CONGRATULATIONS! YOU HAVE STUMBLED INTO "THE SHALLOW ZONE." WATCH OUT FOR THE ROCKS. SOME OF THEM ARE SHARP.
If you're looking for a blog with meaningful content on the important issues of the day, you've come to the wrong place. This is the shallows, my friend. Nothing but shallowness as far as the eye can see. Let someone else make sense of things. I like it here.

About Me

My photo

I love my grown children, miss all the dogs I ever had, and I cry at the drop of a hat, I believe in true love, destiny, fairness, and compassion. If I could be anywhere right now, it would be the ocean. My favorite city is New York, but I am always longing for London and craving more time in Copenhagen. I'm drawn to desolate places, deserted buildings, and unknown byways. I don't care how society perceives me as long as my gut tells me that what I'm doing is right. I am interested in paranormal things, spiritual things, historical things, and things that glow at night. I like to drink, I smoke when I write, I can't stand small talk, and despite my quick temper, I would rather kiss than fight. I'm selfish with my writing time, a spendthrift with my love. My heart has been broken so many times that it's held together with super glue and duct tape. The upside is that, next time, I won't be tempted to give away what I no longer have to give. But I will let you buy me a Pink Squirrel.
MY SHALLOW MISSION STATEMENT

MY SHALLOW MISSION STATEMENT

MY SHALLOW MISSION STATEMENT
Not that there's any weight to it...
IN A WORLD FILLED WITH COMPLEX POLITICAL ISSUES, SOCIAL INEQUALITY, AND FINANCIAL UNCERTAINTY, I CONSIDER IT MY GIFT TO YOU, MY READER, TO OFFER THIS SHALLOW LITTLE HAVEN, WHERE NOTHING IS TOO SHALLOW, TOO INSIGNIFICANT, OR TOO RIDICULOUS TO JUSTIFY OUR ATTENTION. IN OTHER WORDS, IF IT'S NOT IMPORTANT....SO WHAT? NEITHER WAS MARILYN MONROE'S BRA SIZE. AND THAT STILL SELLS MAGAZINES, DOESN'T IT?
VIDEO OF THE MONTH

Thursday, February 28, 2013

CREEPY MANNEQUIN WEDNESDAY PHOTO


Heavens to Murgatroyd! Here it is Thursday night, and I just realized that I forgot to post my "Creepy Mannequin Wednesday" photo! But that's what happens when you have a life, I guess. So allow me to offer a mea culpa and...although a bit tardy...here is the mannequin photo (from the Crave For Dementia blog) I'm sure that you've all been waiting to see. No need for commentary on my part. This one speaks (creepily) for itself. Enjoy.


Skol!

MY FIVE FAVORITE POP CULTURE PONTIFFS



Well, it's official...as Rachel Dratch's "Debbie Downer" character used to say on SNL. This afternoon at 2 PM (Greenwich Mean Time), Pope Benedict XVI officially became only the second pope in six centuries to resign from the job instead of waiting for a heavenly escort to the Pearly Gates. Even if you're not Catholic, it's hard to ignore the papal buzz surrounding the historic event. Did Pope Benedict resign of his own volition or was he forced out for political reasons? Was his resignation really foretold in the prophecies of St. Malachy? Who was St. Malachy? And, most important, who the hell will be the next pope?


As much as I would love to explore those and other questions, I can't....at least, not in a blog dedicated to the concept of shallowness. Not only would it be unethical, it would take too much damned time, and, unlike the now former Pope Benedict XVI, I still have things to do in the real world. So, instead, as my way of marking the historical moment, I offer the following list of my five favorite pop culture depictions of popes. As always, they're in no particular order. Ready? Good. Let the psuedo genuflecting begin...


REX HARRISON IN THE AGONY AND THE ECSTACY (WITH CHARLTON HESTON, 1965)

Let's face it. When it comes to casting the role of a pope in a major motion picture, you really couldn't do much better than an old school alpha male like Rex Harrison. Especially when the movie co-stars the equally old school alpha male Charlton Heston as an overwrought Michaelangelo. Never mind that Harrison, as Pope Julias II (aka "The Warrior Pope"), is supposed to be celibate and devoted to God and Church. Based on the novel by Irvin Stone, The Agony and The Ecstacy is basically a variation on My Fair Lady with Harrison reprising his role as Professor Henry Higgins except that, instead of giving Eliza Doolittle elocution lessons and inadvertently falling in love, as Pope Julias II, he spends his time fighting wars and slave-driving Michaelangelo into completing the famous fresco on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. Hilarity does not ensue. Neither does love. But as far as playing a 16th-century pope is concerned, Harrison has it down pat...except for the accent, that is. In the true tradition of historical films made in the mid-20th century, Harrison speaks with an English accent. But, then, Heston, as Michaelangelo, speaks in an American accent, so what the hell? What the movie lacks in historical accuracy, it more than makes up for with its grandeur, 90 percent of which comes from Harrison's performance. Just don't expect anyone to break out in a chorus of "I've Grown Accustomed To Your Grace."


"VATICAN RAG" BY TOM LEHRER

Tom Lehrer, the brilliant mathematician, satirist, songwriter, and pianist famous in the 1950's and 60's for his wry musical takes on political and social themes of the day, wrote and recorded the "Vatican Rag" in 1965 as a response to the Catholic Church's attempts to make itself more accessible to the masses (the human kind) by ditching the traditional Latin Mass (the other kind) and replacing it with simple English. The times may have changed, but somehow, all these years later, many of the issues Lehrer addresses in the song are surprisingly in keeping with the times. And the melody is still catchy as all get out.


POPE SOAP ON A ROPE

For most of us, it would probably take more than a bar of soap to wash our sins away, but it can't hurt to try, especially if the soap is in the shape of the pope and dangling on a pope robe-red string around your neck. Of course, at a whopping price of ten bucks, you might be better off just displaying your Pope Soap On A Rope the wall next to the shower and using a bar of Irish Spring instead. Unlike the selection of the next pope, the choice is entirely up to you.


POPE ART

Andy Warhol may have invented "pop art" (he said he did, anyway), but China-based artist Michael Tsaturyan takes it to a new, altogether heavenly level with his "Pope Art" depiction of the retired pontiff. While some might call it sacrilige, I call it "really cool", and would take it over a Warhol screenprint of Marilyn Monroe any day. It's not that I don't adore MM, I do, but there's just something about a man in a mitre that I can't resist, especially when he comes in so many different colors.


FATHER DOUGAL MCGUIRE AS POPE MEME

Okay, so it's not really the pope. But so what? "Father Ted" may have been off the air since the late 1990s, but I still crave a fix of Father Dougal McGuire every now and then, and seeing him dressed up in papal finery strikes a nostalgic chord in my heart. If loving this photo-shopped image is wrong, I take great pleasure in resisting the opportunity to be right.

Well, that's it for now. See you when the smoke from the Vatican blows white, if not before. Until then...skol!

Monday, February 25, 2013

CLASSIC TRAIN WRECKS: THE PATHETIC PLIGHT OF HOLLYWOOD'S "PEEK-A-BOO GIRL"


I don't know how it happens. And yet it does. I write a post on something or other...say...dead sea monkeys, favorite name songs, and, most recently, classic Hollywood train wrecks...and someone asks me to do a follow-up post on the same subject because they liked the first one and want to read another almost exactly, but not completely like it. And because I'm easily flattered and like nothing better than writing posts for free with no commentary from my adoring, disgruntled, or totally indifferent readership, I usually give in and do it. And so guess what? I'm about to do it again. The difference is that, this time, I actually think I would have done it on my own anyway. Might even turn out to be a whole series of posts on...wait for it...drum roll...classic Hollywood train wrecks. We'll see how it goes. Anyway, enough about me. Ready to meet another train wreck? Good. Because this train is leaving the station and heading for the Lake...Veronica Lake, that is.


