Tuesday, December 27, 2022

Chicken Soup

This is a reprint from my blog archive. I'm sharing today because it has been extremely cold and snowy where I live for the past week. Chicken soup is on my menu this week. So if you're feeling cold and need to be warmed up inside, try this recipe!

"And Tom brought him chicken soup until he wanted to kill him. The lore has not died out of the world, and you will still find people who believe that soup will cure any hurt or illness and is no bad thing to have for a funeral either." John Steinbeck, East of Eden

One of the best comfort foods around is chicken soup! Not only does it taste good, but it's good for you, just like Grandma said!

According to Natural News, research shows that chicken soup helps break up congestion and eases the flow of nasal secretions.  It also inhibits white blood cells that trigger the inflammatory response, causing sore throats and the production of phlegm.

Chicken contains cysteine (an amino acid that's released when you make soup) and this thins mucus in the lungs which aids in the healing process.

When combined with nutrient rich vegetables, homemade chicken soup definitely helps heal those suffering from colds and colds flu!

Nothing hits the spot on a cold winter evening like a bowl of home made chicken soup, and today I'm sharing my all time favorite recipe, adapted from one in the Cincinnati Enquirer. Unfortunately, lots of cutting and chopping is involved. Listen to an audio book to keep yourself entertained, and consider this a labor of love since it's so healthy for your family!

Chicken Soup

1 whole fryer chicken
3-4 quarts chicken broth
3 carrots, peeled and chopped roughly
3 celery ribs, chopped roughly
3 onions, chopped roughly
1 parsnip, peeled and chopped roughly
1 medium sweet potato, peeled and chopped roughly
1 t salt
1 t pepper
2 t garlic powder
2 t onion powder
1 1/2 t dried dill

Place chicken in a very large pot.  Cover with broth.  Bring to  boil and skim off any scum that rises to the surface.  Add seasonings and chopped vegetables.  Reduce heat to simmer and cook for 1 1/2 hours.

Remove chicken and vegetables from soup.  Puree vegetables and return to soup.  Remove skin and bones from chicken and chop. Return chicken to soup. Makes 8 servings.

Does your family have a chicken soup recipe that's been past down from generation to generation? Thanks for stopping by and have a great week!

Monday, December 19, 2022

Merry Christmas!


Is Christmas really less than a week away? It seems like December just snuck up on us this year--or at least on me! I'm off this week to take care of last-minute details, so have a very Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 12, 2022

It's a Wonderful Life

Did you know that the Christmas film classic It's a Wonderful Life wasn't thought to be that wonderful upon its initial release? Who hasn't seen this wonderful film at Christmastime and felt teary-eyed and warm all over?  Great movie, right? Well that's not what the critics initially thought. Check out the story below from Wikipedia:

It's a Wonderful Life is a 1946 American Christmas fantasy comedy-drama film produced and directed by Frank Capra, based on the short story and booklet The Greatest Gift, which Philip Van Doren Stern wrote in 1939 and published privately in 1945.
The film stars James Stewart as George Bailey, a man who has given up his dreams in order to help others, and whose imminent suicide on Christmas Eve brings about the intervention of his guardian angel, Clarence Odbody (Henry Travers). Clarence shows George all the lives he has touched, and how different life in his community of Bedford Falls would be if he had never been born.
Despite initially performing poorly at the box office because of stiff competition at the time of its release, the film has become regarded as a classic, and is a staple of Christmas television around the world. The film is considered one of the most loved films in American cinema, and has become traditional viewing during the Christmas season. Theatrically, the film's break-even point was $6.3 million, approximately twice the production cost, a figure it never came close to achieving in its initial release. An appraisal in 2006 reported: "Although it was not the complete box office failure that today everyone believes ... it was initially a major disappointment and confirmed, at least to the studios, that Capra was no longer capable of turning out the populist features that made his films the must-see, money-making events they once were."
It's a Wonderful Life is now considered one of the greatest films ever made. It was nominated for five Academy Awards, including Best Picture, and has been recognized by the American Film Institute as one of the 100 best American films ever made, placing number 11 on its initial 1998 greatest movie list, number 20 on its revised 2007 greatest movie list, and placing number one on its list of the most inspirational American films of all time.Capra revealed that this was his personal favorite among the films he directed, and that he screened it for his family every Christmas season.
I'm looking forward to seeing it soon! How about you? Thanks for visiting and have a great week!

Originally posted 12/17/18 

Monday, December 5, 2022

Miracle on 34th Street

Christmas is just around the corner and Christmas movies are on television all the time now. Perhaps this year I'll get a chance to watch Miracle on 34 Street. I admit, I've never seen it. If you are like me and have never had a chance to watch it, here's some information from Wikipedia:

Miracle on 34th Street is a 1947 American Christmas comedy-drama film released by 20th Century Fox, written and directed by George Seaton and based on a story by Valentine Davies. It stars Maureen O'HaraJohn PayneNatalie Wood, and Edmund Gwenn. The story takes place between Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day in New York City and focuses on the effect of a department store Santa Claus who claims to be the real Santa. The film has become a perennial Christmas favorite.

