About Brittany

Cold sober, I find myself fascinating.

It’s a dog eat dog world, Sammy, and I’m wearing milk-bone underwear: An Anti-depressant Mixtape/Playlist

Blame it on the fact that I haven’t watched any Dark Shadows in months (yes, months) or the fact that I’m only up to my ideal weight if I were 11 feet tall or a complete lack of restful sleep or water retention, but all roads lead to acute depression and apathy. And while I (and you) may really just want to listen to Blue or “Waiting ‘Round to Die” on repeat, that’s not healthy behavior. (Not that I know anything about healthy behavior.) But you (and I) know that music can be a great mood alleviator, miracle aligner, what you will. So, gather ’round and have a listen to this group of songs all-but-guaranteed to pull you out of your funk. Save the marshmallows and chocolate for another day, my friend. (I know they’re the food group on the bottom of the food pyramid, but you need some balance in your life.)

1. ELO – “Mr. Blue Sky”  

Beatles influence (huh-huh-huh-huh): you’re doing it right.

Oh, to be a little Baby Groot and dance around the world without a care.

2. Crosby, Stills, & Nash – “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes” 

Opening track on your debut album: you’re doing it right.

Like, if the album ended after this song was over…I wouldn’t even be mad. I’d still snatch up every copy.

And as far as pet peeves go, number one behind all other drivers on the road would be individuals who choose to talk at any point during this song but especially the last ninety seconds or so. This is especially irksome when I have my headphones on. Like, why can’t you read my anti-social behavioral cues? Don’t interrupt my religious experience here. Oh va, oh va! Doo doo doo doo doo, doo doo doo doo doo doo/Doo doo doo doo doo, doo doo doo doo!!!!!!!!!

3. Harry Nilsson – “The Puppy Song” 

I don’t know, I just want to go outside and roll around with a dog.

And I’m not, even, like a dog person.

The power of music, man.

4. Ricky Nelson – “Raincoat in the River” 

Don’t act like you’re too cool to listen to Ricky Nelson ‘cos you MOST. DEFINITELY. ARE. NOT!! I SAID NO NO NO NO!!!!!!!!!!!!

This is a little-known gem (in my wobbly universe where I don’t have a very firm grasp on reality, anyway) hidden on the slightly forgettable Love and Kisses album. But boy oh boy, if this song does not give you the will to live, I don’t know what will. SEEK PROFESSIONAL HELP ASAP.

Oh, and remember how in my last post I talked about how you have to accept people for who they are and love them anyway? That’s what I have to remind my husband of when he finds me dancing to this song wearing my sleep mask before bedtime. Don’t forget I gave up the chance to marry Marlon Brando or Ricky Nelson in the next life to marry you! You have to love me just as I am!!

Now the rain’s been drippin’
Drip drop a drippin’
Every day you’ve been away
Now the rain is stoppin’
No more drip drip droppin’
You’re back to stay
That’s why I say… 
I’M GONNA THROW 
My raincoat in the river
GONNA TOSS 
My umbrella in the sea 
The sun’s gonna shine like never before
It ain’t gonna rain, gonna rain no more
Now my baby’s come back to me

I may or may not have a complete dance routine for this song. Ricky’s voice just moves me.

Also, I hope you deeply (DEEEEPLY) appreciate how the last photo in the above video shows Ricky’s best side. Er, I mean back side. All of Ricky’s sides are the best sides.

5. Bee Gees – “You Win Again”

“They’re back to win your hearts and your minds with their new single, ‘You Win Again.’ Ladies and gentlemen, welcome…The Bee Gees!” 

ALWAYS THE SAME.

(If you don’t understand that reference, you clearly haven’t watched In Our Own Time enough times/as many times as me. Get on task!)

Not only is this song totally awesome and life-affirming, but this whole era of Bee Gees just might feature all of my style goals in the form of Robin Gibb (who else?). Confidence personified.

Ok, I can’t watch any more Bee Gees videos tonight. It will lead me down the rabbit hole of total Bee Gees obsession, and it gets worse every time. It’s really something only a cancer survivor would understand.

OH GIRRRRRL 

Thank you for existing, Gibbs.

6. Pulp – “Disco 2000” 

I don’t know, I just think I could sing along to this song all day, every day and never, ever be sad.

Oh, what are you doin’ Sunday, baby? 
Would you like to come and meet me, maybe? 
You can even bring your baby! 
Ooh ooh oh oh ooh ooh ooh
Ooh ooh ooh ooh ooh

Remember that scene in that one episode of Life on Mars (the original, superior UK version starring John Simm) where Sam, trapped in 1973, hears a snippet of this song on the radio in the Indian restaurant? No? I guess you haven’t watched that show as much as me either. Keep up, will ya?

7. The Style Council – “My Ever Changing Moods” 

The lyrics of this song are actually quite political and powerful, but what really makes this song an automatic anti-depressant for me is the flawless, tongue-in-cheek video featuring Paul Weller and Mick Talbot in a bike race. I can’t believe there are people on this planet who find it appalling and degrading to the song. How can you not adore this video? Paul Weller’s face with his mouth full of banana at 2:35? Please God, let me live again. It’s the best thing ever.

8. Wham! – “Last Christmas” 

This is another song where the video helps make it so inspiring. But there are also people who don’t like this song or video, and I am here to tell you that those people are wrong.

(Careless Whisper) Maybe next year… 

Gets me every time.

9. Hall & Oates – “Say It Isn’t So” 

Pretty sure this is the song I listened to repeatedly on the morning of my wedding. Does that mean anything, Dr. Crane?

The only downside to listening to this song is the moment when you realize you can’t dance as well as Daryl does with his own silhouette in this video. Life goals right there. You might get really discouraged and sad. Be careful.

Also, how scary is John when he creeps up behind Daryl and points as he sings “SAY”? Really scary and really, really creepy.

10. Peter Frampton – “Show Me the Way” 

Oh my gosh, if you are one of those people who thinks they’re too cool to listen to Peter Frampton, PLEASE GO AWAY. (Uhhhh, why does the above video have 2K THUMBS DOWN? Are you just jealous of PFramp’s awesome chest? Your internet privileges are hereby REVOKED so you can get some professional HELP!!!) But if you donated your copy of Frampton Comes Alive! to a used record store, THANK YOU because I probably bought it. (Nope, I still ain’t sayin’ how many copies I own.)

I just love it when this song comes on the radio. I just have to…wonder if I’m dreaming. I feel so unashamed. I can’t believe this is happening to me!

Ahhh, heaven. This must be what it is like.

11. The Monkees – “Pleasant Valley Sunday” 

What a great pop song.

I could recommend watching The Monkeys as an anti-depressant, but I have learned to accept that it is an acquired taste for some not-so-blessed individuals.

And I may be in the minority opinion here (don’t know, don’t care), but I really think Season 1 is a better, more entertaining television show than Season 2, where Micky plugged his hair into a socket and walks around wearing a psychedelic tablecloth for most of the season. But the music? Definitely superior, and this is a great example.

12. The Beatles – “She Loves You” 

This whole playlist could be Beatles songs. The sound of my beating heart. My will to live.

But I had to pick an early, frenzied Beatlemania song because there is so much energy and joy in those early songs. People who stick their nose up at pre-Rubber Soul Beatles just might actually be worse than the demonic souls who don’t even like the Beatles. Get HELP!!!!!

