Wednesday, October 30, 2013
She First Laid Eyes on Jeffrey When He Burst Out of a Pie
Bill Griffith watches THE LAWRENCE WELK SHOW every week. He said of the midwest, from which he hails, "Polka was our blues," and we all laughed, but then he kept expanding his argument until we were all nodding thoughtfully. "We" included Laraine Newman and Ace Atkins and Megan Abbott. Bill was doing his usual amazing job of showing us around Rowan Oak. He got out Jill Faulkner's rarely-seen scrapbook in which she pasted pictures of her favorite stars, snipped from movie magazines. (Jill was Faulkner's daughter, of course.) There were quite a few photos of Lucille Ball from her pre-comedy pin-up days - a coincidence, as Laraine and I had just been talking about her (and would continue to do so during our panel the next night). In one of them, Lucy was "showing her bloomers," as Laraine put it. I guess it felt strange to stand in a girl's bedroom and nose through her private scrapbook, even though (or especially because?) she grew old and passed away years ago. Another revelation: Laraine once auditioned for Bob Hope! She said it was nightmarish and mortifying. She did her "Valley Girl" character for him, back when no one - especially Bob Hope - knew what a "valley girl" was. He stared at her with a look on his face that said they did not belong in the same room, the same building, the same universe. If I paraphrase, it is only slightly. What else? The revelations are only beginning. I read things in REPROBATES: THE CAVALIERS OF THE ENGLISH CIVIL WAR about which I neglected to inform you. I did make it to twitter - a poor substitute! - to quote Robert Herrick, who was quoted in the book: "Get up, sweet Slug-a-bed, and see/ The Dew-besprangling Herbe and Tree." When I got to "besprangling" I had to put down the book for the night, I really did, because nothing was going to top it. Besprangling! At the end of the chapter we found out how Queen Henrietta met her favorite dwarf: "She first laid eyes on Jeffrey Hudson at a banquet held in her honour by the duke, when he burst out of a pie and greeted her." What else? Megan and Bill had a good talk because - unbeknownst to one another - they had both been watching Lawrence Welk's Halloween special at the same time. Dr. Theresa and I missed it because we were watching HOUSE OF THE SEVEN CORPSES as part of our Halloween film festival. (Megan took the above photo of her TV screen during the Lawrence Welk Halloween special and tweeted it at me while I was watching HOUSE OF THE SEVEN CORPSES.) HOUSE OF THE SEVEN CORPSES does not linger in the memory. But I did write down three things on the back of an envelope to tell you about it: 1) John Ireland wears an ill-fitting lavender turtleneck. 2) It is one of those movies in which a cat appears at the beginning, and you think "Oh no! Something awful is going to happen to that cat!" And it does. 3) HOUSE OF THE SEVEN CORPSES concludes with a touching expression of gratitude to the Utah Historical Society! I wonder how the Utah Historical Society felt about that. I knew that Bill Griffith was a big horror fan, but I did not know that Megan Abbott and Laraine Newman were just as avid. So Bill and Megan bonded over pioneering camera techniques in BLACK CHRISTMAS (1974). At dinner last night Dr. Theresa and Laraine enthusiastically discussed THE STUFF (in which Laraine's friend Garrett Morris appeared) and other works of Larry Cohen. Megan and Laraine rhapsodized about THE BROOD and DEAD RINGERS, both by Cronenberg. Laraine brought up Kolchak: The Night Stalker. By coincidence, Dr. Theresa and I had just watched THE NIGHT STRANGLER, a TV movie starring that character, as part of our Halloween film festival. Hmm, what else? While Dr. Theresa and I were on the way to the airport to pick up Laraine, a song by Jim Ed Brown came on the radio, containing this rhetorical question: "Did you ever hear of a clown with teardrops streaming down his face?" To which I responded, "Yes! All the time." Yet somehow Jim Ed Brown seemed to think we'd be surprised.