Tuesday, February 28, 2012


Betty Garrett (May 23, 1919 – February 12, 2011)

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences made a serious omission by not honoring the memory of one of their own in the 2012 film segment of those who passed during this past Oscar year – a prominent American actress, comedienne, singer and dancer.

Here’s Betty Garrett in a “90 year retrospective in 2 minutes and 50 seconds” YouTube video. This was shown at her ”90th Birthday Bash on May 31st, 2009.”

"The music is from the end credits of the 1983 film "Max Dugan Returns" composed by David Shire. Edited with love by David Engel”

I wrote a comment to the Academy expressing my disappointment they failed to recognize Betty Garrett, a performer who gave much pleasure to me and millions of others for years. If you feel the same, click on this Motion Picture Academy Oscars link. You can then send the Academy an email expressing your own opinion.

My early memory of Betty Garrett was in the movie “On The Town” with Gene Kelly, Frank Sinatra and Ann Miller. I used 16 cents of my 25 cents allowance to go to the movie in our Midwest town. “My Sister Eileen” is another movie in which I recall enjoying Betty Garrett’s performance opposite Janet Leigh and Jack Lemon. She was a co-founder of Theatre-West here in L.A. Ms. Garrett had an extensive list of credits on Broadway, the movies and television, working well into her elder years until her death a year ago.

She won numerous awards including the Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle Award twice, for Spoon River Anthology and Betty Garrett and Other Songs. She has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Ms Garrett’s good friend, Naomi Caryl was a singer, musician, composer in Spoon River who you can read about in a 2 Part "Recollections of a Vagabonde."

Even better, Naomi writes for her own blog where you can enjoy first hand fascinating accounts of her life as a performer who also acts and creates art among her many talents. This Old Old Lady "Here in the Hills" – that’s Hollywood Hills -- shares her views and experiences as an entertainment world professional whose musical talents took her to Broadway.

I hope those who viewed the 2012 Academy Awards Oscar ceremony enjoyed the event. Pre-awards commentary I shared in the previous post included my views on many of this season’s movies. Ironically, I fell asleep on the sofa mid-afternoon though I don’t usually nap. Early in the ceremony I awoke to discover awards were being given to a foreign film. Obviously, I had missed the comedian host’s opening. Later, I heard Twitter buzz had young viewers asking, “Who is Billy Crystal?” – the host. Wonder if they ever heard of Bob Hope? Are you feeling old readers?

Merle Streep won the Best Actress Oscar which wasn’t too surprising, but admittedly deserved. She paused briefly on her way to the stage to whisper a few words to fellow nominee, Viola Davis in “The Help,” who was my choice. Then, Streep’s opening acceptance speech began with her generously acknowledging “half of the country” are disappointed that I was chosen.

By no means of the same significance, I was reminded of long ago college when I disappointingly lost an acting award. I felt a bit comforted when the much respected Drama Department head privately told me (which she probably shouldn’t have done) that she thought I should have won.

Best Actor Oscar went to Jean Dujardin in the Oscar winning Best Film “The Artist.” Uggie, the movie’s canine star, appeared on stage during one of the other several awards won by the film but didn’t speak. Here’s a link to the official Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences web site featuring winners and photos of Sunday’s 2012 Hollywood Oscars affair for anyone who wants to know more about other Oscar winners, nominees and the awards .

The opinions I’ve shared are strictly those of an amateur, but you may be interested in a much more professional perspective. I highly recommend you click on “Here in the Hills” for a truly interesting visit with Old Old Lady. She’ll offer unique observations, marvelous photos, and insights into her world. Not only will you be exposed to delightful show business stories, but you’ll be royally entertained in Old Old Lady’s home. Her residence is surrounded by a landscape which includes colorful flowering cacti that provide nectar for hummers and a variety of interesting birds. Unexpected wildlife visitors occasionally visit Old Old Lady who captures them in her camera lens.

Sunday, February 26, 2012


There was a time period in my younger life when I gave close attention to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Oscar Awards ceremony and winners. I never specifically aspired to appear in the movies, but I did entertain a desire to stage act. Then, as television became more prominent and I had an opportunity to perform in a one-act play TV production, I thought that new medium might also be an attractive acting venue.