13. The Beach Boys – “Wouldn’t It Be Nice” 

Any version will do, but I am personally endorsing the stereo mix found on the 30th anniversary box set. Why? Because we like you, and Brian sings the bridge, therefore resulting in minimal Mike Love.

Pure bliss.

HIDDEN TRACK: BJ Thomas – “As Long As We Got Each Other” 

Remember when CDs would have hidden tracks? That was super annoying. I’m glad it’s not a thing anymore. Not that I really know because I don’t buy that many CDs. Anyway…

I love having this song stuck in my head. Quality of life improved tenfold.

I know there are many more songs that could qualify for this playlist, but my sleep mask is calling to me…

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Mini Grab Bag, Pt. 4

You oughta know the drill by now, kiddos. The Countess has hit a dry spell, ain’t got nothin’ too excitin’ or comprehensive to blog about, so she just performs a lobotomy on her brain and opens up a huge grab bag of whatever’s floatin’ around up there for all the world to read and weep…

I watched Love & Mercy again recently for the…oh, I don’t know, eight millionth time? 150611_gma_connelly2_0633_16x9_992:))))))))))))))))))))))))) all the smile emojis in the world for this movie :))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))

Ok, so that’s a bit of hyperbole. I’ve actually only seen it approximately seven million times. But really, I’ve seen this film many, many, many times. I couldn’t stop laughing about three minutes into the film, which perplexed my husband because it wasn’t exactly a funny scene. “I’m just laughing because I know exactly what he’s going to say next,” I told him. It’s such a great film and makes my heart so, so happy. Can someone remind me why neither Paul Dano OR John Cusack were even at least nominated for you-know-what? I guess the nominating committee didn’t close their eyes like Brian told them to. (“I don’t know what the hell you’re talking about. I closed my eyes, didn’t see a thing.” What a party pooper, that Murray.) So many great moments and lines in this film. “You’re grass, and I’m a power mower.” “I’m already eating as fast as I can!” “Does it sound like a drug song to anyone else?” “Mike, you can leave if you don’t want to be here, thank you. I’m working with the cello players.” “See you tomorrow, Hal!” And on and on and on. Ahhh. I love this movie.

(Pssst, anyone else uncontrollably amused by Mike Love’s one critique of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra’s album of Beach Boys songs? “When the first list came to me, they didn’t have ‘Kokomo’ on it. Now, it wasn’t a big hit in the UK, but it was No.1 for eight weeks in Australia and a No.1 in the US, so I said, ‘Actually, it’s the biggest-selling single we ever had – bigger than “I Get Around”, bigger than “Good Vibrations”, so that’s really saying something.’ Not having it on the album would be a mistake. In the end it turned out great.” No, in the end, it turned out hiiiiilarious. Listen for yourself here but only if you want to be cursed with having “Kokomo” in your head ALL SUMMER LONG, grrrrrrr.)

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Brian Wilson (Paul Dano) hears the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra’s rendition of “Kokomo.” Or just the regular version of “Kokomo,” same difference.

Unless you have been hiding under a rock with my sister, then you probably already watched Paul McCartney Carpool Karaoke. 

Not that I really watch The Late Late Show with James Corden on a regular basis or anything (or at all, really), but it is easily the best Carpool Karaoke ever. It’s funny, poignant, and magical as only a former Beatle can conjure. I’m also so lovin’ the new Macca trax. How blessed we are to have Sir Paul McCartney in this world!!

On the other hand, I’m still trying to figure out this new Arctic Monkeys album. 

Do I like it? Do I not like it? Am I awake? Am I asleep? Do I want to book a trip to the moon? I just don’t know. But I’ve been listening to it pretty much non-stop trying to figure it out and finding snippets of lyrics popping into my brain:

What do you mean you’ve never seen Blade Runner?

Dancing in my underpants
I’m gonna run for government
I’m gonna form a covers band and all

Kiss me underneath the moon’s side boob

(Wait, what?) 

Bear with me, man, I lost my train of thought

Since the exodus it’s all getting GENTRIFIIIIIIED 

I launch my fragrance called “Integrity”

Confused, unsure, and looking for answers, I sought inspiration from a higher power. That’s right, I turned to Google and discovered a clip of an interview with Noel Gallagher being questioned about the album.

The journalist puts forth the premise of the album (a retirement home for rock stars on the moon–no, really) to Noel and wonders if he fancies it. “I don’t know what to make of it,” Noel answers simply.

(Meeeeee toooooo.)

The journalist presses a little, describing the album as experimental, off-the-beaten track, not really what you would expect from Arctic Monkeys.”No, you’d expect a few choruses. There wasn’t any of them,” Gallagher quips dryly.

Love that guy.

It is completely different from anything Arctic Monkeys have done before, it isn’t exactly what you’d expect, it might make you a bit uncomfortable or even outraged that those “We’re Arctic Monkeys, this is ‘I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor’, don’t believe the hype” have grown up, grown some facial hair, changed a little…but, alas, I haven’t stopped loving you once.

There’s also been a ton of outrage (apparently) that Alex Turner grew some facial hair and has been sporting a beard.

I just wanna know where ya’ll were when Jarvis Cocker grew a beard. Like, that was outrage, and it was a protest party of one as I recall. At some point–oh maybe two or three years later, I think it was–I had to accept that Jarvis wasn’t going to shave his beard or wash his hair on a regular basis. You can’t change people, people. You just have to love them for who they are.

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And Jarvis is a really weird guy. But I still like him a lot.

I still got it. 

And by “it,” I refer to the ability to win the Turner Classic Movies edition of Scene It despite not spending all my spare time watching old movies anymore. I won even when my opponents got questions like, “What does Zuzu tell Daddy happens every time a bell rings?” and “What film stars Clark Gable, Marilyn Monroe, and Montgomery Clift?” and “What color are Dorothy’s shoes in The Wizard of Oz?” Come on, now, I’m sleep-walking here, answering these questions!!

But really, I won because I always choose The Maltese Falcon as my playing piece, and it never, ever lets me down.humphrey-bogart-maltese-falcon-steve-wynnHearts in my eyes for Sam Spade forever.

I’ve been to the movies twice recently (to see Jurassic World and Incredibles 2, both very enjoyable) and saw the absolute worst trailer for a movie, ever. Like, ever, ever. 

I don’t even know if I can post it here in all good conscience. Some virtually braindead individual had the dumb idea to not only make another film version of Little Women but also “re-imagine” the story by placing it in a modern setting. I’m appalled, really. I have no words. This is like in Back to the Future II when Marty finds himself in an alternate 1985 where his mom has had a boob job and is married to Biff. We have to go back to 1955 and stop Biff from giving himself the Sports Almanac from 2015. We have to stop this movie from being made. We only need the perfect, definitive film version of Louisa May Alcott’s story produced in 1994, starring Winona Ryder as Jo. And if you can’t deal with that, at least respect the author’s work and LEAVE IT ALONE. I SAID NO NO NO!!!!!!!

I need to calm down.

Happy birthday, Ringo!

Peace and love.

I’m the greatest and you better believe it, baby!

I finished watching all eight seasons of 24…my life is now devoid of meaning. 

I haven’t watched the “revival” or whatever you wanna call it, but I must say, I was little underwhelmed by the series finale. It seemed…a little reminiscent of an earlier season finale????? Come on now. But Jack Bauer is still awesome.

Meanwhile, I haven’t been watching much–like any–Dark Shadows lately. 

