Thursday, May 30, 2019
This is a very strange "cat version" of a Christopher Walken movie, Seven Psychopaths, which (like almost all of his other movies) I've never seen. But I've seen previews, and that's what this is, a CAT version of the preview. Probably better than the original. This is a work of genius, as far as I am concerned.
Wednesday, May 29, 2019
We know these two shows wouldn't play today, and their creepiness even then was monumental, which is why each series lasted only a few weeks. To say the least, they were cutesie, lame, and expressed none of what really goes on in the Catholic church. The wise old Father O'Malley/Boystown/hip-and-with-it model of priest is so dead, it's as if he never existed at all, which he probably didn't. I can't get into the subject at all without becoming infuriated, and have deleted this post several times already. So I'll let you judge for yourself just how lame, unrealistic, irrelevant and damn stupid these shows were. And how they wouldn't play today - at all, nor should they ever have. And that's all I have to say about it. Fucking bastards.
Tuesday, May 28, 2019
Music from my old church choir, circa 2001: two mikes, ten singers (all untrained), led by a jazz musician who had never directed a choir before, and without a penny for good sound equipment. We recorded these songs a cappella, in somebody's living room, interrupted by doorbells, phones ringing and dogs barking, not to mention the occasional giggle fit. The result wasn't perfect, but I think we sound pretty darned good for a group which started out with very limited skills. The songs Bill Prouten arranged and composed sound strange, because most of them are dissonant, with very tight chords, and do unexpected things (listen to the end of Coventry Carol!). Often he'd come to choir practice with a sheaf of handwritten music, the ink still fresh on it like something out of Amadeus, and we'd work all evening trying to master it. He made us better singers and better musicians than we knew how to be, or ever thought we could be. Bill Prouten was a major influence in my life for five years, and what he left me with is permanent. It's only now I can bear to listen to this, and why, I do not know! My dub onto YouTube added an extra problematic level of sound reproduction due to the crappyness of my sound equipment, but it's better than not having the songs at all. I chose the cover because from the back, that might be Bill himself.
Saturday, May 25, 2019
I was drawn to these sumptuous photos of early-20th-century actress Gladys Cooper because of her unconventional looks - not exactly pretty, not classically beautiful, and almost never smiling, but nonetheless captivating. Straddling the line between Edwardian primness and roaring '20s excess, she alternates between a buttoned-down formality and a certain smoky wildness, her long hair unexpectedly bursting out of its combs in a tumbling waterfall. The rest of the time she is just plain elegant, though her face is composed to the point of being unreadable. But where have I seen that face before? Where have I heard that name?
THIS Gladys Cooper, the one who played Bette Davis's domineering, repressive mother in one of my all-time favorite movies, Now, Voyager.
But there was so much more to her than that.
Beginning as a teenager in Edwardian musical comedy and pantomime, she was starring in dramatic roles and silent films before the First World War. She also became a manager of the Playhouse Theatre from 1917 to 1933, where she played many roles.
From the early 1920s, Cooper was winning praise in plays by W. Somerset Maugham and others. In the 1930s, she was starring steadily both in the West End and on Broadway. Moving to Hollywood in 1940, Cooper found success in a variety of character roles; she was nominated for three Academy Awards, the last one as Mrs. Higgins in My Fair Lady (1964). Throughout the 1950s and 1960s, she mixed her stage and film careers, continuing to star on stage until her last year.
Early in her stage career, she was criticised for being too stiff. Aldous Huxley dismissed her performance in Home and Beauty, writing "she is too impassive, too statuesque, playing all the time as if she were Galatea, newly unpetrified and still unused to the ways of the living world." Evidently, her acting improved during this period, as Maugham praised her for "turning herself from an indifferent actress to an extremely competent one" through her common sense and industriousness. - Wikipedia
THE HAIR!A woman's hair was particularly important to her appearance in that era. Even a relatively-plain face like Gladys's came to life when framed by a tumble of chestnut curls. The provocative nature of these photos reveals the drastic change between the demure and even repressive attitudes of the Edwardian era and the wild times to come. She lets her hair down here, quite literally, and the combination of the sensually rippling hair and the austere, almost jaded facial expression is quite compelling. During that dramatic transition from tightlaced maiden to fringed flapper, Gladys Cooper found her place on the stage, and in the world.
Friday, May 24, 2019
Wednesday, May 22, 2019
I found this compelling quote a few years ago, and thought to myself: things are so bad right now, how can anyone believe this? Now, several years later, in many or most ways, things seem far worse.
I am heartened only by my grandkids, teenagers with exuberant, productive lives. I don't see apathy. I don't see drugs. I don't see phone addiction or online danger. Am I blind here? I don't think so. It's so refreshing to see them grow and change, and at the same time, so utterly heartbreaking as their childhood slips away.
