Thursday, November 3, 2011

The Republicans WILL Lose in 2012 (if we survive that long....)

I am now convinced that the leaders of the Republican party know they will suffer a crushing defeat come November of 2012. They know that Pres. Obama will be re-elected, and that the majority of Republicans (and likely the Blue Dog Democrats) will be swept out of Congress, Senate, and state Governorship. I am also convinced that all of the Republican party leaders, Congress people, Senators, Governors and Blue Dog Dems in whatever offices are all on the take from the Koch Bros., the multi-national banks and the multi-national corporations. The brothers, the banks and the corporations are loyal only to money, wealth, and profit. They do not give a damn if the citizens of the United States are left to starve to death, jobless and homeless, and neither do any of the blackguards who accept their bribes. Not one of them will allow a even so much as the debate of a single proposal from the Obama administration from now until the day the new Congress and Senate members are sworn into office. Why? Because they are all being paid quite handsomely to take a dive, and allow their patrons to drain as much money from our nation's fortunes before the floodgates are closed, their constituents, the American people, be damned.

Which is also why the brothers, the banks and the corporations pour so much money into media in order to keep Fox News flowing on cable TV and radio stations pumping out the bile and nonsense of Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Mark Levin and Michael Medved, and support propagandists like Ann Coulter. These media forces are not there to convert Democrats and grow the ranks of Republicans. Nope. The Republican candidates debates are not being staged in order to select a nominee as an opponent to Pres. Obama. Not at all.

They are all out to distract the Republican voters, the ones who are swayed by a slogan or a catch-phrase, the ones who believe the Earth is only some 6,000 years old and that man and dinosaur lived at the same time like in the Flintstones, the ones who are easily distracted as babies when Daddy dangles his car keys in front of them. And in doing so, keep us all divided and at each other's throats until they can abscond with as much wealth as they can, tucked away in foreign banks and whatever shelters there may be that keep it from being taxed, and then hide themselves behind high walls guarded by private security.

The Republicans will lose in 2012. A handful will turn one hell of a profit from that loss. The rest will finally wake up and realize that the only "trickle down" they have experienced is the urination of the wealthy as they whizzed on them from atop their ivory towers.

I hope only that I can survive long enough to see that happen. I hope all of us can.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Teaching Pigs to Sing (second verse, same as the first)

The so-called debate with Mr. Lehman continues....

Jon McKenzie Wait, let me answer for you: "Yeah, but 9%! Why'zat, huh? Why'zat? Wa-wa. Ha-ha. Neener-neener-neener!"

Chris Lehman ...because I don't want a Socialist in the White House.

Jon McKenzie Neither do I. However, by your standards, anyone left of your left nostril is a Commie. Annnnnd, we're back to your opinion that President Obama is evil. I say potato and you say potatoe. Let's call the whole thing a draw.

Chris Lehman Also, hanging out with "evil" people does not help, like going to church for 20 years where the rev. yells "goddamn America!".

Jon McKenzie We get it, Chris. You hate President Obama, you think he's evil, you probably believe that he and the First Lady have decorated the Lincoln Bedroom with posters of Stokely Carmichael and Angela Davis and Malcolm X, and they sit around in it making molotov cocktails while listening to Sistah Soulja CDs and plotting the Socialist overthrow of the USA. You're the perfect listener for KABC. I hope Jack Silver gives you a gold star and a cookie. Now, roll over! Sit up! That's a GOOD boy!

Chris Lehman You almost nailed it, but they're probably listening to Common. I wonder why you refuse to believe they aren't. In the tank? : )

Jon McKenzie Again with the "tank"? As if you aren't in your OWN tank! Obviously, you think you're right about everything, so fine, go ahead and sit in your tank and stew in your smug, false sense of superiority.

Chris Lehman So snarky...
: )

Jon McKenzie You leave me no other option. You won't discuss my answer to your question about why the 9% unemployment rate lingers. (In addition to what I've already said, there's also the matter of Repuiblican backed govt. job cuts and the laying off of teachers, firefighters and police that undercut the job gains.) You just repeat yourself. "Obama is evil... Obama is evil... Obama is evil..." If you have anything new to offer, go for it.

Chris Lehman It lingers because Obama wants it to linger.

