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Sunday, December 26, 2021

Over the two days of my Christmas visit with Mom, there was a lot of talking, reminiscing, and deep discussion of how we both got to where we are, now that her end time approaches. 

Other than having to go through the paperwork for assorted business and bills that will need to be paid when my mother passes — a task that found me trying hard not to cry during, and mostly failing — perhaps the most emotional exchange was during today's breakfast. I asked her "What do you think your life would have been like if you had not been sacrificed on the altar of your family's agenda and also that of my father's dreams?" That led to a very intriguing game of "What If...?" and mom and I both could see her having had the strength to break from her mother's damaging programming upon leaving college with a teaching degree, doing a stint as a biology teacher for a few years, thus kindling her interest in becoming a counselor of teens and families, followed by her going to grad school and earning all of her degrees and certifications, all likely without ever stopping to get married just "because of my mother's marching orders, and because it was the expected to do at that time." But such was not to be, as she was very much a psychologically and emotionally downtrodden country mouse from deep in pre-Civil Rights movement rural Alabama. 

Despite the fact that I would never have happened had she taken the path we imagined, we both mourned for what could have been for her life, career, and overal happiness and mental/emotional health.


It's the day after Christmas, so beggars of all stripes are out in droves on the streets of NYC and on public transportation.
Upon making my back to Brooklyn and disembarking at the Atlantic Terminal, When I got out of the subway train, I was approached by a fit young black guy in a designer leather jacket, designer pants, expensive-looking sneakers, and a pair of Dr. Dre Beats headphones. He walked up to me and asked "Will you give me something so I can get something to eat?" I lied and said I don't carry cash, with which I promptly walked away, hauling my luggage from my Christmas at Mom's. 
With too much stuff to lug up several flights of stairs, I went to that level's elevator and took it up to the street level. When I got up there, I was surprised to see the young moocher had taken the stairs in order to intercept me and hit me up again. He once more came over and, more aggressively this time, gestured with his thumb and demanded, not asked, "Buy me something at Starbuck's!!!" I rolled my eyes and said, "I don't carry cash and I am not using my card." His efforts frustrated, he glared and me and exclaimed "Fuck you!" At that I stopped, turned around, stood at my full height, and replied "No, young man. I think you've got it wrong. Fuck YOU." He was clearly not equipped to make with a witty response, so he just stood there stammering while searching for a retort and utterly failing. 
I then made my exit and came home.

Saturday, December 18, 2021

PROTO-BARBARA EDEN, or "I Cream On Jeannie"

Oh, the things one discovers in a roundabout way...

While chatting with my buddy Johnny Braccioli, who's three years my junior, and discussing the Chinese houseboy stereotype in movies and TV of yore, I cited the now-forgotten William Forsythe sitcom BACHELOR FATHER (1957-1962), a show that was pretty much gone from syndication by the time I was an under-10, so Johnny had never even heard heard of it. I went to YouTube to find examples of the show's houseboy, Peter (played by Sammee Tong), and in doing so I stumbled across a 1957 episode entitled "Bentley and the Revolving Housekeepers." It's of note because it features a bit with 26-year-old Barbara Eden, eight years before her iconic role as Jeannie in I DREAM OF JEANNIE, and yes, she was already rocking her thermonuclear sex appeal for all it was worth.

In a one-shot guest role, Eden plays Patricia, protagonist Bentley's hot fiancee who's coning over for a hot date, only for his image of her to be dashed by his newly-hired spinster housekeeper, a presence brought in to provide a supposedly much-needed female influence on Bentley's adopted adolescent niece (much to the chagrin of houseboy Peter). The new housekeeper, who enforces a regime of healthy (bland) meals, no drinking, and no poker for money, knew Patricia when she was a child, and when smokin' hot Patricia arrives, the housekeeper keeps bringing up what a cute child she was, and then derails the Bentley's hot date by monopolizing Patricia's attention and reminiscing with her for hours while our hero falls asleep. When Bentley wakes up and the housekeeper finally — FINALLY — goes to bed, Patricia sexily entices our hero to sit with her on the couch. Unfortunately, the housekeeper's talk of Patricia as a child has cemented that image in Bentley's head, so now he only perceives her as a little girl, complete with curls, sailor dress, and a lollipop, thus killing Bentley's boner utterly.
26-year-old Barbara Eden as "little" Patricia, working that lollipop.

