Wednesday, May 31, 2023

May Words of Wisdom

No day in life is a dress rehearsal, so every day is worthy of our best china. --Rachel Ashwell

Being challenged in life is inevitable, being defeated is optional. --Roger Crawford
People try to do all sorts of clever and difficult things to improve life instead of doing the simplest, easiest thing - refusing to participate in activities that make life bad. --Leo Tolstoy
There is absolutely no reason for being rushed along with the rush. Everybody should be free to go slow. --Robert Frost

All your life long you are slowly turning into a heavenly creature or a hellish creature: Each of us at each moment is progressing to the one state or the other. --C.S. Lewis
The reason we feel alienated is because the society is infantile, trivial, and stupid. So the cost of this society is a certain level of alienation. --Terence McKenna 
In a world of propaganda, the truth is always a conspiracy. --Herbert Hildebrandt
Don't tell me to ride a bus and turn down my thermostat, when you're all running around in jets and Cadillacs. --Hank Williams, Jr.

Amassing over $300 million in asseets while serving in Congress isn't serving. It's swindling. --Jesse Watters (re: Nancy Pelosi, but it applies to a lot of them)

And now, a couple of palate cleansers:

My grandkids always beat me at Rock Band. And I say, "Listen, you may beat me at Rock Band, but I made the original records, so shut up." --Paul McCartney
If Lizzo is so beautiful, why do women get mad any time I tell them, "You look like Lizzo."? --Jeff Dye

Monday, May 29, 2023

The ultimate sacrifice

Remembering those who gave all. They deserve a whole month, not just a day.

Great-Uncle Francis

Sunday, May 28, 2023

Double Whammy: The season finale of "Yellowjackets" and the series finale of "Barry" (SPOILERS!!!)

Let's get Yellowjackets out of the way first, because I'm pissed about the fate of Adult Natalie and am officially hating Adult Tai and Adult Van. I also wouldn't miss Adult Lottie all that much if they lock her up in the loony bin and forget about her.
Part of my problem with the Taissa storyline is that she is a recently elected politician and yet episode after episode no press has been sniffing around despite the fact that she disappears for extended periods of time without question, plus the issues with Simone and Sammy, then the car accident, and yet she just comes and goes as she pleases without any interference or question. And her and Van calling off the psych intervention on their own was stupid even before it doomed Natalie, who had emerged (in my opinion) as the most interesting of the surviving adult Yellowjackets.
I'm also curious as to if and when the show is going to address the fact that a lot of what the Yellowjackets went through in the wilderness was due to Misty destroying the transponder. You have to wonder how much sooner they would have been rescued had she not done that. The adults clearly don't know, because if they did there's no way they would have anything to do with her. She would be persona non grata on steroids. I hope this is addressed at some point. I have enjoyed the development of Shauna's daughter Callie, who went from annoying sullen teen in the vein of Harrison Morgan to damn interesting and effective.

On top of all this, the fire at the end made for a terrific cliffhanger. When coach was lifting the matches, I thought it was to take them back to the cave so he could make a fire to warm himself. So did he decide that the girls had become so evil he was willing to burn them alive?
I also want to note that the actresses who play the teens have belted it out of the park this season. As their situation has devolved and survival at any cost has become their everyday struggle and reality, there hasn't been a false note in any of their performances. The actresses playing Teen Natalie and Teen Shauna especially, but the whole cast is just freaking amazing. 
Also, there's this

$200. If the economy wasn't so terrifying right now, I'd have already ordered this baby.
And never, ever, ask me to pick a card ever again.

The wonderfully offbeat (and increasingly dark) Barry came to an end tonight, and I thought they did a great job on the finale. The hitman turned aspiring actor did finally pay for his many crimes while seeming to have gotten some sort of redemption, Sally got a somewhat happy ending (although she appears to have understandable issues getting involved with anyone - I was really hoping that teacher at the end would be the man she deserved), and Fuches had his own redemption when he saved Sally and John. Of course, the one person who got totally screwed was Gene Cousineau. Having him kill Barry just as the former hitman was about to turn himself in, a move that would have straightened out the story of Detective Moss's murder and saved Gene, was just savage. 

And the film got made! Watching The Mask Collector with John, as the movie got everything about the story of Barry and Gene so wrong, was to me a sort of gleeful call-out of how Hollywood has so little relationship to truth. Fuches is completely absent in the movie - having left the Army and feeling rudderless, Barry gets off the bus in Hollywood and the first thing he sees is a theater that becomes his chance to have a purpose in life. Gene is presented as a suave, British-accented criminal mastermind using his acting school as a front for his nefarious activities with the Chechen gang. Showing him as the true murderer of Detective Janice Moss, and forcing Barry to help him cover up the crime was pure Hollywood bullshit. And the tag at the end of the film, that Gene Cousineau is now serving a life sentence for the murders of Janice Moss and Barry Berkman is an incredibly cruel fate for the one-time pretentious acting teacher and author of Hit Your Mark and Say Your Lines who loved Janice so much. Oh, and Barry Berkman was buried at Arlington Cemetery with full honors. Poor Gene, so close to being cleared...and then he's the architect of his own downfall. Just brutal.

Barry is one of those shows where happy endings for all the characters we've loved just isn't possible, but I thought it rang true. There was redemption, there was survival, there was some justice, and there was tragedy. Well done, Bill Hader and Alec Berg. There was some meandering this season, but it had a purpose and it all wrapped up the way it should. Also props to both the creators and HBO for understanding that this wasn't a show that could go for seven plus seasons, that it had to come to an end at some point, and that point needed to be sooner rather than later. Well done, everyone involved, and I'm looking forward to going back to the beginning and reliving it again.
RIP Barry, and Yellowjackets, you have some 'splaining to do.