Here's the plot from IMDb:

At the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, the actor playing Santa Claus is discovered to be drunk by a whiskered old man. Doris Walker, the no nonsense special events director, persuades him to take his place. He proves to be a sensation and is quickly recruited to play Santa at the main store. While he is successful, Doris learns that he calls himself Kris Kringle and he claims to be the actual Santa Claus. 

Despite reassurances by his doctor that he is harmless, Doris still has misgivings, especially when she has cynically trained herself, and especially her six-year-old daughter, Susan, to reject all notions of belief and fantasy. And yet, people, especially Susan, begin to notice there is something special about Kris and his determination to advance the true spirit of Christmas among the rampant commercialism around him and succeeding in improbable ways. 

When a raucous conflict with the store's cruelly incompetent therapist, Granville Sawyer, erupts, he finds himself held at Bellevue where, in despair, he deliberately fails a mental examination to ensure his commitment. All seems lost until Doris' neighbor, Fred Gailey, reassures him of his worth and agrees to represent him in the fight to secure his release. To achieve that, Fred arranges a formal hearing in which he argues that Kris is sane because he is in fact Santa Claus. What ensues is a bizarre hearing in which people's beliefs are reexamined and put to the test, but even so, it's going to take a miracle for Kris to win.

Have you ever seen Miracle on 34th Steet? Thanks for visiting and have a great week!

Monday, November 28, 2022

Goodbye, Irene Cara

I was shocked over the weekend to see that Irene Cara had died. I remember her from the movie Fame and of course belting out the song "What a Feeling" from Flashdance. She was a tlented entertainer and it seems she left us much too soon. Check out some information posted on ABC Entertainment: 

 During her career, Cara had three Top 10 hits on the Billboard Hot 100, including “Breakdance,” “Fame” and “Flashdance ... What A Feeling,” which spent six weeks at No. 1. She was behind some of the most joyful, high-energy pop anthems of the early ’80s, including “Out Here On My Own” and “Why Me?” She first came to prominence among the young actors playing performing arts high schoolers in Alan Parker's “Fame,” with co-stars Debbie Allen, Paul McCrane and Anne Meara. Cara played Coco Hernandez, a striving dancer who endures all manner of deprivations..."

“How bright our spirits go shooting out into space, depends on how much we contributed to the earthly brilliance of this world. And I mean to be a major contributor!” she says in the movie. Cara sang on the soaring title song with the chorus — “Remember my name/I’m gonna live forever/I’m gonna learn how to fly/I feel it coming together/People will see me and cry” — which would go on to be nominated for an Academy Award for best original song. She also sang on “Out Here on My Own,” "Hot Lunch Jam" and “I Sing the Body Electric.” 
The New York-born Cara began her career on Broadway, with small parts in short-lived shows, although a musical called “The Me Nobody Knows” ran over 300 performances. She toured in the musical “Jesus Christ Superstar" as Mary Magdalene in the mid-1990s and a tour of the musical ”Flashdance" toured 2012-14 with her songs. She also created the all-female band Irene Cara Presents Hot Caramel and put out a double CD with the single “How Can I Make You Luv Me.” Her movie credits include ”Sparkle" and “D.C. Cab.” 

Goodbye, Irene and thank you for sharing your talent! Are you familiar with the work of Irene Cara? 
Thanks for visiting and have a great week!

Monday, November 21, 2022

Happy Thanksgiving!

Enjoy your family and have a very Happy Thanksgiving! I'll be back next week with another post.

Monday, November 14, 2022

Julia Sand: Encouragement in a Time of Crisis

So just who was Julia Sand? I'd never heard of her until I read Candice Millard's Destiny of the Republic: A Tale of Madness, Medicine and the Murder of a President, an amazing account of James A. Garfield's life and the assassination attempt on him while serving as president.

Garfield, an extraordinary man, was actually nominated for president against his will.  However, four months after his inauguration, he was shot in the back by the deranged Charles Guiteau, who'd sought a political office in Garfield's administration.

It wasn't the would-be assassin's bullet that killed the president, but rather the medical treatment Garfield received.  As Garfield suffered for nearly two months, the nation was thrown into turmoil, and during this time, Vice President Chester A. Arthur ( a not so extraordinary man) stayed in seclusion. When Guiteau was apprehended he announced his wish for Arthur to become president.  Because of this, there was a brief investigation into whether Guiteau had been hired by Garfield’s enemies.

Although no proof was found to support this, there were threats made on Arthur’s life and he feared making public appearances. Arthur’s past was linked to some scandals involving the New York Customhouse and many thought Arthur as president would mean disaster for the country.

