Chicken Salad on Rye, Untoasted, and a Cup of Tea


This is a love letter, of sorts.

I love watching the State of the Union. Even if my party isn’t in the White House – and my party is…Sidebar: This is entirely new to me. In my lifetime, my party has never really been in the White House. “What?!” you say. Bill Clinton? Hello? But you see, I was 11 when he took office, and my parents were Repulicans at the time. (Now they are…independent, I guess. Well…I think they might be registered Democrats. Truthfully, I’m not sure.) So basically I was just repeating what they said. Which was usually, “Oh I just love Barbara Bush’s reading program.” The point is, last January was the first time I was just absolutely thrilled by the person taking the oath.

But, as I was saying, Even if my party isn’t in the White House, I love the tradition. I love the pomp and circumstance (which is actually fairly low-key compared to other nations). I just truly enjoy watching our government at work. And I say this with no sarcasm or subtext. I also love the purpose of the speech. It’s a check-in. It’s a yearly physical. I read an article entitled “State of the Union not Reset Button,” but in fact, it sort of is. It’s from the source. It’s info not from pundits or analysts or academia. It’s the difference between reading a book about the Mississippi River and going to actually see and experience the Mississippi River. Is it filtered by speechwriters, staff, and party doctrine? Yes. But the mere fact that it comes straight from the top, on camera, spoken to you, makes it accountable.

I’m all about reset buttons. Sometimes you just have to start over again. And who else could guide you through than the Illustrious Dolly Parton?

hmmmm…

Actually…her version of “Starting Over Again” is kind of a depressing song about divorce.

Let’s come at this from another angle.

A bit of a Public Service Announcement:
Note to Street Musicians: If you play “Glory of Love” I will well-up and give you money. Even if I have none to give.
Why?
Because it’s maybe one of the greatest songs ever. No, not in musical complexity, but in truth.

“You’ve got to give a little, take a little
And let your poor heart break a little.
That’s the story of love
That’s the glory of love

You’ve got to laugh a little
Cry a little
And let the clouds roll by a little

As long as there’s the two of us
We’ve got the world and all its charms
But when the world is through with us
We’ve got each other’s arms.

You’ve got to win a little
Lost a little
And always have the blues a little
That’s the story of
That’s the Glory of Love”

I hate to run ‘er too deep here, but that song isn’t just about Romantic love. It’s about Friend Love. It’s about Family Love. And it’s about Life. The good guys always have it the hardest. Our plans take the longest to succeed. Our triumphs are the biggest struggles. And our fights leave the deepest wounds. We have to blaze paths that are muddy and ugly and covered in thorns. “When you’re looking back, it’s nice clear a path,” says the Indigo Girls, “Every five years or so I look back on my life, and I have a good laugh.” It’s the only way to do it. If you don’t laugh, you’ll cry. Or at least be on Prozac.

This blog’s title comes from an episode of Seinfeld called “The Opposite”:

George : It’s not working, Jerry. It’s just not working.

Jerry : What is it that isn’t working?

George : Why did it all turn out like this for me? I had so much promise. I was personable, I was bright. Oh, maybe not academically speaking, but … I was perceptive. I always know when someone’s uncomfortable at a party. It became very clear to me sitting out there today, that every decision I’ve ever made, in my entire life, has been wrong. My life is the opposite of everything I want it to be. Every instinct I have, in every of life, be it something to wear, something to eat … It’s all been wrong.

( A waitress comes up to G )

Waitress : Tuna on toast, coleslaw, cup of coffee.

George : Yeah. No, no, no, wait a minute, I always have tuna on toast. Nothing’s ever worked out for me with tuna on toast. I want the complete opposite of on toast. Chicken salad, on rye, untoasted … and a cup of tea.

Elaine : Well, there’s no telling what can happen from this.

Jerry : You know chicken salad is not the opposite of tuna, salmon is the opposite of tuna, ‘cos salmon swim against the current, and the tuna swim with it.

