I must be getting old….

OK…  First up – I am a mature woman of a certain age so what I am venting about probably only makes sense to other people of a certain age…  Continue on dear reader – you have been warned…

What has happened to music in the last decade? How did it become normal and dare I say it, desirable, to dress like a hooker and “twerk” your way to infamy!  Why have we so lost sight of what actually constitutes talent?

I’m told by newspaper reports than Miley Cyrus is the most searched, highest paid “artist” on the planet at the moment.  I also heard on talkback radio that she is a true feminist because she doesn’t feel she has to conform or dress in any way appropriately – she’s empowered by her sexuality…  blah…blah… blah….

What a load of rubbish!  This is not talent – this is not empowerment – this is a young girl who, having exposed just about every part of her body to the world,  has nothing left in the larder.  It’s all out there, there is no allure or mystery.   To gain attention from now on she will probably have to come out and defecate live on stage…

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Miley is not a particularly good-looking or talented girl therefore she has to rely on shock value to keep her name in the paper, internet and on everyone’s lips.  She is a product of social media more than anything else and I find it difficult to even remind myself that she is, in fact , a human…  She has also made a ton of money of course but what will happen when the public is sick of her?  Will she implode in on herself?   Crumple to the ground ike a deflated balloon?  Her life basically useless at the age of 21?  Actually as I write she has recently been in and out of hospital suffering from the all encompassing ailment “exhaustion”

What actually happens to older pop tarts?

They get old and bitter like Madonna.  Desperate and unbalanced like Britney.  Pink has become the female equivalent of Liberace in Las Vegas – flying all over the stage…  Rihanna is now more famous for being bashed by her boyfriend and her almost lack of clothing than for a singing career and Kylie is just a little bit creepy, still talking about settling down and having kids as she unbelievably heads towards 50…

It’s happening as we speak to Lady Gaga.  Poor Gaga – she of the swallowing a crucifix and wearing dresses made of raw meat fame, she was the darling of them all.   And like a comet she tore across the sky then disappeared – pfftt…

Because of a bad back she was out of the limelight for what seemed only a few weeks and suddenly a newer, younger , different flavoured version appeared.  Now she just comes across as needy and desperate as she totters around on increasingly more bizarre shoes with even more ridiculous clothes on.  Her first album sold millions, her last sold only a fraction of that and looking at social media these days she is now very much yesterday’s woman and being despised for it.  It’s as if the world has seen they were duped and are embarrassed by it and are quickly moving away…

The most recent - desperation at its peak

The most recent outfit – desperation at its utmost…

And then on to my favourite – Justin Bieber – what can I say.  This little twerp is heading big time for the biggest fall of the century.   A little boy was discovered on YouTube cleverly channelling a pop star and suddenly thrust into an extraordinary career and lifestyle which he was so ill-prepared for.   The writing was on the wall from the first moment I spotted him –  I’m surprised he made it to nineteen…

An obnoxious brat idolised by eight year old girls is bad enough but when he starts believing in his own hype?   That is a recipe for disaster.  And away he goes, his career and private life predictably unravelling…  Recently booed at a Canadian awards show he didn’t even bother to turn up to, he is quickly falling from grace.   All the desperate “look at me” signs are there…  From covering himself in tattoos, drug taking, fast cars, pissing in public, spitting on his fans, being a smart arse in court  and playing the “don’t you know who I am?” card, this little tosser will be shortly pushed out of the limelight by the next big thing which will inevitably come along behind him.

Again, he has made a mountain of money but at what cost?  He is over-exposed and seen as a high maintenance brat – where does he go when all the adulation dies away…  And who really cares…

Here’s a scary thought though…  What come next?  Who comes next?  Will there be a total swing back to decent, pleasant, talented people in the coming generations?  Of course that will never happen.  What am I going to make of all of this in another decade?

I will qualify all of the above with the following observations:

Pop stars have come and gone throughout all my life time  – they used to drag out young men and women in the 50’s and 60’s and put them in a recording studio, poke them with a pin and here would be the next big heart-throb.  Bobby Vinton – Sealed With A Kiss, Blue Velvet, Ricky Nelson – Hello Mary Lou, Brenda Lee – I’m Sorry, Mary Wells – My Guy, Tommy Roe – Dizzy, Sweet Pea, Bobby Vee – The Night has A Thousand Eyes  – these are just a small example.  The difference is that all of these songs are still being played on commercial radio today somewhere in the world because they were genuinely good pop songs.  The artists also had respect for their audiences and there was very little, if any, scandal about them.  A lot of them are still performing to this day in some capacity.

