Monday, December 29, 2014

Happy Birthday Mary Tyler Moore!

“A little song, a little dance, a little seltzer down your pants.”

Picture Legend:

1. Mary
2. Young
3. Dancer
4. Happy Hotpoint
5. Record album model
6. On display
7. Legs
8. Mary’s bunny days
9. Danny Thomas
10. Marlo Thomas
11. Sherry Jackson
12. With the evil Carl Reiner
13. The Petrie’s
14. Rob and Laura, soon to be impersonated by Scully and Mulder
15. With the rest of the cast, (L to R) Morey Amsterdam, Richard Deacon, Mary, Dick, and Rose Marie
16. Laura Petrie’s signature Capri pants.
17. Posing
18. All grown up
19. Blonde
20. Mary with 2nd husband, Grant Tinker
21. With Julie Andrews in “Thoroughly Modern Millie”
22. With George Peppard in “What's So Bad About Feeling Good?”
23. With some guy named Elvis in “Change of Habit”
24. As Mary Richards on “The Mary Tyler Moore Show”
25. Part of the MTMS cast, (top) Ed Asner, Gavin MacLeod, Ted Knight, (middle) Mary, Georgia Engel, (bottom) the indomitable Betty White
26. Christopher Lloyd
27. With Timothy Hutton in “Ordinary People”
28. Mary with son Richie on the left, and T.V. son Richie on the right, Larry Mathews
29. Mary with Dr.  Robert Levine
30. With Dudley Moore in “Six Weeks”
31. With (L to R) Richard Jenkins, Patricia Arquette, Ben Stiller, Tea Leoni, George Segal, and Josh Brolin in “Flirting with Disaster”
32. With an old friend in “The Gin Game”
33. 2004‘s “The Dick Van Dyke Show Revisited”
34. With Mila Kunis on “That 70s Show”
35. Fourth Grader
36. With the cast of “Hot in Cleveland”
37. MTM

