Tuesday, July 22, 2014

With “It” Being Poofy Dude Hair

I never thought I’d have a halfway good reason for mentioning Bob Dylan in the same sentence as Jean-Ralphio from Parks and Recreation, but then again I’m wrong often enough that you’d think I’d know better by know.

Jean Ralphio from Parks and Recreation looks just like young Bob Dylan

On the left is Dylan as he appears on the cover of the album Highway 61 Revisited. On the right is Ben Schwartz as Jean-Ralphio, wearing a denim vest. I know the rest of the internet is all about how Jean-Ralphio looks like a young Leon Trotsky, and I’m not denying that. I’m just trying to link Jean-Ralphio to as many significant cultural figures as possible.

Who Wore It Better? — previously:

Saturday, July 19, 2014

They, Conversely, Hate Lucy

From IMDb trivia for the 1951 film The Magic Carpet:
Lucille Ball had often complained to Columbia Pictures head Harry Cohn about the quality of the pictures she had been doing while under contract to the studio. At the time this picture was made, Ball was only obligated to Columbia for one more film, and Cohn had producer Sam Katzman, who turned out most of Columbia's low-budget “B” pictures, concoct this cheap Arabian Nights fantasy as a punishment to Ball for her constantly challenging him to give her better roles.
Yep, it was a spite film. Like a spite house, but instead a film. And in this scene from The Magic Carpet, Lucille Ball’s inexplicably red-haired, green-eyed Arabian princess character seems barely able to hide her boredom.

Bonus trivia: Lucille Ball was pregnant while she played the role specifically written to make her miserable.

Though I can’t imagine why you would, you can watch the entire film on YouTube for $2.99.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Lesley Gore on Batman — or, It’s My Bat-Party and I’ll Be a Lesbian If I Want To

In the same way that The Simpsons made me vaguely aware of Eudora Welty years before I’d read her books, I first learned about Lesley Gore through The Simpsons. In that one episode where Marge goes on the lam Thelma & Louise-style, her friend Ruth accidentally plays Gore’s “Sunshine, Lollipops and Rainbows” when she means to put in the cassette of “Welcome to the Jungle.” The song stuck with me — as a kid, because I thought it was funny, and as I got older, I realized it’s relentlessly cheerful to the point that it’s probably compensating for some crippling emotional pain.

The despair. It overwhelms.

Anyway, when the golden age of music downloading struck during my freshman year of college, I downloaded this Lesley Gore song to satisfy some weird Simpsons completionist urge. It was only then that I realized that Gore was also the singer of that midcentury drama queen anthem, “It’s My Party (And I’ll Cry If I Want to).” But for my money, Gore’s best song is “California Nights,” a wistful little number doing various chaste things at the beach. Here, watch the video for it.

You may be wondering why Lesley Gore was dressed in a pink kitty cat costume. I know I was. It turns out this is actually a clip from the old Adam West Batman series, which Gore guested on for two episodes in order to debut “California Nights.” She played Pussycat, a Catwoman sidekick who turned to a life of crime when she felt her dreams of being a rock-and-roll singer would not come to pass. This was all news to me, and I thought I’d seen every episode of the old Batman series.

It doesn’t take long for Catwoman to explain her plan: Pussycat is to use her feline wiles to seduce Robin. I know, I know. Naming a seductress Pussycat is a little on the nose — on the genitals? — even for Batman, but the truly interesting bit here is how Batman mythos converge with Lesley Gore’s own life. You see, Gore revealed in 2005 that she had been in a relationship with a woman for decades. (And if she didn’t sing some variation of “It’s My Party and I’ll Come Out If I Want to,” then she really missed a great opportunity.) To me, Lesley Gore’s sexuality seems notable for two reasons.

For one, it allows for a much darker reading of “Sunshine, Rainbows and Lollipops” — “Downpours, Colorblindess and Medicated Cough Drops,” if you will. The lyrics explain that existence has become sunshine, lollipops and rainbows because the speaker is in love. Love, however, doesn’t necessarily result in happiness when you’re a closeted teen pop idol in 1963. I’d imagine that at some point Gore noticed the irony of standing onstage and literally singing the praises of love. (At some point, she probably also noticed the irony of Pussycat.)