They have been my "hope in bad times", but what will be next? I once wrote a piece and posted it here, and immediately lost several long-term subscribers. Since then, I have been leery of posting anything too honest. And yet, others receive hundreds of thousands of views for the very same kind of thing. There is something about MY honesty that, for reasons unknown, people just don't want to see.
I don't want to contemplate my life, what went right or wrong, and when I look back and see "wrong", much of it is things I couldn't help. But it's hard to see that. When I look back on bounty and joy, I am sad, even crushed that those days are all over.
And yet, I have hope, or at least on good days, days when a glossy, sassy red-winged blackbird flies down to eat out of my hand, days when I see my beautiful granddaughters dance exquisitely and move me to tears, days when I perceive true and undiscouraged purpose in the next generation (when I asked Caitlin what she wanted to be when she grew up, she said, "A forensic criminologist," and so she will be, if she so desires).
Quotes like these - and I don't know when this was written, or even who Howard Zinn is or was - seem almost naive now, but they're needed. I don't know what is going to happen politically - a second Trump term seems almost inevitable, as the cult is obviously now in charge of the free world. Even Australia just voted in an extreme conservative, and it won't be long until Justin Trudeau will be routed for someone with a mind snapped shut.
So I try to get on with my day, wondering what will happen when this round of blessings runs its course, as they always do. More has always been given to me up to now, but will those blessed things very soon run dry? I don't know. I'm no good at the future, which doesn't exist anyway. "If we see only the worst, it destroys our capacity to do something." Cults stop human growth, and attract those who are afraid of growth and change and want someone to stop it, or even reverse the clock. Somehow, some way, can we get out from under the forces that are pressing down on true freedom like a giant thumb? We may not have to wait for some grand utopian future - but the clock is ticking, and time is running short.
Monday, May 20, 2019
Though I almost never watched them, I always loved the theme songs of Westerns in the '60s - The Virginian, Maverick, Death Valley Days, the incomparable Have Gun Will Travel, and this one - a novel in itself, an epic tale acted out every week which was usually better than the episode itself. Chuck Connors stood there, face as craggy and inscrutable as an Easter Island statue, while his medals and stripes and everything that comprised his identity as a soldier and a man was literally ripped off his body. It was a savage ritual which carried an awful whiff of ceremony, of celebrating failure and betrayal, or at least holding it up as an example to scare the others into obedience and submission. The aggressiveness, the casual brutality of it stays with you - and oh, the injustice! "All but one man died, down at Bitter Creek/And they say he ran away." It comes out in the fullness of time that he was protecting an officer and only pretended to run, or something, but that doesn't matter now. It's one of the best TV openings ever, and watching it again after all these years did not disappoint.
And a couple more for good measure.
Friday, May 17, 2019
I know almost nothing about Edwardian actress Gabrielle Ray. But these hand-tinted photos are lovely, if highly stylized. They reveal nothing about the person, since in most of them she stares vaguely and dreamily into the middle distance. This particular stylized gaze was typical of the objectified photography of the day, particular in women.
The gowns, as usual, are to die for. I never cared about any kind of vintage clothing, at all, until I had access to the internet. Now they're like old automobiles (which I never cared about either!), a passion and an obsession. Sadly, I have read that Gabrielle Ray was "put away" in a mental institution in later years - which was what they called it then when you had a "nervous breakdown" (a so-called diagnosis which in fact does not exist, and from which you did not recover). Generally, when this appears in a famous person's biography, it means it's over, even if the person lives another 50 years. It just stops. Unspoken is the fact that no one ever comes to visit. That person is dead to them. It is the end of the trail, and to a frightening degree, everyone seems to accept it as inevitable. I don't want to think too much about what life was like for this glorious woman after she was taken as a permanent captive.
Wednesday, May 15, 2019
I've been re-editing some of my old gifs, and since there are several thousand of them - yes, that's right - this could take quite a long time. I edited four gifs together in this one, and I have no idea what the source material is or where I got it. It looks like a negative of a black-and-white film, and I don't think I created that effect myself. If I did, I don't remember how I did it.
This was a very small gif originally, and making it any bigger affects resolution. So I left it this size. Who ARE these people, I wonder - when did they perform this? On early TV, as I suspect? How did they achieve these camera effects? They almost seem to be dancing underwater.