Here's where Julia Sand fits into the equation.  She corresponded with Arthur beginning in late August of 1881, before Garfield's death.  Her last surviving letter is dated September 15, 1883. Sand referred to herself as the President’s “little dwarf”, alluding to the idea that in a royal court, the dwarf is the only one with courage enough to tell the truth.

Sand was an educated woman who lived in New York, yet when she began writing Arthur at age 31, she was bedridden due to spinal trouble, lameness and deafness.  What I'm posting below is a portion of Sand's first letter to the would-be president:

The day [Garfield] was shot, the thought rose in a thousand minds that you might be the instigator of the foul act. Is not that a humiliation which cuts deeper then any bullet can pierce?

Your kindest opponents say "Arthur will try to do right"– adding gloomily –"He won’t succeed though making a man President cannot change him."

…But making a man President can change him! Great emergencies awaken generous traits which have lain dormant half a life. If there is a spark of true nobility in you, now is the occasion to let it shine. Faith in your better nature forces me to write to you – but not to beg you to resign. Do what is more difficult & brave. Reform!
It is not proof of highest goodness never to have done wrong, but it is proof of it, sometimes in ones career, to pause & ponder, to recognize the evil, to
recognize the evil, to turn resolutely against it…. Once in awhile there comes a
crisis which renders miracles feasible. The great tidal wave of sorrow which has
rolled over the country has swept you loose from your old moorings & set you on
a mountaintop, alone.

Disappoint our fears. Force the nation to have faith in you. Show from the first
that you have none but the purest of aims.

You cannot slink back into obscurity, if you would. A hundred years hence,
school boys will recite you name in the list of Presidents & tell of your
administration. And what shall posterity say? It is for you to choose….

Apparently, her words of encouragement inspired and changed him. At the end of his presidency, Arthur earned praise from his contemporaries for his solid performance in office. In 1886, the New York World wrote: "No duty was  neglected in his administration, and no adventurous project alarmed the nation." And according to Mark Twain, "[I]t would be hard indeed to better President Arthur's administration."

Had you ever heard of Julia Sand? Also, can you think of anyone you can encourage today? Thanks for visiting and have a great week!

Monday, November 7, 2022

Great Political Movies

November 8th is tomorrow, so be sure to get out and vote! In honor of election day, I'm listing some of my favorite political movies:

Citizen Kane
The Manchurian Candidate
Mr. Smith Goes to Washington
Meet John Doe
The Ides of March
All the President's Men
His Girl Friday
Seven Days in May
All the King's Men

I don't know about you, but I've had enough of radio and television ads for all the candidates, but I never tire of a good movie!  What are some of your favorite political movies?

Thanks for visiting and have a great week!

Monday, October 31, 2022

State of The Union

 Election season is upon us and news of the candidates, political debates, and primary elections across the nation are all over the news.

I can't say I'm a huge fan of politics, but I do enjoy political movies! Here's one I learned about a few years ago starring Katharine Hepburn, Spencer Tracy, and a young Angela Lansbury, Frank Capra's State of the Union. I'm a movie buff, but this one seems to have eluded me. 

Here's the synopsis from Wikipedia:
Republican newspaper magnate Kay Thorndyke (Angela Lansbury) intends to make her lover, aircraft tycoon Grant Matthews (Spencer Tracy), President of the United States with her as the power behind the throne. Thorndyke plans to use her newspaper chain's influence to deadlock the 1948 Republican National Convention, so it will choose Matthews as a compromise dark horse candidate instead of Dewey, Taft, or another.
Matthews is skeptical of the idea of running for president, but Thorndyke, Republican strategist Jim Conover (Adolphe Menjou), and campaign manager Spike McManus (Van Johnson) persuade him to run. Matthews reunites with estranged wife Mary (Katharine Hepburn) for the campaign. Despite knowing about Thorndyke and her husband's affair, Mary agrees to support him in public because of his idealism and honesty, and because she is unaware of Thorndyke's role in the campaign.

The politically naive Matthews makes a controversial speech in Wichita denouncing big labor. Before he makes another controversial speech in Detroit denouncing big business, Thorndyke secretly persuades him to moderate his tone to help his chances for the nomination. With her and Conover's help, Matthews makes deals with various special interests for their support.
Before a nationwide fireside chat from the Matthews' home, Mary learns of Thorndyke's continuing relationship with her husband and sees the deals that he has made.  Matthews realizes that he has betrayed his and Mary's ideals. On live radio, he denounces both his backers and himself as frauds, withdraws as a candidate while promising to seek bipartisan reform, and asks for his wife's forgiveness. When his backers attempt to turn off the speech, he angrily calls out, "Don't cut me off, I paid for this broadcast!" 

Is this a movie you're familiar with? If so, any thoughts you'd like to share?

Thanks for visiting and have a great week!