George : Good for the tuna.

( A blonde looks at George )

Elaine : Ah, George, you know, that woman just looked at you.

George : So what? What am I supposed to do?

Elaine : Go talk to her.

George : Elaine, bald men, with no jobs, and no money, who live with their parents, don’t approach strange women.

Jerry : Well here’s your chance to try the opposite. Instead of tuna salad and being intimidated by women, chicken salad and going right up to them.

George : Yeah, I should do the opposite, I should.

Jerry : If every instinct you have is wrong, then the opposite would have to be right.

George : Yes, I will do the opposite. I used to sit here and do nothing, and regret it for the rest of the day, so now I will do the opposite, and I will do

something!

( He goes over to the woman )

George : Excuse me, I couldn’t help but notice that you were looking in my direction.

Victoria : Oh, yes I was, you just ordered the same exact lunch as me.

( G takes a deep breath )

George : My name is George. I’m unemployed and I live with my parents.

Victoria : I’m Victoria. Hi.

I’m all quotes and song lyrics up in this, but it’s only because others have said it before me and said it better. So here’s to reset buttons in the Video Game of Life. And if all else fails, you can always blow in the bottom of the cartridge. Sure, you might have to start back at World 1-1, but this time, you’ll beat Bowser. And that’s straight from the mouth of The Princess.

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Movie Hero of the Week* – Edie McClurg


So much of the pop culture of my childhood has the stamp of Edie McClurg. Even before I had seen Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, she was voicing characters on “The Snorks”, “The Smurfs”, The Secret of NIMH, “Tiny Toons”, “Darkwing Duck”, “The Addams Family (cartoon”, and many others. She’s even the voice of Carlotta, Prince Eric’s housekeeper, in Disney’s The Little Mermaid, a film I have shamelessly memorized. I adored her as Hermit Hattie on the Pee Wee Herman Show (not yet Pee Wee’s Playhouse.) My family still shouts her distress call, “Yee-ow, Come Quick! Yee-ow, Come Quick! Come quick! Come quick! Come quick!” She has made a career of the cameo. And she’s hilarious. Any purveyors of the false myth that “women aren’t funny” haven’t bumped into Ms. McClurg (Or they are misogynist fools…or both…I digress.)

I certainly haven’t experienced her career in a chronological order. Her first movie was Carrie, and when I saw that I shouted “Oh my gosh! It’s Mrs. Poole from “The Hogan Family!” You know, like you do. However, no matter when she pops up, be it in a tv show or movie, I am always delighted to see her. Yes, she plays a similar character in the sense she’s got that upper Midwest matron thing down pat. But even a character that broad has it’s subtleties. For instance, let’s take her performance in A River Runs Through It. She plays Mrs. Burns, Jessie’s mom. She is the prime example of the movie’s previously narrated “Methodist – A Baptist Who Can Read.” She’s a Momma. Her kids can do no wrong. She may not be the sharpest tack in the lot, but she’s a Momma Bear. Then let’s look at her in Planes, Trains, and Automobiles:
She’s still thoroughly a classic American Middle Class character, but this time, she’s a rude car rental agent. She looks similar, but Mrs. Burns wouldn’t pull that attitude on a customer.

So this woman is good, and as an actress she’s smart. She gets the joke. Her timing is impeccable, and even at her most devious, her most inept, she’s likeable. I love this woman.

And don’t worry. I wouldn’t dare to leave out her Tour de Force performance. Her Masterpiece. Her effortless, flawless, and to this day unique portrayal of Grace, the Secretary in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.


Here we see her sniffing the white-out.

