The headline borrows (steals?) the title of three songs that were released during the “golden oldies” era of popular music. The first was a song recorded by Paul Anka, the second by Bobby Vinton, and the third from Ricky Nelson that describes the singer’s (supposably) status within their lives. It was showing to its audience of pop music lovers that life, especially with it comes to romance, is rather hard. This is true when you hold a desire for a second person, romantic or otherwise, and don’t have that second person due to the fact that that person isn’t available or just doesn’t exist.
Throughout domestic life, it’s been proven that human beings are social creatures. There is a need for having a person or persons around for anything and everything from conversations, sharing an experience of engaging in some activity or event, or to have that cozy time with the other and could include sex (*Gasp!*).
And when it comes to being lonely, especially when that person doesn’t necessarily desire to be isolated, then things can go array. Emotional outbursts could occur ranging from becoming worrisome to suffering a nervous breakdown. When one is isolated through circumstances not of their making, then that person “creates” a companion just for the sake of keeping one’s sanity in check, such in the case as the main plot of the feature film Cast Away, where the protagonist played by Tom Hanks survives a plane crash over the Pacific ocean and is washed ashore on a deserted island. In order to save his wits, he makes “friends” with a soccer ball that was washed ashore who he named “Wilson” (after the ball’s manufacture) for the period that he’s on the island.
Recently, the U.S. Surgeon General, Dr. Vivek Murthy, released a report that states loneliness is a domestic epidemic, adding that the stress and anxiety of being alone when the person doesn’t necessarily desire such is equivalent to smoking up to fifteen cigarettes a day.
The report states that being alone has increased over the last few years. Its causes from people being isolated range from many sources and outlets. It could be that social media is a factor as one can have as many as 5000 “friends” via their Facebook portal, yet the person may know as many as none of these forks personally. Another factor was the rise and fall from the pandemic that began in March of 2020, and “ended” on May 11th of this year. (In theory anyway!!) And it could be the cause that people are too “busy” with keeping in contact with others for meet ups, or doing anything that is an in-person activity.
Once upon a time, people did get together for events that range from dinner parties at home, to group outings both indoors and outdoors, as well as joining clubs and social gatherings that deal with a specific purpose or not. Home entertaining in the 20th century here in this nation and perhaps in nations abroad starting out as dinner events. After the meal, perhaps there would be a sing-a-long around the piano. When Television came around, people were watching that device at home. In its early days, it was a group activity. When this writer’s grandfather bought an RCA television machine with a 12” screen, the neighbors gathered to watch these programs rather than radio shows with pictures. On Saturday night, my grandparents, along with a few others in the neighborhood, watched Your Show Of Shows and even made a party out of it by popping popcorn and serving bottles of Coke. Later, when others in the neighborhood got their one TV set, the gatherings faded off. Before long, TV watching was a solo activity. It would only be a group gathering for a special televised event, such as the annual Academy Awards program, to The Super Bowl.
Then social media started to kick in decades later. It started with chat rooms found on the American Online (AOL) portal, as well as other portal. Then other social media outlets such as MySpace and Facebook did their thing where folks can inform those interested (or not) about what they were up to. Soon, they would have others as “friends” sharing the same pictures, details on their lives, and other factors one could do in person. It was just more convenient to do these kinds of things online since one can engage these sharing moments whenever and wherever.
And there was the pandemic that forced people to hunker down. The only method they could communicate outside of the social media outlets were through meetings via “Zoom”. After things started to get back to a so-called normal, the Zoom meeting dwindled, although people still use this online platform to keep in touch because it’s easy to do, and because they just can do it!
But when it comes to isolation? According to the Surgeon General’s report, it’s not getting better. The report notes that among other elements, that adults eighteen years and up in the US have experienced being alone more than ever before. The report notes that the average time people spend in-person in the year 2020 (pre-pandemic) was around twenty minutes. In c. 1990, it was around sixty minutes.