Jon McKenzie You're not making sense. You're not even reading what I've posted. All you're doing is acting like a brat, saying "NUH-UH!" to everything I say. I'm giving you one last chance to redeem yourself. Why would President Obama want to keep the unemployment rate at 9%? I want a real answer

Chris Lehman The Cloward/Piven Strategy.
[The Cloward/Piven strategy is a wild-ass theory conjured up during the administration of Lyndon B. Johnson, which posits that social enginerring can be brought about by orchestrated crises. It had been laughed off long ago, but was revived recently by Glenn Beck during one of his many lunatic rants against Pres. Obama and the Democratic party. Further details at Wikipedia: ]
Jon McKenzie For that so-called "strategy" to "work" wouldn't Obama had to have started orchestrating it during the Bush administration, BEFORE he was even elected President, let alone had secured the nomination for his candidacy? Seems to me the Republicans were staging their own crisis hoping for oppostite results, considering the way it started two wars off-budget and unpaid for, an unpaid for Medicare supplement that benefitted drug companies, and unpaid for tax cuts, all of which led to near total collapse of the world economy. You gotta stop listening to Glenn Beck, pal. He is mind-poison.

Chris Lehman No, he'd just need to deceive people and step in at the right time. Never let a good crisis go to waste. Then, incorporate a bunch of Alinsky tactics.

Jon McKenzie So, you then at least admit the Bush administration helped in large measure to create the world economic crisis as well as the deplorable unemployment situtation. You cannot blame Obama for things he was not there to do. I do not, for a second, buy into this "evil scheme" scenario you're trying to sell.

Chris Lehman No. Bush Admin "helped" who?
Obama can't associate with anti-capitalist radicals and still want capitalism to work. C'mon, now.
Go to church to get the bigger picture of life. Then, the "evil" part will make more sense.

Jon McKenzie Stop being obtuse, stop trying to "save" me. You know what I mean, I spelled it out. Stop avoiding the fact that the Bush administration trashed the economy. Read my previous comments. Nixon met Khrushchev. Nixon went to China and shook hands with Chairman Mao. Does that make Nixon a Communist? What church are you going to that preaches the President of the United States is evil? YOU c'mon, now! Stop listeing to Glenn Beck and pull your head out of the talking points!

Chris Lehman Nixon didn't hire and be advised by Communists and Marxists. Get out of the tank. Cmon, now.

Jon McKenzie Neither has Obama. Nixon may not have hired Commies, but he did hire CROOKS and BURGLARS. Remember Watergate? YOU "get out of the tank". You can't prove Pres. Obama is evil. You can't bring yourself to admit the failure of the Bush administration. You quote hare-brained old conspiracy theories dredged up by Glenn Beck. You can keep dancing around me all you want. All I have to do is stand here and tell the truth. Go ahead. Spin yourself into the ground. Or, you could just simply admit that your statement that Barack Obama is evil is just an OPINION. Say that, and this will all be over with.

Chris Lehman "Neither has Obama"? Wow. Now, you're either lying, misinformed, or deep in the tank. If you won't even admit that, you have no credibility.

Jon McKenzie Then I have as little credibility as you, who won't cop to the incompetence of the Bush administration and their creation of the economic crisis and the unemployment situation, or that your silly statement of Obama being evil is just your opinion and not a matter of fact. You're deep in your own tank. Have a nice day.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Teaching Pigs to Sing

In the Los Angeles area, there is a talk radio station, KABC 790 AM. It used to be a cool, interesting, and entertaining station, but for too long now, it has become a sewer of propaganda for the Extreme Right for up to 13 hours a day with a local show hosted by Larry Elder, two national sydicated shows hosted by Sean Hannity and Mark Levin, and an evening program hosted by John Phillips.

On a daily basis, they show nothing but utter contempt for the Democratic Party, Pres. Obama in particular, and will resort to lifting quotes out of context, misrepresntation, distortion, rumors, disinformation and outright lies to do so.

As a service to mankind, I do some counter-insurgency on KABC's Facebook page, presenting some facts they don't want their listeners to know about, and to harpoon the inflated egos of the aforementioned show hosts.

Some try to debate me.

I win.

They just can't admit it.

Here's a recent sampling:
(My original post is a comment on the quality of the Rpublican candidates who've recently announce their intention to run for President, the following exchange is cobbled together from that and other postings related to it. I have left out the insulting personal attacks Mr. Lehman hurled at me.)

Jon McKenzie: So, this is the best that the GOP has to offer as presidential candidates? The Republicans could save the country a lot of time, money and grief by forfeiting the 2012 election right now.