I perceived that whatever talents I might have, they were most suited for my being a character actress much like Maureen Stapleton. The question for me became whether to apply for admission to the West Coast's prominent Pasadena Play House, or go to New York City with a goal of seeking admittance to the preeminent National Academy of Dramatic Arts and Sciences. (How many of us have entertained such aspirations or other dreams that never reached fruition?) I still have my Pasadena Play House uncompleted, much less not submitted, application form. Life happened, causing my plans to be what I thought of as temporarily delayed, when I necessarily returned to my home state.
The next several years I still was able to continue enjoying pursuing all aspects of drama productions in a small communities little theatre group called Footlight Players -- a group whose website I just discovered tonight. They have re-located, apparently to a much more professional theatre setting, expanded their production undertakings, and evidence an ever-increasing popular patronage today.

I eventually did leave that town for a larger city and off-camera employment at, by then, popular commercial television about which I've written here before. I was still single during these latter years when the Television Academy of Arts and Sciences that awards the Emmy was being created. Their annual national ceremony gained increased recognition, also becoming more pertinent to me when I received voting membership in a newly authorized local area Television Academy Emmy branch. The Emmy Awards and the Oscar Awards ceremonies were now all highly viewed popular televised programs I occasionally enjoyed, too.

Living in Southern California as I now do -- near the Oscar awards show flashpoint -- having a friendship with some who've actually attended the affair and after parties -- knowing others who the media has recognized as having a record-setting number of years ritualistically observing the movie stars from the bleachers at the red carpet entry to the formerly known Kodak Theatre site (now known as Hollywood and Highland Center since Kodak is filing for bankruptcy) -- has exposed me to frequent conversation about movies, their stars and the entertainment business, thus renewing my interest in the event -- especially now that I'm partially retired with a little more free time.

I take advantage of the special senior early movie rates, since a few years ago my town once again acquired our own independent theater featuring more selective film fare. I've seen a few of this year's Oscar nominee films, so thought I might as well share some of my reactions here. I'm interested in others views, whether or not they agree with mine, and any thoughts about the movies I haven't seen.

For starters......I look forward to Billy Crystal as this year's Oscar show host.

"The Artist" became my favorite movie, compared with those few I had seen, long before the film won any other awards. I'll be quite pleased if it wins the 2012 Academy Awards Oscar for Best Movie. Movies with sound, known as "talkies," were prevalent when I was young, but before that movies were silent. The silent pictures had written captioned dialogue for viewers to read as they watched the film's action with theater music accentuating and propelling the storyline plot. "The Artist" is a refreshing modern classic black and white silent film presentation. Delightful dancing scenes augment a twist of romance and humorous antics to which an unforgettable lovable perky dog lends his talents making this movie most enjoyable for me.

I, especially, appreciated the nonverbal language expressed by the actors through facial expression, gesture, and overall body movement that is so instrumental in carrying the message in this movie and in real life. This key feature to effective communication is missing in present day digital social sites. Fortunately, some programs with video, too, are available including one of my favorites, Skype. Email alone often lacks personality, can be sharp and brittle, utilitarian sounding, lacking in warmth and a human feel. I'm not the first to recognize some slight, maybe even subtle variations of meaning, or more serious misunderstandings that can be conveyed between email correspondents whose messages often lend themselves to misinterpretation by both parties.

"The Iron Lady" is a movie I enjoyed primarily because of Merle Streep's performance. She's long overdue for an Oscar as Best Actress, but not my first choice this year. I'm still haunted by the story line and her portrayal in her "Sophie's Choice" role years ago. She typically inhabits her characters, or they her, resulting in my generally forgetting her real life persona as I've seen it in her personal interviews. Certainly in this film the makeup department did a phenomonal job to aid in creating her character's appearance. The movie overall did not hold my interest as much as I had expected and hoped it would.

Streep portrays former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in later life -- a woman who had been Great Britain's formidable leader when in her prime. Her mental faculties declined as she aged in the years after leaving office. Interestingly, so did those of her American counterpart, our President Ronald Reagan who ultimately disclosed he had Alzheimer's Disease, a dementia. Current research has show the diseases can begin to effect the brain long before symptoms are recognized.

