Saturday, January 31, 2009

Wally and Windsor

Time is cruel.

(Is is just me, or does the Duke look startlingly like Princess Margaret in her sad last years?)

I am, Connie, I am

In what seems to me one of the creepiest moments ever captured on kinescope, Connie Francis sings "Who's Sorry Now?" to a sad lady clown. I may not sleep for a week.

Mistaken Identities, Mogul Edition

Behold the Eos, at 93 meters said to be the largest sailing yacht in the world. It apparently came through these parts recently, giving rise to the following converation at brunch this weekend:

Mr. Archaeologist: Yes, it was huge - beautiful thing. X at the Yacht Club said it's owned by someone called Barry Diller.

Mrs. Archaeologist:
Some kind of producer, I think, isn't


Mrs. Archaeologist:
He wasn't ever married to Phyllis Diller, was he?

Muscato: [after prolonged startled silence]
Only in the most metaphorical of senses.

Actually, now that I think about it, more surprising even than that memorable image is the idea that the largest, fastest, tallest, or newest anything isn't owned by a sheikh. Kind of reassuring, somehow...


It's a little-remembered fact, but for a number of months in early 1964, white people in America firmly believed that black women only came in threes. This so-called "Supremes Syndrome" was almost completely dispelled when Lena Horne guest-starred on A Very Special Episode of The Lucy Show.

Even today, however, isolated pockets of the upper Midwest are convinced that Dionne Warwick was a trio.

Friday, January 30, 2009

The Dietrich and the Dowager

An encounter in postwar Paris. It's hard to believe, but they're probably about the same age. Hell, it's hard to believe they're the same species...

And, apropos the post below - Marlene and Yul: mad crazy love. Must have been fun to observe. From a distance.

Whistle a Happy Tune

So we stayed in last night, ordered in some Thai, and things got a little King and I.

I do believe that I approve wholeheartedly of Mr. Muscato's new direction in grooming...

Lillian Gish

A goddess on her way to work.

Winter Wonderland

Gosh - all that political heavy lifting has left me winded. Or perhaps it's the long, lazy brunch we enjoyed today, Mr. Muscato and I, with our friends The Archaeologists. Mr. Muscato tried out the New Look, accessorizing it with a white panama hat and little round sunglasses that together gave him the air of King Farouk going incognito; I went less flamboyantly (for once) in a bright striped shirt and khakis.

We went to our fair Sultanate's recently renovated ultra-deluxe hostelry, an almost bewilderingly luxurious affair housed in one of the ugliest buildings to be found anywhere in a region not short on those.

At least the gardens are beautiful, as is the new infinity pool. The buffet featured bountiful goodies of all sorts, high among them a delightful assortment of dead pig, including both parma ham and excellent German sausage. Mr. Muscato is appalled, I am replete, and the last we saw of The Archaeologists, they were polishing off a second bottle of Prosecco on their front porch.

Life is good.

(The snap, by the bye, is my attempt to artsy-up one from Mr. Muscato's camera phone. The original, more sweeping pic included a highly uninspiring bunch of British tourists who for a little while came close to spoiling the view.)

Political Roundup: Candid Candidates

From time to time, I think it's important to remember that it's not all starlets and Champagne here at the Café. Last September, for example, we took what I think was a rather searching look at Indonesia's upcoming parliamentary elections.

That the candidates include a number of celebrities and models, and that this gentleman is one of them may, to be fair, have had something to do with our interest. Here's Adrian Maulana, looking very candidate-y (and very date-y, for that matter) in shirt and tie.

And here he is in what I'm presuming is up-to-the-minute Indonesian contemporary casual, undoubtedly taking a legislative interest in issues relating to the country's retail malls.

I can't help thinking that if our Congress looked more like this and less like, say, James Inhofe, interest in things electoral might be a tad livelier back home.

Oh, I give up. Things pretty much are starlets and Champagne in these parts. Anybody got a problem with that?

Mistaken Identities, First Lady Edition

Of course, I know this is the effervescent Miss Ruby Keeler in her late-in-life triumph in No! No! Nanette! in the early 70s.

But when I stumbled across the image recently, my first thought was that it was Nancy Reagan on one last Happy Pill binge, having her final Helen Lawson moment.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Dancing Ladies

There's no way to know of course, but I'm very, very afraid that these sisters are likely to be boogeying to "Happy Talk" from South Pacific. Although I suppose a garden-variety Conga is just as likely...

