Monday, May 29, 2023

From the Diary of Helen, Jane Jetson's Friend

Inspired by a recent viewing of the Dude Planet episode of The Jetsons on MeTV.

Tuesday, April 25, 2063

"Now that's what I call racy dialogue."
Jane called on the visi-phone this morning as I was lying on the beach, working on my tan. She was whining about housework again. I do love Jane, but she needs to turn the record over (or someone other futuristic metaphor, I just can't be bothered to think of one right now.)  She never stops moaning about the Suzy Homemaker trap she's in. I know George doesn't make much in his push-button job at Spacely Sprockets, but he could spring for a pied-a-terre in Paris for his little wifey to get away now and then. And don't they have a robot maid? 

Anyway, Jane asked me to go with her to the Beta Bar Ranch on some Dude Planet for a week to relax and recuperate. I told her sure, "Harry is commuting from Tahiti to New York every day and it's wearing me out," I lied. But actually, Harry is the one driving himself to an early grave and I couldn't care less. As long as he keeps me in martinis and muu-muus here in Tahiti, I'm happy. But it is getting a bit monotonous, staring into the same gorgeous sunset every day. Maybe this Dude planet will have some new dudes to brighten up my attitude. 

Sunday, May 28, 2023

Book Review: Mere Anarchy

Downloaded on my Kindle for $15 or so. Having read Getting Even, Side Effects and Without Feathers many years ago, seen all of his movies and most of his plays, I wanted to be a completist and read this more recent collection of short pieces from Woody Allen so I can say I've read and seen everything he's written. A mildly amusing group, relying on obscure vocabulary and cultural touchstones. A lot of the material is dated--musicals no longer have out-of-town try-outs in Philly, Boston or Baltimo' and no one reads the tiny ads in newspapers anymore. But there are funny lampoons of The Maltese Falcon (a million-dollar truffle is substituted for the famous blackbird) and In Cold Blood (instead of getting murdered, victims have their mattress tags removed). 

Tuesday, May 23, 2023

Book Review: After the Quake

Bought at the Strand for $10. A brief collection of short stories by the master Haruki Murakami, read very fast (only 147 pages) in between reading The Life of Pi. Six stories of people dealing with the earthquake in Kobe in 1995. But not in the way you would expect. There are no tragedies of families splitting apart, wives widowed or children orphaned. Instead Murakami weaves the trauma of the earthquake into the everyday lives of his characters, usually deep underneath their consciousness. An introverted loan officer joins a human-sized frog to save the city before the quake. A little girl dreams of a frightening Earthquake Man and is comforted by stories of a talking bear. A man builds a community by creating bonfires on a series of beaches. These stayed with me after reading.

Saturday, May 20, 2023

Book Review: Life of Pi

(Taken out of the Jackson Heights library and renewed once, returned one day late) I felt I should read this after seeing the movie years ago and the Broadway/West End stage version recently. Plus the BBC says it's one of the 100 books I should read before I die (I've read 36 of them so so far). Fascinatingly fantastic tale of an Indian teenager trapped on a lifeboat in the middle of the Pacific with a man-eating tiger named Richard Parker. Haunting, imaginative, horrifying, heart-breaking. Martel makes you question what's real and what isn't? After reading it, you wonder how this could ever work as a film or a play, but the adaptations are equally brilliant.

Saturday, May 13, 2023

B'way Update: No Tony Broadcast, Enemy, Nancy Drew

News flash: First COVID and now the writers' strike. The 2023 Tony Awards will not be broadcast on Pluto and CBS as planned on June 11. The producers of the ceremony had hoped to be granted a waiver by the union but it has been denied. What happens now? Either the awards will be delayed till the end of strike (unlikely since the labor action could drag on for months) or the awards will be presented in a small non-televised event so the winning shows can at least announce their Tony status in advertising. The Tony Management Committee will hold an emergency meeting on Mon. May 15 to decide how to move forward. This is a potentially devastating blow to several shows who count on the national exposure the Tonys provide and to the Broadway industry in general since audience levels are still not at pre-pandemic levels. Many productions could close prematurely because of a lack of Tony TV attention. Bob Fosse's Dancin' and Bad Cinderella, which did not receive any Tony recognition, have already posted closing notices.

