Silk stalkings

FINAL

Another sign that I’m growing old…

I just came back from picking up some things at the local supermarket, where the store’s speakers were playing their usual selection of musty pop-music classics. One of them was the 1970 hit “Knock Three Times” by Tony Orlando & Dawn.

When I was nine years old, this seemed like an innocent song about unrequited love. But let’s look at it a little more closely. (For those not familiar with this light-rock chestnut, I’ve embedded the video for the song below.)

The song’s premise is that the singer has a thing for the woman who lives in the apartment below his. Not just any old thing, mind you — he notes that he has “seen her” several times and that he “can feel her body swayin'” when she dances to music in her apartment.

How does the singer aim to catch his prey, er, win the woman over? He has written a note about his lust for her, attached the note to a string, and has dangled the string outside of his apartment window and in front of hers. The note instructs the woman that, if she would like to “meet me in the hallway” (Now there’s an invite for ya!), she should knock three times on her apartment’s ceiling (i.e., his floor); if she does not want to meet up with him, she should knock twice on the pipe. The singer never considers a third alternative, wherein the woman calls the police and files for a restraining order.

If anyone ever needs proof that males have dominated American society to a detrimental degree, it’s the stalker-song genre. Think “Knock Three Times” is the only example? My twenty-something daughter regularly refers to a particular 1983 hit as “the stalker song.” It’s “Every Breath You Take” by The Police. This song could not make any more explicit the singer’s obsession with a woman. “Every breath you take,” Sting sings, “every move you make, every bond you break, every step you take…I’ll be watching you.”

Sting further goes on to state, “Oh, can’t you see? You belong to me.” No doubt he had “Property Of…” tattooed on the woman at some point.

And the video is filmed like a modern day film-noir, in black-and-white and with sinewy shadows and harsh lighting. Not exactly the stuff that romance is made of.

Sadly, my favorite group of all time, The Beatles, is as guilty of this kind of misogyny as anyone. John Lennon made no secret of how overly macho he was in his youth, and that attitude is reflected in the very possessive lyrics of the Beatles songs “Run for Your Life” (from the otherwise philosophical album Rubber Soul) and “You Can’t Do That.” Even the singer in Sgt. Pepper‘s otherwise optimistic “Getting Better” nonchalantly confesses, “I used to be cruel to my woman/I beat her and kept her apart from the things that she lived.” Not exactly something to put on one’s resume.

And let’s not even getting started on The Rolling “Under My Thumb” Stones.

So what’s your favorite (if that’s the word) example of a stalker song — a song that looks innocent on the outside but riddled with terror on the inside?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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BELOW ZERO (1930) – Laurel & Hardy in a cold, cold world

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The following is my entry in The Winter in July Blogathon, being hosted by Debbie at the blog Moon in Gemini from July 13-15, 2018. Click on the above banner, and read bloggers’ takes on some of their favorite winter-themed movies!

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(WARNING: Major spoilers abound!)

Sometimes, the grim hostility in Laurel and Hardy’s movies seems to stem from nothing else than some scriptwriters eager to goose the film into action. At least the grimness of Below Zero makes some sense. It’s winter, it’s the start of The Great Depression, and Stan and Ollie are about penniless. L&H biographer Randy Skretvedt has said he prefers the L&H movies’ original black-and-white format to colorization because of the time and mood of the films. This movie definitely nails its period.

Laurel & Hardy’s early team efforts usually reflect a three-act structure (for example, their silent You’re Darn Tootin’ had scenes at a band concert, a boarding home, and outside a restaurant). Below Zero has sort of a two-and-a-half-act structure. It has a long, almost unrelenting setting in the frozen outdoors, then a scene in a restaurant, followed by a short attempt at redemption in the outdoors again, outside the restaurant. It’s as though even the movie was aware of its grimness and wanted to give L&H a break, miniscule as it was, at movie’s end.

Stan and Ollie’s roles as itinerant street musicians seem an extension of the same role from You’re Darn Tootin’. One can almost imagine them having played on the street for a year, to no good end, until the Depression and winter set in. After many fruitless attempts to collect money for their talent, Ollie urges them to move on and then discovers that Stan had parked their act in front of a home for the deaf. Ollie does the inevitable camera-look — but then, considering how eager he is to sing “In the Good Old Summertime” while his listeners get frostbitten, who is he to judge?

Stan and Ollie find a wallet in the street and then go to great lengths to evade a vagrant who noticed them perusing the wallet. A policeman comes to their rescue (for once), and magnanimous Ollie offers to take him out for a steak dinner as recompense. After eating in the restaurant and observing a patron who was violently ejected for lack of pay, Ollie decides to double-check his funds. Turns out that the cop was smiling down on them sooner than Ollie had thought — the cop’s photo is in the wallet. Eventually the cop figures out the situation and tells the restauranteur that he’ll pay for his own meal and leave Stan and Ollie to fend for themselves.