It's hard to write anything about Veronica Lake without mentioning her hair, so, before I write anything else, let me get that out of the way. Like many other actresses in the classic days of Hollywood, as well as today, Veronica Lake had hair...very long, very blonde hair...which, in and of iteself would be nothing special except that Veronica Lake wore it so that one smooth wave always hung down over her right eye....which, like her left one, was blue (just in case you're wondering). That was how she came to be known as "the Peek-A-Boo Girl". It was a very sexy look, completely unlike the hairstyles worn by her contemporaries, and it set her apart. But it wasn't the only thing that set Veronica Lake apart from her Hollywood peers. She was a lot of thing before and after she was "the Peek-A-Boo Girl." As a matter of fact, she wasn't even always Veronica Lake.


The future "Peek-A-Boo Girl" was born with the very un-Hollywood-like name Constance Frances Marie Ockelman in Brooklyn, New York in 1922, the only child of a Danish-Irish father and a mother of Irish descent. She had what was apparently a normal childhood until her father, an oil worker, died in an industrial explosion when she was ten. Following her husband's death, Lake's mother married a newspaper staff artist and sent Lake to an all-girls boarding school in Montreal, Canada (of all places). That was when the trouble started. Lake was expelled from the all-girls school (for reasons that have remained unclear), after which she moved with her mother and stepfather to Beverly Hills, where her mother immediately enrolled her in the Bliss-Hayden School of Acting. Which seems odd since it was around the same time, according to Lake's mother, that Lake was diagnosed as a schizophrenic. Whether she really was or not, by this time, Lake's looks were already starting to attract a great deal of attention. She was a a "true petite", as they say, and would eventually reach a maximum height of 4'11. But her tiny stature, chisled features, blonde hair, and blue eyes more than made up for her lack of stature, and in 1939, a year after she began attending Bliss-Hayden, Lake won a small role in an RKO film called Sorority Girls. Her appeareance in the film was brief, but it made an impression on the film's director, John Farrow, who told Lake that he liked the way she always wore her hair over one eye because it gave her an air of mystery. It seemed that the burgeoning femme fatale, though still in her teens, was already on her way. Shortly after her appearance in Sorority Girls, she met Arthur Hornblower, Jr., a producer at Paramount Studios, who, like Farrow, was intrigued by her beauty and unique hairstyle. But there was one thing he did think should be changed...namely, her name. And so, just like that, Constance Frances Marie Ockleman became Veronica Lake. Why "Lake"? Because Arthur Hornblower, Jr. felt that the name matched the color of her eyes.


Despite the buzz that followed her appearance in Sorority Girls, RKO dropped Lake's contract shortly after the film came out. Lake made the best of the situation by planning a wedding...her own...with fiance John Detilie, an art director, and subsequently giving birth to their daughter. But she didn't remain an at-home wife and mother very long. What RKO hadn't wanted, Paramount did, and the studio quickly signed Lake to a long-term contract and cast her opposite Joel McCrea in 1941's Sullivan Travels. The film was a big hit and established Lake as one of the studio's most popular stars. More roles in equally successful films followed, including one in I Wanted Wings, in which Lake played a sultry blonde seductress opposite Ray Milland and William Holden. The film wasn't as successful or popular as some of her previous ones, but her performance in it drew positive reviews from critics, who, for the first time in her fledgling career, began taking her seriously as an actress. Unfortunately, Lake's breakthrough role in I Wanted Wings coincided with the onset of World War II, which had a direct effect on her most well-known asset: her hair.


The Peek-A-Boo Girl Gets A Make-Over: Veronica Lake's 1940s "hair safety" public service spot

At the behest of the United States government (which was apparently keeping an eye on Hollywood), Lake changed her hairstyle for the duration of the war in the hope that it would encourage female factory workers (remember Rosie the Riveter?) to adopt more practical hairstyles in the workplace. These days, of course, actresses change their hairstyles all the time, usually with no repercussions (unless they happen to be Halle Berry or Keri Russell), but Veronica Lake was the "Peek-A-Boo Girl". It was a huge deal, and it seemed to have an almost immediate effect on her popularity with movie audiences. And the change in her hairstyle wasn't the only thing starting to work against Lake.


"Witch" was one of the kinder adjectives co-stars used when discussing Veronica Lake

By the mid-1940's, Lake was starting to grate on the nerves of her fellow actors. She was frequently referred to as "The Bitch" behind her back (and occasionlly to her face), and Joel McCrea, her leading man in Sullivan's Travels, disliked her so much that he passed on an offer to reprise their working relationship in a movie called I Married A Witch, reportedly saying that "life is too short for two films with Veronica Lake." Instead, the co-starring role went to Frederic March (Casablanca), who, from all accounts, developed a similar distaste for Lake during the making of the film. In fact, March disliked her so much that he refused to even talk about her when being interviewed in support of the film. It seemed that the only actor willing to commit to more than one round with the "Peek-A-Boo Girl" was Alan Ladd, with whom Lake co-starred in four films, the most famous of which, The Blue Dahlia, boasted a screenplay written by none other than Raymond Chandler, creator of fictional private detective "Philip Marlow" and the wordsmith behind some of the greatest "hard-boiled" dialogue in the history of literature. But Ladd's willingness to work with Lake may have had something to do with the fact that, at 5'"5, he was hard-pressed to find a leading lady who didn't tower over him and was often forced to stand on a box during scenes in order to mask the disparity in height. Lake's diminuative stature solved that problem, although it didn't stop Ladd from making some very caustic comments about her between films. Raymond Chandler was even less charitable toward the actress, referring to her simply as "Moronica Lake".


Veronica Lake and Alan Ladd pretend that they don't hate each other in The Blue Dahlia

But why did her co-stars dislike her so much? She was known for being difficult and demanding on the set, but so were a lot of other actresses who never inspired the sort of vitrolic remarks that were so often directed at Veronica Lake. Her excessive drinking, which began shortly after her first flush of fame, may have had something to do with it. Her drinking seemed to trigger the mental instability that her mother had claimed was "schizophrenia", which, in turn, was aggravated by the drinking. It was a vicious cycle, and it wasn't long before it began to have a negative impact on her career. In 1948, Paramount dropped her contract. Lake took advantage of the free time by taking flying lessons, earning her pilot's license, and making a solo flight from Los Angeles to New York. It was an impressive endeavor for an actress at that time, but it did little to restore Lake's good standing with her peers and the movie studios. On a personal level, things weren't much better. Already on her second husband, with whom she had a son and a daughter (a second child born during her first marriage had died shortly after birth), Lake was severely strapped for cash and was being sued by her mother for support payments. When 20th Century Fox picked up her contract in 1949, it seemed as though things might actually be looking up, but the respite was only temporary. Lake made only one film for 20th Century Fox (Slattery's Hurricane) before the studio dropped her contract, forcing Lake and her husband to file for bankruptcy, after which the IRS seized their home.


