FF Volume XVI, No. 39

Frank Fax Facts_______________

And Reviews

     Volume XVI, No. 39

Sunday, Dec. 12, 2010

Last Sunday, Father Gorman was determined to get back to town before 11:00! This suited me just fine. Getting home eight hours after leaving, is the one thing I dislike the most about my Sunday job: when I drove myself there and back, I was always at home by 11:00 each Sunday: now my usual time (as both Trudy and Ginger could tell you) is between two and three in the afternoon.

The reason for this mad dash was the Brunch at Morrison’s cafeteria. He told me about it the week before, adding that they served only until 11:00! I was even more intent on eating anywhere other than a Waffle House (whose food is really excellent, but after nearly five years of eating at least nine out of ten noonday lunches) was attractive. Everyone stood around in amazement as he took the wheel of my Ford Focus and drove away from St. Edmund’s before 10:00! We arrived and were parked by 10:45, so we had made it!


Let me just warn you; if you have any plans for trying this brunch, set them aside. Never have I been more disappointed in a meal eaten in a usually more than adequate cafeteria! The staff had generally already given their undivided attention to the lunchtime diners, who were waiting in line on the opposite side of the dining room, and we were pretty much left to fend for ourselves. Though the food was in metal-covered heating receptacles, nothing was quite warm enough, and even the coffee was tepid at best. Father G. took some of the eggs, which looked totally unappealing to me (he verified that they were “powdered eggs” with the added distinction of being almost stone cold). There was plenty of bacon and those little pork sausages that I do so love: and in all fairness, this was good. The one biscuit I was able to find, was delicious, even though it, too, was not nearly warm enough. I tried almost everything that was left (a huge chunk of some kind of coffee cake that was no doubt wonderful even an hour earlier. Another plus (and I really am trying to be fair (were the leavings of fresh cantaloupes, honeydew melon and grapes—but these were just leavings nonetheless). So, if you are determined to eat there, just be sure you get there while the food is still warm—and not picked over. Waffle House, here we come!

In stark contrast to this meal, our luncheon on Wednesday at the Light House Restaurant was, as always, superb! I kept it simple by ordering the catfish dinner, and there was so much food (all wonderful) that I brought home enough for another full mea for Friday. In addition to the plethora of catfish nuggets, fried to perfection; there was a baked potato with butter and sour cream, and the best potato salad I have had in months. I had traveled to Dauphin Island with Father Gorman to play for a Holy Day of Obligation honoring Mary, (at noon) and we went directly to the Light House on our way home. We were joined there by Steve Lintner (Fr. Gorman’s assistant at mass) where we made a party of the occasion. All of the food at this small restaurant (especially the seafood) is wonderfully prepared.


Cat Chat______________________

Letters to Santa:

Dear Mr. Claus,

Daddy is writing this epistle for me, because my paws are too covered with fur to allow me to type on this keyboard.  Would you please bring me some Kibbles that I can enjoy, without having my mean old sister, Trudy, come along and gobble them all up before I get a chance to eat them?


Oh, by the way, if you could use an assistant (non-elfish) I’d like to suggest my stepsister.

Cattily, (Miss) Ginger Snappy Imbragulio”


Dear Santa,

I would love to sit in your lap at the department store.

I promise not to shed or scratch.

Love, Trudy II


DVD REVIEWS____________________

Nine ( Sony)

Very much like “Moulin Rouge” (the more recent musical) this confusing (at least to me—but I am an octogenarian, and realize I am not as “hip” as I used to be) would-be 21st century “Homage to Fellini’s  ‘8 ½” falls about 5 short of reaching any type of cinematic milestone, in my aloof opinion! First of all, Daniel Day-Lewis (is there a Daniel  Night-Lewis also?) is no Marcello Mastroianni; so I kept having a problem believing that all the most beautiful actresses currently making films, would literally pant after him. He treated them as if they were each the only female he could ever desire; while brushing them away like crumbs from his table. But I cannot say that I did not enjoy the many spectacular musical production numbers. I’d be lying if I did not tell you that they were unbelievable!

Each of these seven huge stars gets her chance to star in a production number: Marion Cortland, Penelope Cruz (whom I have so often disliked-but here she is nothing short of sensational!); Judi Dench; Fergie; Kate Hudson; Nicole Kidman (was she left over from “Moulin Rouge”?; and even Sophia Loren, who still looks better than most of the young actresses. She portrays Daniel’s mother.


The movie was nominated for 4 Academy Awards: 2009’s Best Supporting Actress (Cruz), Best Art Direction (most of the sets were mind bogglingly beautiful), Best Costume Design (Judi Dench played the role of Lewis’ favorite designer), and Best Original Song: “Take it All”. I felt any of the many songs in this movie were far better than any that has won in a long time.

The Golden Globes nominated it for the Best Picture of 2009, Best Actress (Marion Cortland), Best Actor (Lewis) and Best Supporting Actress (Cruz). That’s five Major Nominations.

