Category Archives: Nomi’s Decoder Ring

When That Perfect Girl Goes

Last, we were watching the “Beach Ball” episode of Bubble Guppies, a little romp in which Cinderella’s a bartender lobster at a beachside cabana, and her name is Sandy.

Life after Rydell.

Life after Rydell.

The evil brunette lobsters don’t want her to go to the Beach Ball.

We're lobsters, and we dance!

Bartenders are SUCH low-class lobsters!

As the episode commenced, we had this conversation.

Three-year-old: “Who’s Sandy?”

Five-year-old: “Sandy is that girl in the real-people movie. Grease.”

Me: “Yes… Yes, she is.”

FYO: “She was good except when she went all curly-haired and wore black. That was weird. Why did she do that?”

Good thing Rizzo's my size, or these pants would be even less comfortable.

Good thing Rizzo’s my size, or these pants would be even less comfortable.

Me: “Well, that was weird. Because she was trying to be something she wasn’t for a boy.”

FYO: “But maybe she really liked that.”

Me: “That’s true… In which case, it’s OK. If she really did, deep down, want curly hair and to wear all black. But if she did it just for a boy or anyone else, that’s not OK. But if she really did  like it…”

FYO: “…”

Me: “Is that too much?”

FYO: Sigh.

When I was five and watching Grease, I thought Sandy’s transformation totally kicked, because she got a great song out of it, and clearly John Travolta liked it, so it must be right. Then I turned twenty and was all, WTF, what’d she do that for? She went all slutty just to get a guy. So uncool. And now, my five-year-old has me realizing I’ve been judging Sandy’s life choice too harshly.

Hmm. Maybe what I really need is a home perm from a Lock of Fury dropout.

Hmm. Maybe what I really need is a home perm from a Lock of Fury dropout.

It reminded me of a blog (to which I will not link) on Slate, I think, where the writer had deep reservations about Elsa’s makeover at the end of “Let It Go.” It sexualized her, it said, and it also was expressing that for a girl to get her power, she has to have a slinky little walk and let her hair down in a way that the boys will totally love. (This writer also said the song is setting up Elsa to be the film’s villain, which makes me wonder if we watched the same movie.)

She's here. She's fabulous. Get used to it.

She’s here. She’s fabulous. Get used to it.

After two theater viewings, multiple DVD viewings and countless “Let It Go” YouTube replays, I have come to the satisfying conclusion that Elsa got into her bangin’ slink-dress because she could. She spent her whole life barricaded away by sucky parents, her hair all scrinched up on her head, wearing giant regal dresses that probably weighed a ton, covering up every bare inch of her body so she didn’t accidentally shame the family with her horrible secret. So what’s she do when she busts out of that? Gets herself a light, flattering, dramatic gown that allows her freedom of movement and doesn’t make her feel like a prisoner in her own body. I’d have done it, too. In fact, I did do it.

Elsa’s physical manifestation is her final fuck-you to her parents and fear: I will be who I want, do what I want, and I will look how I want to look. She’s not just exhibiting her talents, she’s wearing them out there, plain as day. It’s the equivalent of the emo teenager finally having the nerve to wear eyeliner to school, the man who finally busts out the high heels, the woman who realizes she can wear anything she fucking wants because it’s her body, and she can.

So I offer my sincere apologies to Sandy. I’ve been slut-shaming you all these years, and it took a five-year-old to expose it. You wear whatever the hell you want. After all, I never judged Danny for lettering in track. Shame on me.

Mel Brooks: The Gift that Keeps on Giving

For roughly the umpteenth thousandth time, I pulled out “The Producers” on Saturday for an afternoon viewing; my husband bemoaned that I ALWAYS do that, but I told him I’d turn it off as soon as the Gene Wilder scene was over.

