Thursday, September 11, 2014

Harping on 'The Flying Deuces'

So we beat on, boats against the current. borne back ceaselessly to Laurel and Hardy in the French Foreign Legion.

A comment from a Facebook friend today made me look up the movie and read up a little more about it. Everyone should be as blessed as I am, to have friends who care about Laurel and Hardy! And I was reading about the scene in "The Flying Deuces" when Stan and Ollie are in jail, waiting to be shot by a firing squad at dawn. Stan dismantles the cot and plays the bed frame like a harp.

It was really virtuosic in the movie, which made it all the funnier when the jailer sticks his head in and puts a stop to it by barking, "Shut up!"

It ends up that you had really been listening to Harpo Marx.

Harpo Marx did the music in that scene! And not only that, but the song was, "The World Is Waiting For the Sunrise." Funny in view of what is about to occur. I have heard that song before but I do not have it in my head. In 1939, when this movie was made, everyone would probably have recognized it. Now we miss out on the joke.

Apparently Harpo Marx coached Stan Laurel to look as if he were really playing the harp. It is like Leonard Pennario coaching Joan Fontaine to make it look in "September Affair" as if she were really playing the piano.

How very cool all of this is, you know? Great personalities cooperating with each other, helping each other do the best work they can do. Stan Laurel collaborating with Harpo Marx.

That and, we love the airplane scene. When Laurel and Hardy don't know how to fly the plane and they are being chased by the Foreign Legion. The plane turns and chases the soldiers (at about 4:35) -- and then it turns the other way again, and you realize it is all by accident. Honest, I was laughing so hard last night I was crying.

I love the clever use in the orchestral score of the Laurel and Hardy theme.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

The babysitter

Tonight I babysat my little niece and nephew, Barbara and Georgie. And we had Movie Night kind of the way we used to when my mom was still around.

We watched the Laurel and Hardy movie about when Laurel and Hardy joined the Foreign Legion!

I have to look up the name. It is called The Flying Deuces.  I do believe it is all on YouTube.

Go ahead, cancel your plans for your day or your night, as the case may be, and watch it. It is a great movie. It has Jimmy Finleyson whom my dad always loved, as the jailer when Laurel and Hardy are in jail and are supposed to be shot at dawn. And there is this other guy we love, Charles Middleton, who plays the Commandant and, voice quivering, delivers the immortal line, "I've never been so grossly insulted in my life!"

And there is the scene where Laurel and Hardy dance to "Shine On, Harvest Moon." Laurel and Hardy, my favorite comedy team. That is what Pennario said and what I say too.

I found myself telling our little George and Barbara, "My dad used to love this scene." I remembered watching it with him! Heck, right in the very room where I was watching it now.

He was probably watching it with us tonight only we could not see him. We used to watch all this stuff, Laurel and Hardy and the Marx Brothers. My father would laugh so hard at the Marx Brothers that once he actually fell off the couch.

It felt good to be back in the old homestead. Georgie and Barbara were great and actually were attentive through the whole movie even though occasionally it is hard for a kid to follow. Who even knows what the French Foreign Legion is? So much fun, you know, to see this movie again, with kids.

So much great silliness!

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Adventure at the vet

Today Howard took me to the vet! Well, me and the cat. Which, by the way, I was able to mention the cat in the paper. It is news!

In the waiting room it was like "All Creatures Great and Small." The small was our sweet tabby and the great was a gigantic Labrador. He was named Diesel and he was like a zoo animal. Howard snapped the above picture of me and my new friend Diesel.

Here is a selfie Howard took of himself and the cat.

What a joyous day this was. Our orange tabby was pronounced very healthy! And he has a microchip proclaiming that he is ours.

At first he did not want to come out of the carrier. He got all stiff and they had to drag him out. But they weighed him and listened to his heart and admired his teeth and, most importantly, gave him treats. They said he is really a big kitten. He is about 9 months old.

We were guessing he was young by the way he chases his tail and pounces on things and whips around the house and sticks his paws under doors and down drains. And sure enough.

Now all he needs is a name and surely that will come to us.

My friend Susan at work suggested Cheezit. I was kind of pushing Frampton because at first, when he got to our house, he was kind of exhausted for a day or two. But then, like Frampton, he came alive.

Of course the biographer of Leonard Pennario should not have a cat named Frampton because of how Pennario hated rock music. Prudently Howard said no to that name.

There is also Tigger which is what the cat was called at its foster home before he joined us. And Tiger, suggested by my little nephew Georgie, which was funny because I had been thinking that name, too.

Long story short, right now the cat is documented at the vet as Orangey because that was the orange tabby cat who acted in "Breakfast at Tiffany's" ...