Chris Lehman: Ya, but we need to get that evil Obama out.

Jon McKenzie: Evil? Why is he evil? You don't actually BELIEVE all those Heritage Foundation talking points, do you? Have Elder, Hannity and Levin completely brainwashed you, Chris? Evil? What evidence do you have of this? I mean other than that you obviously hate him because he's a Democrat. I feel so sad and sorry for you.

Chris Lehman: LOL, I feel sorry for you that you think our problems are just about republicans and dems. : )

Jon McKenzie: So, what do you see as being "evil"? Is he a Bad Guy for ordering the death of Osama Bin Laden? All I know for certain is that you have no reason to call Presdient Obama evil. Good night, and have a pleasant tomorrow.

Chris Lehman: If I explained it to you, would it change your mind? I already know it would not. I know you're in the tank. You've got decades of a mindset to be reversed. That's why no one usually even replies to you. It's fun poking back at you, though. : )

Jon McKenzie: Try. I'm more open minded than you think, but you seem to be too closed minded to see it. If you don't change my mind, you may change someone else's. Also, you may get your jollies insulting me, but I don't want to poke back at you. I am poking at the four phonies KABC has chosen to inflict on their ever dwindling radio audience for up to 13 hours a day. Don't believe me? Look at their Arbitron ratings. I am trying to save KABC and return it to it's former glory as a bastion of smart, entertaining talk programming with room for both Conservative AND Liberal points of view. Points of view that go beyond just both sides calling each other "evil". Got a problem with that?

Chris Lehman: People who intentionally deceive (lie) are "evil".
People who take from some and give to others (steal) are "evil".
People who want to take away my, and other's, freedoms are "evil".
People who betray their friends (allies) are "evil".
He falls into all those categories.
: )

Jon McKenzie: How are you any less free? What lies has he spoken? Who has he betrayed? "Stealing" to give to others as opposed to what? Stealing jobs and savings to line their own pockets, the way the corporations have because of Bush's policies?

Chris Lehman:

Have at it...

Jon McKenzie: All I see is a list of parsing and nitpicking. If verbal flubs count as lies, George W. Bush is the greatest liar of all time.

Chris Lehman: LOL, I wondered how quickly you would point to someone else, as if that made it all ok. The subject is Obama, and that's a pretty long list of "verbal flubs" in just 2+ years. LOL

Jon McKenzie: Not compared to George W. Bush. So, does that make HIM "evil", too? The subject is not Obama, it is your misguided perception that he is evil, something which you have yet to prove in any rational way. Just admit that it is your OPINION, because that's all it is, and that's something to which you are entitled. You can also hate him if you want to, for all I care. But there is no logical way you or anyone else can call President Obama "evil". Irrationally, sure. You can say grass is purple and the sky is made of chocolate. You must have an awfully low standard of what you consider to be "evil".

Chris Lehman: e·vil
- adjective 1. wicked 2. harmful 3. unfortunate

Perfect description...

Jon McKenzie: Keep going, bury yourself deeper in rhetoric.

(There are some jumps in the debate because Mr. Lehman got particularly nasty with his personal attacks. He did kind-of apologize, and removed some posts, some of which contained elements of this debate.)

Jon McKenzie: ....what has any of this crap to do with your inability to admit that your statement of "evil Obama" is strictly a matter of opinion and not fact? .... The US is in an economic recovery, and it is gaining more jobs than it is losing. We'd be doing better faster if the Republicans would pitch in to help instead of sitting on the sidelines, voting no on everything, and rooting for Pres. Obama to fail. I know you won't agree with me because that's your default setting. You think you're right and that I'm wrong. What ev. I know what I know.

Chris Lehman: Unemployment steady at 9.0%.

Jon McKenzie: Better than losing 750,000 jobs a month under the previous administration. Re-read my previous comment. ALL of it.

Chris Lehman: Not better, unemployment was not at 9.0, then.

Jon McKenzie: Yeah, but that's HOW it got that bad.... Duh.

Chris Lehman: Not better for the 9% unemployed.

