So, Dr. Lucy and I pulled a couple of copacetic nights working on that blasted Poe Toaster mystery and all I can say is Applesauce! We got zip. No leads, no hints, no trails, no nothing. I even donned my best goth gear, just to lure the appropriate fellow specters. I guess that just means I’ll have to fill in as the new Poe Toaster. Check with me next year, though. San Diego’s tough to leave in January; Baltimore’s darn cold in winter. Just because I’m a ghost, doesn’t mean I don’t get chilly. In fact, it’s quite the opposite and I’m forever breezy! Speaking of breezy, Lucy and I are off to the Antarctic all the sooner now to see the ghost octopi and the Yeti crabs! Pack your marine biologist’s steampunk snow rags, Dr. Lucy and get Onslow’s leash! In the meanwhile, it’s Oscars season and, natch, I had a thought or two about this year’s top flickers.
Not since Lucy Ricardo & Ethel Mertz went to the Jaques Marcel atelier in Paris, and Ricky & Fred took them on an authentic foxhunt on an English estate has Hollywood’s embrace of the gold-leafed, well-coiffed and wine-soaked Continent of a bygone era blown the wigs off so many American audiences. (FYI: the entire string of I Love Lucy episodes in Europe is available currently via CBS on PlayOn, much to my surprise and thrill!) The average Jaques and Jeeves all over the U.S breadbasket are flocking to screens to enjoy la belle vie Francaise and Olde England’s genteel graces. Et pourquoi pas? I’ll tell ya why not, chatons!
2012, most of the Naughties really, already finds itself sorely lacking two simple things: grace and conversation. Cue the political races. As you know, I’ve seen more than a few decades and one of the upshots of being a ghost is I get to watch generations and fads pass by me without the burden of having to actually function in each era; I get to strictly observe, indulge and judge. I know, judging is a fat no-no today. Well, pardon my dust. Sometimes folks just need a good judging; that’s what keeps us humans upright and by the law. Today, you got the cream of the crop where questionable mores are concerned and, Daddy-O, are they doozies! Sure, we had galoots and finks in the 1930s, but we hid them in the barn or sent them to Texas. (Ah, get a grip, Bluebells; I’m just chiselin’ ya.) You don’t hide your crumbs today. No, sir. You give them their own television specials and they develop a following! Murder!
The Kardashian herd, The Real Housewife plebians, The Jersey Shore simians, Occupy infestations and those insidious dumb Doras who insist on wearing their jim-jams out of the house have all tainted this era with a diseased, uninformed and offensive tackiness that covers everything in its path like a rotten egg, broken and slowly coating the filthy grout on a dirty tile floor. Whatever those wheats in politics say, people like luxury and your average human being prefers clean, pretty and posh to soiled, ugly and poor; otherwise, we wouldn’t have worked so hard to get out of the Great Depression … and trust me, you don’t have to have Unca Scrooge’s dollar sign-stamped money bags to live posh, pretty and clean. Lack of funds doesn’t have to mean a lack of class. A lack of class is exactly why The Artist, Midnight in Paris and Downton Abbey are raving faves this season, babies.
Few accomplish the business of daily life more beautifully and more vibrantly than the French, the English and perhaps Moi. A simple carafe of cafe, a china plate of shortbread and a bouquet of flowers at the very beginning of their wilt-phase always look best when set within an English manor, a Montmartre walk-up or a Hotel Del turret room with an ocean view. Further, it’s lived all the more brilliantly on screen … and even snazzier if that screen is set anytime from the 1880s to the 1950s!
Not to be afflicted by the post-holiday blues, Hollywood has made certain since my day that the penguin-and-sequin season extends far into February and that suits this film geek just fine: Golden Globes, SAG Awards, WGA Awards, DGA Awards, PGA Awards, Critics’ Choice Awards, BAFTA, Sundance, Academy Awards and this year’s inaugural Golden Collar Awards for the top dogs on both silver and small screens. (Sweet Uggie the Jack Russell of The Artist is the odds-on fave for the film pick and Giggy the Pomeranian, the best of Beverly Hills Housewives crew, is up for best TV doggy. Keen work, pups!)
With more nominations this season for The Artist/dir. by Michel Hazanavicius, Midnight in Paris/dir. by Woody Allen, Hugo/dir. by Martin Scorsese and Downton Abbey/cr. by Julian Fellowes than there are muddy Orvis boots lined up at the backdoor of Highclere Castle, listing each nod would be like pointing out how many poppy seeds there are on a seeded baguette. It also wouldn’t serve here to cite the milestones, film firsts and records set within said-nods. Nobody serves up those piping hot stats like the abercrombies at Variety. They’re nuts for this stuff! I will note, however, that if The Artist wins an Oscar for Best Picture, it will be the first awarded to a B&W film since the 1929 Wings, starring Clara Bow. What a Sheba she was! By the by, Wings didn’t actually win Best Picture. That wasn’t a category; it was categorized as Outstanding Picture, Production. I will also note that yours truly was at that Academy Awards … the first ever Oscars, cats! It was held in the Blossom Room of the Roosevelt Hotel in H-town and hosted by my dollface Dougy Fairbanks. Zowie! You never saw such a ring-a-ding romp! Wasn’t that during Prohibition, you ask? Why, yes it was.
