Memento Mori Monday - Holiday Edition
Ah, even then: a penchant for leopardskin print. I was a few months shy of 5 and we were living in Las Vegas, in one of our long line of crappy trailers.
I've been playing holiday movies lately at home. Below is a run down:
The Three Lives of Thomasina (1964)
First off, you Disney decriers - back off. As a kid, I was always a sucker for movies with animals - and that really hasn't changed, except I find I have a less than zero capacity for any harming of or otherwise distressing of said animals, so more often than not, I just give them a miss these days. And there's something about pivotal scenes involving cats and rain (see: Breakfast at Tiffany's) that lays me to waste. Did then, still does. The film stars Patrick McGoohan and I wouldn't say it's his finest hour, acting wise - during the aforementioned pivotal scene, he imbues the character with a lip-twitching itchy bugginess that is really distracting. But love prevails and the common thread is Thomasina, a big Ginger cat, and her three lives. Not technically a holiday movie, but still perfect. 3 out of 5 stars
Mr. Magoo's Christmas Carol (1962)
This still holds up remarkably well. This was a tradition in my house until I left it in 1970. The conceit: Magoo is starring in a version of The Christmas Carol, on Broadway, and begins with 'It's Great to be Back - Back - Back - on Broadway!' The animation, especially in the opening sequence with all of the flashing signage, is great. And all of the songs are strong. My penultimate moment is the number sung by the riffraff that are robbing his corpse. La! 4 stars
The President's Analyst (1967)
While the last scene is at Christmas, this is technically not a holiday movie, but just one that I recently ordered. It is not without it's flaws: there is a surplus of flower child fluffery that just seems stupid at this end of the lens of time, but James Coburn is a joy, as always, with his storky carriage and 3,000 teeth. The plot involves Coburn being tapped to assume the titular position and his descent into - justifiable - paranoia. 2 stars
Bell, Book & Candle (1958)
Jimmy Stewart and Kim Novak's second pairing - after Vertigo. She plays a witch in New York who sets her sights on Stewart's rather straight-laced publisher character after finding out he's due to wed an odious woman who was her nemesis in college. The casting is marvelous: Jack Lemmon as her brother, Elsa Lanchester as her aunt, Hermoine Gingold as the witch who makes him drink a horrible and chunky brew to break the spell and even Ernie Kovaks. My favorite holiday movie, and just one of my favorites, period. 5 jumbo stars
I zzzzzzzztttt the body electriczzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzztt. We're on about day 6 of dry and cold and electric. My garden looks like The Day After and the chickens are not thrilled with the ground being frozen solid. I have to go out in the morning and evening and bring their waterer in and unfreeze it, and schlep it out again - Urban Farmer that I am.
Yesterday the mobile pussy shaving unit rolled up, Dinsdale was carted out and emerged 45 minutes later a new man. I wish there was a van I could step into and come out in less than an hour and be the equivalent of 20 pounds lighter. I will post pictures on Monday. It's always like getting a new cat. He slept with me all night, which he never does when he's hairy. And Sammy didn't even hiss when Dinsdale came back in, with the requisite bow on his head that the groomer always insists on further insulting him with.
Life has settled down to being able to walk on both legs for the most part. It's the little things, and it's enough. I have had extra energy, courtesy of the steroids - the novelty of coming home after a day at the office and actually having additional bandwidth for my own bloody life - well, it doesn't happen often and I'm grateful. When you temporarily lose a standard function, you will eventually become cavalier after you regain it, but there is that grace period where such simple things are seen as the gifts they are.
Reprieve from affliction: OVER!

Ow. On Sunday I finished my steroid regime for the gout (or 'gouty arthrtis', as the prescription's accompanying literature called it: I can have happy days, jaunty days, pouty days and now, gouty days) and Monday morning it began to creep back until by mid-afternoon, I was barely ambulatory and only had to make it to the doctor's office, then to the the pharmacist, then the grocery store, driving all the while on the FOOT FROM HELL. I should probably go back to the pharmacists and say, you know, the other day, well, I'm sorry - but hell, if they're filling out an aggressive script for high levels of Prednisone and pain killers - I'll leave it up to them to put 2 and 2 together and throw me some slack. Home, I ripped open the bottles and glugged the requisite pills, evoking some Valley of the Dolls shit. At one point, I even tried breathing like apparently they teach you in child birth classes, thinking that may help and hoping I didn't inadvertently produce something from my labors, ha ha. All I got was a bemused look from the dog. But I have to say (and not for the first time): yaye for drugs! I woke up at 5, seemingly fully rested, foot completely back to normal. Of course, by the time I finish with this batch, I'll probably have a bad case of Jerry Lewis head (just Google: Jerry Lewis big head and you'll get a hit and see what I mean), but pain has no vanity. At least mine doesn't.

Reprieve from Affliction.*
This weekend I was imbued with alacrity, having almost no pain in my foot and being able to walk somewhat normally. I was able to lose the cane towards the end of the week, but I had developed a sort of swing/kick walk, very reminiscent of Ratzo Rizzo. I spent Saturday putting my dwelling in various levels of order. I schlepped to the hardware store and bought a couple of bags of top soil and created a little sheltered area for the girls to have their dirt bath. Last winter, I put a container full of soil in their coop for this purpose and in no time, everything had a layer of dirt on it, up to the ceiling, so I'm hoping we have luck with this outdoor option. The ground was frozen solid on Saturday, so the girls didn't have much to do but stand at the top of the steps and stare in at the back porch wistfully.
I worked on a piece that, like most of my paintings, has gone on for too fucking long. And, like most of my paintings, it's: paint, paint, paint, fuck up, correct, paint, paint, flow, fuck up, correct, fuck up, correct, hey, this is going to turn out really well, DAMMIT, fuck up, correct - you get the picture.

*Memento Mori Monday will return next week in it's regularly scheduled slot.
Back in the saddle again.Thanksgiving came and went, I went lame, I never did discover the source of my Amityville horror flies but now I'm back.
I went to a Thanksgiving dinner with a house full of strangers and children - neither ranks high on the comfort zone - add a whopping dollop of stone sobriety - and you have me, weird and wooden. But everyone was very nice and I even found the children charming, surprising myself, but I don't think they were your garden variety. One appears to be an inventive genius at his ripe age of 8-ish, another regaled us with violin playing after the meal. I made my grandmother's sweet potato pudding, which I over-sold and, of course, it didn't come out properly. There's probably a lesson in the sin of vanity or something in there.
The day after I woke up with a sore foot, which progressed that evening to wild hot unrelenting and unrelievable pain. Funny in the retrospect, as I was sort of sleeping and waking throughout the ordeal, so it was agggggghhhhhhhh, zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz, aaaaahhhhhhhHHHHHHH, zzzzzzzzzzz (drool), and so on. My friend Mary helped with getting me a prescription for meds and procuring me a cane from Goodwill. I improve incrementally every day. Yesterday was a big fat red letter day, as I was finally able to ease my foot into a shoe without whimpering. And, so what's your malfunction, you ask? Ah, more ignobilities.......It's probably gout. I KNOW!!! All perusing of the interwebs produce pictures of fat nobility in powdered wigs. I must say, though, that I kind of enjoy the cane. As a friend said: use it to walk, and - whack! - to make a point.