A star in decline: Vernonica Lake in the late 50's looking less than her celluloid best

By the early 1950's, it was, for all practical purposes, over for the one time pin-up girl and movie audience favorite. Lake divorced and married again, this time to songwriter Joseph Allan McCarthy, but the marriage only lasted four years before the couple filed for divorce. Lake made a few more films, but they were B-movies at best and largely ignored by the public and film critics alike. To support herself, Lake took a job as a bartender in an all-woman's hotel in New York City, a job that probably contributed to her continuing donward slide since, while employed at the hotel, she was arrested several times for public intoxication and disorderly conduct. Her looks had long since faded, and she was...in a word...a mess, when a reporter happened to stop by the bar and, recognizing Lake, wrote a story about her. The story, though embarrassing to Lake, at least had the effect of reviving a modicum of interest in the erstwhile screen queen. Seizing the moment, she took a role in an off-Broadway production of the musical Best Foot Forward, in which she worked briefly alongside a youthful Liza Minnelli. But by the late 1960's, Lake's mini-career revival was over, and she turned her attention to writing her memoirs, which were published in 1969, and from which she earned enough money to finance her final film...a low (very low) budget horror flick called Flesh Feast.


Not surprisingly, the film was a dud. But Lake didn't stick around to read the reviews. She fled to England where she met John Carleton-Munro, a Royal Navy captain, who soon became her fourth husband. But like Flesh Feast, the marriage was a failure, lasting only a year before the couple divorced. In June, 1973, Lake returned to the United States where only a few hours later she was hospitalized with hepatitis and acute renal failure, a result of alcoholism. She died on July 7, 1973, in Burlington, Vermont, without fanfare and with only members of the hospital staff present at her bedside. She was 50 years old. In her will, she had requested that her body be cremated and her ashes scattered off the coast of the Virgin Islands. But only some of her ashes found their way to the desired spot. In 2004, a container in which a portion of her ashes had been stored was discovered in an antique shop in New York. It was an ignonimous end for the once-glamorous star of some of the most popular films of the early 1940's, but not an entirely unfitting one. For all of her early success and the brief moment of fame that it had brought her, Veronica Lake will always remain a Hollywood enigma. Perhaps, like the stray lock of blonde hair she had once worn over her right eye, she was nothing more than a triumph of style over substance whose popularity rose and fell according to the whims of the times in which she lived. But even if that is all there was to Veronica Lake, she was without question one of a kind, and it's for that reason we still remember...however sadly...Hollywood's "Peek-A-Boo Girl."


Skol!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

WHEN TRAIN WRECKS HAD CLASS: A LOOK BACK AT MABEL NORMAND AND CLARA BOW



Okay, I'll get right to the point. I'm sick of reading about Lindsay Lohan's troubled lame ass life. And I can't be the only one who would like to go cold turkey on the Li-Lo Loser updates. But there's obviously a lot of people who feel differently because her rapidly aging mug and forced smile keep showing up on celebrity news feeds, which means that either the girl still has fans who are actually interested in her ongoing self-made woes, or there's a huge audience for train wrecks. My money's on the latter. The thing is, Lindsay Lohan's train wreck is happening in ultra slow motion, and not only am I sick of being obliged to witness it whenever I click on a news site, I just can't stomach the fact that an "actress" who hasn't made a decent movie since she was wearing a training bra, and doesn't seem to have anything else going for her except what seems to be an exceptional ability to not care about anyone or anything but herself, is still getting so much damned face time. The girl is so far off the charts that she actually makes her fellow train wrecks look pretty good, even former Nickolodeon star and current basket case Amanda Bynes who, screwed up as she may be at the moment, at least confines her whacked-out behavior to department store dressing rooms and the lobby of her apartment building instead of running people over in nightclub parking lots.


And that brings us to the real purpose of this post, which you may be surprised to discover is not simply to bash Lindsay Lohan just because it's so much fun and she deserves it. The real purpose of this post is to provide a brief look back at two of Lindsay Lohan's predecessors on the fast track to train wreck central. Because there are train wrecks and, then, there are train wrecks. Take away Lindsay Lohan's former (very former, so former it's impossible to see without X-Ray specs) career as a child star, and you're pretty much looking at the poster girl for what happens when a white trash kid from a screwed-up family becomes famous, falls in love with the idea, and forgets to do anything else except "be famous." But in those long-ago, primordial times known as the "classic Hollywood" era, there were train wrecks as well, although with an important difference---at least some of them were women who are still remembered for their talent and artistic achievements despite the wreckage scattered across the tracks at the end of their careers.

Take Mabel Normand, for instance...


Back in the days of silent films (i.e. the days when they didn't need voices because they had faces, darling!), Mabel Normand wasn't just a star, she was a one-woman film industry powerhouse. Only 16 when she appeared in her first film in 1909 (hard to believe that was over a hundred years ago, isn't it?), Normand was initially cast in a succession of "bathing beauty" roles, but her knack for comedy caught the attention of director Mack Sennett ("The Keystone Cops") who began casting her in short films opposite such future comedic giants as Charlie Chaplin, Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle, Stan Laurel, and Oliver Hardy. Normand's association with Sennett led eventually to a romantic relationship, but it was of the on-again/off-again variety, and when it finally ended in 1918, the one-time bathing beauty had amassed enough star power to sign a $3,500 a week contract (huge money in those days) with Samuel Goldwyn and open her own studio in Culver City.


Mabel and Roscoe, yukking it up pre train-wreck

Not bad for a funny girl from Staten Island, New York. But Normand wasn't one to plunk down for an extended sit-fest on her hard-earned laurels. She continued to appear in films, most notably with Roscoe Arbuckle (another future train wreck) with whom she shared a special chemistry that film audiences loved, but she turned her hand to screenwriting, producing, and directing as well. This at a time when most women in the industry were basically at the mercy of the men who ran it. But Normand's talent and business savvy kept her on a path all her own right into the early 1920's, at which point two new things came into her life: cocaine and the very handsome Irish actor-turned-film director William Desmond Taylor. Normand's cocaine addiction hadn't caused any professional problems for her by the time she met Taylor, but she wanted to kick the habit, and Taylor just happened to be the sort of man who liked to lend a helping hand. He even went so far as to meet with federal prosecutors and offer to file charges against the cocaine dealers who were supplying Normand. In the midst of all the helping, Taylor fell in love with Normand and the two began seeing each other on a romantic basis. It looked like the makings of another slam dunk for the comedy siren cum filmmaker, but, then, just as things were starting to resemble a Hollywood version of a Currier and Ives print, Taylor was murdered in his bungalow less than an hour after he and Normand had said good-night, blowing kisses to each other as Normand, holding a book that Taylor had lent her, left the bungalow and walked to her car.


Willim Desmond Taylor: Collateral damage along the tracks

Taylor's murder was Hollywood's first real scandal, involving everyone from the troubled ingenue who had been in love with Taylor (Mary Miles Minter) and her overbearing mother to Taylor's valet and a mysterious acquaintance who had been staying at Taylor's bungalow in the weeks before the murder. But for Normand, it was a devastating personal loss. As the last person to see Taylor alive, she was grilled mercilessly by the Los Angeles police, but was eventually ruled out as a suspect. That was small consolation for the loss of the man who had offered such unconditional support in her time of need. And it did little to curtail the damage that had been done to Normand's career. Suspect or not, in the eyes of the public, Normand was a "tarnished" woman, and although the search for Taylor's killer would continue (unfortunately, to no avail), Normand's success would not. And to top it all off, just when it seemed that things couldn't get any worse, they did. In 1924, only two years after Taylor's murder, Normand's chauffeur Joe Kelly shot and wounded millionare oil broker Courtland S. Dines. This time, Normand was nowhere near the murder site, but, unfortunately, Kelly used her pistol to shoot Dines. It was another black mark that the struggling star didn't need.


