A fairy tale from Monty Python

MontyPython

This is too weird! For decades, I’ve listened to a Monty Python sketch titled “Happy Valley,” but I thought they had recorded it only for one of their albums. I happened to be surfing YouTube just now and found a filmed version of it! Enjoy!

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An open letter to bullies

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October is National Bullying Prevention Month. As a show of solidarity, the National Bullying Prevention Center is asking that on Mon., Oct. 2, everyone wear a blue shirt to signify their support of bullying prevention.

Here’s my bullying story.

Being very unskilled socially when I grew up, I was the “classic” nerd. I got hassled in various ways through most of my teenage years, but the worst was in 1974, when I moved from Illinois — where I had lived, in a town of 1,600 people — to Arizona and had to attend a new school in the eighth grade. It was just before elementary-school graduation (no middle schools back then), and of course all of the “cliques” had long been formed, so I was pretty much a play-toy getting tossed in to a pack of lions. I look back on that year and do not recall how I summoned the energy to drag myself to school every morning.

I always wondered what would have happened if I’d gone so far as to kill myself (which I certainly thought about doing at least once). In 2010, I read that a particular girl had been bullied to the point that she committed suicide, and at her open-casket wake, many of the students who taunted her came by, not to pay respect or show remorse, but to further enjoy the grief they’d caused. This can be categorized only as sociopathy at its most extreme.

I suspect that psychologists and such would like to take these bullies aside and sensitively explain to them the implications of what they are doing or have done. If I could take such people aside, here’s what I’d tell them:

You’re null. You’re less than nothing. If you have to go so far as to drive someone off the face of the Earth in order to boost your self-esteem, you have no self-esteem of which to speak.

But then, you already know that, right? Because you never commit this insidious behavior alone. It’s always done with a pack of other people. If you were by yourself with this person you’re bullying, at worst, you probably wouldn’t give him or her the time of day. Or, you might find out that you actually have something in common with that fellow human. But get a group of your peers around you, and all of a sudden you’re deathly afraid of being seen as the “uncool” one.

Oh my God, you’re uncool! What an awful fate! Tell me, what does that matter? What will it matter? Will these people’s opinions matter to you in even a year or two, much less a decade or more from now? I belong to the Internet reunion group Classmates.com. Just for kicks, every so often, I try looking up the names of the fellow students who hassled me so viciously. Do you know that I cannot find a single one of them there? In 1975, their opinion of each other was seemingly the most important one on Earth. Now they can’t even be bothered to look each other up for a “virtual” reunion.

Will your sociopathic behavior get you anywhere in life? No, but if the survivor of your bullying is lucky, it might be the impetus to make him or her climb out their hole and prove you very, very wrong. Mega-celebrities such as Steven Spielberg and the late film critic Roger Ebert have recounted how they were the butt of classmates’ incessant bullying when they grew up. We all know what happened to Spielberg and Ebert. Have you ever heard anything from or about the guys who made fun of them in high school?

Lastly, you’re probably too young to think that you could possibly ever die. But it seems to happen to everyone, so i doubt that you’re the exception. The next time you want to belittle that poor kid at school, you might just want to get a quick image of yourself on your death bed, re-examining your life. Is that the primary image you want flashing in your brain? “What did I accomplish in my life? Hey, I did a superlative job bullying the bejesus out of that gay kid!”

You and your peers really think that kid is spineless and has low self-esteem. He has nothing on that gang surrounding him at his locker.

Finale of THE ADRIENNE BARBEAU BLOGATHON

Since the final two entries in our blogathon have now been submitted, it’s time to celebrate two big ones as we present

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Click here to read our entries from Day One. For those shown below, click on the individual blog’s name to read the entry.

GreatHoudini

Moon in Gemini observes Adrienne’s acting magic opposite Paul Michael Glazer in the TV-movie “The Great Houdini.”

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And The Dream Book Blog examines Adrienne’s writing career as the author of her memoir and several novels.

As always, our sincere thanks to our blogathon participants as well as our voracious readers. We hope you enjoyed our take on a very versatile actress!

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THE ADRIENNE BARBEAU BLOGATHON – Day 1 Recap

With nearly all of our blogathon participants posting their entries on the very first day, our chest is swelling with pride as we present

Adrienne-Barbeau

Click on each of the participant’s blog names to read their individual entries.

TheFog

Realweegiemidget Reviews critiques Adrienne’s performance as a seaside town’s velvet-voiced DJ in The Fog.

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Old School Evil shows further appreciation of Adrienne’s sultry tones, in her voicework as Catwoman in “Batman: The Animated Series.”

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Movie Rob discusses Adrienne trading insults with Rodney Dangerfield in the comedy Back to School.

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And last but certainly least, your faithful correspondent takes a long, lingering look at Adrienne’s bouncy performance as the love interest of Swamp Thing.

We’re still awaiting two more blogathon entries, so keep us clutched to your bosom — er, that is, bookmarked over the weekend!

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SWAMP THING (1981) – A guilty pleasure…named Adrienne Barbeau

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The following is my entry in this (my) blog’s Adrienne Barbeau Blogathon, being hosted Sept. 29-Oct. 1, 2017. Click on the above banner, and read bloggers’ tributes to the many facets of this actress-writer’s show-biz career!Poster

Usually when I write a movie review, I try to make it as professional as possible. But when it comes to Adrienne Barbeau in the 1970’s and early ’80s, all decorum goes out the window, and I reach for the drool bucket.

Purists will tell you that Swamp Thing is based on a DC comic, it’s about a scientist who accidentally gets a potent chemical spilled on him and he becomes the title character, etc., etc. But look at the poster for this movie. Is the Swamp Thing the first thing your eyes are drawn to?