   This morning it is my great privilege and honor to give a great big happy birthday shout out to one of my very favorite comedians and actresses, Ms Mary Tyler Moore!
    Like about 51% of the general population Mary was born at a very early age as a small, bald, female infant on this day in Brooklyn Heights, which I’m told is an affluent residential neighborhood within the New York City borough of Brooklyn. 
   A lot of notable people have lived in Brooklyn Heights. More so than your average neighborhood probably. The great British/American poet W. H. Auden once lived there after he moved to the U.S. in 1939. Walt Whitman, a humanist poet lived there. So did the novelist Thomas Wolfe, who wrote Look Homeward, Angel, Norman Mailer, Carson McCullers, Truman Capote, and Marilyn Monroe’s ex and playwright Arthur Miller once lived there. A lot of famous actresses like Mary lived there, or still do, like “Sex and the City" star Sarah Jessica Parker, “Ferris Bueller's Day Off”s Mia Sara, “The Office"s and “Birdman”s Amy Ryan, “The Americans” Keri Russel, Academy Award winner Jennifer Connelly, “Gilmore Girls” Alexis Bledel, Lena Dunham creator of “Girls,” “Vanilla Sky”s Penélope Cruz. Tyra Banks and the musician and fashion icon Björk. 
   A lot of other people live there too. Some just Ordinary People (if there is such a thing as ordinary people. I’ve yet to meet any), which happens to be the name of the film Mary was nominated for a Best Actress Academy Award for in 1981, but lost to Sissy Spacek, who was in “Coal Miner's Daughter,” which is about the country singer Loretta Lynn. Ms Moore won the Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actress In A Motion Picture that year though.  
   Sissy Spacek was born in Quitman, Texas. 
   According to some sources Mary was born in Flatbush New York, which is also a community in Brooklyn. The Jamaican/American reggae fusion singer and deejay Shaggy once lived in Flatbush.
   Mary soon moved to Flushing, Queens though, which is a whole different borough altogether. 
   Her father, George Tyler Moore, was a clerk, and her mom, Marjorie, well, the Internet Movie Data Base (IMDB) describes her profession as being an alcoholic. 
   A professional alcoholic. That’s very impressive. I am an amateur. 
   Mary’s maternal grandparents were English immigrants, and her father was of English, Irish, and German descent, so she is four sixths English, one sixth Irish, and one sixth German. Very important.
   Mary was the oldest of three children. Her sister Elizabeth was born three months earlier than her own son, Richie (Richard Jr.). Elizabeth was born March 20, 1956, and Richie was born July 3rd; both here in Los Angeles at what used to be Queen of Angels Hospital. Unfortunately she passed away in 1978 at the age 21, her death  ruled a suicide by drug overdose. Her brother John was eight years younger, and he passed away here in L.A. in 1991 of cancer after a failed assisted suicide. He was 47 years old.
   But just after John was born in New York the Tyler Moore family moved out here to Los Angeles. I’m sorry to say I was not yet alive to greet them.
   Mary attended  first St. Ambrose Catholic School in West Hollywood,  and then Immaculate Heart High School, an  all-girl, college preparatory school, in the Los Feliz area of Los Angeles, just below the famed Griffith Park Observatory.   
   She was a natural dancer.      
   "My grandfather once said, having watched me one entire afternoon, prancing and leaping and cavorting, 'this child will either end up on stage or in jail.' Fortunately, I took the easy route."
   And she would utilize that talent to break into show business after graduating from high school.
   She also got married at age 18 to Richard Meeker, whom she described as the “boy next door,” which implies familiarity and availability I suppose. Six months later she was pregnant with Richie, her one and only child. 
    Her first professional job was as a dancer... as an elf specifically, way before Will Farrell got into the game. 
   There was a popular show on television at the time, 1955 to be exact, called “The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet,” one might say “That 50s Show,” of the period, but which concentrated more on the parents, Ozzie and Harriet Nelson, rather than their two sons (one of which, Ricky Nelson, would become an accomplished actor and singer in his own right, starring in a film with John Wayne, and here’s a clip of him singing his hit, “Garden Party”). And here’s an episode of the Ozzie and Harriet Show. 
   It was a cool show that I would later discover in reruns. It was funny and smart, and not as bland as let’s say, “Father Knows Best,” or “Leave it to Beaver.”
   Television shows were sponsored by specific and various business concerns at the time. For instance the  American radio and television anthology series “Death Valley Days,” which aired on T.V. from 1952 to 1970, was sponsored by the Pacific Coast Borax Company (our 40th President Ronald Reagan hosted the show from 1964 to 1965. Too bad he didn’t stick with it). There was “The 20th Century Fox Hour,” “Alcoa Theatre,” “Goodyear Television Playhouse,” and “The DuPont Show with June Allyson.” On and on.
   Well it seems the sponsor for “The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet,” was a domestic appliance manufacturer, The Hotpoint Electric Heating Company. Mary was hired to be their mascot, the “Happy Hotpoint” elf. Here’s a clip of one of her commercials. 
   When it became hard to hide her advancing pregnancy in the dancing elf costume Mary moved on. 
   And switched from dancing to acting. She said dancing "lacked the spotlight," and she "really wanted to be a star."
   It is said Mary appeared in 39 T.V. commercials in five days, ultimately earning about $6,000 from her first job. She modeled and appeared on a number of album covers. She auditioned for the role of Danny Thomas’s (born Amos Muzyad Yakhoob Kairouz. What a change up!) older daughter on his successful television show, “Make Room For Daddy.” But he didn’t hire her. Later he would famously say “no daughter of mine could have that [little] nose." 
   I have no idea why he would say that. His real life daughter, Marlo Thomas, has a beautiful nose, so much so that she starred in her own sitcom, the late 60s “That Girl.”
   By the way, Danny founded the St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee, and Marlo now acts as it’s National Outreach Director. The hospital’s stated mission is “to advance cures, and means of prevention, for pediatric catastrophic diseases through research and treatment. Consistent with the vision of our founder Danny Thomas, no child is denied treatment based on race, religion or a family's ability to pay.”
   That sounds exceptionally cool to me. Here’s a link to the hospital’s website in case you’d like to donate a kidney or something. I bet they wouldn’t turn down some cash as well.
   Anyway, the role went to the actress Sherry Jackson... who also has a beautiful nose... for a girl.
   Yet Danny would prove to be instrumental in Mary’s career, and very soon at that.
   She got her first regular television role in 1959 as Sam, Richard Diamond's smoldering answering service girl, on the third season of “Richard Diamond, Private Detective,” starring the original fugitive, David Janssen (Danny Thomas would be an honorary pallbearer at Janssen’s funeral in 1980. Thomas himself would die of heart failure, the same thing Janssen died of, on February 6, 1991 at the age of 79). It was a nice gig for a budding young actress except her lovely face was never shown, just her voice and legs. And her work wasn’t even credited. Go figure. 
   She guest starred on lots of T.V. shows after that strenuous job, gaining experience with each.
   She appeared on “Bronco,” in 1959 with Ty Hardin, “Bourbon Street Beat,” with Richard Long (first credited as Mary Moore),  John Cassavetes’ “Johnny Staccato” (he’s a  jazz pianist and a private detective), in 1960, “Overland Trail,” with the great William "What a revoltin' development this is" Bendix and Doug McClure, “77 Sunset Strip,” with Efrem Zimbalist Jr., “The Millionaire,” “The Tab Hunter Show,” “Wanted: Dead or Alive,” with a youthful Steve McQueen, and just oodles more. 
   Then in 1961 Mary got her big break. The comedian, actor, writer, Rob’s dad, and one of Danny Ocean’s Eleven, Carl Reiner, was casting a new T.V. show based on his own experience  as writer and performer on Sid Caesar’s “Your Show of Shows.” It would star the actor, comedian, writer, singer, and dancer, Dick Van Dyke (who just celebrated his own 89th birthday on the 13th). The show would be produced by Danny Thomas' company (who partnered up with the actor Sheldon Leonard and Tori’s dad, Aaron Spelling), and it was Danny himself who had  recommended her to play the part of Laura Petrie, Van Dyke’s lovely young wife. Thomas had  remembered Mary as "the girl with three names" whom he had turned down earlier.   
   The show  initially aired on CBS from October 3rd, 1961, and ran until June 1st, 1966, for a total of 158 episodes, and was a huge hit, and is considered a classic American television show. I know that’s when I first became aware of Mary’s work, but much later than the rest of the country, as I had to wait to grow up a bit and catch her in syndicated reruns. 
   “The Dick Van Dyke Show,” won 15 Emmy Awards, Mary getting two of them, in 1964 and 1966, for Outstanding Continued Performance By An Actress.   
   The show has  been ranked at 13 on TV Guide's 50 Greatest TV Shows of All Time.
   Of all of the 158 episodes Mary has singled the second episode of the first season, “My Blonde-Haired Brunette,” as her favorite. Here’s a clip. 
   Here’s a clip of an entire episode entitled “The Curious Thing About Women.”
   Mary’s Laura Petrie’s son was named Richie, just like Mary’s real life son. Coincidence, or cosmic hiccup? I’ll let you decide.
   During the first year of the show Mary was paid $450 American an episode, which doesn’t sound like much for starring in a hit show and all. But it wasn’t a hit at that time, and $450  1961 dollars equals $3,519.19 in today’s. Which still doesn’t sound like enough for her fine work  actually. 
   She would earn more as the years tumbled by.
   Although Mary’s professional life was advancing at a steady clip, her personal life wasn’t as fortunate.
   "During the first year of The Dick Van Dyke Show, as thrilled and bursting with excitement over my work as I was, I was equally without emotion at home," Mary wrote in her 1995 memoir, “After All.” She divorced Dick Meeker in 1961.
   The next year she married television executive Grant Tinker. 
   Later she reflected. “I wish I had gone beyond the loneliness I sometimes felt and taken a look at myself before grasping the very good-looking hand that Grant A. Tinker extended. He was handsome, witty and educated. He was in a power seat too. What could have been more irresistible to an insecure, career-obsessed daddy-seeker? 
   We fell in love and committed ourselves to each other." He had just been offered a job in programming at NBC, and he was thrilled. I said to him at the time, "I bet we're going to be television's golden couple." 
   About her son during this period. "There is no question about it. By the time Richie was 5, I had already let him down. When he needed me the most, I was busier and even more self-concerned than I had been when he was an impressionable infant." 
   After “The Dick Van Dyke Show” ran it’s course, Mary began making films. In 1967 she co-starred with Julie Andrews in the musical/comedy “Thoroughly Modern Millie,” a film I first saw just last week. Directed by “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid,” and “The Sting”s George Roy Hill, the movie was nominated for seven Academy Awards and five Golden Globes. Carol Channing alone made this picture worth watching (she was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress). Not a bad start. Here’s the trailer. 
      1968 saw her with “The A Team” and “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” George Peppard in “What's So Bad About Feeling Good? Nothing that I can see. It’s kind of a cross between  the viral medical films “Outbreak,” and “Contagion,” only a comedy, and no one gets killed as far as I can tell.
   She worked with our friend Robert Wagner that year in “Don't Just Stand There,” which has something to do with a porn novel.
   She also did the obligatory Elvis Presley movie, “Change of Habit,” which concerns three Catholic nuns preparing for their final vows, who are sent to a rough inner city neighborhood dressed as lay missionaries to work at a clinic run by a young doctor. Guess who’s the nun and who’s the doctor. 
   This was Elvis’s last theatrical film, the rest of his movies being concert documentaries. This was Mary’s last film for awhile as well, yet it introduced her to the actor Ed Asner, her future cohort on “The Mary Tyler Moore Show,” and life long friend.