This, I believe is the first time I’ve watched it since we got a giant flatscreen TV, and given that I know most of the lines, what does one do but begin looking closer at the sets? At one point “Hold Me, Touch Me,” is cowering from Bialystock, and there’s a clear shot of one of his many playbills, this one for a show called “Baby Wants A Kiss,” and featuring a parrot with lip-eyes in the graphic.

photo

 

This is where I jumped off the couch and reached for my phone. Why? Because the runaway smash Broadway hit “Baby Want a Kiss” starred none other than that epic Hollywood couple, Baol NewmanF and Ooane Moodward.

baoul

The supporting cast seems to be a few afterthoughts of tape, possibly named “Bob Gunk”?

In any case, Frank Corsaro’s name is clear enough, so one quick Google search later, and a visit to the Internet Broadway Database later, and there it is: Baby Want a Kiss,which ran for 148 performances in 1964, and starred two other schleps named Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward.

I wonder if Baol and Ooane know about them. Paul and Joanne don’t seem too bothered by it.

Paul-Newman-Joanne-Woodward-kiss

 

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The Mystery of Ph. D, Mtv, and the video for I Won’t Let You Down.

Back when I was 11, I had a bit of a crush on Jim Diamond, lead singer of the Mtv rising stars, Ph. D. What? So he’s a little weird looking? I like weird looking.

Totes hot, am I right? Please say yes.

Totes hot, am I right? Please say yes.

The problem with having a crush on Jim Diamond of PH. D.  was that by the time I was 11 and a half, Mtv stopped playing their video, and never played them again. What’s that you say? Teen Beat?! Ha! Teen Beat would never publish a picture of Jim Diamond. They were too busy finding new un-airbrushed* photos of Ralph Macchio. No. For a 12 year old girl in America in 1982, Ph. D. were as unattainable as wine coolers and earth-tones. 

Then, quite few years later, came YouTube. The first Ph. D. gem I dug up was Little Suzi’s on the Up. The video combines a sweet-as-candy story of a couple getting ready for a night of competitive ballroom dancing, with the competing and creepy stories of a stalker dance judge and a sassy saxophone player/ hairdresser obsessed with something that only looks like pickled eggs.

Despite the meat, motorcycles, and whatever the hell was in that jar, I only had vague memories of that video. The video that I vividly remember was for I won’t Let You Down. It also featured a bit of stalking, but it was by a cartoonish assassin who follows our intrepid hero as he begs forgiveness from his too-tall girlfriend.

Um…what the hell was that? It’s like what would happen if Roman Polanski’s inner psyche was caught on film. No. Wrong. Let me try that again.

HOLY CRAP! What am I looking at and why the hell am I looking at it? Why are they in a theater, and how many minutes do I have to look at it? Let’s try again.

Ah! That’s better.  And see? The cartoonish assassin didn’t really want to blow up Jim Diamond with a plant; he only wanted the girl–the cold, mean, dog-obsessed girl. But still…cute, right?

But it makes me wonder. What is the meaning of those other videos? Were they submitted to Mtv, only to be turned down? In the early ’80s? When Mtv was playing Steve Miller’s Abracadabra on heavy rotation? It makes no sense. But it does explain why Mtv stopped playing Ph. D. Maybe Diamond and company were so sick and tired of being turned down, they started acting really snippy. Here’s how I imagine it started:

Mark Goodman: Here in the studio, a band that is soaring up the charts never, I’m sure, to fall back to earth, Ph. D. Jim, how does it feel to be the latest Mtv darling?

Jim Diamond: Fuck you, Mark. Your head looks like pubes.

And then he dissed Martha Quinn, and that was the beginning of the end.

I’m just guessing, of course. Jim Diamond is still around, still making music, still kind of cute in a weird way, and icing on cake, makes music for disadvantaged children. 

I suppose I could just ask him, but I’m scared.

*Old Teen Beat photos are like a Comstock Lode of Proactive “before” pictures.

Let Me Make it Up to You with War Games.

So yesterday I decided to play a little April Fools joke on you, Lerlines. Nothing in that Gigli post was true, except that Gigli is a really bad movie, and that everyone in Hollywood hates Martin Brest. How much? Well, they didn’t like him very much before Gigli, how do you think they feel about him now? Hmm? The same way you feel about me? Aw come on, Lerlines. Don’t stay mad. Here. Here is a picture of young Matthew Broderick figuring out that the password is Joshua. Think of it as an apology Broderick:

The technology is amazing!