And folks are not being involved with social clubs or activities. This could be the factor that such groups or groups are not available, or no longer available. Yours truly has seen this personally when a local church in this person’s neighborhood used to offer events that pertain through the church’s teachings. When attending such events, one can obtain acquaintances that may lead toward a possible friendship. Then the church cut back on these events, many folks became frustrated, only to leave to another outlet, sometimes taking desperate measures. This writer even took that opportunity to obtain a house in a small community in the midwest that was last visited by this writer in 1975 for possible relocation. And what was one of the inspiration factors to do such? Because a church in that area was offering loads of social activities and events, while the local church here in Los Angeles proper wasn’t! In other words, the local church wasn’t “putting out”!
Of course, there has been many reports and writings in the media that give solutions on how to overcome these aspects, such as reaching out to contact a person that one knows or even one may have known. However, sometimes that can even backfire when the person being contacted holds minimal interest in communication through reasons of their own. This has even happened to this same writer (“me”) when I tried to say “hello” and they said “hi” and nothing else more, or not responding. Again, they were just too “busy” to reply. Such as life!
Perhaps this report can be used as a wake up call to those that are going through the process of feeling isolated. However, it’s not all doom and gloom. Using online portals such as Meetup.com, one can find a group or event to take part in and possibly find a person or persons to keep in contact with. There’s no guarantee, or it could help! And to quite a line that is attributed by Woody Allen, he stated something to the effect that 90% of success is by just showing up! If he stated this line or not, it’s great advice to follow. Just try to contact those friends you got on Facebook and ask them if they want to meet. You may receive a reply or not. It all depends if they are in the area, or if they are a real person. After all, A.I. Is here and it ain’t going away yet. But that’s for another story, and another article.
Theatre Palisades presents John Van Druten’s BELL BOOK & CANDLE, a dramatic comedy whose main protagonist Gillian Holroyd (Jasmine Haver) practices witchcraft while living in New York City. (The Murry Hill district to be exact!)
Living in a unit on the second floor is Shepherd Henderson (Andrew Cereghino) He’s involved as a publisher that’s ready to publish a manuscript involving magic and the supernatural written by Sidney Redlitch (Michael Anthony Nozzi), a well seasoned gentleman and serves as her rival in magic. So Gillian, with the assistance of her black cat Pywacket, places a spell on Shepherd, or “Shep” as he’s known, to fall in love with her. However, those that practice witchcraft can’t fall in love as emotions are not allowed in witchcraft. That fact is backed by Gillian’s family consisting of her brother Nicky (Jeff Coppage) and her Aunt Queenie (Laura Goldstein). But is Gillian’s plot to use Shep as a love interest going to defeat her rival into getting his book published, or can those that practices supernatural spells can really fall in love just like a “real” human?
This play written by John van Druten dates back to c.1950, during a time where witches and warlocks were rarely depicted in media, let alone stage plays! And even when if did occurre, it was deemed as comedy rather than as stories and tales that reek sinister intentions. That is the notation of this play where its comic reactions are rather mild at best. There are no real belly laughs presented, but more akin to a post-modern romantic comedy, long before the idea of a “rom-com” could ever work out as a genre. In this Theater Palisades production, the setting is placed into more modern times as in this case, the later 1970’s where classic style telephones depict a minor plot point while the costuming by Maria O’Conner and Hannah Jackson more reflect to the era depicted.
As to the cast, Jasmine Haver as Gillian is a witch that is far from being ominous. In fact, she’s more of the pleasing leading type. Andrew Cereghino as Shep is more of the rom com-esque kind of guy that can get into a romantic situation holding a comical finesse. Jeff Coppage as Nicky is more of a low key warlock. He can conjure up a spell only when the need arises. The only real comedy comes from Michael Anthony Nozzi as Sidney as well as Laura Goldstein as Aunt Quinnie. They are the older over-the-top grains that remind those watching this production that it’s still funny to be magical, just as long as those spells are for some comical good.
Sherman Wayne, Theater Palisades’ long running set and lighting designer, is back at helm dressing and lighing up the apartment set where all of the magic takes place.
