Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Turner Classic Geezers

In Remembrance of the Great Robert Osborne 

Indeed I do love me my Turner Classic Movies (TCM)!

The great and even not-so-great films of the 30's, 40's, and early 50's speak to me in a language I can understand better than that of current film, especially since it's a language in which the actors' mouths are generally more full of bon mots than the genitalia and pubic hairs they are today.

And AHHHH!, the great actors of the period!  Harry DavenportEdward Everett Horton,  Henry StephensonGuy Kibbee,  Jonathan Hale,  Henry O' Neill,  and so many, many more.   You know the names.

Nah, probably you don't!

I'm talking, of course, about the character actors, the folks you see all the time but usually see right through whenever you see them. These are the performers who typically played bosses, judges, doctors, politicians, and even passersby who give a lift to a hitch-hiking Bogart, help a fainting Ann Sheridan off the sidewalk and onto her feet,  or tell Ronald Reagan to get the hell out of the way, who does he think he is, the President of the United States?!!! 

We'll call these folk Turner Classic Geezers.

Funny thing about the movies of the 30's, 40's, and early 50's; any role for a character conceived of as sophisticated, accomplished, or even in minor authority had to be filled by an actor who was: 

1) white
2) male, and 
3) gray haired or balding, wearing a felt hat and often a double-breasted suit, and over 50 years old,  if not 60!  

Sure, the stars of these films are young.  But just look around at everyone else.  It's as if some cataclysmic disaster has destroyed everyone on earth under the age of 30 except Ray Milland and Ida Lupino

It was quite a different society back then.  Not only wasn't it a felony to be over 50,  it was thought that while younger people had all the fun, it was the oldsters who did all the heavy lifting. Other than the male character who's the love interest, even the most devoted film fan would be hard-pressed to find the professor, bank president, or Ambassador from the Court of St. James who wasn't a Turner Classic Geezer.

Imagine Clark Gable and Myrna Loy as two reporters in a 1930's movie going to visit the world's most renowned expert on economic development in South America.   Think that role is going to be played by Jean Harlow?

Nope, expect a Turner Classic Geezer. 

Now let's flick on HBO and catch the remake of the above movie starring Jake Gyllenhaal and Anne Hathaway and have a bit of fun.  In place of the young actor actually playing the South American expert, let's drop in a Turner Classic Geezer, someone like Henry Stephenson,  and ....  3, 2, 1, ACTION: 

Gyllenhaal: It's a pleasure to meet you, Professor.... What!!!?? There must be some mistake!  You don't have big boobs!

Hathaway: Why, Jake, even my smallish but well-exposed tits are larger!

Stephenson: Well you see, my young friends, I'm a man.   A man who's studied economic growth in this part of the world for over 40 years.

Gyllenhaal: But that would make you as old as my dad!  And my dad's too old to be in home movies!

 Of course much I as like these great older actors,  stereotypes of the time had their ill effects. Not only did they keep a diversity of character actors who were younger, female, of color, or Asian or other non-white nationality from finding work unless the role being cast called for a stereotype, they also played a role in helping to impede progress toward equality in society at large.

However,  those multiple limitations of the past have now given way to one great big fat limitation of the present.  These days an actor can be any flavor of the rainbow and still be readily hired as long as he or she ain't wearing a felt hat, a double-breasted suit, or a wrinkle or two below the eyes. 

So, it's with a fondness that's only slightly guilty that I flick on the good old geezers of days gone by.  Thank you for bringing 'em back, TCM.

"And for Turner Classic Geezers, I'm Robert Osborne!"  (RIP)

Top to Bottom above ---  Got 'em all?  They're  Harry Davenport Edward Everett Horton,  Jean Harlow,  Henry Stephenson,  and Guy Kibbee.   If you didn't even get Jean Harlow, you don't deserve Turner Classic Movies!

Monday, May 28, 2012

And What Are You Doing for the Holiday, Perry?

Well, it sure as hell ain't this!

It's getting so I just don't want to ask anymore.

"What are you doing for the holiday?" I inquire of that scattering of random people I encounter in the week leading up to Memorial Day.

~"Oh, yeah, we're going to the shore with the family.  Rented a place for a couple of days down in Longport."

~"Going to the club, of course. Take in a round of golf, the pool's open, and there's barbecue with tons of shrimp and King Crab legs."