I doubt very much if anything Justin, Miley or Gaga et al have recorded will be heard anywhere after a little while…  I can’t imagine compilations in 50 years time including F.U, Poker Face or Boyfriend.  There is no longevity in pop music any moreThe average attention span being what it is these days dictates everyone will get their 15 minutes of fame eventually.

Hey – Andy Warhol was right!

 

 

Gwynnie – just give it a rest…

What is it about Gwyneth Paltrow that sets everyone’s teeth on edge? She was perfectly lovely in Sliding Doors and I have to admit she’s been a pretty hot Pepper Potts in the Ironman movies.

I think what annoys everyone is her ridiculous sense of importance and that she feels entitled to advise us ordinary folks – you know – the masses – on how to live Gwynnies life.  Having checked out her website goop.com I was amazed to discover I have apparently been living my life completely wrong…  Gwyneth offers advice on what to eat, what to read, what to wear and how to decorate the house!  Gwyneth offers psychological insights regarding her spirituality but, artfully placed amongst all these higher meaning of life sermons, are ads for clothing, furniture and jewellery that only someone on a particular level of wealth could afford..  Look at me she’s saying –  I am earth mother but at the same time recommending cheeky little designer shorts at US$350.00 a pop that are so much fun  –  you could pair them with your US$3,500.00 bangles…

I think I started actively disliking her about the time when she won the Oscar for Shakespeare in Love depriving the worthier winner (in my opinion) Cate Blanchett  for Elizabeth. It was embarrassment all the way for the Academy that year.  Here was a frothy, light little movie with a frothy, light little actress appearing in it.  That she won the Oscar was staggering.  Her ridiculous ill-fitting dress and her ridiculous teary speech was cringe-worthy and I just thought to myself at the time – what a tosser…

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Obviously I wasn’t alone in my assessment and over the years the media has turned on her big time. All sorts of bizarre stories have done the rounds from her ordering staff to go a round trip of three hours to get her a particular sandwich,  to spraying colloidal silver (?) to keep germs at bay in her first class plane seat…  Calling her children peculiar names didn’t help her cause either.

At first glance Gwyneth is an attractive woman in a rather bland way – wholesome looking and pleasant to look at. But there is this underlying haughtiness that she cannot seem to shake off that makes her every utterance an annoyance. Eyes rolled worldwide when she started issuing such gems as:

“I would rather die than allow my child to eat Cup-a-Soup”

“When I pass a flowering zucchini plant in a garden, my heart skips a beat”

“We’ve got a wood-burning pizza oven in the garden — a luxury, I know, but it’s one of the best investments I’ve ever made.” (doesn’t everyone have one of these?).  

“Sometimes Harvey Weinstein will let me use the Miramax jet if I’m opening a supermarket for him.”

“Beauty fades! I just turned 29, so I probably don’t have that many good years left in me.”

“When you go to Paris and your concierge sends you to some restaurant because they get a kickback, it’s like, ‘No. Where should I really be? Where is the great bar with organic wine? Where do I get a bikini wax in Paris?”

This air of superiority comes out in everything she is involved with.  I read today that she describes herself as an actor, cookbook author and lifestyle guru! WTF?

I investigated this out of curiosity and found that the list of ingredients to live “her lifestyle” would cost up to $200.00 to purchase – per day!   Considering all the quinoa and natural honey you have to source should preferably be only minutes old and bathed in duck tears, at the very least I imagine you would also require your own chef or minion to do the shopping …

It was a clever career move to team her with Robert Downey Jnr. in the Ironman series as he brings out a more sparkly, likeable Gwyneth.  They appear to have a great rapport in the films and he seems to envelop her in a warmth she appears to lack.  Plus RDJ is just so likeable that I was actually starting to not mind her because she was sharing the screen with him

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Of course now she has blown all this good will to the scheissenhausen by releasing another ridiculous statement about “consciously uncoupling” from Chris Martin of Coldplay, her husband of 10 years.  This precious declaration continues on:

“blaming human beings’ lack of a protective exoskeleton and the lengthening of our lifespan since the upper Palaeolithic period to explain why relationship separations happen and why they are painful, defined ”conscious uncoupling” as a kinder, more generous approach to divorce. Rather than be angry with one another, couples should focus on learning from the negativity, bringing ”wholeness to the spirits of both people”

Obviously I’ve copied this from a press release – I mean who could actually remember all this shit?

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The social media world has predictably gone into meltdown over all the psychobabble and the popularity police have again given her the big thumbs down….  Once again Gwyneth just can’t get it right.  Once again she is the object of derision even during what must be a very painful time for her and her family…  I just want to say to her – do yourself and us a favour and just give it a rest…

Funnily enough Chris Martin comes out of this fairly unscathed. Apart from being called a “wanker” by Bono (Bono, mind you – people in glass houses mate…!) the general consensus seems to be he was sick of her lifestyle and embarrassed by her pretentiousness.

