“You can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time.” ~ Abraham Lincoln
“Whoopsy daisy!” ~ Bill the Butcher
“Strange things are happening!” ~ Red Buttons
Attempting to pound out yet another nostalgia column–even when the future glowers upon the horizon….eager to either rain or shine upon all of us–challenges me as a supremely tricky proposition! Especially vexing would be the daily FACT that due to the age of my Dell computer, saddled with Windows 10 plus the cyber airWAVES emanating and mood-swinging from one nearby teensy Hoosier resort town headquartered in a spot called North Webster plus omnipresent red-light-blinking in overdrive on my newest modem, I am forced to pontificate–between the acidic raindrops of erratic fate. My emails, my blogs, my Facebook friends, my googling? Here today! Gone tomorrow!
I had planned to wax nostalgic regarding Crooked Lake Golf Course, founded I presume in 1927 by maybe Laurel and Gertie Weeks (close enough), the club pro and his gardening wife with the glorious bean field. Holes-in ones, whiffs, divots, eagles, bogies, shouts of FORE, hills, valleys, sand traps, dog-legs…and me being allergic to the local locale because I always got disciplined (almost unreasonably as in being instructed how to drive not just a ball but the precious family automobile) to keep my head down and my left arm straight by my seasoned golfist dad OR by my rather un-golfist left-handed southpaw hubby-dubby, “Do you think you own the course? And hotpants are not appropriate sports gear!” (I loved traversing the fairways any which way I wished…EVERYWHICH WAY BUT LOOSE…and going barefoot and wearing as little as possible because I sweat profusely! I compare myself…not whining here…to Lee Trevino as in my Pepsi bottle is half full! Golf aficionados will understand that reference…the rest of my readers…all half dozen or so of them… must google!) Mark Twain and I concur that “Golf is a good walk spoiled…”
However, from my favorite sportsy position imaginable, being that of couch potato, I just this moment guffawed at comedian Red Buttons (who MUST be the birth father of overly serious Sean Penn)–guest of Johnny Carson (Antenna Retro TV) who laughed uncontrollably, too, at Buttons’ “New” line of get well cards. Red announced that Johnny soon would be absent from even more telecasts than usual…but this time due to hospitalization for purposes of cloning another version of himself who could sub for himself when he himself was not actually hosting. Several of the actual cards’ messages have me still laughing! Dr. Sigmund Freud screeching,” Leave my office immediately! You are sick!” AND Cleopatra‘s mother demanding, “Cleo, get your dog and your cat and your ASP outta bed now!” AND…”The jolly chartreuse giant claims there is nothing like a good pea to cure what ails you!” Oh, and one more,” the doc informs his patient THE INVISIBLE MAN, ‘Well you appear fine to me!’ “
Thus, pardon me as I devolve into the no-no , verboten stream-of-consciousness pattern which I so love and feel comfortable with not dissimilar to the style of the Nobel Prize Winning, high school drop-out, novelist/ screen-writer William Faulkner and also in deference to my admiring predisposition I confess I harbor toward THE Donald Trump whom I half the time admire for telling it LIKE IT IS and not ever allowing himself to be pushed around or manipulated…we are only separated in age by one month. I planned to share that I became so intimidated by golf carts and foursomes and unattractive cleated shoes one sunny Saturday afternoon at Crooked Lake that I insisted that Danny Curless and his buddies precede hubby and myself on hole number one which alternates from a hilltop position past a heavily forested dog leg…to a teeing-off straight down the fairway shot directed in a lazier, sissier path toward the flag. Guess what? Curless slammed into the jungle and may still be there to this day? And he was a high school basketball stand-out once upon a time. After a pregnant pause, I blasted that dimpled little mercurial ball nearly into the cup…only the erect flag in the way of my newsworthiness…and nobody but competitive hubby witnessed my surprising, once in a lifetime, inspirational athleticism? And I am S**t outta luck because Don generally refuses to discuss my more notable achievements in one way or another. (The War Between Men and Women ongoing until Hillary finally wins her spot in history I am certain…three cheers for her imminent victory!)