I kind of cycled through all the story arcs I wanted to and I don’t know if I really want to watch the Leviathan storyline (like who needs that kind of negativity in their life???) or if I should actually watch the pre-Barnabas (gasp!) episodes for the first time ever. I remember seeing a few on Sci-Fi as a kid, and as I recall, they were one long yawn. Apparently, however, there are fans who argue that some of the series’ best acting and writing is found in those early episodes. I just don’t know if I can stomach 209 episodes of no Barnabas or Quentin. I don’t know if that life is worth living, frankly. Let me know your thoughts.

That’s it, kids. This is just a “mini” grab bag–for when you need a Hand of Count Petofi fix but don’t want all the calories. Unless you’re like me and eat the whole bag anyway and then end up in bed, shutting out the rest of the world.852664894-brian_wilson_1968_laying_in_bed_with_smoke

It’s waaaaay past my bedtime. As if that weren’t clear enough.

Bonsoir!

A Considered, Serious Review of Phantom Thread

It’s been awhile, friends.

A few weeks ago, before I became a world traveler, I finally got see Daniel Day-Lewis’ farewell to acting, Phantom Thread.

I had debated whether to see this film in the theater, yet had been told it was the most boring movie ever from a semi-reliable source, so I joined the public library’s waiting list. That’s why I pay my taxes, man.

So it was finally my turn to take home Phantom Thread for seven days (and if I want to keep it a day late, I only have to pay 15 cents!), and then the longest two hours and ten minutes of my life began.

Here’s a few thoughts that ran through my mind while watching this Oscar-nominated (slim pickings, I guess?) film:

  • How much time has gone by? Only…two minutes?
  • Is Daniel Day-Lewis really going to quit acting? After this? Why? Why did he choose to make this movie? Why is he choosing retirement? Because his ability to choose worthwhile projects has gone out the window?
  • How much longer?
  • Most quotable line? “You have no breasts.” Oooh, romance.
  • Why are these two people attracted to each other?
  • What is the point of this movie?
  • How. Much. LONGERRRRRRR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
  • Why is that crazy drunk lady who wants DDL to design her wedding dress look and sound familiar? Oh good, an excuse to get on Google, pass some time…
  • Bebe from Frasier! “It’s not like she worships the devil.” “She doesn’t have to, HE worships HER!!!!” Dang, I could watch like 8 episodes of Frasier in the time I will be watching this movie and be infinity times more entertained…
  • Oh my gosh, this is painful.
  • How much longer?!!!
  • Why was this movie critically claimed? Just…why?

Just…what a total waste of time, man. Would not recommend. Go to jail. Go directly to jail. Do not pass go. Do not collect $200. All the thumbs in the world down.

That is my serious and considered review of Phantom Thread. Sorry if you also wasted two hours and ten minutes of your life watching this film and then actually liked it. You may want to see a doctor about that. (Don’t offended, okay. Just concerned for your health and it’s called HYPERBOLE.)

It was the most disappointing and depressing two hours and ten minutes of my life. (I guess I’m not done yet.) The weight of this disappointment increases tenfold when you realize that a talented actor like Daniel Day Lewis (and yes, his acting is fine in the film) is done acting. This–this sad excuse of a movie–is it. It is like that moment when you’re watching Kiefer Sutherland being interviewed about playing Jack Bauer on 24 and you realize…he’s not really Jack Bauer, he’s just Kiefer Sutherland. I know you’ve all been there. (And if you haven’t, you should let Jack Bauer change your life.) A really sobering and disheartening moment.

And that’s all I have to say about that.

Meanwhile, on Dark Shadows

 

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Well, isn’t this cozy? Hallmark should get on this.

Bonsoir!

10 Albums

As a quick footnote to my last post, I have recently been pondering at what point I should become concerned and/or seek medical attention (NOT from Dr. Julia Hoffman, of course) when I find myself resonating with sentiments expressed by David Collins? (He only tried to kill his father…twice? Has been possessed a handful of times, made friends with ghosts, been accused of being an insane liar…totally respectable!)

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(That point has passed. You went past go, Brittany, but you did not collect $200. )

Moving on…

I was recently “tagged” on social media to post about ten albums that have had an impact on me. This task was particular difficult for me because it’s easier for me to think of individual bands and musicians who had an impact on me, as I have this obsessive personality that requires me to listen to everything they ever recorded and consequently makes it hard to narrow down which album has had the most impact. But hey, let’s give it a whirl…

10. Graham Nash, Songs for Beginners (1971) 

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I am a simple man
And I play a simple tune
Wish that I could see you once again
Across the room
Like the first time

I’ve said it before, and I guess I’ll say it again: Graham Nash is undoubtedly my favorite member of CSN. Compare Nash’s first solo effort to those of the other members (which aren’t too shabby, don’t get me wrong–I love CSN), and you’ll hear why. The album is full of raw, emotional songs about Nash’s breakup with Joni Mitchell and fervent cries for political activism, but each song is so carefully crafted to pop/singer-songwriter perfection. I listened to this album a lot as a teenager–no regrets.

9. Pink Floyd, Wish You Were Here (1975)

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Remember when you were young? 
You shone like the sun
Shine on you crazy diamond 
Now there’s a look in your eyes
Like black holes in the sky 
Shine on you crazy diamond 

As a teenager, I had a vague notion of Pink Floyd but didn’t really become interested (translation: obsessed! I can’t have interests like normal people, remember?) in the band until I discovered Syd Barrett and his music. “I’ve got a bike/You can ride it if you like/It’s got a basket, a bell that rings and/Things to make it look good/I’d give it to you if I could, but I borrowed it.” Ughh, love that stuff. Everything about that era of the band is so unique–the sounds, the lyrics, even the delivery of the lyrics…nothing like it in the world, methinks. Ice creeeeeam, tastes good in the afternoon! Ice creeeeeam, tastes good if you eat it soon!

But the fact of the matter is that the band endured and made more music without Syd Barrett than they did with him. The band could not have happened without Syd Barrett, but it also could not have lasted with him at the helm. Still, the band found ways to acknowledge his importance and pay tribute to him in some of their most famous works, Wish You Were Here included. (Even though Roger Waters has stated, in his usual stubborn way, that only one song off the album is really about Syd, but I find his influence permeates so much of the album, albeit if not always so forthrightly as “Shine on You Crazy Diamond.”) During the recording of the album, a shaven, overweight Syd Barrett visited the studio, shocking his former bandmates and reducing them to tears. The emotional weight this album carries is palpable in its lyrics and music.

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How I wish, how I wish you were here
We’re just two lost souls
Swimming in a fish bowl
Year after year
Running over the same old ground
And how we found
The same old fears
Wish you were here

When I bought the album on CD (that used to be a thing, you know), I specifically ordered a version that also included the early Pink Floyd singles–“Arnold Layne,” “See Emily Play,” “Candy and a Currant Bun,” “Apples and Oranges”–as bonus tracks, making it the perfect CD for me, as it melded my favorite non-Syd Barrett Floyd album with some of my most favorite Syd Barrett songs.

8. Pulp, Different Class (1995) 

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You will never understand
How it feels to live your life
With no meaning or control
And with nowhere left to go.

(Now I’m wondering why I didn’t re-create this album cover at my wedding? Uhh, because those are some ugly flowers, that’s why, the second voice in my head says.)

Oh, Jarvis.

What can I say? I spent a good portion of my life obsessed with and worshipping that guy. And for good reason.