Newsflash: Grooming Update

As of this afternoon, Mr. Muscato has a new look. We're still evaluating it, but the artist's impression above will give you some idea. Although I still can't talk him into the earring. And the waist may be a bit optimistic...

Meanwhile, at the Harbour View Hotel

I'm starting our weekend off in a New Wave kind of mood, so here's a glimpse of one my favorite pictures, 1982's Starstruck (from which we have previously experienced the delirious water ballet).

Once upon a time, this was exactly how I wanted to look, dress, sing, and dance. Now that I feel a great deal more like that granny character (glimpsed here throughout), I'm very glad I did. Still haven't made it to Australia, though. Wonder what's up at the Harbour View these days?

Mysteries of Ruth Chatterton

Apparently, she's unfaithful.

But why is she doing a Miriam Hopkins impersonation?

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

A Lovely Personality

Although Lady Amanda's poise remained unflappable, Count Nino's gift of what he claimed was a "head corsage" made her wonder uneasily whether there might be something not quite right with the results of her latest little facelift. Damn Dr. Moreno!

Andy's Mom

Mrs. Stokowski. 20s survivor. Niece of the mistress of David, Prince of Wales. Mrs. Lumet. Jeans icon. Last Vanderbilt standing. It hasn't been a dull life, has it?

Yes, Please!

I do think it's about that time. I won't speak for Bebe or Randy, but I'd like a Kir Royale. You?

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Eight is Too Much

Octuplets? I'm sorry. I know I'm starting from behind, what with the whole not-liking-most-children-at-all thing, but that's just not right. When I lived in West Africa, I was always interested in how local culture even found twins a little off-putting - but eight? Outside of Springfield, it's all too borderline creepy for my taste...

After and Before: Driving Miss Blanche (Insane)

Jessica Tandy had a somewhat bisected career: it ended with a late-in-life flowering as America's favorite lovably irritable old lady, and half of the biggest acting duo since Lunt-Fontanne;

All of which rather overshadowed her earlier life as Serious Broadway Actress on her own, which of course included the original Streetcar Named Desire. That she shared the stage with Brando and lost the movie to Lady Olivier didn't help.

In between she did movies large and small, generally as a second lady or character (as in The Birds). She's one of those people I think of as The Trans-Atlantics; she was born in the UK and died an American institution. Here in this bonus extra picture, she appears to be trying on the role of The Mummy, but even so, wasn't she an extraordinarily lovely old lady?

Turning Japanese

I really think so...

Yes, it's Zsa Zsa. Yes, she's dressed as Madame Chiang Kai-shek dressed as Eva Perón. Better not to wonder why; simply marvel at her utter Gaborness.

P.S.: I don't believe for a minute that that thieving, tacky final husband of hers lost her money to Madoff. If there still is any money, he knows exactly where it is. Delusional, dreadful climber. End of rant.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Unfulfilled Desires

Sometimes I think all it would take to make me perfectly happy would be the gift of a real Fabergé egg.

Just in case you were wondering. And had a little spare cash burning a hole in your pocket...

Starpocalypse Now

Dalida. Nothing but fabulous.

Have You Met Our Aunt?

She's a lot more fun than she looks. Really she is. Especially when she's not playing bridge. And when she's loaded.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Seasonal Discomforts and Discomfiture

No matter how long you live overseas, some things you never get used to. For me, those things include days of the week (repeat after me: Saturday is Monday, Wednesday is Friday, and Friday is Sunday. I've lived it for three years, and it still makes no sense, and I still leave people standing around when I say I'll see them Tuesday and what I meant was Sunday).

Also on the list of the International Incomprehensible, though, is temperature. I'm a Fahrenheit boy, and I'm not ashamed to admit it. All these years outside the U.S. of A. and I still have no idea what those infernal degrees actually mean. Oh, I know that water freezes at 0 and boils at 100, but anything in between? A more or less complete mystery.

Without my familiar frame of reference, I'm now reaching the point where I'm floating free of common sense, as well, when it comes to temperature. These last two weeks or so have been, by local standards, fairly non-balmy. I've been running around in sweaters and scarves, burying myself under afghans when home and piles of quilts when sleeping, all the while bemoaning the total lack of heating hereabouts.