He and the kids probably just wanted a bag of chips and a sausage in front of the telly occasionally…

There are Possums on my Windowsill…

IMG_3959My husband and I are animal nuts.  We’ve got possums in our back yard.  And birds.  And we have eight cats.

Obviously these statements point to events unfolding with tedious inevitability…   Not necessarily so but boy, we are exhausted trying to make sure nothing happens to the little families that seek shelter in our yard…

Over the last 15 years we have had a steady stream of possums of both persuasions – the darling little Ringtails and their fragile babies to the enormous Brushtails with their hefty joeys on board.

The joy these visitors bring is indescribable.  Getting to see nature up close and personal is a privilege for us and having these beautiful creatures right on our window sill where they are safe and protected is a gift.

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Early on it was Ringtail Possums.  We installed a possum box in one of our trees and a little family happily lived there for a year until they were unceremoniously kicked out by a thuggish gang of Indian Minah birds.  Many months later it became clear it had been abandoned by the birds.  Sadly, on investigation,  we found a dead bird had been left there to decay so we pulled the whole thing down.

In the meantime we started to accumulate our feline family and they were only allowed out into the back garden if we were with them to ensure no carnage was about to be visited upon any of the local wildlife.  Water pistol trained from the start, they don’t jump on fences or climb up trees.  Generally they just happily sniff around and find a sunny spot to lie in until the sun goes down.  A bit of fun with some bugs or a daring moth or two keeps them entertained after dark until they grow bored and go back inside the house.

Felix, to his horror, managed to get his arms around a huge Magpie one day but, due to inexperience and fright, he let go and the Magpie flew off to our great relief.  Another of our boys, Tonto, sprung up in a move worthy of The Matrix and brought down just a few feathers from a very lucky Spotted Dove.

Our yard attracts loads of these rather silly birds who tend to congregate on the fence peering down with mildly stupid interest at the eight furry faces looking back up at them.  I’ve lost count of how many times we’ve had to jump up and shoo them away before the self-control shown by our cats is snapped…

We also have a family of Blackbirds who have successfully raised many chicks in and around our yard over the years.  Before anyone goes out into the yard during the hatching season, we check for nests and baby birds before the boys are let loose.

A few years ago, a Ringtail possum took a fancy to our upstairs spare-room window sill.  It’s a perfect spot, there is an outside canvas awning permanently pulled down so a nest can be built behind it without the fear of said nest toppling off the edge.  Also the only route there is by treetop and a last shimmy down the cord that’s used to pull the blind up and down.  Thus began a family dynasty.  Each year  a possum moves in and raises it’s young and then moves on.  We have the pleasure of their company throughout the summer months.

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At the same time each night they come make their way stealthily through the trees and head for their little home on our window sill.   If we happen to be sitting outside enjoying a summer BBQ our eight pussy cats are generally out there with us.  This is cause for much unease as the boys know the possums are there before we do and before long, one by one, eight sets of baleful eyes have cottoned on to something moving above their heads.

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We’ve only ever had two incidents involving the cats and luckily both times they had a happy ending.  One possum came very low once trying to take a shortcut and was clearly visible to all of us including our stunned cats.  Without thinking, Harry launched himself up the nearest tree only to find himself sheepishly looking back down at us all below as the possum melted away into the foliage.  Amid our shouts of “GET DOWN OUT OF THERE!” he shimmied back down the tree and, as though thoroughly embarrassed by his lack of control, sloped off back into the house.

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The closest call was last year when a little joey who had been left safely in the nest decided to be fearless and try out his climbing skills while mum was away collecting food.  We could see him from where we were sitting and ended up standing under the window sill in catch mode in case he fell.  We started to round up the cats, who had also noticed the little daredevil, and had managed to herd nearly all of them inside when we heard a soft thump on the stones beneath the silver birch tree that serves as the possum highway.  In a split second our Siamese cat Ollie tore past me into the house with something in his mouth!   With both of us running after him and screaming hysterically, Ollie luckily dropped his prize and bolted.  Under the coffee table lay a tiny baby Ringtail possum very much alive but completely stunned.  Holding this magical little creature gently in our cupped hands we checked over every inch to make sure nothing was broken and no blood was visible.  Cat saliva is deadly to possums and even a small bite can kill them.

Happily our little friend came out of his stupor and tried to nip Simon on the thumb.  This was a good sign so we took him back outside under the window sill and, perched precariously on a chair, Simon managed to reach the cord of the blind and nudged him on to climb back up into his nest.  The poor little thing was exhausted and it took him a huge effort but finally he made it and disappeared from our view to safety.