Pulp spent a long time (what, fifteen years or something) in the music business without much to show for it. (And that would be because some of the early Pulp music is really, really not very good. Just trust me on this one.) With Different Class, Pulp’s recognition and success reached a whole new level. They had top ten hits, nationwide fame, and Jarvis Cocker–the guy who once fell out of a window trying to impress a girl with his Spider-man impression and spent months in a wheelchair as a consequence–was suddenly a sex symbol at 32.

Different Class is full of some of his best songwriting, dealing with themes of sex (Jarv’s fave), the class system, drugs…yet all set to a flagrantly POP beat. There’s the scathing, vengeful “I Spy” (in which Jarvis advises that you should take him “seriously, very seriously indeed ‘cos I’ve been sleeping with your wife for the past sixteen weeks”), anthemic call to arms for all the mis-shapes, mistakes, misfits, the depressing come-down at “Bar Italia” “where other broken people go”, the infectious sing-a-long “Disco 2000” about the one that got away, and the ultimate ATTACK on the clash of the social classes “Common People” (really a shame how the video/single omits the final, most biting verse). And then there’s “F.E.E.L.I.N.G.C.A.L.L.E.D.L.O.V.E.”, “Live Bed Show,” “Underwear,” “Monday Morning,” “Pencil Skirt”….

It’s impossible to choose a best or even favorite track. This is the album that catapulted a mild interest in Jarvis Cocker to a full-blown obsession, kicking the door open for all the rest of “Britpop.” It would be years before any other musical genres would be allowed to enter the fortress.

7. Frank Sinatra, A Jolly Christmas from Frank Sinatra (1957) 

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I love those J-I-N-G-L-E bells, oh 
Those holiday J-I-N-G-L-E bells, oh 
Those happy J-I-N-G-L-E B-E-DOUBLE L-S 
I love those J-I-N-G-L-E bells, oh 

If you’re surprised that there’s a Christmas album on this list, then you CLEARLY haven’t listened to this Christmas album. I listen to this album year-round. A song from this album made its way to my wedding reception playlist. It’s Sinatra. It’s perfect.

I first got into Sinatra after being assigned to read Gay Talese’s magnificent profile of Sinatra, “Frank Sinatra Has a Cold” during my next-to-final quarter of college (the first time around), and I thought, “Wow, he has to be the coolest guy, ever.” And guess what? He is. I just don’t wanna live in a world where there is no Frank Sinatra. In the words of Dean Martin, “This is Frank’s world, and we’re just living it.” Amen, brother.

6. The Smiths, Hatful of Hollow (1984) 

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I am the son, and the heir, of a shyness that is criminally vulgar
I am the son and heir, of nothing in particular

It was difficult to choose one Smiths album; truthfully, any of their albums could be inserted here. But I may or may not still be wearing an oversized, pit-stained Smiths t-shirt, an heirloom passed down from an older sister, with this album cover on it, so I’d say its impact is pretty obvious.

Morrissey has a lyric for every situation in my life:

Struggling with the state of yourself and your life? “Every day you must say, how do I feel about my shoes?”

Feel like your work is not meaningful or productive? “But sometimes I feel more fulfilled making Christmas cards with the mentally ill.” 

When someone finally asks your honest opinion of them? “Frankly, Mr. Shankly, since you ask: you are a flatulent pain in the arse!”

Have to deal with the consequences of telling someone your honest opinion of them? “Sweetness, sweetness, I was only joking when I said I’d like to smash every tooth in your head.”

Feeling under the weather and someone asks you how you’re feeling? “Oh mother, I can feel the soil falling over my head.”

Just something I may or may not say every day: “Oh, I’m too tired/I’m so sick and tired/And I’m feeling very sick and ill today.” (I am a “delicate flower”!!!!)

Someone says “I love you”? “So…scratch my name on your arm with a fountain pen. This means you really love me.”

Moving onto a new obsession and your previous obsession starts to feel left out? “I still love you, oh, I still love you/Only slightly, only slightly less than I used to, my love.”

PMSing and carrying around some extra “water” weight? “You’re the one for me, fatty/ You’re the one I really, really love/And I will stay/Promise you’ll say/If I’m ever in your way/A-hey!”

And ad infinitum.

I mean, these lyrics just roll off the tongue. So good.

(I recently saw a headline about a study that concluded that “Smiths fans were neurotic.” Was such a study necessary? I mean, really????????)

If you want to have a fun game of charades sometime, try using Morrissey lyrics. “Punctured bicycle, on a hillside, desolate.” Ahhh, fun times.

5. Oasis, Definitely Maybe (1994) 

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You’re the outcast, you’re the underclass
But you don’t care, because you’re living fast
You’re the uninvited guest who stays ’till the end
I know you’ve got a problem that the devil sends
You think they’re talking ’bout you but you don’t know who
I’ll be scraping your life from the sole of my shoe tonight

As a young child, my brother and I would go upstairs to my older sister’s lair and deface the posters of her musical heroes with sticky-tack: Morrissey’s nipple magically grew one very long hair and the Gallagher brothers’ noses always had dangling boogers. I had a strong aversion to the Gallaghers in particular because I knew one of them (who also thought he was John Lennon) had called George Harrison a “nipple” (“NIP-PLE”) and I got tricked into watching one of their concerts instead of getting to watch A Hard Day’s Night for the nth time because I was told John Lennon was in it. (He was–in photographic form at the conclusion of “Live Forever.”) So it was a long time before I sold my soul to this rock ‘n’ roll band.

But oh boy, when I did, there weren’t no turnin’ back. Noel Gallagher’s latest solo effort asks, “Who built the moon?” Uhhhh, you? Would follow that dude to the moon and back, no questions asked.

What a debut album–it kicks in with “Rock ‘n’ Roll Star” and never, ever lets up. Soul sold.

4. Bob Dylan, Bringing It All Back Home (1965) 

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Yes, to dance beneath the diamond sky
With one hand waving free
Silhouetted by the sea
Circled by the circus sands
With all memory and fate
Driven deep beneath the waves
Let me forget about today until tomorrow

I cycled through many musical obsessions as a teenager, but I think perhaps my obsession with Bob Dylan lasted the longest and had the greatest impact, which is odd considering I probably listen him to the least out of any artist that appears on this list. I devoured all his albums, watched Dont Look Back more than was healthy, and wore sunglasses a lot. Yeah, not healthy behavior, but having a thorough knowledge of Dylan’s catalogue is something I consider worthy of being mentioned on my resume. Once, I had to explain to a dense individual how important Bob Dylan was to music. Like, they legitimately didn’t get it. It was sad. Don’t be that person.

Bringing It All Back Home is my favorite Dylan album, as it blends both acoustic and electric Dylan and contains some of my favorite Dylan tracks (which I did NOT play at my wedding reception!)–and Rick Nelson’s, too. I know, I have great taste.

3. The Jam, The Gift (1982) 

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Why are you frightened can’t you see that it’s you
That ain’t no ghost it’s a reflection of you
Why do you turn away an’ keep it out of sight
Oh don’t live up to your given roles
There’s more inside you that you won’t show

Paul Weller is the man who knocked down the walls built by Jarvis Cocker.

My first exposure to The Jam was the video for “Going Underground.” I thought, “Good song, lead singer is a bit odd-looking.”

Ha. Ha. Ha.

I feel like with each of my obsessions, it just got worse. Like, I spent A LOT of time obsessing about Paul Weller. Way more time than I spent obsessing about Jarvis Cocker, even. The only reason I don’t spend so much time doing it anymore is because…well, I found more fulfillment in my work and life, I guess. And I also sought medical attention. Only kidding, ha. Maybe I should have.