Normand's subsequent efforts to revive her fading career were met with lukewarm success at best, despite the public support of friends like fellow film star Mary Pickford. Finally, in 1926, Normand decided to pack it in and married actor Lew Cody, with whom she had appeared in a 1918 film called Mickey. But by then, Normand's health had started to fail and shortly after marrying Cody, she entered a sanitarium in Monrovia, California where she died of tuberculosis in 1930. She was 37 years old. A bleak end for a woman who had spent most of her life making film audiences laugh and, in doing it, incidentally paved the way for similarly ambitious women in the film industry.

And then there was Clara Bow...


Lindsay Lohan might be the media's current "Ick Girl", but back in the silent film days, Clara Bow was its one and only "It Girl." Born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, Bow had, on the surface, quite a few things in common with Lindsay Lohan. She was a redhead, she came from a screwed-up family, and she was starved for love and affection. When she was 16, Bow's mother died from epilespy, having been ill with the disease for most of Bow's childhoood, and the teen-ager was so overcome with grief that, as her mother's casket was lowered into the ground, she tried to jump into the open grave with it. Failing that, she turned her attention to less dramatic ways of seeking affection, including hanging out with the boys at her high school, in whose company she felt more comfortable than she did with other girls. (Think "Anybody's" in West Side Story, except pretty and voluptuous and with an engaging personality.) Not particularly academic-minded, Bow excelled on her high school track team, and in later years, recalled that "from the first grade on, I could lick any boy my size. My right arm was quite famous. My right arm was developed from pitching so much." Gossip columnist Louella Parsons once wrote that "...curiously enough, (Bow) has muscles on her right arm that stand out like a whip cord."


Prior to her mother's death, Bow had entered and won a "Fame And Fortune" contest in Brewster Magazine, but nothing had come of it. But despite her tomyboyish ways and "funny looks", as she called them, Bow was determined to become a "motion pictures actress", and began making the rounds of studio agencies, hoping to get work. When nothing materialized, she took an office job and tried to reconcile herself to an ordinary life. Fortunately, around the same time, Hollywood director Elmer Clifton was getting ready to make a movie called Down To The Sea In Ships for which he needed a "tomboy type", and having heard of Bow, he sent for her. It was the break she needed. Following rave reiews for her work in Down To The Sea In Ships, she was cast in a series of films that were all shot in New York. Her vivaciousness, charisma, and "natural" acting style seemed to personify the "flappers" who had risen to the fore of popular culture, and in 1924, she was summoned to Hollywood where she was cast in her first lead role in a film called Poison Paradise. She was an immediate hit, winning the adoration of film audience and the unbridled praise of critics, one of whom, the poet Carl Sandburg wrote "...there are only about five actresses who give me a real thrill on the screen — and Clara is nearly five of them."


By the mid-20s, Bow was a Hollywood sensation, making $1,500 to $2,000 a week, and the regular recipient of favorable comments on her work. Her playful sexiness appealed to men, the wistful vulnerabulity that underscored it tugged at the heartstrings of women. And, apparently, what you saw of Bow on the screen was what you got when you met her in person. Those who worked with her universally described her with words such "unaffected" and "genuine." By the time she made the film "It" in 1927, in which she played a poor shop girl who wins the heart of her rich boss, Bow was the most in-demand actress in Hollywood, worthy of the nickname she earned from the film's title.


But, not surprisingly, fame had its dark side as well. In the midst of all the success, money, and public acclaim, Bow was struggling with her own insecurity and lack of business savvy. Despite her popularity with film audiences and most critics, she was shunned by members of the Hollywood "elite" who denounced her as "a bohemian" and made fun of her Brooklyn accent, which she had never tried to hide. There were allegations of drug use, alcoholism, and "sexual debauchery". By the time "talkies" started to take over the film industry, Bow was close to a nervous breakdown and began missing work. The studios retaliated by shutting down her films, docking her pay, and making her pay for her own publicity photos. Making matters worse, Bow's hard-earned fortune was constantly under attack by "friends" and hangers-on who were always hitting up the notoriously generous actress for money. Bow's financial woes culminated in 1929, when, facing bankruptcy and foreclosure on her home, she hired a woman called Daisy Devoe as her private secretary to help with the task of getting her monetary affairs in order. Unfortunately, Devoe's presence in Bow's life did not sit well with Bow's new fiance, cowboy actor Rex Bell, who accused Devoe of stealing from the actress and had her arrested. A carnival-like trial ensued, with a slew of nasty revelations regarding Bow's personal and love life being dredged up by various witnesses. In the end, the jury returned with four "not guilty" verdicts and one "guilty." Despite the three "not guilty" verdicts, the judge sentenced Devoe to 18 months in prison, precipitating a backlash of resentment from Bow's fans, on whose good will and affection her career depended. The sound of the judge's gavel, as he announced the sentence, must have been a terrible one for the hapless secretary, but for Clara Bow, it was a career death knell.


For the next few years, Bow continued to make films, but her psyche had taken a momentous hit, and her heart just wasn't in it anymore. In 1933, she made her last picture, Hoop-La, for which she received good reviews, but the former tomyboy from Brooklyn had had enough of the motion picture business. Following the release of Hoop-La, Bow hung up her flapper costume for good, married Rex Bell, and focused her attention on raising their two sons. But although her "It Girl" days were over, their effect on her mental state were just beginning.


Following her marriage to Rex Bell, Bow started to display signs of psychiatric illness. She refused to go to parties or socialize with friends, but, at the same time, became very upset if her husband tried to go anywhere on his own. Bell's decision to run for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives in 1944 was the straw that broke the already-staggering camel's back. While her husband was off campaigning for office, Bow attempted suicide. In the note she wrote before the attempt, she stated that she preferred death to a public life.


Bow and Bell: Last stop before the crash

For the next fifteen years, Bow endured an endless succession of "treatments" for her psychological ills, including shock treatment, and in 1949, an extended stay in The Institute of Living, where she was diagnosed as a schizophrenic and declared "unable to reason", even though I.Q. tests measured her intelligence as "bright-normal." Bow rejected the diagnosis, and refusing further treatment, left the Institute. But instead of returning home to her family, she moved into a bungalow where she lived as a virtual recluse until her death from a heart attack at the age of 60 in 1965.


Following her death, film critics and pundits wrote reams of words in requiem for the erstwhile "It Girl" and her sad demise, but Clara Bow's own words, which she had committed to posterity for an article that had appeared in Photoplay magazine some years earlier, said it best. Looking back on her days as a Hollywood star, she told a reporter, "My life in Hollywood contained plenty of uproar. I'm sorry for a lot of it, but not awfully sorry. I never did anything to hurt anyone else. I made a place for myself on the screen, and you can't do that by being Mrs. Alcott's idea of a Little Women".

And so ends my post on two classic Hollywood train wrecks, both of whom will always be remembered for what they were before the crash, not just the things that caused it. Because, unlike Lindsay Lohan and all the other "famous for being famous" Hollywood "stars" of today, Mabel Norman and Clara Bow were actresses who gave off a real light, not the kind that flashes only when you happen to be standing in front of a paparazzo's camera.

Skol!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

CREEPY MANNEQUIN WEDNESDAY PHOTO


Well, here it is, Wednesday again, and you know what that means, don't you? Yup, it's time for another Creepy Mannequin Photo. This time around, our creepy photo comes from the Web Urbanist site. Word of advice: Don't go there without a flashlight. But you should be safe enough here in The Shallows. Just a little...creeped out. (If I've done my job, that is.)


Skol!