Let me tell you, no one could flash seductive eyes while suggestively licking a lollipop like Barbara Eden, even if she is dressed as a moppet (which lends a disturbing undercurrent to the gag when seen some 64 year later). 
That signature Barbara Eden "come hither" look, disturbingly superimposed with Shirley Temple cosplay. Nowadays, a gag like this would immediately be pilloried for being "problematic." Nonetheless, in context it's pretty damned funny.
Let us not forget that her original take on Jeannie was considerably toned down after  the balck-and-white first season of I DREAM OF JEANNIE, as early Jeannie was unabashedly horny as hell and pretty much a live-action PLAYBOY cartoon. Once that show caught on with kids, especially my generation's little girls, the super-overt sexualization of Jeannie was relegated to the back closet of outmoded Golden Age teevee. 
Though rerun all the time when I was a kid, the black-and-white episodes of I DREAM OF JEANNIE were seldom seen, at least that's how it was for the East Coast's Tri-State area, and the only first season episode that I clearly remember seeing was the one that introduced Jeannie and set up the whole series from there. Myself and the rest of my peers mostly absorbed the subsequent color seasons, and that's what most of us remember. Then came the wave of colorization of many classic TV sitcoms, and I DREAM OF JEANNIE got the treatment fairly late in the game, which worked for its benefit because by that time the colorization process was digital and largely seamless. It was thus that I finally saw several first season episodes and finally got Barbara Eden's appeal as an utter sex bomb. Part of the fun of Eden was that she was acutely aware of her own sexiness, and she worked it to great effect in both comedies and dramatic roles, but it was most effective when she worked her seductive talents for laughs. She was always possessed of a devilish smile that was bolstered by those eyes — good lord, those eyes — so when she was fully unleashed in unexpurgated form during I DREAM OF JEANNIE, strutting around Major Nelson's house in naught but a men's shirt, a classic wank fantasy was born. And now I've unearthed what may have been its (now problematic) genesis.

You may now retire for some quality "alone time."

Sunday, December 12, 2021


Anne Rice, the author who redefined the vampire for the late 20th century and beyond, has left us.

Though I enjoyed some of her vampire books, starting with INTERVIEW WITH THE VAMPIRE, which I first read when I was 16, I never became as rabid for them as many did, as the series kept churning out novels that stretched the series world and central characters well past the breaking point. If you ask me, just stick with the first three — INTERVIEW WITH THE VAMPIRE, THE VAMPIRE LESTAT, and THE QUEEN OF THE DAMNED — and the first of her Sleeping Beauty erotica, THE CLAIMING OF SLEEPING BEAUTY. That latter stuff will shock the readers of her vampire books, as they are replete with hardcore sex scenes, much of iot involving buggery, and in one memorable instance we get a young boy anally pleasuring himself via a large stone phallus that's part of a castle's decor. THE CLAIMING OF SLEEPING BEAUTY was so filthy, I laughed my ass of while reading it. Such a shift in author's content and tone was impressive.

Requiscat en pace, o weaver of dark populist potboilers.

Thursday, December 09, 2021


My fistula arm in the wake of Tuesday's fistula maintenance procedure in Flatlands.

One of the many ongoing agonies of late stage kidney failure and dialysis is the necessity of periodic checkups and maintenance of one's fistula, but one gets used to it.

The bandage near my wrist covers the point where the surgeon made the incision through which a wire is inserted into the length of the fistula, and when withdrawn, the wire pulls out any clotting that may be hindering the in-and-out blood flow of the dialysis process. (The other two bandages are over the entry points for the needles. What's seen here was hours after dialysis, as those wounds are tightly bound with thick cotton wadding and then tightly bound for pressure that aids in the woulds sealing.) 

The fistula is a surgically-created fusion of an artery and a vein, and the area that needs periodic seeing to runs pretty much the length of one's arm. So, what happens is they make an incision and then roughly shove a wire into the arm, with the arm numbed-up and the patient under mild sedation. In the case of Tuesday's maintenance, it was a doctor I had not seen before, and the guy was quite rough with the wire. Think of a revolutionary war soldier tamping gunpowder down the barrel of his rifle and you'll get the idea. 

When I got home from the procedure and the numbing agent began wearing off, a bruise became visible at the far end of where the wire was shoved, and from then on it's felt like someone hit the bruised area with a ball peen hammer. Fun, fun, fun...

Sunday, December 05, 2021



Welcome to the world of affluence porn.

So... HOUSE OF GUCCI, which shall hereafter be referred to as HOUSE OF GOOCH. (If you don't know the meaning of the slang term "gooch," look it up. It is wholly appropriate in this case.)

Based on the story of the fall of the legendary Gucci fashion dyanasty, the film  is an overlong example of what can only be called "affluence porn," with a genuinely good performance by Lady Gaga serving to anchor an otherwise super-episodic cornucopia of awful dialogue, cartoonishly bad accents, and a soundtrack of ready-made classic pop hits to accent the proceedings. It veers wildly between borderline-surrealist camp — its unintentionally hilarious sex scene between Lady Gaga and Adam Driver being a standout — and an ultra-grim drama of inter-familial power plays, betrayals, and eventually murder.
It's really bad and definitely worth catching when it hits cable, but be ready for some of its more "out there" elements, with Jared Leto stealing the film as talentless would-be design maven Paulo Gucci. His is a performance that has to be seen to be believed, complete with "It's-a me, Mario!" accent that bears zero resemblance to that wielded by any real Italian person. Seriously, it's downright embarrassing.
Final verdict: HOUSE OF GOOCH may scratch your itch for affluence porn and intra-familial intrigue, but a good movie it ain't, and it's really pushing the audience's patience with a running time of two hours and thirty-eight minutes.
Jared Leto as Paolo Gucci: guaranteed to take home a Razzie at this year's awards ceremony.