Enough of Moral Lepers (Antonio Brown)

DATELINE: Gone Not Soon Enough!

  Devils You Know!

 

Let us rant: we are tired of defending the indefensible. Walking out of a press conference as did Bill Belichick is not a legitimate response. Throwing Antonio Brown overboard the S.S. Patriots was legitimate.

Antonio Brown has now crossed a line even we have lost the heart and stomach to defend. Yes, he is a talented player who could guarantee a Super Bowl for Tom Brady and Patriots, but enough is enough. Robert Kraft chose to end the symbiosis before it became thrombosis.

Brown has now sent out tweets (reminiscent of another serial criminal escapee) that threatens a woman who said he was sexually lewd and offensive to her. What is worse he impugned her motives as wanting money—when she has asked for none.

Then, he tweeted out photos of her children. Yes, his accuser’s innocent underage children. What has caused this society to spawn creatures of such darkness that to pillage, to rape, and to shoot anything that so moves them?

We are weary of defending moral cripples and serial predators. We are tired of letting mentally-challenged slime-balls pass by the balls they catch because they might help a professional sports team win. There are no balls big enough to support such disgusting fiends.

By next day, he tweeted he was fired by the Patriots.

We are sick and tired of behavior that may be as twisted as ethics of modern money can buy. Yes, these people use money as a power bludgeon. We no longer want to support with our business and attention the works of people like Antonio Brown, or Jeffrey Epstein, or Donald Trump, or Roy Cohn. Yes, we lump them all together as moral lepers.

Invitations are not open-ended, and tolerance of bad behavior is even shorter.

If you don’t see a difference here, you may be an evangelical hypocrite, or a simple-minded sports drunkard who roots for the home team when it is the home-wrecker team.

Family values may not be our thing, but decent human behavior is. It’s time to put us out of misery: put Antonio Brown on the NFL “enemies list.”  He has now thrown away millions of dollars, his career, and any hope of sympathy.

 

Jan Merlin: Statuesque Among the Stars, 1925-2019

  Jan with his Emmy Award!

My co-author and most important literary collaborator has gone from this world.

Jan Merlin might be recognizable to a generation or two of film and TV fans as the villain who populated a hundred TV shows. He made movies with Ann Sheridan, George C. Scott, and Woody Allen. He starred in two 1950s TV series, The Rough Riders—and Tom Corbett, Space Cadet, with Frankie Thomas.

A veteran of the Navy in World War II, Jan went from the military during the big war to the Neighborhood Playhouse where he learned the craft of acting, though he had many talents. He always thought his acting fame was a lesser role. He was always the antagonist to some western star, or some dubious military man.

Yet, despite playing dastardly villains almost constantly, with his Aryan looks (Polish American out of New York City), he was a genteel man with a sense of art and brilliantly self-educated. Like a generation of those who were never able to attend college, he more than made up for it with a dozen books to his credit. He loved fiction—drawing  upon his movie background, or his experiences in Japan after the war.

Together we did a half-dozen books of which I am most proud. We did only one work of fiction, The Paid Companion of J. Wilkes Booth. Most of our Hollywood history tales were based on his insider knowledge of how a set work, from knowing nearly every star of the 1950s and 1960s. He laughed they were all “six feet tall,” no matter what the truth might be.

We wrote about Boys Town, Billy Budd, Reflections in a Golden Eye, among other films, giving a unique perspective on daily life during the studio shoot. He knew Brando, Taylor, Clift, James Dean, in ways that others could never understand. He threw James Dean out of the Pier Angeli house at her mother’s request.

When we did not write books together, he gave me editorial and research insights for my books on James Kirkwood and Audie Murphy. Oh, he knew them too.

Now he is gone, irreplaceable in my life and in Hollywood history, with all those insights and memories. He had stories he would not tell about the damaged figures of show business. He took those secrets with him, as much as I wanted to hear them. He was loyal to the memory of the business he loved and hated.

Once I called it ‘Tinseltown’, and he reprimanded me: it was a cherished professional location, not a frivolous tabloid fantasy to him. He introduced me as his “son” on occasion, which amused me–and made movie star Frankie Thomas look at me with quite an impression.

Goodbye, dear Jan. I am so lucky to have known you and to have worked with you. I have been left a treasure trove of his life, and maybe one day I will tell what he told me. He was my touchstone to a bygone era and glorious movie history.

World’s “Best” Commercials?

