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Friday, October 20, 2017
On October 23rd fans will celebrate what would have been Johnny Carson's 92nd birthday. Carson was (to me) the best late-night television host in the history of TV. My parents never missed his show. Me either.

Johnny's guests were some of the funniest comics on the scene, including Robin Williams, Rodney Dangerfield, Richard Pryor, Lucille Ball...the list is almost endless. Even the politicians he interviewed (like Senator Ted Kennedy) got in on the late night laughs.

Of course, there were his signature skits like Carnac the Magnificent and his banter with Ed McMahon and Doc Severinson, which are still some of the Tonight's show's best of the best segments.

But my favorite moments of every single episode of The Tonight Show: Johnny's opening monologue - even when the jokes bombed. Or especially when the jokes bombed. When Carson told a "stinker" his reactions were priceless - and 100% unforgettable.

Maybe that's why - even with all the late and late-late shows on these days - Johnny Carson still remains the undisputed King of Late Night.

Posted by: Betty | 8:00 AM | permalink
Friday, October 13, 2017

This might come as a surprise to regular readers, but The Nightmare Before Christmas is one of my all-time favorite holiday films.

Of course I love the classics like A Christmas Story and It's a Wonderful Life and A Christmas Carol, but Nightmare has something they don't: it combines two of the most wonderful days of the year: Halloween and Christmas.

Since we're approaching the Nightmare season, which runs from Halloween all the way through Christmas, I thought I'd share some of my favorite moments from this heartwarming holiday classic:
  1. Watching Jack Skellington discover Christmasland for the first time made my heart swell. It almost was like watching my kids' first Christmases. Just a little creepier.
  2. When Jack first reaches for the door to Christmasland, you can see the surrounding dark forest in the reflection off of the doorknob.
  3. Jack's Halloweentown friends' confusion that the "sock" he brought isn't supposed to have a foot inside.
  4. The sad but triumphant moment when Jack realizes that he's not very good at Christmas, but he's still the King of Halloween!
  5. And last, but definitely not least, the touching moment when Jack and Sally realize they are made for each other. 
I know it's a little weird. Strangely dark. Maybe a little spooky for the little kids. But it has all the trimmings of a great holiday story - love, giving, discovery, and even a miracle or two. Which is why Tim Burton's creepy classic makes my all-time favorite list!


Posted by: Betty | 8:00 AM | permalink
Friday, October 6, 2017
The sleek, bullet-shaped Airstream trailer has been around since the 1930s when a lawyer named Wally Byam started building them in his backyard in California. Since then the trailer has become synonymous with freedom. Life on the open road. And loads and loads of style.

We lived next door to one when I was a kid. It belonged to our neighbors the Alexanders who have used to have "camping parties" when they weren't traveling. They'd invite everyone in the neighborhood to bring a own chair and beverage and we'd sit in a little circle around the Airstream's front door while Mr. Alexander cooked burgers and dogs on a small grill outside and Mrs. Alexander brought out lemonade for us kids.

I loved that little trailer. I loved that it was all round inside. It was cozy and inviting. Plus, it always smelled really good inside the Airstream - like the scent of Adventure!

Every time I see one on the road, it takes me back to those neighborhood 'campouts' at the Alexanders' house and I remember how much I wanted to live the "Airstream Life", too. I never got to buy one for myself, but I as it turns out, I didn't have to - you can rent one these days. Maybe I'll start saving for next summer and finally have an Airstream Adventure of my own!

Posted by: Betty | 8:00 AM | permalink
Friday, September 29, 2017
In 1982, NBC invited us to go "where everybody knows your name" with the debut of the long-running sitcom Cheers.

35 years later, it's still one of the most watched sitcoms of all time. I plan to sit down and watch my favorite episodes to celebrate Cheers' anniversary this weekend. Here are my top five in no particular order:
  • Sam & Diane's first kiss. It was awkwardly hilarious and set the tone for the next season.
  • Dr. Frasier Crane's first appearance. The uptight, over-educated, and under-socialized shrink just wanted to be "one of the guys"SO much. By the end of the run, he'd sort of made it. And then he got his own show (Frasier). Way to go Doc!
  • Cliff gets electroshock therapy. When Cliff had his appendix out, not one person from Cheers went to visit him in the hospital. Trying to win over his friends, he subjected himself to an electric shock every time he did something annoying - which was a lot!
  • Woody's writes a song for Kelly. Poor Woody fell in love with a girl above his station. When her birthday rolled around, he realized he was out of his financial league, so he poured his heart in a song with a one-word chorus, "Kelly Kelly Kelly Kelly..." You know the rest.
  • The one where we get to see Vera. Well, almost. Norm's elusive wife makes an appearance in the fifth season ("Thanksgiving Orphans"), but she's hit in the face with a pie, which means we still don't get to see her!
If I had to pick a sixth favorite it would be the one where the Cheers crowd shouts "Nahm!" when Norm Peterson walks into the bar. Oh...wait...that's pretty much every episode, so I guess I'll have to binge-watch the entire DVD collection.

