Showing posts with label birthday. Show all posts
Showing posts with label birthday. Show all posts

Saturday, November 26, 2022

Charles Schulz at 100




Today marks the 100th birthday of cartoonist Charles Schulz, creator of pop culture force, comic strip and animation favorite Peanuts.  

The Peanuts characters are embedded into American and Western culture in ways that will mean they last for a few more generations at minimum - becoming indelibly associated with holidays thanks to cartoons playing each year for the past nearly 60 years.  These days, the cartoons live on over on Apple+, but there's also plenty of decoration and ornamentation that includes the staple characters, and who doesn't know the beats and moments of the specials, even if just by osmosis?

When Apollo 10 was mounting up, NASA asked to use Snoopy as their safety mascot.  Since, they've adopted Snoopy as a mascot for safety writ large and just kind of in general.  Even as we cross this 100th birthday, there's a Snoopy doll floating around inside Artemis as it circles the moon.  That's pretty amazing.  

Of course it all started with a comic strip, and Schulz drew almost 18,000 installments over 50 years.  He created household names, concepts (Lucy pulling the football away, kite-eating trees), brought diversity to the comics page and delivered a lot of joy into people's lives.  In an era of splintered interests, it's hard to understand how something like a daily comic strip could cross generational, geographic and sociological divides as a surprisingly smart reflection of the world.  

Schulz himself went by "Sparky", a name picked up from a comic strip, Barney Google (Spark Plug was the name of a horse in the strip).  He had comics in his blood and managed to keep his strip on track, and the translations of his characters to other media remarkably consistent.  It's hard to imagine fifty years of work, but he did it.  And the strips still run in papers across the country.

Schulz passed on February 12, 2000, but here we are, with Snoopy circling the moon.  Let's hope there's a Snoopy snack bar when folks are living up there.






Monday, November 14, 2022

Veronica Lake at 100



Today marks the 100th Birthday of Veronica Lake, actor, singer and performer.  

Though her career in Hollywood was brief, and - by all accounts - something she was never all that interested in, Lake starred in and helped make a handful of films that are considered among the canon of Hollywood classics, including Sullivan's Travels, I Married a Witch, This Gun for Hire, The Blue Dahlia, The Glass Key and others.  

It's highly likely that even if you never saw any of those movies, you've seen Veronica Lake's picture included in some constellation of 1940's-era Hollywood stars or mentioned here or there.  Or recall that Kim Basinger was supposed to resemble her closely in the film LA Confidential (ymmv whether this is accurate).  You may only know the swooping blonde wave that was her trademark, partially obscuring her face, which has become a curious and continuing symbol of sexiness that's endured well past Lake as household name.  I mean, of the Voltron-like assemblage of 1940's sex and glam ideas that informed Jessica Rabbit, that swoop was there.  

In the films in which I've seen Lake (all of those lifted above) you immediately understand how she became a star.  Physically, she's the combination of beautiful and striking that the camera tends to love and, the moment they enter the frame, you know something about the character.  There's not really a thread for you to say "oh, that's a real Veronica Lake-type role", but the sly smarts she brings to each character, and wise-to-the-world knowingness works exceedingly well in her noir appearances.  In the two comedies, she's absolutely game for some heavy lifting to get the job done.  

For a brief time, Lake was very popular.  So much so that the government asked her to change her hairstyle to encourage young women to follow suit as - and as far as I know this is true - they were getting their hair caught in the machinery they were now working as part of the WWII industrial machine.  


Lake's life was deeply complicated by virtue of a controlling mother and the studio trying to run her life.  The best way to hear about it is via the You Must Remember This episode on the the topic.  After leaving Hollywood, she disappeared into obscurity only to be re-discovered by an intrepid reporter who found her working as a cocktail waitress.  Following this, she did see an uptick in public sentiment and was promoting her memoirs when she was diagnosed with issues stemming from her years of alcoholism and passed in 1973, at about 51 years of age.  