MY BEST FRIEND'S FIVE FAVORITE NAME SONGS


Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in. No, don't worry. This is not a post about Godfather III. Please. Give me some credit. If I were going to write a post about a Godfather movie, it wouldn't be about the worst one in the franchise, even if it does happen to be the one with the most memorable quote. But this is the third post on the subject of "name songs." This time around, my friend Belinda Blindsider (yes, that is the name she wants me to use) wants in on the action. "Do my five favorite name songs," she begged me after reading the other two posts. "Come on...please." And of course, being the soft touch that I am, I agreed to write one more post on her behalf. So, with no further ado, here they are...my friend Belinda Blindsider's five favorite name songs. Ready? Rock on....

MANDY (BARRY MANILOW)


In his 1975 epic shmaltz hit, "I Write The Songs", pop superstar and show biz icon Barry Manilow sang, "I am music, and I write the songs." But while Barry Manilow is no slouch when it comes to songwriting and has penned more than his share of hits, he didn't write that song (it was composed by Bruce Johnson), and he didn't write the one that earned him international fame and his first gold single. "Mandy", which was originally titled "Brandy", was written by British composers Scott English and Richard Kerr in 1971 and was a minor hit for New Zealand singer Bunny Walters the following year. But it wasn't until Barry Manilow covered the song in 1974, changed the title to "Mandy" to avoid confusion with Looking Glass's "Brandy (You're A Fine Girl), and slowed the tempo to make it a ballad that it became the pop powerhouse tune that we all know and love. "Mandy" has been covered by other artists since then, including the Brit boy band Westlife, but no one does it like Manilow, because, well, he is music...even when he doesn't write all the songs.

BEN (MICHAEL JACKSON)


Yes, I know. It's a song about a rat. A song about a rat performed by a pubsecent Michael Jackson. And it was the Academy Award-nominated theme song from a 1972 sequel to a movie called "Willard" which was about a man and the pack of killer rats that were his only friends. But here's the thing. It's a beautiful song. And Michael Jackson performs it with absolutely no trace of irony, which makes it sort of poignant on a couple of levels. Written by Don Black and Walter Scharf for the movie, "Ben" was originally intended for teen idol and Mormon role model Donny Osmond, but when touring commitments prevented Osmond from recording it, it was offered to Jackson, who not only recorded it, but made it his own in a way that makes it impossible to imagine Donny Osmond or anyone else doing it justice. The song's success might not have changed anyone's mind about rats (they're icky and disgusting, no two ways about it), but it did prove that, when it comes to the inspiration behind a good song, never rule out a rodent.

BABA O'RILEY (THE WHO)


If I had a dime for every time I've heard someone refer to this song as "Teenage Wasteland", I could probably afford to go to a Who concert...not that they're performing many concerts these days. But I might be able to at least afford a busted guitar autographed by Pete Townsend. Released on The Who's Next" album 1971 (you know, the one with the cover shot of the band pissing on a stone pillar in the middle of a field for no reason at all), Baba O'Riley is one of the band's most well-known songs (never mind the confusion about the title) as well as one of its most over-played (thanks, classic rock radio stations everywhere). Written by Pete Townshend for a rock opera called Lifehouse that was supposed to have been a follow-up to 1969's Tommy, the song was purportedly inspired by the crush of teen-age bodies overcome by acid and other substances that Townshend witnessed when The Who performed at Woodstock. What..,you thought that he just came up with the line "We're all wasted!" from hanging around with Keith Moon? And as far as the song's oft-maligned title is concerned, Townshend says that it's a combination of two names: Meher Baba and Terry Riley, the two men who Townshend credits with providing the philosophical and musical influences of the song. So, the next time you hear it, don't cry, don't raise your eyes, just remember that it's called Baba O'Riley.

JOLENE (DOLLY PARTON)


Name songs just don't get any better than "Jolene", written by the beautiful, buxum, and brilliant Dolly Parton, whose towering blonde wigs and silver-spangled costumes make it difficult for some people to remember that she is one of the most successful songwriters of all time. And while some might claim that "I Will Always Love You" is her most memorable song, "Jolene" is without question her signature tune. Parton wrote it in 1974 after nearly losing her husband (who no one has ever seen, by the way...what's up with that?) to the charms of a younger, taller, red-haired bank teller (strumpet!). "I fought tooth and nail to keep him," she told an interviewer. Well, all I can say is, the man had to have been an idiot to even think of ditching a true original like Parton for some little bank hussy, but we can at least be grateful for the song that came out of the situation. I know that my friend Belinda is, every time she makes me sing at a karaoke bar. Interesting aside: the name "Jolene" came about a few years after Parton's marital dilemma, when she was signing an autograph for "a very pretty red-haired fan", so pretty, apparently, that Parton was moved to ask her name. "Jolene", the girl chirped. And the rest is...herstory.

ANGRY JOHNNY (POE)

Poe is one of those artists who recieve regular rave reviews from critics for their work but somehow never seem to break into the mainstream. Born in New York City with the unwieldy monicker Anne Decatur Danielewski, "Poe" is the daughter of Polish film director Tad Z. Danielewski and Priscilla Decatur Machold, a fact which resulted in a somewhat nomadic life for the singer and her brother, who spent their childhood years living in six different countries before the family finally settled in Provo, Utah. When her parents divorced, teen-aged Poe fled back to New York where she lived in a squatter unit and conpleted her high school education via mail. But her sights were already set on a music career, which she pursued while an undergraduate at Princeton University, starting her first band and experimenting with a mixture of styles before signing with Modern/Atlantic Records in 1994. Her first album, Hello, was released the following year, earning her those rave reviews from critics that I mentioned earlier, as well as a lot of unwelcome comparisons with Alanis Morrisette (both were outspoken, independent young women...you get the picture). "Angry Johnny", which was Poe's first "hit" off the Hello album might even be considered the counter culture companion song to Morrisette's mainstream mega hit "You Oughta Know". But despite her strong online fan base, don't look for Poe to follow Morrisette's lead down that mainstream path any time soon. With lyrics like "Johnny, Angry Johnny, this is Jezebel in Hell, I wanna kill you, I wanna blow you away", this "name song" makes one thing clear: Morrisette might have the Grammies, but Poe has the guts.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

OBSCURE RETRO PHOTO TUESDAY


Well, I'm sure it comes as no surprise to anyone reading this, but I'm always looking for excuses to post shallow nonsense when I should be working on important things. Then again, I do my best work under pressure, so that may change once I have less time on my hands. And why am I telling you all this? Because today has just become the first official Obscure Retro Photo Tuesday. Your welcome.


What better way to kick off our newly (i.e. just now) instituted Obscure Retro Photo Tuesday than with a picture of a stuffed horse? But not just any stuffed horse, of course. The rearing palimono above is none other than Trigger, the faithful steed of 1940s-50's TV and movie cowboy Roy Rogers who rode and sang his way to posterity with cowgirl wife Dale Evans at his side. But as much as Rogers loved Dale, he loved Trigger as well, so much so that when the horse died in 1965, Rogers had him stuffed and put on display at the Roy Rogers museum in Victorville, CA. He did the same for the other member of his on-screen and real life team, Bullet, the German Shepherd, when the time came. The Roy Rogers Museum moved to Branson, MO in 2003, but you can still find Trigger and Bullet there, preserved for perusal by the masses. But don't look for Roy or Dale. As far as I know, the fringe-favoring couple (who passed away in 1998 and 2001, respectively) are not on display.


Happy Trails to you...I mean....Skol!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

MY BOYFRIEND'S FIVE FAVORITE NAME SONGS


My boyfriend and I don't celebrate Valentine's Day. I won't go into the reason except to say that Valentine's Day is a holiday that holds some majorly bad mojo for me (and by connotation for him as well), and the sooner it's over and done with, the better I feel. But as a woman with a sappy streak, I wanted to do something to remind him of how much I love him. So instead of a Valentine's Day card or a new pair of boxer shorts, I decided to post a little addendum to the one I did last time on my five favorite "name songs." So, here it is...my boyfriend's five favorite "name songs." Maybe, if he likes this post, he and I can play the songs in the background while we...uh..."talk" about them.