For the next few days we fretted and kept an eye on him and his mum to make sure he was none the worse for his adventure.  Luckily the little fellow survived and grew bigger each day…

Possum Nest

This year we have played host to an enormous Brushtail who swept in and completely remodelled the existing nest. She renovated it from a very cosy tube made of leaves with a rather fetching asparagus frond as a front door, to a large, spacious day bed.  Being so much bigger than the Ringtails, she spends her day lolling about, legs akimbo looking very relaxed and pleased with herself.  To our joy she also has a joey in her pouch and she allows him out on hotter days to cool off.  We assume it’s a boy for some reason – he looks like a boy and he’s very active crawling all over his mother while she is trying to sleep.

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At the time of writing we now have a positive motel happening on the window sill.  A little Ringtail has returned and sleeps there on alternate nights.  Last week, a new big male Brushtail was in residence for a few days.  It’s very exciting to gently open our shutters in the spare room on a daily basis and observe the private lives of our little guests.

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All of the photos here were taken by Simon and me.  Here’s hoping for many more…

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Ooh, ooh – I know that face…

They used to be called “character actors”  Those wonderfully interesting men and women who were in countless of your favourite films but who never became huge house-hold names.

My Mum and Dad educated me very early on as to the importance of these actors.  They were the backbone of the movies we watched and although they supported the big “stars”, they often stole every scene they were in.  We still love to watch old movies and pick out the faces that we know and love.

Here’s a little bit about some of my favourites…  How many do you remember?

William Demarest:

William Demarest

William Demarest (1892-1983)

I loved William Demarest.  I first saw him the The Jolson Story (1946).  I know just about all of his lines and wallow in the pleasure I get from watching him.  He always played the curmudgeon with a good heart and was tremendously likable in all his roles.  In this film he was Steve Martin, Al Jolson’s mentor and manager who was crucial to the story and a most thoroughly likable man.

I also spotted him recently in a Shirley Temple film Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm (1938) in a small but vital role as her stepfather who, although exploiting her terribly, had a heart of gold.  These memorable “character” roles that he reprised in over 140 films over a long and successful career made him a very well-known face in film even if you didn’t know his name…

Of course in later years on TV he was Uncle Charley O’Casey in My Three Sons which is probably what he is best remembered for these days…

Una O’Connor

Una O'Connor (1880-1959)

Una O’Connor (1880-1959)

This lovely Irish actress was in over forty major films and is best remembered by me as the deaf housekeeper Janet McKenzie in Witness For the Prosecution (1957).  She stole every scene she was in and is still a pleasure to watch.  Another memorable role was the lady’s maid Bess in The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938) where she ferociously protected Olivia de Havillands’ Maid Marion throughout the movie…

Ward Bond

Ward Bond (1903-1960)

Ward Bond (1903-1960)

Ward Bond was one of my all-time favourites.  He made over 200 movies and two dozen of those were with John Wayne.  I adored him in Rio Bravo (1959) but it was his turn as Reverend Captain Clayton in The Searchers (1956) that stood out the most.  He was a man’s man – big and burly and tough with a glint in his eye and he always stood out in all the films he appeared in.  He also appeared memorably in The Maltese Falcon (1941) and even had a role in Gone With The Wind (1939) amongst many other big films of the golden years of film.

In his latter years of course, he starred on TV as Major Seth Adams in Wagon Train (1957-1965) until his death at only 57 in 1960…

Eve Arden

Eve Arden (1908-1990)

Eve Arden (1908-1990)

I thought Eve Arden was the most striking looking woman and never more so than in Stage Door (1937) with Katharine Hepburn.  She wore a white cat draped around her neck for most of her scenes and effortlessly stole every one of them…   Eve Arden had a fabulous drawl and was memorable in so many films including Ziegfeld Girl (1941)and even had a tiny cameo alongside Jane Powell in Singing In The Rain (1952

Eve Arden also starred in her own TV show Our Miss Brooks (1952-1956) and in her later years was very much beloved in Grease (1977) and Grease 2 (1982) as Principal McGee!

Elisha Cooke Jnr.

Elisha Cook Jnr. (1903-1995)

Elisha Cook Jnr. (1903-1995)

I first saw Elisha Cook Jnr. in The Maltese Falcon (1941) which was his most famous role.  His character, the pathetic Wilmer, was a key player in the film and was typical of the roles Elisha Cooke Jnr. would go on to play for the rest of his life.  He was superb in The Big Sleep (1946) as the doomed Harry Jones and very memorable in Shane as an aggressive ex soldier.

