Down the Hall on Your Left

This site is a blog about what has been coasting through my consciousness lately. The things I post will be reflections that I see of the world around me. You may not agree with me or like what I say. In either case – you’ll get over it and I can live with it if it makes you unhappy. Please feel free to leave comments if you wish . All postings are: copyright 2014 – 2019

Archive for the tag “Entertainment”

There’s Something Funny About Him

SOME PEOPLE ARE FUNNY. Of course there are two kinds of “Funny.” There are people who are Funny (Ha! Ha!) And then there are people who are Funny (Uh, Oh). Sometimes it is difficult to tell them apart.

What is it that differentiates these two flavors of Funny? I think it all has to do with their sense of humor. They both have that sense of humor, but it gets displayed differently. An Example:

For Mr. Funny (Ha! Ha!) – A joke. “Why did the Dragon take some Pepto-Bismol?”

“Because he ate someone who disagreed with him.”

That’s it. Simple and to the point. Now that same joke told by Mr. Funny (Uh, Oh)

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Throwback Thursday From September 2016 – Whatever Happened To…

Throwback Thursday From September 2016 – Whatever Happened To…

 

Whatever Happened To…

Van1I GOT UP THIS MORNING AND TURNED ON THE TV, just like I do on most mornings. I fiddle with the remote until I find TCM – Turner Classic Movies. It is my first mental challenge of the day. Remember the channel number and get my fingers to cooperate enough to hit the right buttons.

Just about every day is some Star’s “day,” either the day they came into the world or the day they left it. Once it has been established who the Star of the Day is the next question in my mind is: Still Alive or Dead?

About a week ago I figured out that the featured Star was Van Johnson. Being sure it was Van van7was not as simple as it sounds. They were showing a movie with both Van Johnson and June Allyson. Those two made about 600 movies together (or so it seems). It took another movie coming on to nail it down as Van’s day in the spotlight. Alive or Dead was not so easy.

At about 8:30 I went to see if my wife, the lovely and cinematically knowledgeable, Dawn, could, hopefully, give me an answer.

“I think that he is still alive,” she said over the edge of her teacup. “I think so too, the last of his era,” I agreed.

Van Johnson died in 2008. I guess I missed that one.

He just disappeared from my consciousness that morning. He disappeared from everything else in 2008.

People come and then they go. Things do that too. One minute they seem to be everywhere and then, Poof! You find out that they disappeared years before.

This morning I mentioned one such thing to Dawn. She looked at me like I was leading up to another Van Johnson question.

“Whatever happened to all those old Fotomat booths that used to be everywhere?” I asked her out of nowhere. She’s used to me doing that.

Van2“I think they went out of business years ago – Digital cameras and all that.” She never lifted her eyes from her Kindle.

“No, I know that, but what in the world did they do with all of those little booths where you dropped off your film? There must have been millions of them.” She did lift her eyes on that one.

“I dunno,” and back to the Kindle.

This sent me off on a fact-finding mission. For an apparently pointless reason I needed to learn more about Fotomat and their ubiquitous booths. I should have spent my time researching Van Johnson.

I did uncover that those booths started popping up in the 1960s in strip malls all over the country and lasted unto 2009 – one year after Van Johnson checked out.van4

I found a lot of information about the company and its ups and downs and eventually it’s over and out as a corporate entity. But not one word about the fate of the (In reality – 4000 of them) booths.

When I finished my research I rushed into the other room to tell Dawn all about what I had lvan5earned. To say she was not impressed would be an understatement – like saying World War Two was just a little dust-up between friends. I can’t blame her, but still…

There is another show on the TV about a trend/fad in housing where people are building incredibly small houses, little more than – Oh, I don’t know – Fotomat booths. Maybe that’s to where they all disappeared: Cable TV – just a few channels down from Van Johnson.

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I Am Not Spartacus!

 

I SAW A LOVELY FAMILY PORTRAIT the other day. It was quite a crowd spanning several generations. At the crux of the gathering was the Patriarch of the Family – Kirk Douglas. THE Kirk Douglas, the world famous actor, who starred in countless movies spanning decades.

He is 102 years old now and still ticking. His wife is 100 years old and still tocking. Together they are defying time.

When I first saw that Kirk Douglas had cracked the century mark it made me feel positively young, but then I saw that his oldest son, Michael Douglas is a year older than me. So much for that illusion of youth that I was clinging to.