One of my personal favorite exchanges:

Mr. Rooney: I don’t trust this kid any further than I can throw him.
Grace: Well, with your bad knee, Ed, you shouldn’t throw anybody… It’s true.
Mr. Rooney: What is so dangerous about a character like Ferris Bueller is he gives good kids bad ideas. Last thing I need at this point in my career is fifteen hundred Ferris Bueller disciples running around these halls. He jeopardizes my ability to effectively govern this student body.
Grace: He makes you look like an ass, is what he does, Ed.
Mr. Rooney: Thank you, Grace, but I think you’re wrong.
Grace: Oh, he’s very popular, Ed. The sportos, the motorheads, geeks, sluts, bloods, wasteoids, dweebies, dickheads — they all adore him. They think he’s a righteous dude.
Mr. Rooney: That is why I need to show these kids that the example he sets is a first-class ticket to nowhere!
Grace: Oh, Ed, you sounded like Dirty Harry just then.
Mr. Rooney: Really? Thanks, Grace.

And finally, I offer you HER WEBSITE! You can email her! I don’t even know what I’d say.

She’s a Groundling, by trade. And it was the improv school that helped her create these fantastic characters. “Acting isn’t a singular profession, it’s a collaborate profession,” she’s quoted as saying. True, I agree. But her performances certainly are singular.

*What is a movie hero? An un or under-sung member of the film making community who deserves more of the spotlight. And yet lack of such a spotlight often adds to their charm.

These Boots Weren’t Made for Winter


I need a winter boot.

For most people, this would be the sort of thing you say breezily on a Saturday afternoon. Then you wander into the kitchen to make a sandwich. Then you say, “Well. I think I’ll go to Target and buy some boots.” And that’s that.

Not for me. I have to make a big frickin’ production out of the whole thing. Oh, I know. It’s obnoxious.

I research and price shop and haggle and waver and then drop the whole thing. And then it hits 40 degrees and I forget about it. And then it drops to 2 below and I remember.

What I require, that is so hard to achieve, is style. If I’m going to drop cash on boots, they better make my legs looks fabulous.

Not like rubber.

And not like I don’t have ankles.

If we could but journey back to 2003 when Cameron Diaz appeared in a papparazzi shot wearing uggs with shorts, I imagine the people at Ye Olde Ugg Company were bemused. “Look,” they might have said, gathered around the sheep pen, looking at a copy of People magazine, “Cameron Diaz has on our boots with shorts. That’s weird.”
A style move, I might add, that has celebrity stylist Rachel Zoe written all over it.

Look at her!
She’s a lizard! Only a reptile would think to put mukluks with a pair of cutoffs. That is Mesozoic-era thinking. Why else would she need to retain so much heat in the California sun? Let’s just hope that Uggs die out like their megafauna counterparts.

Sidebar: I don’t know when zoologists are going to creep out of the jungles, caves, and swamps and realize that the creatures of legend are alive and well in Hollywood. I can’t be responsible for making these pithy observations. I’m trying to, you know, WORK over here…and stare at the ceiling and stuff.

The point is, I require style. That’s it. Not style AND brand name, or style AND a certain level of panache. Just style. Some people would argue that style and brand name go hand in hand, but those people are fools. And uncreative.

For I will seek out my fashion prey, and I will hunt it down, and then I will bargain shop. And when I find the best price, even then, I will slap it around a bit. I call this “Abusive Shopping” and I highly recommend it. It’s great fun.

As far as Battle Boot goes, I thought I had found the solution: riding boots. Elegant, practical, you can layer, etc.
But they can’t take it. they just can’t handle a Midwestern winter. They can’t the salt and they are slippery on the ice. And now, I’ve so beaten my riding boots to hell, that the black ones are literally screaming at the sides. They look like they are whispering nasty things to me out the side of their, er, mouths…so to speak. And the poor brown ones, though better in form, have very chapped lips and a sort of salty mustache.

