Thursday, May 30, 2019

A Dam-sel in distress

You were never lovelier

Seven Psychocats!

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

Reflected glory: the Paso Fino

Two seriously creepy sitcoms of the '80s

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

My Lord, What a Morning!

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

Miss Gladys Cooper

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.

Dame Gladys Constance Cooper (18 December 1888 – 17 November 1971) was an English actress whose career spanned seven decades on stage, in films and on television.

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

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.


Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Is there hope in bad times?

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

Branded (in color)

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. 

Soviet Soul

Monumentally cheesy record album covers from 1980s Soviet Union.

Friday, May 17, 2019

Don't buy this car

Just don't. 

Gabrielle Ray in the 1900s

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

Famous movie scene re-enacted by cats

"Hold on, and suck in!"


Dancers on the edge of reality

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.