Bette & Joan: The Bitter End

DATELINE: Final Round

 coda  Great Eternal Stars

If you are waiting for the moment after Crawford died when Bette Davis spoke her insightful comment, “They don’t change just because they’re dead,” you won’t find it in Ryan Murphy’s miniseries.

We do hear Davis tell a reporter that her mother taught her to speak only good about the dead.  Bette then gives her quote for the obituary: “Joan Crawford is dead. Good.” And, she hangs up on the press.

The end for Joan features a soundtrack recording of The Doors’ song of that name while Joan filmed Trog, in ill health and with deplorable low-budget conditions. It’s either a depiction of poetic justice or cruel fate.

The attempt to wash her tainted Crawford image clean comes with a scene of Joan hallucinating a conversation with Hedda Hopper, Jack Warner, and Bette, the week before she died. How could anyone know about this or what Joan thought in her dying days?

Both women were about to suffer the cruelest cuts of all by their daughters’ memoirs that tried to sully their accomplishments in a world of art and pretense.

Victor Buono, their one-time costar, tries to encourage Bette to reach out to Crawford—but who knows if she made a phone call in the middle of the night to her nemesis?

Joan and Bette lived in a world where publicity machines were gospel. At the end, publicity machines became scandal dispensaries.

The series can only end as life ends: growing old with ill health marking the last days of great stars.

In old age Joan and Bette tried to maintain their dignity, live with clear regrets, and ended up going pathetically into the dark night of movie history.

The early series humor and boisterous, but ribald, energy of the women faded with each episode of the miniseries, leaving fans with the greatest regrets about how it inevitably turns out.

CASEBOOK FOR OLD MILL CIRCLE

NEW AND NOW AVAILABLE!  Latest book in Mill Circle series!

author OssurworldAuthor Ossurworld

A timeless tale of Nature unfolds among the small denizens of Mill
Circle.
Lurid tales of the survival of fit and unfit emerge at the place where animals could partake of the Yellow Spring long ago, but where now spring water has dried up. You might call these tales of Old Mill Circle macabre, gruesome, or a version of
New England grotesque.
In its own cruel and harsh way, Nature torments a squirrel trying to cross electrical wires, but instead meets his Rubicon. A small frog plays dice with his life –the die say snake eyes. A hairy woodpecker sees the false berries of decoration and finds himself lured like a sailor by a siren. Hawks dispatch squirrels and chipmunks, leaving
only small dogs for their dinner. And, birds find homes elsewhere as the 21st century puts its eerie mark on Old Mill Circle.

This small booklet is another in the Mill Circle series about one of the strangest neighborhoods in New England–where paranormal meets the grotesque, the place where history converges–from the home of Titanic victims, to the place where their ghosts reside.  All stories are true.

Available on Amazon in paperback for library builders, or as ebook for smart readers.

The Mill Circle series

HAUNTING NEAR VIRTUOUS SPRING

TALES OF A TITANIC FAMILY

NATURE TALES OF OLD MILL CIRCLE

A GRAND MAPLE TREE ON MILL CIRCLE

THE GREAT BARN OF MILL CIRCLE

VILLAGE POST OFFICE AT MILL CIRCLE

GHOSTS OF MILL CIRCLE (forthcoming, early Fall 2017)

CASEBOOK FROM OLD MILL CIRCLE

 

 

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Where Love Has Gone, Hernandez Style

DATELINE:  Death Watch (Rolex)

 size queenAlexander Bradley guesses again!

Valentine’s Day was too late for Aaron Hernandez.

In September he tried to arrange to have Kyle Kennedy made his cellmate. Though this was at first approved, it was quickly rescinded when authorities received wind of the true nature of their relationship.

Denied a cellie, all he wanted for Xmas, Hernandez grew more despondent apparently—but let’s face it: prison officials seldom take on the roles of matchmakers. It’s bad for prison morale to let engagements occur in the general population.

Prisons have not yet reached the exalted situation where they allow sexual tandems as part of a lonely hearts club. The maximum security prison was not going to become another Cure Lounge.

Kyle Kennedy’s lawyer is now saying that his client will talk about his connections to Hernandez when he is ready. Since he is now off suicide watch, it won’t be long.

As part of his trousseau, Kennedy wants that $47,000 watch that was promised as part of their nuptials. It may be beyond comprehension that Hernandez would offer an expensive bauble to a fellow prisoner—and let his daughter fend for herself.

Kennedy also wants the suicide note Hernandez left for him, but there is a big problem. Hernandez’s attorney, Jose Baez claims it was a note to him, not another inmate. Heavens, could it be that Baez was supposed to receive the watch too—as a retaining memento of love.