Although there is a black cat depicted as one of its characters (“Pywacket”), no cat is used in this production. Only a black cat figurine appears since cats themselves don’t make great actors! (They can’t take stage direction as well as not remembering their lines!)
Directed by Brandon Polanco, BELL BOOK & CANDLE is a stage play that still holds up even long after its seventy-plus year debut. It’s a piece that has humor, romance, and does show which witch is which!
BELL BOOK & CANDLE, presented by Theater Palisades and performs at the Pierson Playhouse, 941 Temescal Canyon Road (off Sunset Blvd.), Pacific Palisades, until July 8th. Showtimes are Friday and Saturday nights at 8:00 PM, and Sunday matinees at 2:00 PM.
Ticket reservations can be obtained by calling (310) 454-1970, or through the Pacific Palisades Theatre website at http://www.TheatrePalisades.com
As an entry for this year’s Hollywood Fringe Fest, Art Shulman appears in his solo show BEING 80: TOO OLD TO CHANGE? Where he speaks upon turning that milestone age of twenty years short of being one hundred.
In this hour long program, Art speaks on his life asking if he’s indeed ready for a change of idea. He speaks on his long life, and in spite of the fact that he’s lost a bit of his hearing, enough that he watches TV with the captions on, he can make the change.
Art Shuman is better known as a playwright. Many of his plays have been performed in various theaters in the Los Angeles region. His plays ran between comedy such as The Rabbi And The Shiksa, historical dramas as Not One More Foot of Land, dramities as Boxcar and Eugenia, and many other titles. But in his show, Art portrays himself as he emotes that he is eighty years of age, not just ’80 years old’!
That is one of the changes that Art, as well as others of his vintage, is stating for themselves. Morry Schorr directs his show with Art in charge, taking his octagonal period in life as his state of being.
But Art is not done yet. He still has other things to do. He get active, both mentally and physically. So he’ll be around for a while, getting ready for his tale of turning ninety. That won’t occur for another ten years. Until then, stay tuned!
BEING 80: TOO OLD TO CHANGE? Presented as an entry to the Hollywood Fringe Fest and performs at The Actors Company, 916 North Formosa (off Santa Monica Blvd). West Hollywood. Showtimes are June 11th at 11:00 AM, June 17th at 7:00 PM, June 24th at 5:30 PM, and June 25th at 2:00 PM.
Tickets can be ordered online at www.tinyurl.com/being80
SPIDER-MAN: ACROSS THE SPIDER VERSE (Sony Studios/Columbia Pictures) continues the story of Miles Moraler a.k.a. Spider-Man (voiced by Sharmelk Moore) who rejoins Gwen Stacy/Spider-Woman (Hailee Steinfeld) into the Multiverse, meeting up with a team known as the Spider Society, consisting of Spider-People Miguel O-Hara/Spider-Man 2099 (Oscar Isaac), Jessica Drew/Spider-Woman (Issa Rae), Peter B. Parker/Spider-Man (Jake Johnson), and Ben Reily/Scarlet Spider (Jake Johnson), where they hold responsible into protecting the Multiverse. But these Spiders clash upon one threat to the next as Miles is set out on his own to save those that he loves the most.
To present that plot point toward this latest entry into the animated version of Spider-Man is just scratching the surface. This animated feature takes many elements from its original 2018 release Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse, graphic novels of various styles and formats, as well as the traditional comic book that’s been part of comic book fandom, and sets itself off as a feature that is wild in appearance, and hyperkinetic in style and substance.
The screenplay by Phil Lord, Christopher Miller, and Dave Callaham shows how “The Spiders” meet up with those that fall in and out of the Multiverse and its mortal setting. Mostly, Manhattan and Brooklyn where Miles is based out of. What makes this movie stand out is its animation. It’s enough where three directors, Joaquim Dos Santos, Kemp Powers, and Justin K. Thompson are in charge to keep this feature flowing from its first few minutes to its final climax some two hours later.