Some talent want the Hollywood life and stardom, some want to work as much and hard as they can, and some wind up in front of the camera seemingly by mistake and indifferent to the whole affair.  And all of them can be amazing on screen, and all of them can vanish on different timelines and a variety of reasons.  I don't think there's any particular motivation or background that matters much once the klieg lights are thrown on and the camera is in focus.  In the case of Lake, everyone but her may have wanted to see her on screen.  But once there, she had the charisma to make up for anything she lacked in theatrical training and the natural energy that the audiences adored.  

Anyway, we'll be watching one of her first big roles on Friday with The Gun For Hire, her first of several pairings with Alan Ladd, and a great crime film.  

Friday, October 21, 2022

Saturday, October 8, 2022

Happy Birthday, Sigourney Weaver


Happy Birthday to the great Sigourney Weaver, the one person I think we can all agree on.  Who doesn't think Sigourney Weaver is the best?  Well, I don't want to hear about it if you don't.  The problem is you, not Sigourney Weaver.

Anyway, she's the absolute best and I hope she has a terrific birthday.



Tuesday, September 20, 2022

Happy Birthday, Sophia Loren



Happy Birthday to Sophia Loren, who may have been the one to first inspire the phrase "great googledy-moogledy"


Sunday, September 18, 2022

Happy Belated Birthday, Cassandra Peterson




Happy Birthday to one of the greats of the Signal Watch faves pantheon, Cassandra Peterson!

This year, we read Peterson's memoir, Yours Cruelly, Elvira: Memoirs of the Mistress of the Dark.  And, kids, it is a wild @#$%ing ride.  

Here's to Ms. Peterson living her best life.  

Wednesday, August 17, 2022

Happy Birthday, Lois Lane

Apparently I have it in my Google Calendar that today is Lois Lane's birthday.

Happy birthday to the world's greatest reporter!






Tuesday, August 16, 2022

Happy Birthday, Madonna




Happy Birthday to Madonna Ciccone of Bay City, Michigan.

Here's to the person who kept me with one ear on pop music during my grumpier years and both eyes on MTV for years upon end.  Heck, seeing the video for Lucky Star is one of my seminal memories as a kid, and I probably need a series of lengthy therapy sessions to work through Express Yourself and Take a Bow.  

She's got a new album out there (of remixes, I think) and currently is going through a new look I have several questions about, but we'll always have Open Your Heart.




Thursday, August 11, 2022

Happy Birthday, Peter Cushing


Today marks the birth anniversary of English actor Peter Cushing.  Cushing was a familiar face to generations the UK, the US and across the world thanks to his starring roles on Hammer horror films, playing a truly demented Dr. Frankenstein across many films, a noble but crisp Dr. Van Helsing, Sherlock Holmes, and - of course - as Grand Moff Tarkin in Star Wars: A New Hope.  

Cushing has become one of those actors where I now say "Cushing is in that?  Well, let's watch it."  And I'm never disappointed in a single moment of him on screen.

He was also a very humble gentleman who came to fame in his 40's, and always seemed to have his feet on the ground.  Cushing was also quick to make friends with his co-stars and colleagues, and he worked numerous times with Christopher Lee, and befriended the likes of Vincent Price and others who were kings of the horror film world.  

I always find it intriguing that, in his downtime, Cushing made miniatures and models of all sorts of things.  

Anyway, happy birthday, Peter Cushing!  You are missed.

Tuesday, August 2, 2022

Happy Birthday, Myrna Loy

 


Today marks the 117th anniversary of the birth of Myrna Loy.  If you don't know Myrna Loy, I am happy to help you fix that.  She's the absolute best.  


Saturday, July 30, 2022

Happy 75th Birthday, Arnold Schwarzenegger



Today marks the 75th birthday of Arnold Schwarzenegger - champion of physical culture, movie star, politician, and guy who lets hoofed animals into his house.  He's kind of everyone's weird uncle, and I respect that.

It's no secret that Arnie is one of my childhood favorite movie stars, and someone whose work I followed well into adulthood.  These days he's keeping busy with any number of acting gigs, promoting physical wellness and being an okay guy.  His occasional newsletter is always a boot in my ass to get out there and get my heart rate up, and his pointed messages to his fans about not being a heel are truly inspiring.  