~"Majorca again.  Wanted to stay home at our Olympic sized pool and have everyone we  know except you over, but the Duke and the Countess just insisted."

Inevitably, of course, by asking the question, I've asked for it back.  And back it comes. 

"And what are you doing for the holiday, Perry?"

"Well, umm,  think I'll take a walk if it's not too hot,  try to straighten out my Verizon bill,   then drink myself into oblivion."

I know, I know, I shouldn't lie like that. I probably won't take the walk.

Sounds like I'm whining, but that's simply not the case!  I'm not at all jealous of all the cool things that everybody else is doing on the holiday aside from how jealous I am of all the cool things that everybody else is doing on the holiday. After all, I can take a drive.  Like I did  last Memorial Day over to the nearby shopping center to pick up a few items at Bed Bath & Beyond.  

"OMG!"  I shouted aloud. "There  are fewer people in here than television shows without Betty White!"

The same proved true inside the Bed Bath & Beyond. 

"OMG!"  I said to the check-out guy, "there are fewer people in here than there are television shows without Betty White!" 

"Of course," he bellowed back. "Everybody's down the shore. I'm only here instead of Wildwood because I'm being paid double time!"

"Uhh, feel like talkin', by any chance?"

"To Betty White, maybe.  To you?  Next!  If there is a next ...."

Kind of dejected,  I went to get a bite at a nearby neighborhood restaurant I thought might be open. And as it turned out, thankfully, it was!

"Welcome to Applebees," 

said the sour-faced not-all-that-attractive young girl at the door with all the enthusiasm she couldn't muster. 

"Oh, I'm so glad you're open!"  I said, feeling joy I've not experienced since the Phillies won the World Series in 2008.    

"All alone on Memorial Day and coming to Applebee's?" the hostess whispered to a pimply-faced waiter who came up next to her. 

"This guy must be such a loser," he murmured back, "I wonder if even we should serve him." 

"I'm afraid I don't have a reservation," I said eagerly.  "I hope that's all right."

"A reservation?!!" the waiter replied.  "OMG, buddy, there are fewer people here than people who would willingly discuss politics with Ted Nugent!"

And so it went, and so it goes.  A three-day holiday is a terrible thing to waste. Maybe one of these holidays I won't waste it.

Say, what are you doing for the holiday today?   

Why don't you stop over?  I don't have an Olympic size swimming pool, but I do have me a blow-up one.  Sorry, I don't have any shrimp, but I can barbecue you a hot dog which contains trace elements of beef .   If you want, we could even drink ourselves into obliv ....

What's that?  No thanks?  You'd rather discuss politics with Ted Nugent?

That does it! 

Next year, Majorca! 

Happy Memorial Day, Everybody!


Friday, May 25, 2012

A New Joke for Humanity

(It's all good.)

As many of you know, I happen to be somewhat of an inventor. And in my sincere hope of bringing merriment and joy to the world, I have invented a totally new form of humor!  

I call it the New Joke for Humanity. (pat. pend.)

Never mind the fact that last year I invented the world's first pair of pants that makes you look Jewish.  Although I was quite proud of the patented "Crouch Control" spandex  feature, not only did my pants fail to catch on with the American public, I'm facing lawsuits from half a dozen men who bought them including one guy who came down with something called "Inverted Penis Syndrome" who's being represented by Alan Dershowitz.

But the New Joke for Humanity will be different. 

We live in an age crying out for humor. "Shit My Dad Says" still has three million followers, Kristin Wiig is given a send-off on Saturday Night Live as if she were Charlie Chaplin, and in some remote pockets of the northernmost reaches of the central United States, Jay Leno is considered sporadically amusing.  

So several weeks ago I retreated to my Comedy Laboratory  (Note to Self:  Invent Comedy Laboratory)  intent on creating  a joke guaranteed to make you laugh your bejesus off!  BTW, unlike your ass, you can survive quite well without a functioning bejesus. 

After weeks of working feverishly without food, drink, or rest --- which will be condensed into an action-packed montage when the movie is made --- I fashioned the first three prototypes of my New Joke for Humanity: 
  • "I just can't remember how you describe an article of clothing for someone of average build," the medium sighs.
  • "I just can't remember the name of that famous drag queen," rued Paul.
  • “Be-be, be-be,-be-be, I just can’t remember the name of that animal with the-the q-q-q-quills,” Porky opined. 
Cute premise, huh?  Thank you very much!

