his model, Valerie “Wally” Neuzil, were together from 1911 to 1915. He met her in Vienna when she was seventeen and he was twenty-one. Supposedly they were introduced by Gustav Klimt. Supposedly she had been Klimt’s mistress before she got together with Schiele. These things are all conjecture because everyone involved is dead, and they happened before the Great War, which so influenced the German-speaking art world in the years just following it that anything which contributed to or influenced an artist’s work before the War kind of fell by the wayside until later generations resumed their scholarship of turn of the century artists. That’s fair. Such radical changes happened during and after the War that I imagine it seemed crazy, outdated, and irrelevant to really consider too deeply the little emotional outbursts and criminal trials that came before the dramatic political events of the 1910’s and 20’s that literally reshaped the landscape.

“Rothaarige hockende Frau mit grünen Strümpfen (Valerie Neuzil)”/”Crouching figure with green stockings” (Valerie Neuzil).” 1913.

Egon and Wally left Vienna because they considered it too oppressive. They sought an inspirational, romantic, and bucolic lifestyle of freedom in the countryside, moving to Krumia — which also had the more practical benefit of much cheaper rent than Vienna — where, though Schiele’s mother was born there, they were summarily run out of town not too long after for being a little too inspirational, romantic, and bucolic: they’d been using the town’s teenagers as “models”. There’s a Schiele museum there now, so I guess that, like cream cheese, their hearts eventually softened to a spreadable cracker topping. That analogy got out of control in a hurry. It’s almost time for me to grab lunch, sorry.

“Wally in roter Blouse mit erhobenen Knien”/”Wally in red blouse with raised knees.” 1913.

Essentially fleeing the angry mob in Krumia, Egon and Wally moved again, this time north to Nuelengbach, where it was apparently same shit, different day, as they were not there even six months and Schiele was arrested for seducing a minor. Once in custody, they dropped that charge (apparently the young lady changed her tune when the absinthe wore off?) and an abduction charge the parents had insisted be levied originally, and instead tried and found him guilty of displaying inappropriate art in a place where minors could see it. He was released from prison after serving twenty-four days in April 1912 — are you getting the idea of what an awesome prince he was? such the lucky girl, that Wally — and they moved back to the Vienna area.

“Auf einem blauen Polster Liegende mit goldblondem Haar (Wally Neuzil)”/”Reclining female figure with gold blonde hair on a blue pillow (Wally Neuzil).” 1913.

Settled with Wally in Heitzing, a Viennese suburb, Schiele wrote to a friend in early 1915 that he was going to marry one of the Harms sisters, two locksmith’s daughters named Edith and Adele who lived across the street from his studio, for money. I guess running around for three years painting erotic pictures and pissing people off while sleeping with teenagers and doing jail time had not turned out to be the lucrative life of luxury he’d anticipated; the cash flow was getting low, and, despite that he considered Wally his partner and soulmate, marrying for money was Schiele’s timeless solution to their financial woes. He followed through on this, marrying the older of the daughters, Edith, on June 17, 1915, exactly 91 years before my own wedding day.

“Frau in Unterwäsche und Strümpfen (Valerie Neuzil)”/”Woman in underwear and stockings (Valerie Neuzil).” 1913.

A few days after his wedding, Schiele was called to the war, but managed to always serve in Austria, so he was able to continue with his art and stay close to his ties in Vienna. Wally had broken up with him when he told her he was getting married. Schiele wrote to friends expressing shock and grief: he’d actually expected her to understand and stay with him. He wrote a letter to Wally asking her to meet him at a billiards parlor that he liked to go to. There he gave her another letter, proposing that every year they go on an extended holiday, without his wife. She did not write back or respond positively to this. Instead, she left him and never saw him again.

“Frau mit schwarzen Strümpfen – Valerie Neuzil”/”Woman with black stockings – Valerie Neuzel.” 1913.

I was furious when I read this. I still remember sitting in my little house in Portland and my jaw dropping, and my blood boiling, all this anger and resentment simmering in me, directed at people I never met who’d been dead nearly a century, but I couldn’t help it. I hate him for marrying someone else, I hate him and I hate the story of how they were because it reveals that through all that time they spent together, Schiele must have considered Wally lower than him, and though she stood by him , asshole though he could be, he thought her to be the unimportant one, expendable and suppressable, and he literally threw her away like garbage even though she was the best thing that had happened to him; his drawings of her are the best things he did. But that is how some stories are, and I deserve to feel angry because I need to accept that, I have to work through my sadness about the fact that nothing and no one has ever been perfect not even for a day or an hour or a moment, every joyful thing is secretly riddled through with the knowledge that this is so good now because there will be pain later and every lucky penny has a tail side of the coin, and if I have to search my soul and see if there is any gold in the dross of this love story that I in my infantile understanding of human nature found so devastating than I guess I must say that I do love that Schiele really loved Wally in an incredibly broken way, and had that time with her in which there must surely have been good moments.

Photograph of Wally and Egon from the Schiele Museum online.

Schiele died only three years after his breakup with Wally, on Halloween 1918, in an influenza epidemic which had several days earlier killed Edith and their unborn child. He passed away completely unaware that Wally Neuzil had herself succumbed to death from disease around Christmas of the previous year. She’d become a nurse for the Red Cross and, stationed at Split in Dalmatia, she caught scarlet fever from one of her patients and died in the same hospital at which she’d been working for over a year.

edit 7/6/11. Question for discussion: on a large enough timeline, aren’t we and all our petty passions and tragedies truly sound and fury, don’t we signify nothing after all? I want to think not — likely only because of vanity and childish fear of my own meaninglessness — but it seems so true.

Playmate Revisited: Shannon Tweed by George Hurrell, with bonus Classic Hollywood photography blatherings

June 28, 2011

Lovely Ms. Tweed gets the Veronica Lake treatment from a celebrity photographer.

Backstory: In the still-building comments on my sadly meager original Shannon Tweed entry, from the heady days of NSFW November when I was still relatively new to this game, reader Jed Leyland* suggested this morning that I chase down and post up what I could find from a shoot Shannon did with the legendary George Hurrell.

Here it is!

The new actresses don’t have the sense of posing that the old stars did. There’s no one around to train them. That’s why Hollywood seems less glamorous. But Shannon is different. She knows how to pose and what to do with herself. What surprised me more than anything was her nice personality — the kind of personality that has an intellect to go with it. I was quite impressed with that.

(George Hurrell on Shannon Tweed.)

The lovely and talented Ms. Tweed posed for Playboy Italia in February of 1984. Her spread was photographed by George Hurrell, on whom the article mainly focused.

«George Hurrell, famoso fotografo statunitense, non ha perso il pelo (dei suoi cappelli, della sua barba), ma nemmeno il vizio — che nel sui caso e senz’altro una notevole vurti — di roncorrerre con l’obiettivo il fascino femmininile, per catutrarly e renderlo fermo nel tempo, assoluto.»

«Nelle fotographie di questa paging potete vedere , attualissima playmate degli anni ottanta. Hurrell l’ha ritratta, nella sua inquieta e moderna bellezza, come trenta, quarant’anni fa andava a caccia del fascino segreto, quasi raccolto in una cornice antica del sex-appear, appena accennato ma no nper questio meno pruriginoso, di attrici che sarebbero restate nella storia del cinema. Anche per merito sui, occhio discreto e innamorato che chon le sue “ispiratrici del momento” sapeva creare un sodalizio, quasi un legame sentimentale, queste foto riescono a uscire dalle pieghe del tempo per restituirci un fascio che credebvamo di allora e che invece e anchi de adesso, incredibilmente attuale.»

What’s that? Unlucky enough to have grown up without smatterings of Italian and a certain gameness for descrying cognates? No sweat. Let’s hit the babelfish, shall we? I love living in DA‘s future.

«George Hurrell, famous American photographer, has not lost the hair (of its nails head, of its beard), but not even the defect — that in on the case and senz’ other a remarkable one vurti — of roncorrerre with l’ objective the femmininile fascination, for catutrarly and rendering it firm in the time, absolute.»

«In the fotographie of this paging you can see, most current playmate of years eighty. Hurrell it has ritratta, in its restless and modern beauty, like thirty, forty years ago it go huntinged of the secret fascination, nearly collected in an ancient frame of the sex-appear, as soon as pointed out but not nper questio less pruritic, than actresses who would have remained in the history of the cinema. Also for merit on i, discreet and fallen in love eye that chon its ” ispiratrici of the momento” it knew to create a society, nearly a sentimentale tie, these photos succeed to exit from the folds of the time in order to give back a bundle to us that credebamo then and that instead and anchi de now, incredibly they puts into effect.»

