“It Was a Two Dog Night…”

DSC00082 Last night Daphne wriggled into her long johns and stretch corduroys; laced up her knee high boots; threw on her down coat; adjusted her trapper’s hat; chose the red gloves for a bit of color and finally wrapped her face in a long grey scarf.  Thusly encased in wool, down, and fur and despite feeling a bit like a the Michelin woman, she briskly walked to the garage, pulled the car out and drove to town to meet Cowboy Clay at the watering hole.

Clay (clad only in an insulated shirt and a Carhartt vest) laughed at her get up.  Gladys the waitress yelled, “Don’t pay him any mind.  That’s the way I dressed up today too to walk to work.”

Daphne sidled up to Clay as Claudia slid a Pinot Grigio  her way. She smiled sweetly and replied, “I enjoy feeling my feet, fingers, and face, that’s all.  And don’t start with the “Cowboy Up” malarkey.  It’s 5 degrees.  It’s fricking cold.”

Just then Sonny breezed in and Claudia slid a Cab his way. “Fricking cold,” he announced, much to Daphne’s glee, “Looks like it might be a two dog night.”

Daphne knew this was a cue to ask Sonny to tell another tall tale as he liked to do.  “So what’s a “two dog night?”

“Well, I heard a story from a friend of mine.  A bunch of hunters went out hunting on this 200,000 acre ranch far from any town.  By late afternoon everybody was back at the ranch house except two of their party and their dog.  The rest of them looked for them until dark, but then there was nothing to do until morning.  So the next morning, they set out and finally found them in their vehicle; alive but really really cold. The one hunter said, “It was a two dog night, but we only had one dog.”

Clay laughed and said he knew an old sheepherder.  Clay had asked him what he did when the temperature dropped below zero. The old guy said, “I just pulled up another dog.”

“I wonder what a three dog night is?” Daphne mused as Daphne often did.

“Well, I know it’s a band,” said Sonny.

“From the Seventies,” Clay offered.

Everybody nodded and tried to remember any of their songs and strangely enough were all at a loss for words.

“Well, I guess it’s time for you to get out that I Pad and find out,” said Sonny.

This is what makes nowadays a bit different than the old days when you had to wait for somebody to walk in the door who knew the answer to the question.  In this case it would be one of the music experts like Cal or Thelma, but they were nowhere near.  So Daphne got out the I Pad and looked them up.

“Yep, formed in 1968 and had a lot of hits like “One” and “Joy to the World.”

“That was a b.s. song, said Clay,  “Joy to the fishes in the deep blue sea. What’s that supposed to mean?”

“Maybe they were influenced by the Beatles.  You know since we all live in a yellow submarine we would want the fishes to be happy,” Sonny theorized.

“That’s funny,” Daphne said, “We’re having shrimp stir fry tonight.”

This is when everybody paused and knew it was time to go home.

“Says here that the name of the band comes from an article one of the band members read about how the Aborigines crawled into a cave and bedded down with a wild dog, a Dingo.  But when it went below zero, they had to find three Dingos.  Hence, it would be a three dog night, “Daphne related. So what would happen tonight as it is surely is going to drop below zero?”

“I guess I’ll take the dog,” Clay smiled.

“Well, then, I guess I’ll take the electric blanket,” she grinned.

“Well, Not Exactly”

2013_12_01_08_29_05.pdf000 “Ready to Run”

The temperature was falling fast as Daphne made her way past a cow who had just had her calf and was munching contentedly on some after birth while her newborn shivered in the grass.  Trying to get rid of that very natural, but let’s face it, gross image, Daphne high tailed it down the ranch lane and sped into town.

She entered the Saloon and threw off her coat and trapper hat.  There was nobody at the bar except Glenn and Gwelda who were finishing up some dinner.

Gwelda: “Well you’re dressed for winter.”

Daphne: “It’s 25 f***ing degrees. It’s not Spring. I’m sick of the cold and sick of talking about the weather.  Let’s change the subject.”

With that she opened up her Wall Street Journal and began to read.

Daphne:  “Here’s an article on ‘Noah’ and building the Ark. I’m looking forward to it seeing it.  Should be good.”

Gwelda: “Well I sure hope it’s accurate–biblical, that is.  I know the Bible and those animals made their own way into the Ark.  He didn’t gather them up.  They came by themselves.  So they just better tell it like it really was.” Continue reading

Shut Eye

Sunset

(This is an ongoing series that takes place in The Grand Saloon, a kind of bar at the edge of the frontier much like the Star Wars bar in the first movie.  There are the regular cast of characters as well as alien visitors from planets such as Hollywood, King of Prussia, PA, and Billings, MT.  The first in the series is a piece called “Old Blisters”.  The second one is called “Fun”.  The third is “12 Churches and 5 Bars.”  You can start there or read this one first. )

The days are getting longer and so the drive in to Little Twig at the end of the work day is no longer in the dark but in the waning hours of sunlight.  This means the deer who love to ambush cars at dusk will be lurking behind the trees just before the bridge over the Boulder River.  But Daphne is on to them.  She slows down from the 55 mph speed limit and looks from side to side and, sure enough, three does come bounding across the road.  The weather has been skittering back and forth for days between just above zero to below zero.  The snow has fallen in large wet clumps unlike the usual powder that blesses Montana winters.  Then it melts.  Then it freezes.  And for the last day and a half it’s now started to rain.  And now it’s cold again.  And so the road has patches of black ice.

Daphne glides to a crawl as the deer slip and slide across her path.  All survive and she drives on past the neon sign at the Lazy J Motel that has just come on as night begins.  

Daphne hitches the car up on small leftover pile of snow and sloshes through a foot of water at the curb.  She  straightens herself up and breezes into the saloon.

