Friday, July 29, 2011

Joe E. Brown, the Human Caricature

According to the never- wrong Mr. Door Tree, yesterday was Joe E. Brown's 119th birthday. Happy Birthday, Joe E.!

Best known (I'm guessing) for his role as the lovesick suitor of Jack Lemmon's character in Some Like It Hot, Brown was quite well known in Hollywood long before Billy Wilder's landmark comedy was released.

He could have been a professional ballplayer, but stuck with vaudeville and eventually made a series of incredibly popular films for Warner Bros.

I, like many of my generation, became familiar with his amazing face from cartoons, where he was frequently caricatured, such as Disney's The Autograph Hound. This makes complete sense, because Brown belonged to that generation of comedians (along with Charlie Chaplin, Stan Laurel, Oliver Hardy and Buster Keaton) that looked like living human caricatures.

With his huge mouth and krinkly eyes, Brown was frequently drawn as having the biggest mouth in Hollywood, which may well have been true.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Last Word on Ventriloquists from Albert Brooks. This was funny when I first saw it, and it's funnier now:

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Ventriloquists Are Just F****** Weird

Remember Michael Redgrave in "Dead of Night"? Even back then in 1945, movie makers knew a good thing when they filmed it: the creepy ventriloquist!

I found these first at Boing Boing, then connected to a site called Public School  which then sent me to a Flickr page where I found the following pictures. Most of them come from VVITCH, of whom I know nothing.

I have no idea who most of these are, and, I admit, I did pick them for their weirdness value.

Sir Michael Redgrave in Dead of Night
Ad for a ventriloquism school
There's a thin line between your dummy and your girlfriend
Found a lot of white ventriloquists with African American dummies
I can just imagine how offensive this act must have been
See caption re: dummy/ girlfriend
Sweet dreams

Friday, July 15, 2011

Dancing in the Moonlight Redux, Pt. II

It's an Ithaca summer: first the reunion of the Salty Dog, chronicled here a few weeks ago, and now an evening of entertainment with Huey Lewis.

Connection? I knew Huey in 1969- 71, in Ithaca, NY, when we both struggling harmonica players/ bandleaders. I should mention that his name wasn't Huey Lewis back then and that he's not struggling anymore. In fact, he's probably the second highest paid harmonica player in the world. My guess is that Stevie Wonder is the first highest paid harmonica player. Guitarist Matt Kelley reminds me that Mick Jagger also plays harmonica, but I wonder if he's really a harmonica player.

Huey does seem to value old pre- News friendships and so when his annual performance at Wolf Trap rolls around, I call him and he leaves a pass and a seat ticket at the willcall window and I attend a little meet and greet in the bowels of the Filene Center.

This time, there were lots of attractive forty- to- sixty- year- old women, with well- coiffed hair, and colorful tops, their husbands/ boyfriends/ companions, also well- coiffed w/ golf shirts (Polo shirts?) and Cargo shorts, expensive watches and year- round tans, a smattering of band members, and, briefly, Huey himself.

He left quickly as his fans drank almost all the green room beer and ate almost all the green room salads and finger foods.

I found him with his cousin in another room and he asked me to sit with them. Huey has always looked good. Back in Ithaca he had shoulder- length hair and a ready smile. Lots of charisma. Time, of course, is catching up, but he's still slim, has a full head of hair (unlike myself- I have half a full head) and an unreal amount of charm.

We sat talking with his cousin and his wife, and then Huey's "facilitator" Lol came in and diplomatically moved us on. Meanwhile, of course, all the golfers are still munching crudites in the green room.

After the show, which, by the way was excellent- top notch band with a horn section and two fine back- up singers, I went back again and this time there were even more people. Younger women who had their picture taken w/ Huey. In fact, this is a large part of what Huey Lewis does. He shmoozes his fans. Onstage, offstage, backstage.

After awhile, Lol came back through and diplomatically did his thing.

Huey didn't let me leave, though. He took me back to the now- empty green room. We cracked open a couple of beers, and sat down.

"So," he said, "how was Ithaca?"

You never really leave Ithaca.

The author and his friend

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Picture of the Day 7/10/2011: N. C. Wyeth

Newell Convers Wyeth (October 22, 1882 – October 19, 1945), American painter, illustrator.

Thanks to Mr. Door Tree at Golden Age Comic Book Stories for this fine reproduction- the best I could find.
Nightfall (1945)

Saturday, July 9, 2011

A Strange Case For Art: Chester Gould

Right- so fat men be warned! These wise words from Chester Gould's protagonist Dick Tracy introduce a series of somewhat random panels culled from Dick Tracy dailies by Dr. Chris Mullen, the curator/ creator of an excellent blog, The Visual Telling of Stories.

Gould (November 20, 1900 – May 11, 1985) created Dick Tracy in 1931 for The Chicago Tribune. According to his Wikipedia site, he created the plots as he drew the strips. The result was a surreal view of law enforcement, populated by strange- looking villains and improbable situations.

One of my all- time favorite Gould creations was the spaceship powered by magnetism. It's inventor, Diet Smith, always cautioned the reader, "The nation that controls magnetism rules the world!"

Simpler times, gentle reader- simpler times.

A pig hit by a car


One of those steam cabinets that reduces everything but your head

The legendary cut- away view

I ask myself this question all the time

Thursday, July 7, 2011

My Politics

I realized the other day that my politics are exactly like the conservatives and, at the same time, exactly like the liberals: I want the government to do what I want it to do, and I want to have lots of money, excellent health benefits and pay no taxes.

I want my aging parents taken care of and I want my grandkids to have the best education possible (I sure do love my grandkids) and I don't want to have to pay for it.

I want clean air and inexpensive, well- made manufactured goods.

I also wish music was as good as it used to be, and if there's anything out there that brings me pleasure that may be illegal, I want it legalized.

I also want to eat and drink as much as I want and not worry about my health and I'd like to weigh 180 pounds again, like I did in high school.

And I want government out of my life, unless, of course, they can do all of the above for me.

And I don't want to have to pay for it.