Jon McKenzie: Then tell your Republican buddies to stop spinning their wheels with their Muslim witch-hunts and efforts to defund Planned Parenthood and Public Radio. If they have a plan to stimulate job growth, let's have it. Oh, wait, they do, it's called Tax Cuts For The Wealthy and Corporate Welfare. Reagan tried that, George W. Bush tried that. And look at the mess they made of things "Not better for the 9% unemployed." Oh. Lord, Chris! That the best you can do for a retort? OF COURSE, IT'S NOT BETTER FOR THE 9% UNEMPLOYED! IF THE BUSH ADMINISTRATION HADN'T TANKED THE BLOODY ECONOMY, WE WOULDN'T HAVE A 9% UNEMPLOYMENT RATE! Jeez....

Chris Lehman Are you pro-Capitalism?

Jon McKenzie: Does a bear crap in the woods? Of course, I am. But if you feed me that line about "we have to keep taxes low and allow companies to have tax loopholes so they won't leave the country, and if we let them keep more money, MAYBE they'll create jobs for Americans, at least we hope they will", I got news for you. We've had that for the last decade, under the Bush administration and beyond because these tax rates were DESIGNED TO SUNSET AFTER TEN YEARS AS THEY KNEW THEY WOULD HAVE A NEGATIVE IMPACT ON THE DEFICIT. The tax cuts did nothing FOR the economy! Just as they didn't under Reagan. The "trickle down" theory does not work. Corporations have had this sweetheart tax cut for a decade in addition to loopholes, and guess what! They left the US anyway! Or outsourced jobs to other countries! Here's the thing, Chris. The US govt. is NOT a business. It is not designed to turn a profit, neither should it be run into massive deficit. The US is a Capitalist nation, but the govt. is not a capitalist entity. It is meant to promote the gereal welfare and provide for the common defense. In order to do this, we as citizens fund the operation of that govt. with our taxes. Which is why the whole argument of the Right about solving our deficit by spending cuts alone is specious. It's like our own personal budgets. We can cut our expenses and tighten our belts as much as possible, but unless we have incomes, we will run out of money. On top of that, the United States of America has a bigger problem than the friggin' deficit, and that is the stranglehold that the international and foreign corporations and banks have on our economy and the influence their lobbyists have on too many members of Congress and Senate on BOTH sides of the aisle. I won't play Pollyanna and say that ALL Democrats are on the side of the Good Guys. I do think we have more Good Guys than the Republicans, but no way are we all saints. But these corporations and banks don't have America's best interests at heart. They just want to suck as much money as they can out of us, give little or nothing back in taxes, and essentially starve us, the citizens of the US, into desperation until we become willing to work for third world crap wages. Ponder this quote from Thomas Jefferson, one of our Founding Fathers, one of the framers of our Constitution, the author of our Declaration of Independence: "I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies. If the American people ever allow private banks to control the issue of their currency, first by inflation, then by deflation, the banks and corporations that will grow up around [the banks] will deprive the people of all property until their children wake-up homeless on the continent their fathers conquered. The issuing power should be taken from the banks and restored to the people, to whom it properly belongs." Chew on that.

Chris Lehman: Steady at %9. If it was really his top priority, it would be lower, but.... it is not. The question is, why is it not?

Jon McKenzie: Chris, you are being willfully obstinate. Just like the Republicans in Congress and the Senate. They and you have made up your minds that Pres. Obama is bad and eveything he does or will ever do is wrong. Even if it means flip-flopping their positions, like Newt Gingrich who at first said we should go into Libya, and when Obama ordered action against Libya, Gingrich then said we should not get involved. Why? Because if Obama does it, the Right has to be against it. Obama has tried from the start to reach bi-partisan agreements in this administration, and uniformly the Republicans have said NO to everything he does. He even gave the Republicans a two-year extension of those tax cuts. Why hasn't THAT reduced the 9% you keep harping about? Because the Republicans want it that way. They, and you, are out to make Obama look bad, even if you have to throw reality out the window and ruin the American economy to do so. You guys love your party more than you love OUR nation. Suppose Obama pulled an FDR and started up a present day version of the WPA, then you'd bitch about that! Why are we at 9%? Because the Bush administration screwed everything up so badly, we may never recover, no matter who is in the White House. Why are YOU so anxious to give the govt. back to the party who put us in this mess in the first place?

Jon McKenzie: Wait, let me answer for you: "Yeah, but 9%! Why'zat, huh? Why'zat? Wa-wa. Ha-ha. Neener-neener-neener!"