Monday, October 24, 2022

Singin' in the Rain

I love old movies, including the great musicals of Hollywood's Golden Era. One of my favorites is Singin' in the Rain, perhaps the greatest movie musical ever made. 
According to Wikipedia:
Singin' in the Rain is a 1952 American musical comedy film directed and choreographed by Gene Kelly and Stanley Donen, starring Kelly, Donald O'Connor, and Debbie Reynolds. It offers a lighthearted depiction of Hollywood in the late 1920s, with the three stars portraying performers caught up in the transition from silent films to "talkies."
The film was only a modest hit when first released. It was recognized by Donald O'Connor's win at the Golden Globe AwardsBetty Comden and Adolph Green's win for their screenplay at the Writers Guild of America Awards, and Jean Hagen's nomination at the Academy Awards for Best Supporting Actress. But, it has since been accorded legendary status by contemporary critics, and is frequently regarded as the best movie musical ever made, and the best film ever made in the "Arthur Freed Unit" at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. It topped the AFI's Greatest Movie Musicals list and is ranked as the fifth-greatest American motion picture of all time in its updated list of the greatest American films in 2007.
You can check out the plot here.
Now enjoy this funny anecdote from Genekellyfans.com regarding Reynold's first kiss with co-star Gene Kelly: 
Only 17 — and completely innocent, which was why, when they were shooting the last scene of Singin' in the Rain, Reynolds ran off to her dressing room in tears after the 40-year-old Kelly gave her a big French kiss. “He gave me a very mature kiss,” she said demurely. “I was a young girl, and I was shocked and stopped the scene and pulled away and wouldn’t go on, you know, and finally he had to kiss me square on the lips or I wouldn’t do it,” she added, laughing — no, guffawing at the memory. “He was a little upset with that, but I was a very inexperienced young girl.” (Pittsburgh Post Gazette)
Have you ever seen Singin' in the Rain?

Thanks for visiting and have a great week! 

Monday, October 17, 2022

The Billy Goat Curse

I'm not really a sports fan, but while traveling to Chicago several years ago, I saw Wrigley Field and had lunch at one of The Billy Goat Tavern locations. During that time in The Windy City I learned about some fascinating baseball trivia. Check out the article below from The History Channel's History.com website by Evan Andrews. This is the most thorough account I've read about the Billy Goat Curse. The opening paragraph is rather gruesome, but aside from that, the remainder of the article is informative, and quite humorous at times. 

1945 World Series Program. (Credit: Iconic Archive/Getty Images)
1945 World Series Program. (Credit: Iconic Archive/Getty Images)

In April 2013, an unidentified man drove up to Wrigley Field, home of the Chicago Cubs, and left behind a box containing a black, severed goat’s head. News outlets immediately speculated on what the shocking parcel might portend. Was it a warning? Was it a threat against team owner Tom Ricketts? But it didn’t take long for Chicago’s long-suffering fans to get the message. For them, the package was an obvious, if not grotesque, reference to an incident that has been plaguing their team since the end of World War II: the dreaded “Curse of the Billy Goat.”

1945 World Series between the Detroit Tigers and Chicago Cubs. Cubs Don Johnson scores. (Credit: Sporting News/Getty Images)
1945 World Series between the Detroit Tigers and Chicago Cubs. Cubs Don Johnson scores. (Credit: Sporting News/Getty Images)

The hex in question dates back to October 6, 1945, when the Cubs were gearing up to face the Detroit Tigers in Game Four of the World Series. At the time, Chicago’s “North Siders” were one of the most successful teams in big league baseball. They’d won back-to-back championships in 1907 and 1908, and in the years since, they’d notched seven more appearances in the Fall Classic. Many Cubs fans believed 1945 would once again be their year. They’d come into Game Four with a 2-1 lead over the Tigers, and only needed two more wins to claim the title.

Ushers with goat at Wrigley Field.  (Credit: Keystone-France/Getty Images)
Ushers with goat at Wrigley Field. (Credit: Keystone-France/Getty Images)

As excited Chicagoans flooded into Wrigley on October 6, Billy Sianis strode up to the gate with two tickets in hand—one for himself, and one for his pet goat “Murphy.” Sianis was a Greek immigrant who owned a local watering hole called the Billy Goat Tavern, and Murphy was his beloved, bleating mascot. He’d rescued the animal after it fell off a passing truck in the mid-1930s, and it had since become a fixture at his bar. Sianis often paraded the goat around town to drum up business. He’d even grown a goatee and adopted the nickname “Billy Goat.” On the day of the World Series game, he brought Murphy to the ballpark to publicize his bar and bring good luck to the Cubs. The animal was draped in a banner reading, “WE GOT DETROIT’S GOAT.”
There are a few different legends about what happened next. One has the team’s ushers stopping Sianis at the gate and blocking him from bringing his goat inside. When Sianis protested that he had a ticket for his bearded pal, Cubs owner P.K. Wrigley appeared and told him Murphy couldn’t come in “because the goat stinks.” As the story goes, Sianis then threw his arms in the air and put a curse on the team. “The Cubs ain’t gonna win no more!” he supposedly said. “The Cubs will never win a World Series so long as the goat is not allowed in Wrigley Field.”

