Fax Facts and Reviews

Vol.. XIV No. 9

Sunday, May 26, 2013

I finally managed to pick one of my exquisite magnolias and get it into water over the weekend, but the rest of the spring bloomers have long ago bloomed out, so I must welcome anything that decides to open up and show me a little beauty.Pet Peeves Encore

“Send me your gripes, your pet peeves and your nausea of things that happen all too frequently. Emma Lazarus I’m not!”

  Television is responsible for a large percentage of my personal pet peeves. My Dish Network earns about 99 percent of my gripes: The reason I stay with them is solely for the ability to record anything they show. Sometimes I get carried away and record movies that I cannot bring myself to watch. I have endless battles with the Remote Controls in both the den and my bedroom! A conservative guess at the number of times that I can get NO* response out of first one, while I can still see the other one is only about 20% of the time! But then, as if they gang up on me, both of them play dumb at the same nonce!  *No picture, sound, ability to change stations, NADA!

It is these translucent things that crop up out of nowhere, with such fascinating messages as the name of the program I am supposed to be enjoying; instead of which, I have to grit my teeth and battle with the remote until I may even find the right button to press: this should give me the ability to sigh, “At last!” But in any case, you don’t always get the happy ending. I buy so many triple A batteries (which are NOT cheap) that I have an entire drawer in the desk of my study, just for them! I just go doggedly on, praying that the Lord will see fit to save what little of my feeble brain is still workable’

In addition to the translucent irritation, there are several variations with solid picture, which causes me to sigh with relief until the translucent ones reappear. At least you can hear while they obscure your already useless eyes from seeing anything at all.

Peggy insists that it is because I have such big fingers. My fingers are actually quite normal, but I admit my remote controls are out to drive me bonkers.

Cat Fax

“Cats don’t like change without their consent.”

Roger A. Caras

Recent  Movie Review

Hope  Floats

Sandra Bullock has had me captivated by her performances at the beginning of her career, but she lost me with a couple of stinkers in a row (and I was not impressed with her winning an Oscar). But this film assured me, she is not just another pretty face, but a consummate actress. The film begins with her. Just after her husband moved out and had taken another mate.  Meanwhile, Sandra (who plays Bertie) is left with a young, precocious daughter named Bernice. Bertie loads most of hers and Bernice’s things, in her car and drives from Chicago to a small town where Bertie’s father (who is in a nursing home) and his wife, Gina Rowland, have their home. Roland is the best actress in the film, while Harry Conic, Jr. gives a performance on a par with Rowland’s; and if he sings at all, it has to be on the sound track only. He tries to court Sandra, but she is not ready to jump into a new bed just yet.

My favorite scenes (in this mostly likeable film) are with her old classmates, as well as new faces, after she begins getting back to normal. She still looks very beautiful and when she does smile, it is truly worth waiting for! (** ½)

A Sicilian in Italy (Draft Dodger, No longer Anonymou

I was so excited the morning that I boarded the train for Verona and Venice! This was truly becoming the most exciting trip I had ever taken. Then I felt guilty that I was happier than I had been when traveling with Lynwood. But, he was the one who wanted out of the Army, when I knew I did not want to leave Germany before I had to.

There was not a lot to see in Verona, since I was unable to see where Romeo and Juliet, nor the Two Gentlemen of Verona lived. So I took a train to Venice that afternoon.

Of course the Train Station for the city was way out before I saw any water. I couldn’t help thinking to myself that Venice would be even more boring that Verona. But that just goes to show you how wrong I can be. Yes, sir, when I am disappointed, I am hard to get along with!