DATELINE: From Wine to Cigarettes

‘Swedish’ lady sells coffee!

We now interrupt your viewing pleasure for a word from many, many sponsors from the alleged Golden Age of Advertising. For you more historically-minded, but young readers, that’s apparently the 1960s when this documentary collection of old black and white commercials dominated the airwaves.

The World’s Best Commercials is a misnomer at best. It was surely the Era of Advertising.

Your favorite TV show or movie was at the mercy of two or three minutes of sales pitches with a curve ball—or maybe that’s a screwball.

Yes, you may have the mad impulse to turn the channel, but you are facing 90 minutes of unrelenting, idiotic, culturally-altering advertisements, often lasting a minute in length. You will see rare cigarette and wine commercials, complete with marching cigarettes (after all, LS/MFT).

Attention spans were greater back then, or sponsors fewer.

In any respect, you will shock your sensibilities to learn about the Swing-Ding in which kids give themselves a self-propelled concussion with a tie-on toy. You wil meet again the “Swedish” Mrs. Olson who hucksters Folger’s coffee. You will learn that Miami is a hotspot as America’s Riviera.

And, without any organizing principle, or narrator, you simply sit back and are hit repeatedly with an endless barrage of products, many that are now gone (we think) or evolved into something else. We saw Baggies in three sizes. They were all the suburban rage back then, when you could pour silver dollars into them—and they would not rip or shred.

Several times we were moved to get up and go to the bathroom.

This compendium has nothing to do with quality, but likely what was readily available to the producers of this collection. Were we the only masochists who would force this stuff upon ourselves? If you are a student of sociology, marketing, or sociological marketing history, this film will thrill you.

This stuff is campy and may have even been humorous in its day.

You clearly see what was on the minds of the people controlling the purse-strings in those days:  suburban Mom. Kids, husbands, pets, all were at her whim to purchase or allow such items into the home. If you want to know who the big powers of the era were, this little ad ditties will tell you.

Pay TV reportedly was to end this blight on America’s vast wasteland of free TV.

Forgiving Dr.Mengele???

DATELINE: Shocker from Holocaust Survivor

 Preaching Forgiveness Eva Kor

We have to admit the moment we saw the title for this documentary about Mengele at Auschwitz, we were baffled and shocked. What kind of Nazi propaganda was this? It turns out the film is told from the viewpoint of Eva Kor, a survivor twin of the Mengele experiments. Her story makes a compelling version of Forgiving Dr. Mengele.

Her idea to forgive (not forget) the people who harmed her has infuriated other twin survivors—and Jews in general. She argues that their anger and hatred are destructive to themselves and their own healing.

She meets with a Nazi doctor—and she writes him a letter of forgiveness. They go to Auschwitz together, elderly and frail, holding onto each other. It is startling.

What a tale she has to tell. And, if she forgives the evil Nazi doctor, we want to hear why she has come to this conclusion.

From 2006, this film is brilliantly cut, swirling back and forth between modern Terre Haute with its placid environs, and the horror of black and white footage. Eva, now a realtor, walks along a luxury pool that turns into a puddle she walks around when she visited the camp in 1984.

She is survivor in every way. As a ten-year old child, she saw her first dead body in the dirt, unattended and naked, and she swore she would never give up life. Each day she willed herself to live through horrid experiments and deplorable conditions.

Fortunately, she was rescued in ten months—though she and her twin were damaged by the trauma, as expected. Once arriving at her destination, her mother was ripped away—and she never saw father and sisters again. Only she and her twin sister were together: saved for Mengele’s dastard medical plans.

When the Soviets freed her camp, she and her sister were the first two to march out of the barbed wire on film, a famous piece of celluloid.

Her life in America came after she married another Holocaust survivor. They raised three typical American children in the heartland of America—but she never leaves food on her plate and sleeps with her purse under her. These are holdovers from losing everything.

When she tackles forgiveness, she becomes a lightning rod in Israel, Germany, and the United States.

She and her husband subscribe to the notion that you can only transcend such a life-altering horror by forgiving the enemies who tormented you. It works for her, and she is a hard-working, admirable woman who laughed when they said she could not sell real estate because she had an accent.

What a remarkable person.

 

 

NDA Day in NFL!

DATELINE: Brown’s Grade, AB Positive

sample! Not for Player Use!