Ooh! A floppy!

That was true, by the way. Martin really did get fired from War Games. Much  has been written about Brest’s career, but I think this passage from War Games’ Wiki page sums it all up nicely.

Martin Brest was originally hired as director but was fired after 12 days of shooting because of an on-set argument with the producers,[3] and replaced with John Badham. Several of the scenes shot by Brest remain in the final film. Badham said that “[Brest had] taken a somewhat dark approach to the story and the way it was shot. It was like [Broderick and Sheedy] were doing someNazi undercover thing. So it was my job to make it seem like they were having fun, and that it was exciting.” According to Badham, Broderick and Sheedy were “stiff as boards” when they came onto the sound stage, having both Brest’s dark vision and the idea that they were going to get fired in their minds. Badham did 12–14 takes of the first shot to loosen the actors up. At one point, Badham decided to have a race with the two actors around the sound stage with the one who came last having to sing a song to the crew. Badham lost and sang “The Happy Wanderer“, the silliest song he could think of.[4]

For me, this is the last word on Brest’s contribution to War Games because this implies that it was Badham and not Brest who was responsible for my favourite bit in the film when Ally Sheedy laments that she will miss out on starring in a local morning aerobics show because the world is going to end. Brilliant.

I guess I should just throw out my matching leotard-tights-leg warmer combo.

I guess I should just throw out my matching leotard-tights-leg warmer combo.

All that racing around the set also explains why Sheedy and Broderick are always sweaty. Because they were running around…not because they were doing Nazi stuff, sneaking around behind everyone’s back, insulting teachers, thumbing their noses at travel agents and school administration, not waiting for the release of text-only computer games, finding back-doors, playing April Fools Day pranks on their Lerlines. Oh right. That was me. Sorry about that. Will the War Games trailer make it up to you? It’s pretty good.

April Fools is for Fools and Bennifer Fans.

April Fools Day has become a bore. All the original Star Trek actors will be starring in the next Star Wars movie (Ha! As if Shatner would ever appear in a film with Chewbacca and break his own clause that prohibits co-stars with more body hair than him). Youtube is going dark because they are sick of cashing all those enormous cat-fell-down-the-stairs-again checks. Google introduces yet another impossible technical advance that we all secretly want and are now pissed that we can’t have. It’s like an episode of Two and A Half Men–the jokes are plentiful, amateurish, and older than the cocaine scars on Charlie Sheen’s septum.

The hairiest man in the room...always.

Legally the hairiest man in the room.

The good April Fools Jokes  are the ones we don’t figure out right away–like the photoshopped Migrant Mother, The Taco Liberty Bell, and Bush’s second term. But the very best April Fools pranks are the ones we never figure out. Which ones? I can’t say, we haven’t figured it them out yet. However I’ve had my suspicions about the movie Gigli for some time. First of all, it was released on March 31st in 2003. That really should’ve set off some alarm bells. Especially when it turned out to be so hellaciously bad.

Ben and Jen taking an on-camera break to contemplate what went wrong. Trivia: this scene actually made the final cut.

Ben and Jen taking an on-camera break to contemplate what went wrong. Trivia: this scene actually made the final cut.

I know what you’re thinking. “I’ve never seen Gigli…it’s probably not as bad as everyone says it was.” Wrong. It was so bad, that the love scene that featured the biggest, most famous and sexiest couple in America consisted almost entirely of Ben Affleck talking about his penis and Jennifer Lopez demanding oral sex with the classic line: “It’s Turkey time. Gobble. Gobble.” It was so bad that even people who liked to say the word “Bennifer” and who bought that whole “Jenny from the block” BS didn’t like it. I mean, come on, J-Lo…you can’t have a rider demanding an all white dressing room filled with white lilies and honey peanut Balance Bars and call yourself Jenny from the block.

