Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Friday, December 19, 2008

Sweepea-TV©: Engrish is My Second Language

I guess even the smallest amount invested will appreciate over time...
...and you're welcome.
[Valet parking in Studio City lot]

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Crushing on Steve McQueen

My nephew has made "The Great Escape" his favorite movie. Now I love him even more. And now we have something to talk about at Christmas besides Legos and Futurama (not that that was such a bad thing, but there's only so much you can say about the subjects). His appreciation of the classic war film also made my crush on Steve "The Cooler King" McQueen that much stronger.And for that, my nephew gets a "Great Escape" t-shirt, made personally by me, for Christmas! Now, Steve, in your cute little sweater/blazer combo, can I get a hug?

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Classic Holiday Quote

In the old days, it was not called the 'Holiday Season'; the Christians called it 'Christmas' and went to church; the Jews called it 'Hanukkah' and went to synagogue; the atheists went to parties and drank. People passing each other on the street would say 'Merry Christmas!' or 'Happy Hanukkah!' or (to the atheists) 'Look out for the wall!' -- humorist Dave Barry

Friday, December 12, 2008

Rest in Peace, Van Johnson

The actor died today at the age of 92.See our previous "Va Va Voom" post about Van.

Scenes From a Balcony: Scene 8

Which is worse, being in the front of the building or living in the back with the dumpster?? It's a toss-up. Especially since a new instrument has become part of my morning orchestra. In addition to yipping poodles and overbearing mothers, there is a woman who at about 6 AM walks up and down the street and repeats:

"Baby Blue? Baby Blue? Here kittykittykittykittykittykittykitty... Baby Blue? Baby Blue? Here kittykittykittykittykittykittykitty..."

After many mornings hearing this repetition, and imagining some old haggard bag with a cigarette hanging out of her mouth (because of the scratchy throaty muttering), I finally peered out the window this morning to see what this feline-calling female looked like.

Yep, she was a frazzled old lady smoking a cigarette. And she was walking up and down the street in her pajamas, searching in the bushes and underneath cars for this unfortunate cat. "Baby Blue? Baby Blue? Here kittykittykittykittykittykittykitty..."

Each morning she does this, and sometimes even in the evenings. I feel like going out there and telling her to get the fucking hint. I mean, this poor cat...first of all, he's named "Baby Blue" for chrissake. Secondly, he obviously does not enjoy living with this nicotine-perfumed old dame, because he's always M.I.A. So leave the miserable creature alone already, and let the entire street sleep in peace.

At least until my morning alarm of "Goodbye, Love of My Life!" starts ringing.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Sisters from "White Christmas"

I love the movie "White Christmas," and this is the absolute funniest scene in the film. Trying to create a decoy for someone after the girls, Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye dress up like the two sisters and lip-synch to their act.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Rudolph is Just Not the Same Anymore

I have to say that when I was a little girl I used to watch all the Rankin/Bass Christmas productions... "Frosty the Snowman," "Santa Claus is Coming to Town," and especially the stop-motion classic "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer." Well, as a grown-up I watched the 'special' last night, and it wasn't as charming or as fun as I remember. Here's just a snippet:Here are my issues:

1. The parents are jerks.
What kind of parent doesn't love their child for who they are? "Don't worry, I'm sure he'll grow out of it" Daddy Deer Donnor says. What happened to unconditional love? Support? Understanding? Does this not exist in Christmas Town?

2. Santa is an ass.

This is my main issue. What kind of "saint" insults a poor baby reindeer? As a response to the above comment by Donner, Santa answers, "I hope so..." and "Too bad, he sure did have promise." There's even a scene later when the elves prepare a special song for Santa ("We Are Santa's Elves"), and Santa's like "That was fine," and then takes off. Mrs. Claus has to apologize for his behavior to the elves. Later the elves are singing the same song as they work, and Santa tells Mrs. Claus he finds the song annoying, rubbing his temple as if he has a headache. What a grouch. Lastly, Mr. Omniscient "I know when you're sleeping and when you're awake" has no idea about the whole island of Misfit Toys. I know he's old, but is he senile too? This is not the Santa Claus I know and love.