Quiet!  Shhhhh!  The big secret of the NFL is the notorious nondisclosure agreement, aka NDA. You may remember that little bitty from Donald Trump crying about Stormy sex crimes. Your Non-disclosure agreement puts you in the high chair.

if you molest someone by grabbing genitals, you simply pay the victim a large sum of money to keep his or her mouth shut with a small stocking stuffer. NDAs are the ways to go.

That’s how you play footsie with a wide receiver.

Grabbing genitals is congenital in the NFL. But an NDA saves the day!

If you cry havoc, cry rape or cry wolf, you may have an x-rated Xmas while the gridiron is hot!

Short of murdering people on the streets of Boston in the manner of Aaron Hernandez, you could probably get away with quite a few garden-variety crimes with a few golden nuggets in your pocket party.

Don’t be stopped at a red-light zone by police for soliciting sex at a massage parlor!  If you keep the bare rumpus in your home, you can keep the victims quiet by throwing large wads of cash on their bare bodkins.

Your signing bonus is primarily a tool for legal expenses in pro football.

Fear not, rapists or child abusers, there is a kill-fee awaiting at your favorite David Pecker-run tabloid.

We know NFL players are paid beyond normal pay-scale and most have water on the brain, so quantitative quantum finance means loads of non-disclosure agreements. That way the NFL never can hear about what might cause suspension, investigation, or exempt status.

Your next super bowl will be held in the toilet bowl.

 

 

 

 

Put Out APB Fashion Police on AB!

DATELINE: All Points Bulletin on Antonio Brown!

 AB & NDA in NFL

If you thought the New England Patriots were immoral and unscrupulous, you surely are not surprised that Antonio Brown is laying on a thick residue of scandal on the beleaguered franchise. Even worse, he wore a notorious short suit in hideous design to the game.

Brown’s goop is knee-deep—ranging from Kraft’s massage parlor problems to an artist who came to paint a mural in Brown’s home and found the star walking around in his short suit birthday suit.

Is anyone shocked nowadays? How quaint that must be.

Only a Victorian throwback would find the Bill Belichick approach a shock to the system: money & ratings move the team’s off-field antics.

Yes, the Patriots have found a way to rekindle interest in their boring team. They had grown into old-hat, like the Yankees in the 1950s, standing too pat, losing interest even from fans. They were your grandfather’s bowler hat and Fred Astaire’s top hat.

Now, they have enlivened up the entire NFL season, which is built on the sandy castle of money. It shifts, and it is a porous foundation for anything permanent, except a gaudy Super Bowl ring around the toilet.

Football games are violent, scandal-ridden and off-limits to normal human civilizing influence. You may break an arm, have you clavicle broken, develop water on the brain, but it’s all for the entertainment of men with testosterone deficiency that undevelop every Sunday afternoon.

The Patriots have found a sure-fire formula to bring in fans and more money than ever: Gronk may be gone, but long live the boorish mean-spirit of AB. From A to B, you will have more alphabet soup than any spelling bee deserves.

We begin to wonder how many non-disclosure agreements there are in the NFL among players: Start singing the ditty: “you’ll never know.”

You can pour your soup into a saucer in New England, as long as there is no chowdah involved. Sip slowly with adequate slurps: with other teams collapsing all around, New England is on the road to the Super Bowl.

Move over, dead spirit of Aaron Hernandez

 

 

Superman on Earth!

DATELINE: Roots of Superhero!

 Boundless Leaper, George Reeves!

Let’s go back in time to the thrilling days of yesteryear! No, wait, that’s the wrong one: “it’s a bird, it’s a plane,” no, no….You guessed it. We took in a short black and white classic of TV special effects: Superman from 1951, the premier episode of the series starring George Reeves.

We expected campy silliness, but the ridiculous was overwhelmed by the sublime.

It really is the progenitor of the superhero craze that sprang out of its low-budget roots: yet, the great council of Krypton ignores Jor-el, the young scientist (Robert Rockwell, no less) who predicts that the planet’s environmental climate problems mean instant evacuation.

There are more nay-sayers in the leadership ranks than at a Trump Cabinet meeting. We swore one of the cabinet members on the show was Wilbur Ross. They scoff at the nuclear winter predictions, and refuse to build a bunch of spaceships to go to Earth where this race of supermen could enslave us all.

Thank heavens, the baby sent out in a nick of time is the child of the enlightened—and he has come to Earth to save humanity. He will do it by working for the fake media, where stories like a man flying faster than a bullet saves a man hanging off a dirigible.