Clear as mud now, jes? Honestly, you get the gist, I wager. Thanks, babelfish! I had originally intended to show the above pictures as proof that Gene Simmons and Shannon Tweed were still going strong and sometimes folks get it right, isn’t that affirming?, but in the interest of accuracy I gave “gene simmons and shannon tweed” a quick googly-moogly, and apparently they’re having problems. So that sucks. Different direction required.

George Hurrell was one of the premiere Hollywood photographers for the glamour portraits and studio stills of the 1930’s-40’s. He is particularly famous in classic Hollywood portraiture for his “north light,” seen here applied to Anna May Wong.

Anna May Wong, photographed by George Hurrell.

He achieved this dramatic effect chiefly with the use of fresnels (which we’ve defined and discussed before in the 12 Days of Highly Tolerable Holiday Movies post on my fave-ohs, Twelve Monkeys) placed on a boom well above and only slightly in front of the subject.

Joan Crawford photographed by George Hurrell for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, 1932.

This bright, diffuse key light, along with some artsy post-treatment of his negatives, created the glowing planes with deep contrasting shadows and illuminated, heroic facial lines in his shots that basically define Art Deco photography and made his name. Joan Crawford adored him (above and below) because his luminous portraits revealed — or maybe created — a softness in her that few other still photographers were capable of capturing, which ran as a nice counterpoint to the brassy, hard women she played, to say nothing of her reputation as a handful on set.

Joan by George, 1933. By applying the north light and having Joan cock her forehead with her hand, probably to break up the imposingly symmetrical lines of her face, Hurrell creates a sort of softer, aw-shucks face that catches the light and interests the eye. I think, at least.

Hurrell preferred his subjects wear as light of makeup as possible, to avoid cakey, pale faces from the fresnel key lighting, which tends to magnify pores and unevenness. As his technique progressed, he especially liked the subjects to be rubbed with a thin, consistent layer of baby oil. The baby oil gave a uniform, glossy surface for the fresnel lights to suffuse, creating a burnished glow when combined with the contrasting natural shadows from the planes of the face.

See how shiny Jean is? Otherworldly, thanks to the north light, the oil, and Hurrell’s radical retouching techniques. This became the defining “look” for MGM’s glamour publicity shots of their stars. Hurrell’s contract with MGM didn’t last long despite the support of Norma Shearer and Irving Thalberg; a fallout with a publicity department head resulted in Hurrell dramatically leaving the studio after serving there for three years. Though he continued to photograph almost exclusively for MGM throughout the next decade until contracting with Warner Bros in 1938, Hurrell mainly worked as a freelance, independent contractor.

The look wasn’t flattering on everyone — check out Greta Garbo above. While Anna May Wong’s baby oil-rubbed features work beautifully with the north light, Garbo looks harsh and washed-out. Not surprising that she fomented a close working relationship instead with Hurrell’s gentle contemporary, Clarence Sinclair Bull, who was “head” of the publicity still department at MGM for over four decades.

Maybe another day I’ll do a post comparing Bull, Hurrell, and … I don’t know, Leo Fuchs? I just dig this kind of thing. I mean, I did all this shit completely from memory and it seems crazy not to start using this knowledge for, like, a book or something.

Goofy girls — we are a Thing! (outtake from Shannon’s PMOY shoot, 1982).

Anyway, I’m over all this. I want to go eat a sandwich and watch the Giants game. Probably why I will never write that book: too much of a goof who keeps better track of eating sandwiches and watching ball than using her education for her profit. While I was writing this entry, I was drinking Diet 7-up from a licorice straw the entire time, but different straws every 5 minutes or so because when they start to get hard I like to eat them. This is all true. Super-mature and put together. Call me!

*Joe — “Of course we’re speaking, Jedediah. You’re fired.” Kane? Yes? Do I get a gold star?

Movie Moment: Stop. Margot time.

May 27, 2011

By Esra Roise, Norway.

“I think I’m in love with Margot.”
“Margot Tenenbaum?”

(Richie and Royal. The Royal Tenenbaums (Wes Anderson, 2001).)

Music Moment: Cat Stevens, “Peace Train”

May 6, 2011

Cat Stevens — Peace Train

I’ve been smiling lately. I really have.

Photographed by Julie Lansom.

Now I’ve been happy lately,
thinking about the good things to come
And I believe it could be,
something good has begun

Oh I’ve been smiling lately,
dreaming about the world as one
And I believe it could be,
some day it’s going to come

With Shelley Duvall, via.
Cause out on the edge of darkness,
there rides a peace train
Oh peace train take this country,
come take me home again

Now I’ve been smiling lately,
thinking about the good things to come
And I believe it could be,
something good has begun

Richard Hamilton.
Oh peace train sounding louder
Glide on the peace train
Come on now peace train
Yes, peace train holy roller

Everyone jump upon the peace train
Come on now peace train

A few weeks ago, I came home triumphantly wielding a near-mint Cat Stevens LP from a trip to a nearby touristy mountain town — only to see in going through my collection that at some point in the past I’d brought that exact record in pretty much the exact same condition.

My organization skills may be in the toilet, but the important thing is, I’m consistent.


Get your bags together,
go bring your good friends too
Cause it’s getting nearer,
it soon will be with you

With Carly Simon, via.
Now come and join the living,
it’s not so far from you
And it’s getting nearer,
soon it will all be true

Now I’ve been crying lately,
thinking about the world as it is
Why must we go on hating,
why can’t we live in bliss

I’ve been trying to balance my recent heady busy-ness in the areas of work and returning to school with the activities I love, like country driving, taking pictures, listening to my records, and of course spending time with my mad rad friendohs.


Cause out on the edge of darkness,
there rides a peace train
Oh peace train take this country,
come take me home again.

I don’t know by what trick or trends in behavior I’ve done it, but, despite recent roller coasters of emotion, anxiety, and obligation, I still just feel really happy and mellow about things in assessing the Spring, even accounting for the ups and downs.


I have this optimistic and even confident feeling as I enter the Summer. Here’s hoping it sticks around. I feel like everything is beautiful.

In related news, did you know you could smoke banana peels? The brown spots talk about their dreams while they sizzle and pop. Fact.

(Not fact.)

Daily Batman: Bat Life With Batpecker

February 12, 2011


If civilization is ever going to be anything but a grandiose pratfall, anything more than a can of deodorizer in the shithouse of existence, the people are going to have to concern themselves with magic and poetry. …

Humanity has advanced, when it has advanced, not because it has been sober, responsible, and cautious, but because it has been playful, rebellious, and immature.

(Tom Robbins. Still Life With Woodpecker. New York: Bantam, 1980.)

Really grok this. My estranged husband loaned me this book when we were dating. This part always stuck out to me. Do I feel like a Robbins month? I’ll need to think about it. Maybe June?

Take-two Tuesday and Yesterday’s News — Movie Moment: Une femme est une femme, Zodiac quackery and cock-gobbling Virgos edition

February 8, 2011

edit: Since this post’s original appearance, I’ve been reclassified as a Leo by … the sometimes-I-tune-in Zodiac powers that be? Not actually sure whom. Fellow fabulously-damaged Virgin Panda tried to explain it to me over soosh bombasticos last week but she is much, much better at understanding this stuff than I am.

This post originally appeared on February 7, 2010 at 9:14 a.m., so practically one year ago. Synchronicity in Yesterday’s News!

Romance, science, and zodiac quackery in Une femme est une femme/A Woman Is A Woman (Godard, 1961).

Virgo is a hard worker, a neglected mother, a quotidian task master, and a selfless martyr. Virgo is also a reality TV train wreck, a drunken psychopath, and a self-abusing anorexic. Virgo is analytical on a good day. Virgo is self-critical, self-loathing, self-deprecating, self-flagellating, and self-defeating on a bad day.

The Virgin, contrary to what her title may suggest, is the resident cock gobbler of the zodiac — never a topper, always a bottom. If you’re looking for a woman who will abuse herself, party like it’s Greek harvest time and she’s drunk on mead, please you sexually without so much as a nod to her own hungry genitalia, and perform all the humiliating duties you’ve assigned to her as wife and mother, look no further than the drunken Virgin of the zodiac.

And yes, more often than not, this naughty little maiden is getting crunked at the club or downing daiquiris at the Mommy and Me block party, an attempt to drown to death the echoes of self-loathing that usually prevent her from embodying the female charm and charisma she labors to possess.

The Virgo vibratory pattern is restrictive, effective, judgmental, exact, helpful, and neurotic. Virgos are a lot of things, socially charismatic not being one of them.

Usually, when I meet a Virgo, my natural reaction is, ‘this person must have Aspergers.’ They fixate on minutiae like Rainman [and] have more clicks and ticks than a malfunctioning android attempting to process human emotion.

