Joan Marshall

(New Year’s Eve, 2016)

Fyl decided her husband is still too sick to be life of the party on a wet, cold night and so we’re sitting home on New Year’s Eve. I didn’t argue. Besides, there’s a Jack Benny marathon on Antenna TV. When the pizza came It was guest star Frankie Avalon singing, so I joined Fyl in front of her TV watching old Sid Caesar shows and munching on a Palermo’s special, thin crust, crispy, anchovies on half. Taking my empty plate into the kitchen later the Benny marathon was still on in the living room and I could hear Robert Goulet. Even an hour apart the difference in timbre, phrasing, range–hell, in sheer quality of everything–with Frankie Avalon was beyond glaring. Plus Goulet was much, much funnier in the follow up bit, a natural. Funniest of all, though, was Joan Marshall, the woman in the sketch and one of the great undiscovered comic talents of the sixties. Alas, she was gorgeous, and in that decade gorgeous and funny were not allowed to mix. In the thirties she might have been a screwball superstar, another Carole Lombard; in the fifties she could have been the female lead in a sophisticated comedy. But in the sixties only Jack Benny recognized how funny she was and let her run riot in a couple sketches. They said it really bothered Joan that she never got choice comedy roles, and she never seemed happy in her career being beautiful. Hollywood is full of beautiful women. It’s not full of naturally funny people. But sometimes what you are really good at and the times you live in don’t coincide. If only you’d been born twenty years earlier.

Beneath the Planet of the Apes

Even by Charlton Heston standards Charlton Heston is too Charlton Heston in Beneath the Planet of the Apes.

And I wonder if any tourists showed up at Red Rock on the day of the shoot and saw that regiment of apes marching around? What did they think? Uh oh, the Manson Family? And Red Rock wa a popular place for hippies to go tripping. Imagine that psychedelic experience. And the sky was all pink and green and the rocks were all red and purple and there were columns of apes grunting and waving guns around. Far freaking out. I’ll have what he’s having.

Actually I thought there were hockey games all day today. Nope. Not on Superbowl Sunday. I forgot this is America, not Canada. So instead Fyl’s watching these execrable Planet of the Apes movies. She loves these movies. I knew that when I married her. I figured she’d grow out of it. She never did. God damn it all to hell.

I’ve always wanted to use that word “execrable”. I learned it from a Jack Benny show. It was a running gag. Did you know execrable means lousy?, Jack asks the audience. I didn’t. Mel Blanc used it later. He was robbing Jack’s house. I think Bob Crosby used it too, before singing one of his execrable songs. No Bing he, Bob. Had a great band though.

Now James Gregory’s going bonkers killing everybody, sounding like Inspector Luger in an ape suit. This is soooo pre-Dian Fossey.

Charlton Heston just Charlton Heston’d “you ape bastard!” and pressed the button and the phallic god bomb exploded. James Gregory, Victor Buono and the whole simian planet just vaporized. Poof. I thought that meant the end of the series but nope, here’s another. Apes coming out of a space capsule. Goddamn it all to hell, this is execrable.