Thank heavens the baby was rescued from the spaceship by Ma and Pa Kettle, er, we mean Kent. They only talk like Marjorie Main and Percy Kilbride. When Clark’s father dies, he must go to Metropolis, and the rest as they say is history.

We were a tad surprised that a children’s show (as it was billed) featured destruction of an entire race of people, and then the death of a stepfather! Wouldn’t happen in a movie today, or would it?

We love the years passing by—from 1926 to 1951 when Clark cleverly hides his identity as a mild-mannered reporter with eyeglasses.

The cast was stellar: John Hamilton as the Editor of the Daily Planet, irascible and cantankerous. The first Lois is Phyllis Coates, more cynical and career girl than the later Noell Neill. We were also bemused that playwright Jack Larson lied to his friends back on Broadway—who never knew he moonlighted as Jimmy Olson, cub reporter.

It was a telescopic twenty-minutes that glossed over much to fit the story to the pilot episode. We think it is instructive to see how a movement that has taken over Hollywood and movies began.

Time & Again Machine

DATELINE: Wells Novel on Screen Again

 Guy Pearce face-off with hologram enacted by Orlando Jones!

 

Back in 2002, forty years after the original classic George Pal movie, there came a remake of The Time Machine, based on the H.G. Wells classic.

This time the stalwart hero is Guy Pearce, and the story once set in London during the Victorian Age with an American as the time traveler, is now set in New York with an Austrailian as the American scientist. It doesn’t matter much as Guy Pearce is so brilliant, humorous, and always watchable. His rebel scientist eschews hats and wears his long hair greasy. It is quasi-Victorian, but totally Hollywood.

The film’s best moments are its paeon to the earlier film and story. As if to underscore the homage, they have brought Mr. Ed’s Alan Young out of retirement to play a cameo. He was one of the stars of the 1960 version.

Our favorite moment is when Orlando Jones shows up as a hologram at the New York Public Library who can tell us about the earlier movie, the Wells novel, and can even sing a tune from the bad musical version of the same.

The time machine itself is a Rube Goldberg mess that looks worse than the one used in 1960, and one character even calls it a “cappuccino maker.”

The impetus for time travel is, of course, the unfortunate death of our hero’s girlfriend. He goes back to fix the problem but discovers that you might go back a thousand times, but her death will occur every time, however differently.

The interesting travels through time also takes us 802,000 years into the future when the planet has clearly gone through some ice ages and re-growth. It is interesting that the evolving of humans seems minimal. You can blame that lack of insight on Wells, not the movie.

All in all, this old-fashioned and fun movie plays with the subject and our memories of it. It’s hard to believe that it was almost twenty years ago that it escaped our attention.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

John Wick: Serial Killer or Mass Murderer?

DATELINE: Kill Count Around 200?

Keanu with Anjelica.

We just had the pleasure of watching a film that is the epitome of political incorrectness in America after a half-dozen shootings in society. John Wick: Chapter Three Parabellum is a violent satire of gun use. At least, we think it is meant to be funny.

Para bellum is Latin for “prepare for war.”  It is only one of several high-toned touches of art and culture in a brutal shoot’em up. We did not have our clicker with us, but we believe Wick kills over 150 people, one at a time. It causes the movie to run for a full two-hours and have credits that will feature keanu’s chef.

Keanu Reeves has now appeared in three of these sagas, his big money-making series. At 55 he is giving contemporary Tom Cruise a run for old age. We cannot imagine how he can run, jump, kill, and duck endlessly and never be out of breath. And, he is shot and stabbed on more than one occasions.

You know that Wick is dangerous when he kills an assassin in the New York Public Library—with a book. And then puts the bloody tome back on the shelf.

The film is a series of set pieces of mayhem. It seems everyone in the world is packing heat—and most of those are hired guns. No wonder we have shootings every week. It’s part of a movie fantasy world.

Among the high-brow stars is Anjelica Huston playing The Director, some kind of Russian oligarch balletomane who runs a dance company like she’s a female Diaghilev. Also on hand for chuckles is Ian McShane and Laurence Fishburne. Don’t worry about your stars being killed off: they will need to return for the fourth entry (yes, it is clearly coming).

In the meantime you can wonder about the brilliant choreography done by Reeves, and then there are outlandish set scenes like a swordfight on motorcycles.

We want to say the body count is quite high, but we think more panes of glass were broken than any other kind of vandalism. There isn’t a window in which someone does not put his head right through.