      It was at about this time that Mary was diagnosed with Type I  (insulin dependent) diabetes. She was 33 years old.
   In 2001 she testified before Congress calling for an increase in funding for diabetes research and support of embryonic stem cell research, which she called "truly life affirming." Also present in the hearing room were about 200 children with diabetes and their families, who were in town for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation International Children's Congress of 2001.
   “Diabetes is an all-too-personal time bomb which can go off today, tomorrow, next year, or 10 years from now - a time bomb affecting millions like me and the children here today.”
   This of course would affect her health for the rest of her life, especially her eyesight. She began hitting the sauce as well, which never seems to help matters.
   In 1970 Mary was offered a half-hour sitcom spot on CBS. She and Grant had founded MTM the year before which produced the program. Tinker hired  James L Brooks (Brooks would go on to become a hugely successful film producer and director, some of his projects being “Terms of Endearment,” “As Good as It Gets,” and “Spanglish.” He was also partly responsible for Matt Groening creating “The Simpsons”) and Allan Burns to create the show, which became “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” (MTMS).
   “The Mary Tyler Moore Show,” was about a 30 year old, never married woman who comes to the big city to make good... on her own... without a guy to help her out... by herself. That premise in itself, at the time, made the show unique. 
   Geof Hammill of the Museum of Broadcast Communications has said, "As Mary Richards, a single woman in her thirties, Moore presented a character different from other single TV women of the time. She was not widowed or divorced or seeking a man to support her."  
   He also said the show was "one of the most acclaimed television programs ever produced" in US television history.
   So Mary now had two, not one but two, classic television shows under her belt. Most people don’t have any!
   The show ran on  CBS from September 19th, 1970 to March 19th, 1977, for a total 168 episodes. It would win Emmy Awards for Outstanding Comedy Series three years in a row (1975–77). It would win a total of 29 Emmy Awards, a record unbroken until “Frasier” got 30 in 2002,  a show I’ve never watched for some reason. Mary won 4 Emmys, 3 for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series, and 1 for Actress of the Year: Series. She won a Golden Globe Award in 1971 for Best Actress/Comedy. The show won a a Peabody Award in it’s final season, which upon presentation they said  MTM Enterprises had "established the benchmark by which all situation comedies must be judged" and lauded the show "for a consistent standard of excellence – and for a sympathetic portrayal of a career woman in today's changing society"       
   I know I sure liked the show. In my late teens when it aired my friends and I would stop whatever we were doing on Saturday nights to watch the CBS lineup which consisted of  MTMS at nine, followed by “The Bob Newhart Show” at nine thirty, rounded up with “The Carol Burnett Show,” at ten, and “Saturday Night Live” at eleven thirty. Of course SNL was on NBC, but we didn’t mind getting up to change the channel. We’d probably be drinking and smoking various substances while watching it. I wouldn’t recommend that these days. 
   Here’s a clip from my favorite episode entitled “Chuckles Bites the Dust,” from which the quote at the top of this post comes from. 
   Here’s an entire episode entitled “Neighbors.” Enjoy.
   Mary on throwing her hat in the air for the title shots for MTMS: "It was a hat that my aunt had given me for Christmas, and I brought it with me because they said: 'Be sure and dress warm. It's going to be freezing in Minneapolis.' So - I forget which writer it was - but we were all outside, and he said: 'You know what would be good? If you take that hat, the beret, and throw it in the air.' "
   That episode “Chuckles bites the Dust.” It won an Emmy for writing. The guy who wrote it was David Lloyd. He wrote for a lot of other shows as well, like “The Bob Newhart Show,” “Taxi,” “Cheers,” “Frasier,” and “Wings.” One of his sons is named Christopher. Christopher followed in his father’s footsteps and began writing for “The Golden Girls, then went on to produce sitcoms like “Frasier,” and now “Modern Family.” You may have heard of it. Christopher’s won nine Emmys.
   After MTMS ran it’s course, Mary tried a comedy/variety show in the same vein as “The Carol Burnet Show,” It was called “Mary.” There were comedy sketches and musical numbers. Mary talked to the audience, answered questions. tugged on her ear. It featured a guy named Michael Keaton. He would go on to play Batman. “Mary” would only last for 3 episodes.
   She would attempt that genre again the next year with a show called  “The Mary Tyler Moore Hour.” This time she played an actress, Mary McKinnon, who starred in a variety show. Michael Keaton helped her out again. It would show her producing the show each week basically. It had a new celebrity guest each week. Lucille Ball appeared on it once. Dick Van Dyke too.
   It lasted for 11 episodes.
   Mary went back to films in 1980, “Ordinary People,” specifically. Robert Redford’s very first directorial effort. It was a drama, a genre Mary was not known for. Her co-stars were Donald Sutherland, Judd Hirsch from “Taxi”, “Blade Runner”s M. Emmet Walsh, and Timothy Hutton and Elizabeth McGovern in their very first roles. 
   On being cast for this film: "I was thinking of my own family history and how we missed the mark of being everything that I'm sure people thought I was. Because I had, though nothing that would raise your eyebrows. I had problems with my father, in that he expected more from me than I was able to give. I did not do well in school, and that was a big disappointment to him. [on the other hand,] we did our shows, both the The Dick Van Dyke Show and mine, in front of audiences, and he and my mother would come to every show. And I could recognize my father's laugh."
   Mary played an emotionally unavailable mother to Timothy Hutton. She may have blamed him for the death her eldest son, Timothy’s brother, who died in a boating accident in which Timothy was involved. It is 124 minutes long, and I just saw it for the first time the other night too, and you can feel each and every minute pass by and be lost to eternity. It’s a very fine film. It won a Best Picture Oscar at the Academy Awards, winning over Scorsese‘s “Raging Bull” for God’s sake. Redford won for Best Director. Hutton for Best Supporting Actor. Sutherland got robbed and wasn’t nominated. Mary was and lost to Sissy Spacek. All the critics loved it, and put it on their best pictures of all time lists. 
   I highly recommend “Ordinary People,” especially to those who suffer from severe depression.
   Sometimes art imitates life. In this instance the similarities are nothing less than eerie. Here’s a montage concerning her character, Beth Jarrett.
   Throughout her life Mary had put most of her energies into her career, with devastatingly successful results. As we’ve already seen this affected her relation ship with her son. She, like her character in “Ordinary People,” was emotionally unavailable to her son. Like in the film her marriage suffered.  
   “One night in 1973, after dinner and an argument, he said he thought we should separate, that we had ‘poisoned the marriage.’ Perhaps 11½ years was all we had in us, he concluded. My face flushed, and my mouth went dry. I headed to my bathroom, dropped to my knees and began crying—loud childlike sobs—and screaming ‘No’ over and over. After a while I became aware that I was pounding on the carpeted floor with my fists. It was the tantrum I was never allowed as a child. 
   After reassuring the dogs, who'd come rushing to my rescue, I got up and joined Grant for a Grand Marnier at the bar. I said, ‘I'd like you to have your things out of here in two days.’ As we got into bed that night, I asked him if he would put his arms around me for a while. He did. The next morning, except for having had separate breakfasts, we left for the studio as always.”     
   Mary’s dependence on alcohol increased.    
   So did her son’s... and other things.
   “It wasn't until a frantic, sobbing Richie called home in February 1973, begging sanctuary from a cocaine dealer who had threatened to kill him over some unpaid debts, that I realized the extent of the tangle that was now my son's life. We were fortunate to find a doctor who specialized in young people. It was on the condition that he see this doctor that my emaciated, frightened prodigal came home. During the next two years he got himself straight and finished high school. I wasn't able to attend the graduation ceremony that was such a triumph for him. I was taping my show.”
   Grant and I “went to a therapist once, but the thought of entering into a process of truth-telling in front of a complete stranger was more than Grant could allow. It was during this time that I had my first affair.
   I met him on the set of Ordinary People after the shooting had begun. [Moore will not identify the man.] When he touched me that first time with such intense passion and curiosity, I thought I'd die from pleasure. In our lucid moments, we reminded ourselves that this was the heartfelt yet temporary phenomenon of location shooting. He had a longtime commitment and wasn't interested in changing that life. 
   As for me, there was no question that my marriage was over. I was loving a man who desired me and who awakened an appetite I'd never experienced, and the world was not coming to an end because of it. The Catholic in me was convinced that I was committing a mortal sin. On the other side of the ledger was the undeniable affirmation that I was an appealing woman. I had forgotten. When I returned to Los Angeles for Christmas, I found out there was someone else in Grant's life now. We'd moved on in mute concert.” 
   Mary and Grant separated in 1980, and she moved to New York City to start a new life. 
   “Not surprisingly, during that summer the distillation of my growing alcoholism took place. Even though I was accomplishing things by myself, it was all so uncomfortable that I anesthetized myself at the end of the day. Nothing was so tough I couldn't get through it until 5:30 or 6. Then the effects of vodka on the rocks made it all go away. 
   In the spirit of the grand adventure in Manhattan, I took to making margaritas in the blender. My recipe was a quarter of a blender of bottled mix, one quarter of ice, one half of tequila and shake it up, baby! It had the consistency of a milk shake and the effect of morphine. 
   I loved to take it to my bed. The phone rested on a large table, as did the TV Everything I needed was within reach. My life from 6 'til 8 p.m. was spent looking at pictures of people in magazines doing the things I thought would be fun—boating, skiing, dancing with the new man who would allow me to soar, as I did now from the drinks. 
   On Oct. 15, 1980, at 5 a.m., the phone awakened me. It was Grant. ‘If you're standing, you should sit down.’ 
   ‘I am sitting,’ I said. 
   ‘It's Richie. He's dead.’ 
   I shouted into the phone, ‘What do you mean?’ My body and mind were struggling to comprehend what he was saying. Richie's housemate told Grant that my son had been sitting on his bed watching TV with a gun in his hand. Then the gunshot. 
   It could not be true. Could he be here for 24 years and then irreversibly cease to exist? My sobs were those of panic. I called a friend to help get me on a plane to Los Angeles. Maybe when the plane landed it would all be different—a mistake. I called Grant back for the details: Richie had been holding a gun. The wound, where? Face. Did he live for any time? Death en route to a hospital. 
   A formal investigation by the Los Angeles Coroner's Office later confirmed that his death was accidental. Richie collected guns and kept some on his bedroom wall. He had been toying with one of them, a gun called a Snake Charmer, when it went off. It was eventually taken off the market because of its "hair-trigger" instability. 
   We held the service outdoors, the coffin resting under a vast oak tree. The next day a funeral director brought Richie's ashes to me. His father, Dick, Grant and I, holding the remains of my son close to my belly, boarded a private plane that took us north to Mammoth Airport, where a rental car was waiting. Dick drove us to a place near the Owens River. We walked to a small bridge where father and son had spent some very happy times. Grant and Dick stood together on the bank as I made my way to the bridge. 
   It was a sunny day. The water was clear and high as I knelt over it. I opened the container and emptied it into the rushing water. What was meant to be a prayer became an outraged demand. ‘You take care of him,’ I screamed at the sky.” 