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Throwback Thursday From September 2016 – “I Spy Something”

Throwback Thursday From September 2016 – “I Spy Something”

 

I Spy Something…

watching-bush-babyDESPITE THE UPSETS AND WOES OF EVERYDAY LIFE there is one thing that can still be enjoyed no matter where or when you find yourself: People Watching.

Unless you are in the middle of nowhere or alone on a deserted island it is likely that there are people about – and they are free for the watching. Of course, if you don’t do it properly and be discreet, it can get costly in black eyes and those pesky restraining orders.

watching

People Watching can be done almost anywhere. I say “almost,” because there are those places where folks expect to be, and want to be, unobserved. Violating that expectation is often called “Invasion of Privacy,” or “Stalking.” You don’t want that tag following you around.

The beauty of People Watching is that there is an unlimited variety of subjects walking past. On most days it is like watching the better dressed escapees from some Monkey Island. I say that making no pretense of being the best dressed guy in town – on most days I’m dressed like the insides of a Honolulu Goodwill Box.

Just this morning, sitting in my pew at St. Arbucks, I have seen a bunch of High School students stopping off to get a serious sugar high before heading off to class. The boys all tried to look somewhat tough and mildly rebellious. The girls? Well – I saw 17 versions of Marcia Brady (I guess that ironing one’s long hair is back in fashion.) and a few Joan Jett wannabees. Maybe they’ll be able to draft a few of the boys into being their “Blackhearts.”

Don’cha just love Rock ‘n Roll?

Being the first day of school I can understand all of the extra effort to look their best – or at least their best according to their chosen image and budget. Within a week or so the 1470489173223importance of “The Look” will dissipate and the reality of having to get up early to catch the school bus will set in. After a few days standing on the corner waiting for the bus and they will all start looking like their laundry hamper.

People Watching is a two-way street and I know that. I look at them. They look at me. It’s only fair, I suppose – but I have a “Look” that lasts past Opening Day. In Summer I wear Hawaiian shirts (even to church) and the rest of the year I am in sweatshirts.

Either choice is always accented by a San Francisco Giants baseball cap. On occasion I change hats, just to keep things fresh. My alternate might be a cap from a Minor League team, or from the Trinity College of Dublin – a reminder of our Ireland trips.

stalking

NOT People Watching!

My alternate cap that gets the most commentary is my “Thinking Cap” cap. On days I wear that I can count on having at least 2 or 3 people coming up to me wanting to know where I bought it. Truthfully, I don’t know where it came from. It was a gift from Dawn, so it could be from anywhere this side of Neptune. She has her sources.

So, I heartily recommend People Watching as a pastime. It is fun, inexpensive (barring the need for legal defense), no equipment is needed, and a great way to troll for characters if you are a writer. You don’t thing Stephen King comes up with the people in his novels by sitting alone in a room staring at the wall, do you?

Go out, find a seat somewhere, and park your carcass down. Look around and enjoy what will, inevitably, pass by. There will be a parade of humanity to enjoy as it saunters by.

Refreshments are optional.

watching drinking-starbucks

It Puts The Remote In Remote Control

I’VE BEEN LEARNING A FOREIGN LANGUAGE LATELY: ENGLISH. Considering that English is already my first and primary language you wouldn’t think that I would need lessons – but I do.

My wife, the lovely and Queen of the Remote Control, Dawn, has us watching a number of TV shows from “Across the Pond,” most of which are Police and Cops N’ Robbers shows from England and Scotland. I didn’t know that the Scots were so into crime shows. I didn’t know that the Scots were into much of anything other than not being English.

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Throwback Thursday From July 2016 – “When I Grow Up I Want To Be…”

Throwback Thursday From July 2016 –

When I Grow Up I Want To Be…

lid1WHEN WE WERE CHILDREN we all had fantasies about what we wanted to be when we “grew up.” I wanted to be a cowboy. Dawn wanted to be a Playwright – a rather precocious child. My brother wanted to be a baseball player. In one of my father’s high school yearbooks he listed that his career ambition was to become a “Traveling Silk Stocking Salesman.” I’m sure his mother was thrilled when she saw that. He ended up as a Roofer.

 

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Throwback Thursday From July 2016 – “The Good, The Bad, And The So-So”

Throwback Thursday From July 2016 –

The Good, The Bad, And The So-So

skill1

I’M GOOD AT GROCERY SHOPPING. I’M NOT GOOD AT DANCING.

Everybody has those little slices of life where they excel and others where they stink like the next morning in a fraternity house. No matter how hard we try to master a certain skill it evades us.

