How Lisa Simpson, Mrs. Alma Britten & Cora, Countess of Grantham Will Save Society

3

Category : Entertain Me, Geek Out, Geek Rants, Movies, Travel

So, Dr. Lucy and I pulled a couple of copacetic nights working on that blasted Poe Toaster mystery and all I can say is Applesauce! We got zip. No leads, no hints, no trails, no nothing. I even donned my best goth gear, just to lure the appropriate fellow specters. I guess that just means I’ll have to fill in as the new Poe Toaster. Check with me next year, though. San Diego’s tough to leave in January; Baltimore’s darn cold in winter. Just because I’m a ghost, doesn’t mean I don’t get chilly. In fact, it’s quite the opposite and I’m forever breezy! Speaking of breezy, Lucy and I are off to the Antarctic all the sooner now to see the ghost octopi and the Yeti crabs! Pack your marine biologist’s steampunk snow rags, Dr. Lucy and get Onslow’s leash! In the meanwhile, it’s Oscars season and, natch, I had a thought or two about this year’s top flickers.

Dr. Lucy et Moi, after le mystere ... and not pleased at all with our findings.

Not since Lucy Ricardo & Ethel Mertz went to the Jaques Marcel atelier in Paris, and Ricky & Fred  took them on an authentic foxhunt on an English estate has Hollywood’s embrace of the gold-leafed, well-coiffed and wine-soaked Continent of a bygone era blown the wigs off so many American audiences. (FYI: the entire string of I Love Lucy episodes in Europe is available currently via CBS on PlayOn, much to my surprise and thrill!) The average Jaques and Jeeves all over the U.S breadbasket are flocking to screens to enjoy la belle vie Francaise and Olde England’s genteel graces. Et pourquoi pas? I’ll tell ya why not, chatons!

2012, most of the Naughties really, already finds itself sorely lacking two simple things: grace and conversation. Cue the political races. As you know, I’ve seen more than a few decades and one of the upshots of being a ghost is I get to watch generations and fads pass by me without the burden of having to actually function in each era; I get to strictly observe, indulge and judge. I know, judging is a fat no-no today. Well, pardon my dust. Sometimes folks just need a good judging; that’s what keeps us humans upright and by the law. Today, you got the cream of the crop where questionable mores are concerned and, Daddy-O, are they doozies! Sure, we had galoots and finks in the 1930s, but we hid them in the barn or sent them to Texas. (Ah, get a grip, Bluebells; I’m just chiselin’ ya.) You don’t hide your crumbs today. No, sir. You give them their own television specials and they develop a following! Murder!

The Kardashian herd, The Real Housewife plebians, The Jersey Shore simians, Occupy infestations and those insidious dumb Doras who insist on wearing their jim-jams out of the house have all tainted this era with a diseased, uninformed and offensive tackiness that covers everything in its path like a rotten egg, broken and slowly coating the filthy grout on a dirty tile floor. Whatever those wheats in politics say, people like luxury and your average human being prefers clean, pretty and posh to soiled, ugly and poor; otherwise, we wouldn’t have worked so hard to get out of the Great Depression … and trust me, you don’t have to have Unca Scrooge’s dollar sign-stamped money bags to live posh, pretty and clean. Lack of funds doesn’t have to mean a lack of class. A lack of class is exactly why The Artist, Midnight in Paris and Downton Abbey are raving faves this season, babies.

See, kittens! Your nice clothes won't break if you hike in them!

 

Few accomplish the business of daily life more beautifully and more vibrantly than the French, the English and perhaps Moi. A simple carafe of cafe, a china plate of shortbread and a bouquet of flowers at the very beginning of their wilt-phase always look best when set within an English manor, a Montmartre walk-up or a Hotel Del turret room with an ocean view. Further, it’s lived all the more brilliantly on screen … and even snazzier if that screen is set anytime from the 1880s to the 1950s!

Not to be afflicted by the post-holiday blues, Hollywood has made certain since my day that the penguin-and-sequin season extends far into February and that suits this film geek just fine: Golden Globes, SAG Awards, WGA Awards, DGA Awards, PGA Awards, Critics’ Choice Awards, BAFTA, Sundance, Academy Awards and this year’s inaugural Golden Collar Awards for the top dogs on both silver and small screens. (Sweet Uggie the Jack Russell of The Artist is the odds-on fave for the film pick and Giggy the Pomeranian, the best of Beverly Hills Housewives crew, is up for best TV doggy. Keen work, pups!)