3. The Elves work in a sweatshop.
The Head Elf is like a slave-driver. Herman wants to take a break, but Head Elf says, "Not you! You have to keep working!" What kind of toy-making holiday atmosphere is this?? Herman the Elf wants to be a dentist. Fine. Why not let him fix the dolls' teeth, like he suggested? And they never had a dentist in all of Christmas Town before, with all those candy canes and marshmallows around? You'd think they'd be clamoring for some dental work.

4. Donner is a chauvinistic pinhead.
Rudolph runs away (after being shunned from all those reindeer games) and his parents are worried. Mom wants to go out looking for him, and Donner responds curtly "No, this is man's work," and leaves without her. Was it man's work to insult your child and send him packing, too??

5. Some of the Misfit Toys are not really misfits.
A bear that rides a bike is not a misfit, nor is a polka-dotted elephant. I think I had a spotted rabbit when I was growing up, and I treated it just fine. And what kid wouldn't want a squirt gun that shoots grape jelly? And why doesn't the Charlie in the Box just change his name if that's his only 'defect'? Also, they never even say why the doll (who cries by the campfire) is a misfit. She looks fine to me. (According to Wikipedia, Arthur Rankin, in an interview, revealed that the Misfit Dolly's problem was psychological, caused when she was abandoned by her owner and suffered depression from being unloved. A neurotic dolly? Is that all you got??)

Lastly, there is a 'Bird Fish': a toy bird who swims instead of flies. But then in the final credit sequence, he is tossed out of Santa's sleigh without a parachute or umbrella being handed to the other toys!

Callous! Outrageous!

When watching as a child in the 80's, you tend to look over a lot, apparently. Or you're just so wrapped up in the cute furry animals to notice. But watching it recently and putting that nostalgia aside, I didn't like it. Instead, I found it really annoying.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Scenes From a Balcony: Scene 7

My morning ritual was jarred this morning by a strong variant in protocol. As outlined in a previous scene witnessed daily from my balcony, this morning was quite different. I woke up to the beloved 'love of her life' having a major tantrum outside my window. His uncontrollable outburst was so startling that the poodle even stopped yipping.

"I hate you! You are the worst mother ever!! I wish you'd DIE!" were some of his choice phrases. The mother, who usually smothered her son with kisses and called out in to the early morning air "GOODBYE, LOVE OF MY LIFE!" was unusually quiet, except an occasional "You don't mean that."

The meltdown continued until the bus pulled up. The little boy got on with no words exchanged with his mother and was driven off. Finally the poodle resumed yipping.

I stifled a laugh, afraid the mother would hear me. But I felt like yelling out to her, "Guess he wasn't the 'love of your life' today, huh?"

Friday, December 05, 2008

Happy Birthday, Walt!

Today Walt Disney would be 107 years old!

During World War I, a young man at age 16 lied about his age to join the American Red Cross. The boy was Walt Disney, and he returned home, where he won a scholarship to the Kansas City Art Institute. There, he met a fellow animator, Ub Iwerks. The two soon set up their own company. In the early 20s, they made a series of animated shorts for the Newman theater chain, entitled "Newman's Laugh-O-Grams". Their company soon went bankrupt, however.

The two then went to Hollywood in 1923. They started work on a new series, about a live-action little girl who journeys to a world of animated characters. Entitled the "Alice Comedies", they were distributed by M.J. Winkler (Margaret). Walt was backed up financially only by Winkler and his brother Roy Edward Disney, who would remain his business partner for the rest of his life. Hundreds of "Alice Comedies" were produced between 1923 and 1927, before they lost popularity. Walt then started work on a series around a new animated character, Oswald the Lucky Rabbit. This series was successful, but in 1928, Walt discovered that M.J. Winkler and her husband, Charles Mintz, had stolen the rights to the character away from him. They had also stolen all his animators, except for Ub Iwerks. While taking the train home, Walt started doodling on a piece of paper. The result of these doodles was a mouse named Mickey. With only Walt and Ub to animate, and Walt's wife Lillian Disney (Lilly) and Roy's wife Edna Disney to ink in the animation cells, three Mickey Mouse cartoons were quickly produced. The first two didn't sell, so Walt added synchronized sound to the last one, Steamboat Willie (1928), and it was immediately picked up. It became the first cartoon to use synchronized sound. [source]

