Mister Ed

mister ed

There is a current TV series called “Wilfrid,” in which a man (played by Elijah Wood) owns a dog whom he sees as a person. The dog, Wilfrid (played by the Australian Jason Gann) is willful, and angry, and tricky. Wilfrid pretends to be Elijah’s friend, but he’s not. Wilfrid tricks Elijah repeatedly, and plots against him.

It makes me long for Mister Ed.

Mister Ed was the title character of a TV show back in the 1960s. He was a very charming horse who lived in a stable belonging to Wilbur Post (played by Alan Young), who’d bought the house / stable / horse from a previous owner. Wilbur was shocked when Mister Ed spoke to him. But Mister Ed said: “I only speak when I’m with someone I feel like speaking to.”

Mister Ed could dial an old rotary telephone (with a pencil in his mouth). When he read, he wore giant glasses! (Where did he get them, do you suppose? The Secret Talking Horse Optometrist?)

Mister Ed wasn’t stupid. He knew about most things. He did (in one episode) fall in love with another horse he’d seen in the park, but who hasn’t had that experience?

Mister Ed was a very entertaining horse.

Of course, of course.

Tired of summer

tired of summer

It’s right around now, in late August, when I become tired of summer.



I am tired of humidity, and heat, and perspiration, and intermittent hot rainstorms. I am tired of this blurry blue / gray sky that doesn’t mean anything – not sun, nor cloud, nor rain. I am tired of feeling filthy and sweaty every day.



It was the same (but different) back in North Africa in the 1980s. There, it was dry from April to October. The temperature (in Kenitra, and Casablanca, and Tunis) wasn’t extreme – not like the Sahara, thank god – but the heat just went on and on. And the dust kept blowing in from the desert. By mid-August, everything was dull and dusty and filthy and too warm.



(Question: why do I keep ending up in warm climates? Why am I not living in Greenland, where I’d be deliriously happy?)



Here in New England, I start hearing crickets and grasshoppers in August, and it gives me some hope. I hear them first thing in the morning when Partner and I leave for work, and although it’s too warm, I take heart. It’s late August, I think. Not much longer until September, and cooler weather.



Autumn is the loveliest season here. It’s long and temperate and pleasant. The trees lose their leaves, slowly, north to south; Vermont and New Hampshire have their foliage season in September, but we don’t see it until early October. And apple season comes in September. (Partner and I passed a pear tree on a nearby street recently with pears that looked pretty much ripe. In August!)



It’s still summer, but autumn is right around the corner.



I can hardly wait.


My memorandum book

little black memorandum book

I’ve tried all kinds of memory aides. But now I’m just writing things down.

I have a nice little memorandum book in my pocket, in which I write everything down: things I have to do at work, random thoughts, ideas for a blog, things to send to people, Christmas gifts.

I used to rely on my memory. Such a nice big powerful six-cylinder memory it was!

But now it’s gone. Between age and alcohol and blows to the head, it’s gone.

So I’ve come to rely on surrogates, like my little memorandum book.

My little memorandum book is great, so long as I remember to carry it with me. And a pen. (I still have to remind myself to keep those two things with me.)

The system’s not perfect yet, but it’s working. I’m remembering things.

But I ask myself: what happens on the days when I forget my memorandum book?

Apocalypse. Disaster. The universe itself may cease to exist.

Pray for me, children.



When I was very young, I used to sleepwalk occasionally. My mother told me that she found me wandering up and down the hallway in our house, muttering something about “fifty cents for stamps.” (I was a stamp collector, and I used to buy stamps by mail-order, so I was probably wishing for some more money for that.)



I haven’t sleepwalked for decades, so far as I know.



Until recently.



I was watching a movie the other night, and when it ended – at a reasonable hour, maybe 10:30pm – I turned off the TV, and put my drinking glass in the kitchen, and –



I woke up in the wrong bedroom.



We keep a separate bedroom, because the apartment has two. I keep my books in there, and my clothes, and a daybed, because sometimes I nap in there during the day. Partner and I sleep together at night in the main bedroom.



But apparently I became confused, or something.



Partner woke me around 2am. “What are you doing in here?” he hissed. He’d gotten up to go to the bathroom, and was confused to find me in the wrong room.



“I don’t know,” I said groggily, still half-asleep. “I thought I was doing the right thing.”



And I dragged myself into the right bedroom.



So I’m sleepwalking again.






Look for me in your neighborhood soon.


Going home, genetically

going home genetically

More than twenty years ago, my then-boss Sharon took a trip to Africa. She took a balloon trip across the Serengeti, and did everything that moderately wealthy people do when they visit Kenya; I think she even stayed at Treetops.



As she showed me the pictures she took there, she said something that echoes in my head to this present day: “It was strange there. It felt familiar. They say our first ancestors came from Africa, and maybe we feel at home there.”



I’ve thought about that statement many times since.



My friend Bill, Irish by descent, spent his honeymoon in Ireland. He visited the Burren in the western part of the country – a strange stark landscape, with limestone moonscapes – which also happened to be the traditional ancestral country of his family. “It was eerie,” he told me. “It was like going home.”



And then there’s me.



Last October Partner and I went to France, and spent four or five days in Normandy. I loved it. It was perfectly wonderful: green fields, grey seashores, tiny fussy villages, narrow streets, ancient farmhouses, medieval ruins.



I felt at home there.



My DNA analysis from 23andme.com tells me that my mother’s DNA stems from Doggerland, a now-submerged country along the North Sea, contiguous with Normandy.



Well, what do you know about that?



My genes felt at home there.

Movie review: “Creature from the Black Lagoon” (1954)

creature from the black

Creature From the Black Lagoon” came up on Turner Classic Movies not long ago. Apollonia shrieked when I mentioned seeing it. “My favorite horror movie!” she said. “I was so scared when I first saw it!”



For those of you who haven’t seen it: it’s about a group of scientists who go to the Amazon to investigate some odd fossils they’ve found. There appears to be a humanoid creature with webbed appendages living down there. And you know what? There is!



The Creature is pretty tame, looked at from the standpoint of the year 2013. In its own time, however (I rely on Apollonia’s testimony for this), it was terrifying.



Now let’s talk about some of the other stuff going on here.



I don’t know if the director was gay, but the camera dwells upon the half-naked bodies of Richard Carlson and Richard Denning. There are lots of interesting views of the bodies of muscular men – Carlson and Denning, and others – all through the movie.






As I did research on this movie, the best surprise was the man who played the Creature. He was a diver / swimmer named Ricou Browning, and he was very handsome, and very well-built. Here’s a picture of him halfway in costume:


ricou creature

Browning was involved with a lot of water-related productions in Florida, including “Sea Hunt” and “Flipper.” He was a nice guy who was very serious about his underwater adventures.



And he looked good underwater.



Incidentally, the Creature is the only character in the movie who seems really interested in Julie Adams, the female lead. Denning and Carlson seem mostly interested in tussling with one another, and helping one another out of their scuba gear.



(There are lots of books about gay themes in cinema. I think someone needs to add a chapter about “Creature from the Black Lagoon.)



For Sunday: “I Hate People,” from “Scrooge”

i hate people

“Scrooge” was an interesting movie. (I know it’s a Christmas movie, but the heat of summer makes me long for midwinter.) It had some decent songs, and a couple of great characterizations (Dame Edith Evans as a starchy grandmotherly un-Dickensian Ghost of Christmas Past, and Kenneth More as a huge Dickensian Ghost of Christmas Present).

This song is one of my favorites. I sing it to myself, under my breath, on most workdays, a little.


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