Friday, January 7, 2011

Honey in a Summer Breeze

I am, at times, consumed by nostalgia for the mid-to-late 1960s. Not the real 1960s, mind you. I was too young to go out and experience that. (I didn't turn 16 until late 1970.) So, much in the same fashion as Plato's Allegory of the Cave, my perception of that era was as if through a glass and darkly with my nose pressed to it, and provided by the mass media of Television, Movies and Radio.

I was struck by another wave of that nostalgia the other day as I was grocery shopping and the song Lazy Day by Spanky and Our Gang played over the store's sound system. I quietly sang along, and wagered with myself that I was the only one in the store who knew the lyrics. And I wondered where the days of pickin' daisies and lots of red balloons had gone.

My 1960s was filtered through TV shows like The Monkees, Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In, The Man (and Girl) from U.N.C.L.E., Shindig, Hullabaloo, Where The Action Is, Malibu U., The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, American Bandstand, and the local Los Angeles teen dance TV shows hosted by Lloyd Thaxton and Sam Riddle; through Spy movies and Beach Party movies; and my transistor radio dial seldom strayed from 93 KHJ-AM, "BOSS RADIO"!

It was a groovy period, all bright, glossy, Pop Art, Op Art, Day-Glo colored and costumed by Rudy Gernreich, the soundtrack provided by The Lovin' Spoonful, Spanky and Our Gang, The Association, Tom Jones, The Turtles, Harper's Bizarre, The Strawberry Alarm Clock, Petula Clark, The Mamas and the Papas, Dusty Springfield, and (yes, damn it) The Monkees, while Goldie Hawn bounced her body paint and Candy Johnson Frug-ed her fringe off. Tom Hanks captured the spirit of those heady times brilliantly in his movie That Thing You Do. I escape into that flick frequently.

I guess I cling to that period because it represents the last gasp of my childhood happiness before the shitstorm of being an adult dropped a tsunami of grief on me.

In Pop Culture terms, the 60s lasted until 1972, about the time we all figured out the Age of Aquarius was a crock. (So much for mystic crystal revelations and the mind's true liberation...) Counter Culture had been so co-opted, the sanitized psychedelia of Peter Max had been adopted by 7 Up in their advertising and had filtered into Saturday morning television. One trippy kiddie show was The Bugaloos (from the makers of that other weird trip, H.R. Puffenstuf). I watched the show primarily for leggy Caroline Ellis in her fairy ballerina costume. She was one of four lively young Brits dressed as humanoid fairy insects (BUG-aloos, get it?), and like their TV contemporaries The Archies and The Banana Splits, they sang. Most of their songs were forgetable crap, but one has stayed with me, The Senses of Our World. It doesn't make a ton of sense, and I admit that it is trite and syrupy, but it is simple, and pretty.

I'd hate to think there is no room left in this world for simple, and pretty....

If you listen to the sounds that surround you
You'll discover that you're never quite alone
Hear the earth and the sky say they love you
And they're happy that you're here to share their home

So take the time to taste the honey in a summer breeze
Touch the love song every bird has learned to sing
Smell the sunlight as it warms you on the coolest day
And you'll feel a part of what you're gathering
The senses of our world...

Let your heart see the colors all around you
And the darkness that you fear will dissappear
See the treasures that abound all around you
And believe that Mother Earth is glad you're here

So take the time to taste the honey in a summer breeze
Touch the love song every bird has learned to sing
Smell the sunlight as it warms you on the coolest day
And you'll feel a part of what you're gathering
The senses of our world...

Thursday, December 16, 2010

BREAKFAST AT TIFFANY'S - an appreciation and comparison

Many of us, myself included, are guilty of seeing movies based on books we have never read. One such movie is Breakfast at Tiffany's, based on the novella by Truman Capote.

If you're in your mid-fifties, as I am, it's likely that you first saw this movie on broadcast television, chopped, channeled, panned and scanned from it's original widescreen version to fit on a standard TV screen and broken up with commercial interruptions. It's also likely that the most you recall of the movie is the party in Holly Golightly's apartment, and how gosh-darn pretty Audrey Hepburn was. Time passes, technology advances, and eventually the DVD release is available for twelve or thirteen bucks, looking pristine and restored to widescreen so that you can see finally the other half of the movie that couldn't fit on the TV screen. So, being a fan of the director Blake Edwards, and because Audrey Hepburn was so gosh-darn pretty, I added it to my collection.

