Saturday, June 01, 2019

Sunday Stealing

Movie Questions

What was you first movie-going experience without your parents? A re-release of the original Parent Trap. My oldest friend's mom was in the hospital, and her dad asked my parents if I could go to the movies with her one afternoon. Something special to cheer her up. We even got dressed up for the occasion (I wore a gold pendent). We were in 6th grade. 

Do you still buy DVDs or Blu Rays (or do you just stream them)?
I have about two tons of DVDs that I never watch. I really should get rid of them. It's either Amazon Prime or, preferably, Comcast Xfinity for me.

What is your guilty pleasure movie? What about it works for you?
I love everything about Valley of the Dolls. The legitimately terrific wardrobe, the campy musical numbers, the horrific dialog, the painfully earnest acting ... LOVE! 

You have compiled a list of your top 10 movies. Which movies do you like, but would not make the list?  Oh! So many movies are dear to me! With Doris Day's passing, I'll include one of hers that I completely adore: Young at Heart. She plays Lori, the upbeat youngest daughter who see the potential in everyone -- from the runt puppy of the litter to a feisty, underemployed piano player (Frank Sinatra). It's not a great movie. We can quibble about the crappy outdoor sets and some pretty serious plot/timing problems. But why? Let's just be charmed.

Which movie(s) do you compulsively watch over and over again? What makes it so great?
The Way We Were. I'll let the Carrie and the girls explain why it's so great.

Classic(s) you’re embarrassed to admit you haven’t seen yet?
Vertigo. Everyone freaking loves it, but I've never been able to make it past the first few scenes. And any Star Wars movie after the first one (which I saw but it made no impression on me whatsoever).

Do you have any movie posters hanging on your wall? If yes, which ones and why? No movie posters, but I do have this Marilyn poster in my bedroom. She was 22 years old. Newly blonde, newly renamed. There's just something about her at this moment in time that really touches me.

Tell us about a movie that you are passionate about.
Maybe because I just saw it again recently, but From Here to Eternity gets better and feels more important with time. For the uninitiated, it takes place in Hawaii in Fall/Winter 1941. The people are all flawed, all unique, each reminds you of someone you've met somewhere. They love, they betray, they make choices. They each try to do the right thing. Every decision they make is made bigger against the historic backdrop of the time they find themselves in. This movie is about us, about America.

What is a movie you vow to never watch? Why? Anything that's sci-fi or has Marvel superheroes. They do not interest me.

Tell us about a movie that literally left you speechless.
Pulp Fiction. It was like nothing I'd ever seen before. It was brutal and funny and non-linear and completely fascinating.

What’s a movie that you always recommend?
Holiday. Katharine Hepburn and Cary Grant are divine in this beautiful little movie about the price of being who you are.

Who is an actor you always watch, no matter how crappy the movie?
Michael Douglas. His movies are always quality (if not always successful) and his performances are always interesting.

Who is an actor you don’t get the appeal for? Why don’t you like them?
Garbo. She's alternately too remote and then too much of ham hock for me.

Who is an actor, living or dead, you’d love to meet? Why do they intrigue you?
La Liz. Elizabeth Rosamund Taylor Hilton Wilding Todd Fisher Burton Warner Fortensky. What a woman! What a life!

Sexiest actor/actress you’ve seen. (Picture requested!)

Redford. Sigh.
You are casting a movie, pick four or five actors you’d hire to be in it and why we’d love them together. I caught part of Three Men and a Baby the other night and was struck anew by how charming Tom Selleck can be, when he's not ruminating about reverse mortgages. So I'd like to cast him in a romantic comedy with Julia Roberts. Jennifer Aniston will be their best friend, because she's my favorite Friend.. And Kiki Layne would have to be in it somehow, too. I think they would be the most likeable cast ever.

Which are your favorite actor pairings of all time? The two coolest guys ever.

Have you ever watched movies from a decade that was before you were born? If so, which decade is your favorite? Once movies started talking, I started loving them. I can find favorites from every decade from the 1930s on.

If you were to be in a movie would you rather play the hero, villain or anti-hero? Why?
Oh, I would be the heroine. Always.