Walt went on to revolutionize the world of Animation, launching the first fully-animated film, developing new coloring, inking, and camera techniques, and building an empire -- all starting with a mouse. On Dec. 15, 1966, Walt Disney passed away.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

A Christmas Retrospective

Now that the holidays are approaching, I'm taking some time to reflect on the many -- too many to mention -- years that have passed and the Christmases that have come and gone. I've probably talked about this before...in fact, I know I have...about how sad Christmas can be when you're a grown-up. Things change, we all get older blah blah blah. But every year it makes me really nostalgic.

I have many Christmas memories that I cherish... As Christmas Day got nearer, under the tree got more and more crowded with brightly-colored presents of various sizes. I wasn't one of those to pick up the presents and shake 'em. I was a peeker. I just wanted to see which gifts were mine, and their general size and shape.

I remember waking up early in the morning on Christmas Day and peering out of my bedroom to see if my stocking was full. The lumpier it was, the happier I was. I knew what Santa had put in there: nuts, candy, gum or Tic Tacs, and maybe even a small toy. I remember my heart leaping in my chest thinking that Santa had come down the chimney and personally put something in my stocking, thinking solely of me at that moment.

I also would strain my eyes to see if the cookies had been eaten. We'd also leave carrots for the reindeer, and they were always left half-munched on. Knowing that Santa had enjoyed our fresh-baked cookies and that he had fed his reindeer our carrots made me happy.

I recall turning to my sister (whom with I shared a room) and seeing what time it was. How much longer would we have to wait? How many more hours until Mom and Dad would be up? Were my other siblings awake? The doors across the hall would open and there would be my older brother and sister, also peering out of their respective rooms, trying to crane their necks to see downstairs in to the living room. We'd have at least another hour to go until we could go down and see what was there.

And those are the moments I clearly remember: not what present I got what year, or what I got from whom. The anticipation, the excitement, the enchantment that surrounds Christmas Day...that's what I miss the most.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Bone Up on Your Christmas History

The History Channel has launched a great microsite about the history of Christmas. Watch videos, see pictures, learn about world Christmas traditions, and much much more.

It was especially interesting to read about the history of Santa Claus and the Christmas tree.

The Wikipedia page on Christmas is pretty informative, but is often vandalized, and there aren't as many pictures. But it's worth a shot.

And don't forget to visit Falalalala.com to refresh your Christmas music collection!

Monday, December 01, 2008

Weekend Recap

Well Fall is over, and now it's time to prepare for Winter...brrrr!!

I hope everyone had a good Thanksgiving! I actually didn't gorge myself like I usually do. I kept myself pretty restrained. That goes for the family squabbles, as well.

Attention, Shoppers! Well Black Friday has come and gone, thank the Lord... I was going to go shopping Friday. But when I woke up early in the morning to 'beat the rush' I rolled over and decided to stay in my nice warm bed instead. After all, isn't that what online shopping is for??

I went to my storage unit to get my fake Christmas tree. But with all the junk in there, I couldn't find it. So I had to buy another one...$9.99 at Target, can't beat that. But then all my Christmas ornaments from past years were buried in the storage unit, so I had to buy all those, too. The total ended up being almost $100, just to decorate my tiny little shoebox apartment. Ah, all for the spirit of Christmas, I guess.

Then I spent the rest of the weekend watching Christmas movies, at least the ones in my DVD collection: "Christmas Vacation," "Love Actually" (which always makes me cry, I don't know why!), "White Christmas," and "It's a Wonderful Life." I think I'm ready for the holidays!!