Saturday, November 30, 2013

A few of my favorite things...

Box Office Bonanza!
As the Christmas holiday arrives,
so does nostalgia. The other day
my friend "M" and I swopped fave
flicks. Fortunately we both agreed
on a few. It's hard to narrow my
list down to the best. However I'm
going to try to do just that. You'll
see several "chick flicks" but given
my proclivities, I doubt that many
of you are surprised! Roll camera!

Dark Victory 1939
Of course we must start with Bette Davis.
Here's the story - Long Island Socialite
gets BAD headaches. Visits handsome doc
(George Brent). He diagnoses brain tumor.
He operates, and they fall in love. However
her prognosis is "negative". After marriage,
they move to a farm to enjoy a few months.
Upon sensing signs of her imminent death,
Bette sends him off to a medical convention
and then nobly crawls into bed to die.

Terms of Endearment 1983
I find everything about this flick endearing.
Shirley MacLaine plays Aurora a rather self
indulgent, domineering mother (watch for
a pattern here). She is wooed by her roue'
neighbor, an ex astronaut (Jack Nicholson).
Her daughter (Debra Winger) is beyond a
disappointment until she is sadly stricken
with cancer and succumbs. Leaving Aurora
to raise her kids and hopefully not destroy
their lives. "She needs her medicine NOW!"

A Foreign Affair 1948
Billy Wilder... now he knew how to make
a picture. Marlene Dietrich is a former Nazi
paramour, who now sings for her supper in
a basement cabaret in post war bombed out
Berlin. Her beau is an Iowa stud (John Lund)
who makes sure she's stocked with chocolate
and nylons. Enter Jean Arthur as a prim and
proper Iowan Congress Woman. She arrives
with a cake from the soldier's mother and
everything blows up. Who will win the war?

Sunset Boulevard 1950
Let's stay with Billy Wilder. In case you didn't
know it, I have a thing for William Holden.
Layer on top of Bill (just think of it) a stellar
performance by Gloria Swanson and you have
a winner. To recap, down on his luck writer
meets washed up silent film recluse. After he
becomes her boy toy he rebels. All as butler
Max (Eric Von Stroheim) watches from the
sidelines of their crumbling Spanish mansion.
This is old Hollywood at it's best with cameos
by Cecil B Demille and Buster Keaton. In the
end what's best is Bill in his batik bathing suit.
I'm ready for my close up Mr. Holden...

Giant 1956
Speaking of handsome men, everybody needs
to spend a little time with Rock Hudson. One
must admit he was gorgeous even if he was a
little nellie in real life. Add Elizabeth Taylor,
and James Dean and you get a hell of a flick.
While I loathed living in Texas, I truly love this
homage to the Lone Star State. My favorite star
is the ranch house which slowly transforms
from dark Victorian gloom to sleek and posh
fifties glamour! Plus Elizabeth's clothes...

Working Girl 1988
Our hunkathon continues with Working Girl.
It's certainly the only Melanie Griffith film
I ever truly liked. That's probably because
Harrison Ford was her love interest. Plus...
Alec Baldwin played a cameo role as her two
timing boyfriend. I will never forget seeing
Alec naked for the first time. Add Sigourney
Weaver as the self absorbed bitch boss and
you have a fabulous cinematic tidbit. Oh...
and be sure to watch out for BIG HAIR!

Now Voyager 1942
Almost a man, Bette Davis plays a Boston
spinster who journeys into psychoanalysis.
As ugly and introverted as they come, her
family finally intervenes and places her in
the care of Claude Rains. Post treatment,
Bette takes a cruise and falls in love with
Paul Henried. Alas, he's married and so
their love cannot be fulfilled. By the final
scene Bette assumes care of her lover's
youngest tot to save her from a unibrow.

Love In The Afternoon 1957
Imagine an old man romancing a young
girl in the Paris Ritz to the strains of my
favorite ditty "Fascination" played by a
gypsy quartet. There you have a synopsis
of this cherished cinematic treasure. As a
young boy I pirouetted around the house
in my tighty whiteys to Mantovani's version
of Fascination (and I didn't know I was gay.)
But I digress, elegant Gary Cooper woos
innocent Audrey Hepburn. While it's hard
to see what she sees in him, one can't help
but be charmed. Add Maurice Chevalier and
moody Paris for the perfect french bon bon!

To Catch A Thief 1955
Staying a la francais, my dream man is
absolutely Cary Grant and I am fortunate
to live with the Montana equivalent. Alfred
Hitchcock paired a stellar cast with Monte
Carlo to create this web of intrigue. Miss
Grace Kelly was beyond divine. That is
probably why she captivated Prince Rainier
while visiting his castle on a publicity stunt
for this film. You see? Dreams truly do come
true... do I hear George Clooney knocking?