Baez also noted that a charge of being gay tarnished the reputation of Hernandez (apparently more than three murder charges).

Lawyers will accept all kinds of gratuities for services rendered. For them, love and money are blinder than justice.

Black Noir Widow in Technicolor

DATELINE:  1954 Mystery

black widow

If you want to make a film noir, flashy colors and lacking mood would be two mistakes. When Nunnally Johnson pitched this movie to the studio, he no doubt mentioned Billy Wilder and Joe Mankiewicz. It sounds fairly entertaining:  a take off on All About Eve, set in the ruthless world of Broadway actresses.

Then you cast the film with some of the biggest names on the downslide of 1954: Ginger Rogers, Gene Tierney, Peggy Ann Gardner, George Raft, and you fill the cast out with red herring bad guys like Van Heflin, Skippy Homeier, Reginald Gardiner, and Otto Kruger.

Alas, your script needs more than a reverse side of a conniving young girl, winnowing her way into the hearts of all the men in the film—until she’s done in.  Eve Harrington would never have let it happen.

When Peggy shows up at her star uncle’s place at the start of the movie, he does not recognize her. Take it from there: the red herrings are ready to go upstream.

The film is called noir, but there is next to nothing here that fills that category.

When Tallulah Bankhead had a chance to play the aging star and parody Bette Davis, who parodied her, she turned it down. She knew a stinkeroo when she read the script.

The stars are fairly wasted, especially Gene Tierney.

The plot becomes asinine when Heflin makes some idiotic decisions, not the least is never to ask for an attorney when the police start behaving badly.

There is an alleged surprise ending, but we doubt many people will stick around that long—out of exasperation.

An Open Letter to President Trump

Dear President Trump,
As one of your earliest supporters and donors, I am disheartened to hear that your head of Homeland Security is seriously considering deporting longtime residents.
TPS or Temporary Protected Status has been given to 60,000 Haitians living in the United States for many years. Thousands came after the hurricane disasters of 2010, but many others were here for political protection or asylum from dangerous thugs in Haiti even before that.
I personally know that some have worked hard in America and believe in the American Dream, learned English, and are consistent taxpayers. Many Haitian refugees granted asylum work in some of the most necessary and difficult jobs in America. They take care of our senior citizens in nursing homes or provide aid to other disabled Americans who cannot fend for themselves. These are the jobs few traditional American citizens will do. It’s hard work, and often unpleasant work.
 Now we hear recommendations are coming to you to deport these people after a decade or more of living in the United States. I have never heard of anything more cold-blooded or unfair.
When I voted for you, I did not expect the decent hard-working people would be the target of discrimination by functionary appointees of your administration.
I urge you, please, Mr. Trump, to grant temporary protected status to Haitians before July 22. To let them dangle until the last minute AND then be deported is harsh business.
Deporting believers in the American Dream is not true to Republican standards of charity and goodwill and violates every standard by which I have lived as a Republican my entire life.
Please give Temporary Protected Status to Haitians immediately.
Your ardent supporter,
Dr. William Russo

White House Fiasco for Patriots

34 missing

34 Missing Patriots Shamed Team, Country, & Themselves

Pats owner Bob Kraft announced that he gave $1million to the Trump election committee before he showed up to the White House for a celebration with President Donald Trump.

Kraft will not miss a White House Rose Garden meeting in order to receive his money’s worth out of the Trump connection.

On the other hand, Tom Brady was not there. Yep, Tom is now citing personal reasons for bailing on a second presidential visit. He hopes, in a text message, to be at a future celebration. He really does expect to play until he is 50.

The stumble-bum contingent who have skipped spending an hour with President Trump just received cover from friendly fire from Tom. The shameful 34 are in his debt.

On top of avoiding a political firestorm, Tom avoided answering questions about his friendship with the late Aaron Hernandez who came to the end of his rope earlier in the day. The Patriots made no one available to the media who knew Hernandez.

We have assiduously avoided discussing the Patriot White House visit, but let’s face it: this may be the biggest watershed moment for the team in the Belichick years.

Believe it or don’t—Brady sent out hints that he was staying home with his parents on their wedding anniversary. Hunh?

However, the truth may be far more distressing: Brady chose not to go upon learning that Aaron Hernandez, a one-time California training partner, had committed suicide—and left a note to his gay prison lover (assiduously avoided topic in Boston’s sports media).