Stan and Ollie are rousted and dumped behind the restaurant. Ollie nearly gets run over by the omnipresent motorist before yelling, dramatically and quite convincingly, for his buddy. He finally finds Stan hidden in a water barrel. When Ollie sees that the barrel is empty and asks Stan where the water is, Stan replies, “I drank it!” and rolls out of the barrel looking eighteen months pregnant. (These days, such a premise would probably inspire an R-rated sequel.)

As implausible as the freak ending is, it’s almost a relief after what Stan and Ollie have been through. It’s comforting to know that their friendship can survive such unrelenting harassment, but this might be about as close to the edge as we’d ever want to see them.

THE FAVORITE FOURSOME BLOGATHON – Da Big Finish

We had some no-shows on Day 2, but we ended our blogathon of famous foursomes with a finale of finesse. So join us for the big closing number, as we present

Click here to link to the entries from Day 1. For today’s finale, click on each individual blog’s name to link to their entries (except for our first entrant, for which you’ll need to click on each of his entries’ names).

Movierob

First off, Movierob gets our “Blogathoner of the Year” Award for contributing entries on five, count ’em, 5 movies: The first, second, and third movies of Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy; and the movie versions/extensions of the TV series Sex and the City and The A-Team.

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Caftan Woman sings her praises of the close-harmony vocal quartet The Hi-Lo’s.

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Tranquil Dreams shows us that friendship is in the genes (or is it jeans?) of The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants.

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Realweegiemidget Reviews examines the lives of four people who want love but are afraid to get Closer.

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An assassination threat on a former agent leaves him and three of his peers seeing Red, as chronicled by thoughtsallsorts.

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Chevy Chase takes the concept of family vay-cay’s to a new extreme in National Lampoon’s Vacation, whose itinerary is well-detailed by Moon in Gemini.

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Pure Entertainment Preservation Society details how a governess becomes the center of a widower’s family in Adam Had Four Sons.

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And finally, what would a foursomes blogathon be without a tribute to TV’s best-known Miami seniors? Once Upon a Screen offers a touch of nostalgia (and grey) for “The Golden Girls.”

Our thanks to all of the wonderful bloggers who contributed such enjoyable entries, and to this blogathon’s followers who enjoyed them. Y’all come back now, ya hear?

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THE FAVORITE FOURSOME BLOGATHON – Intermission

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You might be wondering why we didn’t do a Day 2 recap of our current blogathon. It’s because we received only one entry on the blogathon’s second day. However, our bloggers are rallying, and there will be plenty to shout about at the finale of our blogathon, so be sure to tune in tomorrow. And thanks to all of the ‘thon entrants who have already submitted their terrific entries — click here to link to Day 1’s entries!

THE FAVORITE FOURSOME BLOGATHON – Day 1 Recap

Appropriately for the first day of our blogathon about famous foursomes, we received exactly four entries! So let’s take a good look at our entourage as we present

Entourage

Click on each blog’s name to read their individual entry.

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In the first of his five (!!) entries, Movierob wishes there was a Plan B as he examines the plotholes in the movie version of the popular TV series The A-Team.

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Similarly, The Stop Button wishes The Marx Brothers made a stronger impression in their film debut, a movie adaptation of their hit Broadway play The Cocoanuts.

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Virginie at The Wonderful World of Cinema details why she loves The Doors madly.

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And me, myself, and I explain my lifelong affection for The Beatles.

We still have two more days left in our blogathon of foursomes, so keep us bookmarked!

 

 

 

 

 

 

THE FAVORITE FOURSOME BLOGATHON is here!

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It’s time to honor the quartet status quo! Join us here for the next three days as bloggers rave about their favorite pop-culture foursomes, real and fictional!

If you are a participating blogger, please go to the “Comments” section below and post the name of your blog and the URL of your blogathon entry, and I will link it as soon as possible. If you are a visiting reader, keep checking back for links. I will also be posting daily blogathon summaries at the end of each day. So enjoy!

Here’s the line-up:

Movie Movie Blog Blog – The Beatles

Movierob – The four Hobbits in The Lord of the Rings movies The Fellowship of the Ring (2001), The Two Towers (2002), and The Return of the King (2003); the starring females of Sex and the City (2008); and the starring males of The A-Team (2010)

The Stop Button – The Four Marx Brothers in The Cocoanuts (1929)

Caftan Woman – The Hi-Lo’s

In the Good Old Days of Classic Hollywood – the four main students in Dead Poets Society (1989)

Tranquil Dreams – Amber Tamblyn, Alexis Bledel, America Ferrara, and Blake Lively in The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants (2005)

Realweegiemidget Reviews – Julia Roberts, Jude Law, Natalie Portman, and Clive Owen in Closer (2004)

The Observation Post – Jean Harlow, William Powell, Myrna Loy, and Spencer Tracy in Libeled Lady (1936)

thoughtsallsorts – Bruce Willis, Helen Mirren, Morgan Freeman, and John Malkovich in Red (2010)

Once Upon a ScreenThe Golden Girls (1985-1992)

The Wonderful World of Cinema – The Doors

Moon in Gemini – The Griswold family in National Lampoon’s Vacation (1983)

Pure Entertainment Preservation Society – The titular siblings in Adam Had Four Sons (1940)