And maybe Frasier too! 

Posted by: Betty | 8:00 AM | permalink
Friday, September 22, 2017
In September 1985 Betty White, Rue McClanahan, Bea Arthur, and Estelle Getty hit the small screen with a show like no other. It starred four "old ladies", but the show wasn't just for the silver haired set. The Golden Girls was funny, smart, and bawdy. Everyone loved it - young and old.

I never missed an episode. Because of The Golden Girls, I even got a "fancy" VCR that you could program to tape your favorite shows while you were out. I still have some of the tapes up in the attic. And the VCR, too.

My friends and I still watch it (are we Golden Girls ourselves now!?) but we don't watch on my VCR. We all have those new-fangled DVDs or DVRs or D-Something-or-other that our kids had to hook up for us.

In my little circle of friends, each of us can identify with at least one of the Girls. Our little group definitely has a Sophia and a Dorothy. We even have our own "bawdy Blanche" and "rural Rose"...but I'm not telling who's who!



Posted by: Betty | 8:00 AM | permalink
Friday, September 15, 2017
The first Three Stooges movie, Soup to Nuts, premiered on September 28, 1930. The anniversary brings up the age-old question: why do men think the Stooges are hilariously funny when women think they're just plain stupid?

First let me say: that idea is bald-faced balderdash. Believe it or not, I think the Stooges were hilarious. In fact, lots of women love the Stooges. I'm not even sure I could be friends with someone who didn't love Larry, Moe, and Curly. (Shemp, too!)

But this gender bending puzzle was apparently a serious enough issue for the National Institutes of Health to fund a Stanford University professor's research into the matter, which was dubbed the "Mars/Venus" humor study. The study showed that men and women use the same network in the brain when deciding if something is funny, but "men are less discriminating." 

Stanford isn't alone in trying to figure out why the Stooges appeal to more men than women. One blogger even wrote that the trio employed the "literary power of three" and that they embodied the "Stages of Man". (Seriously - I didn't make that up.) I read his entire literary analysis - part of which compares "Nyuk-Nyuk, Woob-Woob" to the classic "Le Morte de Arthur"  (The Death of King Arthur) - before I reached the same conclusions any reasonable person would: 1) His analysis didn't solve the question and 2) the man must be barking mad. 

This blogger only has this to say: whether you're male or female, the Stooges were just plain funny: The stories were good. The humor was visual. The slapstick was perfectly executed. The characters had chemistry, which (the 2012 movie showed us) may never be seen again. 

I still love watching the old movies with my friends, my family, and even the kids. I can say with all confidence (no scientific study necessary) that the men and women alike  still laugh at the Three Stooges - 87 years after Soup to Nuts.  


Posted by: Betty | 8:00 AM | permalink
Friday, September 8, 2017
Let's go to Luckenbach, Texas 
With Waylon and Willie and the boys...

I wonder if Waylon Jennings had a psychic flash when he recorded "Luckenbach Texas" 40 years ago. If he had a vision of the supergroup that would later form. Or if it was all a mistake and we just happen to think of the Highwaymen when we hear that song now. (Or maybe that's just me.)

The Highwaymen were a country supergroup made up of the genre's heaviest hitters: Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, and Kris Kristofferson. I remember hearing them on the radio for the first time. I was just knocked out. All that talent in one recording...it was almost too much to take!

The year was 1985 and the song was the title track, "The Highwayman". It charted at #1 and became the group's most popular and well known song. I bought that album and the two that followed, "Highwayman 2" (1990) and "The Road Goes on Forever" (1995).

Sadly, the road didn't go on forever. We lost Waylon in 2002 and Johnny in 2003. But the music lives on. I still have all the old records. I remember the music and the lyrics. I remember the legends who brought it all to life.

I don't pretend to know how these things work, but I like to think they'll all end up together someday. Maybe in a place like Luckenbach because, as Waylon said,

Out in Luckenbach, Texas 
There ain't nobody feelin' no pain.

Posted by: Betty | 8:00 AM | permalink
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