Virgos rule the house of diet, perfectionism, and nourishment. Just glance at a list of famous Virgos and you’ll find more self-flagellating, adulthood suppressing skeletors than you can shake a stick at: Amy Winehouse, Rachel Zoe, Nicole Ritchie, Karl Lagerfeld, Twiggy, Fiona Apple, Aimee Mann, Peggy Guggenheim, etc.

[personally adding Anne Bancroft, Evan Rachel Wood, Lauren Bacall, Ricki Lake, Greta Garbo, and Rose McGowan to that list].

Yes, that is pretty much the way of it.

Virgo is the embodiment of human turmoil.

Insightful and amusing zodiac sign analysis by Carly, whose blog “Do you think I’m smart? Astrology and other Ass Munchery” is right here on the wordpress. Usually I say that I don’t believe in all that large astrological nonsense, but I have to admit that’s the first one I’ve ever read that was right on. Maybe I just needed to read all the horrible things I already know about myself confirmed, instead of the butt-licking backhanded compliments in most horoscopes, in order to start giving it some credence.

Final thought.

How to Spot a Virgo Woman:

  • They have an eating disorder.
  • They give rigorous handies.
  • They have acid reflux.
  • They’ll do “anything for my man.”
  • They want your love, but don’t deserve it.

    (more, if you’re into that — she is very clever and scathingly funny)

  • Christmas memories

    December 23, 2010

    Once, a boyfriend and I were drinking spiked egg nog and sitting on the couch in his seedy apartment, surrounded by the trappings of our small, personal Christmas Eve gift exchange. I was planning to go home later in the evening and spend Christmas Day proper with my parents, and, since neither of us believed in Santa anymore, although I was wearing a smashing Mrs. Claus number from Frederick’s of Hollywood that he’d just given me, we saw nothing wrong with doing the gifts on Christmas Eve rather than pushing in on my family celebration for the morning.

    His arm around me while we watched a burning log on a channel he’d found on the television, this boyfriend asked me, “What’s your favorite Christmas memory?”

    My favorite Christmas memory. I was four years old and we lived in our second doublewide and, being a runt and not even considering myself worthy of a bed but dimly aware that it was too near a waste of money to buy child-sized things, as we would just outgrow them and render the gesture useless, I still slept in a crib. It was the year Strawberry Shortcake was first really huge, and I used to beg my parents to rent a VCR so we could watch Strawberry Shortcake tapes.

    We went to Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve. It was the first time I’d ever been to Midnight Mass and been awake for it. All the lights were off in the church and we each carried a candle with a little cardboard-paper holder to protect our hands from the wax. I cradled mine in front of me and tried to guard the flame from my breathing — you know how kids breathe hotter and harder than adults, like they take in bigger gulps of the world, like we give up more on wanting a part of it all the older we grow, until at the end we can only reluctantly take in these thin little sips that don’t even stir the air. I shifted from foot to foot and spun my head around to get the best view of Our Lady Star of the Sea, looming and receding, so deliciously unfamiliar and creepy, in the flickering shadows thrown up by the candlelight, as the cantor sang the lineage of Christ.

    At the final lines, “And thus, all things being right in the universe (or something like that) … Jesus Christ is born,” and the lights all came up at once and a tympani rolled and trumpets began as the choir started singing “Gloria in Excelsis Deo” and it blew my mind.

    On the ride home, the defrost on the Honda we had didn’t work anymore, and my dad had his window down and kept leaning out and wiping the windshield. In the backseat, the dew on the windows refracted the orange sodium vapor lights and I could see myself reflected in the window, suffused with the glow of dancing lights as we passed under them.

    It was a pretty decent trailer court (one of those ones that says it is a Mobile Home Park) and a lot of people had gone all out on decorations. Because I was only four, I hadn’t been out and about seeing the lights at night in the weeks prior, so it was new to me. Everything looked unearthly, serene and intended and transformed, and the air that came through my father’s rolled-down window was humid because our town was surrounded by bogs but frosty, too, like sucking in freezer air, or the blowback of your breath against a tray of ice cubes. It was bracing and beautiful in that way that only very cold things can be.

    When we got home, I went to my room to put on my pyjamas and there was a bed in my room. It had an actual headboard, which my parents’ bed and certainly the hide-a-bed in the couch did not, and turned-back striped pink and green sheets and a Strawberry Shortcake quilt. There was a red heart-shaped decorative pillow on top of my regular pillow, edged with cotton eyelet lace. Propped against the heart pillow sat a Strawberry Shortcake doll, and I could tell she was one of the new ones that had strawberry-scented breath. The doll was the part that startled me the most, because it grounded the experience: this was something I’d seen on the television and not even dared ask for. This room could not be mine.

    I stood in the doorway gaping. I remember I had to pee and was freaked out that this beautiful bed was in the middle of my room, where my crib should be. My first reaction was anxiety. I felt like I shouldn’t be there, or that someone was going to take it away. My father came in and threw me on the bed, so I bounced, and my mother took pictures of me holding the pillow and the doll.

    After I’d changed and gotten ready for bed, and climbed in it for the first time, my mother came and sat by me and told me how my father got the pieces for the frame and my grandfather and uncle had put the bed together while we were at Mass. My aunt had bought the doll, my mother made the heart pillow, and my grandmother sewed the quilt. Money was very tight for my family at that time, and everyone had come together to make sure I got a big girl bed for the first Christmas I’d remember. While she described their plans, this feeling in my stomach shook looser and looser, and it got away from me and filled the room and I started crying.

    My mother clucked over me and said I was tired, and stayed next to me with the light off until I made my breathing regular enough to convince her I was asleep and she left. I lay in the dark looking at the textured ceiling, trying to avoid the spots where in the dark it made shapes that scared me, and felt tears run backward down my cheeks and drip slowly in to my ears. It was like Christmas and the choir at Mass and the cold vastness of the empty town on the drive home, with the lights on and no one on the street, and yet the tiny little family with all their love filling up the inside of my room and our home — was all so big and simultaneous that I could only cry, not from being sad, but from being humbled.

    I thought about all that when my boyfriend asked me my favorite Christmas memory, and got shy. “You go first,” I said.

    He described how one Christmas, after they’d opened all their toys and were having breakfast and watching cartoons, his mother surprised them with another box full of toys for him and his sister.

    I asked, “Do you think — was that maybe the first Christmas after your parents divorced?”

    “I don’t know,” he shrugged. “That all runs together. It was just awesome when she brought in that box and I knew it was full of more toys. I got everything that year — G.I. Joes, the Castle Greyskull, like, seriously. Everything.”

    I looked at him and he had these particularly garish colored lights strung up on his fake Christmas tree, the kind where the red is really pink, and he’d set them to blink, and at that moment he was lit by them in a way that made me not recognize him as he stared at the television. He seemed like a total alien, like someone with whom I’d never spent hours: a stranger the planes of whose face I had never memorized in the dark. And I never told him my memory.

    It wasn’t his fault, and I railed against myself for it later and tried to pretend it hadn’t happened, but, in that exchange, this sharp divide fell down between us, for me, and I could never seem to want to get it back up. Maybe if I’d told him then about this disparity in our childhood memories, things would have been different, because it really wasn’t a big deal and might even, in the telling, have picked up some softer and selfless side, some deeper soul in him that I cheated out of revealing itself. I’ll never know, because I never told him about it.

    Now, when I remember the Strawberry Shortcake bed, I remember, too, those decades later, sitting in self-imposed silence in my cheaply-ribboned red velvet and mirabou beside a stranger with a pink forehead and shadow-socketed eyes before a picture of a burning log, when I maybe missed the mark — or maybe ducked a knife — and I think again of the bigness of my family’s love and the smallness of the details of our lives, and am grateful more than ever before. And I still let tears roll into my ears sometimes, because of course they will all die, they have already begun, just as I will and have nearly, and all that I can do is cling to these passionate recollected moments, captured so clearly in my memory, and hold them close enough to keep my heart in its right shape, so then when I join them they’ll be able to recognize me.

    Baby, it’s cold outside: Showdown! — The three faces of Miss October 1957, Colleen Farrington

    November 27, 2010

    Photographed by Peter Basch.

    La donna é mobile. Women are changeable. The write-up for this lovely and talented Playmate of the Month (and surprise celebrity mother) featured her in three different hair colors: blonde, brunette, and redheaded. Browse through the spread and pick your poison!

    Time was you could make a date with a brunette on Wednesday and, when you picked her up Saturday night, be certain a brunette would be waiting for you.

    (“La Donna È Mobile.” Playboy, October 1957.

    These days, thanks to quickie hair-dyes, your brunette may have metamorphosed into a redhead or a boysenberry blonde.


    Click to enlarge any ol’ pic, any ol’ time, but I strongly recommend the one on the right up there. It’s great. She was a lovely ham in this spread.