With more nominations this season for The Artist/dir. by Michel Hazanavicius, Midnight in Paris/dir. by Woody Allen, Hugo/dir. by Martin Scorsese and Downton Abbey/cr. by Julian Fellowes than there are muddy Orvis boots lined up at the backdoor of Highclere Castle, listing each nod would be like pointing out how many poppy seeds there are on a seeded baguette. It also wouldn’t serve here to cite the milestones, film firsts and records set within said-nods. Nobody serves up those piping hot stats like the abercrombies at Variety. They’re nuts for this stuff! I will note, however, that if The Artist wins an Oscar for Best Picture, it will be the first awarded to a B&W film since the 1929 Wings, starring Clara Bow. What a Sheba she was! By the by, Wings didn’t actually win Best Picture. That wasn’t a category; it was categorized as Outstanding Picture, Production. I will also note that yours truly was at that Academy Awards … the first ever Oscars, cats! It was held in the Blossom Room of the Roosevelt Hotel in H-town and hosted by my dollface Dougy Fairbanks. Zowie! You never saw such a ring-a-ding romp! Wasn’t that during Prohibition, you ask? Why, yes it was.

Suffice it to say that voting boards, critics and audiences of the 2011-2012 season are equally enchanted by a bygone world of  imagination, luxury, creativity and the human relationship. Leave it to a black-and-white, silent film to help bring back the art of conversation. The films leading this year’s season not only explore the artistic struggle, but the courage of the imagination and the fury of the spirit to leave the easy road behind and live an even better life.

I applaud filmgoers for taking a deep breath and leaving its celebrity comfort zone to reward filmmakers and creators whom were not only daring enough to shoot a B&W film, but to make it silent; to reward a story about the longing to shun Hollywood and its glare, and “long for the struggle”; to expose a world where the influential and the meek can share a life, showing both have heart and strife; to prove that belief in the unbelievable is the most valuable kind of currency.

1920s Paris, Edwardian England and Old Hollywood are lovely throwbacks and though certainly each era has its own burdens and shame, take it from me, kittens, you could learn a thing or two about living a beautiful life in 2012 and you don’t have to be rolling in the long green to do it. You have to get dressed each day anyway; put on something nice and wear heels. Do your nails (guys and dolls), polish your shoes, ditch the ball caps and try a Fedora, men. Leave the yoga pants and Juicy sweats at home because no matter how nice a caboose you got, it ain’t an attractive look – ask any gent. Go ahead, I’ll wait. Feathers are nice, too. I see from a few of the guests at The Del that they’re making a comeback, sort of. Try a bright, fluffy feather in your headband: less dirty hippie, more Ziegfeld Girl. Feathers not your scene? I’m keen. How about a general sparkle? Tarina Tarantino makes her spiffy Sparklicity shimmer dust for your tresses, décolleté and visage. Oh, and Heavens to Murgatroid … unless it’s January and you’re pulling Opilio crab pots off the bottom of the Bering Sea, leave the wool cap at home, you flat tires.

Mrs. Alma Britten of IL would never be seen in grungies! Good girl!

 

I’m not saying you have to go all bluenose Mrs. Grundy and wear Granny’s tablecloth, but try puttin’ on the Ritz once in a while. Trust me, it feels aces! I know you don’t mean to be schlubs, but for the most part, ya are, Blanche, ya are! Monkey see, monkey do. Folks are fickle followers. Be the smooth looker, not the hobo wheat; comb your hair and press your blouse and others will follow. Take your tea (yes, tea) in a real cup and saucer; eat your dinner from a real china plate and give your pets some real ceramic dishes: plastic is for mooks. One more thing, just so this rant ain’t strictly a trip for bisquits, here’s a couple of ways to live a lovelier life, straight away, today.

One: write a thank you note or two for some of those Christmas presents, and not an e-mail; use actual paper like Lady Grantham would. You still have time; common courtesy states one has about a month. You know you should and I know you haven’t. Takes an hour and a few stamps and it’s just the Cat’s Meow when it arrives in the mail!

Two: talk to your friends, for real. Not clickety-clack talking, but real, going for a cup of Joe, chewing the cud talking. Ask the half-portion in the cubicle next to you, or your next door neighbor or wherever you are, if they want to grab a bite and chat about the wet smacks running for office.  Even if you don’t know from nothing, practice talking with your big mouths, not your stubby mitts. Can’t convince your office mate to be social? Put on some glad rags (not jeans), order an espresso and pretend you’re in a Parisian cafe, read a real newspaper by yourself and give all your devices the Bronx Cheer.

Anyhoo, you know I’m a ghost who loves her animation and the most recent episode of The Simpsons , The D’oh-cial Network couldn’t make this point any clearer. Elizabeth McGovern, Downton Abbey‘s Cora, Countess of Lady Grantham, also made an excellent point when she said to the U.K.’s Daily Mail of the American devotion to the show, “I think they love the drama and the intrigue, and they also love the solidity of the life, that you’re free of mobile phones and twitter”.