I took a cab from the Depot (Still, no water in sight)  to a hotel the driver suggested, so that part was taken care of by giving the Cabby a nice tip for suggesting the beautiful hotel I stayed in. My room was lovely, it was on the second floor and had a sweet little balcony that I could walk on from my bedroom and sit and watch the crowds go by. When I first walked out of the room, I saw a wedding in progress, from the church across the street. I hurriedly dug my camera out of my suitcase. By the time I was ready to snap my very first wedding picture, the bride and groom were already married and getting into a gondola to begin their honeymoon! It turned out to be one of the best snapshots I ever made (and these are now in the thousands). I was getting hungry. The hurried snack I had eaten in Verona, was all but forgotten. I approached the dining room with my usual shyness when I had to convey to waiters, what I wanted, since the only Italian vocabulary I knew consisted of a few dozen expressions. Usually about bodily functions and those that the three sons would often call each other, “Peppy Bob-ba” (all of my spellings are guesses. But what they sound like is fairly good That phrase we used on each other all the time, means “Fool or Court Jester”. Sammy got Daddy to tell him how to say, “I am a big fool” in Italian.
“Yo Sony babootsa”. Of course, Sammy could always make us laugh by saying literally anything  in any language. He was always “On Stage” and the dearest clown I ever knew. Anything any of us said in Italian, was in reality “Pathetic Sicilian” at best; not always understood by the northern citizens of Italy. Sammy liked nothing better than to mock some of our parents’ Italian. Actually; George found out when he and our parents went to Italy together: George, to get settled into a nice place to board for his year of study with his Fullbright Scholarship. And  Mama, who had never been to Italy.  George told me (when he got back) that Mama and Daddy had met dozens of kinsmen in Sicily, and that they all had no trouble understanding Mama, but Daddy did not come out so well. George, who was always a real scholar, taught himself to speak Italian, if not fluently, at least better than any one that I knew. He did the whole thing with the records and books that you are supposed to practice with daily.

By the time I was seated at a table all by myself, the waiter came bringing an elaborate Menu. I looked at it, and about the only things I understood were the prices. Then, I happened upon something that I decided might well be what my family knew as Inky Peas with Souga. That’s a sort of pigeon Sicilian that means Petit Pois sweet peas in garlicky tomato sauce. I learned to make this dish when I was just a young boy, and my nieces always expect it at least once every time they visit here. I experienced the sweetest of all memories when visiting Beth (Josephine’s elder daughter) had me up to their home, and had asked me to make my”speciality”. I had just got it on the stove, when Beth’s older son came in with his wife. He looked at me, grinned  and said. “Do I smell Inky Peas?” That has to have been one of the happiest memories I ever had. Just the fact that Bob knew what I had cooked was enough, but he told me how he and his younger brother, Bill (who is my Godson) had tried time and time again, when they were students at Oregon State; but could never get it to taste the way mine always did! My secret ingredient (which is certainly well known to all of my dinner guests), is garlic! And I do not try to cut into little-bitty pieces, but I make the pieces big enough that you can pick them out, if they offend you.

At the time in Venice, I had not experienced the delight, listed above, but was really anxious to taste some of Mama’s type of Inky Peas (which I always called them, since I could not say English Peas when an infant.) I asked my waiter in my shattered Italian (it was far worse than merely “Broken”!) he looked puzzled, until I said, “Souga”, then a smile lit up his face from ear to ear, as he shook his head, “Yes! Don’t ask me what else I had with those Peas, because I was so delighted to taste something that at last tasted almost exactly like my darling Mama cooked any time I asked her. I probably had meat and a salad (as I usually do). But Venice was a city that was so beautiful that it made me want to weep, it was so gorgeous. I loved the Cathedral (but did not get to see the inside of it, due to the fact that it was closed (and had scaffolding all around it) so I have no idea where they were attending Mass without it. There was a huge public square just in front of it (I forget which saint it was named for) where I sat enjoying a band concert that afternoon. But, after a couple of selections, I decided to go sight seeing on my own. I knew that there was a famous beech somewhere in Venice and wanted to find it. I skipped the novelty of a renting a gondola, for obvious monetary reasons: I had learned early on that the “Buses” were actually faster, though surely not as romantic so I asked the driver which vehicle I needed to go to the “?” (like most of the things, I cannot remember the names after all those years) He told me which bus to take (I had to go to another street) and I found the famous place, which was crowded with swimmers and a lot of them were tourists like me (but unlike me, they could swim!) It usually makes me sad because we (George and I) were never allowed to go swimming, because there was no public pools in small towns like Richton and Ellisville when we lived there: I was flabbergasted when I went back to Ellisville recently, to see that they now have a facility: lifeguard and all!