We also see plenty of blood splatter as heads are blown away with armor piercing bullets when a sword through the eyeball is not handy.

We haven’t seen this high a body count since Richard Burton and Clint Eastwood went Where Eagles Dare, killing Nazis.

 

 

 

 

A Tale of Two Titanic Survivors

DATELINE: Never Told Story?

Emilio Portaluppi.    &     Charles Joughlin

One of the segments of the recent TV series UnXplained featured the mysterious survival story of Charles Joughlin, the chief baker on the Titanic. It went so far as to suggest that supernatural forces were at work when it came to this man’s miraculous escape from death.

The story of Joughlin was made famous, or infamous, on the movie A Night to Rememberwhen notable character actor George Rose played him for comic relief. When he discovered the ship was sinking, baker Joughlin started drinking heavily and was totally drunk as the ship went under.

He spent his last minutes aboard ship, in his chef’s white smock, throwing objects into the ocean for those in the cold water to hold as buoyant rafts. He himself went into the frigid waters that killed people after ten minutes. Only he did not die.

After a short time in the North Atlantic among chunks of ice, he was pulled aboard the lifeboat of Officer Lighttoller and lived.

How miraculous was that?

Not quite as amazing as the story of Emilio Portaluppi, a second-class passenger who lived in Milford, New Hampshire, and worked there as a stonemason. He too was tossed into the ocean as Titanic sank, and he too survived being in the frigid waters that killed so many so quickly. Yet, his story has not really been told.

What’s the difference?

Perhaps, the key ingredient was nationality: Joughlin could readily speak to journalists and told a tale that bemused even other survivors. Portaluppi was an Italian immigrant who moved to Milford, New Hampshire, likely spoke poor English and returned to a small New England town and lived unobtrusively for years. No movie character ever depicted his intriguing story.

Joughlin was older by eight years, and he was in his mid-30s, married with two children, when he was chief baker on the White Star Lines. Portaluppi had no listed famiy in America. In fact, he was on a holiday in Italy to see his parents when he booked passage on Titanic in France to return to America.

Both men lived years after Titanic became folklore, but Joughlin was British and managed to find his tale in Walter Lord’s famous book, A Night to Remember.Portaluppi, by that time, had left New Hampshire to work in Brooklyn for a contracting company. Though Joughlin died in the 1950s, Portaluppi lived until 1974—and was available to talk to anyone interested in Titanic.

Apparently, he never did. The few news stories about him seem to offer details and dismissive skepticism. He said he was in the water for about two to four hours, and he floated among dead bodies until a rescue vessel came by after dawn and found him. He was one of four still alive in the waters. This superseded Joughlin by many hours!

How did Portaluppi survive the hypothermia? There are no tales of his drunkenness being the root cause. The officer who led the rescue claimed he never spoke to those whom he saved, and they never spoke to him even after being fished out of the water. No thanks, and no explanations. One could presume they were half-dead, in shock, and perhaps Portaluppi knew little enough English.

Thus, Portaluppi’s tale was truly supernatural, but for over fifty years, he lived quietly, even as films were made and TV specials passed him by. Perhaps he blacked out and did not recall what happened. Perhaps he suffered from post-traumatic syndrome and never wanted to discuss it. He went into a kind of seclusion usually afforded New Yorkers like Greta Garbo. He was in the biggest metropolis of media for 35 years, and when he died, his body was sent to Italy for burial.

You mean no journalist found a story here worth telling?

Patrick Swayze Remembered!

DATELINE: Gone 10 Years!

 I am Patrick Swayze!

Has the Dirty Dancing Ghost star been gone for ten years?

The documentary put together by those who loved him (wife, brother, costars, friends, agents) is powerful its use of one word: “heart.” It seems to crop up regularly from a variety of people. He had it and he gave it.

The film description said he “challenged Hollywood’s notion of masculinity,” which perplexed us, as he seemed instead to epitomize it. He could play a cowboy, a dancer, a roadhouse thug, in action films where he did his own stunts. He was vibrant, and only handsome incidentally. He was an athlete or a ballet dancer, and from that root came everything else. This is one of a series of biographical films, this called I am Patrick Swayze.

His mother was the ultimate stage mother: she ran a Texas ballet school, and it was obvious Patrick Swayze would be part of that world. Knee reconstruction from football injuries put him in pain whenever he did those roles thereafter.

He did not want to be a teen idol, though his roller blading was stunning, and his dirty dancing made him internationally famous.