One troubling point: none of the above explains Bridesmaids, as Oscar-worthy. Zowie!

 

That's it. Keep moving, ya mooks. There's a reason you're blurry.

 

How’s that postcard campaign going, by the by? Who’s reading my rants? Send ‘em to:

Miss Hannah Hart, ghostdame/Turret Rm.
c/o Hotel del Coronado
1500 Orange Avenue
Coronado, CA 92118

Abyssinia at the Movies!

 

Full disclosure: Baron Julian Fellowes is the creator of Downton Abbey and also played the character of Lord Kilwillie in the BBC series Monarch of the Glen. The author @JennyPopNet owns a Range Rover and it is named Lord Kilwille, K’willy for short.

Hannah’s fave places to haunt online? https://www.amazon.com/author/jenniferdevore and jenniferdevore.blogspot.com

Sweet 2012! It’s a Ring-a-Ding-Ding Kindle Clambake!

2

Category : Featured, Geek Out, Holiday, Tech, Travel

Happy New Year, Babies! 2012?! Zowie!

NYE fireworks over London's Eye: Natesh Ramasamy

I never saw this year coming. Heck, I never saw the Kardashians coming. Tack-ee! This is grand, though! 2012! Whatever those whiny, moaning ghosties tell you of the pitfalls of being an eternal spirit, I say puh-shaw! I shed my Chicago overcoat the minute the dirt hit my lid in 1934 and I ain’t looked back since, cats. One regret, which I can fix any year, is of all the places I’ve partied on New Year’s Eve, London keeps missing my list. Next year, depending on what Harvey & Hildy do.

So, just to back up a bit, my Beantown Christmas was canceled, as you know from our previous chat, thanks to the parental units. Dr. Harvey & Hildy and big bro Hugh are still having a jazzy time in Hawaii, even managed to send me a few pretty tropical frocks. It took some effort to collect the box … now, to get the dresses on a dead girl. (Long story about the clothes; I’ll dish later.) The holidays turned out nicely though, damn fine even. I got through a heap of those Disney comics and even found a new series called Revere: Revolution in Silver. Paul Revere: colonial silversmith and werewolf hunter. Who knew? Best of all, my steampunk pal Dr. Lucy spent the holidays with me here in the Hotel Del. It was splendide! Drinks, dancing, singing, it was a real jolly-up! Although I have to say, you people don’t know the first thing about dancing. Whatever that slinking  and shaking you dead hoofers do, it ain’t dancing. Even Harvey & Hildy’s foxtrot is better than this modern hop!

Lucy and I even terrorized some of the more ill-dressed folks in the restaurants and on Christmas Eve we sang under the moonlight to Lucy’s pet octopus Onslow, whom happily danced and splashed his tentacles about in the surf. Then, Lucy and I had an excellent idea. To extend our holiday we would head to Pasadena for the Tournament of Roses Parade. Sure, there are no more chariot races, sadly having been replaced by that football business. Yet, I do have a soft spot for the Rose Queen and her Royal Court; those tomatoes still know how to dress. I also read there was to be a Paramount Pictures float: 100 Years of Movie Magic. What with my history in the Paramount family, I was dying to see it. Ha! Best of all, I know the jolliest place of all to watch: atop the news cameras’ scaffolding on the Hot Corner at Orange Grove and Colorado Blvds. Maybe even in the KTLA booth with L.A. Rose Parade legends Stephanie Edwards and Bob Eubanks!

2012 Rose Parade Theme: Just Imagine

 

Library Lucy snapped by ghost stalker G. Allen DeVore

I had loads of energy saved up without the Boston trip and Lucy, well, she hasn’t left The Del since 1904.  It was all planned. We were set to leave on New Year’s Eve, after hotel festivities. I donned my fanciest cloche, wrap coat, gloves and silk sailor dress; Lucy, true to her Victorian traditions kept it crisp and straight-laced in a riding hat, ruched skirt and fur capelet. Snazzy gals we were, togged to the bricks! We snatched a bottle or two from the poolside bar: absinthe for Lucy (Contemporary distillation, minus the potent wormwood component – nothing like what we used to drink!) and for me, Pernod Ricard and a bottle of fizzy dog soup to make a Pasadena Pastis. I even sent Lucy to the hotel library earlier that day to fetch a book or two; past parade experience dictates one will sit for hours in the early morning chill before the festivities begin. So, our proverbial bags were packed (ghosts don’t really need dirty weekend bags) and we were set to go. Then … we found the boxes at our doors.

