Wednesday, June 29, 2011

California's June Surprise

I made a sojourn Tuesday under cloudy skies, across San Francisco Bay, to visit some literary friends in Livermore and the most astonishing thing happaned ...

Monday, June 27, 2011

Films Like "The Band Wagon" Still Sparkle

We are lucky there are still a few crazy geniuses like Ted Turner in America today.  For all his many faults, he's done something no one else managed. He--almost single-handedly, though we could dispute this--made film preservation a commercially viable venture.  It all began when he invented Turner Classic Movies.

Thanks to Turner and TCM (and the American Film Institute and the many fans of classic films who  worked for preservation before Turner came along) we are still able to see Fred Astaire dance in a wonderful film like The Band Wagon more than half a century after Astaire made his silken moves.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Holy Squash Blossom: or Death to All Squirrels!!

I have two "Big Max" pumpkin vines going in my garden.  I wonder if I'll see any of the squash, come October?

Wow.  I have now suffered the ultimate ignominy at the hands of a squirrel.  I walked out to the garden this morning, and saw a squirrel escaping over the garden fence with one of the big yellow blossoms from my pumpkin vine!

I called my sister the horticultural expert, and she informed me that both people and rodents consider "squash blossoms" to be a delicacy.  That's a new one on me.  The only thing I know is that--no blossom, no pumpkin.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Mom's Chair Finally Shines

Let's talk decorating!  In particular, the reupholstering of an old chair that has sat in this house since I was about nine years old.

We went to Spokane, Washington, that summer and returned with the nutty chair in the back of Dad's new Oldsmobile 88.  How we got that big chair home with half of it hanging out of the back of the trunk, I'm not quite sure: but it was a pretty big car and, I suppose, a much different era (with possibly slower traffic).

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The Legacy of Errol Flynn: A Hot, New Star Named Sean in "Return of the Killer Shrews"

Sean Flynn, grandson of Errol Flynn, who was perhaps the most talented and flamboyant of the stars of 1930s and 1940s Hollywood.

My friend, the film director Steve Latshaw, has had so many of his investments in people mature and produce returns this year.  He is loyal and kind to all those he cares about, and a huge fan of those he admires.  These two aspects of his character came together recently when his friend, James Best (Dukes of Hazzard), got together with him for a remake of the hokey old horror film Killer Shrews (1959) and together they were able to hire 22-year-old Sean Flynn for the new film--Sean being the grandson of one of Steve's great Hollywood heroes, Errol Flynn.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Hot Tomato!

"Tomato Juliet" guarantees sweet, tasty cherry tomatoes: they're out but not yet ripe as you can see.

During the summer in California, people don't ask you how you are doing, or who you are dating, or how is your grandmother.  They ask you if your tomatoes are out yet.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Happy Father's Day

Ashley Chapman and his favorite car. Naturally, he got it used and fixed it up.
Father's Day 2011
Dear Dad:

Here's Father's Day rolling around and you off and busy somewhere else in the Universe.  I have a confession to make to you this year.  I read all those love letters you wrote to Mom during World War II.

Boy did I learn a lot of things about you.  Aside from the scorching details of your lust for Mom--which I hurried through as being too oogie for words--I loved the part where you read Lust for Life and said you'd never heard of Vincent Van Gogh and called him a screwball.

He was indeed!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Killer Talent Reboots "Killer Shrews"

Return of the Killer Shrews? You mean you didn't know they had been there in the first place?

I am such a huge fan of those who put their dreams into action that I can't let this week go by without raising several big huzzahs to my friend Steve Latshaw, who just finished directing his latest film, Return of the the Killer Shrews.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Blackberry Summer

If you double click the photo you can get a better view of that bee on my blackberry blossom. Taken with my iPhone camera this morning.

There is a blackberry patch in our side yard that I find very annoying.  Annoying because you can't even get near a blackberry patch without having it attach itself to you. And if a thorn even touches your skin--at least my skin--I get a red, really painful sore there.

But we had a big blackberry patch in our first California house, way out back, and after my parents died I discovered this one way around back of our second house.  What was it with my father and blackberries?

Thursday, June 9, 2011

The Strangest Movie With An All-Star Cast

Movie poster for "Walk on the Wild Side," the 1962 film that keeps you shaking your head in wonder.

I don't know what put it into my mind, but I've had the crazy film Walk on the Wild Side (Columbia Pictures 1962) running through my head this week.  This film has always astonished me.  It has so much going for it:  its title song is a real wow by Elmer Bernstein.  It's cast includes Laurence Harvey, Jane Fonda, Barbara Stanwyck, Anne Baxter, and Capucine.

Its opening and closing credits, with the black cat, are really fabulous.  Unfortunately, the rest of the movie has always left me with my mouth hanging open in surprise.  How did they manage it?

Monday, June 6, 2011

Meeting Mary Pickford's Last Sweetheart: My Visit With Charles "Buddy" Rogers

Mary Pickford and Charles "Buddy" Rogers, who became her third husband.

It began one day in the early 1980s, when I was a reporter in Washington D.C. and Charles "Buddy" Rogers, recently a widower after the death of silent movie star Mary Pickford, was in our nation's capitol to donate her film collection to the Library of Congress ... 

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Obsessive Compulsive Chair Disorder Update

Hold on; I'll get to this garage piece in a moment. (Oh, tell Dad those are his jumper cables in the background.  I still have the set he gave me when I first left home, in the back of my car. Natch!)

Dear Mom:

Hard to believe it has been almost a year and a half since you went to your Great Reward. Time Flies When You're Having Fun! Oops, sorry. Just kidding! I don't blame you even a teensy bit for making me feel as if I've been living in the House o' Chairs ever since your abrupt departure. Not a teensy bit. Okay. Maybe a tad.

I'm not even going to ask you what you had planned for them all, when you "got around to it." The fact that there were no comfortable chairs to actually sit in in the entirety of our lovely family home--when you took your leave of it--is rather more here than there. Not your problem now, is it! Nil nisi bonum etc etc.