For example:

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They Don’t Write Them Like That Anymore

I LIKE MUSIC. I DON’T KNOW IF I HAVE THE MUSIC IN ME, but I have my moments. I’ve performed in a couple of musicals over the years and no one died as a result, so I must not be too bad.

Being a professional musician is something I could never be because I really lack, not only the talent, but also the dedication that it takes. When someone asks me if I can play any instruments I tell them that the only thing I can play is the radio.

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For You, Easy. For Me, Difficult

OVER THE YEARS I HAVE SEEN A LOT OF COMEDIANS. Most of them ranged from dismal to really good. There was a different level for those above “Really Good.” Those were the “Classics,” the “Geniuses, “and the “Made me laugh out loud.” There aren’t too many that made it into that last group. One who did make me laugh out loud every time was a Comedian I’ll bet you never heard of. If you are under 40 years of age I’d put money on it.

The person I’m talking about was a Spanish ventriloquist named Wenceslao Moreno. He performed under the stage name of Señor Wences.

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I’ll Be Here All Week

I HAVE HEARD THAT IT IS A GOOD PRACTICE to go through your computer every so often and root out old and duplicate files. It is like digging into the back of that closet to pitch whatever no longer fits or is so out of style you’ll never wear it again. The last time I ventured into my closet I tossed out all of my 1970s Double Knits and Disco Duds.

As far as doing that in my computer hard drive I uncovered some long lost but interesting stuff. Old stories that never got finished, and links to sites and people long forgotten. In the midst of all those antiquated items I found a couple of gems. Well, maybe not gems, but things that still work and are worth keeping. One thing I resurrected was a short Stand Up piece that I used to do in days gone by. The date on the file was 2007.

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What Will I Do On Sunday Nights?

 

WELL, WELL, WELL. WE HAVE FINALLY DONE IT. We have reached the end, the finale, the climax, the resolution of the 37 year long television series, “Game of Thrones” – or is it “Game of Thorns?” I’m not sure.

We watched it all, each of the 57, 147 episodes. My guess is that the script writers just couldn’t bring themselves to edit away anything or fill in the gaps left when a flame throwing dragon went to get a nice 89 octane refill.

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I Love Watching Radio

 

HOW LONG HAS “GAME OF THRONES” BEEN RUNNING? I could swear that I watched it while I was still in elementary school. I think that the actors in the current show are the grandchildren of the actors at the beginning.

I wrote about “Game of Thrones” once before – several years ago.  At that time I was talking about how I couldn’t follow the multiple storylines. I was totally confused when characters disappeared only to reappear out of the blue two seasons later with no explanation.

“Honorable Phlegmball, where have you been?”

“Ummm… I was visiting my mother, Queen Effluvia, in the far North, Mr. Nosey Pants.”

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What Are The Odds?

 

SON OF A GUN! WELL, I’LL BE… GOOD GOLLY, MISS MOLLY! It looks like we are going to get a Casino here in Terre Haute (That’s French for “Where are the nickel slots?”)

Maybe.

The Indiana State Legislature, AKA “The House of Hoosier,” has given approval for there to be two new Casinos opening in the State. It has taken decades for that approval to be granted.

The only possible roadblock in the way is that there is to be a local referendum vote this fall or next spring at the latest. Local opposition is what has screwed the pooch in the past. This time it looks like the odds are much more likely to favor the Casino than ever before.

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The Face Is Familiar

Myron Healey

John Doucette

George Chandler

Do you recognize any of these names? If you do I’d be very surprised, but I’d bet that you would recognize their faces in a flash.

Every film and TV show has Leading Men, the “Stars” but it is the “Character Actors” who fill in the blanks. What good is a Hero without a Villain to vanquish or someone to rescue?

These three guys were what Hollywood called “Character Actors” portraying any number of roles in countless films and TV shows. For every John Wayne or Clint Eastwood there are hundreds of actors who create the atmosphere of danger and serve as the Antagonists that keep us on the edge of our seats. Someone has to rob the stagecoach so that the Lone Ranger can hunt them down.

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Do Not Do “The Freddie”

 

IS IT ME OR…IS IT THEM???

I admit that either possibility is, at minimum, plausible.

They (The ubiquitous “They”) say that Time is a fluid thing and that the very concept of Time Travel is no longer the property of Science Fiction writers. OK, I can accept that, but I just don’t expect it to happen while I’m quietly trying to have a cup of coffee.