So I still seek my personal Eldorado: The Stylish and Warm Winter Boot.
My requirements:
1. Self-evident, but worthy of repeating, Warm
2. Water resistant, preferably -proof
3. Not heeled
4. A sole with traction. Personally, I have a soul with traction, but I still slip and fall. *Wink*
5. Good-looking. And here’s the thing, not “Good-looking for a winter boot,” but just plain ol’ “Good-looking” with no qualifiers.
6. Should be somewhat neutral and match my coat, but we can get into that over negotiations. Right now, I’m just looking to take a pair out to lunch.

So I’m cold. And I’m bootless. But lucky for me, I’m warm-blooded. Reeow.

If you can’t dazzle them with brilliance, baffle them with bull – WC Fields


I checked two movies off The List this weekend.

The first was my first forray into the work of WC Fields. As with many of the old iconic comic legends, I bumped into the parody before the person.

I had hesitated on seeing a Fields movie. From all accounts I’ve read of this guy, he sounded like a real asshole, truth be told. But I was pleasantly surprised. It’s a Gift was funny. Truly, honestly, no-need-to-qualify-it-as-an-old-movie-funny. There were some truly obnoxious (on purpose) characters, and I probably won’t watch it again. But I laughed. Even to the point of repeating a few lines to myself just because I enjoyed them so much.

The film is timeless. Sure they head off to California in an old jalopy, but the jokes still play. And we still have the American Dream. So if you’ve avoided WC Fields like I have, don’t fear It’s a Gift. Is actually is.

On the complete other end of the spectrum from down home good ol’ American comedy would be disturbing and ahead of its time British intellectual horror films. Meet Peeping Tom. Peeping Tom is a great horror flick and the reason is we care about our Peeping Tom. We care about him via Helen, his neighbor and friend. When sizing Helen up, the quote from Jim Carey’s The Grinch came to mind, “Sweet kid. Baaaaad judge of character.”

Now, I have been accused of saying everything is a phallic symbol (because everything is), but let me tell you I never really thought a camera could be one. Was I ever wrong!

Peeping Tom is artful, vulnerable, and vicious.

On to things other than movies: Do you know a receptionist? Do you think they would fill out a fun survey? If so, let me know, and I will send it along. All in the name of my Project of the moment!

Semper Fi


Yesterday was jam-packed with preparatory loveliness (One of my favorite things to do is form a Plan.) I’m not ready to reveal everything I was up to yesterday, but I shall reveal one juicy tidbit…after this movie discussion.

So, first things first.


Yesterday evening I watched the movie Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison starring our Movie Hero of the Week, Robert Mitchum. I am ever so glad I did. It is simply charming. Robert Mitchum serves as the titular Mr. Allison, a shipwrecked Marine marooned on a tropical island. On the island he meets Sister Angela, played delightfully by a pitch perfect Deborah Kerr. It’s a WWII movie. But it’s also a love story. But it’s also an anti-romance, too. I very nearly wanted to reach into the screen and clutch the film to my breast. It’s that adorable. Robert Mitchum is as big and manly as ever, and yet, it may be the most vulnerable I’ve ever seen him. There is a sense of Lenny with his puppies and that includes both the sweet and brutal feelings that reference evokes.

It’s set up like the perfect sexual fantasy- a ripped shirted tanned Marine stuck in Paradise with a Damsel in Distress…minus the nun part.

Oh hell, keep the nun part.

Anyway, I’m surprised this movie isn’t more well-known. Outside being a Robert Mitchum fan, I don’t think I would have ever bumped into it. Sure it has those fifties movie curiosities – why isn’t her habit dirty? But it’s so incredibly well-done and feel-good, one hardly notices. So add to the Nominees for my List. 4 out of 5 stars for Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison.

Meanwhile, I am working on different project: A book.

That’s right, folks. I have decided to write a book. I’m still shaping up the idea, so I’m not ready to reveal the title. But I will say this: It is non-fiction. You may have seen how my fiction turns out. I think I should stick with pithy commentary and list-making. But you never know. I may yet have a fantasy serial somewhere. Namely, How I See Reality.