Friday, May 26, 2023

House-hunting, California style!

The Babylon Bee strikes again!

Be sure to watch all the way to the end to learn how your state can become a third-world shithole just like California!

Saturday, May 20, 2023


RIP to a fine actor. A wonderful actor and (along with his buddy Cliff Booth and Cliff's faithful dog Brandy) vanquisher of Manson Family scum. A flamethrower extraordinaire. RIP Rick Dalton. You made Los Angeles a better place.

Sunday, May 14, 2023

Happy Mother's Day

Five years.

Also, today is twelve years to the day since my Dad passed away. 

Just gonna hang out and take it easy today.

Tuesday, May 9, 2023

Theater: "Ava: The Secret Conversations" at Geffen Playhouse

Ava: The Secret Conversations was presented at the Gil Cates Theater at the Geffen Playhouse.

Ava: The Secret Conversations
Written by Elizabeth McGovern
(based on the book Ava Gardner: The Secret Conversations by Peter Shaw & Ava Gardner)
Directed by Moritz von Steulpnagel
Starring Elizabeth McGovern, Aaron Costa Ganis, Ryan W. Garcia

Ava Gardner, who grew up in a small town in North Carolina, was summoned to Hollywood when her portrait was spotted in the window of her photographer brother-in-law's Fifth Avenue studio. She had no ambitions and not much talent, but her stunning looks propelled her to Hollywood stardom and a certain degree of infamy due to the lusty passions she never felt the need to keep private. She was only nineteen when she married Mickey Rooney, then one of the biggest stars in the world. Her second husband was clarinetist/band leader Artie Shaw (she was the fifth of his eight wives, a group that also included actresses Lana Turner and Evelyn Keyes). Her third marriage was to Frank Sinatra, at a time when Sinatra's career was at its lowest point, a couple years out from his Oscar winning performance in From Here to Eternity. He was also still married to his first wife when he took up with Ava, making it a scandalous affair. In addition to her marriages, Gardner also had a lengthy, ongoing affair with Howard Hughes.

As I blogged last month, when I originally went to see this play the area suffered a power outage about halfway through the performance, so it had to be cancelled. I was rescheduled for last Friday. BTW, props to the Geffen box office staff for making the rescheduling easy-peasy. That had to have been hectic.

So I finally got to see the show in its entirely, and it went above and beyond what I'd expected from the portion I'd already seen. It takes place in 1988 with Gardner, aging and feeling the effects of a recent stroke and a lifetime of drinking and smoking, having decided to write her autobiography. She has relocated to London, her Hollywood career behind her, and needs money. Feeling her options are telling her story or selling her jewels, she opts to keep the jewels because they hold sentimental value. 

Gardner summons British journalist Peter Shaw to ghost-write her autobiography, but what follows is a cat-and-mouse game with Shaw trying to extract information from a capriciously uncooperative subject. At heart Ava is still the Golden Age of Hollywood grande dame in all her glory, alternately enthusiastically recalling old memories, but also often rebuffing Shaw's entreaties with a tipsy imperiousness.

As Shaw walks Ava through each marriage, actor Aaron Costa Ganis morphs from the ambitious British journalist to portray the excitable Mickey Rooney, then the condescending intellectual Artie Shaw, and finally Sinatra, frustrated by his failing career and the intrusive press that can't get enough of him and Ava. At each of these turns, McGovern alternates between the 1988 Ava to the period of each of her marriages. It's a fantastic technique and Ganis especially does a great job of playing four different characters. McGovern is surprisingly effective as the lusty Gardner. Despite being of such slight build, she's absolutely convincing as the woman once described as "The World's Most Beautiful Animal". Watching her I never once thought of Cora Crawley, but was witnessing a former sex symbol fighting through her waning days.

As the writing progresses, Shaw becomes increasingly excited about the book's prospects until Ava abruptly pulls the plug on the project due to a combination of worry that she's revealed too much and discovering that Shaw had once been successfully sued for libel by Frank Sinatra, with whom Ava remained friends until her death. It was a detail Shaw had neglected to share with her and caused her to distrust him.

It would be decades before Shaw received permission to publish the book. He was working on it at the time of his death in 2012. It was published the following year. Ava Gardner succumbed to bronchial pneumonia in 1990.

Ava: The Secret Conversations runs at the Geffen through May 14.

Saturday, May 6, 2023

I don't necessarily agree, but...

But...I'm posting this because it's funny. Not necessarily funny in that failed marriages and divorce are funny in themselves, but...well, in this case, it's funny cuz it's true:

I'm old enough to remember the Charles/Diana/Camilla clusterf*ck, but let's face it, Charles and Diana got married for all the wrong reasons, and I'm glad at least 2/3 of that mess finally got a happy ending. If Diana hadn't been killed in a car accident I'd have wished the same for her. And if nothing else, Charles got one worthwhile son out of the deal.

Also, is there any country on earth that can do pomp and celebrations like the UK? Horses, carriages, troops, crowns, robes, ancient abbeys, castles and rites - I love that they still do that historic stuff. And they do it well.
I've actually seen this one pop up a few times today.

Thursday, May 4, 2023

Who you gonna call?

Mystery Writers of America presented their annual Edgar Awards in New York last week and although I didn't attend, as a member I still receive a copy of the program.

This year's program had what I thought was a really interesting cover - it's designed to look like the Yellow Pages for people looking for a detective:

Some of my personal favorites:

"Krime Scene Kleanup" - LOL

Well done, cover designer! And congrats to all the winners, especially film noir kingpin Eddie Muller.