He always played villains and weaklings and had such an expressive face he was noticed in just about everything he acted in…  Apparently he was a passionate fisherman in real life and lived in the High Sierra, only coming down to Hollywood to do a movie, then would disappear back up to his cabin until the next summons…

Spring Byington

Spring Byington (1886-1971)

Spring Byington (1886-1971)

Spring Byington was the ultimate mother figure in nearly every film she made starting with the best mother of all – Marmee March in Little Women (1933).  This set the tone for all future performances – a quiet, gentle motherly figure that added a warmth to every movie she appeared in.  She was also the mother in You Can’t Take it With You (1938) and went on to play in dozens of films and TV over her long career.

In her later years she appeared as Daisy Cooper, the loving housekeeper in the TV show Laramie (1961-1973) and had small roles in Denis the Menace, the Flying Nun and I Dream of Jeannie in the 1960’s…

Henry Silva

Henry Silva (1928- )

Henry Silva (1928- )

Henry Silva was typecast all his acting life as a heavy or villain because of his intense looks.  I found him thrilling to watch and loved him in the original Ocean’s 11 (1960) as one of the casino robbers.  He was also a successful gangster in the title role of Johnny Cool (1963).

My all time favourite role though was as the cold-blooded murderer Durrell in The Secret Invasion (1964).  The camera lingering on his face when he realised he had accidentally smothered a crying child he was holding while hiding from a German patrol was so moving and powerful – I never forgot that scene…

He has popped up over the years in various movies in cameos and on TV.  Still going strong at 85!

Thelma Ritter

Thelma Ritter (1902-1969)

Thelma Ritter (1902-1969)

Thelma Ritter was Birdie in All About Eve (1950) and that role defined her for many years as the sarcastic housekeeper, nurse, best friend or aunt for most of her movie career.  She was memorable as Clancy in With A Song In My Heart (1952) and as James Stewart’s’ nurse Stella in Rear Window (1954).

She also appeared in films as diverse a Pillow Talk (1959) and The Misfits (1961).  I loved her smart aleck persona and always enjoyed watching her on TV in her later career…

Jerome Cowan

Jerome Cowan (1987-1972)

Jerome Cowan (1987-1972)

I loved this actor.  Jerome Cowan was in over a hundred quality movies in his career but the most famous one was The Maltese Falcon (1941).  He played the doomed Miles Archer, business partner of Humphrey Bogart’s Sam Spade, in the best private eye film ever made.  He also starred as the unfortunate district attorney trying to prosecute Kris Kringle in Miracle on 34th Street (1947). 

Jerome Cowan always seemed to played lawyers, detectives and business managers and was often seen to great effect wearing a dinner suit.  He was very suave in films like Shall We Dance (1937) with Fred Astaire and Mr. Skeffington (1944) with Bette Davis.  Later on in his career he was successful in television in shows like Daniel Boon, The Munsters and The Real McCoys in the 1960’s…

Mary Astor

Mary Astor (1906-1987)

Mary Astor (1906-1987)

Mary Astor had a long and illustrious career as a supporting player before she became the standard mother figure in many of her later movies.  Early on she was the classic femme fatale Brigid O’Shaughnessy in The Maltese Falcon (1941) and the selfish concert pianist Sandra Kovak in The Great Lie (1941) with Bette Davis…  Her career declined after a scandal in her life and she went on to play parts she detested but lucky for us survive to be enjoyed today…

I love her performance as Anna Smith, the loving, patient mother in Meet me in St Louis (1944).  She was so elegant and a joy to watch.  She also played the other ultimate mother, Marmee March in the June Allyson version of Little Women (1949) and was wonderful in the role that had previously been owned by Spring Byington…

Edward Everett Horton

Edward Everett Horton (1886-1970)

Edward Everett Horton (1886-1970)

Edward Everett Horton appeared in many of the Fred and Ginger movies in the 30’s.  He was always the same character – nervous, pompous and flustered.  He was also the “sissy” which was code for a gay man in those days of early film.   His films included the Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers masterpieces The Gay Divorcee (1934, Top hat (1935) and Shall We Dance (1937)

He appeared in dozens of movies over his long career and I loved to watch him.  He was the master of the “double take” and his timing was perfect.  His last roles included the befuddled Hekawi medicine man Roaring Chicken in F Troop (1965) and Chief Screaming Chicken in Batman (1966)…

Celeste Holm

Celeste Holm (1917-2012)

Celeste Holm (1917-2012)