    And just what in the name of easter baskets would a boysenberry blonde look like? Did the person who wrote that ever even see a boysenberry? They’re so deep purple that they’re virtually black. Strawberry blonde is a shade, yes. Boysenberry blonde? Not so much. Those two things do not work together.

    I find the pairing weird and it makes me curious to see such a thing in real life. I’m pretty sure it’s impossible outside of food coloring on a junior high girl. Back to the likely made-up story of quickie hair dyes and their metaphorical relationship with the vagaries of the vapid gender.

    This sign of the times was dramatized for us recently when photographer Peter Basch sent us a test shot of prospective Playmate Colleen Farrington, a New York TV model*.


    *In fact, Colleen was at this time modeling on television and doing high fashion on runways. She worked frequently with designer Oleg Cassini, who would go on to permanent international fame in about three years as Jacqueline Kennedy’s favorite designer and the architect of her “look” in the Camelot heyday.

    My favorite shot of the spread.

    We found her a pert, well-turned brunette, and we wired Pete to go ahead by all means. When the first Playmate photos arrived, however, Colleen (having dyed her crowning glory for a TV show) was a blonde.


    We liked her better the other way, so she obliged by becoming a brunette again and Pete, in a puckish mood, persuaded her to try a temporary head of red, too, in the interest of utter confusion.


    On these pages, therefore, Colleen is available in three smart decorator colors. Which do you prefer?


    Red, over here. I’ll put the poll at the bottom for easy voting.

    I’m curious to see how this one comes out. I think the red suits Ms. Farrington, who sometimes went by Ms. Prince, best, but then again, the pictures of her with red hair are the best done in my opinion, too, so that could be clouding my judgment. If she’d been blonde in the pink corset by the bar pictures, maybe my feelings would be different.

    As far as that series of this shoot goes, I’d spotted and saved it a few years ago, just saving it as Colleen Farrington 1, 2, 3, etc. When I started putting together pictures and bios for these winter posts, I was pumped to see I’d be able to include her.

    Then when I found her original spread, I was tickled by the prospect of a poll for which hair color was the most pleasing to readers. I’ve been meaning to return to the idea of regularly putting up Showdown!s and this was a perfect opportunity to get back in the swing. Not only that, but Ms. Farrington had one more surprise up her lovely sleeve —

    — She is the mother of unbelievably beautiful and talented actress Diane Lane.

    I’m sure you’re thinking what I’m thinking — this amazing fact means that Colleen Farrington was, at one time, the mother-in-law of The Highlander. I know, right? There can be only one! Amazing!

    Just kidding. I realize not everyone’s life is built around tangentially relating the science fiction/fantasy films and television of their youth to everything they experience, and I’m trying to recover from that shock. I’m sure you were thinking how beautiful mother and daughter both are. And they are.

    Ms. Farrington married acting coach, partner to John Cassavetes, and unlikely cabbie Burt Lane and the couple had Diane in 1964. They divorced when the baby was only 13 months old and Ms. Lane lived sometimes with her mother and sometimes with her father until she was 15, when she emancipated herself from her father having already sadly written her mother, living in Georgia at the time, off following some unfortunate family fallouts. They had kind of a bumpy period that I don’t think it’s fair to get in to, but they are reconciled and all is well.

    So, back to the poll and how mobile we donnas are: Which of Colleen Farrington’s ‘do’s rocks your world?

    Microwaves and I do not understand each other

    November 8, 2010

    “Field-side Microwave” by on the flickr.

    Okay, right out of the gate I need to say that I’m one of those ignorant paranoiac luddites who’s still not totally convinced that microwaves are safe. So I am biased against them to begin with. (Please do not explain the science of their safety to me because I am unreasonable and stubborn and it would waste both our time for you to patiently demonstrate how they will not make us sterile or slowly irradiate our children.) I also prefer to make food in the oven because it comes out better. Anyone who has microwaved fries instead of sticking them under the broiler knows where I’m coming from.

    I use the microwave for two things: popping corn and heating tea. The popcorn because it is a light snack that I do not have to slave over a pot and nervously try to capture it before it is flung all over the stovetop, and the tea because my beautiful teapot is in Portland.The microwave in the kitchen here has a “popcorn” button with which I’ve been experimenting with fairly good results. It also has a bunch of other preset buttons which I can never see myself using, such as for thawing meat, which the microwave is the last place I would be willing to do that.

    “Late Night Snack” by Danielle de Leon on the flickr.

    As I was heating tea around five minutes ago, I observed that, of course, there was no make-a-beverage-hot-but-not-scalding-setting. I made a “pfft!” noise as I watched the cup slowly spin from a safe distance, and I thought with disdain that any microwave which has automatic settings for all this other happy crap but no button for tea clearly knows nothing about me.

    Then I thought, Why do I want the microwave to know things about me?

    “Granddad’s Microwave” via funkjunkie on the tumblr.

    The situation could be worse. When we moved Paolo and Miss D in to their present C-town domicile, the kitchen came complete with a vintage microwave that had a stunning array of preset suggestions. They started reasonably enough — settings for thawing meat and defrosting vegetables, then moving in to common entrees — but quickly progressed to some really obscure menu suggestions. The most shocking and thought-provoking one for me was, I shit you not, swordfish l’orange.

    The saddest cookbook you’ll ever see.

    Swordfish l’orange: wow. Like, first of all, I would have never thought to prepare swordfish in that fashion — I’ve never prepared swordfish at all, actually, but I feel that l’orange would not be my “go-to” style — but more importantly, if someone, somewhere, actually took a notion to cook the dish in the first place, why would you do it in the microwave? On what planet is swordfish l’orange so in demand as a dish that you whip it up in the microwave like it is a freaking Lean Pocket? It truly boggled my mind.

    My Aunt Harriet had a microwave in the eighties which talked and her magnificent neighbor’s no-good son who is dead now totally stole it one morning, but all of that’s a story for a different day. I got quite a few microwave stories, and they’re all pretty good. One involves both toplessness and fire (I live dangerously). I’m not sure if I have enough anecdotes to make it a regular feature, but I’ll think about it.

    Auden October: “I was wrong.”

    October 28, 2010


    He was my North, my South, my East and West,
    My working week and Sunday rest,
    My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song;
    I thought that love would last forever: I was wrong.

    (W.H. Auden. “Song IX,” Twelve Songs. 1936.)

    Flashback Friday — Liberated Negative Space o’ the Day: Inoculation edition and the obliteration of innocence

    September 10, 2010

    This entry originally appeared on January 31, 2010 at 3:13 PM.

    By laser314, Amsterdam.

    Answer: No.

    Last week, my daughter’s friend and schoolmate told her that she had a “secret.” The secret was that, whenever her older brother got out of the shower, if no one else was home, they would have sex.

    My daughter and her friend are both 5.

    After my daughter told me this secret, which she rightly suspected seemed “off,” I turned the car around and drove immediately back to her school, where I tracked down the girls’ teacher and told her what the friend had told my daughter. I made no judgment in my retelling as to whether I thought this was true or not, just reported what had been said and put it in her hands. The next day, the friend’s mother picked her up from school, so I assumed things were okay. The day after that, it was the girl’s grandfather. She hasn’t been back to school since then. So I guess it was true. A five year old girl should have secrets about magic and dreams and glittery wands, about easter baskets and kisses on the cheek under the slide, not being penetrated by her brother’s penis when there is no one around to keep her safe. This is more to me than just the loss of innocence, this is a complete obliteration of it, the sucking dry of a life that was only newly struck when it got pulled down.

    I have spent the week trying to wrap my mind around the entire thing, while dealing with the questions of my daughter, who still dimly feels she is under a cloud of trouble or suspicion for having this secret with her friend. She has asked me why kids can’t have sex, why family members can’t have sex, and why her friend’s brother would want to hurt her; whether her friend will still want to be her friend when she comes back to school, if she comes back at all, what is going to happen to her friend now, and why her friend cannot stay with her parents if it was her brother who was the problem. Dealing with her questions and keeping her close during the day has occupied my mind. But it’s not so easy at night, when she is asleep, and I am asking myself some of the same questions.

    I did not believe there were evil people, just evil decisions, until a friend of mine died violently. It changed my view. I don’t think evil is an excuse, or a disability. I still think it’s a choice, but it’s a more overarching and wholly tarring choice than I originally perceived. For a long while after my friend died, I was obsessed with crime and criminals, afraid to leave my house, dreading that the same thing would happen to me. My daughter’s birth came within a few years of my friend’s death, and I think — I know — that my paranoia increased. After my marriage and move to another state, I isolated myself and my daughter completely in our house and told myself I was finally safe and happy.

