Thursday, August 25, 2011

“I’m a writer…but then, nobody’s perfect…”

About 99% of the promotional e-mails I receive (and to be honest, I’m always sort of flummoxed when I get that sort of thing because it’s like the people who send them are convinced I’m some sort of mover-and-shaker in the blogosphere) hold very little interest for me but when I fished an e-mail out of my box yesterday touting 2012’s “Great Directors” series of U.S. postage stamps I naturally wanted to put them up on the blog.  The bulk of the e-mail was dedicated to TDOY director god Billy Wilder (and my description of him as such might explain why I got the e-mail—incidentally, the USPS guy who sent me the e-mail referred to him at one point as “Bill,” which I found hysterically funny) but I’m equally ecstatic about the other three directors, particularly John Ford and John Huston.  Suffice it to say, I am so getting some of these when they’re released next year.

I was at the post office yesterday to check on the mail in my post office box and to mail out a couple of things…two weeks earlier while I was there I suffered a small but painful injury in the process.  You see, the main branch of the Athens post office is inconveniently located in a strip mall, and as I was getting out of the car my flip-flop caught on the handicapped access curb and I ended up on my ass after executing (the judges gave me two nines and a ten) a perfect Jerry Lewis-like arm flail.  Fortunately, the generous amount of padding I’ve manage to acquire over a lifetime shielded me from any serious broken bone-age (I was, however, sore as all get out) but I did manage to stove two of the fingers on my left hand and they were a lovely shade of violet for a few days (and also quite painful to type with).

So yesterday when I went to navigate the treacherous terrain that is the post office’s sidewalk I also noticed that there are bricks with little bumps on them right by this alleged handicapped curb.  My Dad argues that they’re there for traction but I’m not so certain I agree…I think it’s a personal injury lawsuit waiting to happen.  My mother’s theory is that both the bricks and my fall were the nefarious doings of my former arch nemesis at the Savannah branch of USPS, the woman you know as Smock Lady.  Mom remarked in her refreshing Pam-like blunt fashion: “She’s probably watching your tumble on video over and over again and laughing her ass off.”

My father gives me a double sawbuck to go and get him some stamps and when the postal lady asked me if I wanted the plain ones or something a little fancy I asked her what she had in the line of fancy and she proceeded to show me several stamp designs, including this one below…

…that I eventually settled on for Dad (or “Pop,” as my nephew calls him…only he pronounces it “Bop,” which makes me think of that old Dan Seals song) because of his great love for Pixar movies.  (Yes, I’m making that up.)  Mom said he probably wouldn’t like what I chose and, as usual, she was right on the money…but it could have been worse—I could have got him some of the Ronald Reagan stamps, which would have gone over like a fart at a funeral.

I apologize for rambling on about the stamps like this but because I’ve done very little that’s productive since Saturday I wanted to get something up on the blog so the place isn’t completely overrun with tumbleweeds.  The ‘rents returned to Rancho Yesteryear on Tuesday and from the anecdotes that spilled forth seemed to have had a swell time.  Mom went on at great length about the fabulous meals they had while they were there (which, to a person who subsisted on cold Spaghetti-O’s and Oreos during their absence, is not something I would advise) but sensing that I was little put out by all these culinary yarns sprung for some really excellent Chinese take-out upon their return.  (We even managed to do without ordering fried rice, because as I have laboriously explained here in the past there’s not one restaurant in this burg who can prepare it to my fastidious specifications.)

Before I go, two blogathon items I want to draw to your attention.  Pussy Goes Grrr has announced that they will be hosting a Juxtaposition Blogathon from September 12-16…and because “Juxtaposition Blogathon” sounds like one of those tunes you’d hear on Schoolhouse Rock I am going to let them tell you what it’s all about:

You are cordially invited to participate in the Juxtaposition Blogathon, the first-ever blogathon hosted by Pussy Goes Grrr, which will take place from September 12-16, 2011. The rules are simple: just write about two (or more) different movies in the same post sometime before September 16, email a link to, and we’ll post that link!

(If you don’t have a blog, you can still participate; just send us an email.)

As you probably noticed, the driving theme of “juxtaposition” is incredibly open-ended, and you’re welcome to take it in any direction you like. You can write about movies from any genre, country, director, time period, etc., just so long as you address multiple movies with reference to each other. You could compare a remake with the original; juxtapose a director’s first movie with his/her last; consider two disparate approaches to the same subject; or call attention to surprising similarities between two otherwise unrelated movies. Get creative! And above all, have fun.