I understand Arnie is a complex guy and has a checkered history.  So say we all.  But I also think he's using this chapter in his life to be the best version of himself, and I think that's worth acknowledging, too.  

Here's to Arnie!  May he curl some slices of cake today.

Here's some discussion of Schwarzenegger films we've covered on the PodCast!

Thursday, July 28, 2022

Happy Birthday, Elizabeth Berkley Lauren



Well, well.  Someone else has a birthday today for us to celebrate. 

Y'all put on a second party hat for my high school TV crush and prime reason I watched the all-new Saved By the Bell (which everyone but me slept on, I think, but it was waaaay better than I expected), Ms. Elizabeth Berkley Lauren, seen above - reminding you she has a very nice black coat.

Here's hoping Ms. Berkley Lauren is having a smashing birthday.

And I hope someone watched that new Saved By the Bell to see she's developed her comedy chops since the 90's and would fit well in many a new show or movie.

Happy Birthday, Hannah Waddingham




Today marks the birthday of Emmy award winning actor, singer, performer, and all-around good idea, Hannah Waddingham.  Here's hoping she has a great one.

Sunday, July 24, 2022

Happy Birthday, Lynda Carter



Happy Birthday to patron saint of The Signal Watch, Ms. Lynda Carter!

Just yesterday, I moved some stuff around and began putting all my Lynda Carter Wonder Woman stuff in one place.  I'm not done yet, so no pics.  But, as always, Ms. Carter was on my mind.  Just more so than usual.

Ms. Carter has had an extraordinarily tough year, losing both her husband and father. That's incredibly hard, and we wish her well.

But in recent months she's been active on social media and she's also released a new song, dedicated to her husband, Robert Altman.  It's a romance from Wonder Woman's POV - in both original flavor and dance remix.  And, she's set to participate in the next Wonder Woman film, which this blog endorses 1000%.  

Here's to Lynda Carter, and may she have spent the day with her family and friends.  



Friday, July 1, 2022

Happy Birthday, Debbie Harry




Today is the birthday of Debbie Harry, Queen of Pop Punk.  

I'm a Blondie fan and a Debbie Harry fan.  That's all I have to say about that lest I start to wax rhapsodic.  

She's the absolute best.










Tuesday, June 21, 2022

101st Anniversary of Jane Russell Existing



One-hundred-one years ago today, Ernestine Jane Geraldine Russell joined us on this weird orb flinging through the otherwise uncaring cosmos.  Her arrival and subsequent Jane Russell-ness was and remains a sign that maybe the universe isn't the meaningless void one might otherwise assume.  

Russell is still generally well remembered by the public, if for no other reason for most folks as a co-star in the classic Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.  But Russell was a major star in her own right.  She's a natural in front of the camera, a talented comedic and dramatic actress, can sing and dance, and was game for all sorts of scripts.  Paired with Robert Mitchum in a few films, she's met her equal and acting partner - I highly recommend the ill-titled His Kind of Woman, which is just a hell of a movie, and then move on to Macao.  

I'd highly recommend you check out her work some time.  
 



Saturday, June 11, 2022

Judy Garland at 100



June 10th marked the 100th anniversary of the birth of Frances Ethel Gumm, who we all know as Judy Garland.  

Garland was a star from almost the time she could walk, and was a performer of stage and screen until her untimely passing just 12 days after her 47th birthday.  I am now older than Judy Garland ever was.

I would be very curious to know what the average person on the street thought of Garland during the 1940's til her death.  To put it mildly, her life was tumultuous.  And I am sure the movie magazines and gossip columns covered that, but most people couldn't have known much about her issues at work and at home.  She simply had to have been a given - she had been on screen since before The Wizard of Oz, and even if she disappeared for a while, she always seemed to return, whether it was television or stage shows.  