    Neither of these was true. There is no way to escape a dark place that isn’t a physical reality, but a pit in your mind, that keeps dragging you back down. I’ve done my best, I think. I recognized my unhappiness, I stopped running, I emerged, and I took my daughter with me, but to what end?; I’ve brought her to the only place I’ve ever lived and actually felt safe, put us both back out in the sunshine, so to speak, and now evil is already intruding in her short life. It makes a moment when she will be taken from me by some less-than-human person seem inevitable. It haunts me, it suffocates me, this idea. It is breathtakingly terrifying. I really don’t know what to do.

    That’s all I can say for now. It’s too upsetting.

    edit: What I’ve come to since then is this. I cannot control other people (yet — as soon as I get Professor X to lift this block, I am gonna rule the crap out of all y’all, so just a heads-up; don’t worry, I’ll be mainly benevolent) , but I can control how I respond to the events in my life, and I can control how I prepare my daughter for the good and the bad in life. My main goal now is to make sure she understands essential safety precautions and recognizes dicey situations without descending in to the prickly-sweated paranoia of her mother.

    As an example, the unlock button on my key fob is going bad and when it took a couple clicks to open the doors not too long ago, I said to Miss D, “I really need to get it fixed because what if someone is chasing me through a parking lot and that’s the night it finally gives up the ghost?” So I guess I want the kidlet to be less like me and more like herself, only a safe but still innocent one. So again, to answer the question posed in the graffiti: “Can I inoculate my child against the looming darkness? No.”

    Daily Batman and Liberated Negative Space o’ the Day: Hipster Batmans with bonus friendly advice

    September 5, 2010

    Little known fact: Batman’s favorite band is The Postal Service because he feels like Neutral Milk Hotel is getting too mainstream.

    via the sfist.

    To say that there are no hipsters in Portland is like saying there were no hippies in San Francisco, no punks in New York. The problem with hipsters is their lack of purpose and ideas. They are not the angry young men and women of counter-culture past, they are leaches of culture. Being a hipster is the opposite of a movement; it’s a crawl toward death. Like an unconscious addict, of course no one admits to being one.

    Jake Rose

    (“Letters to the Editor.” Portland Mercury. January 8, 2009.)

    Mr. Rose refers to the Mercury’s assertion that

    First off, there is no such thing as a hipster. It’s a lazy stereotype. Blaming hipsters for ruining your favorite bar, your favorite band, and your favorite city is akin to blaming Santa Claus for ruining Christmas. Secondly, stop complaining, it makes you seem more out of touch than you really are.

    (“Not Invited Back.” Portland Mercury. December 25, 2008.)

    via sfeyes on the flickr.

    I used to read it all the time, but hipsters have totally ruined the Mercury. Nyuck, nyuck.

    For myself, I would rather be “out of touch” than wear a hanky turned like I have just robbed a train and jeans that cut off the circulation to my thighs and lovely ass. Also it has not quite been long enough since their initial time of ironic popularity to once more sport a trucker hat as a sneering referential fashion nod to an original sneering referential fashion nod. Only Judah Friedlander on 30 Rock gets a pass. And when a musician that I like begins to find wider success, I am happy for that individual, not full of embittered proclamations that he or she has “sold out.” Hipsters: it is okay to like something without it being ironic or edgy. Don’t front like you don’t like Jamba Juice and family reunions — you don’t have to make out like they are kitschy or retro to explain that you enjoy them, because it is okay to like Jamba Juice and family reunions and put the period right there.

    “Robin Hoodie” via laughing squid.

    Also, I know you love you some Pabst Blue Ribbon but I need to say that once, my husband and I bought an actual 12-pack in bottles of PBR, and when we unloaded them in to the fridge we noticed that despite being sealed each bottle was filled to a different level. Some sat at varying levels up the neck, one was only filled directly to the neck, and the weirdest one was literally all the way to the bottlecap. How is that even possible? Don’t machines in a factory do the bottling, and, if so, why would each be filled differently? Is the machine that poorly operated, or is it that old or sunk that deeply in to disrepair? What the what? There is probably lead shavings and rat shit and who else knows what all in Pabst if there is that bizzarely low level of quality control. Please do consider it and think about making Natty Ice or Keystone the new trendy and appropriately cheesey cheap beer? Probably safer bets.

    P.S.: Cute hipster boys? Please eat a sandwich cause from behind I thought you were a woman, and I’m not sleeping with someone who could slip down the shower drain.

    To be triple-dog clear: the hipster Batman graffiti photos are taken in San Francisco, California. The hipster debate comes from an independent weekly newspaper in Portland, Oregon.

    E.E. Cummings Month: “i like my body when it is with your”

    August 24, 2010

    I’ve had a lot of friends celebrating romantic occasions recently. This is for them, and for hope.

    i like my body when it is with your
    body. It is so quite a new thing.
    Muscles better and nerves more.
    i like your body. i like what it does,

    Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (Gondry, 2004).

    i like its hows. i like to feel the spine
    of your body and its bones, and the trembling
    -firm-smooth ness and which i will
    again and again and again
    kiss, i like kissing this and that of you,

    i like, slowly stroking the, shocking fuzz
    of your electric fur, and what-is-it comes
    over parting flesh . . . . And eyes big love-crumbs,

    and possibly i like the thrill

    of under me you quite so new

    (E.E. Cummings, “i like my body when it is with your.” Written for Elaine Thayer. They divorced in December of 1924. The poem was published Valentine’s Day, 1925.)

    Jean Seberg, À bout de souffle/Breathless (Godard, 1960).

    If you feel often like me then these Cummings love poems might make us lost ones a little lonely, but if I can glean a positive from it, they are written with such passion that you cannot help, with some surprise, hoping to find a fraction of that abandon and joy, whether again or for the first time. And believing such a thing is possible to find even after you’ve experienecd deep pain or felt yourself set always apart from the crowd of the easily popular, incomprehensible, “normal” socializing world, the idea that you might still connect with someone in a deep, resonantly real way, one that isn’t predicated on current conventions of date-marking-success like alcohol or knowing lines from an eighties sitcom, is something that is never bad. I think too that stripping away all the trappings that surround a date or relationship, and seeing how well the vibe between you stands up absent of distraction, mood-altering substances, and the intervention of entertainment technology is maybe a good idea, too.

    Katharine Hepburn, Woman of the Year (George Stevens, 1942).

    Maybe it’s even vital and something you should do right out of the gate instead of triking along together parallel-playing in front of the television at being in touch when really you are still little materialistic children faking love for someone else in a thousand ways while you prevent yourself from really loving anyone by putting up these walls of text messages and reality shows you have to watch and social networking and earbuds and booze and — hey-hey-hey — blogging. We make ourselves alone even when we’re together, and then we can’t understand why we can’t form connections… I am totally depressing myself. This was supposed to be about hope and it still is. Maybe I’m just whittling away the non-reality of all the malarkey that’s kept my hope from fulfillment in the past.

    Sharon Tate’s Actual Life Awareness Month: Day 12

    August 12, 2010

    Mia Farrow, Roman, and Sharon at a Rosemary’s Baby premiere. After Frank Sinatra served Mia on set with divorce papers, Sharon took Mia in to their circle of her friends and made sure to squire her around to promotional events and include her in parties. Ms. Farrow says of Sharon, “She was like a princess in a fairy tale. As kind as she was beautiful.”

    On one weekend while visiting [her husband on the set of Rosemary’s Baby], Sharon posed for photographs to appear in the December, 1967 issue of Esquire. Sharon and Esquire had a long running relationship and she had appeared in the magazine several times. The producers of Valley of the Dolls felt that this layout would be important for promoting the film. Sharon posed in a black miniskirt with a rifle on the first page of the layout. It was a very provocative and cutting edge session and generated a great deal of publicity.

    (Official site of Sharon Tate, run by her family.)

    The little red book which contains hightlights from The thought of Mao Tse-tung is the most influential volume in the world today. It is also extremely dull and entirely unmemorable. To resolve this paradox, we, a handful of editors in authority who follow the capitalist road, thought useful to illustrate certain key passages in such a way that they are more likely to stick in the mind. The visual aid is Sharon Tate and, to give credit where credit, God knows, is due, she will soon be seen in the Twentieth Century-Fox motion picture, Valley of the Dolls.

    1. Every communist must grasp the truth, “Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun.”

    “Problems of War and Strategy” (November 6, 1938)

    2. Our fundamental task is to adjust the use of labor power in an organized way and to encourage women to do farm work.

    “Our Economic Policy” (January 23, 1934)

    3. How is Marxist-Leninist theory to be linked with the practice of the Chinese revolution? To use a common expression, it is by “shooting the arrow at the target.” As the arrow is to the target, so is Marxism-Leninism to the Chinese revolution. Some comrades, however, are “shooting without a target,” shooting at random, and such people are liable to harm the revolution.

    “Rectify the Party’s Style of Work” (February 1, 1942)

    4.The world is yours, as well as ours, but in the last analysis, it is yours. You young people, full of vigor and vitality, are in the bloom of life, like the sun at eight or nine in the morning. Our hope is placed on you. The world belongs to you. China’s future belongs to you.