BETH (KISS)


This one should have been on my list. My boyfriend has confessed that he's not much of a Kiss fan (he says that he likes "old" Kiss, but not "new" Kiss, which I'm guessing means that he liked the band right up until Peter Criss and Ace Frehley left in the early 80s), but, old or new, this song isn't your typical Kiss song. And with good reason. Original Kiss drummer Peter Criss not only sings it, he co-wrote it as well, six years before it was released as a single off the band's 1976 Destroyer album. At the time, Criss was a member of a band called Chelsea, another member of which had a wife called Becky who had a habit of calling her husband at band practices to ask when he was coming home. Originally titled "Beck, What Can I Do?", the song captures perfectly the classic dynamic between "the boys in the band" and their wives/girlfriends who never seem to understand that music has its own clock. The song was reportedly renamed "Beth" before its release as a single because Gene Simmons thought that "Beth" was a name to which more women would be able to relate. Not to mention the confusion the original name might have caused for fans of a certain famous British guitarist. (Hello, this is Jeff...I was wondering when the band was going to be done practicing because I'm getting bloody lonely sitting here in my mansion surrounded by my collection of sports cars...")

JOSIE (STEELY DAN)


As name songs go, Steely Dan's most famous one is probably "Ricky, Don't Lose That Number", and, for my money, "Josie" sounds an awful lot like it. But then again Steely Dan is one of those bands more readily identifiable by their sound than their faces. The average pop/rock music fan probably can't even tell you the names that go with the unknown faces (spoiler alert: their names are Walter Becker and Donald Fagen). Bottom line, despite their popular success during the 70s and 80s, Steely Dan has always been more of a critic's darling than anything else, and part of the reason for that is their "signature sound": two parts jazz, one part pop, and one part storytelling chops. Released as a single off their 1977 "Aia" album, "Josie" is a classic Steely Dan story-song, and is, according to Donald Fagen, all about a Korean woman who married the brother of one of his old high school chums. Good song, interesting story, but, as with all Steely Dan songs, you can't let your mind wander if you want to know what it's about. But don't strain your ears too hard. Even if your mind does skip out once or twice, you can always look up the lyrics later on.

MELISSA (ALLMAN BROTHERS)


In my experience, the Allman Brothers have always been a "guy's band." A case in point: I once threw a birthday party for a friend of mine, who happened to be a girl, and she, all the other girls at the party, and I were having a great time singing along with stupid top forty songs from the 70s, which was when we were all in high school. Then, just like that, one of the guys at the party totally shot a silver bullet into our fun by playing "Blue Skies" by the Allman Brothers. "Blue Skies" is a good song. No question. But it's not exactly a fun girl birthday party soundtrack. Which is fairly true about most Allman Brothers songs. They're good songs...some of them are even great songs...but unless you're a musician, a huge early southern rock fan, or a young guy sitting in your parked pick-up truck drinking a beer and smoking a bowl after a fight with your girlfriend back in 1972...they're not songs you listen to very often. I guess you could call them "specialized." And then there's "Melissa." Like Kiss's "Beth", "Melissa" is a song that transcends the band's usual M-O and makes you forget that Gregg Allman was once married to Cher for two weeks. According to Gregg, he wrote it in 1967 (although it was released for the first time on the band's 1972 Eat A Peach album), but it didn't have a name until, one day, standing in line at the grocery store, he heard a woman yelling for her daughter, Melissa. The name just seemed to fit the song, and so he went with it. Too bad we'll never know if the girl in the grocery store was buying peaches.

BARBARA ANN (THE BEACH BOYS)


If you've ever listened to a radio, you've heard "Barbara Ann" by the Beach Boys. You've probably sung along with it, danced to it, maybe even performed it with your drunken friends at a karaoke bar. What you might not know about it (because I didn't) is that the most familiar version of the song, aka The Beach Boys' version, is actually a cover. "Barbara Ann", written by Fred Fassert, was a hit for a band called The Regents in 1961, climbing all the way to #13 on the Billboard Hot 100 music chart. But it was Brian Wilson and his little family band of surf music makers who took the song to #2 in 1965, making it an international hit and securing its place in pop/rock music history for all time. Released on the Beach Boys Party! album that year, the song features a guest vocal performance by Dean Torrence, who was formerly one half of early 60s singing duo Jan and Dean ("Dead Man's Curve"). If you listen closely, you can even hear Brian Wilson say "Thanks, Dean" at the end of the song. You don't have to like the Beach Boys or 1960s surf music to like this song. It's just one of those songs. And chances are, you haven't heard the last of it.

SUSIE Q (CREEDENCE CLEARWATER REVIVAL)


Written by Louisiana-born musician Dale Hawkins and first recorded at KWKH Radio studios in Shrevesport, LA in 1957, "Suzy Q" is pretty much everything you could ever want in a straightforward, no frills rock and roll song. That's probably why every musician and his/her brother has covered it at one time or another. The list is too long to post here, but it includes The Rolling Stones, Gene Vincent, Johnny Rivers, Susie Quatro (natch!)....and, of course, Creedence Clearwater Revival, whose version is considered by many rock critics (and fans) to be the best. And I would be loathe to disagree. Released off CCR's debut album in 1968, "Suzy Q" was a major hit for them and did much to establish their credibility not only as genuine rock and rollers at a time when commercial pop music was the industry standard, but marked them as the true torch bearers of rock and roll's original (rockabilly) flame. CCR would go on to record many more serious and culturally important songs, but this song makes it clear that John Fogerty and company were, at heart, in it for the music.

Well, there you have it. My boyfriend's five favorite name songs. I hope you like it, Darling. Happy...you know what day. And to the rest of you...as usual...Skol!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

FIVE BEST "NAME" SONGS


Name songs. From "I Dream of Jeannie With The Light Brown Hair" to "Sheena Is A Punk Rocker", they've left an indelible imprint on our collective music consciousness. And of course we all have our favorites. The following five songs, which I've listed in no particular order, are mine.

ELI'S COMING (THREE DOG NIGHT)


I'm not what you could call a "Three Dog Night fan"...although I am a huge fan of the infamous anecdote involving Three Dog Night singer Chuck Negron's exploding penis. Who wouldn't be? This song, however, has always been my Achilles heel as far as the chart-topping 70s band is concerned. Unlike the rest of their made-for-radio output, it has an epic feel to it and is one of the few songs the band recorded in which Negron actually sounds passionate about what he's singing instead of sounding as though he's wondering where he's going to get his drugs after the show. I don't know who Eli is or why he's "coming", but if a professional Lothario like Chuck Negron is warning me that I'd better hide my heart once he gets here, it's a warning I'm taking seriously.

BERNADETTE (FOUR TOPS)


I could be wrong, but I'm pretty sure that this is the only pop/rock song featuring the name "Bernadette." That fact alone is worth a few kudos. I mean, rock and roll is rife with "Sally's" and "Mary's" and "Jean's". But Bernadette? That takes balls. And it's not just the name. From start to finish, this 1967 Motown gem just grabs you and takes you along for the ride, with Levi Stubbs belting out an impassioned plea to his girlfriend (the aforementioned Bernadette) to set his insecure mind and heart at ease. But the best thing about the song is its famous "false ending", when everything just stops for a second only for Stubbs to come screaming back in for one more round of "Bernadette!" I don't know if there was ever a real Bernadette, but if there was, she inspired one hell of a great song.