Secondly, her brief stint as Pussycat, who only ever appeared on the TV show, foreshadows a sidekick Catwoman would eventually get in the comics twenty-four years later: Holly Robinson. She never wore anything as sidekick-y as Pussycat’s get-up, but Holly was Selina Kyle’s right-hand woman for years, and she actually became Catwoman herself when Selina retired in 2006. Holly eventually came out as a lesbian as well. That’s not to say that Holly’s sexuality has anything to do with Lesley Gore’s, but it just makes for a nice little parallel for these two sidekicks to Catwoman. DC Comics introduced Batwoman back in 1956 to help quell real-life rumors that Batman and Robin gay, so that’s why it was all the more symbolic that DC reintroduced Batwoman in 2006 as a lesbian character. In an inadvertent way, Holly as an openly lesbian Catwoman makes good on something that’s just under the surface at in a different Bat-time and a different Bat-place with a closeted woman playing Pussycat.

Circle achieved in full. Way to be, superhero lesbians.

Extra bits:
  • “Marge on the Lam” is also what taught me about Garrison Keillor, though I wouldn’t get the joke until years later, when I heard my first broadcast of A Prairie Home Companion. “Oh, that’s what that one guy was.” This happens to me often, even today.
  • “Sunshine, Lollipops and Rainbows” debuted in the 1965 “beach party” movie Ski Party, which did, in fact, have beach scenes in spite of the snowy setting. The film starred Yvonne Craig, who in 1967 joined the cast of Batman as Batgirl. Additional circularity!
  • “It’s My Party” was Lesley Gore’s most famous song and also just one of those standards that everyone can at least hum the chorus to. But a lot of people don’t know that Gore later sang a “sequel” song, “Judy’s Turn to Cry,” in which the victimized narrator gets her revenge by kissing another boy and enraging the guy who left her in the first song, leaving Judy alone. Suck it, Judy. Why don’t more songs have sequels?
  • Gore also has a song titled “That’s the Way Boys Are,” and I kind of want there to be a response song along the lines of “Oh, How Would You Even Know, Lesley?”
  • While Holly Robinson was never Catgirl, Kitrina Falcone was, and her Catgirl outfit looks more or less like you’d imagine Pussycat’s, minus the camp.
  • Wikipedia’s page on homosexuality in the Batman franchise is more detailed than you might expect.
  • And, finally, you can watch the Batman episode, “That Darn Catwoman,” below.

Monday, July 14, 2014

The Lawnmower Man

[Drew dials his phone.]

Guy who answers phone: Hello?

Drew: Hi. I just moved, and the person who lived here before gave me your number and said I should ask you to come mow my lawn.

Guy: Wait, what?

Drew: Okay, so I just moved into a new house. And the previous tenant left me your phone number and told me that I should call you if I want to get the front lawn mowed.

Guy: Oh, okay. Yeah, I guess I could do that.

Drew: Great. When can you come over?

Guy: I dunno. Today is pretty open. Do you want me to mow your lawn today?

Drew: Yes, please. That would be perfect.

Guy: Do you, like, have a lawnmower there?

Drew: No. Um, no, I assumed you would come with one.

Guy: Oh, I guess that makes sense. I think my dad has a lawnmower. If I can drive to Downey this morning, I could maybe come by in early afternoon. Are you in L.A.?

Drew: I am. But I’m wondering why you don’t have a mower already?

Guy: Hey, how much are you going to pay me?

Drew: Oh, I thought you would tell me what you charge — like, per month.

Guy: Oh, so this isn’t, like, a one-time thing.

Drew: No, it would be, like, twice a month, I guess. Like, regular lawn-mowing.

Guy: Dude! That’s awesome. But yeah, I’d guess I’d say… fifty dollars?

Drew: I was thinking more like twenty-five dollars.

Guy: That’s cool. That’s cool. Could you maybe pay me for the whole month today?

Drew: I… Hey, I’m sorry, but are you, like, a gardener? Like, is that your job?

Guy: I have worked outside a lot.

Drew: But you’re not a gardener.

Guy: No.

Drew: This is not Carlos?

Guy: I don’t know Carlos.

Drew: Okay, I’m sorry. I think I dialed a wrong number.

Guy: Do you still want me to come mow your lawn?

Drew: ... No.

Guy: Oh. Man. All right. Man.

Drew: Yeah, I’m sorry.

[Drew hangs up his phone.]

Tuesday, July 8, 2014


FYI, for interest parties, this is exactly how I want the opening credits to look in the TV movie about my life, grainy picture and shaky V-hold and all.

The best part is when you feel like you’ve been watching them for long enough and the alphabetical list of guest stars is only at Mimi Maynard, and then the names start to not even seem like the could be real people. “Tiberius Thunderdogs?” “Joe-Ellen Schmurk?” “Turtlesby McPudding?” “Bimberly Howzitt?” “Krysh Krumple-Schott?” “People McNeeple”?

Also: “Is there not a single person of color in this entire condo complex?”

Also also: “And Hamburger Penis as Alexis.”