Which brings my wandering thought process ala Faulkner around to (double preposition) … (Oh, BTW do read THE SOUND AND THE FURY–do it for me!) where I may be headed. Recently, we attended Roy’s Penny Seats Theatre Company’s summertime musical in the park, XANADU! I wore my newest, very best t-shirt. Daniel Day Lewis as Bill the Butcher leers from my chest as he emotes in GANGS OF NEW YORK…facetiously he is labelled PATRIOT! Cinema addicts “get” it…a handsome Middle-Easterner in Ann Arbor exited a café exclaiming that he “LOVED” my shirt! SOOOOO, we began to discuss the actor and that Oscar winner’s portrayal of LINCOLN. I suggested that unless Daniel stars as an absolute fiend, his performances are lame…and that particular film about Abe I considered cloying, ornate, florid, and too “Perils of Pauline-ish” with only Jared Harris as Ulysses S. Grant and Tommy Lee Jones as whomever and Sally Field as screwy Mary Todd Lincoln to be up to snuff so to speak. “Whoops a daisy!”
Okay now, that brings me full circle to my explanation of my title this go ’round, IF, “dear reader people”, you are still with me as I wind down… I have adored Daniel Massey since Santa brought me the long-playing cast album SHE LOVES ME in the early 60s….I memorized each and every song and the orchestral bridges…and recently reveled in Laura Benanti’s scene-stealing performance at the Roundabout Theater. The show got streamed online on BroadwayHD, and the antagonism reverberating between her leading man and herself reminded me of the “Donald/Hillary Show“ which we all enjoy…in spite of ourselves. As I navigated the rooms of my childhood home which I am still stuck in as the only immediate surviving relative (and which is overflowing with memorabilia which I have poured through for the repurposed BLUE BELL LOFTS senior citizens apartment complex project –I feel like a grant applicant– and for impetus-spurring nostalgic columns from the old days and for exploratory materials aimed at preserving the dignity of local pigs and hogs and piglets sacrificed to the world of “entertainment” and saving lives of geese and goslings regarded as pests who poop and deserve the guillotine I guess), I sat down to a fast-food sandwich with hubby Donster! (Totally, I might add, proud that I have done my bit for humanity and for the benefit of all manner of equally important species…without fanfare NOR monetary gain.) And I shamelessly proceeded to…talk…and to share some thoughts? Silly me!
Now to return to Daniel Massey, son of Raymond Massey who portrayed James Dean’s non-empathetic, dictatorial, rigid, stiflingly fundamentalist father in EAST OF EDEN, one of the best films ever directed by Elia Kazan, I blended all stream-of- consciousness THINKING into a singular topic which Don simultaneously thought also … out loud! Referencing the conclusion of an old film starring Raymond Massey as Honest Abe (actually Lincoln was not all that honest…watch Kevin Spacey’s fabulous series RACE FOR THE WHITE HOUSE), we both recalled an unbelievable cinematic instance where extras got directed to follow along as Abe left Illinois on a train to begin his mythical contribution as 16th prez! (Henry Fonda and Royal Dano and countless others have channeled that moment in other films.) Check out the movie ABE LINCOLN IN ILLINOIS and watch and listen closely…somebody shouts out, ad libbing adoringly, “GOODBYE, GOODBYE, MISTER MASSEY!” And that notorious blooper has only been matched by an errant ketchup bottle in Alfred Hitchcock’s NORTH BY NORTHWEST featuring CARY GRANT. Oh, yeah. My other new t-shirt…my very best, most promising one proclaims “Cary Grant for President”, but (sigh of relief) we shall save that story for another day and another column if I don’t break a hip bashing into stacks of Blue Bell “Wrangler” trivia and towers of rough drafts and piles of newspaper clippings, unfinished articles, starts of novels, unplugged and unleashed blogs, a handful of kitties and mountains of aging photographs. A staff, a staff, MY KINGDOM…for a staff! Google Richard III! (And nosy people wonder WHAT do I do all day? Here at the Library of Congress with a staff of one…and a handful of cats!)
POSTSCRIPT: ANOTHER COUPLE OF RED BUTTONS’ PATENTED GET WELL CARDS FROM THE 80S: AL JOLSON’S MOM TO HER SON–“I do not want a million baby kisses. Instead, just gimme a couple bucks!” $$ And ABRAHAM LINCOLN: “Do not name a car after me…I have more than enough gas already!” See, stream-of-consciousness can be fabulous fun…we end up right where we started…just ask Raymond Massey! And Red Buttons! And Abraham Lincoln himself!