Chicago barkeeper Billy Goat Sianis, lounging in the doorway of bar.  (Photo by Francis Miller/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)
Chicago barkeeper Billy Goat Sianis, lounging in the doorway of bar. (Photo by Francis Miller/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)

Another version claims Sianis and Murphy were admitted to the park and allowed to take their seats. But following a brief rain delay, other fans complained that Murphy’s soggy pelt was stinking up the stands. Most sources say Sianis issued his hex after he was politely asked to leave, but a few claim he sent it later in a telegram that read, “You are going to lose this World Series…You are never going to win the World Series again because you insulted my goat.”
However it came about, Billy Sianis’ curse coincided with a disastrous slump for the Chicago Cubs. The team lost 4-1 on October 6, and went on to drop two of the next three games and hand the Tigers the 1945 championship. After the defeat, Sianis supposedly sent P.K. Wrigley a message that read: “Who stinks now?”

Black cat stopped the Cubs vs. Mets game momentarily in 1969. (Credit: New York Daily News Archive/Getty Images)
Black cat stopped the Cubs vs. Mets game momentarily in 1969. (Credit: New York Daily News Archive/Getty Images)

In the years since Sianis issued his black magic, the Cubs’ have had one of the most dismal records in professional baseball. The team still hasn’t been back to the World Series, and they’ve often ended the season near the very bottom of the National League. Fans were initially slow to blame their sputtering form on a goat, but the hex became part of club lore after Chicago sportswriters started mentioning it in their columns. Its legend only grew when the 1969 Cubs imploded after going into September with the division lead. As if fans needed any more bad omens, the downward spiral kicked off during a game against the Mets at Shea Stadium, where a black cat appeared on the field and crossed in front of the Cubs’ dugout. The team went on to miss the playoffs.
Billy Sianis officially “lifted” his goat curse prior to his death in 1970, but even he couldn’t turn the team’s fortunes around. Since then, the Cubs’ management has made several tongue-in-cheek attempts to ward off the jinx. They allowed Sianis’ nephew Sam to parade goats across Wrigley Field on several occasions, and in 2008, they even had a Greek Orthodox priest bless the diamond with holy water. Fans have also launched their own efforts to break the hex. In 2011, a group of Chicagoans formed a “Reverse the Curse” charity aimed at winning the Cubs good karma by donating goats to families in places like Africa. Another good will gesture came during the 2012 season, when five men raised money for cancer research by marching a goat named “Wrigley” 2,000 miles from Arizona to Chicago.

Chicago Cubs Hall of Famer Ernie Banks (L) and Sam Sianis, owner of The Billy Goat Tavern, parade around Chicago's Wrigley Field before the start of the Cub's game with Cincinnati Reds in 1994. (Credit: The Sporting News/Getty Images)
Chicago Cubs Hall of Famer Ernie Banks (L) and Sam Sianis, owner of The Billy Goat Tavern, parade around Chicago’s Wrigley Field before the start of the Cub’s game with Cincinnati Reds in 1994. (Credit: The Sporting News/Getty Images)

While some fans have tried to crush the billy goat curse, others argue that it never existed to begin with—and they may have a point. Newspaper reports from October 1945 mention Sianis and his goat being asked to leave Wrigley Field, but talk of a hex didn’t crop up until years later. According to Cubs historians Glenn Stout and Richard A. Johnson, the curse was actually a joke started by the Chicago sportswriters who frequented the Billy Goat Tavern. Sianis, always eager for publicity, simply played along.
Chicago Tribune columnist Mike Royko tried to put the issue to rest in 1997, when he wrote an article arguing that the Cubs’ real curse was P.K. Wrigley’s mismanagement and hesitancy to recruit African American ballplayers after the league was integrated. “It’s about time that we stopped blaming the failings of the Cubs on a poor, dumb creature that is a billy goat,” the column read. “This has been going on for years, and it has reached the point where some people actually believe it.”

A live goat is brought onto the field to "remove a curse" placed on the Cubs during their last World Series appearance in 1945.  (Credit: Brian Bahr/Getty Images)
A live goat is brought onto the field to “remove a curse” placed on the Cubs during their last World Series appearance in 1945. (Credit: Brian Bahr/Getty Images)

Even if the “Curse of the Billy Goat” is just a myth, there’s no denying that it’s been 107 years since the Chicago Cubs last won the World Series—far longer than any other club in professional baseball. The superstitions likely won’t go away until the team at least captures the pennant, but current Billy Goat Tavern owner Sam Sianis has claimed that his uncle’s jinx is no longer to blame for the Cubs’ title drought. “The hex is off,” he told the New York Times in 1989. “If they want to win, they win themselves.”
Had you ever heard of the Billy Goat Curse? Thanks for visiting and have a great week!