Suffice it to say that voting boards, critics and audiences of the 2011-2012 season are equally enchanted by a bygone world of imagination, luxury, creativity and the human relationship. Leave it to a black-and-white, silent film to help bring back the art of conversation. The films leading this year’s season not only explore the artistic struggle, but the courage of the imagination and the fury of the spirit to leave the easy road behind and live an even better life.
I applaud filmgoers for taking a deep breath and leaving its celebrity comfort zone to reward filmmakers and creators whom were not only daring enough to shoot a B&W film, but to make it silent; to reward a story about the longing to shun Hollywood and its glare, and “long for the struggle”; to expose a world where the influential and the meek can share a life, showing both have heart and strife; to prove that belief in the unbelievable is the most valuable kind of currency.
1920s Paris, Edwardian England and Old Hollywood are lovely throwbacks and though certainly each era has its own burdens and shame, take it from me, kittens, you could learn a thing or two about living a beautiful life in 2012 and you don’t have to be rolling in the long green to do it. You have to get dressed each day anyway; put on something nice and wear heels. Do your nails (guys and dolls), polish your shoes, ditch the ball caps and try a Fedora, men. Leave the yoga pants and Juicy sweats at home because no matter how nice a caboose you got, it ain’t an attractive look – ask any gent. Go ahead, I’ll wait. Feathers are nice, too. I see from a few of the guests at The Del that they’re making a comeback, sort of. Try a bright, fluffy feather in your headband: less dirty hippie, more Ziegfeld Girl. Feathers not your scene? I’m keen. How about a general sparkle? Tarina Tarantino makes her spiffy Sparklicity shimmer dust for your tresses, décolleté and visage. Oh, and Heavens to Murgatroid … unless it’s January and you’re pulling Opilio crab pots off the bottom of the Bering Sea, leave the wool cap at home, you flat tires.
I’m not saying you have to go all bluenose Mrs. Grundy and wear Granny’s tablecloth, but try puttin’ on the Ritz once in a while. Trust me, it feels aces! I know you don’t mean to be schlubs, but for the most part, ya are, Blanche, ya are! Monkey see, monkey do. Folks are fickle followers. Be the smooth looker, not the hobo wheat; comb your hair and press your blouse and others will follow. Take your tea (yes, tea) in a real cup and saucer; eat your dinner from a real china plate and give your pets some real ceramic dishes: plastic is for mooks. One more thing, just so this rant ain’t strictly a trip for bisquits, here’s a couple of ways to live a lovelier life, straight away, today.
One: write a thank you note or two for some of those Christmas presents, and not an e-mail; use actual paper like Lady Grantham would. You still have time; common courtesy states one has about a month. You know you should and I know you haven’t. Takes an hour and a few stamps and it’s just the Cat’s Meow when it arrives in the mail!
Two: talk to your friends, for real. Not clickety-clack talking, but real, going for a cup of Joe, chewing the cud talking. Ask the half-portion in the cubicle next to you, or your next door neighbor or wherever you are, if they want to grab a bite and chat about the wet smacks running for office. Even if you don’t know from nothing, practice talking with your big mouths, not your stubby mitts. Can’t convince your office mate to be social? Put on some glad rags (not jeans), order an espresso and pretend you’re in a Parisian cafe, read a real newspaper by yourself and give all your devices the Bronx Cheer.
Anyhoo, you know I’m a ghost who loves her animation and the most recent episode of The Simpsons , The D’oh-cial Network couldn’t make this point any clearer. Elizabeth McGovern, Downton Abbey‘s Cora, Countess of Lady Grantham, also made an excellent point when she said to the U.K.’s Daily Mail of the American devotion to the show, “I think they love the drama and the intrigue, and they also love the solidity of the life, that you’re free of mobile phones and twitter”.
One troubling point: none of the above explains Bridesmaids, as Oscar-worthy. Zowie!
How’s that postcard campaign going, by the by? Who’s reading my rants? Send ’em to:
Miss Hannah Hart, ghostdame/Turret Rm.
c/o Hotel del Coronado
1500 Orange Avenue
Coronado, CA 92118
Abyssinia at the Movies!
Full disclosure: Baron Julian Fellowes is the creator of Downton Abbey and also played the character of Lord Kilwillie in the BBC series Monarch of the Glen. The author @JennyPopNet owns a Range Rover and it is named Lord Kilwille, K’willy for short.