   Mary would eventually check herself in to the Betty Ford Clinic to get some help. 
   Some time later she would take her mother to a hospital where she met Dr. Robert Levine, her mother’s doctor. 
   They were married on November 23rd, 1983, and remain married to this day.
   Okay, back at work, Mary tried another drama in 1982, this time with the comedian Dudley Moore. That’s right. Two comedic Moore’s in a drama. The film was called “Six Weeks,” and it didn’t do well.
   In 1985 Mary went back to television with another show called “Mary,” this time a half hour filmed sitcom about a fortyish divorcée working at a second rate tabloid in Chicago. Her co-stars included James Farentino, the diabolical John Astin, and a young, pre-Bundy, Katey Sagal. It lasted a full season I guess, 13 episodes at least. 
   She played Mary Todd Lincoln in the 1987 mini-series, “Lincoln.” Guest starred on “Frasier,” in 1994. Tried her hand in a dramatic television series in 1995‘s “New York News,” with Gregory Harrison and the lovely and talented Madeline Kahn, who sadly passed away four years later at the end of 1999. This show ran for one season.
   In 1992 she finally received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 7021 Hollywood Blvd. near LA Fitness and the CVS pharmacy. Dick Van Dyke’s star is nearby.
   The next year she would appear in a wonderful comedy, “Silver Linings Playbook/American Hustle” David O. Russell written and directed “Flirting with Disaster,” along with Ben Stiller, Patricia Arquette, Téa Leoni (what kind of name is Tea anyway... damn foreigners), George Segal, Alan Alda, Lily Tomlin, Josh Brolin, and the lovely and talented Richard Jenkins, who couldn’t stop himself from dropping acid through out. This movie is so good I think I’ll watch it tonight in honor of Mary’s birthday. Here’s a clip (warning! Boobies are involved).
   In 1997 she worked with Téa again in 4 episodes of her T.V. show, “The Naked Truth,” a comedy. Mary animated herself and appeared as the Reverend Karen Stroup on “King of the Hill,” in 1999. In 2000 she reunited with fellow MTMS cast mate Valerie Harper, in the T.V. movie “Mary and Rhoda,” in which they involve themselves in some daughter swapping... I think.
   Mary was on hand when a bronze statue capturing her character Mary's signature hat-toss, went on display on May 8, 2002 at the Minneapolis intersection where the scene for Mary Tyler Moore was originally filmed. For the event she tossed her tam (a type of bonnet originating from Scotland), into the appreciative crowd.
      While working in the Neil Simon play “Rose’s Dilemma,” in December of 2003, Mary received an exceptionally rude letter from the author. Something along the line of “Memorize your lines or get the _ _ _ _ off of my play.” Mary got the _ _ _ _ off of his play and walked out, and was replaced by another actress. But it seems the problem wasn’t with Mary. The problem was that Neil kept changing the lines, so much so that Mary had to have them fed to her via earplug. The play sucked anyway, and closed within two months. Not one of Mr. Simon’s better efforts. 
   Take a pill Neil.
   She reunited with her former T.V. husband... again, Dick van Dyke, in that year's “The Gin Game,” a two person play written by Donald L. Coburn, which aired on the USA cable network. I highly recommend it as it presents these two seasoned actors as you’ve never seen them before. Warning! There’s some strong language if I remember correctly. You might want to pull out the old ear muffs for this one.
   They reunited, yes, again, the very next year in “The Dick Van Dyke Show Revisited,” a hour long T.V. movie, in which they revert back to the familiar characters of Rob and Laura Petrie.  Rose Marie, Larry Mathews, who played the Petrie’s son Richie, Jerry Van Dyke, Ray Romano, and Carl Reiner make an appearance.
   In 2006 Mary guest starred on three episodes of “That 70s Show,” another of my favorite sitcoms. The show was filmed on the same sound stage where “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” was filmed in the 70s. She arrived for her first day's filming to find a huge WELCOME BACK MARY! banner waiting for her. Wasn’t that nice?
   In 2011 she had surgery to remove a meningioma, which as every fourth grader knows  is a diverse set of tumors arising from the meninges, the membranous layers surrounding the central nervous system. They arise from the arachnoid "cap" cells of the arachnoid villi in the meninges. These tumors usually are benign in nature; however, a small percentage are malignant. Mary’s was benign.
   In 2011 and 2013 respectively she appeared in two episodes of “Hot in Cleveland,” reuniting her with her MTMS co-star, Betty White, who has similar characteristics as the Energizer Bunny. She keeps going, and going, and going. Here’s a clip.      
   We’re getting close to the end I’m afraid. Let’s see, what else?
   Mary is a strong animal rights activist, in that she doesn’t like them eaten.  She has worked with Farm Sanctuary to raise awareness about the cruelty of factory farming and to promote the compassionate treatment of chickens and pigs. 
   But not cows.
   She’s a vegetarian.
   She’s a cat lady. She herself has adopted over 132 cats that live with her at her ranch.
   Until now I didn’t know she had a ranch.
   She used to smoke though, quite a bit. I don’t know if she still does. Probably not. We tend to gain wisdom when we age, except politically.
   Mary supports embryonic stem cell research, which is a rather humanitarian, and therefore a liberal position to take. Her dear friend Ed Asner though has hinted that lately Mary has leaned more to the conservative side. Many do as they get older. I don’t know why. She herself has said she likes to watch Fox so-called News. 
   Step back from the Dark Side Ms Moore. Come back into the light. 
   The National Enquirer has reported the Mary is close to death. Every other media source reports the opposite, except of course for the continuing effects of her diabetes and advancing age. But that’s to be expected. Indeed the IMDB tells me she’s working on a future project with Bob Newhart and Debbie Reynolds, entitled “Big Finish,” which is in pre production. 
   That’s good.
   Here’s some interviews with the Archive of American Television.
   And MTM logos.
   Her name in Elvish is Linwë Melwasúl.
   And finally, all of us here at Joyce’s Take wish Mary and her family and friends continued prosperity and happiness, and a very happy birthday.
   Happy Birthday Mary!