Monday, October 10, 2022

What's the Story Behind Your Name?

Sultry Kristen Stewart as Isabella in Twilight
"Words have meaning and names have power."  Unknown

Unless we choose a stage name or pseudonym, or legally change our names, we're stuck with the monikers given to us by our parents for life.  Some parents put a lot of time and consideration into this by scouring baby name books.

While some future moms and dads want a name that's pleasing to the ear, others may choose one for its strong symbolic meaning, as well, for example, Gerald: mighty with the spear.  A name chosen for a baby could be one passed from generation to generation, or perhaps taken from the Bible.  Historical heroes and heroines can be popular name choices, too.

But not everyone puts that much thought into the naming process.  A friend of mine from college said that when she was born, her father asked two nurses what their names were.  One was Karen, the other Sue.  So my friend was named Karen Sue!  That was easy.

Beautiful Natalie Wood as Maria in West Side Story
Lots of name choices are influenced by popular culture.  During the Depression, many little girls were named Shirley, after child movie star Shirley Temple.  I know someone who was spared that fate when her father insisted she be named Carmen!  She's ever thankful for his intervention and loves the more exotic and mysterious name chosen for her instead.

The girl name Madison was inspired by the 1984 movie Splash.  Nowadays, Isabella is one of the most popular girl names because of the books and films in the Twilight series.   I read an article not long ago about popular baby names inspired by films and found myself sneering.  "It's amazing how many parents name their kids after characters in movies," I thought condescendingly.  But then I had to scold myself.

Ever heard of West Side Story?  My mom was pregnant with me when she saw it.  My name would've been Carol, but after hearing the song "Maria," you can figure out the rest of the story.  I, along with probably hundreds of thousands of other little girls in the U.S. (of non-Hispanic origin), was named Maria, back in...well, it was a long time ago.

Although a name is a serious thing, once in a while, you hear some that sound as though they were chosen on a whim.  Several years ago, my husband overheard a conversation in the grocery store between two women.  One was quite excited because she'd found the perfect name for her soon to be born daughter.  "Formica Dinette!" She exclaimed happily to her friend.  "I saw it in the Sears Catalog!"  For the child's sake, I hope someone talked her out of that!

What's the story behind your name? Thanks for stopping by and have a great week!

Monday, October 3, 2022

Before Implants

Loreta Young at 18, 1931
The Wonders of Foam
 Back in 1974 I saw the movie That's Entertainment, and from then on was fascinated by Hollywood's Golden Age. As a kid, I loved watching old movies and reading any books about that glamorous time in Hollywood history.

The Image Makers: Sixty Years of Hollywood Glamour, by Paul Trent, was one of my favorite books, and it featured a spectacular variety of movie star photos from years gone by.

Loretta Young, without a doubt, was one of the most beautiful actresses to ever grace the screen. As young girls, this particular photo (left, found in The Image Makers) was what my sister and I aspired to look like--figure wise, anyway. We hoped that, when we grew up, we'd each have a perfect bust line just like Loretta Young's.

As an adult, perhaps a couple of decades later, I read a Loretta Young biography.  In it was discussed how she'd always been thin, so thin, that during publicity shoots in her teens, she'd have to be padded with foam at the chest and hips to provide her with the appearance of curves. No wonder my sister and I never achieved that look of perfection! Apparently, Miss Young hadn't either, at least not naturally.

Jane Russell,
The Real Deal
Falsies have been around for years. Wikipedia says that in the Victorian Era, girls were considered grown-up upon reaching the age of fifteen. However, many girls had not developed large enough breasts to fit into adult clothes, therefore bosom pads were used. 

Times have changed. Nowadays, surgical enhancement is common place, and anyone can look like Jane Russell!  Not familiar with her? Here's an amusing story from Wikipedia:

In 1940 Russell was signed to a seven-year contract by film mogul, Howard Hughes, and made her motion-picture debut in The Outlaw (1943), a story about Billy the Kid that went to great lengths to showcase her voluptuous figure. 

Although the movie was completed in 1941, it was not released until 1943 in a limited release. It finally was released to a wide distribution in 1946. There were problems with the censorship of the production code over the way her ample cleavage was displayed. 

Contrary to countless incorrect reports in the media since the release of The Outlaw, Russell did not wear the specially designed under-wire bra that Howard Hughes had designed and made for her to wear during filming. According to Jane's 1985 autobiography, she said the bra was so uncomfortable that she secretly discarded it and wore her own bra with the cups padded with tissue and the straps pulled up to elevate her breasts. 

Even Jane had to use a little artificial padding to achieve the right effect.