Friends talk of his soul of a poet, how well-rounded in arts he was. Rob Lowe and C. Thomas Howell were teammates, rivals, and friends, from the Coppola movie The Outsiders. He costars noted he was mild and dynamic at the same time.

We always found him watchable and curious about what he might do: sometimes he took on roles that did not interest everyone, but he was his own man in that regard. Then, he was sick with pancreatic cancer and gone abruptly. It now appears to be a grave injustice of the universe to take away a person who epitomized life.

He wanted to prove there was life beyond being a sex symbol, which led him to do sky-diving stunts in Point Break and brutal fight scenes. He was not wanted for one of his great roles, in Ghost.The director had to be convinced, but Patrick Swayze always convinced anyone who put his attentions on.

Like the proverbial meteor, he came, shined by in the firmament, and went away. Like many others, after seeing this film of his life, we miss him too.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Third-Eye Spies: Remote Viewers

DATELINE: Alphabet Soup, NSA, CIA, DIA, KGB

The CIA declassified 70,000 top secret items recently on its 25-year program on Remote Viewing. Third Eye Spiesis a documentary film about a controversial subject, even today, let alone the 1970s.

After it was learned that the Soviets were actively seeking a psychic weapon in the Cold War arsenal as a 1970s spy mission, to create an bureau of paranormal viewers who could “see” anyplace in the world that was needed to give reports to the United States. The CIA, at first, merely wanted to discredit the subject, but found it could not.

There is more than ideomotor at work in the universe, Horatio.

Jimmy Carter, then president in 1979, learned of one psychic who located a missing plane that the Air Force recon could not find. She gave latitudes and longitude to its exact location. It convinced everyone.

Before that, a group of physicists (Russell Targ, Pat Price, Kit Green, and Ingo Swann) were members of Sanford Research Institute, the foremost research group in the country. They kept their autonomy and refused to join MK-Ultra, the CIA LSD program of the era.

Their experiments had to be kept secret for fear that government funding would be ceased if such a “crackpot” notion were to become known in Congress.

No one dares to speak the name “séance” because it would have sent chills into the program and ended any serious study of parapsychology. But what you had was a group of gifted people conducting seances (without contacting dead people), at least for the record.

Swann, a gay man, was the purest of all the psychics and mediums. Not only was he a painter of mystical art works, but he could look anywhere in the universe. He reported there were rings around Jupiter years before they were discovered. It is called paraphysics nowadays—that there are rules of universal and natural law that are trans-dimensional.

Dr. Pat Price, the best of the clairvoyants, died under mysterious circumstance in Las Vegas in 1975, but it was swept under the rug: surprise. He was able to find Patty Hearst when the FBI came to him—and two years after his death, they learned that he had described a Soviet nuclear device to shoot down American satellites.

One of their contacts at CIA was often referred to as the American Mengele, Dr. Sid Gottlieb who ran the most covert LSD and medical experiments then done. And, surprise of surprises, Uri Geller, famous entertainer, worked as a double-agent for several governments, providing literal insights.

This film cannot be viewed normally, as it is clear that disinformation and discredit is heaped everywhere by former KGB agents and the CIA, which have reason to obfuscate the results. In the United States, Robert Gates leads the big bonehead opposition. On the other hand, mystical astronaut Edgar Mitchell found answers in new perspectives.

Once again, we have a look at a paranormal, or paraphysical world, that fails to take into consideration communicate with trans-dimensional beings, whether they are space aliens, or dead people.

Remote Viewing has enough problems without tying its wagon to seance.

 

 

 

 

 

Uncanny Cats: Not Exactly T.S. Elliot

DATELINE: Cat Got Your Tongue? 

Way back in 1977, on the heels of a career of low budget horror movies, Ray Milland took off his toupee and faced the snarling, pouncing faces of cats. The film was titled The Uncanny, which is hardly catty enough.

Yes, what Alfred Hitchcock did for The Birds, this film wanted to do for your cute and cuddly pussycat. Don’t ask what’s up, pussycat, because writer and scientist Peter Cushing believes that cats are the devil’s messenger—and they have it for him. He has written a book and is trying to sell it to publisher Milland.

Like Erich van Daniken, Cushing’s paranormal writer has tackled the Pyramids, UFOs, and other topical crypto-science subjects—and has turned his attention to a conspiracy of cats. And, his feline nemesis is not a happy camper.