Tom dodged a subpoena with as much grace as he dodged any mention of his name in conjunction with Hernandez. The prosecutors did not want to touch the gay angle—nor the Brady angle to the murder story. If Coach Belichick could offer insights into Hernandez’s character, Brady could have offered much more.

So, President Trump hosted on the South Lawn a depleted Patriot squad. Criticism of the missing Patriots (numbering 34) made it the worst attended championship function ever hosted by a United States president in terms of personnel percentage.

When the New York Times raised the issue, the Patriots swung back with a hard tackle and insisted 40 members of the office entourage chose to remain in the audience rather than take a picture on the steps behind Mr. Trump. Hunh? That’s a most peculiar choice considering in 2015 everyone chose to be in the presidential photo.

The Times had to apologize for their story, though we cannot fathom why.

Jimmy G was the main QB featured over the right shoulder of Mr. Trump, and Julie E. was on the left shoulder, presumably in the spot where Brady would have stood. Jacoby Brissett was there, but released a letter to former President Obama almost immediately, asking for an audience with him.

Gronk was there, and interrupted an international press briefing in a strange move. Amendola was called out by the President for his contributions to the team. This error was made because Trump mentioned no one who skipped the ceremony (including Tom). Someone didn’t tell him that Amendola was at a funeral out of town.

Trump rightly praised often overlooked Patriots, but praised no one who was on the bubble with the team (like Malcolm Butler or missing James White).

All in all, it was a sour celebratory visit, though Mr. Kraft and Mr. Belichick smiled with half-hearted pleasure. The ghost of Hernandez and the ghost of political hatred marred the event.

For Pats fans, the less said, the better.

 

 

 

 

Bell, Book & Candle: Bewitching Entertainment

 DATELINE: Early Bewitched

stellar 

After Hitchcock made them a romantic couple with perfect chemistry in Vertigo, they made another film that year. It was called Bell, Book, & Candle.

It was a sharp satire about a coven of witness in Manhattan.

James Stewart and Kim Novak excelled in turning suspense to laughs, with an assist from actors like Jack Lemmon and Ernie Kovacs.

At least one scene echoes Novak’s San Francisco apartment in Vertigo, but she has a scene-stealing cat named Piwacket this time.

Stewart is a book publisher who falls under Novak’s spell, but the entire concept was done to death in the 1960s under the TV series name of Bewitched. The original idea here seems to have been undercut over the years—except for the striking adult subtlety.

Lemmon and Kovacs shack up in a hotel room to write a book, but their relationship sounds a great deal like consenting adults. They play it to the hilt in the closeted 1950s, which may be the biggest surprise. The Zodiac Club where Lemmon hangs out with other warlocks certainly doubles for a 1950s gay club.

Novak is stunningly beautiful, and Stewart still has enough in the tank to be at the top of his game. The scenes shot in New York with body doubles indicate that Stewart and Novak never left the Hollywood studio when making this film.

The magic of movies is perfect here, from the lush color, muted effects of witchcraft, and the interplay of adults not into situation comedy.

Stricken by Strike a Pose

DATELINE:  Posing or Imposing

strike

 

We never really paid much attention to the “Blonde Ambition” tour of Madonna back in 1990. We saw her legendary videos, like Vogue, but they were unavoidable. The boys who danced behind her were stunning examples of youth.

Now 25 years later, a documentary shows us what happened to her seven backup dancers that she plucked from obscurity and tossed away just as quickly.

Six of the seven were gay—and were probably too young to realize how much she used them for her own purposes in the movie Truth or Dare and on the tour.

Of course, it was at the time a great opportunity—bonding these young men into a band of brothers. However, the fallout in subsequent years took its toll. Drug abuse and puffed up sense of celebrity took years to overcome, but left a waft of regrets.

They had slightly more than 15 minutes of fame, thanks to Madonna, but when she was done, they were on their own. One died of AIDS, and others kept their secret for years of suffering with the illness—but they at least survived. They are still dancers and choreographers, working in their art. Yet, the pain is too readily at the surface.

No, Madonna does not join their reunion at the film’s end, though she likely gave them permission to use her materials—though not the famous video. Three sued her for callous treatment during the tour. They were too callow to understand much more.

Strike a Pose is like going to someone else’s class reunion. You see the angst, but these survivors did cast influence on a generation of gay young people, whether they were ill-used or not. No one mentions A Chorus Line, but the same fate befalls this crew. Ah, what they did for love.

The documentary is compelling evidence that touching fame fleetingly may be the cruelest part of show business.

Aaron Hernandez Unmasked

DATELINE:  Who Goes There?