    Talk at a meeting with Chinese students and trainees in Moscow (November 17, 1957)

    5. …the flattery of the bourgeoisie may conquer the weak-willed in our ranks. There may be some Communists, who were not conquered by enemies with guns and were worthy of the name of heroes for standing up to these enemies, but who cannot withstand sugar-coated bullets. We must guard against such a situation.

    “Report to the Second Plenary Session of the Seventh Central Committee of the Communist Party Of China.” (March 5, 1949)

    6. Whoever wants to know a thing has no way of doing so except by coming into contact with it, that is, by living (practicing) in its environment. …If you want knowledge, you must take part in the practice of changing reality. If you want to know the taste of a pear, you must change the pear by eating it yourself.

    “On Practice” (July, 1937)

    “You say you want a revoluuuutiooon, well, you know ….” An interesting tongue-in-cheek piece from the gents at Esquire. All quotes come from “A Beginner’s Guide to Mao Tse-tung.” Esquire, December 1967. Well, all save for that last one I just threw in. That’s the Beatles. But you knew that. (“I think everyone is born knowing all of the Beatles’ lyrics instinctively. In fact, I think they should be called the Featles.” — Sliding Doors, 1998.)

    The pear picture has always been one of my favorites. Here is a cropped version absent of the Esquire text.

    Sharon Tate’s Actual Life Awareness Month: Day 11

    August 11, 2010

    Valley of the Dolls (Mark Robson, 1963). Jennifer North (Sharon Tate) appears in a French art house film to get enough money to get her clingy, vampiric mother off her back and hopefully resolve other financial entanglements in her life. She becames a moderate success and something of a sex symbol in Europe, but continues to grapple with success in America. All the while, what the Jennifer North character wants more than anything is to have a child to whom she can show the affection and provide the loving stability she, herself, never received.

    Travilla, Costume Designer: Sharon Tate is divine, a real find. Just wait and see what happens when the critics and public see her in Valley of the Dolls. Sharon has everything Marilyn Monroe had and more. She has the fascinating, yet wholly feminine strength of a Dietrich or a Garbo….a classically beautiful face, an exciting figure, the kind of sex appeal and personality appeal to become as glittering a star as Bette Davis, Joan Crawford, Rita Hayworth, Lana Turner, Elizabeth Taylor.

    (“Valley of the Dolls.” Screen Stories. December 1967.)

    Mark Robson: She’s not a sexpot. She’s a very vulnerable girl. The biggest surprise in the film is Sharon.


    Robert Viharo: Everybody [on set] was competitive with everybody. The only one that I felt was above it, was Sharon Tate. The sweetest, purest, most open spirit.

    (Viharo, Robert. AMC’s “Backstory: Valley of the Dolls.” Original airdate: April 23, 2001.)

    Jennifer North’s dislike of her career being centered around her body and her desire for a husband and children mirrors Sharon Tate’s own ambitions in life, and discomfort with being viewed only as a sex symbol and not recognized for her free spirit and comedic timing. (Of course, a major difference is Sharon had a very close relationship with her family and a positive upbringing.) Ms. Tate threw herself in to this part and received very good reviews, best of the cast and much better than her far more famous co-star Patty Duke. However, given her unique style and love for others, she would probably dislike that I wrote that comparison out. So I’m sorry, Ms. Tate — I merely wanted to point out that Travilla’s prediction came true!

    Take-Two Tuesday — Movie Moment and Hot Man Bein’ Hot of the Day: Rik Mayall, Drop Dead Fred

    August 10, 2010

    This post originally appeared January 16, 2010.

    Drop Dead Fred (Ate De Jong, 1991), featuring madcap redhead Rik Mayall, who makes it all better and doesn’t condescend to mollycoddle while he does it. I would be okay with him cutting my hair in my sleep, or wiping snot affectionately down my cheek.

    I could use him, I think, right now … could definitely use him. Walking down memory lane watching this movie was like being repeatedly hit in the stomach with a club carved of ice. (Is that possible? Someone get back to me if it is.) Awesome. Check it out.

    Elizabeth’s world has been turned upside down. Her marriage appears to be over following her discovery that he has cheated on her; but she simply can’t stop loving him. In her misery, her imaginary childhood friend Fred reappears, having been previously locked away from her.

    Elizabeth stays with her mother; quite cold to Elizabeth, she intends to put Elizabeth back with Charles, but, in the meantime, makes her into a younger double of herself. Elizabeth works to get Charles back into her life, even turning up at a party (with Fred) that Charles is at. Despite part of Elizabeth being overjoyed at seeing Fred again and remembering their fun care-free times together, all he ever seems to do for Elizabeth is cause trouble.

    Elizabeth returns to Charles and starts taking medication* to rid herself of Fred. It is only when taking the last pill that she realizes Charles hasn’t changed at all and that Fred is really the only person she can trust. Unfortunately, the only way she can truly [confront her mother and husband] and rid herself of her fears is to lose Fred for good by realizing she doesn’t need him any longer. (the imdb)

    I’m a loner! I’m a crazy, wide-eyed loner on a doomed space mission to Venus to battle the three-headed mega-beast! But on the way back, I caught Cornflakes Disease.

    Fred: Why don’t we harpoon Charles straight through the head, drag him back to the apartment, and hit him with a hammer until he agrees to come back?
    Elizabeth: “Harpoon him through the head?” That won’t work, Fred.
    Fred: Why not? How many times have you tried it?

    Fred: I can’t believe we left the party so soon. And there was so much wine left to spit around the place!
    Elizabeth: I got upset.
    Fred: “I got upset.” God, you’re so stupid. You never leave a party until the very, very end.
    Elizabeth: Oh, really?
    Fred: Yeah, really!
    Elizabeth: What about Cinderella? Remember what happened with her?
    Fred: No, I don’t remember what happened “with her.” I deliberately forgot all about her. Uck. She made me puke. I remember the ugly stepsisters, though — they were great!

    Young Elizabeth: Did they live happily ever after?
    Polly: Of course, Elizabeth.
    Young Elizabeth: How do you know?
    Polly: Because, she was a good little girl. If she would have been naughty, then the Prince would’ve run away.
    Young Elizabeth: What a pile of shit.

    Wow [points up]. Cobwebs.

    Snotface, look — ink! Let’s write something on the carpet. I know, how about “Mother sucks“?!

    I don’t love you because love is for girls and girls are disgusting.

    *On the subject of the medication, the best single-panel webcomic I have ever seen. Natalie Dee‘s take on Drop Dead Fred: (click to make it larger)

    F’reals, Natalie Dee. You nailed it. To say nothing of the high risk of tardive dyskinesia with Haloperidol, making it a very unwise choice of antipsychotics to prescribe to someone under, say, 30. Total bullshit. (Why am I having déjà vu; I feel like I was just rambling about this to someone recently — Jonohs? Panda? Miss D …? ) Anyway, to wrap up, an in-costume off-set picture by the crafts table:

    Like all ladies, I am a sucker for stubble. Unlike most ladies, I brake for suspenders and striped pants, as well.

    Awesome! Final picture of perfection via the rocketman. Thanks, buddy — this picture, the hair, and Mayall’s hapless expression kind of made my day.

    (All screencaps via Samantha, aka timed, on the lj. Huge thanks for the fun and beautiful pictures. The ice stomach club is nothing to do with your great screencaps. Thank you!)

    Daily Batman: Enter Talia

    August 10, 2010

    Talia al Ghul by Stephane Roux.

    Said it before but I say again:

  • Mother of Bruce Wayne’s child.

    If I could design subliminal messages, I would pipe those two things in to Chris Nolan’s dreams, I swar to gar.

    She’s not getting any younger, Mr. Nolan. But you know what she is getting? Ever-more-perfect to play the part of Talia and take these films to the Next Level. Already had her dad as a villain, and his invisible hand is present in the sequel (the drugs Dr. Crane is still moving around GC in The Dark Knight are obviously chemically based on the hallucinogen he weaponized for Ra’s when he was a little more, ahem, put together; as he could have no present access to original stockpiles of that drug’s ingredients due to the plant’s destruction during the riots in the Narrows which concluded Batman Begins, Crane is likely acquiring the material to continue the synthesized manufacture of the fear drug from the League of Shadows, who’d provided him with his chemicals in the past. Yes?). Tie it all in and bring us home by bringing Talia in and let’s do this!

  • Girls of Summer: Dolores Donlon, Miss August 1957

    August 10, 2010

    Photographed by super-great Peter Gowland.

    Direct from the convent, it’s the lovely and talented Dolores Donlon, Miss August 1957! Ms. Donlon (née Patricia Vaniver) hailed from Tarrytown, NY by way of Philadelphia and, according to sources, graduated from “a French convent” before embarking on her career as a model and actress.