How do I know I have actually invented this revolutionary new joke format and that no person before me has ever scaled the heights of this incredible Mt. Everest of Comedy? 

Frankly I've conducted extensive and painstaking research in dusty libraries, esoteric museums, out-of-the-way antiques shops, and third-rate comedy clubs all throughout the world (or Google has) and found only one instance in history of the existence of a similar joke. That joke was delivered by an obscure young Greek comic named Drolius at open mike night in the Athens Lyceum in 427 BC. 

He did orate as follows:

  • "As sure as I am  the greatest philosopher of all time, I forget what I did to Plato that night he and I spent together in a cave," butted in Socrates.

It didn't get a laugh.  Drolius went on to sell aluminum siding for Ionic and Corinthian split levels.  

So when it comes to the New Joke for Humanity, I be da man!

Here, Humanity!   A few exemplars of the world's newest joke to LOL you to sleep:

  • "As sure as I am the former star quarterback for the now defunct Baltimore Colts, I can't remember the name of the country I live in," Johnny Unitas states.
  • "As sure as I am the popular older actor named Van Dyke,  I just don't know what I should have done to show my new young wife that part of my body I want her to pay most attention to," pointed out Dick.
  • "I can't seem to remember how I got that tough stain out of my shirt last week," Ida shouted out.
  • "As sure as I am the founder of a University in Baltimore named Hopkins, I just cannot remember what my former wife who is a trial judge does when she picks up her gavel to keep order in the court,"  Johns expounds.
  • "I can't seem to remember the name of the capital of American's second largest state," Austin texts us.
  • "And as sure as I'm a famous British actor named Michael, I can't remember the name of the second largest city in Washington State," spoke Caine.
  • "As sure as I'm the founder of Motown, I can't remember the name of that small round red fruit," rasped Berry Gordy.
  • "As sure as I'm the late Chicago author named Turkel, I just cannot remember what happened that night when everyone on the Chicago Bulls had sex," Studs ejaculated. 

Want to play around with the New Joke for Humanity yourself?  Be my guest!   But you better do it now!   Once the patent issues, there will be royalties.  Big time. 

"Because as sure as I'm that young-looking sportscaster named Bob,  never forget what'll happen if any one of us tries to make unauthorized use of Perry's invention," jokes Costas!  

Humanity is one thing, my friends.  Business is another!


"I just don't remember what happened that time we had sex twice in one night," he came back at her.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Sixties Versus Seventies

      Summer of Love  vs.  

            Lookin' for

The passing of Donna Summer and Robin Gibb remind those of us who tend to prefer the 60's that things weren't all as bad in the 70's as we often like to say they were.

There was unquestionably some good entertainment and some good times, even if we didn't like the clothes we were wearing, the conversations we were making, and many of the songs we couldn't help ourselves from humming. 

Truth to tell, I wasn't really ready for the 1960's.  I wasn't political enough, certainly wasn't daring enough, and I was never quite able to keep a decent curl in my never quite shoulder length hair.  Not only didn't I get to Woodstock, I'm not sure I even ever saw the movie all the way through. 

But the 1970's were different. 

All you needed to make your way was a flowery shirt, an elemental sense of rhythm, and a friend who had a somewhat ready supply of Quaaludes.  And steady access to a shady individual who had seemingly put forth the considerable effort to graduate medical school for the express purpose of ministering bogus scripts to a scrufty waiting room full of manic 20-somethings was enough to make you into something of a minor league Travolta! 

So did the 70's did have its virtues?  Yes, indeed, Ms. Summer and the Bee Gees being high among them. 

The 60's vs. the 70's?   I dunno.  

You decide.

60's:  This is the dawning of the Age of Aquarius
70's:  This is the dawning in some odd person's bedroom ...

60's:  One pill makes you larger, and one pill makes you small ...
70's:  One pill makes you larger. (Not the same pill as in the 2,000's.)

60's:  Long hair.
70's:  Chest hair.

60's:  Cream.
70's:  Bread.

60's:  Political Platforms.
70's:  Platform Shoes.

60's:  The New Left.
70's:  "Left, right, kick, turn, left, right, kick, turn ...."

60's:  Counterculture.
70's:  Counter culture.

60's:  The Lizard King.
70's:  Lounge Lizard.