I also saw the current outstanding Oscar nominee movie "The Help." I thought Viola Davis was superb in her role and well-deserving of the Oscar as Best Actress. This movie characterizes a south to which my family and I moved when I was a young girl. There I experienced culture-shock with blatant race dividing scenes like those shown in this movie at bus stations, rest rooms, drinking fountains, restaurants. I do think the movie's revenge pie ingredient was strictly for unnecessary over-the-top shock and the desired effect could have been equally and more palatably accomplished with some other easily selected item. Otherwise, the movie is a well-acted and presented book adaptation.

I'm reminded that many years later in mid-life after moving to California, that a former southern Junior League (group prominent in the film's story) woman member became a close friend. She confided to me the feelings and adaptive challenges she experienced in her subsequent adult years. Intellectually she rejected the discriminatory views with which she had been raised, such as portrayed by some in this film. Yet emotionally, my friend revealed her adjustment to accepting racial equality was more difficult.

I also thoroughly enjoyed "Descendents" which addresses several significant issues in addition to realistically presenting certain family problems. A father, played by George Clooney, begins learning to actually relate to his teenage daughters as a result of tragic circumstances involving their mother , also his wife. The unfortunate parental relationship illuminates how families, especially the children, can be impacted when all members become somewhat estranged while continuing to share the same household. The mother's medical complications present the necessity of decision-making that too many people are often faced with making.

The Hawaiian ocean scenery was spectacular with select views I recalled having seen in years past. Also familiar were some other sights such as Oahu's Punchbowl Memorial Cemetery where one of my beloved female family members has rested since being victimized by ovarian cancer in the sixties.

George Clooney created his character well in this movie, as he has generally done in most of the other recent years movies in which I've seen him act. I do think, basically, George Clooney is George Clooney in all these movies -- perhaps some aspect of himself in each character that he can never quite fully bring out to completely subjugate his own person. Maybe the problem is mine in not being able to forget his character is George Clooney because his presence is so large. This is not necessarily a negative. Throughout my lifetime quite a few popular actors have seemed to overwhelm their roles in a variety of stories and acting parts, but I've derived great pleasure viewing their movies as I do his.

I'm reminded that a friend told me of meeting Clooney as a young boy at his home. Young George strongly emphasized with certainty, words to the effect that one day he'd be quite important in the entertainment business. But his Dad, Nick, was quite important then, too. Nick was well-known and popular in the Midwest as a singer and in that particular setting at that time. Many years later Nick Clooney became a Los Angeles news anchor for a short time. His sister and George's aunt Rosemary Clooney, vocalist, was quite a music industry and movie star. So, George had excellent role models and probably encouragement he could be a star, too. Perhaps he has become a much brighter star than he ever imagined. Too bad his Aunt Rosemary isn't still living to share his pleasure.

"Midnight In Paris" swept me away to the romantic Paris world about which I once fantasized. The sights and sounds, imagined smells -- but, alas, no smellivision -- along with some of the artists, writers and personalities I might like to have encountered, rekindled long ago memories. I like Woody Allen films despite Woody Allens personal behavior. Same with film director Roman Polanski. That's how some felt about actress Ingrid Bergman, for different reasons, years ago.

I missed seeing "Tree of Life," "War Horse" when they were on the marque, along with some other films that have received various types of Oscar nominations. I wasn't in the mood for "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close," but may be in the future, partially because I'm intrigued by the Max Von Sydow role. Also, I want to eventually see "Hugo" which may be considered a classic in years to come; "Moneyball" because I like Brad Pitt's acting and baseball; also "The Beginners" because of Christopher Plummer's typically exceptional acting skills.

I prefer seeing most movies on a large theater screen in preference to DVD's on my TV, or streaming on the computer. I don't have a large TV screen at home by choice, but may one day succumb to the temptation.

A couple more movies I saw at our local theater include "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy" which I think is probably a movie with suspense and complexity that many will enjoy. Gary Oldman inhabited Smiley. I was so enthralled with the initial presentation and acting on the PBS series many years ago I couldn't expunge that memory. Perhaps there was more time to tell the story on PBS than this accordion compressed movie version, though John Le Carre, who authored the book from which the adaptations came, has said he's very pleased with this new movie version.