LADY JANE (THE ROLLING STONES)


One of the most well-known and acclaimed songs from the Stone's 1966 Aftermath album, "Lady Jane" is notable for its use of the dulcimer, played by a pre-train wreck Brian Jones, which gives it a very un-Stones-like Elizabethan feel. Rumor has it that Mick Jagger wrote it with the six wives of Henry VIII in mind, which may be why he sings the lyrics with an uncharacteristic air of melancholy. Whatever the reason, it's a beautiful song and one of the few from that period of the Rolling Stones' career that hasn't been overplayed to death, which means that when you hear it on the radio...you actually find yourself listening to it and appreciating what you hear.

CANDY (IGGY POP AND KATE PIERSON)


Iggy Pop, late of the Stooges, and Kate Pierson of the B-52's....who would have imagined that they would ever get together and record one of the best "name songs" ever? But that's exactly what they did. Released as the second single from Iggy's 1990 Brick By Brick album, "Candy" was the biggest mainstream hit of the punk godfather's career. Interestingly, according to Iggy, the song actually refers to an old girlfriend whose name was Betsy. Whatever her name was, she obviously triggered something in the singer's softer side and, for my money, pop music (pun intended) is better for it.

CONE ON, EILEEN (DEXY'S MIDNIGHT RUNNERS)


This last one was a hard toss-up between "Come On, Eileen" and "Alison" by Elvis Costello. As a musician, I feel a bit guilty that I didn't choose the latter since Elvis Costello is nothing if not a song-writing god and "Alison" is probably the best "New Wave" ballad ever written. So why didn't I choose it? Well, because, as much as I admire "Alison" for critical reasons, "Come On, Eileen", from Dexy's Midnight Runners' 1982 "Too-Rye-Ay" album, is the one that makes me get all finger-snappy and sing-along-ish whenever I hear it. In other words, it's just more fun to listen to....unless your name happens to be Eileen, that is. I know a couple of Eileens and they both hate this song. But I guess I would, too, if, whenever I told people my name, they smiled and said, "Well, come on, Eileen!" Luckily, since my name is Greta, I never have to worry about that kind of stuff. People just don't write songs about girls called "Greta." But if anyone ever does write a "Greta" song, I hope that it's at least half as catchy as the one Kevin Rowland wrote about "Eileen."

Well, that's all for now. Skol!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

CREEPY MANNEQUIN WEDNESDAY PHOTO


Well, it's that time again. That's right. Creepy Mannequin Wednesday. And I think that I've found a creepy mannequin photo that more than lives up to its name. This time around, I found the goods on the the Polyvore website. Take a gander...at your own risk, of course.


Skol!

Sunday, February 10, 2013

HOW TO STEAL A MILLION...AND LOOK AMAZING DOING IT



Okay, so there we were last night, my friend, Belinda Blindsider (sorry, that's the name she wants me to use) and I, lying in bed with her Weimaraner, Lulu sprawled out between us, trying to decide on a movie to watch. After all, there are worse ways to spend a Saturday night after a killer snowstorm like Nemo has just left a calling card consisting of waist-high snow all over the driveway and on the street. Adding to our late night comfort was the fact that we had an excess of vodka at our disposal. So why not top off the day with a good movie as the clock hands ticked away into the wee hours of Sunday morning? The problem was....I wanted to revisit some of my favorite film noir flicks and Belinda wanted...as usual....to watch something "fun". As she clicked on the instant queue choices on Netflix...

"Film noir is fun," I insisted. "Shadows and light, tough-talking broads and cigarette smoking men in fedoras....hell, it's like a carnival of carnage in glossy black and white."

"Then we'll save it for Morbid Monday Movie Night," Belinda replied, always quick with the quip (she'd be great writing dialogue for a film noir screenplay). "But, tonight, I want color and light-hearted frothiness."

"Fine," I conceded, knowing the battle was already lost. "So, what frothy movie are we gonna watch?"

"How about this?" she asked, clicking the remote once again.

The title she had clicked on was "How To Steal A Million", a 1966 rom-com "thriller" starring Audrey Hepburn and Peter O'Toole. Now, don't get me wrong. I like Audrey Hepburn just fine, and Peter O'Toole was, before the ravages of age and excessive alcohol consumption set in, pretty much one of the most gorgeous leading men to ever turn a pair of blue eyes toward a camera lens. But apart from its stars, "How To Steal A Million" is one of those mid-1960s films that can best be described as "claptrap"---a movie that seems to have been made solely because someone decided it was a good idea to make a movie and populate it with stunningly beautiful people driving fancy cars in trendy cities ("Million" takes place in Paris) despite the fact that the plot is skimpy and full of holes and the dialogue is hackneyed and totally predictable. But Belinda was adamnant, and I was tired, and so we went ahead and watched it. I won't bore you with the details of the storyline, which involves art forgery and the dilemma that ensues for Audrey Hepburn's character and that of her father, played by bug-eyed Salvidore Dali look-alike Charles Boyer. But I will tell you that, a couple of frames into the movie, all of my disparaging thoughts disappeared as I got a gander at what would turn out to be the first of a seemingly endless succession of wardrobe changes sported by the effervescent and exceedingly gamine Miss Hepburn.


From the moment she drives up to her mansion in a 1965 red convertible Autobianchi Eden Roc (I know nothing about cars, but I looked it up) dressed in a little white frock with matching jockey style hat and go-go boots til the final frame in which she and Peter O'Toole share their final ultra-wet smooch, Audrey Hepburn traipses from scene to scene as though commanding her own personal catwalk. In a word, what this movie lacks in plot and dialogue, it more than makes up for with its mid-1960s "mod" fashion sense. The black cocktail dress and cigarette holder Hepburn made famous in "Breakfast At Tiffany's" might be the "look" with which most people associate the actress, but, man, could she rock a pair of go-go boots! Of course, as with the Autobianchi, it wasn't until I hit the internet that I learned the clothes she wears in the film were all designed by Hubert de Givenchy, who also designed her wardrobe for "Sabrina", which she had made nine years before, after "Roman Holiday." Both were far better films, of course, but as far as clothes are concerned, "How To Steal A Million" has to be Givenchy's piece de resistance and no doubt left the female members of its original audience drooling with envy over the sight of its star entering a room in a yellow chiffon two piece only to reappear attired in a black lace dress, black lace "mask", and black textured stockings and black leather pumps in the next scene.


In fact, it was that black lace outfit that sent Belinda and me completely over the edge. As the camera went in for a close up of Audrey Hepburn's face behind the black lace mask, she batted her eyes at Peter O'Toole, giving us our first look at the silver eye shadow she's wearing. Silver eye shadow! How mid-1960's! Without the lace mask, it might have been too much...even garish...but muted by delicate black lace, it comes off as glamorous and exotic.


"Is it possible to pull off silver eye shadow in real life?" I wondered out loud.

"If we got botox, maybe," Belinda said.

We probably won't, of course. Still, watching the movie was an unexpected stroll down a frothy byway that left us surprisingly nostalgic for the days when the sight of a movie star in a yellow chiffon two piece and silver eye shadow was enough to make you forget your own troublesome existance for an hour or two. Of course, in every day life, even back in the mid-1960's, most real women didn't dress like Audrey Hepburn or pull off an art heist with someone like Peter O'Toole. But it's comforting to recall what it was like to imagine that they could...and that we could as well.