60's:  Summer of Love.
70's:  Lookin' for Love! 

60's:  Jefferson Airplane.
70's:  Air Supply.

60's:  Sugar Magnolia.
70's:  Sugar, Sugar.

60's:  Steal this Book.
70's:  Book?

60's:  "It's 1, 2, 3, what are we fighting for?" 
70's:  "10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 .... Instant Replay!"

60's:  Power to the People!
70's:  Village People.

60's:  "What's your sign?"
70's:  "What's her story?"

60's:  "He ain't heavy, he's my brother ..."
70's:   The Me Decade.

60's:  "The answer, my friend, is Blowin' in the Wind."
70's:  "The answer, my friend, is Blowin' in the Wind
             And now, my friend, lemme tell you 'bout my newest friend - Jesus!"


Monday, May 7, 2012

Captain Cautious Buys A Car

Perry!!! Have I got a car for you!

It was time.   My Uncool Car was but a memory.  It had been felled by an automobile mishap, the unfortunate experience of which had turned me into Captain Cautious Behind the Wheel.

But it wasn't the heavy-handed plugging of two previous blog posts nobody's going to read anyway that caused me to put off purchasing a replacement vehicle.  It was something else,  something far less annoying for you but far more troubling for me.

I have no sales resistance.    NONE!

Want Proof?  

~ I'm still receiving the last year and a half of my subscription to the newsletter  Minister Farrakhan Speaks Out On Why He Hates You.  But I am thinking of not renewing ...

~ I purchased 6,000 acres of real estate sight unseen on the recommendation of  former presidential candidate Newt Gingrich.  It was only later I heard of his plans to colonize Mars. 

~ I invested in a play called Springtime for Hitler.  Actually, oddly enough,  that investment turned out pretty well.

Why do I succumb so readily to sales pressure?   Maybe it's because I fall for every aggressive salesperson's trick in the book.

1) If the salesperson is friendly and seems to like me, I want to please them!   And if I've made an age-related comment in the time I've been with them,  just let them say "I don't believe it, you look great!" and watch them hit sales quota for the month,  even if it's June 2nd.   And for the next month too.

2) If the salesperson is not that friendly and ignores me, I want to please them!  "If I can't even get sales people not to hate me," I think  "no wonder I can't get any dates!" 

3) So, the very special once-in-a-lifetime discount price expires in 15 minutes?  Who'd believe that nonsense?   Me.  I rush to sign the papers like I'm on Minute to Win It!

4) The salesperson aggressively pushes me for a yes or no answer?  Everybody knows that's the time to firmly say "no" and walk away!  I firmly say "yes," as do my firmly planted "yes-affirming" feet.  

But not this time!  This time I'll be prepared.  This time I won't succumb.

I studied up on cars.  I listened to those Car Talk guys on NPR.  I'll probably never again contribute to NPR, but I listened to the those Car Talk guys on NPR.

I practiced my sales resistance in the mirror:  "No, that's way too much!"  "Sorry, not interested!" "Yes or no? Then the answer is a big fat NO, you big fat douchebag!"

I knew I was ready.  

I entered the dealership prepared for battle.  I asked to see a sales person.  That sales person approached.

A very attractive young person of the female persuasion! 

"Before we get started," I blurted out "I'm prepared for you! I know that: 

  •  these cars are in demand because Car &  Cool Guy Magazine called  them the Best Glove Compartment in Mid-Class Hybrids,  
  • everyone takes Option Group 4A  because leather makes a statement
  • your unbelievably low pricing is good for Tonight Only!,  and
  •  Throw in floor mats?! Throw in floor mats?!!  Your Sales Manager will never let you throw in floor mats,  but if I'm ready to buy RIGHT NOW, you'll do EVERYTHING YOU POSSIBLY CAN TO GET HIM TO THROW IN FLOOR MATS!"

I paused.   She didn't say a word.

"And you're going to act like you like me, I'll want to please you, and then I'll buy a car this very evening and overpay considerably for it.  But at least I can go home in my lovely new car and freely fantasize about having sex with you later."

She nodded emphatically.  

''All right," I said. "I'll take ... whatever."  

I picked out the car I wanted, I had a fine sales experience, and a fine fantasy later.

By the way, I really do like my new car.  There it is below.  

I still have no sales resistance.   But I do have floor mats!