"A Dangerous Method" which chronicles some of the pioneers of psychoanalysis with an account of complicated relationships between Sigmund Freud, Carl Jung, and Sabina Spielreim, once a patient, then in a romantic involvement. I think interest in the dynamics of psychoanalysis would enhance a viewers enjoyment and appreciation of this movie.

I really want to see the fascinating dance movie "Pina" on a big screen; may have an opportunity to see a purportedly unusual "Shame" dealing with sexual addiction; and "Albert Nobbs" in which Glenn Close portrays the lengths to which a woman of another generation would go to avoid the limiting traditional life styles imposed on females by society then.

I have mixed feelings about seeing "My Week With Marilyn," since I never cared for the real life Monroe character that she is said to have created as her alter persona, making her a movie star for many fans. The young actress, Michelle Williams, portraying Marilyn in the movie may well have created an interesting character worth seeing.

My tastes often are contrary to popular culture, since in addition to Marilyn Monroe, I never cared for Elvis Presley either, but that's another story. I liked the old movie "Some Like It Hot," but primarily because of the other actors -- such a farce -- certainly Monroe's character lent itself well to the part. I thought the movie "The Misfits" was extremely disappointing largely because of her. I think the movie would have been much better had any number of other more appropriate actresses played her role. I never appreciated her sex appeal. We had formed our opinions independently before we met, but she did not appeal to my husband and his friends either, other than as a big acting joke. Maybe her insecurity was valid.

This is probably not a good note on which to end this piece. Likewise, I may have injected too many personal memories, related topics and opinions.

I think there are some entertaining movies to be seen and hope everyone has an opportunity to view the ones that most appeal to you. Betcha Billy Crystal makes us laugh! Enjoy the Oscars!

Saturday, February 18, 2012


The days since I last posted have slipped by rather quickly I notice. What can I say? One thing or another has resulted in my focusing my attention elsewhere. Actually, there were a few days when some sort of bug slowed me down with the effects primarily in my head (sinus, ears, eye.) Residual effects continued for several more weeks. I'm not convinced it was bacterial so may have been viral. I was most comfortable avoiding digital device visual stimulation, then allowed myself to continue avoiding writing long after I could have resumed doing so.

Coincidentally during some of those weeks, when I fortunately had no patients, the site I serve had an onset of the norovirus -- the one you've likely heard of that sometimes occurs on cruise ships. Lucky me, I was able to avoid exposure to that unpleasantness, but have been in retirement communities before when norovirus emerged and I've always avoided contracting or spreading the contagion. Health officials emphasize the importance of hand washing protocol which I always follow at all times anyway.

During this time I've listened to many news reports locally, state-wide, nationally and internationally on subject matters that have kept my thoughts roiling. Many of the serious issues might aid my tolerance through some mellowing with the introduction of humorous quips. I continue to notice missing being able to exchange such commentary with my husband. Instead my pithy observations are all relegated to just my thoughts and I don't have the pleasure of his observations. You likely know all the news fodder anyway, and may well have written about some of these topics yourself, but here are a few matters I noted.

The ups and downs of the European financial crisis is no laughing matter when we consider the potential impact on our own pocketbooks if they fail to achieve some solvency, first in Greece, then in several other nations. The world of those nations citizens is being turned upside down -- their jobs, businesses and future financial status. Those whose age has them in the second half of their lives are likely the most profoundly affected. The younger folk have more time to adapt.

The continuing evolution of Arab Spring events with people fighting for their freedom from military rule and/or despot rulers continues to leave many unanswered questions as to the outcome. Again, the resident's suffer the adverse consequences with too many paying the ultimate price with their lives.

Our attention to nations south of our border beyond Mexico is minimal in our news reports, but there are significant activities happening there, too, which are intriguing -- including the Falklands ownership matter challenged again, Ecuador's dispute with America's Chevron oil company over billion dollar damage awards for distribution to rainforest residents, and Brazil's burgeoning commercial growth.

Internet privacy concerns keep periodically appearing with many companies including Facebook in the past. More recently Apple and Google have joined those whose activities have raised privacy questions. Finding ways to monetize the Internet while protecting a users privacy is the challenge. Whatever develops I want the "opting" choice for myself.