Monday, May 13, 2019
Friday, May 10, 2019
Another meditation on a very strange subject that I can't seem to shake. I'm not even sure I like Christopher Walken, but maybe liking isn't the point. I've been watching or listening to an endless chain of videos/podcasts made by two millennial-something filmmakers, sophomoric types actually, in which they dissect and analyze EVERY movie or TV show Walken was ever in. It's in the hundreds, and funnily enough, I'm finding out most of them are mediocre at best. I wonder what it is, then, that causes people to call him "an American original", "a national treasure", etc. etc., as if they're talking about Mt. Rushmore or American Gothic? I'll never figure it out. This video, lovingly prepared by me at great expense, or at least a lot of time, has gotten only a handful of views, but aren't I used to that by now? I try to keep my eyes on the greater prize, the great joy of doing things, which I do experience, but is the sole satisfaction I get from all this. For once, it'd be nice to make that feast with loving hands and have someone come to dinner.
Thursday, May 9, 2019
Wednesday, May 8, 2019
Another amazing creation by Marina Bychkova. This doll of Madame de Pompadour has the most elaborate headpiece (you can hardly call it a "hat") of any of her creations. It has three SHIPS on it, not to mention rolls upon rolls of creamy pink fabric. She seems to be devoid of costume, as is true of many of Bychkova's dolls, though heavily tattooed. The pink chair alone is a work of art. When I see things like this, sometimes I just want to go home and not even try to do anything creative again, but I can still appreciate her doll genius as unique. (By the way, this doll sold on eBay for at least $90,000.00, perhaps over $100,000.00.)
Tuesday, May 7, 2019
I found this little oddity through a strange podcast called Walken 101, which purports to discuss each and every film/TV role Christopher Walken ever did in his (long, long) lifetime to date. He's been in over 150 of such, so obviously I can't get through too many of them. The podcast consists of an hour of two millennial stoners rambling on and on about their lives, and other inane subjects, sniggering and snorting at people they mention by name and asking for money. But once in a while, something on-topic and even intriguing comes up.
I'm going through a "thing" about Walken, even though I have very mixed feelings about him. I usually go through these things for a while, then come out the other side. I don't consciously choose them. Walken is a strange bird indeed: a blonde Dennis-the Menace-style child actor practically from birth, an androgynous-looking young dancer who was good enough to be in the first touring company of West Side Story, an androgynous-looking young actor who showed up in artsy films and TV shows, then. . . his "breakout" role in the Vietnam horror-drama The Deer Hunter, for which he won an Oscar. Then a slow maturing into something less and less androgynous, until reaching the somewhat macabre, leathery, Galapagos-like appearance he exhibits today. At 76, this man isn't old, folks, he is OLD-old.
The rest has been. . . I don't know. There has only been a handful of really memorable performances. The guys in the podcast generally suffer through his stuff, in which Walken appears for 5 minutes or less. When interviewed, he says (robotically, almost) the same things over and over and over again. He never leaves the house. He's afraid of airports (and a long list of other things: elevators, horses, etc.). He was a lion tamer in his teens (though in other versions, he merely PLAYS a lion tamer in a play). He has no hobbies and no children, though he has been married 50 years to a woman who seems more like a mother to him. But above all, he "likes to work" (i. e. takes everything that is offered to him with no apparent filtering/discernment process at all). He has an ENORMOUS fan base, but has become a sort of caricature of himself, and he knows it, but keeps on working. He has even said he'd like to drop in harness on a movie set. His last role, shot in Winnipeg, was as a beleaguered Saskatchewan canola farmer up against Monsanto (Big Pharma for agriculture). A FARMER?? Mr. Urban Dialect, Mr. Astorian Bugs Bunny, Mr. Gangster/Hit Man/file-toothed Supernatural Being?
This just seems like too much of a stretch, but who knows. He will have to somehow-or-other lose his often-quite-prominent Queens accent, which, when out of character is (as the British say) "broad". His mother was Scottish, and he will likely try to summon up some version of that, and he's right in that some Canadians (SOME Canadians) have a bit of Scots-Irish inflection in their vowel sounds, but if it's overdone it sounds ridiculous. "Doing voices" has never been his strong suit, and when he recites Poe's The Raven (even though he does a good job of it), Astoria somehow seems to get in the way.
Meantime, this short little thing, this obscure film shot by a woman animator experimenting with live action for the first time, is THE FIRST time little Ronnie appeared on-screen, and admittedly he's good, not overplaying the role. He's tall, too, taller than most of the women, and just on the other side of puberty. The voice he does is channeling Roddy McDowell, though I think it works in a film where everyone speaks in an artificial, pretentious manner. The very best part is the last few seconds, which I've captured in another video:
I will admit I'm the one who posted the short movie. It wasn't anywhere on YouTube, and the podcast guys insisted it was terribly obscure and not available anywhere, though I found it in about 2 seconds. So far YouTube hasn't killed me for doing this, maybe because no one cares very much. It has only received a handful of views, but if I start getting concerned with views, I get very depressed. The internet is just a horse race, where more lose than win, and the winners are often qualitatively the worst of the lot.
So here it is, and you can judge for yourself. Little Ronnie's first appearance - but it wouldn't be his last.