I have kept Thrilling Days of Yesteryear, my online nostalgia blog about classic films, vintage TV and old-time radio, going for eight years. My first post was on
November 4, 2003—the neighborhood where it was erected has been razed, unfortunately, but I managed to rescue it and move it here if you’re interested.
Faithful readers of course know the origins of the blog by now—my pal Laura, who blogs at Oh Crap, I Have a Crush on Sarah Palin, asked me one day when I was planning to start a blog…and then later, after reading some of the side-splitting snark at s.z. and Scott C.’s World O’Crap, I said to myself: “I can do that.” And so, Number One, I made it so. (Actually, since the two bloggers who inspired me to start one of my own feature the word "crap" in their titles perhaps I should change that to "Number Two, I made it so.")
To be honest, I’m often puzzled at how I’ve managed to keep it going for so long. There are boxes of Hostess Twinkies with longer shelf lives than most blogs. But it really shouldn’t be such a head-scratcher; I have an awful lot of fun doing it. I’m a fairly introverted person by nature, but if you get me started on any of the subjects I used to describe TDOY’s content I’m liable to talk your ear off. I’ve always enjoyed writing, and since an English teacher at my alma mater of
constantly drilled into my mush-filled noggin “Write what you know” it just seems to make sense that I would gravitate towards chronicling my passions in life. I’ve loved TV ever since I was old enough to walk over unsteadily on toddler legs and turn it on; I discovered OTR, “the theatre of the mind,” when I was twelve years old and found myself transfixed by its power. I cherish and revere old movies because…well, the characters and stories are miles and away superior than the pap they're using to lure people into the googolplexes nowadays. (Here's where I start yelling at kids to stay off my lawn.). Ravenswood Penitentiary High School
I must, however, caution those of you out there considering a dip in
that the financial rewards for blogging are practically non-existent. (The only way I’m ever going to deposit checks with “Thrilling Days of Yesteryear” as my employer is if I start some money-laundering operation.) But there are other benefits: I was asked—first by First Generation Radio Archives (now just Radio Archives) and then Radio Spirits—to contribute liner notes for their old-time radio releases, and have gratefully received financial recompense for my efforts. I've also been afforded the privilege of seeing my jotted-down ramblings grace other online blogs like The LAMB, Movie Fan Fare and my good friends at Edward Copeland on Film...and More. Most of the time, though, I divine genuine satisfaction just if someone e-mails me to tell me how much they enjoy the blog or thanks me for recommending a movie that they might have otherwise avoided like the plague. (“Uncle” Donnie Pitchford, Lum & Abner expert, once told me that when someone had words of praise for something he scribbled down he’d say to himself: “There’s your pay.” It certainly applies here.) Lake Blog
And on rare occasions, I even get the opportunity to give away free swag. Christina Foxley at Crown/Random House was generous enough to send me two copies of Learning to Live Out Loud, the just-released memoirs of Emmy and Golden Globe Award-winning actress Piper Laurie…and I’m going to give the TDOY faithful the opportunity to score a copy. Here are the “deets,” as my BBFF Stacia would say:
In the glory days of movie making, Piper Laurie was living every little girl’s dream. Her name emblazoned marquees across
in hit movies of the era such as The Prince Who Was a Thief, The America Gambler, and Ain’t Misbehavin’. Her beauty was admired by the likes of Ronald Reagan, Howard Hughes, Paul Newman, Tony Curtis, as well as dozens of directors and legions of fans. But Piper discovered early on that the little girl’s dream was not her own—she didn’t want to be a movie star. She wanted to be an actor with the freedom and the fulfillment of her own artistic yearnings. LEARNING TO LIVE OUT LOUD: A Memoir (Crown Archetype; Mississippi November 1, 2011) is the inspiring, intimate tale of Piper’s perseverance to overcome a troubling childhood, break from tradition, and to practice her craft at the highest level.
When she was six years old, Piper (born Rosetta Jacobs) and her sister were sent to live in a children’s asylum, where she remained for three years, almost entirely mute. In LEARNING TO LIVE OUT LOUD she recounts how she overcame this period of parental neglect and almost total verbal silence and discovered her gift of acting. At age seventeen she signed a contract with Universal Studios and at eighteen had her first affair with a co-star. Piper’s deeply personal stories from this time include love affairs with well-known actors and movie moguls, a brief engagement to G. David Schine, marriage to acclaimed Pulitzer Prize-winning critic Joe Morgenstern, and encounters with Elvis, Charlie Chaplin, and many others. Her vivid recollections of her first meetings with Rita Hayworth, Shirley Temple, Joe McCarthy, Sissy Spacek, and George Clooney offer a new perspective on part of
’s A-List. Hollywood
After years in the studio system where she was paraded around and consistently cast in the “bimbo” role, shy Piper found her voice and the courage to burn her contract. Only then did she begin to star in the TV shows, stage productions, and films that truly became the hallmarks of her remarkable career: The Glass Menagerie on Broadway, the original Days of Wine and Roses, The Hustler with Paul Newman, the iconic Carrie, and
Twin Peaks. She grew into a three-time Oscar-nominated actress (for The Hustler, Carrie, and Children of a Lesser God), won an Emmy and a Golden Globe, and remains active to this day as both as performer and director as well as an accomplished sculptor. With LEARNING TO LIVE OUT LOUD, she recounts her many professional highlights in vivid detail and shares a range of difficult, delightful, and juicy stories—some never before told—about:
• Her lonely childhood years in an asylum and struggles with acute anxiety disorder.
• Losing her virginity to Ronald Reagan following the filming of her very first movie—where Piper was playing Reagan’s character’s16-year-old daughter!
• A tender affair with a young Mel Gibson while filming Tim.
• The casting and filming of The Hustler (celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2011) and Carrie (celebrating its 35th anniversary).
• Bizarre meetings with a Howard Hughes on the verge of his period of extreme isolation and illness, her friendship with Rock Hudson, her “intimacy with the perfect President Ronnie, who disappointed,” working with Brian de Palma, and much, much more.
A stirring memoir of one of
’s most gifted and memorable actresses, LEARNING TO LIVE OUT LOUD is an honest, refreshing departure from the typical celebrity memoir and a must-read this fall. Hollywood
Two lucky people will be able to read this book this fall…all you need to do is e-mail me at igsjrotr(at)gmail(dot)com with your name and snail-mail address (if you’d rather wait to see if you’re notified that you’re a winner, that’s ginger-peachy as well) and “Piper Laurie Giveaway” in the subject header. You have until EST on Thursday, November 11 (Veterans’ Day) to enter, and then Friday morning I shall award two individuals (via Random.org) the prizes. Again, many thanks to Crown/Random House’s generosity in letting me give away these swell books…and thanks to everyone who’s made churning out Thrilling Days of Yesteryear posts for the past eight years an indescribable delight. I often appropriate the words of The Great One when I tell people, “Oooh, you’re a good group.”