So that’s the haps here at A Rhinestone World. I’m working overtime today, so look out: I may tune back in later.

But for now, Rhinestone World: Over and Out.

The Alternative Movie List Project – Reviewed, Reorganized and Updated



My Alternative Movie List is old news to my nearest and dearest, but it’s come to my attention that through my Movie Hero of the Week series, I’ve gained a few new Readers! Welcome! I encourage you to subscribe! I can’t promise regularity or sanity, but I do think you’ll be entertained.

I wouldn’t call A Rhinestone World a “Movie Blog” per se, but it’s certainly a topic I cover regularly. In that vein, since August of 2008 or so, I’ve been slowly attempting to create an Alternative Top 100 list in response to the AFI 100 Greatest Movies, The Entertainment Weekly Top 100, Jonathan Rosenbaum’s Alternative Top 100, and Jonathan Rosenbaum’s 100 Essential Films.

Why?

Because it’s fun. And because I find those lists lacking in women, gays, and people of color. In Rosenbaum’s defense, he is absolutely not as guilty of this. Still…a female director is difficult to find. And Rosenbaum has that tone. That condescending tone. So, on some level, I’m looking for movies with a sense of …joy. Not to say that all the movies I recommend will be uplifting. Certainly, some of the films that are likely to be included on my list are particularly devastating. But I dig films that are more than the sum of their parts. And that intangible sense is what I often find wanting in other lists.

If you are at all interested in getting up to date with my project, please check out the following posts:
(Some are located at the ancient, craggy, and cobweb laden digs at my old Myspace blog)
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Update

Okay, so that’s basically how it’s gone so far. I’ve watched A LOT of movies since then. I continue to watch a lot of movies. And I get the titles I intend to watch from numerous sources. I go on “kicks”. My Kicks usually involve watching a particular actor’s cannon, a director’s, or movies concerning a subject matter. I usually don’t focus on particular decades (although I do have my favorites) or countries of origin (again, I do have faves). I seek out female directors and screenwriters. I also lean towards fictional stories. This isn’t a hard and fast rule, just a guideline. I also don’t rush off to the theatres to see the newest thing. It’s not my style. If something looks up my alley, then off I go to the AMC but generally, I’m a Netflixer. A dedicated Netflixer. My Netflix membership is older than some of my friendships. I’ve been jamming red envelopes into mailboxes since 2003.

And then Netflix added Watch Instantly. Now, it’s not the most ideal way to watch a movie, but some of the Watch Instantly features aren’t actually available on DVD, so unless your local library has a copy of The Gospel According to Saint Matthew on VHS, Watch Instantly is the way to go.

And yet, Harold Washington is the only place that I can get Celine and Julie Go Boating, that I know of. So sometimes, the library is a saving grace.

What I’m attempting do here is create a list that isn’t just full of excellent filmmaking; it’s full of joy. I want a list that is a joy to watch and to create. And I want more women on it. So on I plug in my quest to create My List. And maybe I won’t even limit myself to 100. Maybe it will be 57. Maybe it will be 203. Who knows? As of right now, my list of nominees includes 229 films. I have a To Watch list that is soon likely to top 500. It contains movies from the above mentioned lists, The British Film Institute’s Top 100, A Feminist top 100, a Gay Top 100 (be careful when googling THAT, I might add.) and also the cannons of many of my favorite actors.

I don’t know what exactly this list will turn out to be, but I can guarantee this:
1. It will be biased.
2. It will be incomplete.
3. And it will be lots of fun to watch.

I don’t have a grand name for this project yet (You’d think after a year and half, I’d have come up with something at least cute.) but for the sake of those who want to follow along (and for the sake of those who don’t) I will tag these posts: Alternative Movie List.

So chat me up about your favorite flicks! Tell me why you love them. And don’t be shy. You should know the Don Knot’s vehicle The Ghost and Mr. Chicken is on the nominees list among “heavier” hitters such as 12 Angry Men and The Magdalene Sisters. Seriously, FEAR NOT! You will not be judged. Likely you will be taken way too seriously, if anything.