When I awoke the next morning (which was a Monday) I caught a train to Rome. I was determined to see this Eternal City next.

(Continued Next Week)

Old Movie Reviews

P ,Mr. and Mrs. Smith (RKO 1941}

       Now, picture this: The year is 1941, and George and I are in the Arabian Theater in Laurel, Mississippi. Not even I can remember why we are there, but it could have been anything from one (or both) of us, playing earlier in a piano competition; or, it could be something strictly connected with my brother; but most likely, Anna, or one of our other three sisters just wanted an excuse to get out of Richton, and go to “The City” to do some shopping. They always invited the two of us to share their efforts to dispel the ennui of living in a small town, where there just seems there were times with nothing to do. When they let us out of the car at the Arabian (it was the most elegant theater we had the good fortune to live near) we probably looked at the lobby, which really was, magnificent   . It was extremely long and filled with the most pictures (window cards of movies playing then, and the ones that were “Coming Soon”.) We would have had a fit when we saw the film which had Carole Lombard (whom we both adored) and Robert Montgomery (who was also a favorite: ever since the film in which you never see his face because you are supposed to see everything in the film from his perspective and his eyes). I do not have a definite memory of having seen the film until a scene where she is giving her husband a shave. The way Carole worked her mouth, nose and chin, showing him exactly how she wants his face to look, was almost as refreshing as the day I first saw it. Carole Lombard was that type of unique comedy that made her a favorite movie star in millions of homes.

       But, as the film continued (from Turner Classic Movies) I fell more and more out of love with Mister and Mrs. Smith! What had happened? I had no idea who the director was, but I learned that it was no less than Alfred Hitchcock! Now, as we all know, this man made some of the greatest cinema in the world! How did he go wrong here? Well, first of all, the coincidence of someone informing Montgomery that he and Lombard has never been legally married (because of some forgettable reason) and he decides not to tell her. She, on her own, finds out the situation, and from that moment, it became a silly boring bit of tripe. In 1938, both of us were just happy to be in a lovely, air-conditioned theater (and these were the days when theaters were about the only things that offered cool comfort) But when I saw it for the second time, I was literally ill with disappointment!

       Of course, the reason it is so silly is that they still seemingly adore each other (even though she takes up with Gene Raymond, who is supposed to be her husband’s best buddy.) Where’s the suspense, Hitchcock? We all know there will be a happy ending. Leonard Maltin gives it three stars, and praises the acting! To me, Lombard especially) came out as a total flop! And, just think,  I was so upset when she died in that plane crash, too!

       Thunder Afloat (1939) MGM

       As much as I disliked Mr. and Mrs. Smith, all these years later; the more I enjoyed this wartime movie, which was standard Wallace Beery fare, and it is about the only one of his movies that I had never even heard of! Josephine usually booked this actor’s films. Not because he was boffo box office fare, but because everybody seemed to love this big, plain-looking man, who was usually a dirty, heavy drinker and almost always used bad grammar; and I fell in love with him at an early age.  As the movie unfolded before my eyes, I found it ever more difficult to think why we had never shone this charming WW2 Navy Drama! It had one of my favorite actresses as Beery’s adoring daughter, but I cannot remember her name, nor does the critic mention her.  (***)

Answers to last week’s Movie Quiz

Old Movie Trivia Quiz (May 12) Answers

1. Ava Gardner was The Barefoot Contessa    

2. Alfred Hitchcock liked to put himself in his films

3. Penny Singleton was Blondie in films.

4. Mickey Roonie was Young Tom Edison.

5. The Boy with Green Hair was played by

6. To Be or Not to Be was Carole Lombard’s final role, with Jack Benny

7. Fredericu March won an Oscar in the dual role of Dr. Jeckell and Mr. Hyde

8. Wm. Powell and Myrna Loy were the stars of The Thin Man series, Dashiel Hammet wrote the original mystery.

9. Tiny Republic Pictures made Remember Pearl Harbor

10. Bing Crosby’s young co-star in East Side of Heaven was young Gloria Jean,

I am running so late that the next Movie Quiz will be next Sunday.


Tuesday, June 4, 2013