Monday, March 29, 2010

What a Yarn! - June Havoc (1912-2010)

My new weekly featured posting *"What a Yarn!" is a tribute to my friend Jeremy, who loves old-timey film talk in the same way I do.

But what is a yarn? Why, I'll tell you!

The weekly yarn will be the kind of story that breaks your heart, that brings a tear to your beer, that makes you think, makes you wonder! Tales of heroics and stout-heartedness, of hardluck cases and big marquee dreams. Of big dreams and tall tales! The kind of story that makes you sit in awe of what what a cockeyed caravan this world is.

So I'm happy to present the first Weekly Yarn (at the suggestion of T.)

And boy, her life was quite a story! From vaudeville to Broadway, from the gutter to the big screen. Her story was part of the basis of Ethel Merman/Rosalind Russell ham and cheese fest"Gypsy" but brother, that's only where the story begins!

* The line is from "It Happened One Night" a really dilly of a flicker if there ever was one. I also recommend the Gary Cooper/Barbara Stanwyk pic "Ball of Fire" for an unqualified overdose of dated 1940's slang.
Also, this is what I look like every morning as I bounce out the door into the streets of the city.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

List-o-Rama: A Tribute to Anastasia Krupnik

Jezebel did a namedrop of my favorite geeky teen young adult heroine and since then, I've been thinking about the Anastasia books. Anastasia Krupnik was bespectacled, had bizarre longings (to become a Catholic, to meet Sigmund Freud, to become a companion to an elderly rich woman) and thought a lot things were just plain dumb. She longed to have a swan-like neck. Her father taught English at Harvard and hated it when people used the phrase "dichotomy."

She was also a big list maker and in my first Anastasia book, she constantly updates her list of likes and dislikes according to how her life was progressing.

Anyway, today is a day where I feel like making a list of the things that elicit pure joy, not just things I like.

The 3rd Man - link to trailer
The Palm Beach Story - link to bizarre trailer
Lush bubble bars
Hiding in fancy lobby hotel bathrooms and making phone calls
Chocolate chip cookies
Love and Rockets comics
Reading Archie and Peanuts comics when I'm sick (I'm thinking back to middle school but I bet it still holds)
My Man Godfrey - link to trailer
Grilled cheese and tomato soup
Ernst Lubisch - link to Ninotchka scene with Greta Garbo
A freshly laundered wrap dress
The Addams Family (TV show, and the second film "Addams Family Values"
Smoked salmon
The guy on the subway that plays the theme from the movie "Brazil" on his trumpet
Reading and finding old Grantas - link to "In Lana Turner's Bedroom"
T, of course
Duane Park Cafe (I got married there)
Eclipse DVD collections by Criterion
True eccentrics
Maurice Chevalier - from One Hour with You
Buying books for small children
Crossword puzzles
Hearing the song "Native New Yorker" by Odyssey while I'm doing the dishes.
Singing to my cat
Heat lamps (not sun lamps)
Night Watch perfume
Kirk Douglas - from The Bad and the Beautiful
Barbara Stanwyk - from Ball of Fire
Paying with Sacajaweas
When Homer goes to the "Land of Chocolate"
Girl With Gold Boots on MST3k - clips
The Kids in the Hall - link to Terriers
John Waters' Shock Value
Dawn Powell
NYRB press
Snapped! marathons
Making my mother laugh
Splitting hot pastrami at Katz's
Chinese soup dumplings
The Triple Lindy
Rita Hayworth in The Lady from Shanghai - link to trailer
Gene Wilder - link to The Producers
Christopher Walken dancing in "Pennies From Heaven" - link to awesomeness

I'm sure there's a lot more. It doesn't really take a lot to cheer me up. This should be handy list for those who know me. But those that know me knew all this stuff already.

Bubbles Goes to the Cat ER

Sunday morning, T and I awoke to find our ludicrously beloved almost-senior cat Moshe curled up in the fetal position and acting listless, sneezing, snurfling and looked genuinely terrible. In the living room was a drunk human-sized lake of vomit. I like to think that he attempted to make it to the litter box. I realize now that vomit is the love test. When my exes threw up, I wanted to puke "Stand by Me" style and then run for it. When something or someone you truly love barfs, all that it arouses in you is pity and then only mild disgust. (What the hell do you want me to do, kiss it?)

Not feeling all that hot myself, T and I called the Humane Society of NY (where we adopted him in 2008) and they told us to bring him in. We managed to wrangle our sad, caterwauling little beast into his carrier and found a taxi to take us into the city. So pitiful were his yowls that even the cab driver, a cat owner, was getting choked up.

The Humane Society Animal Hospital Clinic is the St. Vincents ER of pet care. Expect a looong wait in a small room with no bathroom or water fountain or vending machine. The overworked staff largely ignores you while you sit and stare at the Rogue's Gallery of Pets with Strange Problems and their Deranged Owners. As my pal Marilisa commented, "Really? A place with discounted pet care attracts a somewhat insane element? What a shock!"

I listened, or really eavesdropped, on three women, complete strangers, talk about all that they sacrificed for their ungrateful children/parents/siblings and all the things they had to do to care for their small, fussed-over pets. One woman was getting her dog all new shots because her house had burned down. Another woman sat for 6 hours (announcing loudly that she shouldn't even have been sitting there because she had bronchitis and pneumonia) for a consultation on her cat's possible non-descended testicle. Another woman had her whole family - adult daughter, daughter's husband, toddler granddaughter sit in this stupid room for hours while the vet trimmed her pit bulls nails. Next to the woman who kept announcing how sick she was. Gross.

The highlight (or lowlight) was when a grey-haired Al Frankenish character came in midday with his mewling cat. He had his head in his hands and was whispering soothing things to his cat. He seemed desperate to drown out the inane yakking of the three crones and they seemed insulted that he didn't want to chime and talk about his own experiences as a bad parent.

When the vet called him in, one of the ladies got up and started yelling at the receptionist. "Why is he being taken ahead of us? I've been here for 2.5 hours?"

When the annoyed receptionist reluctantly told her that the man was there to put his cat to sleep, the woman said, "How is that my problem? What does that have to do with me waiting here for 2.5 hours? A man has to put his cat to sleep, I feel bad for him, but he should have to wait his turn."

I also adore how bitchy women immediately start saying, "Don't raise your voice at me! I'm being calm, you're the one who needs to lower your voice!" Horrible witches all of them.

Eventually, Moshe was seen by his old vet Dr. Hershberg who is a kind and wacky vet. She quickly diagnosed our Mosh as likely haven eaten something he shouldn't have (the mind boggles) and was dehydrated and severely constipated. An x-ray revealed our cat looked as though he'd swallowed about 5 D-batteries. Except they weren't batteries. It was impacted cat shit.

Anyway, they gave him an IV of fluids, which seemed to perk him up a bit and told us to bring him back right away if he didn't poop or if he vomited at all. We spend the next 2 days eating tuna fish to give him the juice (a good idea for dehydrated cats, just add a little more water to it) until we had so much fucking tuna in the fridge that T finally just threw it in the immersion blender with some water and gave it to the cat. Which he loved and slurped up. Mmm... tuna juice.

This whole experience has given me a lot to think about: Loving a almond-size brained creature to distraction. Loving a 10ish year old cat to distraction. Loving something that will one day die. Yes, owning a cat seems like a good idea before attempting to parent a child. But the experience is hardly the same. Only the helplessness and the feeling like its all your fault. That could be pretty similar.

Anyway, glad you're on the mend old buddy. Rest up. You had us worried, my sweet little old man of a cat.