Addendum 1-25-17: I'm very sad today. Ms Moore passed away at te age of 80 from  cardiopulmonary arrest after she had contracted pneumonia. She died in hospital, surrounded by friends, family, and her husband of over 33 years, Dr. S. Robert Levine. May she rest in piece.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Skid Row Diary 37

27   October   2003   Monday    day 107

   “They all three dies by their own hands. Ritual victims of their own institutions. Murdered by irony. An eye for an eye. Biblical retribution. Schaefer was first, because you see, he killed God. God was admitted to this hospital last Monday, under the name of Guernsey.” -Paddy Chayefsky, “Hospital”

   I woke up screaming. I caught my breath, listening to Mark and Brian talk about ear hair, and how much money dead celebrities make. I started screaming again.
   After regaining control of myself I rushed downstairs to sign in for today and Saturday and Sunday. I then returned to my room, turning the television on to “Despierta America,” Giselle Blondet was wearing a lovely short dress which was the only birthday present I would get this year.      
   It would have been nice to go to the beach in Santa Monica, to a movie, or out to dinner, but the MTA mechanics are still striking and I have no way of getting to these places, or have the money to pay for a movie or dinner, as I can’t get to Trimar. It would have been nice. It would be nice if thousands of other people could get to their jobs, medical appointments, and other vital places they need to go to, but can’t due to this strike.
   There is no indication of the strike ending anytime soon, and what sympathy I once had for the these laborers has waned. It’s difficult to feel sorry for people who complain about not being able to get by on $18.00 an hour, when 80% of the country’s working population make less than half of that.
   Being a youthful 48 years old today, I can celebrate having made it this far, which in retrospect seemed unlikely considering all of the crap I’ve dumped into my body throughout the years, and the chances I’ve taken. So many of us humans don’t make it to 48, and believe me, I am grateful. Not so long ago being 48 would have been considered being ancient, as the life span back then is nothing like it is now. I’m relatively healthy. I enjoy a good, throughly muscled, resilient Irish body. I’m very grateful for that. It’s so easy to get sick.
   And of course I’m grateful for still looking like I was 28... and extremely virile. That’s good.
   I looked up a web site the if given certain information, like one’s date of birth, sex, and country of birth, etc., it will calculate the exact date of your death. I did this and expect to pass away when I’m 74 years old, on Thursday, the 31st of January, 2030.
   Well that is good to know. 
   Now I can feel secure while jumping off of tall buildings, and standing in front of oncoming trains without fear of dying, as long as I do it before January 31st, 2030.
   Yet, they never said I wouldn’t be in a coma when I died, or brain dead. 
   I think I’ll stay away from trains.
   And I don’t care for heights anyway.
   Wally has abandoned me. He lives and flies in the west restroom now, and I visit him occasionally.
   At 10:17 I farted briefly. A direct result of the pot of beans I ate before going to bed the previous evening no doubt. I report this fact as it happens so infrequently that it should be documented whenever it does occur.
   After this tumultuous event, I left the relative safety of my room in search of my lovely and talented case worker. Passing Frank Valdez in the hall I learned that Labren had called in sick today, and would not be in, so her chances of wishing me a happy birthday seemed virtually non-existent.
   Back in my room I listened to Venus Hum, the whole CD as I exercised strenuously, so strenuously that while doing one finger push ups I began to experience chest pains and thought I was having a heart attack.
   I soon realized that I was not scheduled for any heart attacks for another 4 years, or more, and that today I was somewhat safe.
   It still hurt though.
   I read from the Zen training book, then meditated for 400 breaths. By now it was 11:30, lunch time. I left the building. The cafeteria was too crowded for my taste, so I took my used videos with me and walked to the library. It didn’t take long to exchange them. I walked through Pershing Square on the way back.
   In my room I looked up certain passages in Dr. Carl Sagan’s “Demon Haunted World,” concerning tobacco and prayer. I listened to Sophie B. Hawkins first album, “Tongue and Tales,” and was cleansed by her beautiful voice and her magical melodies.
   I read from Chapter 3 of James Joyce’s “Ulysses.” On the surface, although quite imaginative, it doesn’t appear to make a lot of sense.
   I treated myself to one of the new videos I had borrowed from the library. Arthur Hiller’s rendition of Paddy Chayefsky’s “The Hospital,.” starring Diana Rigg and George C. Scott. Another favorite film, one of three of Paddy’s I really admire, along with “Network,” and “Marty.”
   “He was relentlessly subjected  to the benefits of modern medicine... and died at seven thirty two that evening.”
   Chayefsky must have had a bad experience once.
   NURSE: “Did you know that Dr. Schaefer was in Room 806 because he's dead?”
   “I'm just telling you that Dr. Schaefer is dead.”
   “ What do you want, Perez? - I don't know what this is about...”
   “ But Dr. Schaefer is in Room 806 with an IV running, and he's dead... I didn't even know he was sick.” 
   The girl who played the nurse in the above scene, by the way, was a 27 year old uncredited Stockard Channing, before “The Fortune,” and “Love American Style, “Grease,” and “The Stockard Channing Show,” in her second professional acting job.
   And besides a British production of “A Midsummer Night's Dream,” “The Hospital,” is the only thing I’ve ever seen Diana in other than “The Avengers.” And she looked wonderful, with her hair long and down.
   I ate birthday peanuts and Kit Kat Bars. And as I’ve mentioned, I had no gnats to keep me company.
   I watched a Charlie Rose interview with the lovely and talented Angelina Jolie, who was promoting her new film, “Beyond Boarders.” Apparently she became interested in emergency aid work in third world countries  five years ago after reading the script for the film. She became, and is to this day, a Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations. She seems like a genuine and wholly caring person, even adopting a child from Cambodia. 
   She came off as a woman desperately attempting to make up for an early, mis-spent part of her life, possibly attempting to avoid on-going personal difficulties by absorbing herself in the very real troubles of other human beings.
   We were made for each other.
   I once sponsored a small child from Thailand, but would have adopted her if I had the means and she wanted to be adopted. Thailand is close to Cambodia, isn’t it? I use human rights, space advocacy, civil rights for third world children, literature, and neurology to escape from my problems now that I’ve denied myself drugs and alcohol. She’s beautiful and sexy, with good hips and teeth. I look 28, am handsome and exceptionally virile, and can bend both of my thumbs backwards to a 90 degree angle. What better match is there?
   Angelina... please marry me! I’m positive we’d be good for each other, and together, quite possibly, save the entire world from itself. I promise to love, honor, and obey. And cherish. I’m well groomed. I brush my teeth once a day whether they need it or not, and floss weekly. And I’m pretty good in the old sack if I do say so myself.       This offer stays open until you have a chance to respond, which means pretty much forever.
   I like your dad’s movies. “Runaway Train,” is a classic.
   Please, I know you’re busy, but try to get back to me as soon as possible. And don’t tell anybody. Odalys, well, she gets a little jealous sometimes.
   And screw those bastards who lambast “Beyond Boarders,” because it links relief organizations with the C.I.A. They don’t seem to get it. It’s only a movie, for Christ’s sake! Demons aren’t really appearing in Georgetown due to “The Exorcist,” are they? 
   And screw the C.I.A. too!
   Anyway, I’m sure we’ll come to love each other. I’m a very loveable person actually.
   I went to the Drifter’s meeting after Charlie cut Angelina off, the bastard.
   Angelina, what a pretty name.
   I had brought my writing utensils with me, but did not write as I listened to Sylvia lead the meeting under the distant stars. I tried to pay attention, but my mind kept drifting to what I might say to Frankie next Monday morning. I even made some notes.
   Upon returning to my room I recorded Stanley Kubrick’s “Barry Lyndon,” which had been adapted from the William Makepeace Thackeray novel “The Luck of Barry Lyndon,” Staring Marisa Berenson. This is probably my least favorite of his films (what saves “Eyes Wide Shut,” from that fate is Nicole Kidman’s butt), but I love them all, and this picture is not without it’s delights.
   It was well past midnight before the movie was over. I had almost gone to sleep while watching it a few times, but the duel scene at the end woke me to such a degree that I could not get back to sleep when I tried.
   So I read about copy right law, which you would think would put me right out, but didn’t. When I tired of reading I put Billy Wilder’s “Some Like It Hot,” in the old VCR, and turned out the lights. I was asleep before Marilyn, Jack, and Tony got to Florida. 
   I had an amazing dream in which I was having tea with Parker Posey on the lawn of a great mansion in Ireland. We were playing cards and admiring the view of the countryside. Parker stopped and wanted me to play another game with her. She wanted me to find a ribbon she had hidden upon her person. I just began to search when Angelina Jolie swung by, hanging from a rope attached to a hot air balloon. She snatched me up and carried me away into the mountains of Ireland, where I was never heard from again.