It’s also rather obvious that this movie is geared toward the younger demographics i.e. Gen-Zers that discovered “Spidey” many years after its creation in the early 1960s when the Marvel Comic Group, helmed by the late Stan Lee, entered the comic book industry where it was big enough to rival what later was called DC Comics, and far longer before the movie studios took over this form of media. (DC is owned by Warner Bros.-Discovery, while Marvel is owned by The Walt Disney Company!)
Although its style, pacing, and overall feel and look to it impressed this reviewer highly. However at the same time, it was somewhat headache inducing. But as a reviewer that became a first generation patron to the art of comics and its comic book art, it’s a rather far cry from the animation that was depicted in the decade of the 1960s, and through later animated interpretations. Nevertheless, one will receive more back out of one’s movie attending buck! Let’s see more animated films like this one. And with the box office gain this movie will rack up, there will be more down the pipeline. Just keep your Spider senses up and running.
This feature is rated “PG-13” for animation style violence, not-too-rough language, and thematic elements. (It’s also approved by the Comics Code Authority!) Now playing at multiplexes nationwide.
Any fan of movies that within a genre called “film noir”, that consists of movie dramas, usually created in the 1940s and 1950s that consist of themes that are dark in nature, hold characters that hold sinister intentions, usually are down and out, and face a consequence that deals in corruption, revenge, and even murder (or two), one will note that one will see three special elements depicted: the use of firearms (mostly handguns), smoking, and the consumption of alcohol–lots of alcohol!
The first two elements on this list won’t be referenced for now as those are for essays into themselves. But the third notion of alcohol, also known as “booze”, “hooch”, “sauce”, ‘gigglewater”, and dozens of other names that this kind of beverage has been called that can be consumed to get one’s spirits up, (no pun intended), much of this kind has been served as a cocktail. That’s the mixing of other ingredients as something that’s downed quickly.
Eddie Muller, host of TCM’s weekly series Noir Alley that spotlights a movie that holds there dark aspects, has compiled a new book NOIR BAR: COCKTAILS INSPIRED BY THE WORLD OF FILM NOIR (Running Press), that features a collection of recipes of cocktails that are front and center to those that were consumed in these flicks, enough where one can actually taste how good they are, even when the settings and situations are anything but!
Muller roundup great ideas for such spirits as Barbados Rum Punch (inspired by the feature Alias Nick Beal, Pearl Diver (taken from the film The Blue Gardenia), Pisco Punch (extracted from the title Raw Deal), as well as drinks that are so powerful, their names are the movies themselves, such as Mildred Pierce (The movie of the same name that shows Joan Crawford as her best or “worst”), and a Lee Tracy, inspired from the film High Tide, that stars Tracy as one of the protagonists.
Also, Muller also creates a guide on how one can have all of the right tools of the trade to maintain the perfect bar setting, as well as suggestions of what to stock up in a bar that can have anyone ready to mix up a drink when the need arises for guests (invited or uninvited), to consumes, or even for drinking by one’s self. After all, when it comes to film noir, drinking can be for two, a dozen, or even places as a solo activity!
The author began his long career as a bartender in the San Francisco bay area where plenty of noir titles made their mark. (New York and Los Angeles also had their noir places set on the big screen!) And as “The Czar of Noir”, Muller knows how to set these dandies up for those to consume and enjoy, depending on how one’s sobriety stands out.
And for those tea totalers out there that enjoy the idea of cocktails but can’t (or won’t) consume one, this book has plenty of pictures of movie scenes and film ads that highlight the spirit (another, no pun intended) of these dark tales from not so long ago. And the art direction created by Paul Kepple, photography by Steve Legato, and prop stylist Kelsi Windmiller creates the flavor to what makes a dark film rather dark indeed!
It’s also fair to note that many of the cocktails may back a wallop!! (Sorry, no “Shirley Temples” or other related “kid drinks” are to be found here!) So enjoy the movies, enjoy the book, and of course, drink responsibly! And leave the keys to the ’46 Plymouth (or any motorized vehicle for that matter), in the hands of those that are stone sober as a judge!
NOIR BAR: COCKTAILS INSPIRED BY THE WORLD OF FILM NOIR, now available were better books are sold, both in store and online.
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