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 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 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!