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2 posts from April 2012

24 April 2012

Shirley, you can be serious

Mac261I knew I was in big trouble when Shirley MacLaine walked into the room for our interview back in the mid '90s and was unhappy with the way the lights were set up.

At least I thought I knew.  I was correct in assuming that meant a delay while the crew moved lights around (basically off me, on her) to Ms. MacLaine's satisfaction.

But that's all water under the bridge, or shadows under the bridge of my nose, as it were.  After all, as the unsinkable movie star of five or six decades proclaims at the top of her website, "Life is a bowl of cherries ... Nevermind the pits."

Today (April 24) is MacLaine's 78th birthday, so a couple of thoughts before moving on:

Happy birthday Shirley, Aurora Greenway ("Terms of Endearment" and "The Evening Star"), Ouiser Boudreaux ("Steel Magnolias"), Eve Rand ("Being There"), Charity ("Sweet Charity"), Irma La Douce ("Irma La Douce"), Fran Kubelik ("The Apartment"), Simone Pistache ("Can-Can"), Jennifer Rogers ("The Trouble with Harry") and all MacLaine's incarnations that came before.

Secondly, one my most anticipated movies in some time is Texas director Richard Linklater's "Bernie," which stars Jack Black and MacLaine and co-stars Texan Matthew McConaughey. 

Based on actual macabre events that unfolded in the East Texas town of Carthage in the 1990s, "Bernie" revolves around the local mortician (Black) who befriended, then shot, then stuffed the wealthy "meanest" woman (MacLaine) in town into a freezer. 

Click here for a link to an excellent article that appeared in The New York Times Magazine about the sordid little slice of Texas pie.

I'm pretty sure I sat down with MacLaine to chat about "The Evening Star" when we tripped the lights not so fantastic in 1996.  To be honest, I traveled so much doing celebrity interviews back then all the luxury hotels, movie stars and room service tends to blur a little. 

Let's just say "Total Recall" has long been merely a movie title for me.

That day in New York, Chicago or Los Angeles in some posh hotel suite temporarily disfigured by cables, cameras, lights and people (the crew, a diva's handlers) and an interviewer fighting flop sweat remains a vivid memory, however.

I was semi-terrified; nope, all the way there.  As I sat almost knee-to-knee with a major movie star some might consider "difficult" while the crew tinkered with the lights, all I could think of was, "Say something, idiot!"

Before I could put my inept ignorance on full display, MacLaine (the purest definition of "seasoned pro") took the lead and launched into comfortable, friendly chat to fill the time.  In a complete about-face from the major star-interviewer dynamic, Ms. MacLaine took the opportunity to learn about me.

I've recalled that event many times (OK, not totally recalled).  I appreciate the six-time Academy Award nominee and Best Actress winner for "Terms of Endearment" (1983) for being so gracious when she didn't have to be.

Maybe I reminded her of someone from her past.  In another life perhaps; or -- Dare I think it?-- even a future one.

Shirley MacLaine and Jack Black in "Bernie." (Millennium Entertainment)

(Shirley MacLaine photo courtesy:  transdiffusion.org)

16 April 2012

See, I'm no good without you

Ouch324Attention U.S. citizens who are 65, about to turn 65, who know someone who's 65 or have ever driven 65:

Your medical cares are over, or soon will be.

There's a little thing the United States of Us government has put into place called Medicare.

It's for hard working people like us who have worked all our lives -- paying into the government coffer -- to handle our ills once we are ... seniors.  (There I said it:  Seniors!)

Even if you've been without health insurance since the economy tanked and your benefits, extended benefits and way over-priced health insurance have lapsed, the U.S. of Us has your back and your front.

Just not your head.

That's why although I don't usually dedicate songs in a situation like this, I'm suggesting that you click on the link below and listen to the late, great Frank Sinatra sing "All of Me" before I explain how Medicare works, or, in my case, doesn't work.

It's the link just below.  Click on the link.  I'm begging you:

All of me, why not take all of me

You didn't click on the link, did you?  No worries, I'll walk you through it.

By the way, for those of you who did click on the link, bless you.  You will be included in my will.

All of me, why not take all of me
Can't you see I'm no good without you

Medicare, as explained in rather cryptic terms at http://www.medicare.gov/default.aspx, basically covers us from the neck down.  If you have hearing difficulties, as I do, Medicare is out.


Need help seeing, as in lasik eye surgery?  Good news!

Nope, actually bad news.  My bad.  I was looking at the glass eye section of Medicare coverage.  It's all a little blurry.

Your good-bye left me with eyes that cry
How can I get along without you

That brings us, if you'll excuse the expression, to the mouth:

Bridge over troubled molars

Take my lips I want to lose them
Take my arms I'll never use them

When I was a mere lad of 12, my mother -- a stay-at-home-Mom all her married life -- ventured out of our Grand Prairie home to work in downtown Dallas as a keypunch-operator.  The reason?  To buy braces for my teeth so I'd have a full set of impressive choppers all my life.  All my life being the key phrase.

I won't bother explaining what a keypunch operator was.  If you've read this far (and you're tapping your toes to Frank Sinatra), you'll know what that was.

To make a long sad story short, I've got serious problems with two upper molars and Medicare doesn't care.  Our Us government, you see, is only concerned about its senior citizens from below the chin to the floor.

I wonder if former president Harry S. Truman, the first U.S. citizen to sign up for Medicare in 1965 (with the-current prez Lyndon Johnson looking over his shoulder), knew that Medicare wouldn't have enough bite to provide dental care?

Look, lots of people have much worse problems than I do.  I understand that.

I'm just saying that spending a ton of out-of-pocket money on having root canal prep (i.e. drilling for oil) and another tooth pulled on the same day in one dental session ain't no Fourth of July picnic with apple pie a la mode.

I can't even ease the financial pain with a chilled glass of Chardonnay.  I'm on antibiotics, you see.  I may have mentioned I'm having some dental issues.

Oh, and a note to those who I included in my will a few paragraphs back:  Don't expect much.  Dental bills, you know.

You took the part that once was my heart
So why not why not take all of me

Sing it, Frank.  Sing "All of Me" like you're singing it just for all of us on Medicare.

Please click on the link below.  I'm begging you.


(Dental cartoon courtesy: You-can-be-funny.com)

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