June 6, 2007

I'm Tumbling!!

Tumblelogging, that is. Yes, because I have way too much time on my hands, I’ve started yet another blog. Only this one has a different concept. Here’s Wikipedia’s definition of a Tumblelog:

A tumblelog is a variation of a blog, that favors short-form, mixed-media posts over the longer editorial posts frequently associated with blogging. Common post formats found on tumblelogs include links, photos, quotes, dialogues, and video. Unlike blogs, this format is frequently used to share the author's creations, discoveries, or experiences without providing a commentary.

That about covers it! Okay, I’ll be straightforward; it will basically be a collection of shit I find on the web, but it’s still all about me, me, ME! And, since the tumblelog is so much simpler to update, I’ll be updating it much more often. (Probably every day I’m online, but don’t hold me to that.) I’m also going feature a new “song of the day”, everyday. Here is the link:


You can also find updated links under the “tumblelog posts” on this page.

I’m definitely not abandoning this blog, I enjoy writing my drawn out, incoherent rants and raves (see last post), but it is time consuming. I’m still gonna try to post more, but, at the very least, I’ll be posting as often as I have. (this is my 10th post since the end of March.) So don’t you worry loyal readers! All 2 of you!

PS - I googled “tumble” to find a picture, but wasn’t satisfied with the results. So, I searched “falling down stairs” (because I’m violent like that) and found the gem above. But, within that search, I also found this cartoon which gave me a good chuckle:

Source: Perspicuity

PS-S – While writing this, it totally occurred to me that I have the perfect soundtrack to this post! It comes from this album, which I am the proud, proud owner of:

Marilyn McCoo “Solid Gold” 1983


June 4, 2007

I Love Cunty Lucy

I have to admit, it’s rare when I fall in love with a movie, hardcore. (The fact that I catch very few movies nowadays is probably the main reason!) One of those rare exceptions happened recently.

Around December I was looking for something to watch on TV and found “The Big Street” on the Turner Classic Movies on-demand channel and recognized that title. I’m a pretty big fan of “I Love Lucy”, and have read several books and seen a few documentaries on the subject of that TV show and Lucille Ball. I really knew nothing about the movie other than the fact that many people, including Lucille Ball herself, considered this her best dramatic role in a film. (In fact, the TCM bumper after the movie noted that “The Big Street” was one of only three films that Lucy actually kept copies of in her own house for screenings. The other two were the films she did with Desi Arnaz during the “I Love Lucy” era, “The Long Long Trailer” and “Forever Darling”.) Nowhere, in any of that reading, did I recall the actual plot of this movie, and I’m so glad I didn’t!

This movie is basically an old Hollywood studio version of an S&M porno. Seriously, if you are someone who is into really, really bitchy women, you could literally masturbate to this movie. Now, I’m not into S&M or bitchy women, but, there’s just something about people taking abuse that I just find hilarious. You can call me sick if you like, but I guarantee you, I’m not as sick as this movie! In fact, in the April 1978 issue of Interview magazine, Andy Warhol proclaimed it “the sickest film ever made” (Andy Warhol!)

I don’t even know where to begin explaining the reasons why this movie is so amazing.

First off, here is the basic setup: Lucille Ball is Gloria Lyons, a nightclub singer whose life goal is to marry rich. She espouses mantras like, “A girl’s best friend is a dollar.” and “Love is something that gives you one room, two chins and three kids.” Henry Fonda plays “Little Pinks,” a bashful busboy who has an obsessive crush on Gloria. One day, Pinks saves her dog from being hit by a car and she returns the favor by getting him a job as a busboy at her nightclub. From this point on out (because of a flippant remark from another nightclub singer) Pinks refers to Gloria as “Your Highness”. I’m not joking. Gloria is dating Case, a nightclub owner with shady connections, but she quickly dumps him when the opportunity arises to hook up with a younger, trust fund hottie, Decatur Reed (perfectly cast, by the way, with William T. Orr). Thrown into a jealous rage, Case pushes Gloria down a staircase, paralyzing her. While in the hospital with no friends or family, Little Pinks takes charge of her care, eventually paying for some of it himself, unbeknownst to Her Highness. He sends her roses every day and signs the cards from Decatur or the nightclub patrons, to make her think they haven’t forgotten her, which they have. When she gets out of the hospital, unaware that she is homeless and broke, Pinks takes her to his home where he and his friends wait on her, hand and foot. All the while she treats him like less than garbage.

Yeah, without giving too much away, that’s basically it!