28   October   Tuesday   Day 108

   I over slept until 8:00AM, showered, and went down to breakfast. French toast and ham chunks.
   On Mark and Brian the beautiful and talented Kelly Gates of News Central could still not believe she had been one number away from winning 40 something million dollars. I can’t believe I didn’t get one damn number! Thanks to the ongoing bus strike, my income is severely limited and I can’t afford to play the Lotto for the time being.
   Giselle was wearing another mini skirt today. Very, very nice.
   I applaud mini skirts in general.
   The southland continues to burn however, despite Giselle’s attempts to bolster our spirits. Over 1,500 homes destroyed, 600,000 acres gone, an area the size of Rhode Island. This is what we get I guess for saying we didn’t care about the hurricanes back east.
   Now 200,00 newly homeless will swell our ranks. Fortunately for the fires’s victims they probably have insurance, and the federal disaster loans to fall back on. We here on Skid Row get the bottom of the policeman’s boot.
   I read the paper. A tourist industry has evolved in a remote are of New Zealand, where “The Lord of the Rings,” was filmed in 1999, specifically the Hobbiton set. Tours are given through the abandoned sets. Souvenir are sought after.
   As I heated some water in the microwave in the day room I noticed President Bush on the television involved in a news conference. He was talking about his latest trip to Asia.
   He looked and sounded drunk and incoherent. 
   I wrote for awhile before lunch. Breaded fish. I sat with my new friend John, and my old dormmate, Steve. John would visit me in my room later and I would show off my gigantic book collection. He wondered why so many of the books had “L.A. Public Library” stamped on them. I told him I had no idea.
   Labren was back, and I did see her. I waited the obligatory 45 minutes in the lobby before she would see me. I’m so used to this now that I automatically bring my writing utensils. 
   We didn’t talk about anything really. 
   We both agreed that the bus strike was a bitch. I told her I had applied for SSI. That’s about it. I asked her if she had been sick, and she said no. No mention was made of the note she had left for me last Friday.
   Leaving the building I walked west on 5th St and was ambushed by Ron McCree as I passed the Service Spot office. He had me come with him to his apartment so he could drop off some stuff, and he showed me how great his T.V. was working.
   He walked with me to the library and post office. The sun shined a hazy orange through the smoke from the counties fires, enough to cut it’s brightness enough so that it’s new sunspots were visible.
   Ron was recovering from a bad cold and coughed frequently.
   He didn’t want to come with me to the protest at the headquarters of the Bechtel Corp. I decided not to go, and so walked with him to the Burger King restaurant on 9th and Broadway, where he made use of a magic coupon to aquire two tacos. The Burger King people wouldn’t give him any packets of hot sauce, which upset him. He got more upset after I asked for his permission to start dating his 20 year old daughter.
   We parted at 6th and Spring, agreeing to meet again on Saturday.
   I returned to my room and read the paper, wrote, exercised, and meditated. Dinner consisted of one Swedish meatball and noodles. I would augment this meal with a ham and cheese sandwich on rye, and Top Ramen, back in my room.
   Charlie Rose was preempted by a L.A. County School Board meeting, which I watched with avid interest. You’d be surprised how popular these things are. The issue of obesity was discussed. Students were complaining of the abundance of unhealthy foods and snacks at schools. A suggestion of fruit vending machines was given by one of the supervisors. I would have suggested the use of non-fat lard if I had been there. It seems to be the best answer to this difficult and thorny problem. 
   At 8:00 I watched and taped a three hour Nova special concerning the discovery of the four forces of nature (gravitation, electromagnetism, the weak interaction, and the strong interaction)  by Newton, Maxwell, and Bohr, Einstein’s attempts to unify them, and modern string theory, which can mange the task of unification with some interesting side effects, such as parallel universes, seven more dimensions, and particles that travel faster than light.
   Teensy weensy strings of energy that because of their different vibrations make up all of the components of atoms, and bits of matter that we see in the macro universe. The only problem with this theory, even it’s proponents concede, is that it is forever untestable, and therefore unverifiable, which like the concept of a benevolent, intelligent, creator of the cosmos, is transported to the realm of philosophy, since no practical application of the theory can ever be made because of it’s inability to be proven.
   But it’s all fascinating, it’s all interesting. The show itself was well produced and directed, and fun to watch. But because the show was labeled a science program, a large percentage of the possible viewing audience will not be interested, as it’s not as fun as horoscopes let’s say, or talking dead people, or watching aliens cavort about, events and practices that have no basis in reality, but are cherished by the majority of the world’s population.
   It was 10:00 when the program ended. The last part will air next week. Instead of watching one of the movies I had borrowed from the library, I read from “Demon Haunted World,” Stephen Hawking’s sparse “The Theory of Everything (that unification thing again),” and was just barely able to crack open Mark Twain’s “Life on the Mississippi,” before sleep overtook me.
   I dreamt I was sitting in the Quantum Cafe with Kelly Gates and Tish Ambrose, the lovely and talented star of “Black Lava,” “Streetstar,” “Corporate Assets,” and many other fine films. We were drinking blue orange juice and watching the fabric of space/time oscillate, when Angelina Jolie swept by riding an electron, snatched me up, taking off with me to the singularity in the middle of a black hole, where we were never seen or heard from again for the remainder of eternity.