Anyway.

The Gift may not be my favorite Jam album (but it includes my favorite Jam song, bar none), yet it is their most musically diverse and adventurous. And it has so, so, so many good songs.

And it’s their last. Weller, at age 24, announced the dissolution of the band at the height of their fame. Guts, man.

Bring on The Style Council!

(Never forget the time I threatened to turn this blog into an analysis/discussion of Style Council videos.)

2. The Beach Boys, Pet Sounds (1966) 

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Sometimes I feel very sad
Sometimes I feel very sad
(Can’t find nothin’ I can put my heart and soul into)

I don’t even know what to say about this album. I love it so much. It is absolute perfection from start to finish. It’s a spiritual kind of thing, don’t you think? Yes, yes, it is. Yet there are still people who don’t “get” this album. Don’t be that person. Make the world a better place. Listen to Pet Sounds, preferably at least once a day. You just have to listen…listen.

1. The Beatles, Rubber Soul (1965) 

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Was she told when she was young
That pain would lead to pleasure?
Did she understand it when they said
That a man must break his back
To earn his day of leisure?
Will she still believe it when he’s dead?

Any Beatles album could hold the top spot on this list. As many musical obsessions have come and gone, The Beatles were the first and remain the most intense and innate part of my existence. The Beatles are the sound of my beating heart.

It’s odd (to me, anyway) to think of how this is the album that so influenced Brian Wilson to write Pet Sounds, yet he and I listened primarily to different versions. Brian was listening to the Capitol version, with a different track listing (including the false-start version of “I’m Looking Through You”), and I have always listened to the original UK version. (Capitol may have been onto something, actually: omitting “What Goes On” is downright inspired and inserting the folksy “I’ve Just Seen A Face” and “It’s Only Love” blend in well with the musical landscape of the album.) Yet we both have the same intense love affair with the album. Revolver may have opened the doors for Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, and Sgt. Pepper is certainly more advanced technology-wise, but neither has the heart of Rubber Soul. In fact, as much as I love each of their albums, I might go as far to argue that no other Beatles album has the heart that Rubber Soul does. The empathetic drumming Ringo lends to John in “In My Life”? Just…my heart.

I’ll stop now. I find it hard to express my feelings about this band of brothers for, like Cordelia, my love’s more richer than my tongue…

I know everyone stays up REALLY late at Collinwood, but it’s way past my bedtime…

P.S.

Because no one has found out that he’s a vampire from another century.

Can’t stop, won’t stop. HELP!

Watching Dark Shadows with Subtitles: A New Obsession

…because, of course, I am in dire need of one of those.

My Dark Shadows binge-watching has been aided by the invent of streaming. Sure, I have the entire series on DVD, but there’s an added luxurious laziness to streaming. No need to get up and change the disc after 10 episodes! (I’m over burning calories, anyway–hey, I’m married now!)

But streaming also became a necessity when I needed to watch portions of the show that were currently on loan to a family member in need. (The crazy blood runs deep and is genetic.) So, I signed up for a free 14-day trial of MPI’s Dark Shadows streaming service, darkshadows.tv. The best part about this streaming service? Besides, you know, not having to get up and change the disc after 10 episodes…

Subtitles.

Yep. Subtitles.

In fact, the subtitles are so awesome, I’m becoming even more outraged that this service wasn’t completed for the DVDs. I’m not hard of hearing (yet), but the subtitles bring so much to the show. Let’s take a look!

First, there’s the description of the music (among the best, ROBERT COBERT = LEGEND!).

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50% of the show.

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The other 50%.

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Even in broad daylight, things are eerie at Collinwood.

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Mrs. Johnson doesn’t get around to cleaning this part of Collinwood too often.

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Things usually get tense when Barnabas has to deal with 20th century technology, i.e. use a telephone. He refuses to have such a modern convenience installed at The Old House, you know!

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So Josette’s Music Box is just a music box, but Quentin’s “music box” is EERIE. Fine, be that way.

Then, there’s the descriptions of things that happen frequently around Collinsport:

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Everyday occurrences, no lie.

Some things only happen when Barnabas and Julia are under duress, forced to help create a mate for one of the worst Dark Shadows characters of all-time, ADAM…

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Dance, monkey, dance!

Then, there’s things that happen occasionally and warrant a screen cap, obviously:

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Maniacal, charming, same thing.

Slight detour here, but while watching Quentin “maniacally” laugh as he has driven everyone out of Collinwood, I noticed something in the hallway…

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Have I lost my mind (98% chance) or is that the box that holds the hand of Count Petofi? Just lurking around in Collinwood, circa 1969? (By the way, check out this “Count Petofi style wood box” on eBay! The price has dropped dramatically!) Guess I’ll have to go back and watch even more episodes to find out. Oh, dirty darn…

Then, there’s just the ability to capture inspiring lines of dialogue:

Inspiring lols, that is. 

EVER AGAIN. (CLENCHED EYELIDS.)

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This line comes before one of the greatest moments (maybe THE greatest) in Dark Shadows history: Barnabas hits Willie over the head with a glass bottle in order to escape (the same way that Maggie escaped Barnabas when she was a prisoner in the Old House–remember when they used to build houses with secret passages and jail cells in the basement? Those were the days!!). This line reminds me of Chunk, speaking to Sloth, in The Goonies: “Sloth, you’re gonna live with me now. I’m gonna take care of ya…’cos I love ya.” Yeah, I’m a pretty balanced individual, really.

Pre-Wedding pep talk.

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Yeah, come on, Angelique, Barnabas has fooled how many generations of Collins that he’s his own great-great-great grandson? They’re not that bright.

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Oh my gosh, I can’t stop laughing. Adam + Charred Eve = OTP!

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Well, staring at the portrait of your long-lost love (your wedding present to her that didn’t arrive until after you had married Angelique) who has been DEAD for nearly 200 years will do that to you…

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Jason McGuire wishes you would have had that attitude when he came over for a visit a few episodes ago…

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Of course. And everyone will come dressed as a member of the Collins family. Guess who Barnabas will be?

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Marcia, Marcia, Marcia!

(Legend has it these were Jonathan Frid’s exact words to Dan Curtis when he requested to play a character other than Barnabas–GASP!–hence the birth of Bramwell Collins.)

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And it won’t be an accident like the time I strangled my first crazy wife!

And, saving the best for last:

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Ooooh, BURN!

(Quentin will do that to ya. He’s H-O-T.)

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It may not have been high-budget television (had to allocate a good portion of the budget to all the candles for the Old House), but dang, if it isn’t just the most addictive and enjoyable television-watching experience of my life…

(Yet my husband claims you had to “grow up watching” this show to like it. “Is that guy Frankenstein?” he asks. “Why isn’t he a vampire anymore?” he wonders. “Why can he become a vampire again if Adam is still alive?” he muses. Sure sounds like someone’s trying to play catch up, if you ask me…)

A Note on the Genesis of Count Petofi

Bonjour, mon vieux! Your beloved Countess has been–er–busy, debating about what to blog about next (more leftovers of songs I didn’t play at my wedding reception? Little teaser: no “Light My Fire”, “Will Never Marry”, or “Happiness is a Warm Gun”. Are you shocked? Very. NAME THAT MOVIE OR GET OFF MY BLOG!!), being obsessed with a little magical kitchen appliance called a FOOD PROCESSOR (I want to use it all day, every day forever and ever…I’m starting to have dreams about using it–and cutting my finger handling the blades, but that’s not important, I will suffer for my art if necessary!), and watching a lot of Dark Shadows. I mean, like a lot a lot. I’ve cycled through quite a few story arcs in the past few months (yeah, let’s say months, that sounds like a more balanced individual)–Parallel Time, Barnabas’ introduction, and–can I get a YA-OOOOOOO here?–Quentin Collins, womanizer (he can’t help it, really), Werewolf, and non-believer of Barnabas’s “I’m my own great-great-grandson” cover story.