As I said, I'd never read Breakfast at Tiffany's. More shameful, I'd never read ANY work by Truman Capote. I knew he wrote it, and many other well respected tomes including In Cold Blood, but he'd allowed himself to become a characature. He'd turned into a prissy little white-suited fusspot, known more for hissing out venomous little rants and soundbites than for his written fiction. And just as easily as one could dismiss Elvis Presley if the only exposure to him one had was during his sad, fat Las Vegas years, I stupidly gave Capote a pass because I thought he was just this cranky, fedora wearing gnome with a lisp. One of his hissing venomous rants was against the movie version of Breakfast, and Blake Edwards "who (he) could just spit on!"

So, I watched the movie again in it's restored, uninterruped form, this time as a 54 year old man, not a 12 year old kid, and my experiences as an adult filled in my perceptions of the movie I originally glossed over because I simply didn't get it back then. And I recalled Capote's anger.

I bought the book, read it, and now see why.

Allow me to digress to illustrate a point.... After my spouse Fran passed away, I found myself fractured, emotionally. One of the fractures manifested itself in an inability to commit myself to reading a whole novel. I'd start, then drift off and set it aside. This would happen with authors I really really like. The most interest I could muster was to get through a magazine article. It has been like this for years.

But once I started Breakfast at Tiffany's, I could not put it down. If you have never read any Capote either, I urge you, please buy one of his books! His command of language is deceptively simple and astonishingly clear, his ability as a storyteller is seductive and compelling. I was sucked in within the first few sentences. You will be, too.

Another digression.... I had many aspirations as a young man; actor, writer of prose and of screenplays, film director (I also wanted to open a restaurant, which I think is proof that I was certifiably insane). During my own studies of writing and film direction, I learned to see the difference between writing for the printed page and writing for the screen, and how difficult if not impossible it is to translate a story from one form into the other.

Screenwriter George Axelrod was faced with one hell of a task in turning this unconventional, lyrical, if sometimes scandalous, slice of life into a conventional Hollywood narrative. Did he deserve an Oscar for it? Maybe. I don't know what competition he was up against that year. Mostly what he did was graft a standard "Boy meets Girl, Boy loses Girl, Boys gets Girl back" plot onto a few key scenes from the novella, expand one character's role, transmogrify a couple of others, eliminate one altogether, add a scene that is not in the novella at all, and substitute one sort of racism for another.

The novella is written in first-person narrative, from the point of view of a fictionalized Truman Capote, one presumes because the narrator is never named. As in the movie, Holly nicknames him "Fred", the name of her brother. Large portions of the narrative are told as passive observations and overheard conversations. Translating this aspect directly to film would have left Hepburn's co-star George Peppard standing off to the side of the action and watching. So, in the screenplay, he is given a name, Peter Varjak, and is thrust into the action. And made heterosexual to boot. Although the narrator's sexuality is never identified or even hinted at directly in the novella, there is no sexual tension between him and Holly. The implication is that he is gay. And Holly is a prostitute. Not a common streetwalker, but more of a rougher edged Americanized geisha. Always charming, sometimes crude, sometimes bigoted, more earthy than the wisp played by Hepburn.

Our narrator now transformed into the manly Peter Varjak, must overcome hurdles in order to win Holly. As in the novella, there's Holly's fierce reluctance to let go her vision of marrying into considerable wealth, having one ripe prospect from South America on the hook. Another problem is that Varjak has become the kept man of a wealthy woman who pays the rent for his apartment one floor up from Holly. He feels obligated, if only to keep himself sheltered, clothed and fed as he attempts to further his career as a writer.

This brings us to the way in which Axelrod changed the supporting characters in the story. In the novella, Holly has two neighbors, rather colorful ones. Madame Sapphia Spanella, and Mr. I.Y. Yunioshi.

Madame Spanella is a prissy stick-in-the-mud who abhors Holly, complains loudly about her very presence in the building, and is constantly petitioning for her eviction. At one point in the novella, Holly does move out to Madame's great pleasure, and even though the new tenant is in essence a gay male version of Holly, Madame Spanella dotes on him, even supports him. This character is changed to the role Patricia Neal plays as Varjak's patroness, doting on and supporting him in the same manner, keeping him as her Boy Toy, as he'd now be called.

Madame's fuming outrage at Holly is transferred to the film's altered and expanded version of Mr. Yunioshi. As in the novella, he is a photographer, the implication that he takes nude photos. Artful, but nude. His role in the novella is small by comparison, but pivotal, and nowhere near as broadly comic, or as offensive.