Celeste Holm was an elegant addition to so many films over her long career.  My absolute favourite is her role as the tranquil natured and very patient Karen in All About Eve (1950).  She held her own with the feisty Bette Davis and was one of the few that could draw your eyes away from Bette on film…

She also played opposite Frank Sinatra in High Society (1956) as photographer Liz Imbrie in another role in which she portrayed a sensible, down to earth character.  Celeste continued acting until her death at the age of 95 and her most memorable recent role was Mrs. Holden in Three Men and a Baby (1987).  She could also be seen on television in show such as Love Boat, Cheers and Magnum P.I…

Mike Mazurki

Mike Mazurki (1907-1990)

Mike Mazurki (1907-1990)

At 6 foot 5 inches tall ex professional wrestler Mike Mazurki was cast as the heavy his entire career.  His well-known face graced many films the most famous of which was Murder, My Sweet (1944).

He is best known though for his television work in the 60’s which included Daniel Boone, Gilligan’s Island, I Dream of Jeannie, Bonanza, Gunsmoke and Perry Mason.  He played the lovable goon or hapless gangster in most of those shows.

From 1966-67 he starred as Clon in a TV show about cavemen called It’s About Time which I loved as a child!

Mary Wickes

Mary Wickes (1910-1995)

Mary Wickes (1910-1995)

I loved watching Mary Wickes.  Her deadpan delivery and long gangly body made her perfect as the comic character in dozens of films over a very long and distinguished career.

I first saw her in Now Voyager (1942) as the nurse who memorably took on Bette Davis’ awful mother.  She also appeared in the Doris Day films On Moonlight Bay (1951) and By The Light of The Silvery Moon (1953).  Mary was in White Christmas (1954) and always played a variation of the same no-nonsense character.  On TV she was often on I Love Lucy in the 50’s and 60’s.  She made appearances in M.A.S.H and Murder, She Wrote…

Amongst her last roles were the very funny Sister Mary Lazarus in Sister Act (1992) and Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit (1993) which endeared her to a whole new generation of fans…

S. Z. (Cuddles) Sakall

S. Z. Sakall (1883-1955)

S. Z. Sakall (1883-1955)

S.Z. (Cuddles) Sakall was a lovely actor who throughout his career became typecast as the standard lovable European uncle or the confused shopkeeper or bar tender with an eye for the ladies…

His most famous role was as Carl the barman in Casablanca (1942) with Humphrey Bogart. He then went to have a long career basically playing the same befuddled character as he did in Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942) and The Dolly Sisters (1945)

Cuddles was also in a lovely Judy Garland/Van Johnston movie called In The Good Old Summertime (1949) which was a musical remake of The Shop Around The Corner (1940). 

Gladys Cooper

Gladys Cooper (188-1971)

Gladys Cooper (188-1971)

Who can forget Gladys Cooper as Bette Davis’ manipulative mother Mrs. Henry Vale in Now Voyager (1942).  She was pure evil and stood out in a fabulous film as the great character actress she truly was…

She also played nice outgoing people as well – Beatrice Lacy in Rebecca (1940) and the delightfully dotty Mrs Higgins in My Fair Lady (1964) where she was Henry Higgins mother…

She was back to menacing in The Secret Garden (1949) as Mrs Medlock.    I still try to catch any film that has Gladys Cooper in it – you’re never quite sure which one you will get – the good or the bad…

Franklin Pangborn

Franklin Pangborn (1889-1958)

Franklin Pangborn (1889-1958)

Franklin Pangborn specialised in playing the prissy, fussy, officious figure in hundreds of films.  He was so enjoyable to watch and usually played the desk clerk in the hotel in movies starring everyone from W.C. Fields to Fred Astaire to Bette Davis…  He was also considered a gay icon in his day and occasionally could be seen swapping what was considered some fairly risqué banter at the time…  Some of his memorable roles were in Flying Down To Trio (1933), Shop Around The Corner (1938) and Now Voyager (1942).  I always enjoy a movie all the more if Mr. Pangborn is in it!

There are so many more people I could add to this list but where do I stop!

I hope you enjoyed my reminiscences about my favourite character actors – their flickering images bring them back to life so we can enjoy them over and over again for generations to come…

So Much Music, So Little Time…

 

Over the years I have seen loads of bands both local and international. This is a list, in no particular order, of some of those artists…  it’s as much for my benefit – sometimes I can’t remember who we’ve seen live over the years….

When I look back I’m not really surprised at the diversity – I love all types of music – I guess you can see that for yourselves!

The venues range from the Dallas Brooks Hall to the Rod Laver Arena….

From Festival Hall to the Iceland Skating Rink!

From Southside 6 Hotel to The Palais in St. Kilda….