If your idea of fur balls turning evil is good for a laugh, this movie is for you. If you belong to Internet websites that features kitty cats doing funny things, you may be horrified. Well, that is the point of this film.

As for us, we never grab a pussy by the tail—and recommend you don’t either!

The sordid little tales are set in London in 1912, Hollywood in 1936, and in contemporary Montreal. We should tell you that the cold winter of Montreal does not stand in well for Los Angeles.

The cast is downright overblown: Donald Pleasance and Samantha Eggar are in Hollywood, and Simon Williams—fresh off Upstairs/Downstairsas wastrel James Bellamy has a cat moment himself. A few other known faces, like John Vernon, are also in the storyline.

The film did not ruin anyone’s career, having been lost for decades and forgotten by everyone involved. It isn’t HItchock level, and it is of varying brutality and humor, but you seldom find a movie in which cute kitty-cats are filmed like horrid monsters, leaping from balconies to kill.

As a curio, this one is worth peeking at.

 

 

Trump’s Mantra: “Off with their heads!”

DATELINE: Trump as Queen of Heartless

If you remember your literature, you know it was the queen of Hearts that constantly solved all royal court problems by shouting, “Off with their heads.”

It’s now the mantra of the Trump administration.

If you cross the President, he wants you fired. There’s nothing new in this as he made it his tagline on TV where he starred as a buffoon in an American business satire.

Now he has taken the royal pledge of vindication to new heights, or depths. He has now started to emulate the Queen of Hearts, sending out his Mad Hatter, Wilbur Ross, secretary of commerce, to threaten to fire weathermen for saying a hurricane is not imminent.

Imagine! You are fired for doing your job. “Off with their heads,” and their paychecks. It is nothing new under the rainy reign of Trump.

Thousands of Bahamians have lost everything in Hurricane Dorian that nearly missed Alabama, but Trump won’t give them aid or assistance. They have lost their passports, and now he wants their heads on a silver platter. Let them die in misery is his motto.

“Off with their heads,” we expect that slogan to echo through his campaign rallies to come. Political opponents? Off with their heads! Musicians wives? Off with their heads! Media journalists? Off with their heads.

We can hardly wait for the worm to turn, and have the Congress vote for impeachment while shouting, “Off with his head!” That would make us a wonderland of a banana republic, which seems to be Trump’s fondest wish.

Halston: Fashionista with Un-Common Touch

DATELINE: Clothes Make the Woman

 Halston, Taylor, Minelli at Studio 54!

Fashion designer extraordinaire, Halston was part of a generation that self-immolated by 1990. Most of them were gone: trend-setting, pop culture icons:  notably Halston (he only needed one name, like Liberace). A fascinating documentary aptly named Halstontells the tale.

The 1950s gave young talents like Halston and Warhol a youthful connection to fame, but it was by the 1960s they took charge of their lives. Halston was a gypsy of America, living in no true fixed abode. So, he was likely to be self-made.

He was ambitious and flamboyant, ready to take his energy and ideas into all kinds of creative realms. He was the pioneer who made Europe take note of American fashion, though he was later given rivals like Perry Ellis and Calvin Klein.

Halston tried to stay ahead of the curve, branching out into aesthetics like perfume with bottles as arty as popular. He melded movies and fashion together, finding that his association with people like Liza Minelli and Elizabeth Taylor were ways to grow socially and artfully.

It started to go wrong when he splurged into Studio 54 with Warhol, Capote, and the raft of disco dollies. It was, some said, the beginning of a dissolution.

The documentary never says much about his aging, but it’s there: clearly losing youth to something harder. He became as hard as his looks, or perhaps his looks took on his personality: moody, bossy, self-centered.  It wasn’t pretty, when he started to be less pretty.

Others thought his greed was the deciding factor that led to his destruction: he sold out to J.C. Penney, going from class to mass appeal. It alienated his well-to-do friends and undermined his name. He actually sold his own name, and lost control of it.

The end featured more intrigue that Ancient Rome, as he was pushed out (literally locked out) of his own empire by locksmiths and Playtex bra people who bought his name. A few thought it was drugs that did him in, if not promiscuity.

It was the 1980s and the deadly virus that swept through art circles in theatre, fashion, music, especially in New York, took him too. Andy Warhol once said that he’d want Halston and Elizabeth Taylor as his chums because they were so nice.

This celebrity name-dropping documentary may stir memories in a generation grown old. Halston was loved by many people who felt he epitomized tragedy by the end.