    My guess is she attended the Marymount Secondary School in Tarrytown, a school which was run by the order of RHSM. The Religious of the Sacred Heart of Mary were founded in 1849 in Murviel-les-Béziers, France. They are called RHSM in English-speaking countries and RSCM in French, Spanish, and Portugese. (The “c” stands for couer, corazon, and coração, respectively.)

    Marymount Secondary School in Tarrytown is still a standing convent of the RHSM, but is now used as a Provincial Center and retirement home for elderly sisters of the order. The nearby Sacred Heart school in Yonkers has RHSM on staff; their order’s devotion to teaching has of course not been forgotten.

    The crypt of the famous Marymount College foundress Mother Marie Joseph Butler, General Superior of the order from the tumultuous years of 1926-1940 and a major figure in the order’s history as well as parochial education in America, is at the Tarrytown convent, “down by the banks of the Hudson.”

    Mother Butler, born Johanna Butler in 1860, came from County Kilkenny, Ireland. She took her vows at 16 in the RHSM order’s original center in France, then ministered in schools in Portugal until 1903, when she was sent to the United States.

    During her tenure as General Superior of RHSM, Mother Butler not only extended the order to new countries and divided the order in to provinces to improve organization, she also founded the Marymount School and College at Tarrytown, and expanded establishment of RHSM schools around the country. This was very important during the Great Depression because the sisters in the new schools were called to take on, gratis, children as boarders who might otherwise have gone uneducated or spent their days at factories or in fields. This way, their parents had one less mouth to feed and could rest easily knowing the children were being taken care of with love, and, for their part, the children were given a foundation for future, more profitable careers, as well as given the chance to just be kids a little longer.

    When I was growing up, there had been a Mother Butler school in San Jose and all we Catholic kids, even those like me who went to public school, called it “Ma Butts.” I think the whole city called it “Ma Butts,” really. It was an all-girls’ school and shared classes with the nearby once-all-boys-I-think-but-eventually-co-ed school Archbishop Mitty. Or maybe I’m thinking of St. Lawrence. I’ve no idea if any still exists now, nor if they have gone co-ed, but I can only imagine the shenanigans that were got up to back then. Ah. Catholicism is for lovers.

    After leaving Marymount at Tarrytown, Ms. Donlon swung back through P-A, picking up the crown for “Miss Philadelphia” on the way. (An achievement that was nothing to sneeze at; between 1921 and 1940, three Miss Philadelphias were crowned Miss America. Then the Miss PA contest got off the ground a little better and Miss Phillies were no longer eligible to represent the whole state. But dang — three Miss Americas in 20 years? Philly in the house.)

    Dolores became a Walter Thornton model in 1945 and moved to Upper Darby, Pennsylvania, a suburb of Center City (downtown Philadelphia) from which two highly noteable Funny Girls hail: SNL alumni Tina Fey and Cheri Oteri. She packed up a few months later and moved to New York City, where she modeled under the name Patricia Van Iver. In this name, she received the award of “Queen of the New York Press Photographers’ Ball.” But the accolades did not stop rolling in.

    Super cool fact alert: In December of 1945, 300,000 GI’s voted Dolores’s pinup their Picture of the Year. Get it, girl! Way to keep those boys smiling. The only bummer is that I cannot track this picture down. If anyone has a scan — the name will likely be Patricia Vaniver or Patricia Van Iver, not Dolores Donlon — I’d love to be able to add it to this post. Thanks!

    The late 40’s and early 50’s found Ms. Donlon migrating back and forth between NYC and Hollywood. She continued to be a successful model, winning awards and earning the title of the “Ideal Bride” of 1946 in a wedding fashion show. Her ultimate bridal role came in 1949, when she married Hollywood agent and producer Vic Orsatti. Mr. Orsatti’s first wife was the fairly popular actress Marie McDonald, and he quickly set about securing roles for Dolores: the name change was likely his idea. She was only cast in one film as Pat Van Iver, but by the time the post-production was done, she was re-listed as Dolores Donlon.

    Some of the pictures in which Ms. Donlon was featured during this time include The Long Wait, Security Risk, Flight to Hong Kong, and Nude Odyssey. She also appeared on countless television shows. Standouts are Maverick, I Love Lucy, 77 Sunset Strip, and the Walter Winchell Files. Ms. Donlon also continued to model — and therein started some trouble.

    In 1954, the Walter Thornton Agency brought a lawsuit of $120,000 to Dolores’s door, citing breach of contract. Ms. Donlon had signed a contract with them as Pat Van Iver (remember? back in her NYC modeling days?) and had not properly nor formally severed her contract with the agency before beginning to earn money elsewere. Under the terms of the contract, she was technically negligent in paying them owed portions of her income. Kind of a shady thing to do on both sides: for her part, she knew very well that she ought sever the contract or else pay up, ideally both; from the agency’s perspective why sneakily wait ’til your model/actress gets famous and then bring it up that she is still under contract? very unprofessional and predatory. So I can go either way on that one.

    The Walter Thornton Agency was second only to John Roberts Powers in size of modeling agencies in this country during its heyday. But please consider that size of an agency is in no way indicative of quality. The titular Walter Thornton retired around the time of the lawsuit and died in 1990 of a stroke, neither of which, I’m sure, was related to the suit against Ms. Donlon, who I believe finally paid out about $20k to get them off her back. And I don’t know for certain, but I’m pretty close to positive that she made damned sure the contract was over, that time.

    In 1954, a picture of Ms. Donlon taken by photographer Stew Sawyer was named Best Cheesecake Photo of the year by the United Press. Ms. Donlon and Mr. Orsatti separated in 1957 and divorced contentiously in 1958 (from what I know of Vic Orsatti’s marital histories, this was sadly par for the course). Ms. Donlon continued to act throughout the late 50’s and early 60’s. She married Robert de Pasquale, a concert violinist for the NY Philharmonic, in 1963 and retired from acting and modeling to raise her family.

    Special thanks to Glamour Girls of the Silver Screen for the timeline of events in Ms. Donlon’s life from which a semi-biography could be culled. Super-great site!

    edit: Ma Butts is now called the Harker School and is co-ed. Archbishop Mitty is still alive and kickin’ and is co-ed. St. Lawrence Girls’ High School consolidated with Mitty at some point and is history. That’s a shame. I am a strong proponent of the unpopular idea of all-girls’ secondary schools. Girls perform better when their competition is only other girls; they speak out better and more often about their opinions; they score more highly on tests and participate more actively in class discussion than a girl of comparable age and skill-set who performs in a class of mixed-gender peers. Facts are facts. Sure, there will be gossiping and bullying and catfights — but they would have done that in co-ed school, too. I say get those girls alone with just each other in a classroom and stand back while they kick Math’s ass. I think a young woman can really come in to her own during the critical years of adolescence and form with confidence a strong, true character to her best advantage in an environment made up of predominantly females.

    In a perfect world we all see and treat one another as equals, but is high school even a remotely perfect world?? Of course not. I think young women often compromise themselves, both their intellectual growth and formation of morals, for young males. I think they’re better off separated so they can form their own personality rather than learning to cave and conceal their intellect. But I know and understand that my opinion is not a popular one.

    Movie Moment — Breaking news, Three Musketeers, 2011, is in pre-pro!

    July 31, 2010

    At first I was totally dismayed and worried when I heard there’d been slated a new movie adaptation of The Three Musketeers because Dumas’ adventure books were such good friends to me for so many years (this clearly merits a re-read actually; it’s been too long). But then I saw that Paul W.S. Anderson was at the helm and my sphincter relaxed.

    The lovely and talented Ms. Milla J.

    Then I saw Milla Jovovich was in it — not because Anderson is her husband but because she is amazing and anyone who says otherwise can shut their piehole or I’ll shut it for them — and I did backflips. I’m going to dwell on this a lot until its release. For today, a quick look at the cast:

    Lerman is on the left doing delightful jazz hands.

    Logan Lerman (D’Artagnan) was most recently in the movie Percy Jackson and the Olympians: Two-bit Monkeyshines and the Missing Noxzema Pad as the titular Percy Jackson; the most surprising credit on his absolutely stacked resume is The Butterfly Effect. No one gives that movie enough credit. Pretend Hashton Euchre is someone else (as I have just done) and that movie is strikingly awesome. Anyway, I think this kid looks too young to play the dashing Gascon protagonist and I fear he was chosen to appeal to the tween demographic, which has even more worrisome ramifications because a faithful adaptation of the first book can only result in a PG-13 rating at best unless some Disney-style plot-monkeying has been done, but I look forward with cautious optimism to being proven wrong on all counts. Paul W.S. Anderson wouldn’t do me like that. We go back to Event Horizon, man: it’s us to the mortuary.