Stay with me here. There's a twist.

The Green Line el train gives me a valuable glimpse of the world every morning, taking me from Frank Lloyd Wrights and restored Victorians, through the impoverished neighborhoods, toward gentrification, over the River and into the Loop and then Michigan Avenue. It's very democratic, with every demographic represented.

Thursday morning, I ended up sitting with two men I never would have encountered, if not for the Green Line. They were older than most riders -- around 70. Their voices were raspy, probably from decades of cigars and cigarettes. They were both wearing bulky sweaters to protect them from the morning chill -- colorful, shawl-collared cardigans. They each were clutching paper bags, with only tell-tale twist tops peering out.

They were bemoaning the spate of carjackings on the west side of Chicago. They'd lived here their whole lives, and they've never seen anything like it.

"Pulling people out of a car. Who does that?"

"Boys! They got bodies of men but brains of boys!"

"Dumb and dangerous. Dangerous and dumb."

"Shit for brains."

"Waving weapons for what? To steal a car? Who does that?"

"You can't sell a car after that. Everybody be looking for the car. Everybody be looking for you. Kidnapping! Weapons!"

"I made a good living just stripping cars. Hub caps. Radios."

"See a car you like, follow the driver home. Wait till he gets out."

"Never in your neighborhood! Who shits where they eat? Who does that?"

"Boys! They got bodies of men but brains of boys!"

I admit I was expecting a why-don't-they-get-jobs-or-stay-in-school kinda thing. Instead, these two charming old men were retired car thieves and chop shoppers, reminiscing about the good old days and, like the rest of us, complaining about Millennials in the workplace.

Saturday 9

It's Late (1959)

Unfamiliar with this week's song. Hear it here.

1) Ricky Nelson laments that he should have been home hours ago. When is the last time you stayed up later than you should have? What were you doing? I don't really have a bed time, as I operate by how I feel. And the most recent evening when I was awake after I had a hard time keeping my eyes open was this past Thursday. We had a condo board meeting with the realtor who wants to represent us when we put our building up for sale. It was an important topic, to be sure, and we met the only time was available to all of us. But as the meeting went on, it was hard for me to stay focused.

2) Compounding Ricky's problem is that he's nearly out of gas. How is your gas tank right now? When did you most recently fill 'er up? No car

3) It gets worse! He can't call home because he doesn't have a dime for the pay phone. Have you recently been in a situation where you've been glad you had your cell phone handy? This past week, my el train was stopped because of "an incident," and I was glad I could text the office and keep them apprised. It's ironic, though, if it wasn't for a cell phone, we wouldn't have been stopped. 

Three people -- two women (a mother and daughter) and a young man got on the train. The mother was already yelling when they got aboard. "You put your hands on her!" she kept screaming at the man. "She's no whore! You don't put your hands on her!" She kept yelling, and yelling, and yelling. At first I thought an assault of some sort had taken place on the platform and had been interrupted when the train arrived. Then it occurred to me -- if something serious had happened, either the women or the man would have gotten off at the next stop. But they didn't, yet she kept yelling ... and yelling ... and yelling.

Well, some well-meaning passenger filmed this with his/her cell phone and sent it to the transit authority. Who stopped the train. And sent Security back to assess the situation. Which meant we all had to sit there until they decided to call the police.

They decided not to, because it turns out the young man was her son. Once Security got involved, Mom quit yelling at him and turned on the guard, telling him to stay out of her family's business and leave her son the hell alone. (Of course, if she'd kept her voice down in the first place, none of this would have happened.)

4) The video for this song is from an episode of The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet. Ozzie Nelson, Ricky's father, was in charge of the show and made the rules. One was that no one was allowed to smoke on the set ... except his wife, Harriet. Do you smoke? Have you ever lived with a smoker? My parents smoked. Three of my four grandparents smoked. It's as though my hair smelled bad until I was 18.