If I can swing this, I might kick in with a contribution (it’s being held at a time of the month when I’m juggling projects in the air like they used to do those plates on Ed Sullivan) but even if I’m not able to I still wanted to get something up to those who may be interested because this is Ashley, Andreas and RF’s first blogathon.  (“Years from now when you talk about this—and you will—be kind…”)

Finally, I wanted to use a brief bit o’bandwidth to thank everyone who’s announced their intention to participate in the first blogathon at this ‘umble scrap of the blogosphere…namely The Dick Van Dyke Show Blogathon, which will unfurl on October 3—the 50th anniversary of the classic TV sitcom’s premiere on CBS.  I thought “Hey, if I get about 5-10 people who’ll be up for it that’ll be pretty nifty” but at last count there’s 28 people who’ve said “Deal me in” and we’re still a month away from lift-off.  Tentatively, I’m planning on doing a write-up on the episode “Never Bathe on Saturday” (it’s the first Van Dyke outing I remember seeing as a kid) but if someone else wants to tackle that one I’m more than willing to step aside…I like to think I could probably write about any of the episodes—with the exception of “The Twizzle.”  (That to me is the nadir of what is otherwise the gold standard by which sitcoms should be measured.)

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Saturday, August 20, 2011

“I hope you die! I hope you die soon! I'll be waiting for you to die!”

…and now that I have your attention, I just wanted to take a quick moment to shill my latest essay that’s up at the weblog beloved by cinephiles and couch potatoes alike, Edward Copeland on Film…and More— or ECOF, as I sometimes refer to it…particularly when I’m too lazy to type all that out.  Seventy years ago on this date, the film adaptation of Lillian Hellman’s stage hit The Little Foxes was packin’ ‘em in the movie the-ay-ters, and though Hellman’s Broadway chestnut about a really despicable and wealthy Southern family is starting to show a few crow’s feet, it’s still first-rate entertainment…with one of my all-time favorite Bette Davis performances taking center stage (her characterization of Regina Giddens is so pure dagnasty evil I can’t take my eyes off of her anytime she’s on screen).

As I was tooling around the Shreve-TV Me-TV website for some pictures to poach…er, borrow for yesterday’s TV-on-DVD post I came across this page that offers up a preview of what’s in store for viewers this fall; I mentioned the Chicago-based cable channel had plans to add Star Trek and Batman to their lineup but they’ve also obtained a few cast-offs from the Retro Television Network in The Rifleman, Peter Gunn and Daniel Boone.  Old TV favorites like Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, Lost in Space and Mission: Impossible (RTV used to have this back in the days when they were getting their shows from Viacom ‘cause I used to watch it before I hit the hay in the evenings) are also on tap, not to mention (to tie this in to yesterday’s post) the comedic antics of Stan Laurel & Oliver Hardy—I just hope it’s not that godawful show that CBN used to run many moons ago…that presentation was the yardstick by which “abomination” should be measured.

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Friday, August 12, 2011

Announcing (trumpet fanfare) the first Thrilling Days of Yesteryear blogathon!

Since the blogathons have been coming fast and furious of recent I decided this morning that I would stick my toe in the River ‘Thon and announce that this ‘umble scrap of the blogosphere will kick off its first try at hosting an event…and as might be expected, there’s a story to go behind it.

A handful of people at the Facebook page for the British Phil Silvers Appreciation Society were a little put out by all the tra-la-la and flourish that greeted the centennial birthday celebration of Lucille Ball…when the reception for Mr. Silvers’ 100th natal anniversary was…well, lukewarm would be an understatement.  (Not that I didn’t do my part, you understand.)  There were some disparaging remarks made about our favorite “crazy redhead,” comments that I think were born more out of frustration at the neglect shown Phil than anything else…and I believe in Lucy’s defense I pointed out that the fact is her voluminous television output is mostly available on DVD while Silvers’ classic sitcom seems to be remembered (why not take the time to sign this petition while we’re on the subject?) by those who…well, still remember black-and-white TV, I suppose.