Well, it’s been days now since we donned our festive chapeaux and we’ve not moved from our chaise lounges by the pool. Belated Christmas pressies … we both got Kindle Fires! From whom? We have no idea. Just a couple of boxes with bows; we must have a friend on staff. Then again, the Kindle is out of this world! Passing two sunsets, I believe, Lucy and I have been glued to our Kindles. Whilst batteries are not a concern for us, we are our own charging mechanisms, it seems the Fire has a pretty decent battery life. Still, if you want to improve your device’s life, I found fab tips from CNET. From what I can divine, everybody got a Kindle this year. Tell me you don’t know at least one person who got one under the tree or next to the menorah.

Speaking as a lithe ghost, it’s far easier to sport a Kindle than a laptop; and with my Netflix on the go I can watch all the Mae West, Clark Gable and Marlene Dietrich films I like. Dr. Lucy can’t pull herself away from Amazon’s Jules Verne collection: original French, with which I help her, and English translations. At last check she downloaded Paris in the 21st Century: wild, prophetic stuff, that! She’s even grown quickly fond of Wild Wild West, the Salma Hayek/Kenneth Branagh/Will Smith film: clearly an early iteration of modern steampunk. She’s also bookmarked the Scripps Institution of Oceanography website.

Me? I downloaded the entire Mark Twain omnibus for a mere .95! Murder! That’s just kooky! 178,245 digital pages of every word the rollicking steamboat operator wrote except his grocery lists. I also nabbed the entire Savannah of Williamsburg Series: ducky if you like historical-fantasy, colonials and poncy, talking squirrels! It’s bonkers how easy it is for me to read my tales and watch my films now. No one screams anymore when I pull a book off the shelf and no more having to sit in my room to read blogs or watch 30 Rock. Also, no more waiting for SyFy to run new episodes of Ghost Hunters; I can watch reruns all night long. Grant, Jason, Kris and Amy, so you know, I like. It’s the Ghost Adventures mooks I loathe. (Btw, SyFy, I’ve been waiting since Hallowe’en for new shows. Season 8 begins January 11, you say? Okay then.)

Anyhoo, within the first five minutes out of the box, my Kindle gave to me:

Savannah of Williamsburg: The Trials of Blackbeard and His Pirates

 

  Savannah of Williamsburg: Books I-III by Jennifer Susannah Devore

Emily’s House by Natalie Wright

Dracula by Bram Stoker

Roanoke: The Lost Colony by Angela Hunt

Le Tour du Monde en Quatre-vignts Jours par Jules Verne

Grimm’s Fairy Stories von Gebrüder Grimm

Wired subscription

SleepyTime app – Even ghosts need to sleep. I like to hear crickets chirping.

 

Shaking my head clear now – insert Warner Bros. animation-styled cow bell sound effects – from my Kindle comic book The Secret of Kells  I realize how many guests I see around the pool, in the bars and in their rooms (What? I’m a ghost. Of course I snoop in people’s rooms!) living via their screens. Remember the Slingbox fella from my pre-Christmas rant? Don’t get me wrong. I’m keen on your modern days and I’ll take Shaun the Sheep and The IT Crowd any day over L’il Abner and Babes in Toyland … still, it’s a bit much, kids! Yes, Lucy and I got lost in a haze; but I’m turning off my Kindle right now, grabbing Lucy and heading to the tennis courts for some vigorous sport and to plan our next escapade. It’s been ages since I was in Paris!

I don’t want to be an Abercrombie, but I know a thing or two, about a thing or two. I’ve seen, and been, a bit of history and know what else is out there. You newbies, though. I urge you to get off your prats and travel. Do you have the mettle to struggle through tedious flights, rude stewardesses and clumsy concierges to get to the museums of Italy and France and be rewarded with Canaletto, Fragonard and Botticelli? Will you challenge the steep hills of Salzburg (in five-inch heels no less) in the heat of June to find yourself in a private cello concert in an archbishop’s ancient chamber? Will you brave the snow of a Washington, D.C. winter to spend hours perusing film and book archives in the Library of Congress? Or, shall you merely Google the art, Tweet your thoughts about this @JennyPopNet, Facebook your European friends instead of visiting them and load all the vicarious experiences on your Kindles and iPads? Sure, that’s the easiest way; but is it worth the lack of effort? Like Gil in Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris, don’t you long for the struggle? Wikipedia can’t tell you what Montmartre smells like in the rain. To my own shame, it can’t tell me what the coffee and cocoa beans on so many of the 2012 Rose Parade floats smelled like in person this year … or what those Occupier rag-a-muffins who followed the parade smelled like. Ick. Maybe they’re best left to a screen version. Oh, and Onslow was not impressed by the protesters’ corny, off-the-cob, plastic bag octopus, equating his tentacles to corporate greed. Puh-shaw!

Abyssinia, cats!

@JennyPopNet
Hannah’s fave place to haunt online? https://www.amazon.com/author/jenniferdevore

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