Lots of different surgical enhancements are available to consumers, yet there's one I don't understand: The Butt Implant.  Once a woman hits a certain age (somewhere in her late twenties or early thirties), her butt will start to get big all by itself! Just sayin...

Any thoughts?

Thanks for visiting and have a great week!

Monday, September 26, 2022

Doris Day: Success Despite Tears

 Doris Day died in 2019, but she released her last album, My Heart, in 2011after being out of the public eye for 17 years. 

I'm a fan, and Ms. Day was one of my favorite actresses.  She's an inspiration because her story is one of trials and perseverance.  She's also from my hometown, beautiful, historic Cincinnati! 

I'll thank you not to "dis" Cincinnati, please.  I've heard it all before...home of the Cincinnati Bungals, the Big Dead Machine, and Over The Rhine--once rated the worst neighborhood in the United States!

However, Cincinnati is home to several Hollywood legends.  Director Steven Spielberg was born there and actress Sarah Jessica Parker grew up in Cincinnati.  Dancer Vera-Ellen, singer Rosemary Clooney, and super star George Clooney all hail from the Cincinnati area.

But today, the spotlight is on Doris Day, actress, singer, dancer, super star! She could do it all, and as an actress, she could play dramatic roles, just as easily as comedic ones.  Add to that her pretty looks, svelte figure, magnificent legs, and presto--you have box office dynamite!

Despite her sunny, perky disposition, Ms. Day's road to stardom was filled with heartache and tragedy.  As a young teen, she had hopes of dancing professionally, and even won $500 in a contest with her amateur dance partner, Jerry Doherty.  But her dream to become a pro came to an end in 1937, when her leg was shattered in an automobile accident.  The car she was riding in was hit by a train.  However, while recovering, she started singing along with songs on the radio, and discovered a talent she didn't know she had.  Her mother paid for voice lessons from teacher Grace Raine, who said Doris had "tremendous potential."

Doris eventually sang on a local radio program, at a restaurant, and then went on to perform in the band of Cincinnati bandleader Barney Rapp (whose daughter Bonnie was my kindergarten teacher).  It was while performing in Rapp's band that she met trombonist Al Jorden.  She originally thought him a creep, but later fell in love and married him at the age of 17--he was 24.

Jorden abused Doris physically, cheated on her, and even insisted that she have an abortion when she became pregnant.  She kept the baby and later left Jorden.  Ironically, Doris's main ambition was to become a full time a wife and mother, not a super star.

As a single mom, she recorded "Sentimental Journey" in 1944, and that song made her a star.  A second marriage followed to saxophonist George Wiedler.  That marriage ended after less than eight months.  By this time Hollywood had noticed Doris, and Wiedler (not fond of her son, and already cheating on her) didn't want to be known as Mr. Doris Day.

By 1951, Doris was on her way to super stardom and had married her third husband, Marty Melcher.  But 17 years later, Melcher and his business partner squandered her $24 million dollar fortune.  Melcher died leaving Doris $400,000 in debt. He'd also contracted her to do a television sitcom, which she had no desire to do. But she did it anyway, and gave it her all.  The TV show saved her, and she was later awarded a court settlement after suing Melcher's business partner. 

The Doris Day Show was a success and ran from 1968 through 1973, which is how I first became acquainted with Doris Day when I was a kid.  Back then I had no idea of her tremendous talent.

Doris Day is the number one female box office star of all time, and she's the only one who was number one four years in a row! Her extensive body of work includes 39 films and 29 albums.  Late in life, she worked as an animal rights activist.

"Que Sera Sera" is known as her signature song, and she is a true example of that mantra, "whatever will be will be."  She has experienced numerous hardships in her career and personal life.  But she has endured and maintained a positive outlook.  "...I just feel so fortunate and so blessed to have been able to entertain people in the theatres and on record, it’s just an amazing life that I’ve experienced." – Doris Day

My favorite Doris Day film is Calamity Jane.  In it she sings the song "Secret Love," which won the Academy Award for best original song of 1953.  Last year I learned that Doris Day had had a real "secret love" when I read that she'd had an affair with Maury Wills.

Wills is the famous L.A. Dodger base stealer, and one of the first, post-Jackie Robinson African American integration baseball players.  According to Wills and a Day biographer, the affair took place in the early ‘60s.

I had known about another interracial relationship in Doris's life, but it involved her father. In her autobiography, Doris Day: Her Own Story, she talked about her father's dislike of blacks, yet, later in life, he married a black woman!

Interracial relationships are becoming more commonplace now, but black and white couples still tend to turn a few heads. These relationships no longer need to be kept secret, however, that was a different story not so long ago.  I've written about a secret love in The Governor's Sons. I hope you'll read it, then be thankful that times have changed, and then enjoy a Doris Day movie!

Thanks for stopping by!