High Society 1956
Thinking of things that make me happy...
nothing makes me feel better than a dose
of Cole Porter and Grace Kelly. This was
Grace's last film before she became royalty.
Add Louis Armstrong, Frank Sinatra, Bing
Crosby, and Celeste Holm, and I can't think
of a better way to end a career! While I adore
everything about this film, I especially covet
Grace's wardrobe. It's still just was beautiful
and elegant fifty eight years later. Timeless!

Summertime 1955
Take the most beautiful city in the world.
Add the dash of the sexiest Italian man ever.
Sprinkle with the reluctant beauty of a middle
aged Kate and what do you get? Perfection!
Everything about this David Lean production
delights me. You can sit in Dubuque and feel
like you've just spent the afternoon on the
Grand Canal after viewing this homage to all
things Venetian. Plus, you'll realize that love
comes to all who want it not matter their age.

Sound of Music 1965
I must end with what has become a holiday
classic. Who doesn't want to sing along with
Rodgers & Hammerstein? Julie Andrews is
a charming Maria but Eleanor Powell as the
elegant Baroness is beyond enthralling. How
did the captain resist her alluring ways? One
thing is certain, I can't resist a Prussian who
barks orders at his children and yet is a real
pussycat underneath that uniform! Anything
Christopher Plummer tells me to do I will do!

To be continued after intermission...

Friday, November 29, 2013


Black out
Sometimes there truly are benefits
to living in the middle of nowhere.
Lewistown is isolated and it's over
one hundred miles to a major retail
center. Nothing could make it easier
to miss the Christmas rush. We do
have a historic and charming retail
center. However there are two words
that are rarely uttered in our town -
BLACK FRIDAY. The truth is no
one around here thinks about "it"
nor cares about "it" because as far
as we're concerned "it" doesn't exist!
Hang out
In Lewistown, the lazy Friday after
Thanksgiving is the official launch
of the holidays. Out of towners may
rise early to grab deals but locals
prefer to sleep in. After breakfast at
the Empire, they return home to put
up their holiday decor. Unless the
snow is too deep, they take a trip to
the mountains and cut a perfect pine.
Or a journey into the attic to rescue
and resuscitate the artificial balsam.
Night out
If not decking the halls, many spend
their day planning a warm outfit for
the evening's holiday stroll. Our Main
Street is closed with bonfires ablaze
down it's center of six blocks. All of
the shops are aglow with Christmas
lights as carolers sing and shoppers
stroll. This is real and therefore no
elements of Disney esque artifice are
allowed in this home grown tradition.
It's like taking a walk back in time.
Ride out
On the way home most take a ride
out to the County Fair Grounds on
the edge of town. There a Holiday
Light Show awaits for a leisurely
drive by. Per car donations benefit
local charities. It's amazing how all
sorts of people and organizations
spend months planning and building
these illuminated extravaganzas for
the community to vote on. I realize
all of this seems rather Rockwellian
but trust me, it's as real as Santa or
Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer!
Shout out
Over the weekend many start their
shopping in earnest. While it may
seem that our options are limited,
most try to spend locally if possible.
You may have to hunt, but chances
are you'll be able to find the perfect
gift. Not only convenient, it's easier
because our merchants wrap gifts
for free! Now doesn't that get you
into the holiday spirit?!
Step out
The final event of the post Turkey Day
weekend is the Christmas House Walk
in support of our local Hospice House.
Several homeowners open their doors
and hearts in support of this important
charity. We've already been approached
about putting the restored Passion Pit
on the tour next year. Sorry kids, the
last thing we want are several hundred
traipsing through our things. A check
will have to suffice! HO HO HO!

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving!

It's time to be thankful
for all that we have.
Humbled by all that God
has bestowed upon us.
My thanks to all for your amazing love and support.

Wishing you a blessed Thanksgiving!

Thanks for unconditional love.

Thanks for western skies.

Thanks for memories.

Thanks for home.

Thanks for elegance.

Thanks for flowers.

Thanks for each new day.

Thanks for mystery.

Thanks for equality (and marriage in some states).

Thanks for the journey.

Thanks for candor.

Thanks for accoutrements.

Thanks for winter days.

Thanks for snow.

Thanks for fellowship.

Thanks for kindred spirits.

Thanks for conviviality.

Thanks for comfort.

Thanks for joy.

Thanks for peace!