From the Glasshouse to the National Theatre…

From the Melbourne Zoo Twilights to The Thornbury Theatre

And so on…

Many venues were wonderful – some not so wonderful… At any rate I don’t think there were many concerts I didn’t enjoy….

And I’ve got so many more to see!

  • Axiom
  • Spectrum
  • Chain
  • Zoot
  • The Valentines
  • Master’s Apprentices
  • Billy Thorpe & The Aztecs
  • The Town Criers
  • Daddy Cool
  • The Beatles Classical Experience
  • The Daley-Wilson Big Band with Vince Jones
  • The Great Guitars – Barney Kessel Herb Ellis and Charlie Byrd
  • Kate & Anna McGarrigle
  • Oscar Peterson
  • Joe Pass & Herb Ellis
  • The L.A Four – Ray Brown, Bud Schank, Shelley Mann and Laurindo Almeida
  • The Modern Jazz Quartet
  • Leon Redbone
  • Leo Kottke
  • Eric Bogle
  • Ralph McTell
  • Lloyd Cole
  • Ravi Shankar
  • Arial
  • Mary O’Hara
  • The Buddy Rich Big Band
  • Gordon Lightfoot
  • Thin Lizzy
  • Jose Feliciano
  • Bob Marley & the Wailers
  • Doug Parkinson
  • Madder Lake
  • The George Shearing Trio
  • Darryl Cotton
  • James Morrison
  • Edie Gorme
  • Steve Lawrence
  • Ottmar Leibert
  • Phil Collins
  • Peter Gabriel
  • Coldplay
  • The Eagles
  • Michael Buble
  • Elton John
  • Joan Armatrading
  • Archie Roach
  • Joe Cocker
  • The Chieftains
  • Jackson Brown
  • Tim Freedman
  • The Moody Blues
  • Frank Sinatra
  • Crosby, Stills and Nash
  • John Hiatt
  • Brandi Carlile
  • Nanci Griffiths
  • The Little Stevies
  • Simply Red
  • Ruthie Foster
  • Eric Bibb
  • Danny Thompson
  • Kristina Olsen
  • Russel Morris
  • John Swan
  • Gillian Welch & David Rawlings
  • Mike Compton
  • David Long
  • Bob Carlin
  • Emmylou Harris
  • Lloyd Cole & The Commotions
  • Wendy Matthews
  • James Taylor
  • Victor Borge
  • The Fureys
  • The George Shearing Trio
  • Dolly Parton
  • Paul Kelly
  • Melbourne Symphony Orchestra
  • David Gray
  • David Bowie
  • The Angels
  • Jordie Lane
  • Madder Lake
  • Doug Parkinson in Focus
  • The Rock Doctors
  • Wendy & The Rockets
  • Uncanny X-Men
  • Osibisa
  • Rene Geyer
  • Leo DeCastro
  • The Classical Spectacular with The Melbourne Symphony Orchestra
  • The Legendary Count Basie Orchestra
  • Paul Kelly
  • Neil Finn
  • Iris DeMent
  • Neko Case

Music takes me way back in time…

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Even as a small child music has affected me very deeply. I can close my eyes and be taken back to a particular time in my life just by hearing a snippet of a song from the year…

The 50’s

Hank Williams really was the voice of the 50’s in our family. I think I was probably rocked to sleep by Hank’s voice as a baby. The Grand-daddy of them all – simply the best country singer and writer of his time. I always get goose-bumps when I hear “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry”. I also seem to know every word of every song he ever sang – it must be embedded in my psyche…

hank williams

The 60’s

I think my earliest memories were from the early 60’s – if I hear “Telstar” by The Tornados I am transported back to a particular house we lived in when we emigrated from Scotland. It was above a shop and I had my 6th birthday there…

Another one from that time was Andy Williams “Can’t Get Used To Losing You” and Ned Miller’s “From A Jack To A King” The radio must have been on all day as I can’t seem to recall there not being music playing all the time.

I was exposed at a very young age to Country and Western Music which both my parents adored. “Five Feet High and Rising” by Johnny Cash is an early memory.  Johnny Cash was the biggest star at that time and we had recordings of him and June Carter singing with the Carter Family.  I still remember them to this day and have loads of Johnny on my iPOD!

Johnny cash

Of course in 1964 The Beatles exploded on to the scene…! I still have every single Beatles song ever recorded – they changed the world for me. I learnt to harmonise by singing along with all their songs and in particular singing Paul McCartney’s part… The Beatles harmonies are spectacular – to this day I can’t help but automatically sing the thirds harmony when a song comes on…

The Beatles - the best

The Beatles – the best

“I Saw Here Standing There” and “I Should Have Known Better” are the two tracks that conjure up visions of the ’60’s for me in the most powerful way… I can close my eyes and remember vividly the sights and smells of the time…

Then came The Monkees… Rushing home from school every night to watch their show on television. “Daydream Believer” and “Last Train To Clarksville” are the songs that trigger that time in my life..