Mickey Rooney's performance as Mr. Yunioshi is likely the most egregious example of stereotyped Yellowface since any movie made in Hollywood during 1942, and the second greatest disservice to Capote's novella. I'm certain the Mick was grateful to have a role in a movie made for a major studio, especially in comparison to the roles he'd been playing in the potboilers Albert Zugsmith was churning out, like The Twinkle In God's Eye and The Private Lives Of Adam and Eve. And he certainly filled Blake Edwards' usual need for a broadly comic running gag, in this case having his sleep disrupted because Holly cannot be bothered to have a key made to replace the one she lost and buzzes him at all hours in order to be let into the building, giving him reason sputter, fuss, and fume in an exaggerated Japanese accent while tripping over his tripods and other general stumbling. The only thing more shameful than the way this outrageous performance stands out like a sore thumb now is the fact that it didn't stand out at all back in 1961.

In the novella, Tiffany's is talked about, Holly expresses her wish that the world was like Tiffany's, move there if she could because it is proud, quiet, populated with men in nice suits, all smelling of silver and new alligator wallets, and the title of the novella comes from Holly's line, "... (I)t's essential not to have any ego at all. I don't mean I'd mind being rich and famous. That's very much on my schedule, and someday I'll try to get around to it; but if it happens I'd like to have my ego tagging along. I want to still want to be me when I wake up one fine morning and have breakfast at Tiffany's...." However, there is no scene that takes place IN Tiffany's. That was Axelrod's invention, along with the plastic ring prize in the box of Cracker Jacks that Buddy Ebsen snacks on during his performance as Holly's abandoned husband, Doc Golightly. He gives it to Varjak, which in turn he takes to Tiffany's to have engraved.

The greatest crime against the novella is the "Hollywood Ending" hammered onto the story, like a horse shoe nailed onto a ballerina's foot. I won't give away the novella's ending, but you can imagine it is not the one as seen on screen, in which Varjak throws off the shackles of his patroness, proposes to Holly with the engraved Cracker Jack ring in the back of a cab after he bails her out of jail, only to be rejected. Holly tells the driver to stop and throws her cat, Cat, into an alley, determined to carry out her plan to run from the law and fly to Brazil. Ah, but LOVE doth conquer all, and Varjak badgers her enough for her to see he loves her. He storms out of the cab to look for Cat, leaving Holly to go do as she pleases.

Holly has her "come to Jesus" moment, dashes out of the cab, out into the rain to seach for Varjak and Cat. She runs to the alley, catching up with Varjak. Cat is found and is squeezed between them as Varjak and Holly embrace, and he kisses her into final submission. Up the music, roll credits. The End.

I suppose this is the only way this movie could have been made in 1961. Certainly, it is a delight to watch Audrey Hepburn play even this highly sanitized version of Holly Golightly, and if the movie had not been made, the world would have been deprived of that magical collaboration of Johnny Mercer and Henry Mancini, the song Moon River. It would be a shame for people to think the movie properly represents the book, though.

Could this be turned into a movie now? Maybe. The big hurdle would be to make everyone accept another actress as Holly. Though it wasn't made into a movie series like the James Bond books, and couldn't be, Audrey is as identified with Holly Golightly as Sean Connery is as 007. She is an icon. Indeed, if one opens a dictionary to the term "little black dress", there's a picture of Audrey Hepburn as Holly Golightly.

Perhaps enough time has passed. After all, people now accept Daniel Craig as a radically different James Bond. It may well be high time for a new, more true version of Breakfast at Tiffany's.

If I were to try it, I would restore the original time period in which it was set, during World War Two. And I would restore the character of Joe Bell, the owner of a bar frequented by Holly and "Fred". The only reference to him remaining in the movie is the bar, in which is the telephone booth Varjak uses to call Martin Balsam's character, show-biz agent O.J. Berman for help in going Holly's bail when she is arrested. Joe Bell is a gruff but sentimental cuss who'd be perfect for John Mahoney, of Frasier fame, to play. I would reduce Mr. Yunioshi's role to original size, display his talent as a photographer, and restore his dignity. Most importantly, I would restore the original dynamic between Holly and the narrator, and the original ending.

As to casting, I would use Jim Parsons of the sit-com The Big Bang Theory to play the narrator. I think he has more to offer than what he displays as the annoying nerd Sheldon.