And throughout, I've been moaning, to anyone who would listen, "My God, what are we supposed to do? It's eighteen degrees!" as if I could hear the wolves approaching over the ice floes.

Today I finally had the bright idea of finding an online converter to find out just exactly how bitterly icy it really was.

I stand before you now, somewhat shamefaced, in the realization that that the dread 18 degrees is in fact just shy of 65 real degrees, or just about exactly what we used to think of as beach weather back in my northern home town.

I think my blood must have thinned after a decade in the Southern Hemisphere.


Just a few of the bare necessities...

...required to get oneself appropriately groomed...

...and adequately entertained.

Clothed in White...

...with, I fear, little need to worry about that ever being symbolically inappropriate. I'm sure she had a lovely personality. Really.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

David Bowie

Why? Better not to know...

Hollywood at Play

'Round about 70 years, Edgar Bergen - pioneer and, really, sole practitioner of the very odd profession of radio ventriloquist - gave a party. The theme? The Gay '90s. It looks like it was great, if slightly quirky, fun.

The host, of course, entertained, in the company of a blackfaced Charlie McCarthy.

Ray Bolger lent some of his own unique talents to the entertainment;

Which also included a bevy of period-costumed lovelies. Here, Betty Grable and Martha Raye launch into an impromptu can-can competition, which seems to puzzle Mary Martin.

Martha, of course, was always such a shrinking violet.

Miriam Hopkins and a puzzlingly costumed if thoroughly disguised Tyrone Power had a rather more sedate time, although they certainly seem to be enjoying themselves. Miriam Hopkins without her eye makeup, however appropriate to the era, is not necessarily a sight for the faint-hearted.

Norma Shearer was her usual contrary self, turning up sans costume and in the company of the second Mr. Mrs. Thalberg.

But in the end no one had a better time than Dorothy Lamour. And that made it all worthwhile, if you ask me.

Fille de joie

Well, to be boringly honest, she's not actually a real doxie - just an extra on the set of Irma la Douce. Still, you have to love the look.

Update: Gentle readers have pointed out that, far from being an extra, this is in fact another of the Babes of Trek, Miss Grace Lee Whitney, playing Kiki the Cossack. Here she is in another galaxy:

Frankly, I think I like her better in her working-the-waterfronts guise. She's a little too Abba impersonator here...

Friday, January 23, 2009

Dream Journal

Last night I had the strangest dream...

First, I returned home one afternoon to find Upen Patel in the garden...

Hearing a noise, I looked up to see a half-dressed Dino Morea on the roof...

And then I raced inside only to find John Abraham in my bathtub.

Needless to say, I've been trying to regain unconsciousness all day!

All Too True Titles

Drop the "in", and you've got a perfectly serviceable tag line for Loretta's greatest title role ever. As far as I'm concerned, she certainly was.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Happy Birthday, Cowboy

That tall drink of water, Randolph Scott, was born this fine day in 1898. His craggy allure and affable screen presence were for many years the best reasons to sit through the dozens of Westerns in which he was the most interesting thing on screen.

I like him best, though, earlier on, in the '30s, when he leavened his diet of sagebrush and chaps with a great deal more variety than you might think.

He made an effective aw-shucks-ma'am foil to Mae West, for example, in Go West, Young Man; he supported Kate Smith in her ill-fated foray out of her niche on radio; he even made a lively (non-dancing) sidekick to Fred Astaire in Roberta and Follow the Fleet (my two favorite Fred-and-Gingers, actually).

These days, though, he is in danger of being best remembered for his decade-long occasional cohabitation with Cary Grant at the latter's Malibu beach house. Well, whatever may or may not have gone on behind closed doors, they certainly made a striking couple, no?

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Such Devoted Sisters

Fame, like talent, is alas not something easily transferred by genes alone. Whatever it is that sets apart the greatest stars is bestowed on them only, something that these ladies discovered, in varying degrees and each in her own way.

Lottie Pickford, Mary's wild sister;

Aurora Miranda, Carmen's less tempestuous sister;

Roslyn Kind, Barbra's half-famous half-sister*;

Lana Wood, Natalie's Bond-girl sister;

DeDee Pfeiffer, Michelle's classy sister.

* Victim of the ultimate snub: her name in Wikipedia is only a redirect to Barbra. Poor thing.