Jeremy Strong
Strong in Ibsen's Enemy: Emmy, Golden Globe, and SAG Award winner Jeremy Strong (Succession) will star on Broadway in a new adaptation of Henrik Ibsen's An Enemy of the People by Amy Herzog who is also represented by her version of Ibsen's A Doll's House with Jessica Chastain now at the Hudson Theater. The production will begin in early 2024. Tony winner Sam Gold (Fun Home) will direct. A theater, cast, and design team will be announced at a later date. This will be the 11th Broadway production of Ibsen's drama about a Norwegian doctor who becomes a pariah in his community after revealing the town spa and main source of income is toxic. Broadway audiences first saw it in 1895 and most recently in 2012 with Boyd Gaines. In between, the lead role of Dr. Stockman has been played by Walter Hampden, Frederic March, and Stephen Elliott. 

Strong, best known as his role for Kendall Roy on HBO's Succession, previously appeared on Broadway in 2008's revival of A Man for All Seasons. He also appeared in Herzog's play The Great God Pan Off-Broadway at Playwrights Horizons. 

Thursday, May 11, 2023

Withered Children: A Coronation Poem

The coronation looked so strange and otherworldly

like something from another century (which it is). 

Charles and Camilla looked liked withered children 

playing dress-up with oversized crowns and robes.

Camilla's dress resembled the tablecloth in my Grammy's dining room.

Now that I look closely, she kinda looks like Carol Channing as the White Queen in the TV-movie musical version of Alice Through the Looking-Glass from the late 1980s with songs by Steve Allen

It's odd to think of her as Queen and not Queen Consort

The Spare Heir relegated to the back benches, itching 

to return to California (or wherever) and his wife and kiddies

Elizabeth was the last breath of the British Empire,

Now all this pomp and ceremony seems ridiculous, absurd, a game from a bygone day that no one plays anywmore.

Carol (r.) with Ann Jillian as
the Red Queen and 
whoever played Alice
(too lazy to look it up.)

Monday, May 8, 2023

When Lucy Stole from Bugs Bunny

Bugs Bunny in Forward March Hare
This is one of those just for fun blog posts: Toon in with Me, MeTV's excellent early-morning cartoon show recently aired Forward March Hare, released on Feb. 14, 1953 in which Bugs Bunny mistakenly receives a draft notice meant for his neighbor B. (for Bertram) Bonny. What are the odds? Bugs causes mayhem and chaos as he applies for his physical and then attempts to fit in with his unit. After nearly blowing up his sargeant, dressing a flock of chickens in tuxedoes, and bathing in the general's helmut, the brass realizes their mistake and Bugs does his bit for his country by testing bombs.

Lucy in full make-up (notice the eyelashes
and lipstick) joins the Marines

Thirteen years and nine months later--to the day--on Nov. 14, 1966, CBS aired "Lucy Gets Caught Up in the Draft" on Season Five of The Lucy Show. By this time, Lucy Carmichael had moved to Los Angeles and forgotten all about her two children and (aside for occasional guest shots) her best friend Viv. She was now working for Mr. Mooney (Gale Gordon) as his secretary. In this episode, she receives a draft notice intended for Lou C. Carmichael. I don't remember if there was such a person or if the draft board just made a mistake with the name. Anyway, the same thing that happened to Bugs, happens to Lucy. She causes slapstick-y problems and is eventually replaced by Jim Nabors as Gomer Pyle in a cameo.

The premise is basically the same--oddball protagonist gets drafted by mistake, even down to receiving a letter with the wrong name. So one has to wonder if Lucy writers Milt Josefberg, Ray Singer and Robert O'Brien had seen Forward March Hare and thought, "Say, this could work for Lucy?"

Saturday, May 6, 2023

What I Listen to in My Car, Part 2: Changes in the Media Diet

The news on the radio is still too depressing to listen to as I drive to work, so podcasts via Spotify on my phone are my choice of automotive media diet. Recently I stumbled on a quirky history podcast called Not Past It. Each Wednesday host Simone Polanen examines a moment in history from that same week and how it changed our world. Their snarky, off-beat approach is what grabs me. Also the subject matter which can range from vital and heavy (the Fugitive Slave Law, Lizzie Borden, abortion) to frivolous and fun (beanie babies, the LaLa Land-Midnight mixup at the Oscars, Paris Hilton's sex tape, Zsa Zsa Gabor slapping a cop, Patti LaBelle's infamous train wreck of a performance at the White House Christmas Tree lighting ceremony where the back up singers were missing and cue cards were mixed up. Evidently the last named event has gone viral, but I had never heard about it.)