 ... and "The Incredible Shrinking Man."

The good news is, Orangey, or whoever he is, is ours.

And he is fine!

Monday, September 8, 2014

The pick of the litter

My friend Michelle got to meet our cat. Above is a picture I took of them together.

It is a most relaxing sight for a Monday! Would that we could live like this every day, playing with cats and constructing toys with yarn and feathers.

The cat and I are getting into a schedule during the times when I am home with him. There are times when he is following you everywhere and you are tripping over him. But there are other times when he naps or plays on his own for hours and that is when I can do the Pennario thing.

Still a few thing are not worked out such as how to pay less for kitty litter.

I already have a coupon envelope for cat stuff and it has some pretty good discounts on food and stuff. But this kitty litter is like toilet paper. The price is frustrating. It should not be $6 for 21 pounds which was about what I have been paying at Wegmans. I stopped at Big Lots over the weekend and I may have beaten that price. But not by much. We are talking about $7 for 28 pounds. Still nothing to gloat over.

I want to pay, oh, $1 or $2, for that 28 pounds of cat litter. Any ideas? 

Anyone know how you can get dirt dirt cheap?

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Driving Miss Dorothy

Today, driving to church with Dorothy, I was thinking what an experience it is.

Dorothy has this quiet voice and the car motor drowns it out. But she just keeps talking. Every once in a while I have to respond and I say, "Yes," or I laugh. Hahahaha ... I just thought of one morning last winter when I picked up not only Dorothy but also Josephine, our organist. Dorothy was in the back seat talking and Josephine, from the passenger seat, spoke up.

"Dorothy, your voice is too quiet," she announced. "I can't hear what you're saying."

Josephine is a plain-spoken Southern Italian while Dorothy ...

... as we reflected once before, is a Northern Italian.

"Oh," Dorothy said to Josephine. "I'm sorry. I'm sorry."

Then she went on talking. I remember that morning because I was hungry because I had forgotten to eat my before-Mass snack. In the Catholic Church there are those who would impose a long pre-Communion fast but I oppose that idea because it is so individual, you know? If I am hungry and my blood sugar plunges and I run off the road in a car carrying our organist and a 90-year-old woman, I would like to know how that profits my soul. Anyway, the reason I remember all this is that Dorothy, after apologizing for her quiet voice, broken open this zippie bag of biscotti she had made for our after-Mass coffee hour. And the three of us are driving along crunching these biscotti. And Dorothy kept talking.

Unfortunately Dorothy had never heard of Leonard Pennario. Of course she has heard of him now. Meanwhile she has a million stories. One is about how when she was a landlady a tenant got knifed in one of her apartments. The tenant died and Dorothy found the body. Another story is about how Padre Pio appeared in her room one night. He did not say anything but he was standing by the window with his robe and his beard. She saw him clearly.

But in the car the conversation usually sounds something like this:

"Padre Pio .......... the Dominicans ...... my garden ....... the Alps ......our village ....  and the man was from Milan .... her aunt's sister. .... their 75th wedding anniversary . .... Our Lady ..... your husband ..... the weeds in your garden. .... my niece's dog ..... the concert you missed last week, I asked you if you went and you said no .... my sister Clara. ... Pope Francis. ... Why didn't you go to that concert? You are too busy. Always too busy."

That is how it goes, downtown and back.

I should write a book!

Saturday, September 6, 2014

The hep cat

Howard and I cannot get over the new tabby. We do not forget the old one but the orange one is unique and beautiful. And so entertaining! We have had it almost a week.

We love taking pictures of it like the one up above. That is the cat on top of the Steinway!

Here are the funniest things it has done so far. I will chronicle them the way I chronicle Pennario.

1. The cat jumped up on the bathroom sink while I was washing my face, and stuck its paw down the drain, like a plumber.

2.Whenever there is a door closed to it, the cat sticks a paw under the door. Then maybe he sticks two paws under. At the same time he has his head down to the floor so he can squint under the door with one eye.

This is unbelievable for people who are not prepared for it. They see this orange paw under the door and they say, "What is that??"

3. There are toys the cat likes. One of them is this bouncy little spring. The cat bats it and chases it up and down the stairs, doing somersaults and flipping around from its back to its belly. Once when it had the spring on level ground he suddenly abandoned it and went into his cat carrier. And he sat there.

And sat there.

He yawned.

Then in a split second he shot out of the cat carrier and pounced on the spring.

That is smart reasoning! The cat was thinking: The prey will think I have lost interest in it. It will think I am resting. It will let down its guard. But then I will pounce!

Which it did!

This is one smart creature.

Something tells me that this winter, I will not have to worry about mice.

It will look like this!