    Wildly underrated darling Paul Dano. What a talent.

    If I had been the casting director, D’Artagnan would be played by: Paul Dano or Emile Hirsch. Guys who’ve proven their chops in challenging, dramatic, serious roles (Little Miss Sunshine and Speed Racer, respectively) — just kidding, obviously in Hirsch’s case I am referring to the film adaptation of Into the Wild — and can handle the emotional demands of the part. Again, I would hope with all my heart that Logan Lerman proves me wrong. Good luck, kiddo: I really am pulling for you.

    Very talented upcoming actor James Corden. Glad to see him cast in a big part, hope it is worthy of him.

    James Corden will play D’Artagnan’s servant, Planchet. That he is billed up in the top 10 is weird to me, so they must have beefed up his part. The casting directors have gone the portly-servant-to-the-handsome-gentleman route with their choice, a trope so cliched as to almost be commedia dell’arte in its typecasting, but not quite that creative; just predictable. However, that is not the kid’s fault and I give James Corden props for having appeared on an episode of Dr. Who. I look forward to seeing what he brings to his perhaps-more-significant-than-normal portrayal of Planchet. (edit: Supafly Gordon Fraser has the skinny on the bigness of Mr. Corden; read all about his popularity in the UK in the comments — mystery solved to a satisfying and encouraging conclusion!)

    I would have liked to have seen: a real skinny, fair, left-field, oddball hottie like Jesse Tyler Ferguson or Mike White.

    Ray Stevenson is Porthos. He’s been working like a madman lately and clearly has the skillz to pay the billz, Big Budget Picture-wise: Cirque Du Freak, The Book of Eli, The Other Guys, and the forthcoming Thor are all recent credits — dude knows his way around an action flick, for sure. All in all, I approve. He is an Irish boy, so my hands are tied. It is a foregone conclusion that I will adore him. Porthos is the party guy of the Musketeers, so it’s also nice to see that Mr. Stevenson will get to play against type and not have to be strictly the big toughie, but get to enjoy a little wine, women, and song along with his usual dealing-out of ass-kickings.

    My ideal casting: Donal Logue. Duh.

    Matthew Macfayden has been cast as Athos. Most recently Mr. Macfayden played the Sheriff of Nottingham in Robin Hood, though his awesomest resume credit is from Grindhouse as “hatchet victim” in the Don’t segment. I wish I could put “hatchet victim” on my resume. Well, on reflection, I suppose not. “Hatchet survivor” is so much more optimistic. Macfayden’s most impressive credit is for the television special Nuremberg: Nazis on Trail, on which he served as the narrator for the episodes on Goering, Hess, and Speer. I admire that.

    Athos is supposed to be the oldest of the group and kind of reserved, which works with Mr. Macfayden’s intelligent-but-pinchy face, like he worries a lot about things, but I’m concerned about him being too young and handsome to realistically portray Athos as older than this cast’s Porthos (above). Also, there’s the him-and-Milady thing. Milla is such a badass and so unthinkably beautiful and vital compared to his own type of fitness and vibe, that kind of sinewy, reedy runner build, so if they do any sexytimes flashback I’m concerned it will seem imbalanced. I’m afraid I have to glance askance at this casting and again just hope to be blown away when I see the movie.

    I would have chosen: Clive Owen.

    Luke Evans is set to portray Aramis, my favorite of the Musketeers. He is very multi-faceted as a character which makes him a satisfying companion to follow when you’re reading the adventures. Aramis is both bookish and restless; a dreamer who also plans; much more religious than the others but also given to double-dealing; patient in allowing his machinations to take shape but simultaneously governed by impulse and wild ambition, which he backs up with intricate, Machiavellian plots that generally succeed. He is somewhat the visionary of the group.

    As far as face goes, Mr. Evans looks sensitive but smart enough to accurately portray Aramis, although I’d have preferred to see Cillian Murphy, who could have handled the breezy humor and abrupt mood shifts of Aramis’s temperament, and whose resume could use a famous-good-guy credit after turning in such impressively villainous performances in RedEye and the Nolan Batman films.

    Then again, I prefer to see Cillian Murphy in just about anything. Mr. Evans is probably in due to being the sheriff’s henchman in Robin Hood and Apollo in Clash of the Titans, so he will be back in action with Mr. Macfayden. (Did the casting directors go directly to the sets for all these recruitments or is some incestuous, neopotic agency simply teeming with busy bees.)

    In a perfect world: Cillian Murphy, as I have made abundantly clear.

    Christoph Waltz has got the nod to play Cardinal Richelieu. You know him — Inglorious Basterds, a one mister Herr Landa? Guy spent the last twenty years working his ass off mainly on German TV and has totally earned his day in the sun. Good on him and I think he will bring an appropriately balanced Richelieu to the screen for maybe the first time ever: usually he is portrayed as a straightforward villain. Cardinal Richelieu is a more complex character than that — not as uniquely complex as Rochefort, who in the books eventually becomes friends with the Musketeers many years later, but still less one-dimensional than film adaptations traditionally demonstrate — and I hope for good things from Mr. Waltz.

    I would have gone with: meh. I am happy with Christoph Waltz in this role. Richelieu is not the main or most intriguing villain of the piece and I like a capable, team player like Waltz in the part because I would hate to see him pull a Tim Curry-style upstaging of the next character on my list — Milady de Winter.

    Milla for High Times, October 1994, related to her appearance in Linkletter’s Dazed and Confused.

    Milla Jovovich plays Milady. Yes.

    That’s all I have to say about the casting choice. Yes. Yes. I love her almost beyond expression, like admire her and genuinely wish good things for her despite having never met her but not in a crazy way, and I have seen all of her movies so many times over, particularly The Messenger: Joan of Arc — and now she is portraying one of my favorite characters from literature, my darling Milady de Winter? YES. Yes. I want to see this movie YESTERDAY.

    I would have picked: OBVIOUSLY MILLA. She should just play all the parts and then go on tour with her live, one-man Three Musketeers and I will go to every show.

    They’ve cast Mads Mikkelsen as the V.I.P. villain-cum-henchman Rochefort, seen most recently in Clash of the Titans (Draco) and Casino Royale (Le Cheffre). If this storyline is starting from the popular and most usual point for dramatic adaptations, when D’Artagnan first meets and joins forces with the Musketeers, then Rochefort is supposed to be memorably creepy and a figure of mystery for much of this film. His most overriding characteristic, besides his swordsmanship, is that as a character he is very, very recognizable. Mikkelsen looks great, but I’m not sure he will be creepy enough to believably carry such a stamp, if that makes sense? The very figure of Rochefort is supposed to inspire pervasive dread.

    My choice: Crispin Glover, who must surely soon begin to enjoy a renaissance of mainstream key-playing work due to his successful reviews in Alice in Wonderland. He plays a good villain and some time under a sun lamp to gain a proper Gallic bronze would do him good anyway. Plus I think he is hot and I’ve always been a big fan.

    Twinkle-Toes P. Banananose, the 4th, has been cast as the Duke of Buckingham. Anyone know anything about this guy? I couldn’t find anything at all on him. Seems he has no career whatsoever and is an utter nobody. What a shame. Moving on.

    Alternate casting choice: ANYONE ELSE.

    Lovely young Juno Temple (she knows what she has to do to get billed “and talented”) will play Queen Anne of Austria. She was most recently in Dirty Girl, a forthcoming bildungsroman epic of sorts with Milla in it, so I’ll know more about her as soon as it comes out, since, as I mentioned, I have sworn a blood oath of lifelong devotion to Milla Jovovich and would sooner pluck out my eyeballs and eat them than miss one of her movies — but, like I said, it’s not in a crazy way. Or anything. Ms. Temple seems a very young choice for a film that also has the Duke of Buckingham in the cast, because their affair is such a major plot point in the story of D’Artagnan and the Musketeers first collaborating to save the Queen’s honor and defeat Richelieu.

    Prediction: the newest incarnation will not feature a Bryan Adams song.

    Those who know only the Disney version will not be familiar with this twist — I know, how shocking that Disney whitewashed and played fast and loose with an adaptation of a literary classic; I am as surprised and chagrined as you are. What a terrible and uncharacteristic shock this is. Anyway, if the entanglement between Buckingham and Queen Anne starts now … and Twinkle-Toes P. Banananose, the 4th, is scripted to be pawing this poor kid on the screen … I’m going to be pretty skeeved out. I mean, I know she’s 21 and all, but … ew. He’s just so very ew. Showers are free — just go out in the rain, buddy.

    My pick: Anne Hathaway. No brainer.

    Final picture of Anne Hathaway for, you know … Science.

    All in all, I can’t wait for a picture so close to my heart and directed by someone I trust to come out and I’m sorry but you must expect to hear plenty more about it.