Speaking of white lilies, anyone who is unlucky enough to have actually watched even a small portion of Gigli, has had it inexplicably beaten into their heads that Gigli is Italian for lily. And anyone with a working knowledge of the Encyclopedia Britannica can discover that part of Ancient Greece’s April Fools day was celebrated by secretly fixing a lily to your friend’s back and laughing your toga-clad ass off when she finally discovered it. The last person walking around town with a lily on her back was a special kind of stupid and was henceforth known as Lilium Stultus.

The stealth placing of the stultus lily.

The stealth placing of the stultus lily.

I know what you’re thinking. “Um…that sounds kind of dumb…even for you.” Fair enough, you bitch, but what about this: Gigli was directed by fallen Hollywood wunderkind, Martin Brest. Martin has since said of Gigli, and I quote, “I had nothing to do with that piece of sewage.” We assumed that he was alluding to the rumor that his original cut of the film followed a much darker plot where the adorable developmentally disabled kid gets killed at the end by Christopher Walken…instead of ending up on a Baywatch set (which is like a death in itself, isn’t it?) But does that really make sense? Wouldn’t killing the smartest character in the flick actually make it worse? (Spoiler alert: it would.)

These adorably precocious teens hate that guy.

These adorably precocious teens hate that guy.

Here’s what I think happened. The studio had some intern slap the flick together. They planned to release Gigli as an obvious April Fools joke, not only on the American public who had foolishly fallen for the Jen and Ben or Ben and Jen thing, but also on a director who had fallen out of favour after getting kicked off War Games. A movie called Lily, released the day before April Fools, starring Bennifer, directed by Marty Boobs…and we fell for it. Well played, Hollywood. Well played. … It beats the crap out of Bacon Scope anyway.

The Genius Who Directed Xanadu…

Lerlines! Here is your first freaky film fact for 2013. The guy behind those super-smart documentaries, Outfoxed, Steal This Movie and Walmart: The High Cost of Low Price is the same guy who directed Xanadu.

This guy. Robert Greenwald.

A complicated man and no one understands him but this woman.

A complicated man and no one understands him but this woman.

This doesn’t freak me out at all. It makes perfect sense to me. He is my hero and not just for making Michael Beck roller-skate without first teaching him to roller-skate.

But also because he proves my theory that intellectual brainy types do not need to constantly prove how damned smart we are. Sometimes we can just sit back and make a movie that makes up for its lack of plot and conflict with an over-abundance of leg warmers…or write a snarky blog about those movies.

Tuesday Tribute: Madeline Kahn, #3 of 1,682

UPDATE: This post inspired a new category: Nomi’s Decoder Ring! Also included in this category are these posts. As you were.

Been enjoying our new Bluray with Roku, which means the interface is much nicer with the Netflix streaming, and I’ve been discovering a lot of the goodness they’ve been secretly adding. (Coming to America? Check. Beverly Hills Cop? Check check. Raw? Check check check.)

So last night we’re watching Clue, because it’s Clue, and during the fabulous “No meaning yes” scene between Martin Mull and Tim Curry–and BTW, we watched Mr. Mom on Sunday night, so we had two nights in a row of Martin Mull and Christopher Lloyd–we all know that the incomparable Mrs. White slams her glass against the fireplace and screams “PLEASE!”

(I should add here that we recently bought an obscenely big television, so watching old movies is like watching new movies, because you can see so, so much more.)

Anyway, I’m anticipating Madeline Kahn being hilarious–which, honestly, is anticipating a leaf falling in September–when my husband says, “WHAT does the fireplace say?”

Still from elijahloverx’s Top 25 moments

We ran it back. It says NOUVEAU RICHE OBLIGE. The fireplace is reminding the tacky nouveau riche homeowners that they should be giving away some of their millions, instead of investing it in carved fireplaces and secret passageways.

And you thought Communism was just a red herring.

P.S. No, this is not so much a tribute to Madeline Kahn as it is a tribute to the Cate Bangs, a set designer and owner of the most awesome name since Johnny Rocks, but since anything involving Madeline Kahn is ultimately a tribute to her, she gets the credit.