Now, a bit on How I watch movies. Typically, and I think you would hope, I watch them until the end. Very occasionally I reach a state of “Done” in which I turn the movie off before it is over. This has happened twice during this project: The Third Man and Five Easy Pieces. “Done” doesn’t necessarily mean I loathed and detested these movies. They just brought me to a state of “I don’t want to watch this anymore.” To be honest, I’m not quite sure why I didn’t turn off Shane or Yankee Doodle Dandy. I certainly did not want to be watching those anymore. Maybe my foot was asleep. Who knows?

I also try to figure out why a certain movie was placed on a List before I research into why, indeed, it was. I don’t do a ton of research or reading for most of the movies I watch. I’m not looking to be “talked into” thinking they are great if they didn’t really strike me as great. However, I always love to discuss them. And if the mood strikes, I will go digging.

Generally, I watch these films alone. Mainly because I am very chatty and will miss most of it, if accompanied. But also no one seems to want to watch Battleship Potemkin or The Seventh Seal on a Tuesday night.

As with any form of art, I bring all my own baggage along with me when I experience it (Many apologies to those of you who shared the viewing of Finding Neverland with me at the AMC on Western way back when. Who knew you’d experience someone else’s personal grief catharsis? Heh.. Whewwww.)

And then I usually have popcorn and fun drink. And most likely yoga pants and a cat or three.

So here’s what I need from you, if you decide to follow along: Let me know what movies you love and hate. Are the movies that you consider Great the same as the movies you love? (This is truly a question I consider over and over during this project.) If you’ve seen a film I’m about to watch (no spoilers!) or one I’ve just watched, let me know your thoughts.

I’m really bringing folks in at the halfway point, here. Very soon, I will post my To Watch List. I warn you, it’s insane. Truly. It is enormous, cumbersome, and ill-advised. Much like most things I take on. And worse yet, I add to it all the time!

“I’m learning real skills that I can apply throughout the rest of my life … Procrastinating and rationalizing”



I say I haven’t blogged in a month. That’s not entirely true. I have blogged. I just haven’t posted. Usually, this is because the posts I write aren’t fully formed. Or they may contain more vitriol than a subject is due. Or they are incomprehensibly weird and belong in a journal, not online. There are myriad reasons a post doesn’t make it past my publishing gate.

At present, I’m working on a writing project, and in the quest for material I went searching through some old unposted writing. This particular piece that follows has absolutely nothing to do with anything and I’m sure I probably won’t use it in the future. Just a little slice of life around the Coquetteaway.

I bought a book called Get Organized Now! but that doesn’t really matter. The point is I’ve been going through lots of crap including cassettes of Milli Vanilli and Arrested Development…as in “Mr. Wendell” not Mr. Bateman.

But FINALLY I managed to sort through it all, rip most of my cd’s that friends had burned for me, etc. and I triumphantly put away my albums in our guest room…where the albums go.

Me: (sniffing the air) Did you boil an egg?
Will: What?
Me: (coming out of the guest room) I said Did you boil an egg?
Will: (incredulously) No.
Me: Did you poot?
Will: No.
Me: (looking back into the guest room) Well, then…something is rough in there.
Will: Are my boots in there?
Me: Do they smell like boiled eggs?
Will: I don’t know.
Me: You know you always stink up that room somehow. (Pause) We need to get you a Transmogrifier…like Calvin has.
Will: To turn me into what?
Me: A cleaner Will.
Will: Hmmm…that would be really convenient.
Me: Yeah! We need like a decontamination chamber for you when you get home from work.
Will: Yeah!
Me: Like a clean machine.
Will: (dreamily) yeah…

(pause)
Me: Wait. We do have one.
Will: We do?
Me: It’s called a shower.

(pause)
Will: I shower.