29  October   Wednesday   Day 109

   I decided to sleep in this morning all the until 9:00, when I switched on my radio to Mark and Brian because I was worried about Mark’s house burning down.
   He was okay. He said it seemed like everybody’s house but his went up in flames.
   The boys even left the studio, traveled in the Mark and Brian Mobile to the Staples Center here downtown, and broadcast from there during their last hour, participating in a Red Cross fund raiser for the victims of the wild fires. I could easily have walked over there to visit with my heros, but they wouldn’t have talked to me because I didn’t have any money to give away... the bastards.
   I listened to them instead. It was much easier and less embarrassing.
   The computer in the day room is working a bit faster now, so I used it to check my E-mail, deleting everything except messages from Amnesty International. On their site I signed a letter to Russian President Putin. I was in a bit of a hurry, and didn’t actually read the letter, trusting Amnesty that it was a matter of high importance, that whatever it was they were concerned about was a suitably worthy cause. I hope I didn’t say anything to get him mad enough to start firing all of those Cold War nuclear weapons at us.
   They’re still pointed this way ya know.
   I updated some files, wrote, and read the paper until it was time to go to ASAP.
   I skipped lunch and walked directly to the VA clinic, arriving about 15 minutes early.
   I showed Kathy the “Licit and Illicit Drug” book (Licit and Illicit Drugs; The Consumers Union Report on Narcotics, Stimulants, Depressants, Inhalants, Hallucinogens, and Marijuana - Including Caffeine, by Edward M. Brecher), praising it as a comprehensive, objective authority on the history of psycho active drug use, and the laws concerning said use. She was suitably unimpressed. You can’t tell a psych nurse whose been in the business 30 years anything. 
   I provided a urine test before leaving.
   Listening to Hungarian Rhapsody No. 17.6 while exercising, and later meditation. 
   Then I watched Sydney Lumet and Paddy Chayefsky’s “Network,” starring Faye Dunaway and Peter Finch.
   This film is scary in it’s applicability and foresight. Current programs like “Cops,” “Survivor,” “Joe Millionaire,” Temptation Island,” “I want to ba a Millionaire,” “The CBS Evening News,” and “Fear Factor,” are all manifestations of Chayefsky’s vision. They make “The Howard Beale Show,” look like “Romper Room.”
   After dinner I watched one of the the classic Simpson’s Halloween shows. This one had Homer as King Kong in a take off of “Night of the Living Dead.”
   This year’s Halloween show will air November 2nd. 
   Yeah, I know. I can’t figure it out either.
   I watched the season premier of “That 70s Show,” which seemed a bit strained. I did like the musical number from “Grease.” Now I can’t get “You’re the One That I Want,” out of my befuddled head.
   After “That 70s Show,” I watched the premier of “A Minute with Stan Hooper,” which I watched only because Penelope Ann Miller was in it. Penelope started out as a promising feature film actress, working with the likes of Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, and Danny Devito. Then her career fizzled away. I don’t know why.
   I wish her well in whatever she does, and tonight’s show was really good. I hope it works out for her.
   I turned on the VCR machine and watched “Rushmore,” Wes Anderson’s brilliant comedy starring Olivia Williams.
   “I think I can honestly say I haven’t met anyone like you either.”
   I read an article on J.G. Boswel’s agricultural empire in the San Joaquin Valley, the world’s largest privately owned farm.
   I hadn’t known we grew cotton in this state.
   Then I went to sleep. After a while I dreamt the “Rushmore,” girls, Olivia, Connie Nielsen, and Sara Tanaka, and Penelope Ann Miller and I were working the cotton in the hot sun on J.G. Boswel’s big old farm. After a while we spontaneously broke out into song, specifically one from the  American folk and blues musician Lead Belly. 

“When I was just a little bitty baby
My mama would rock me in the cradle,
In them old cotton fields back home;

It was down in Louisiana,
Just about a mile from Texarkana,
In them old cotton fields back home.

Oh, when them cotton bolls get rotten
You can't pick very much cotton,
In them old cotton fields back home.

It was down in Louisiana,
Just about a mile from Texarkana,
In them old cotton fields back home.”

