January 19, 2016

Central Casting Part IV

If you haven't seen this yet, then set aside a snowy afternoon and watch with the love of your life.

Oscar Season is upon us and I couldn't care less.  Since Tom Hanks and Denzel Washington have won 2 Oscars apiece and Gary Oldman and Ralph Fiennes haven't won any, I know artistic excellence isn't what the Oscars are about.

The ravishing Julie Christie with Rod Steiger, a hugely underrated actor who was always proud to be the only American cast in this cinematic masterpiece.

With an Arctic blast gripping much of North America in it's late arriving clutches, perhaps a weekend at home curled up by the fire watching an old classic should be on the agenda. As many of you know, Dr Zhivago is firmly established in GSL's Holy Trinity (along with Casablanca & The English Patient) of best ever movies. I always tell a young couple madly in love to set aside a snowy afternoon and watch Dr Zhivago, without distraction, and then name your first born son after me.

A very young Brigitte Bardot. Claire, would BB have been perfect to play you? Word at The Red Lion is that you've been gong to a voice coach to acquire a sexy breathy whisper in hopes of landing your dreamboat.

If you were the subject of a biopic, who would play the lead?...and please ladies, give the self-deprecation a rest; if you can't bring yourself to say: "Kate Winslet was born to play me..." then just say: "....ALL my friends say...." as GSL has become quite accustomed to this feminine inclination towards veiled self-flattery.

A young GSL years ago was described as a "sawed-off Steve McQueen". This pic from The Great Escape which attentive Den readers know has a connection to our fav watering hole. Click pic in right margin to reference.

Growing up, GSL would in his late teens/early 20s hear "sawed-off Steve McQueen" in a tone not intended to flatter but as a reference towards my strapping 5 foot 6 inch frame. Steve McQueen would have been a little too pretty/good-looking and out of his depth.  In the '80s and '90s, Ed Harris was  near unanimous as the actor who could best capture The Right Stuff  that enchanted every fine filly that caught GSL's fancy. Ed Harris was too old and too wooden to reach GSL's higher registers.

I got the Ed Harris thing a lot in the late '80s/'90s. Good actor, cool guy;  but not quite right.

Every now and then, somebody stumbled upon the actor who would be ideal. Christian Slater has the right physicality, emotional range, intellectual depth, and a speaking voice that fits the bill perfectly I'm told. A person's voice is the one quality that eludes self-assessment. Every time I hear a recording of my voice, it sounds like somebody else but Christian Slater has done some commercial voice-over work and several people have commented we sound nearly identical.  Christian Slater gets his role of a lifetime as the charismatic GSL...the writing had better be first rate.

Christian Slater has the definitive GSL within his reach but first he'd have to spend a lot of time at The Red Lion doing research on how to walk the talk....and lose the hair product.

Emily Blunt as my Estella. She'd have to visit Claire's voice coach to perfectly capture Estella's signature tone...a sing-song lilt of derision that would have driven Gandhi to mass murder.

A GSL biopic has long been a favorite topic of Estella...just so we can discuss who plays her. About 5 years ago Emily Blunt overtook a raven haired Toni Collette.

Toni Collette who Emily Blunt supplanted. She actually does have Estella's physicality but the features a  slight bit too sharp and Emily Blunt's softer, more womanly look better fits the bill.

If the BBC does a 12 part/ 18 hour treatment (as has been rumored), then one fascinating sequence would have the vastly underutilized Rebecca Pidgeon.

The multi-talented, underutilized, and Mrs. David Mamet, Rebecca Pidgeon. At a wedding reception, GSL mistakenly thought her doppelganger, seated to my left, was who the bride eagerly encouraged me to direct my attentions towards. GSL was smitten at first glance, put on the GSL full court press....with predictable lead--pipe cinch results only to discover at night's end she was married to the chap sitting opposite us at the 'fun table'. The young lady seated to my right left early in a huff. The doppelganger and I had a couple of very heated, and thankfully unconsummated, months of interaction and she ultimately emotionally proclaimed in a I can't go on like this tone: "I'm happily married (and pregnant with her first child I later was relieved to discover).... but if I wasn't would love to be married to you...."
Perfect ending with no casualties and the highest compliment GSL has ever been paid.

Ladies, who would be cast in your biopic and please do include significant others past and present.

January 01, 2016

In from the Cold

Many from my hometown of a certain age remember The Little Vigilante and his pup 'Bandit'
with a favorite story to tell. Book 1 of my children's book series now has some enthusiastic supporters
among those who bore witness.

GSL has come in from the cold.. I made it into my hometown late Christmas Eve surprising my delighted mother. The weather was disappointingly balmy but otherwise I had a very nice, albeit far too short visit.

On Boxing Day, I put the word out I was hoping a few old friends would join me for a pint at the local. I was astonished at the turnout on only 2 hours notice.

As Den readers (across 6 continents and counting) are well aware, GSL is a hopeless Romantic and likes nothing more than a great love story. Among those well-wishers arriving on such short notice were 4 couples that were high school sweethearts, married soon thereafter, still are happily married, and have wonderful kids setting the world on fire. I met several of these fine young people for the first time.