I’m not really sure what prompted the re-awakening of this compulsive Dark Shadows watching, but I’m pretty sure it’s like cancer: it comes back worse. I mean, I have trouble leaving the house. (Just. One. More. Episode.) And I want to decorate my house like the Old House, sans electricity, indoor plumbing ‘n’ all. Yikes.

Anyway.

My husband married me knowing I loved this melodramatic “gothic soap opera” from the 1960s, a decade I probably should have been alive during. And I tried to reign him into my inner circle of obsession and madness, but the trouble was, he wasn’t gripped by the throat like Willie was. He said it was too slow. (THE NERVE!!) He refused to watch it unless he was trying to fall asleep.

Still, I married him, knowing he didn’t like Dark Shadows or The Brady Bunch (that’s really not normal, is it?) or The Monkees. Musta been love.

But then this thing happened…He started lurking when I was watching episodes. And he started asking questions. “Why is she [Maggie] still in this condition? Shouldn’t something else be happening to her by now?” “Is he a werewolf or does he just need a haircut?” “What happened to Count Petofi and the gypsy king?” And one of his questions has prompted this blog entry: “Why did you name your blog The Hand of Count Petofi? Is he your favorite character?”

Uhhhh, no! Barnabas and Quentin 4EVER. (Literally. You and I are gonna live foreverrrrrrr, we’re gonna live foreverrrrrrr...) So why not name this blog CousinBarnabas or WerewolfSideburns? Why The Hand of Count Petofi?

First of all, here’s a little mini bio of Count Andreas Petofi from none other than The Dark Shadows Wiki (because I don’t think I could say it any better):

Count Andreas Petofi is an extremely powerful warlock who first appeared in the 1897 storyline. He used the alias of Victor Fenn-Gibbon and presented Edward Collins with a forged letter of introduction from his friend, the Earl of Hampshire (793) to establish residence at Collinwood.

Petofi had very poor eyesight, which was odd because his powers were so great one would imagine he might have corrected his eyesight. He wore glasses with very thick purple frames to help correct his vision (786). He had certainly found a way to stop or slow his own aging (801) as he was at least 150 years old in 1897 according to Magda Rakosi. According to the Count, he had once possessed a pet unicorn, which he had killed on the full moon before curing himself of the curse of the werewolf. It was telling this story that told Quentin Collins he was a werewolf at one time, because most people would not have known that a werewolf does not recall what happened when they are in beast form (801).

The Count explained to Edward Collins that he could barely speak above a whisper as he had served with Lord Kitchener in the Sudan. It seems that the knife of a tribesman caught him just above the shoulder blade, and the tip pierced his throat. Petofi claimed he was almost given up for dead (793).

Somehow Petofi had placed a large reservoir of power into his right hand, which he then lost as payment to the gypsy woman who cured him of his lycanthropy. In the place of his hand he wore a wooden hand which generally held his cane. The gypsies kept the hand in a box where it did not decay, and retained considerable magical powers. The hand was stolen by Magda from King Johnny Romano (778), but she could not control it (786).

Count Petofi sent Aristede to recover the hand, but by the time he found Aristede unconcious on the docks, Angelique was in possession of the hand. Later that evening he recognized the box it was being kept in, being held by Angelique at Collinwood (793). He watched through the window as Angelique attempted to use it to take away Quentin’s disfigurement.

Among Petofi’s greatest enemies were the Gypsies (794). He concocted an elaborate scheme to escape their vengeance which involved switching bodies with Quentin Collins or (later) Barnabas Collins.

A struggle followed which resulted in a fire, burning the building and presumably destroying both Petofi and Garth Blackwood. This is assumed because Petofi’s glasses were found in the fire, something he could not get far without, and Blackwood was never heard from again (883).

Uh, seriously, why not name this blog The Hand of Count Petofi? A warlock with poor eyesight who wears thick purple frames and a former werewolf whose severed hand holds magical powers? And you only know he’s been destroyed because his glasses are among the remains of a fire? Life ambition right there.

Plus, when you Google Count Petofi, here’s a screenshot of the image results:

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I think I’ll start using this as my profile photo on social media:

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I’m a little perplexed as to why this gem of Petofi cuddling under the beloved Afghan that saw so many Dark Shadows characters through so many crises is not among the top images:

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Just tell me how to travel to the future already, Barnabas!!!!! 

And if you go back to that Google Image Search, you’ll see one of the related search terms is “McCartney.” Whaaaaaat? What does the Cute Beatle have to do with a powerful 19th century warlock?

Nothing, really, just the fact that I’m obsessed with both and have blogged about them. Yep, many of the images that come from clicking on that “related search” come from this blog.

Which brings me back to the original question at hand: Why name this blog The Hand of Count Petofi?

No reason, really, except at the time I started up this blog I must have been in the throes of a Dark Shadows obsession and lovin’ on the 1897 storyline (one of the best). This blog could have just as easily been named RobinGibbsTeeth or FatBrandog or something equally mundane and meaningless. Oh, you bet I’m loopy all right…

Hey, check this out:

Yes, the video is entitled “Count Petofi Does the I-Ching & Chokes Himself.” Guaranteed to improve your quality of life. You’re welcome.

(Try to ignore the ever-annoying Dr. Julia Hoffman and her eye-fluttering and SIGHS — LIFE IS SO HARD AT COLLINWOOD!!! Oh my gosh why didn’t Barnabas choke her when he had the chance? Oh, yeah, SARAH! Ugh.)

Until Next Time,

David Selby Scan from Return to Collinwood

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Let’s Movie! Part Two

Nearly two years ago (yikes! Who’s minding this store, anyway?), I posted an entry about Tuner Classic Movies’ branding campaign, known simply as “Let’s Movie.” The campaign (which I now assume is defunct) invited audiences to not only watch films on their network as they were meant to be–commercial-free, uncut, and presented in their original format–but also to share their favorite things about the movies. The list should not be a list of favorite movies or the best movies but instead a list of moments, lines, and visuals that have made a lasting impression on you and encapsulate what you love about the wonderful world of film.

When I initially posted my own list, I wrote: “I recently finished reading Furious Love, a book about Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton. It tells of how Burton was initially unimpressed with Taylor as an actress. ‘She’s just not doing anything,’ he complained to Joe Mankiewicz, Cleopatra‘s director. Then Mankiewicz showed him Taylor’s impact onscreen and from her, Burton learned how the visual element of film could often trump the spoken element of theater. Some of my very favorite moments are those subtle, visual moments that you have to watch for closely (sometimes these moments prompt explanation in the list that follows, sometimes they don’t), but still many of the items on this list are simply lines that have often crept into my everyday dialogue.” At the time, I only posted 45 items, failing to reach 100. I tried very hard to not repeat multiple lines or moments in the same film (sometimes failing). I don’t know that I am going to try to do that again because there’s often not just one line or moment in a film that makes me love it. So, back by popular demand, here is part two of LET’S MOVIE…

46. Montgomery Clift doing “Chattanooga Choo Choo.” (The Big Lift, 1950) 

Sorry if you thought I’d get through this list without mentioning this dude a time or two dozen…

The Big Lift isn’t a great movie by any stretch, but it is a unique performance by Montgomery Clift in that he is more romantic and comedic in this role than any other. This moment in particular highlights, as the video description states, “an untapped gift for comedy.” So often is Monty remembered for his portrayals of tortured, principled loners–which often murks with his personal life–that it is a pure joy to see him so full of life. That man had a smile that could light up a street full of people. That’s how I like to remember him–he was funny, he was charming, he was even, at times, supremely happy.