Twice in the last month while I was concentrating on getting my plastic straw through the lid on my iced coffee my world was intruded upon by the 1950s and then the 1960s. I’ve been through those decades before so I recognized them immediately.

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I Am “Snoozing Man!”

HE LEAPS TALL BUILDINGS IN A SINGLE BOUND!

HE SLINGS WEBS AROUND THE CITY!

HE CAN FALL ASLEEP ALMOST ANYWHERE!

SuperPowers! Every Super Hero has them.

Superman – Spiderman – Me!

I know that my SuperPower is not as spectacular as some of the others, but my Fortress of Solitude can be just about anywhere.

It was my wife, the lovely and powerfully perceptive, Dawn, who first pointed out my SuperPower.

“Y’know, My Love, you can fall asleep almost anywhere can’t you? No matter how noisy or chaotic you can close your eyes and take a nap. John…John? Wake up!”

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I Wouldn’t Put Up With Me.

 

I DO IT BECAUSE I LIKE IT. I do it because most other people like it. I do it because it is fun.

I do it because I can.

I confuse people.

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away I used to be part of an Improvisational Comedy group in San Francisco. The eight of us (AKA the “Improv Alternative” and later as “Anchovi Daiquiri”) worked in nightclubs, theaters, street fairs, and any place that would let us through the door. We would do a two hour show made up entirely from audience suggestions.

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Is It Him? No.

TALK ABOUT PAINTING YOURSELF INTO A CORNER…Whew!

This morning (a few days before Valentine’s Day) I was stumbling into St. Arbucks for a transfusion with a little Half-n-Half when I saw a poster advertising a weekend concert. Whoever put it up was careless and posted it sideways on the bulletin board. The concert featured a singer doing a Frank Sinatra Tribute Show.

That singer is a performer whose Show Business career is firmly rooted in “The Law of Diminishing Returns.”

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Coming Of (Middle) Age

WHILE I DID MISS OUT ON SEEING THE NEW MARY POPPINS MOVIE while down in Texas recently I did manage to catch one of my all-time favorite films just the other night. Some people classify it as a “Chick Flick,” but I think that it is better thought of as a “Human Flick.”

“Shirley Valentine” was released in 1989 to less than raving reviews. Well, you can’t please everyone. The reviews may have been rather tepid, but Pauline Collins got an Oscar nomination for Best Actress, along with a number of other awards. I guess that it was liked only by the people who saw it without any preconceived ideas.

Shirley (Played by Pauline Collins) is a British housewife mired in middle-age, and wondering where everything she hoped for has gone.

“I’ve led a very little life.”

— Shirley Valentine

Shirley feels that she has disappeared into a mind and soul numbing routine. Her husband is caught in

his own rut that has isolated them from each other. They share their house, but are living separate and unsatisfying lives.

Shirley’s life takes a remarkable twist when one of her “lady friends” wins a contest that offer a two week vacation trip to Greece and she asks Shirley to accompany her.

And now you need to download the movie.

Every year there are countless movies made that are “Coming of Age” films about the difficult and awkward transition from childhood through adolescence to adulthood. There is a big market for those. Less frequently does one find a different kind of “Coming of Age “ film – one about the transition from our prime adult years into “Middle-Age” when we begin to look back on our lives. We look at where we have been and where we are now, and what do we have ahead of us. And what are we going to do about it?

While the basic story is light and entertaining with other characters adding to Shirley’s mountain of things to think about there is an undertone that hits home easily. Life is a serious business.

I don’t often recommend movies – mainly because I don’t think most of them warrant any kind of recommendation. “Shirley Valentine” is thirty years old now, but it doesn’t look it or feel it. It has a freshness that makes it as pertinent as today.

That’s it. Short. Sweet and to the point today. Go get a snack.

Throwback Thursday From November 2015 – “Do We Need More Performance Art?”

Throwback Thursday From November 2015 – 

 

Do We Need More Performance Art?

I HAVE BEEN SURVEYING THE WORLD OF PERFORMANCE Aperformance art2RT.
It’s not hard to do –just look in your local newspaper for listings under “Live Entertainment and whenever you see something that boasts only one person doing the show, you’ve found it. But beware and tread carefully.

Most of the “Performance Art” solo performers that I’ve met over the years have been solo because nobody else in their right mind would get on a stage with them. Would YOU want to share the stage with a guy smearing ice cream all over his body? Not unless you brought the chocolate syrup and a spoon. But that would also call for a very low passable sense of culinary hygiene.

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