At left is 1 of the 4 couples that joined me for Boxing Day drinks who were high school sweethearts and still
happily married. That handsome young man in the ballcap is their son and graduates from West Point this Spring while starring on the baseball team and then begins training as an Attack Helicopter Pilot. At far right is B....

....who is married to S; GSL had a pivotal role in their courtship...

3 of my buddy Chasmo's beautiful daughters who were also very charming.
Nipsy is based on my boyhood pup Bandit.

Everyone showing up, or their parents, knew that little boy (pictured up top) who co-stars in the children's books series causing a buzz in my hometown. They also knew his pup, Bandit, whose rambunctious nature is the inspiration for one of the puptagonists. Back in high school on weekday mornings when I was awaiting Jimmy Trojan to pick me up in his yellow Opel (with Porsche racing clutch he insisted), the school bus went by carrying the elementary school children to their first bell a half hour prior to us old timers. Over the din of the school bus, thru closed windows, and the telly giving me weather and sports scores, I could hear the thunderous roar from the young kids cheering on Bandit as the bus zoomed by. Bandit had a morning routine of handling his business, swinging by the Parish's 4 bedroom ranch to let their cute little Bichon know that he still carried a torch for her, and then back home to bid those elementary school kids adieu with a quick wind-sprint next to the bus just in case anyone doubted that they haven't yet engineered a vehicle Bandit couldn't overtake in less than 60 yards. Bandit was known far and wide as the fastest pup in the land.

My buddy Jimmy Trojan had this same yellow 1974 Opel Manta...with Porsche racing clutch he insisted. When Jimmy T picked me up in the morning, Bandit gave him a snaggletooth snarl that let Jimmy know he was dead meat.  Jimmy & his Opel retired 0 & 237 lifetime versus Bandit in the 60 yard dash as a Bichon watched her dreamboat from the window across the street.

On Sunday, the 27th I raced down to the Sandhills at Estella's postcard of a horse farm to do research and spend a little quality time with her Darling Mother (actually an exact opposite of the Miss Havisham her daughter's alias implies) who is now a permenent resident of Estella's home and while enduring some challenges in physical health with full time nursing care, her mind is still steel-trap sharp and one immediately is reminded not to question her minute detail recall when viewing slideshows well over 40 years ago. You may remember my introducing Thoroughly Modern Millie over a year ago.

They all loved my first book in a series that will feature, in a very meaty supporting role, an extremely bossy and headstrong young lady often referred to in out-of-adult-earshot whispers as 'Mean Mel'. Estella had so hoped to have her likeness in a starring role but GSL had to break the news that those 2 protagonistas have already been cast but bucked up her spirits with how there will be a few scene stealing 'Mean Mel' incidents that will strike many as a Scarlett O'Hara prequel that will hit close to home.

Mr Estella's idea of leisure time activity is doing chores. GSL, always the dutiful guest,
gives a supportive wave from the window while cradling a tumbler of  his best bourbon, eating that last leftover
porkchop he had his heart set on, and getting the latest dish from Estella & Mille.
Another of Mr Estella's hobbies is as a woodcarver with several awards in international competition.. He carved and painted that duck.
That Chuckwagon model on the left was something I sent Estella's father years ago. He & Estella descend from the inventor of that icon of the Old West. I've often told Estella she is hardly worthy of such a celebrated forebear known as The Father of the Texas Panhandle
Estella's brother Eddie was a worthy successor of their families' great ancestor.

Estella circa 1968. A grown-up must have had the audacity to tell this little banshee she can't
ride her pony until Daddy gets home. A children's book supporting character named
'Mean Mel' will bring her overbearing tendencies to a vast audience.

This is what that hand-on-hip little vixen grew into with only the gestures becoming more subtle.

This is Millie with Estella a few days old and brother Eddie..
We had a delightful visit and only wish it could have been longer.

Estella and some poor guy she just rolled in negotiation. He's now wondering how he is going to get a 3rd shift staffed and trained and what concessions the Elf Union will demand.

Millie on her wedding day. She even resembles old family friend and neighbor Ava Gardner.

Post-Modern Millie suggested Fashion Forerunner Mod Millie might be a nice addition....? while shooting GSL a Coquette in Winter glance that even old family friend Ava Gardner in her prime would have a hard time matching in force and efficacy. What I haven't told either Estella or Millie is that I have a couple of surprises that go well beyond what either could imagine,,,and they will be quite pleased by.

I assured Millie that she was going to love what this little book series becomes, where it goes, and how it gets there, and I need her to be around to give me the great joy of creating something that honors and pleases her so please Millie, that physical therapy, we need diligence and consistency....I'll keep my promise but I need you to keep yours....

GSL has promises to keep and miles to go before he sleeps...

I had several Manhattans with Terry Drama New Year's Eve afternoon and was
out of harm's way before amateur hour set in.
2016 is going to be special.
Happy New Year!