I personally love when thoroughly entertaining and engaging movies still manage to contain those “what the fuck were they thinking” factors, and this movie is chock full of them. (As if the plot wasn’t outrageous enough.) There are a few just inexplicably bad moments in this movie (bad as in good, of course) for example; a onetime breaking of the fourth wall for an attempt at comedy, comes to mind. Sometimes, the seemingly low production values are to the point of distraction, particularly with some of the sets, like in one scene when a flat wall with a door is the “hospital”. Oh, and almost everything is a process shot, even shit that doesn’t need to be, which I really love. I know this was the heyday of the rear projection shot, and in old Hollywood nothing was filmed in the light of day, but damn, some of the process shots are soooo bad (again, so bad, they're awesome!) I’m not talking about car scenes here, I’m talking entire walking scenes are played in front of rear projection where a fairly simple set would have sufficed. Also, I won’t spoil anything, but, I can’t not mention that about halfway through this movie there is an absolutely fucking insane plot point! They build up to it for several minutes in the movie and the whole time you’re thinking, “No, this isn’t going into actually happen, right?” And when it does, there it is some serious "WTF!?" going on in your head. I really love that all the supporting characters in movie just accept this surreal (and insanely masochistic) moment in the story without as much as a raised eyebrow. You also get the sense that the director and/or writer just want you, the audience, to accept it and not ask questions or have common sense. In that way, it’s almost as if you are being treated by the filmmakers like Pinks is by Her Highness!

(Be forewarned that practically every review of this film I’ve seen on the Internet, mostly on the IMDB and the film synopsis in the TCM link at the bottom of this post; contain many spoilers including the aforementioned insane plot point. So, if you don’t wanna know and want to be surprised, I suggest not reading anything else until you see the movie.)

Lucille Ball is unrelenting in playing this character with zero redeemable qualities. In his 1976 autobiography, Desi Arnaz wrote this:

“Lucy’s next picture was to be Big Street with Henry Fonda, based on Damon Runyon's Little Pinks. It was a heavy drama in which she played a cripple in a wheelchair—a mean, bitchy cripple at that. She told Charles Laughton, who was also at RKO at the time, that she was worried about the part. It was the first time I'd seen her afraid to tackle a role. Laughton told her, ‘Lucy, darling, if you are going to play a bitch, play the bitchiest bitch who ever lived or don't play the part at all.’”

It sounds like someone heeded some advice! But in all seriousness, both Ball’s and Fonda’s performances are really amazing. This really comes through at the end when, despite the harshness of their characters, the movie’s melodrama and crazy S&M qualities, you find yourself genuinely touched. Both performances are departures from what most are used to seeing from the pair, (especially, to the modern eye, Lucy.) It also doesn’t hurt that Lucy was really at the height of her beauty when she made the film. (The Big Street was made in 1942 when Lucy was 31, about 9 years before she began with “I Love Lucy”)

I must say that this movie isn’t without its flaws (bad as in bad), the major one being that they spend way too much time with the peripheral characters in Pinks’ world for my taste, although some of them are interesting, (Agnes Moorehead particularly, also gives a great performance.) Then again, if the entire movie was only Her Highness’ bitchiness, I would be happy.

Speaking of which, I’ve created a montage of bitchiness from this movie for you to enjoy, (there are no spoilers.) Bask in the cuntiness!

I have to add that it was a herculean task to whittle down the bitchiness to less than three minutes, because really, at least 50 percent of the movie consists of moments like these, I just fished out the ones that put the biggest smile on my face. There were other moments I love as well, but they gave away too much of the plot. I also want to add that the sadism and masochism in these clips is even more severe (and funny) when put in the context of the story.

The reason I write all this is because "The Big Street" will be released on DVD for the first time on June 19th. This makes me happy I didn’t discover the movie earlier; otherwise I would have added a resounding “finally” to that statement. From my short research, it’s not clear what special features, if any, this DVD will contain, perhaps only the trailer, which can also be seen on the TCM link below. Regardless, it’s a definite must buy for me. Now, especially, since I recently re-watched the movie for this little review, and have realized that it’s only getting better with repeated viewings. Needless to say this one gets my high recommendation. If anyone catches it on TV or buys the DVD be sure to let me know what you think!

"The Big Street" TMC page - Again, Spoiler warning. Check out the Trailer, Production Stills and Article. Just don't read the synopsis on the bottom of the home page or the "Full" synopsis (same thing), which gives away the entire movie.
Extended clip on YouTube

May 16, 2007

Do it!

So my friend M-Y-K and I were joking about the 1975 Van McCoy & The Soul City Symphony song “The Hustle” the other night. (Inside joke with long back story) That prompted me give it a listen yesterday, and you know, I honestly forgot how fuckin’ great the song is! I concede that it hasn’t dated nearly as well as other disco songs (keep in mind that it was released pretty early in the disco era), but if you listen with an objective ear, it’s really nothing short of a great pop song.

What is there to not love about this song? I especially love the Herb Alpert-y touch with the horns. I also love the lyrics, all 5 words of it. “Do The Hustle!” “Do it!” I’m sure this observation as been made before, but jeez, that lyric is so demanding! It’s like they’re holding you at gun point; “You BETTER shake your booty or else!”

I also wanted to add my praise to the first two volumes (and only the first two volumes) of “The Disco Years” released by Rhino records in 1990. I’m not really into compilation CDs, but I’ve had these 2 CD’s for many years now and they are really superb. In my opinion, if somebody quickly wanted the most absolutely basic, yet moderately comprehensive 70s disco collection in 4 CDs or less, I would recommend these two albums, along with the Donna Summer 12 inch single compilation called “The Dance Collection” and maybe “Dance, Dance, Dance: The Best of Chic”? That’s just my opinion, does anyone else have recommendations?

That awesome GIF came from this website. Many thanks to a certain blogger for bringing it to my attention!