I recently read Patricia Bosworth’s biography of Montgomery Clift for the oh, I don’t know, maybe sixth time. (And I recently was perusing reviews on Amazon about the book and was utterly shocked at how many people find it boring, a waste of time, etc. These are probably the same people who say “I never cared for Montgomery Clift.” There’s just no accounting for people who have zero taste.) Recently on CBS Sunday Morning, Sharon Stone noted that her residence (in California, presumably) was the “Montgomery Clift property.” Well, I was 99.9% sure that Montgomery Clift never owned a property in California–he preferred living in New York and only traveled to California when he had to for filming–and darn it, I had to read the biography again to make sure. (Results of my research affirmed my initial reaction: he did not ever own a property in California; he stayed with friends and rented a few properties, notably during the filming of Raintree County and recovering from his car accident.) ANYWAY, reading the biography again was both delightful and heartbreaking: he was so incredibly talented and had so much to give to the world, yet there was such a downward spiral in his life (and it didn’t, as people often assume, simply begin after his devastating car accident) that just breaks my heart. I was so delighted in reading the book again to be reminded of his connections to David Ford (Sam Evans on Dark Shadows, duh) and John Fiedler (voice of Piglet, what more could you possible need?) and Robert Redford — such a tenuous thread of connections to people that seems particularly tailored to me and my interests. Well, I just can’t wait to talk to this guy in the next life.

47. “You know anything about mountain climbing? … You know anything about flying an airplane? … What do you know about deep-sea diving?” (From Here to Eternity, 1953) 

Speaking of Clift’s untapped talent for comedy, how about the scene in From Here to Eternity where he rips into the guy (appropriately named Phil) who has stolen his gal (Donna Reed) from him? Phil is bragging about surfboarding and asks Prewitt (Clift) if he knows anything about surfboarding. “No,” Prewitt abruptly replies, fuming. Then he starts–oh, so passive-aggressively–throwing questions at Phil: “You know anything about mountain climbing? You know anything about flying an airplane? Me either. What do you know about deep-sea diving?” It’s so great. And Prewitt’s little Hawaiian shirt? Just the icing on the cake. Heavens to Betsy, this guy was the best. Unfortunately, no one has uploaded this clip onto YouTube, so–dirty darn!–you’re gonna have to raid your local library and borrow the film, one of the few Clift performance available on Blu-ray (a confusing fact in itself, that man’s face was made for high-definition).

48. “Not the jacket!” (The Family Stone, 2005) 

The Family Stone is a great Christmas movie, a great movie that perfectly captures what family relationships are really like, and a movie that makes you wonder, “Why doesn’t Luke Wilson make more movies (or more movies like this)?”

49. “Michael Francis Rizzi, do you renounce Satan?”
“I do renounce him.” 

“And all his works?”
“I do renounce them.”
“And all his pomps?”
“I do renounce them.”
“Michael Rizzi, will you be baptized?”
“I will.”
(The Godfather, 1972) 

Don’tcha just love how the church organ and the gunshots perfectly complement each other? Divinity, I tell ya.

50. “Hey, what are you gonna do, nice college boy? Didn’t want to get mixed up in the family business and now you wanna gun down a police captain because he slapped you in the face a little bit? Huh? What, do you think this is the army where you shoot ’em a mile away? You gotta get ’em close and–BADABING!–you blow their brains all over your nice Ivy League suit. Come ‘ere! You’re taking this very personal. Tom, this is business, and this man is taking it very, very personal.” (The Godfather, 1972) 

James Caan is amazing as Sonny Corleone. Badabeep! Badabap! Badaboop! This scene shows Sonny’s genuine affection for Michael, who doesn’t quite see the humor in the situation. Ah, Michael. Ah, Sonny. Goddamn FBI don’t respect nothin’!

51. “Fredo, you’re my older brother, and I love you. But don’t ever take sides with anyone against the Family again. Ever.” (The Godfather, 1972)

52. “I know it was you, Fredo. You broke my heart. You broke my heart!” (The Godfather II, 1974)

Happy new year, ya filthy animal.

I know what you’re thinking: enough with The Godfather quotes already! But this is what happens when your husband leaves you alone for the night: you end up watching The Godfather and debating which part you like best. One. No, two. No, no, one! Ad infinitum. And you realize how so many of its lines are, like, in your DNA. And you realize the need for therapy…

53. Robert De Niro in The Godfather II. 

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Best supporting actor indeed! I mean, just look at Vito’s concern for poor little Fredo, crying and suffering from pneumonia. Everything Vito did, he did for his family. See, The Godfather is really a film about family, and that’s why it is perfect for every occasion! You can watch it at Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s Eve, birthdays, weddings…

Ok, I’ll stop now. Maybe.

54. Nick Arden (Cary Grant), in the elevator with his new bride, is shocked to see his first wife (Irene Duane), declared missing at sea and presumed dead after seven years. (My Favorite Wife, 1940) 

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Hats off to Nancy Meyers and co. for paying tribute to this in The Parent Trap (1998).

55. “You were born older, George.” (It’s A Wonderful Life, 1946) 

56. “I did NOT send you to Go Kart camp!” (Heavyweights, 1995) 

I say this, like, all the time.

57. “Let her burn, let her burn, let her burn all night. Bring me out here in the doggone middle of the night to turn off the light. Can’t he ever get anything right? ‘Oh, no, dad, I’ll–I’ll be sure to turn the lights off.’ Well, he couldn’t turn a light off at the house, why would he ever turn one off down here at the store?” (That Thing You Do!, 1996)

I also say this all the time.

56. JIMMY: Sorry I’m buggin’ you. I guess I’m alone in my principles.
[Storms off, leaving the table.]

LENNY: Oh come on. Oh, there he goes–off to his room to write that hit song “Alone in my principles.”
— That Thing You Do!, 1996 

Steve Zahn is a gem.

57. “Shoulda dumped you in Pittsburgh! Which one of you butts said we were engaged?” (That Thing You Do!, 1996)

I also say this all the time. People only started taking it personally once I was actually engaged.

58. “Now that’s better, Johnny. You know, I missed you. Ever since the club split up, I missed you. We all missed you. Did ja miss him? YEAH! The Beetles missed ya, all the Beetles missed ya!” (The Wild One, 1953) 

Thank you to The Beatles Anthology for introducing me, at a young age, to so many things, including Marlon Brando!

59. “When this baby hits 88 miles an hour, you’re gonna see some serious shit.” (Back to the Future, 1985) 

60. Biff’s transformation and green track suit. (Back to the Future, 1955) 

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“Oh, Marty! Marty, here’s your keys. You’re all waxed up, ready for tonight.” Then he puts his hand on his hips. This guy…I tell ya.