5) Life magazine coined the phrase "teen idol" to describe Ricky's popularity. According to Tiger Beat, today's teen idols include Johnny Orlando and Ruby Jay. Johnny was born in 2003, Ruby in 2004. Sam admits that before today, she had no idea who these young people are. How about you? No. And their names surprise me, because I thought Justin Beiber and BTS were today's teen dreams. I'm such an old fart!

6) While
Paul McCartney and Bob Dylan have posthumously praised Ricky Nelson's music, 1950s music critics dismissed him as a lightweight. What's the last review you read? Was it written by a professional critic, or was it contributed by a consumer to a site like Amazon or Yelp? I read reviews all the time. Both professional and consumer. It's just being a good consumer. I'm amused when people complain that they didn't know this or that book or movie had "so much sex and violence!" Well, maybe you wouldn't be clutching your pearls right now in horror if you'd bother to check the reviews!

7) At the height of his popularity, Ricky tried his hand at movies, appearing in the western Rio Bravo with John Wayne. He turned 18 during the filming, and Wayne celebrated by playfully throwing Ricky into a sack of horse manure. Do you think pranks and practical jokes are funny? No. (And John Wayne sounds like a jerk.)
In costume for Rio Bravo. Who could pull a prank on this sweet little pup?

8) In 1959, when this song was popular, the St. Lawrence Seaway was completed. It connects Canada to our Great Lakes. Without looking it up, can you name all 5 Great Lakes? HOMES: Huron, Ontario, Michigan, Erie and Superior.

9) Random question – You drive past a local motel and see the car of a very married friend right there in the lot. Would you ask her about it? Yes. I'd assume they had a busted HVAC system or some other homeowner emergency that precipitated moving out. My married friends seem happy and infidelity wouldn't have occured to me.

Sometimes I miss the road sign

Henry has never liked social media. Since his accident, he's had a hard time composing emails on his laptop. So our relationship now takes place entirely over the phone.

These are marathon conversations. Two hours is the norm. These calls are long-ranging. About our pets. About our families. About our jobs. And, always, reliving the accident and his hospital stay. I try to get away from that as quickly as I can, because no good can come of that.

I enjoy these calls, until I don't. We talk, and talk, and talk. Considering how close he came to death last year, how severe his brain injury was, I find this comforting. He has come so far in his recovery! He's back at work, he's writing poetry again, his memory is completely in tact.

But he is still not well. He's still on a regimen of medications that have an impact on his stamina and moods. And he is not his old self. Frequently Henry says things that just aren't Henry.

He's boastful now, in ways he wasn't before. "I have a high IQ and two PhDs," he'll say. The old Henry would never have said that. Oh, and it's not true. I've known him more than 25 years. I know he's worked two separate times toward the same advanced degree and never finished it. The dissertation has always stopped him. Why does he keep saying this? Does he think I don't know the truth?

And he says things that just aren't true. Couldn't be true. For example, he told the story of how he took his beloved dog Lola to the vet last summer. "I made the vet agree with me that she was dying, that she didn't have long to live, and yet he wanted to put her under anesthesia and clean her teeth anyway. I took her in my arms and said, 'Lola, we're going home.'" What? Huh? No vet would behave that way. Last summer -- before the accident -- he told me he couldn't afford to get Lola's teeth fixed and besides, he was worried the anesthesia would kill her so he simply wasn't taking her in. What's with this dramatic fantasy of arguing with the vet?

Or nuts. Like when he rides his bike now, he still doesn't wear a helmet because it's humid in Key West and besides, helmets aren't "becoming" on adults.

So after I hang up the phone, I'm upset and I stay upset for days.

Henry is doing the best he can. I know that. And it's a privilege that he reaches out to me, that he trusts and loves me. I treasure that. He always ends each call with, "You are my sister and I love you."

But there's an unpleasant reality that I have to face: Even though we have come so very far since his accident last October, this could be it. This could be the extent of his recovery. This could be our new normal. And you know what? That's OK. He's my friend, I love him and I'm in this for the long haul.

So I have to change my approach to these calls. When I sense that we're entering Crazy Town, I should come up with a reason to hang up. Maybe I should come up with a gallery of excuses before he calls next time, so I can have one ready when I pick up.