(Note: Lake & mountains in back shown
 to make my life appear more appealing than it is.)

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Citizen Kane in 60 Seconds

"I will defeat Boss Jim W. Gettys 
right after I pick my enormous nose here." 


News On the March!

"In Xanadu did Kubla Khan a stately pleasure dome decree." 

Here in his palatial estate Xanadu last week,  Charles Foster Kane was lain out.  Permanently.  

Kane's empire, in its glory, held dominion over 37 newspapers, 13 magazines, a radio station, and 2 Twitter accounts. Twice married, twice divorced (which makes a lot more sense that if he had been, say, twice married, five times divorced).  In politics always a bridesmaid, never a bride, though he would have looked just lovely as one.

And finally collapse of his entire empire.   Bummer.

Then, as it must to all men, Death came to Charles Foster Kane.   Sadly, he had been waiting only for the pizza man.


"Charles, put away that stupid sled --- whatever the hell its name is  ---  and say hello to Mr. Thatcher who I'm signing you over to lock, stock, and barrel now that I'm rich.  You're cool with that, kid.... right?"

"Come along with me, Charles, we'll have so much fun together.  For your ninth birthday, I'm going to give you a Disney's SEC Form 10-K Funpack!"


"I think it might be fun to run a newspaper!   Especially the classifieds, legal notices, and lingerie ads!" 


"Declaration of Principles, Jedediah."

"That's great, Charlie.   But aren't  No. 1:   Always tell the truth  and  No. 4:  Foment  phony, unnecessary wars  a  bit  inconsistent?"

"Ask George Bush."   

"Six years ago I looked at the picture of the world's greatest newspapermen, and felt like a kid in front of a candy store. That's because all of them were actually made of chocolate!   Today I got my candy.  You know, they're a little stale now."


"Who buys the food, tra-la-la-la!, Who buys the drinks, tra-la-la-la! Who wrote these lyrics?!!, tra-la-la-la ...." 


"Do we have a Society Editor at the Inquirer?"

"Yes, Mr. Kane, and believe me it was hard to find a gay man in 1941."

"Print that I'm marrying Miss Emily Norton, whose blood is so blue you could use it to sanitize your toilet bowl!"


"Charles, does it seem our breakfast table is getting progressively larger?"

"Yes, Emily, it's almost like the table is getting a hard on!"

"Really, Charles, people will think ...."

"What I tell them to think!    Especially when it comes to puppy dogs, paper doilies, and little pink frilly things!" 


"I'm splashed with mud, young lady!"

"You want some hot water, mister, I live right here. But realize I'm not that kind of girl!"

"I run a couple of newspapers, what do you do?"

"Being you run a couple of newspapers,  pretty much anything and everything you can damn well imagine, you sexy stud!"


"I am running for office to expose  Boss Jim W. Gettys and his entire corrupt machine!  I believe it is either his refrigerator or his toaster that's corrupt." 

"You see, Mr. Kane, your wife Emily and I -  and my corrupt refrigerator -  all know about your clandestine meetings with Susan Alexander."

"Gettys, would you believe that Susan and I are conducting weekly graduate level seminars in Metaphysical Poetry?  Thought not." 


"I'm through with politics, boys.  We're going to be a great opera star!"

"No, no, no, no, no, no, no!!!   Mr. Kane, you'd have done better to try to make Boss Jim W. Gettys the opera star!"

"Jedediah, I've finished  the opera review for you and I agree:  better I'd  have married ABBA." 


"And under the buy-out, Charles, you'll still maintain some measure of control over the newspapers; that is, you can have them delivered on the front lawn or in the bushes, your choice."

"Well, at least I'm still rich, right, Mr. Thatcher?

"About that, Charles.  Ever heard of a place called Olive Garden


"I'm leaving  you, Charlie, it sucks here at Xanadu.  I'm tired of having to take a helicopter to the living room and waking up  every morning with Clark Gable's teeth next to my bed! "

"Rosebud.  Ooops, dropped the damn snow globe.  My  bad."


"I've been investigating all of the threads of Charles Foster Kane's life and interviewed all those people yet living who knew him.  And I have determined conclusively that his final utterance  Rosebud refers to ....

OMG, we're already over 60 seconds, no time for this!"    

Black Smoke Rises from Xanadu.   

A new Pope is not elected.

The End


 I even managed to work in this goofy little number 
as well!