Admittedly, the movie is kind of fun on its own terms. It’s rated PG, so the violence and language aren’t terribly off-putting. And the romance between Alice Cable (Barbeau) and the Swamp Thing is actually kind of sweet.

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It’s not easy being green.

But all that aside, writer-director Wes Craven realized that when you’re shooting on a minimal budget, you go for whatever special effects you can muster. And in this case, he had the mother lode of natural special effects. In the pre-cable-TV 1970’s, how many teenagers got through puberty via their weekly viewing of Adrienne Barbeau bouncing across the set on “Maude”?

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Big oranges.

Lest you think I’ve lapsed into tastelessness, I must warn you that I’m not the only one to ga-ga over La Barbeau. More than 30 years since the movie’s premiere, I still recall The Village Voice raving, “Adrienne sloshes through the swamp, arms flailing, wet T-shirted breasts bouncing…” And Joe Bob Briggs devoted an entire evening to his comments about Adrienne’s pneumatic qualities when he showed the movie years ago on TNT. Click here to watch his entire Swamp Thing commentary on YouTube, if you dare.

“I’m gonna get my agent for this.”

So let’s cut to the chase. Adrienne spends most of the movie in tight-fitting T-shirts (wet whenever possible), a low-cut evening gown, and even topless (just a sideboob view in the U.S. version of the movie; an entire minute of her frontal view in the European version). Adrienne’s natural assets (and that includes her acting) have never been shown to such advantage in any movie since this one.

So dads, rent the movie for your kids. It’s harmless enough that they’ll think it’s mindless sci-fi. Only you will know the truth.

Wow. Just, wow.

Wow. Just, wow.

THE ADRIENNE BARBEAU BLOGATHON is here!

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This is one blogathon where I’d like to begin by acknowledging the upcoming contributions of the ‘thon’s stalwart entrants. Even though, surprisingly, participation in this ‘thon is as skimpy as Adrienne Barbeau’s costuming in Swamp Thing, we’re gonna party like Adrienne dancing around bralessly on “Maude”!

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Seriously, La Barbeau has had a multi-faceted show-biz career that’s based on not taking herself too seriously, and it is in that spirit that we honor her with this blogathon. If you’re just here for the read, bookmark us and keep checking back over the weekend for some fun entries. If you’re a blogathon writer, please post your ‘thon’s URL and the name of your blog in the “Comments” section below, and we will link to it as soon as possible. Now…on with the show(-it-all)!

Here are the participants — click on their blog’s name to link to their entries:

Movie Movie Blog Blog – Adrienne in Swamp Thing (1981)

Realweegiemidget Reviews – Adrienne in The Fog (1980)

The Dream Book Blog – Books written by Adrienne

Movie Rob – Adrienne in Back to School (1986)

Moon in Gemini – Adrienne in The Great Houdini  (1976)

Old School Evil – Adrienne as the voice of Catwoman in TV’s Batman: The Animated Series

 

THE ASSASSINATION OF RICHARD NIXON (2005) – Interesting tale of a sad nobody

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The Assassination of Richard Nixon is a very well-made film, with the usual superior acting from Sean Penn — and I never want to see it again.

The plot is based on the real-life story of Samuel Bicke (Penn), a man who (at least as portrayed here) is the very definition of the word “loser.” He has a dead-end job as an office-supply salesman (at which he almost strives to do poorly), he is separated from his wife, and seemingly his only friend in the world is Bonny Simmons (Don Cheadle), a black garage mechanic who indulges Sam’s half-baked idea of starting a car-tire delivery service.

But events not only don’t happen quickly enough for Sam — they usually fail to happen at all. When Sam applies for a small-business loan for his delivery idea, he is told that the approval process will take six to eight weeks. But Sam thinks he can get quicker results if he pesters the loan supervisor to death about his application. Sam’s estranged wife Marie (Naomi Watts) is polite to Sam but is clearly eager to move on from him, but Sam keeps bothering her at her job, whining and begging for a second chance at the marriage.

Worst of all is that, rather than facing up to reality, Sam is eager to blame “The Man” for all of his problems. He pesters Marie about the short skirt she has to wear at her job as a cocktail waitress. And while Bonny is surprisingly agreeable about his fate in life, Sam keeps trying to convince Bonny that because he’s black, anyone who doesn’t indulge him is automatically a racist.

Assassination fairly obviously uses Taxi Driver as a template for its story. Where Taxi‘s Travis Bickle has only a faint association with his fellow workers to bolster him up, Sam’s only friend is the extremely patient Bonny. Where Travis kept a diary for his supposedly deep introspections, Sam records audio tapes that he intends to mail to his hero, composer Leonard Bernstein.

As noted, Penn offers another of his unflinching portraits of people’s darker sides. Indeed, there’s not a bad performance in the entire cast. Where the movie falters is that it’s so eager to punch home Sam’s alienation that it leaves a lot of ciphers behind. Sam’s sales boss obviously looks down on Sam and does everything to prove what an inferior salesman he is, yet he appears extremely surprised when Sam finally quits his job in a huff, as though the boss hadn’t been baiting him to do exactly that to start with. We never really learn why Bonny indulges this man who is obviously going nowhere, or what Sam’s ex-wife ever saw in him to start with. The result is that the movie is often just off-putting — you end up cringing as though you were one of the guys getting cornered by Sam for an endless conversation.

And yet, the movie is tightly, professionally accomplished. (In particular, the final scene perfectly encapsulates Sam’s bitterness at being a non-entity in life.) And as always, Sean Penn digs into his character and brings out every nuance. So watch The Assassination of Richard Nixon at least once — and then be grateful for your comparatively decent lot in life.