Belinda didn't make it to the end of the movie. She fell asleep, her dog, Lulu still wedged between us, and, as the credits rolled, I turned off the light and joined them in slumber. And when we awoke this morning, we slid into jeans and T-shirts just as we had yesterday morning. But I can still taste a little bit of frothy chiffon at the back of my throat. And even though the next movie I watch on a Saturday night will probably be dark and gritty and filled with hard-boiled dialogue, I have to admit that I wouldn't be adverse to putting on some silver eye shadow and taking a ride in a little red Autobianchi Eden Roc sometime...just like Audrey Hepburn. But no art heists. I'm way too old for that.


Skol!

Saturday, February 9, 2013

CREEPY MANNEQUIN BONUS SATURDAY PIC


Came across this creepy mannequin photo on BelchSpeak, and couldn't wait til Creepy Mannequin Wednesday to post it. So here it....an especially creepy photo because of the misplaced little human being in the center of it all. No idea why someone thought it would be a good idea to photograph the kid with a group of headless, naked mannequins, but they're the ones who will have to deal with the therapy bills. Anyway...uh...enjoy, I guess.


Skol!

Friday, February 8, 2013

DEAD SEA MONKEYS STORY UPDATE



In my last post I confessed the shame and guilt I felt for having accidentally murdered unborn sea monkeys in my youth. But as it turns out I'm not so alone in my residual self-loathing after all. After reading the post, a good friend came forward to share the pain she feels over the demise of her own sea monkeys. Seems that my friend, whom I will call "Lissa" (since that's her name), purchased sea monkeys many years ago as a Christmas gift for her daughter, who was four at the time. It was all very innocent and well-meaning, Lissa told me, and her daughter was enchanted with her new little pets. In a perfect world, the story would have ended there: happy child, frolicking sea monkeys, a shimmering new batch of lifetime memories for all. But as we all know, the world is far from perfect. I'll let Lissa explain just how far from perfect it is.

"My daughter went to her father's for the weekend," she recalled, "and she was very worried about the sea monkeys being all right while she was gone. And so the next morning, when I came downstairs and saw the flourescent cover of their bowl lying on the floor, I knew it was going to be bad."

You see, unfortunately for the sea monkeys, and for the little girl who loved them, Lissa's household also included one of the many Weimeraners that she has owned over the years. And while most Weimeraners are high-spirited, curious dogs, the one living in Lissa's house at the time was apparently very thirsty as well. So thirsty that it had taken a long draught out of the sea monkey bowl in order to wet its whistle, and, naturally, the defenseless little brine shrimp inside the bowl were sucked down its parched doggie throat as well.


And so what did Lissa do? Well, what any guilt-ridden, but resourceful mother would do. She re-filled the sea monkey bowl with water and sprinkled pepper in it, hoping that her daughter would mistake the pepper flakes for frolicking brine shrimp. And apparently she did...until Lissa's son happened to notice that the brine shrimp were conspicuously non-frolicking.

"He looked at me and said, 'Mom, I think these sea monkeys are dead,'" Lissa told me, her expression reflecting the discomfort the memory still managed to evoke.


Despite Lissa's feelings of residual guilt, the years since the tragic demise of her daughter's sea monkeys have washed away most of the pain for all involved. Lissa has a new Weimaraner who eats plastic instead of drinking sea monkeys, her daughter is a young woman now with much more on her mind than the welfare of brine shrimp in a water-filled bowl, and the sea monkeys...well...with any luck, they're having the time of their little after-lives in an aquatic section of heaven. But it just goes to show you, no matter how bad you feel, whether it's because of your role in the death of innocent sea monkeys or something else...you're never really alone. Someone, somewhere, is even more stupid than you.


Skol!

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

ALL GOOD SEA MONKEYS GO TO HEAVEN (EVEN IF YOU ACCIDENTALLY KILL THEM)



I seem to be on a paranormal jag these days, and so, since I am, I thought that I would share a post I stumbled across on Stephen Wagner's about.com paranormal phenomena website the other day. A reader called Clavi wrote in following the tragic and untimely demise of her sea monkeys:

"Last September (2012), living in London, my housemate bought me sea monkeys for my 21st birthday," reports Clavi. "I hadn't had them since a child, so loved it! A few weeks later, our house held a party, and a friend was so drunk he poured vodka into the sea monkey's container. Safe to say, I became very angry and upset and threw him out of the house. I guess it was the nostalgia from my childhood that made them mean so much to me. "About a week later, after spending the evening watching TV with my housemate, I went up to bed around 1 a.m. I turned my bedside light off and was attempting to go to sleep when I saw about ten tiny lights above my head -- my sea monkeys! They looked like tiny little luminescent flies, but after about two seconds, they were gone. I didn't have them long as pets, but they meant a lot to me, and I'm glad they could pass over to the other side in peace."

Okay, well, it's hard to know what to think, isn't it? I mean, on one hand, if all living creatures (great and small) possess spirits (if not necessarily souls), then it stands to reason that sea monkeys must possess them as well, doesn't it? Then, again, I've had dogs and cats that I've loved dearly, who, after they died, never so much as paid me an obligatory supernatural wet kiss, so how come Clavi rates a luminescent fond farewell from a bunch of speck-sized brine shrimp that she herself admits she had only "known" for a short time before they went belly-up?


Maybe it all comes down to the energy of the person involved. Apparently, Clavi has the right kind of energy for attracting sea monkey spirits, whereas I, a person who has spent years and years reading and writing about the paranormal, as well as attending spiritualist gatherings and more than my share of seances, is totally wanting when it comes to attracting the spirits of furry, warm-blooded mammals that I more or less considered members of my family. Do I sound bitter? Well, I am. But there's a little more to it than just feeling jealous of Clavi's nocturnal visitation from the spirits of brine shrimp. You see, I was once the owner of some sea monkeys as well. It was in the late 60's, when I was around ten, and I ordered them from the back of an Archie comic book. When, after weeks and weeks of waiting with bated breath (pun intended), the things finally arrived in our mailbox, I was excited beyond words. I wasn't stupid enough to believe that real sea monkeys actually wore miniature crowns like the cartoon ones in the ad, but I was absolutely convinced that I would be afforded "hours of fun" watching them cavort around in their bowl and do whatever the hell else sea monkeys do to show off their zany nature. But they never got the chance to show me so much as a cartwheel. Why? Well...because I accidentally killed them.


That's right. I'm confessing it right here in this post. At the age of ten, caught up in the kind of feverish excitement that only comes from being the new owner of a package of brine shrimp eggs (yes..they mailed them out in egg-form...big mistake), I invited all of my friends over to see my new pets, which, naturally, led to all kinds of touching and holding of the water-filled container in which I had placed the eggs...which, in turn (and inevitably) led to one of my friends pretending to spit into the container, at which point, I grabbed it away from him and dropped it on the garage floor. And that was it for the unborn sea monkeys. And for me...as far as sea monkeys were concerned, anyway.


So, now, what have we learned from this post? Well, I can't answer for you, but as for myself, I like to think that I'm at last ready to let go of my sea monkey guilt and move on...just like Clavi's luminescent sea monkey spirits. And as for any residual bitterness just because none of my pets have ever come back to see me...well, I think I can get over that now, too. After all, maybe the reason I haven't ever heard from them is that they're just having too good a time on the other side to bother with this one. At least, I hope that's true.

Skol!

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

CREEPY MANNEQUIN WEDNESDAY PHOTO


Yes, I know it's still Tuesday, but Wednesday being "Creepy Mannequin Photo Day", I just thought I would post this a bit early as tomorrow looks to be pretty busy for me. And God knows I am a woman who hates to let my public down. So enjoy...or be terrified....whichever emotion wells up inside of you in response to the photo below. And have a good Wednesday. Til next time...skol!