Thursday, September 4, 2014

The magic camera

Last Sunday when I dropped off Dorothy after church she invited me to stop and look at her garden. She offered me this huge flower! Above is a picture of her holding it.

I have a new 'phone and it takes it into its head sometimes to adjust my pictures. The camera imbues the pictures occasionally with extra atmosphere.

With which, Dorothy's garden. It looks like a picture out of Architectural Digest!

And here was a picture I snapped of a streetcar downtown. It looks like a vintage postcard. There must have been some button I pushed to give these pictures these frames.

Perhaps I should take some pictures of my house and hope I mistakenly push that same button. Perhaps I should do the same thing with all the pictures of Leonard Pennario I am using for my book. Well, I do not have to do that. He always looks pretty good in the pictures. As does our new cat.

But he is another story.

For another day!

Sunday, August 24, 2014

The Rosary App

With my new iPhone I have been able to acquire the Rosary App pictured above. It is free and I chose it over other Rosary apps because supposedly it has Latin prayers on it. I have not yet explored the Latin prayers, though. I am taking it on faith they are there.

For now I have been using the app to pray the rosary in plain old English, mostly at the gym. It has these two women reciting the Rosary. There are no men on the Rosary App! These women, you have to love the sound of their voices. They appear to be English or Irish or Scottish, it is hard to tell. One answers the other. They sound like sleepwalkers.

I keep picturing "The Somnambulist," by John Everett Millais.

Or two Celtic women sitting in a castle somewhere.

Because of this atmosphere, this app gives you a neat experience in the middle of the day, in the middle of the noisy gym or the hectic kitchen or whatever. You suddenly feel like this.

Why didn't they use this picture, you know, instead of the kitschy picture they put on the app, the one at the top of the post?

Oh well. The app is not perfect but it is a kick and it gets the job done. I am required to get in a rosary daily due to a strange and medieval set of circumstances I will have to explain another day. These two sleepwalking women really help with that.

Could I please have apps to help me get done other things I have to do every day?

An app mayhap to help me clean the kitchen? iClean.

Or an app to help me edit chapters of my book? iPennario.

I will say my prayers!

Saturday, August 23, 2014

The Ice Cream Smackdown

It is the Ice Cream Smackdown! This is an ongoing event in which my friends Ryan and Zach and I, in addition to other friends who express interest in getting involved, make ice cream for each other and keep trying to top what was done before.

With which, yesterday we made Coffee Gelato.

Actually it took two days. On Thursday around midnight at Big Blue, I mixed up the heavenly soupy mixture of sugar, milk and egg yolks that gets turned into ice cream. It was incredibly labor intensive involving infusing heated whole milk with ground coffee beans and then straining it. But it is worth it!

The ice cream mixture chilled over night and so did I.

Then on Friday it was time to whip a cup of cream and fold it into the mixture and pour it all into the ice cream machine and let it rip. That could not have been accomplished without the help of Zach who whipped the cream and also stood over me offering guidance.

Big surprise, but I found myself thinking of Leonard Pennario. He loved ice cream and we would go to Coldstone Creamery where he had a favorite sundae he would order. The exact sundae will be revealed in my book. Wait for it!

Meanwhile, back to the Coffee Gelato. It turned out yummy, a feat considering that Zach and Ryan had set the bar extremely high last week with sesame ice cream. One thing we agreed on is that when you make ice cream you have to have a gathering. There must be people around to eat all that ice cream because you do not want it to be you eating all that ice cream, and in my experience it is always best the day it is made.

Should you wish to try making your own Coffee Gelato first go out to your nearest garage sale and purchase an ice cream maker. Mine is a made-in-Buffalo Deni Scoop.

Would that it were a vintage ice cream maker with a crank!

But a woman has to know her limitations.

After procuring your ice cream maker try this recipe. It is pretty close to the recipe I used.

Then ....

.... enjoy!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

The stolen night

This feels like a stolen night. In the middle of all these nights that are cool and rainy and unseasonable, there have been a couple of nights that feel the way August is supposed to feel. And this is one of them!

It makes me uncomfortable because I feel I should be out enjoying it, the warmth and the loud crickets. Which, I was, before. But comes a time you have to go inside to go to bed. And now I do not want to.

I like the kind of summer that is consistently warm and sunny. Because that way if you want to sit inside on a beautiful day and work on your book about a certain, ahem, concert pianist, you do not have to worry that you will never again get another day like that one.

When that summer day is rare, you figure you have to go out. And so the book suffers.

And so do the ...

... tomatoes!

I have heard that tomatoes might be red and hearty outside but they are unripe inside because they need the sun and the warmth and they have not been getting that.

What if the tomatoes never warm up? What if we have no hot tomatoes?

Where is global warming when you need it?