As for Holly?

Sienna Miller. I think her talent has been overshadowed by the obsessive attentions of the tabloid media for her admittedly tawdry and all too public affair with Balthazar Getty. And her looks and demeanor fit Capote's description of Holly to a tee. Would she make everyone forget Audrey Hepburn? Oh, God, no.

But I think she'd make everyone see Holly Golightly in a new light.

In essence, if you've not done one or the other, please, read the book, and see the movie.
And let me know what you think.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Worst Christmas Song... EVER

Here in the Los Angeles area, one radio station, KOST-FM, is yet again doing its annual month long playing of nothing but Christmas songs. 24/7 of nothing but Christmas songs until Christmas. God help us.

The big problem with this concept is the preponderance of really crappy Christmas songs. Mind you, there are some really lovely ones, too, such as Bing Crosby's "White Christmas", Nat King Cole's "The Christmas Song", Burl Ives crooning "Silver and Gold" from the old Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer TV special. And if you want to hear the only more recently composed yuletide ditty that is worth listening to, go to iTunes, check out my friend Karissa Noel and listen to her song "Christmas Isn't Christmas (Without You)". [If you live in the Los Angeles Area, call KOST and request it, then go to iTunes and buy it, thanks.] But most of what KOST plays are just poorly done or ill conceived covers of classic Christmas songs and lame new Pop tunes with maybe one reference to the holiday, mindless pap about "magic" and "children" and some sleigh bells in the background, many of them truly annoying like 'Last Christmas' by Wham!, but there is one that really grates my nerves no end. I've griped about it before, and it is still the champion. For my money, it is the worst Christmas song ever!

It was almost Christmas time, there I stood in another line
Tryin' to buy that last gift or two, not really in the Christmas mood
Standing right in front of me was a little boy waiting anxiously
Pacing 'round like little boys do
And in his hands he held a pair of shoes

His clothes were worn and old, he was dirty from head to toe
And when it came his time to pay
I couldn't believe what I heard him say

Sir, I want to buy these shoes for my Mama, please
It's Chrsitmas Eve and these shoes are just her size
Could you hurry, sir, Daddy says there's not much time
You see she's been sick for quite a while
And I know these shoes would make her smile
And I want her to look beautiful if Mama meets Jesus tonight

He counted pennies for what seemed like years
Then the cashier said, "Son, there's not enough here"
He searched his pockets frantically
Then he turned and he looked at me
He said Mama made Christmas good at our house
Though most years she just did without
Tell me Sir, what am I going to do,
Somehow I've got to buy her these Christmas shoes

So I laid the money down, I just had to help him out
I'll never forget the look on his face when he said
Mama's gonna look so great

Sir, I want to buy these shoes for my Mama, please
It's Christmas Eve and these shoes are just her size
Could you hurry, sir, Daddy says there's not much time
You see she's been sick for quite a while
And I know these shoes would make her smile
And I want her to look beautiful if Mama meets Jesus tonight

I knew I'd caught a glimpse of heaven's love
As he thanked me and ran out
I knew that God had sent that little boy
To remind me just what Christmas is all about

Yeah, all about crass consumerism. I mean.... Good Lord! This kid's mother is DYING! And he's freaking out because he doesn't think his Mom is presentable to the son of God! "Son... I don't know how much longer I have... Please, stay with me and hold my hand..." "Heavens, Mother! NO! You're a MESS! You're meeting Jesus like that??? I'll be back...." says Isaac Mizrahi Jr., and off he dashes into the night. I'm amazed there haven't been sequels to this song, like "The Christmas Dress" and "The Christmas Handbag" making for an entire Christmas Make-over trilogy, with specials on the Bravo channel.

Don't get me wrong. I can be a softy. I cried the first time I saw an animated cartoon version of The Little Match Girl. When I watch It's A Wonderful Life, I still get choked up when George Bailey sees his younger brother Harry show up at the end, that look on Jimmy Stewart's face.... Just the thought of it.... Excuse me, I need a Kleenex....

But this shameless attempt at emotional manipulation is absolutely vomitous! Bad enough this song exists, it was even turned into a made-for-TV movie!

And if there is anything worse than crappy Christmas songs, it has to be any and all made-for-TV Christmas movies!

(Seriously, Jenny McCarthy in Santa Baby as Santa's DAUGHTER????)