AHinHOF

It has taken only a scant 48 hours for the Aaron Hernandez memorabilia business to start booming.

Dirt has come tumbling out of his life in the hours after his death.  He purportedly waxed the floor of his cell with soap in order to make sure he would slip and break his neck whether the hanging worked or not.

His body will be buried without a brain, which seems fitting, as his lawyers want Boston University to study this organ for concussion damage.

Chico, as he was called and not in deference to the Marx Brothers comedy team, was said to have written John 3:16 in blood on the wall, but in red ink on his own forehead. He had to print small because there’s very little space between his hairline and his eyebrows, sort of like early Neanderthal.

Some say he left three suicide notes, though the earliest report said there were no suicide notes. The notes have been left to his wife, his daughter, and according to the most reliable sources (the Daily Mail), his gay prison lover (who remains unidentified so far). Anyone reading these blogs for the past few years know that we have the world scooped on that one.

There is a fight brewing over his NFL pension, which is considerable and should go to his daughter, but he may not have left a will and, of course, never married Shayanna.

Since Chico’s death, Tom Brady has gone into seclusion, not even venturing out for the White House party with Mr. Trump.

You can certainly expect more dirty laundry to be aired before Hernandez is fittingly put into the ground.

Hernandez Vacated, Whitewashed, & Cleaned Up

HangMan

DATELINE: Hanging by a Thread

The cold corpse of Aaron Hernandez is undergoing an autopsy, but in the meantime, he has been given a dispensation and clean bill of criminal health by the crazed Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

You see, Hernandez is innocent until proven guilty.

Apparently, his appeal process has been circumvented by an act of suicide. It’s the old story about murdering your parents—and asking for mercy because you’re an orphan.

In the immortal words of American philosopher, Chester A. Riley, “What a revolting development this is.”

It seems in liberal Massachusetts if you die before you have run out of appeals in court, you are declared “Not Guilty!”  Wow. And then some.

Hence, Aaron Hernandez will have his conviction for murder vacated.

In a practical sense, this makes no sense.

The technicality means the NFL can declare Aaron Hernandez eligible as an NFL player. The New England Patriots can re-sign him.  And most of all, history books must now list him as innocent of the murders of three people.

Fortunately, our sad and sorry books on Hernandez are already a series of jokes. (See Amazon for the facts).

Vacated sentences make it harder for civil suits to claim wrongful death. It means the world of Massachusetts is a place of Folly as well as Folderol.

Killing yourself before you are completely guilty in the eyes of the court is one way to beat the system, scoff at the law, and thumb your nose at justice.

Aaron Hernandez might have been clever, but surely he did not expect to be declared innocent up on his own, purportedly self-induced, death.

Of course, in Massachusetts, you can expect an investigation to uncover whether Hernandez was actually murdered in his cell. As we recall, the same fate befell the Boston strangler, Albert DiSalvo, murdered in his jail cell.

Revolting? Only in terms of the old Soviet process of revising history to suit the powers that be. It’s technical name is historical Negationism.

Old-Time Screw-Ball Comedy from the Jack Benny Vault

DATELINE:  Lost Satire

Fred Allen

In the 1940s movies drew its fledgling stars from the ranks of radio comedians—like Bob Hope, Jack Benny, and in 1944, they called upon sharp satirist Fred Allen. Barely recalled nowadays, he came upon the movie world as an unlikely iconoclast, especially during the patriotic days of World War II.

Yes, in the world of major studios, to have someone biting the hand that feeds him was a rare event. It’s in the Bag was middle-aged, baggy-eyed Allen’s debut on the big screen.

Allen rakes American foibles over the coals with the best of them—and it was a strange treat to see small-time American business, intellectuals, politics, lawyers, police, hotels, and middle-class morality under siege.

Allen takes on greed in America as his main target. He plays a flea-circus owner whose grand-uncle leaves him millions in a last will and testament. Of course, his uncle’s corrupt lawyer (John Carradine) and business partners have swindled the old man out of the money—and have had him bumped off.

For odd reasons, it sends Fred Allen on a quest to recover money hidden in an old heirloom chair he has given away. In his travels he meets Jack Benny (playing a vain skinflint named Jack Benny).  He flatters Benny by telling him, based on Jack’s radio show jokes, he thought he was a much older man. Benny counters that he will be of voting age next year.

It’s in the Bag is cynical and sharp, dispatching opening movie credits by Allen as a bunch of names you’d find in a phone book, or hangers-on relatives of the movie’s producer. He yearns for the day when movies will dispatch opening credits completely.