Monday, September 19, 2022

Before Scandal: Race and Sex in Political History

A few years ago, I read One Drop of Me by Harry Kraus and thoroughly enjoyed it. This novel opens in the present, while the main character, Lisa, is recovering from a traumatic experience. To help herself cope, Lisa starts writing a play about Sally Hemings. As the story progresses, the reader sees parallels between Lisa's life and the life of Sally Hemings. The narrative moves back and forth from the present to the past, so we get a clear picture of Lisa's day to day existence, as well as that of Sally's. This novel was hard to put down! So if you love history, as well as some great storytelling, be sure to check out One Drop of Me.

Regarding race and sex in political history brings to mind this post, which I originally published in 2013.

The titillating television series Scandal ran for seven seasons on ABCIf you are unfamiliar with the show, it centered around Olivia Pope (Kerry Washington), a former media relations consultant who had the power to "fix" things for everyone.  
While working on a gubernatorial campaign as a media relations consultant, she had an affair with then candidate, Fitzgerald Thomas Grant III (Tony Goldwyn).  As a fixer, she's taxed to fix a scandal in the president’s office.  However, the president residing in office just happens to be Fitzgerald Thomas Grant III, and his affair with Olivia begins all over again.  By the way, did I mention Olivia is black and Grant is white?

Forbidden love is nothing new in politics, but throw race into the mix and it becomes explosive!  According to the Monticello website, “The claim that Thomas Jefferson fathered children with Sally Hemings, a slave at Monticello, entered the public arena during Jefferson's first term as president, and it has remained a subject of discussion and disagreement for two centuries.

“In September 1802, political journalist James T. Callender, a disaffected former ally of Jefferson, wrote in a Richmond newspaper that Jefferson had for many years ‘kept, as his concubine, one of his own slaves.’ ‘Her name is Sally," Callender continued, adding that Jefferson had "several children’ by her.”  Visit the Monticello site for further factual information.  The novel Sally Hemings by Barbara Chase-Raiboud  provides a fascinating fictional account.

Another interesting story revolves around Vice President Richard Mentor Johnson and his mulatto, Julia Chinn.  Johnson served as vice president under Martin Van Buren.  He and Chinn are referred  to briefly  in distinguished historian Thomas Fleming’s novel, The Wages of Fame.

Undercover Blackman says, “How much of a “Negro” was Julia Chinn? Well, she was a slave… a slave Johnson inherited from his father. She was “Negro” enough that Richard Johnson couldn’t have married her legally...Yet she was his mate. His common-law wife, in effect.

“ ‘She was the hostess at his Kentucky home when [French aristocrat] the Marquis de Lafayette visited,’ wrote Lindsey Apple, a retired Georgetown College history professor, in answer to questions from me.”

Johnson served in Kentucky’s state legislature (1804-1806; 1819), the U.S. House of Representatives (1807-1819; 1829-1837) and the U.S. Senate (1819-1829) prior to his becoming vice president.
Richard Mentor Johnson

Abraham Lincoln made reference to Chinn in a rather non-complimentary way. He exploited Johnson’s relationship with her to score a point against Stephen Douglas during the Lincoln-Douglas debates of 1858.
His words are as follow:

...I have never seen to my knowledge a man, woman or child who was in favor of producing a perfect equality, social and political, between negroes and white men. I recollect of but one distinguished instance that I ever heard of so frequently as to be entirely satisfied of its correctness – and that is the case of Judge Douglas’ old friend Col. Richard M. Johnson.

One of the most recent political indiscretions revealed was South Carolina Senator (and segregationist) Strom Thurmond’s love affair at 23 with his family’s African American maid, Carrie Butler, who was 15.  Newsday mentioned in its obituary of Thurmond that rumors flew for years in South Carolina that Thurmond, while still a segregationist, had a relationship with a black woman that produced a daughter.  Jack Bass, author of the Thurmond biography Ol Strom, says, “Thurmond never denied it, though he kept it under the rug for years...” 

Thurmond’s love child from his relationship, Essie May Washington-Williams, penned her memoir, Dear Senator, in 2005.  She waited until after her father’s death, at age 100, to reveal his secret.

Publisher’s Weekly review  of Dear Senator explains that Carrie Butler died at 38 in a hospital's poverty ward.  Although she rarely appears in the memoir, Ms. Washington-Williams “fashions her a kind of love story: ‘I knew [Thurmond] loved my mother. I believed he loved me, after his fashion.’”

The love story Ms. Washington portrayed in Dear Senator provided the inspiration for my novel The Governor’s Sonsa provocative tale that examines a “politically incorrect” relationship of a young law student who falls in love with his family's hired help, a college age black girl.

Perhaps there are more forbidden love stories hidden in the annals of history just waiting to be discovered. Maybe they'll inspire more novels—or even influence a story line in a TV series.

Were you a fan of Scandal? Thanks for visiting and have a great week!