61. “Why must we marry at all? Why can’t things just stay as they are?” (Little Women, 1994) 

62. EDIE: I recognized you by your nose.
TERRY: Quite a nose, huh? Some people just have a face that sticks in your mind.
(On the Waterfront, 1954) 

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Well, I’d say.

63. Spencer Tracy’s final speech in Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner? (1967)

I love Spencer Tracy; he was such a genuine, natural actor. His performance here is touching and brilliant–his final on film (he died seventeen days after the film was completed), but what I think I love even more here is Katharine Hepburn’s reaction to his performance. In watching her films with Tracy, their affection for each other is so natural and obvious, I’m not sure how anyone would have not known they were partners off-screen. I don’t really think she’s acting here; I think she is genuinely reacting to his performance and his words about love and especially his love for her, enduring through the years.

(Side note: My husband and I watched this — his first time seeing the film (which amazingly some people call “preachy” and “irrelevant”, we must live on different planets) or any Spencer Tracy film actually — and after it was over, I think he might have even had a tear or two, he said, “That was a really good movie. It’s one of my favorite movies now!” I feel like such a successful human being.)

64. Mortimer (Cary Grant) discovers a body in the window seat. (Arsenic and Old Lace, 1944) 

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“But there’s a body in the window seat!”
“Yes, dear! We know.”

Or just Cary Grant’s facial expressions in general. Especially in his comedic roles, which are my favorite. Give me funny Cary Grant over goopy, romantic Cary Grant any ol’ day. Chaaaaaarge! “He’s so happy being Teddy Roosevelt!”

So many great lines in this film: “Where’d you get that face? Hollywood?” “Insanity runs in my family. It practically gallops!” “Even the cat’s in on it!” “I’m not a cab driver, I’m a coffee pot!”

Don’t wait to watch it for Halloween (a necessity); watch it now!

65. “Your girl is lovely, Hubbell.” (The Way We Were, 1973) 

Watching The Way We Were is such a commitment–namely, a commitment to feeling emotionally exhausted and drained for several days. I mean, how could Hubbell leave Katie (annnnnd his child)? No one was gonna love him the way Katie did. No one was gonna push him to go to France and write that second novel. No one was gonna brush his hair like Katie! Ughhhh. I don’t think I will ever get over this movie. Someone want to remind me why Redford was not nominated for his acting in this film?

66. “Excuse me. Could you help me? I’m looking for the Russian Tea Room.” “This is the Russian Tea Room. You’re in front of it.” (Tootsie, 1982)

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Sydney Pollack forever!

67. “Happy Thanksgiving. It’s your turn to say Happy Thanksgiving back.”
“Happy thanksgiving back?”
(You’ve Got Mail, 1999) 

68. Montgomery Clift teaching the lost Czech boy English in The Search (1948). 

Most adorable thing in the world, I’m tellin’ ya.

“Now, I ask you, am I genius or am I not?”

“No.”

“Ok, ok. But look lad, the answer should have been yes! Yes! Yes!”

I say, yes, yes, yes!

And I’m not just sayin’ it for the chocolate, which is my number one motivator in life, not gonna lie.

69. I have no words, just… (The Heiress, 1949) 

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So sad. Not a cruel mercenary at all!

70. “Blane? His name is Blaine? That’s a major appliance, that’s not a name!!” (Pretty in Pink, 1986) 

Says the guy named…Duckie.

71. JOHN: ‘Ello, grandfather!
PAUL’S GRANDFATHER: Hello.
JOHN: He can talk, then, can he?
PAUL: Of course, he can talk. He’s a human being, isn’t he?
RINGO: Well if he’s your grandfather, who knows? Hahahaha!
— A Hard Day’s Night (1964)

I just love that someone has put this on YouTube. Hahahaha!

72. Sam Craig (Spencer Tracy) explains the inner workings of a baseball game to Tess Harding (Katharine Hepburn) in Woman of the Year

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73. That final moment in Paddington 2

I don’t want to give anything away…I’ll just say, I wasn’t expecting to shed a tear, but you know that Paddington — he’s just the sweetest thing in the world.

Besides an orange marmalade sandwich, of course.

74. “Watch me for the changes and try to keep up, OK?” (Back to the Future, 1985)

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75. “If she can stand it, I can! Play it!” (Casablanca, 1942) 

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Some films that are purported to be the greatest can be underwhelming (for me, that would be Citizen Kane), but Casablanca really is perfect–sharp dialogue, the cinematography, great characters matched by great acting. Every scene is must-watch. Practically every line is quotable. It’s just perfect.

I rue the day I walked out of Goodwill not buying the framed Rick’s Cafe print…but hey, I do have some “pretty fancy shoes” from there.

76. The cameo by original Dark Shadows actors Jonathan Frid (LEGEND!!!!!!!!!), Lara Parker, David Selby (The Original Werewolf Heartthrob™), and Kathryn Leigh Scott in Dark Shadows (2012). 

Original actors' cameo, Dark Shadows 2012

AKA its one redeeming moment. Let’s just leave it at that.

78. Montgomery Clift’s arrogant silence and decidedly cool airiness as Matthew Garth in Red River (1948). 

While Howard Hawks may have worn out his arm teaching Clift how to punch and Clift wasn’t exactly the most convincing physical threat to John Wayne’s Thomas Dunson, he does display such an inner strength that is palpably threatening. Clift conveys this as he always does–the little things, like thoughtfully rubbing his nose, staring off into space (aka the Chisholm Trail) with those eyes of his, and sucking wheat…

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You know, things that you’d only notice if you were really watching closely, which is the only way to watch a Montgomery Clift movie. Love this guy. If that wasn’t obvious.

79. “Edie, you love me!” (On the Waterfront, 1954) 

After seeing The Post and writing about it on this blog, I had to get it out of my system by watching a GOOD movie. So I watched On the Waterfront aka another perfect movie that I could never get tired of watching. Brando is Brando, but Eva Marie Saint is great, too, conveying Edie’s conflicting feelings here so thoroughly and ending with what has to be one the greatest on-screen kisses of all-time.

80. Scarlett O’Hara slapping everyone in Gone with the Wind (1939). 

Prissy, Rhett, Suellen, and even her beloved Ashley (“Oh, Ashley!”) get walloped by Scarlett in the four-hour film. The Yankee deserter who shows up and steals earbobs from Ellen O’Hara’s sewing box? Well, Scarlett did a little more than just slap him.

81. “I want that you tell me was she feeble-minded? My Mother! Was she feeble-minded? Was she?!” (Judgment at Nuremberg, 1961) 

Some actors steal scenes. And some actors steal movies. And one actor steals a three-plus hour movie with a fifteen minute scene. That’s Montgomery Clift, honey!

He took his craft so seriously. Before shooting the scene, he got a (bad) haircut because he believed it was something his character would have done. Clift didn’t take a salary for Judgment at Nuremberg, and when he had finished his scene, he stayed and watched Judy Garland film her courtroom testimony. After it was over, director Stanley Kramer found Clift in tears. “Wasn’t she wonderful?” he asked Clift expectantly. “Awww, Stanley,” Clift replied, wiping his tears. “She did it all wrong!

I just love that story.

I have to say: I think it’s disgusting that Clift made fewer films than the number of times Meryl Streep has been nominated for an Oscar. Just…disgusting.

The list ends here for now. The final nineteen (of which only 12 will be from a Montgomery Clift movie and the other 7 will be from The Godfather, ha ha ha) will have to wait for another time. Until next time…

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