It’s not a great movie, not even a great comedy, but it is an unusual gemstone that puts a timeless, irreverent, insouciant, iconoclastic spin on dumb-founded American culture. No wonder we were charmed by it.

 

 

 

 

Not Sad about the End of Hernandez

DATELINE: Stop the Sad Cracks

gonads

We have been accused of blogging Aaron Hernandez to death. If that’s the charge, we are guilty.

However, we are a little overwrought about the number of stupid people who have called the death of Aaron Hernandez “sad.” Among these are Snoop Dog and any number of bonehead sports reporters.

There is nothing sad when a dangerous sociopath, remorseless killer finds his only salvation in suicide. Yes, we are cold to this death. Nor do we think it’s tragic. The tragic deaths belong to the three people who were gunned down in the night by a dangerous thug killer with anger issues.

Those lives were snuffed out prematurely and without justification. We wonder if there are others victims of Hernandez.

Aaron Hernandez was his own best friend, which is probably the only fitting epitaph.

Some people are speculating that he had to kill himself as a matter of honor. The man was completely remorseless and lacked basic values. He did not have a scintilla or shred of sympathy for those who died at his own hand. He may have been found not guilty he in a court, but he remains guilty before the pearly gates of inevitable justice.

We suspect that the guilt Hernandez felt was like that of Scrooge:  he was visited by three ghosts in his cell right before he hanged himself.

Ultimate Closure for Aaron Hernandez

DATELINE:  Patriots Go to White House Today

scary

When the word came out early in the morning, we first thought he was murdered. His former teammates were stepping onto a charter jet to go to the White House to meet the President of the United States. He was throttled in his jail cell.

The details clarified the fate of Aaron Hernandez. He had blockaded the cell door where he stayed alone in a cell. He hanged himself from the window bars with a bedsheet. That’s no easy task for large man.

Like so many other desperadoes, including Jeffrey Dahmer and Albert Desalvo, murdered in their jails, Hernandez suffered alone, steeped in guilt in a prison in Shirley, Massachusetts.

His ultimate motivation for his ultimate end had to be complete despair. He had just been found not guilty a few days earlier. For the first time in four years, he had reason to be optimistic. He’s brilliant defense team plan to appeal the first conviction.

None of that mattered. Perhaps it was because he had to live with the truth. He killed himself on the day that his former teammates were going to the White House to meet President Trump.

One can only speculate what he thought about what might have been. He was supposed to be at Super Bowl 51, and he was supposed to go to the White House and bask in glory.

Instead, his story has come to an ignominious end.

He was not at Celtics games courtside like Belichick, and Brady, and Gronk. He was never to elude tackles again on the playing fields. And he could not elude himself in the dark crevices of his own mind.

Rajon Rondo & Malcolm Butler Kick Celtics in End

DATELINE:  Celtics Not the Patriots

 RondoLaughs

You know Malcolm Butler wants to be traded.

On the same day he signed his $3.9 million tender contract with the Patriots, he went to the Boston Celtics playoff game in town and sat behind the Celtics bench.

Followers of NBA basketball know that this has been an emotionally distressing week for the team.  Star scoring machine and tiny tot superman Isaiah Thomas has been playing despite the death of his sister in Washington state after a car accident.

The courage and determination of Thomas may serve as inspiration for most to do their job: the Belichick mantra.

Butler who has tried to orchestrate a trade out of town—and may be setting himself up for a permanent trip to nowhere else sat behind the grieving Celtics.

Butler found himself making disparaging comments to the Celtics players. What??

The Patriots have maintained a “we’re all in Boston together” attitude for years. You always expect Patriot stars to be cheerleaders for their other sports counterparts.

Butler really does want to leave town when he knocks the Celtics and sits next to them during a hideous playoff game. The only other player to do that during the game was Rajon Rondo, one-time Celtics legend, now shilling brilliantly for the Chicago Bulls as their star point guard.

Rondo looked glorious in his black Bulls outfit and creamed the Celtics with his masterful passing and near triple double.

Perhaps Butler thinks Rondo is still wearing green.

Perhaps Butler is preparing to refuse to go to the White House to meet with President Trump, set to honor the Patriots.

In the meantime, the hapless Celtics were kicked when down by a soon-to-be ex-Patriot. It’s okay, fans. An ex-Celtic is kicking the hapless Celtics into the ground too. Rondo spent the weekend walking around Boston, signing autographs and wearing prison-stripe black & white pajama bottoms to the game.

We still love Rondo even if he never goes to Patriot games anymore. We aren’t sure about Malcolm Butler.