The fact that it drew a total blank tells you a lot about the way movies are judged nowadays.
I give the film an A+ for trying so hard and almost succeeding.

Frank Imbragulio’s Schooldays______________
The 7th Grade
Sometime between the third and sixth grades, Josephine gave me the first camera I ever owned. It was a Kodak Brownie, and cost a whole dollar. I could not have been prouder had she given me the moon! It took little pictures (eight to each tiny roll of film-, which I seem to remember costing a quarter. Then when they were developed I had to beg for another quarter). I remember only my oldest sister, Rosie, as having the only other camera in the entire family. Hers, sadly, had its lens scratched soon after she got it, and the pictures always had lines on them, caused by these blemishes. So I was always very careful with my precious Kodak, I still have it, and when I last used it, was in perfect condition. I began photographing everything and everybody, and my photograph albums are so great a number that they literally fill one of my closets now. Quite a few pictures from my childhood are there. This brings to mind the reason for my telling about my very first experiments with the art of photography. One of my relics is a picture of three of our grade school teachers in Richton: one of these just happened to be the best teacher I had in my five years of public-schooling, Her name was Miss Lodell Rasberry, and I owe a lot to her awe-inspiring lessons.
Like most teachers back then, very few women who became teachers ever married. She was no exception. (Mrs. Sumrall, one of the other teachers in the picture, was the wife of the school’s Superintendent at the time).

Right from day one, I fell under the spell of this elderly lady. One of the things that impressed me the most was her uncanny ability to add almost as rapidly as a computer does now! And she taught those of us who were willing to work for it, the same ability.
She made no bones about the fact that I was her favorite student. She even told me that she had reached retirement age the previous year, but had requested that she be allowed one more year so that she could teach me.

When, near the end of that year, Miss Hill told me at one of my piano lessons, that since I had memorized so many pieces, she was going to let me give my first solo recital. This was not a regular recital by any means: it was presented after school in the room where we had public school music each week. Therefore seating was limited, and Miss Rasberry sat there, nodding approvingly at every thing I played (there were not any pieces more than three or four minutes, with the exception of Scarlatti’s famous Sonatina in C Major.) Josephine typed the programs that were handed out, and I even had two girls who played a duet to add a little variety. Other than the Scarlatti, I did a nice John Thompson of Schubert’s “Serenade”, and ended with my regular recital piece, the “Menuetto”  from Haydn’s Sonata in E Major. That was the first experience I had with the rhythm, 2 against 3. Once I got it, I never had any more trouble; but the bane of my existence has been trying to teach my students how to play and count it correctly. George figured out a perfect solution:  but most give up without even trying.

The rest of my program eludes me after all these years (and I am too lazy to go to my plethora of scrap books to find the “Josephine created” program.
Imagine my surprise and genuine gratitude when Miss Rasberry came forward as I was taking my bow, and presented me with a beautiful bouquet of red carnations! She said, “I am so proud of you today, and I look forward to hearing you play in Carnegie Hall one day!”
She certainly had higher ambitions than I did, but wasn’t that sweet?
I have to tell you the one thing this paragon of virtue did that really disappointed me: As I mentioned before, the schools in Richton and Ellisville were heavily into the Baptist religion. I was used to this and had come to accept it as part of being a Mississippian. One morning, during our daily “Prayer Meeting” we were requested to put our heads down on our desks and to close our eyes. Then Miss Lodell asked, “How many of you have not been saved?” I began to feel nauseous.

I knew I had been baptized as an infant, did not eat meat on Fridays or Holy Days, believed in God and tried to be as good as I could. Helen had taught me the “Lord’s Prayer”, “Hail, Mary”, the “Apostle’s Creed”, and the Act of Contrition, to add to “Now I lay me down to sleep” she had taught me almost as soon as I learned to talk. I said all of these each night before dropping off to sleep; but was I saved? Somehow it made me feel like food that should have been thrown away. We did not attend Mass on Sundays, because Daddy had to keep his market open until noon (which the mayor allowed, since he had such a large family to support, and in those deep depressions years, the dew dollars he took in on Sunday mornings made a huge difference). So I did not raise my hand.
She assured us that she would pray for those who were not “Saved” and asked the other of the elite group of “Heaven Bound” Christians pray for us sinners.

That had been early in that school year. Months later, as we neared the end of the year, Miss Rasberry announced one Monday morning, that she had some tragic news to relate. One of our classmates had been killed over the weekend, in a car wreck. Then she almost destroyed my love and admiration of her by asking us to join her in prayer, because this student had been one of those who had not been saved.
She meant well, I am sure. But I never got over the sick disappointment I felt at the time.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

FF XVU, 38

Frank Fax Facts

And Reviews

     Volume XVI, No. 38


Sunday, Dec. 5, 2010


Patricia and Mike Simmons arrived back in Shawnee Tuesday night. They said they had thoroughly enjoyed Thanksgiving and being with George, Helen and me. I certainly loved every minute they had here in Mobile!