But the studios seemed literally cruel to her, in ways that anyone should share with their starry-eyed kids considering a career in show-biz, both in front of and behind the lens.  But in the end, though she's been gone for almost 53 years, she's still a draw, whether it's folks tuning in for Easter Parade or Meet Me in St. Louis or The Harvey Girls or Wizard of Oz.  A few people can name directors or studio chiefs, but folks will still stop to see what Garland is doing on screen.  

I don't know if it's a triumph or a tragedy.  But you also can't imagine movies without her.




Saturday, April 16, 2022

Happy Birthday Kareem Abdul-Jabbar


As a kid, I was an NBA nut.  And because it was the 1980's, I watched the Lakers.  Chances were always good they were in the playoffs or the Finals.  But I watched them, the Pistons, the Bulls and the Rockets when I could (I would become a real Rockets fan when I moved back to Houston in 1990) all season long.  

I liked most of the guys you think of from that era, but my favorite Laker was always Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.   I made the crucial mistake of trying to imitate his play as a 6'3" kid, but I did play center and I wore glasses, and it all made sense in my head.  But my skyhook was not Kareem's skyhook.  And my defense was not his.

Of course, Kareem is one of the intellectuals of the NBA.  And that had an impact on me as a kid.  I understood that, like Muhammad Ali, he had abandoned his birthname of Lou Alcinder.  I understood why.  Those are both big things when you're a kid, but also helps frame it in a way that's understandable and something you're keen to appreciate when you know that's part of the story of someone you look up.  

I knew Kareem was a reader and a smart guy, and I have delighted in his post NBA career as a sort of wise elder.  I mean, no one is going to Bill Laimbeer or Dennis Rodman to get their take on current events.  They aren't writing excellent think pieces that show up in the news.  



If I met Kareem today, though, I'd probably just ask him about making The Fish that Saved Pittsburgh, and if he'd rewatched it lately.  

Anyway, I had a lot of sports heroes as a kid, but Kareem was always the top of the list.  

Its been wild watching the current series Winning Time about the people and forces that combined to become the Lakers you know and love, and to see Kareem dramatized by Solomon Hughes in a way that feels like maybe it could be right (but you'd have to ask the man himself).  

Anyway, happy 75th to one of the best in the game.  

Tuesday, April 12, 2022

PODCAST 193: "Chances Are" (1989) - a Birthday Exchange Movie Discussion w/ Jamie and Ryan




Watched:  04/10/2022
Format:  Amazon
Viewing: First
Decade:  1980's
Director:  Emilie Ardolino




NSFW! In retaliation for his selection, Jamie busts out a mostly-forgotten late-80's magical-realism romantic comedy that really draws some interesting lines in the sand for what it thinks are totally fine ideas to put into a movie. Thrill to Jamie and Ryan pondering how this was a mainstream movie that went without comment at the time.


SoundCloud 


YouTube


Music:
After All - Cher and Peter Cetera
Chances Are - Johnny Mathis


Jamie's Cinema Classics

47

 "Needle"
Middle Kids



Dream wives pushing up their prices
Even though it's a dying trade
Cool hands sticking to their guns
Hoping it'll keep them safe

They're eyeing off each other
Hoping to discover the only needle in the hay
But the sun's gone down and they're feeling around
With palms stretched open skimming the ground
I was hoping that things were better since we're all so clever

Quick cash filling up the pockets
Of the most boring men in the room
Red lips, the promise of kisses
Whisper sweet nothingness

They're eyeing off each other
Hoping to discover the only needle in the hay
But the sun's gone down and they're feeling around
With palms stretched open skimming the ground
And you're sitting high above it
Modern comfort is always having something to say
And a million artists have come to this in the past years
Tired and hungry, laughing through tears
I was hoping that we'd feel better since we're all so clever

You look better in the spring
(The violins play the rite of it)
I see you ever considering
Packing up your things and driving into the sea

We're eyeing off each other
Hoping to discover the only needle in the hay
But the sun's gone down and we're feeling around
With arms stretched open skimming the ground
I was hoping that things were better
I was hoping that things were better
I was hoping that things were better since we're all so clever