The Monkees

The Monkees

We went psychedelic! The Youngbloods “Get Together” and “For What It’s Worth” by Buffalo Springfield. They represent the late ’60’s for me and the turmoil in the world at that time… Then came Woodstock in 1969 – I saw it as a young teenager at the movies and have never forgotten the thrill of all the best artists of the era performing at the one place… I can still listen to Joe Cocker singing “With A Little Help From My Friends” and get a shiver down my spine…

jo cocker

And let’s not forget Jimi Hendrix – the man who changed rock guitar singlehandedly – he is still voted one of the best guitarists in the world 43 years after his death…

Woodstock - a new era...

Woodstock – a new era…

The 70’s

Thinking about the 70’s… So many songs stand out for me in that decade. At High School listening to “Day After Day” by Badfinger and “My Sweet Lord” by George Harrison. “Band of Gold” by Freda Payne and “Without You” by Harry Nilsson.

harry-nilsson

Then of course there was The Moody Blues – my whole life from the mid 70’s onward included a background track of Moody Blues songs… Those early albums are still wonderful and I still hark back to my hippy days in Queensland when I hear “Tuesday Afternoon” and “Lovely To See You”

The Moody Blues

The Moody Blues

Pink Floyd also got a run in there with “The Dark Side Of The Moon” – the entire album of course, and “Wish You Were Here” – these albums were on full rotation any time of the day or night and they still resonate as strongly today… The lilting acoustic guitar on the track “Wish You Were Here” is still one of my favourite progressions…

Which one's Pink?

Which one’s Pink?

Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours album also takes me magically back to a time spent in Mackay when I was 21 years old – the song “Dreams” is the one that always does it for me…

Thunder only happens when it's raining.....

Thunder only happens when it’s raining…..

Then came Supertramp, Boston, Electric Light Orchestra, Doobie Brothers – big powerful soaring ballads – every time I hear “Mr. Blue Sky” by ELO I am intantly transported back to the late 70’s when I met my future husband.  This was on high rotation in his car on an 8-track cartridge player… Cool!

elo

The 80’s

Ah – the 80’s – time of massive shoulder pads and big hair – and that was on the women!

New Romantic bands emerged like Flock of Seagulls, Spandau Ballet, Ultravox and Duran Duran. But for me the best new sound was The Cure – “A Forest” and “Boys Don’t Cry” Also “Lovecats” and “Charlotte Sometimes”

Robert Smith from The Cure

Robert Smith from The Cure

Oh – and of course there was Dire Straights – “Walking In The Wild West End” and Wang Chung – “Dance Hall Days” – the list goes on… I only have to hear a handful of these songs and I’m back in Echo Beach – Far away in time….

Mark Knopfler from Dire Straights

Mark Knopfler from Dire Straights

Simply Red’s “If You Don’t Know Me By Now” was the constant background song for our 1989 trip to Europe – every juke box seemed to be playing it… That and “Bamboleo” by the Gipsy Kings – this was our soundtrack around Europe…

The 90’s

Hmmm – now it starts to get a bit trickier – the musical saturation that came from the radio on all day was subtly altered… I can’t put my finger on when it happened but I woke up one morning to find I didn’t know a lot of the songs being played and I didn’t particularly like what I was hearing…

There were exceptions of course – Prince, U2, Crowded House, Coldplay – there were fantastic albums usually with a hot single – “Rasberry Beret” from Prince, “Yellow” from Coldpay etc…

David Gray struck in the mid 90’s with White Ladder – I still get a kick out of remembering the first day I heard “Babylon” on the radio in the car…

"I've been talking drunken gibberish"...

“I’ve been talking drunken gibberish”…

The 90’s were also the sound of Whitney Houston – who can forget “I Will Always Love You”. The band Travis were another standout for me – “Why Does It Always Rain On Me” .

Radiohead’s “Creep” and Red Hot Chilli Pepper’s “Scar Tissue” – these were interesting bands and a refreshing change from the dross we were now subjected to on commercial radio… The one for me though that shouts 1990’s is “Bittersweet Symphony” by The Verve

The Verve

The Verve

So that’s as far as I can go for now – I think I’ll leave it there – there’s so much more music to talk about of course but that feeling of hurtling back though time and space to a particular year seems to have levelled off these days… May be in the next few years I’ll have some more lightning bolts to add… In fact I’m sure I will…