30   October   Thursday   Day 110

   I got up rather early today, 4:30 or so, still an hour after my alarm went off.
   I quickly showered and got my laundry into the washer just at 5:00, the earliest authorized time allowed.
   I was too tired to write, so I laid down and listened to Mark and Brian torture poor unsuspecting members of the general population by having their friends call them and tell them alarming lies. This is probably the single component of this show that makes me cringe every time they do it. They purposely agitate these people, and four fifths of the time the situation just turns awkward, and I react to awkward situations the same way I do when listening to fingernails scratching a blackboard. These bits are rarely humorous and I wish they didn’t do them. 
   What exactly am I talking about?
   An example would be like if I were to call my dear sweet mother (if she were still alive) and tell her I had started drinking again just to hear her reaction. After a few painful minutes I would tell her it was all just a joke, and that she had just helped me win tickets to a Sly and the Family Stone reunion concert. I would hang up, and my mother, quite rightly, would send me a letter bomb in the mail.
   There’s nothing funny about that. 
   It reminds me of something worthy of Howard Stern quite frankly.
   Calling a cell phone that’s been placed right next to a Labrador’s food bowl as it starts eating some Alpo... now that’s funny!                
   I retrieved my laundry before going down to breakfast. Approximately one third of a normal sausage and cheese omelet.
   Back upstairs I continued listening to Mark and Brian while reading Hawking’s book about Ed Hubble discovering the expansion of the universe, which implied that the universe had a beginning in the distant past. 
   Giselle was wearing pants which lent credence to the theory. 
   Mark and Brian reported that women who perform fellatio and consume the fluid reduce their risk of breast cancer by 49%. The study, conducted by the University of North Carolina, qualified that only those ladies who participate in the act on a regular and steady basis, two to three times a week, receive this health benefit. Mark and Brian seemed fairly jubilant by the study’s results. It all seems to me to be a bit self serving, however, I’ve always been staunchly supportive of any and all efforts to eliminate this serious and constant threat to the health and wellbeing to the women of the world, and will enthusiastically pass this information on to all of those females I may come into contact with whom may reap the rewards of this simple practice.
   Straight male breast cancer victims, I’m afraid, are out of luck.
   At 10:00 I joined some of my fellow veterans at Richard’s Super Search meeting. Today we discussed what we would do in certain situations on the job, such as reporting theft, and working with others, etc. I was even called upon once to offer my opinion. I was surprised that Richard knew my name, which isn’t particularly a good thing.
   These meetings are fairly informative and worthwhile if you can get past Cairns unspoken implication that the classe’s attendees are a gaggle of unmotivated layabouts who are destined for employment in minimum wage menial service positions. 
   Pepper steak and rice for lunch, then to ASAP. Kathy spoke of the planet alignment deal, clarifying that her sources claimed that three of the planets, an asteroid, and the Sun, would form a perfect six pointed star in November, and that during this event certain supplications were bound to be auspicious. 
   I told her that by throwing in the stars, comets, asteroids, sputnik, and such into the mix one could come up with any implied structure that one wished. One could find a combination of asteroids and stars that formed an outline of George W Bush being sodomised by the Easter Bunny on a pogo stick if one looked hard enough.  
   I found another check for $42 from Voc Rehab waiting patiently for me in my P.O. Box. I rejoiced and sang a happy tune. 
   After I exchanged videos at the library I cashed it, then returned to my room to meditate.
   There was no “Frontline” show tonight. None that I could find anyway. I felt socially relevant news with biting commentary challenged.
   Much, much later, after an evening of considering MU, I saw our national security advisor Dr. Condoleezza Rice being interviewed by Charlie Rose. “Where are the weapons of mass destruction?” Charlie asked.
   “Well, we all thought they were there,” she answered, speaking for you and me as well I assume. However, I wasn’t at all sure they were there. 
   We all thought they were there. That supposition is the basis for starting a war. 
   As I’ve said many times before, even if Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, so what? Iraq couldn’t have harmed us with them, or at least no more than any other nation that could sponsor an attack on our soil with a briefcase bio or nuclear weapon.
   By the time she was finished it was Halloween, accordingly I put the 1951 classic “The Thing from Another World,” into my VCR, and laid back on my bed for the ride. 
   The film starred James Arness as an extraterrestrial, radioactive, evil, mobile carrot. They choose him because he didn’t require much make up. Three years later he would battle giant ants with James Whitmore right here in L.A. in "Them (we have so many problems in Los Angeles... Martians, giant ants, those suckers from Independence Day... don’t move here)," and one year after that he would star in the longest running western in the history of television, “Gunsmoke.”   
   My grandfather liked “Gunsmoke,” but I don’t believe I’ve seen a single episode.
   Here’s another creature that supposedly couldn’t die, and was eventually killed quite easily. That pesky devil in John Carpenter’s excellent 1982 remake was much more difficult to get rid of, and much truer to the John W. Campbell Jr. novella the films are based on, “Who Goes There?”
   About this 1951 film though. How is it possible that the ice station guys managed to blow up the entire alien spacecraft with a simple termite bomb? You wouldn’t think spaceships would be made out of flammable material.
   I went to sleep after the movie. It was late. I dreamed I was stranded in an ice station near the North Pole with Jennifer Connelly, Jennifer Pankratz, the Playboy  cheerleading class president, Hiromi Oshima, the Japanese model, and the Teles twins, Sarah and Delsy, from Brazil. We were being attacked by the sexy beast, Winona Ryder, who eventually caught and absorbed me.

31  October   Friday   Day 111   Halloween

   “Up the airy mountain
    Down the rushy glenn,
    We daren’t go-a-hunting
    For fear o’little men”    -William Allingham 

   Samhain. The Celtic new year. Summer officially ended on this day in Ireland during the 5th century B.C. My life would start again today here in 2003.
   I got up at 8:30 and watched the Halloween shows on television while listening to Mark and Brian, and their “family” make scary, scary, noises. Giselle was dressed in her Halloween jeans, and was chased by a Halloween chicken at the show’s end, and a clearly panic stricken Kelly Ripa made several costume changes during her hour long show. Dorothy Lucy wore black, and Jillian Barberie wore jeans and a blouse on Good Day LA.
   After 10:00 I meditated, then showered. I dressed in my Lobsterman from Mars outfit before heading downstairs for a fried chicken lunch, then to ASAP.
       The floor in the office was being re-tiled, so we held the meeting upstairs in room 256B. Kathy was dressed as a  sorcerous. We talked about this and that. One thing or another. The black guy sitting next to me sincerely believed everyone gave a rats ass about his life and his view point on various subjects and wouldn’t shut up. Some people just love the sound of their own voice. I told him he should write it all down and make a book out of it. 
   He won’t though. That would require effort on his part.
   I took a DASH downtown and bought a paper from Rite-Aid, and the December issue of Playboy from one the green news stands at 6th and Broadway. I had heard there were some good articles in this issue about Shannon Doherty, ur, I mean, on who killed Jam Master Jay (I didn’t even know he was dead).
   Anyway, I returned to my room and watched “Dragonfly,” a ghost story starring Susanna Thompson and Kevin Costner. It wasn’t very scary, and I wasn’t very sympathetic to Costner’s character. The ending was pretty good and surprised me, which is unusual. 
   Myrka Dellanos and Jackie Guerrido took the day off so I can’t tell you what they were wearing. Myrka left her co-host to fend for herself.
   A rerun of “That 70s Show” aired that I had never seen before, a show entirely devoted to the films of Alfred Hitchcock. “Rear Window,” “Vertigo,” “The Birds,” were all parodied, and we got to see Tanya Roberts, my favorite Charlie’s Angel, strip. 
   I was shocked and appalled, and have it on tape. 
   I also taped UPN’s broadcast of “Blade,” the vampire hunter movie starring Traci Lords. I’ll tape just about anything with Traci Lords in it, besides, I was getting good reception.
   My coffee pot shorted out, which was just great! Now I have to sneak another one up here as we’re not allowed heating mechanisms in our rooms. Security is getting particularly good about searching the bags of those entering the building these days. Now I’m forced to use the microwave in the day room to heat water.
   Well, I can buy a new one on Sunday I guess.
   Lauren Sanchez took the night off as well. What’s up with all of this absenteeism? I need these people on a daily basis, damn it!
   Before midnight I lit candles and placed them about my room, turned off the lights, and prayed to Beelzebub, the Lord of the Flies. After a few minutes I heard rain falling against my window. While I was at it, I conjured up Elvira, the Mistress of the Dark, the Hostess with the Mostess, star of Movie Macabre. She brought a broomstick, and we went tooling up and down the west coast, from Seattle to Cabo San Lucas.  After a while we returned to my room and watched “The Thing with Two Heads,” starring Rosey Grier and Ray Milland.
   I made popcorn