Friday evening, Gerald Kutzman, his friend Frank (I did not get his last name) Ken Williams and I enjoyed the Tulsa-USM football game which was carried by CBS Sports (who televised four of Southern’s 10 games carried on the tube this year. That’s the most we ever had in one year. Since I am no longer physically able to get to the games, I was especially thrilled to watch nine of the games on TV (we were unable to watch the USM-Tulane game, as it was broadcast down here by Cox, which none of us had access to.)  I had cooked a big pot of Chili (Ken and I felt that since we had won two games in a row, with his wearing a Golden Eagles cap, and my having served chili both times, it was a sort of lucky charm to help the team win the final game of a highly successful year (8-4 with a bowl game to go)-the best in   years. Gerry called and asked if I would mind if he brought a houseguest, and I am so glad that he did. It was an exciting game: Tulsa had the ball first, and marched down the field and scored the first TD in minutes. The group groaned and felt USM had lost already. On the ensuing kickoff, the return was all the way back for USM’s tying TD. And so the game went. It soon became apparent that whichever team had the ball last would win. Sadly, it was Tulsa, who won by six points (2 of USM’s other losses were by ONE point each. The only team who won by a larger score was the season opener against South Carolina- and they beat Alabama!)

After my guests had eaten their desserts and left, I tried to wash a sink full of dishes, but found that I had no hot water! A trip out here proved that my worst fears were correct: the place was inundated with water! I called everybody back (they were in two different cars) and the got the water heater disconnected- (mine have always been electric) and the floor dry enough to last until Saturday. I was lucky enough to have a new GE water heater installed by noon.

 Cat Chat

"There is no need for a piece of sculpture in a home that has a cat”
--Wesley Bates




Responses from those reading the first installment have been solidly encouraging: here are a few of the first messages I received:
“We got your FF and were enthralled with your Thanksgiving activities and the start of the immigration of your family to the USA.  We look forward to the next installment of what happens next when he disembarks and starts his travel into the hinterland.  Keep us on the list.  We anxiously await the next Chapter of events.’  (Bill McGlasson)

’Thanks for such a beautiful story in Frank's Fax Facts today.  You know I am very much into history.  Your family will thank you for a long time for writing all this down.  I can't wait for more.’  Jim Freeman

Frank,  I just finished reading the prelude to Sempione.  It was wonderful and I want more, much more.  How do I access your blog?  You probably told me before, but I don't have it.  Thanks.  Jean

Old Movie Review
A Star is Born (Warner Bros)
I had first seen this remake of the 1937 Janet Gaynor-Fredric March story of Esther Blodget, who leaves her small town home and goes to Hollywood seeking fame and fortune. She finds more than she bargained for, but manages to achieve her main goals. She falls in love with, and marries a successful movie star, who just happens to have a real drinking problem. His career begins to fall apart, as Vicky Lester (the name the studio changed Esther’s to) becomes one of the biggest stars in Hollywood.

The 1954 version was filmed as a semi-musical with Judy Garland and James Mason. The film ran to 181 minutes and went way over budget, due to Garland’s usual habits that had caused her to be ousted from MGM. After previewing, the original film was butchered and reduced to just less than two hours (so Warner Bros. could recoup some of the money the film had cost, by allowing more screenings in each day). It was again edited in 1963, and was pieced together with many scenes with still photographs to which the original soundtrack had been restored. (This was the same fate that was applied to Columbia Pictures’ “Lost Horizon”: the original version). Leonard Maltin gave the released version of “A Star is Born” three and a half stars, and the restored version ****.  I have seen the original release several times, and loved it (although I wondered why they had cut several good musical numbers from the movie.) It is well worth watching this monumental musical again-trust me!

After the original release, Judy Garland was considered the front-runner for that year’s Academy Award. Grace Kelly had been nominated also. But everybody was so sure Garland would win, that they had the television cameras at the ready in her hospital room. She had just given birth to a son.  Grace Kelly was awarded Judy’s “Oscar” and I, along with millions of her adoring fans, consider it one of the so-called Academy’s grossest mistakes. She was nothing short of sensational in every way. Kelly’s tepid performance; miscast (in my opinion) as the wife of alcoholic actor, Bing Crosby, trying to make a come-back (here the two films take on a grim similarity) does not even approach Garland’s heartbreakingly wonderful performance. And that’s not even counting the musical numbers: which included Harold Arlen-Ira Gershwin’s “The Man that Got Away”; the longest production number at the time, “Born in a Trunk” sequence by Leonard Gershe, plus a dozen more!
I can never watch the movie (which I first saw in Heidelberg, Germany, with a German friend, Helmut Hort) without aching throat and moist eyes and cheeks, as Judy speaks those final words, ”This is Mrs. Norman Main.” Helmut looked at me and said, “I believe she is a great actress!” I nodded and dabbed at my eyes.

The film was again screened for the third time in 1976 (I refuse to say it was brought to life) by two of my favorite stars at that time: Barbra Streisand and Kriss Kristofferson. There is hardly enough of the two earlier versions to justify calling it be the same name. I absolutely hated it!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010