I've noted the behavior and statements from some of the current U.S. political candidates vying to be their political party's presidential nominee to be quite a circus. They aren't lax in playing fast and loose with the facts, either. So far my state of California has been spared being subjected to the obnoxious advertising bombardment. We'll likely receive our share when we draw closer to California's Tuesday, June 5, 2012 Primary Election.

Locally my community is protesting against the financial maneuverings of our water company rate setting. Seems the company has been so busy paying administrative salaries, dividending stockholders and providing their parent company profit, that they didn't reserve funds in advance for expected upkeep, improvements and expansion -- just raise the customer's rates for what is needed when the time comes has been the practice. Also, there are some other methods used that have allowed them to apply higher rates in our community than in other cities that has truly raised everyone's ire.

Our local officials continue to explore purchasing our cities water company as I've mentioned here before. When the state commission that has generally automatically green-lighted the company rate increase requests came to town for an open meeting, members were shocked at the overflow crowd protesting. They said they'd never before encountered such a turnout which gave them pause to reflect on their future considerations and actions.

I think most people take for granted and trust their utility company practices. Los Angeles residents are beginning to take a look at some of their utility company rates and executive salaries. Residents in all U.S. cities might do well to examine more closely their water company and other utility financial operations including, but not limited to, their pricing criteria, the size and use of various water pipes.

A few Tea Party residents have protested Occupy Claremont's tent erection outside City Hall. The area is always neat and clean, does not block an entrance -- only three or four tents on a concrete patio. The Occupy-previously supportive City Council determined the tents presence primarily qualified as camping equipment so Occupy's argument they were basically free speech symbols did not take precedence. The tents will have to be removed before this month ends. Further Occupy group activities are being determined but the group's intent is to be peaceful. In the future they plan to continue focusing on our local homeless population and homeowners subjected to bank foreclosure.

Tragically, a homeless 50+ year old former businessman who reportedly was finally beginning to experience some positive promise in his life unexpectedly died there recently. He had asked to sleep there that night due to safety concerns which he was allowed to do. There was no foul play. Ultimately, contact with his family was made.

The Los Angeles public school system continues to be jolted by the revelation that elementary school age children have allegedly been inappropriately abused by one of their teachers for many years in an unusual sexually-related manner. Subsequently a few other adult staff and teachers at other schools have also been accused of unrelated behaviors, but unacceptable ones, at their schools. No child should be subjected to such an experience and the emotional residue created with the betrayal by a trusted adult in any situation.

On the state level there's much discussion about whether or not we should proceed with the planned bullet train between southern and northern California even though a bond issue was passed for the project. The cost is now thought to be much greater than anticipated among other arguments.

The 9th Circuit Court has issued a decision against the legality of a ballot measure voters previously passed that prohibits gay marriage. The passage of that measure overturning the right of gays to marry had been unexpected by many. This latest judicial decision to allow gay marriage has been appealed to the U. S. Supreme Court.

Another tragic youthful death with Whitney Houston's demise the night before the Grammy Awards here in Los Angeles. She was one of those vocalists whose voice I most enjoy hearing because they simply sing. The note changes are natural sounding and don't seem to be forcibly tacked on. The vocal quality is smooth, not rough, raspy and strained, so not abusive to the vocal cords. These singers, male and female, don't need excessive gesticulating and acrobatics augmenting their delivery. They don't need the trappings of costumes designed for shock appeal, a band behind them playing so loud I can't hear or much less understand the song's lyrics. They don't need a stage full of special effects with flashing lights and explosions. Such a voice that reveals the singer's inner emotions in relation to the song's mood could hold my attention for many of the songs she sang with such ease.

Outside my living room window when the sun beams down warming the colorful golden bird of paradise hummingbirds have been flitting about seeking nectar, with pauses to rest on the more sturdy protruding flower projections. Those spring-like days have been intermittent with cooler temperatures. The past week winter finally arrived here for a few days. Eventually the parting clouds revealed some snow on our local Mt. Baldy. Further down the foothills where I live we were treated to some rain. Hopefully we'll have more moisture in an amount to at least reach our normal seasonal level in the weeks or months ahead.