Anyway, I thought about this a great deal and while I regret not suggesting a Phil Silvers blogathon on his centennial, it won’t be too late to doff our blog caps to another TV sitcom classic.  October 3, 2011 will mark the fiftieth birthday of the debut of The Dick Van Dyke Show, and while I’ve already been tapped to do a write-up at ECOF (Edward Copeland on Film…and More for you laymen and laywomen), I decided to go the extra mile and see if this might not be the perfect vehicle for TDOY’s very first blogathon.  The Dick Van Dyke Show is my favorite situation comedy of all time, hands down—and so I’m pleased as the proverbial Hawaiian Punch to announce that Thrilling Days of Yesteryear is going to host a ‘thon in honor of this timeless classic.

Now, ostensibly I’d like the entries in the blogathon to be about the actual show: observations, favorite episodes, etc.  but because flexibility has always been the by-word here, I’m certainly not going to limit you as to what you’d like to write about.  If you want to do a biographical sketch…fine and dandy.  If you want to review a film from Dick Van Dyke’s voluminous oeuvre (“Hmm…I don’t think anyone’s ever really addressed the existentialism in Lt. Robin Crusoe, U.S.N…”), have at it.  I’d even be up for insights on some of the actor’s other TV ventures, like The New Dick Van Dyke Show or Diagnosis Murder. The only stipulation (and it’s more of a guideline than a rule) is that you tie your contributions in some way (no matter how tortured your logic has to be) to The Dick Van Dyke Show.

So on October 3, 2011 I’ll cobble together a post containing links to all the people who are going to participate…and you can either send those links to me at igsjrotr(at)gmail(dot)com with “DVD Blogathon” in the subject header or you can put your link in the comments section, whichever way you’re most comfortable.  I hope most of the TDOY faithful can squeeze this into their busy schedules (I’m kind of competing with my pal Vincent’s Carole-a-thon, so I apologize for that); I’ve already been told by my BBFF (pronounced buh-biff) Stacia that she’s called dibs on the classic DVD outing “The Masterpiece” and that if anyone even entertains the thought of duplicating her choice she will send a plague of frog-eating spiders directly to your domicile.  When I get confirmation of the folks planning to participate, I shall amend this post with a list of the potential contributors.  “Come join us/Come join us/Just take a part and join us…”

(You can tell I’m pretty pumped about this.)  Oh, and I took the time to whip up a few banners for promotional purposes, so you can avail yourselves of whatever you need:

The following blogs have raised their hands:
Anthony Balducci's Journal – “My Blonde-Haired Brunette”
Caftan Woman – “The Return of Happy Spangler”/”The Return of Edwin Carp”
Cinematic Opinions You Didn't Know You Had – “What’s in a Middle Name”
ClassicBecky’s Brain Food (“Brains!”) – “Coast to Coast Big Mouth”
Classic Film and TV Café – “My Blonde-Haired Brunette”
Fedoras and High Heels – "Bupkis"/"The Life and Love of Joe Coogan""
The Flaming Nose - “I’d Rather Be Bald Than Have No Head at All”
The Forty Year-Old Fan Boy – “Uhny Uftz”
Gonna Put Me in the Movies – “The Redcoats are Coming”
The Horn Section Don't Worry, We'll Think of a Title
I Am a Child of Television – TBD
Inner Toob – Several Toobworld posts, including "Buddy Can You Spare a Job" and "Sam Pomerantz Scandals"
in so many words… - “A Day in the Life of Alan Brady”/”Long Night’s Journey Into Day”
In the Balcony Never a Dull Moment
Java's Journey – TBD
The Lady Eve’s Reel Life – TBD
The Land of Whatever – Overall view of series
Micro-Brewed Reviews (W.B. Kelso) – "That's My Boy"/"The Ghost of A. Chantz"
My Reader’s Block – TBD
A Mythical Monkey Writes About the Movies – “My Part-Time Wife”
The Nervous Purvis – TBD
Pretty Sinister Books - "The Sound of the Trumpets of Conscience Falls Deafly on a Brain That Holds Its Ears...Or Something Like That"
Resilient Little Muscle - "Buddy Sorrell, Man and Boy"
She Blogged by Night – “The Masterpiece”/"The Man from My Uncle"
A Shroud of Thoughts – TBD
The Slip Stitch - TBD
The Stupendously Amazingly Cool World of Old TV - Overall view of the series
Thrilling Days of Yesteryear – “Never Bathe on Saturday”
True Classics: The ABCs of Classic Film – “It May Look Like a Walnut”
Wide Screen World - Cold Turkey
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