The joint is jumping because it is free pizza night.  Each year from early February to the end of March, the bar serves free pizza on Wednesday nights  to reward the locals for their loyalty and, well, to try and sell drinks at a slow time of the year.   Of course, some people who rarely come to the place manage to take advantage of the free food.  There was a bit of a kerfuffle years ago when they first started the free stuff because people would bring their kids and try to get away without ordering anything to drink.  So they had to put the keebosh on that and make this an “adults only” kind of deal.  Thelma and Will are in the middle of the bar.  Cal and Carl are down closer to the table with the pizza on it.  Sonny, Soot, and Clay are at the other end.  Daphne slides on to the only bar stool left and throws off her puffer coat.

Claudia sets a glass of Savignon Blanc in front of Daphne. 

Daphne:  “A little slick out there. ” Continue reading

12 Churches and 5 Bars

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It was another cold, dark, and howling night in Little Twig, Montana.  No longer below zero, the wind had picked up again and slapped Daphne in the butt as she literally blew into the saloon.  At the end of the bar in his usual spot stood Cowboy Clay with his Chardonnay.  Carl nursed a whiskey a seat down from where Clay stood and Soot was to the right of Clay also sipping a whiskey.  One bar stool next to Carl was open and Daphne slid in and threw off her long down coat.  Claudia had already poured her a glass of  Sauvignon Blanc and set it down in front of her.  Daphne pulled out her cell phone and placed it on the bar.

Daphne:  I waiting for one more call and then I’m done for the day.

Soot:  I’m getting rid of my cell phone.  We never needed them before.  Why should we now?

Clay:  Well what happens when you get stuck in a ditch?

Soot:  Well, maybe I wouldn’t have gone anywhere where I’d get stuck with no way of telling anybody where I am.  Maybe these phones just cause people to be reckless.  What did ya think about that?

Carl:  You could be right, Soot.

Clay: I don’t know.  I think people are going to be stupid whether they’ve got a phone or not.

With that the first round of the Philosophy Club finished and it was on to the next round. Continue reading

Express Yourself – An Evie Taloney Movie Observation Worth Ropin

There was a song written in 1970-71 by Charles Wright and the Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band that summed up a good part of the 1970s.  It was “Express Yourself”.  It said “Whatever you do, do it good.”  “It’s not what you look like when you’re doing what you’re doing.  It’s what you’re doin when you’re doin what you look like you’re doin.”

As we approach the Oscars, I can’t help thinking about how perfectly David O Russell’s “American Hustle” captured the 1970s with all it’s gaudy messiness.  The film’s characters and costumes and art direction and cinematography and, of course, direction help capture and amplify the strange whirlwind that blew through the 70s.

Here is the costume designer,  Michael Wilkinson, describing how he went about the design of the costumes.  He remarks that the 70s were more about expressing yourself than “looking your best”.

Women were coming into their own and becoming bolder about their sexuality.  While still trapped in hair curlers the size of lemonade cans, they also began to let their hair down and lowered their necklines.  And I remember the color, oh the color.

Wilkinson had as much fun with the men’s costumes as he did the women’s.  In the 1970s men also felt freer to “express themselves” even while they too seemed trapped by their hair; Christian Bale’s Irving Rosenfeld carefully applied comb over and Bradley Cooper’s Richie DiMaso permed-look hair took a lot of time and effort.   Jeremy Renner’s silver/gold tux lights up the screen as does Renner’s New Jersey mayor with a pompadour that takes a lot of gel and spray.  He’s a sunny big-hearted character who dresses the part of the would be savior of his city.

At the heart of the story is Christian Bale’s Irving and Bale dazzled me.  As Wilkinson remarks in the video, Bale’s lead character is awash in “paisleys and patterns” in his suits, scarves, shirts, and ties.  He carefully constructs a persona for his hustler and Bale loses himself completely in Irving.  Amazingly, Irving doesn’t see what we see when he looks in the mirror or when Amy Adams’ Sydney looks at him.  We see a paunchy balding slime ball with an ID bracelet.  They see a clever and dapper cultured entrepreneur out to have some fun as do the other characters in this wild frenzied ride through the heart of the darkness of America; a land born of hustlers and con men who still think of themselves all as masters of the universe and kings of the world.

It is a story about deceptions and lies.  But these are mostly small time cons while a much bigger con was starting to be hatched as wages stagnated never to rise again for the average worker.  By the end of the 1970s when this film takes place, hard times were the norm and what was coming was the era of “greed is good” that hasn’t yet let up. I lived in New York during this time.   So, as Cindi Lauper sang “When the working day was done, girls just want to have fun.”    That’s what I did.  And as the designer Michael Wilkinson concludes, it’s about a time when you just didn’t give a damn.  You just wanted “to try stuff”.  For a time we were out of the box called adulthood and we had some fun.

P.S. I hope the film and it’s designers win lots of awards. It is the mirror opposite of the lovely, funny and sad “Nebraska” which should also win gobs of awards.  Maybe that’s why there shouldn’t be any awards at all.  How can one really choose what’s best?

Fun

(This is the second in “The Grand” series.  The first one was “Old Blisters” that introduces the cast of characters.)

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It is another cold and windy night in Little Twig, Montana. The temperature had been below zero for almost a week, but with the rise in temperature to above zero, the wind had picked up again.  You could hear it howl and it made the sign outside the saloon bash against the bricks.  It was the usual cast of characters at The Grand sitting at booths and at the bar.  Daphne is sipping a Sauvignon Blanc.  She is dressed all in black with a jaunty grey cloche on her head.  Cowboy Clay with a Chardonnay in hand is next to her talking to Carl who is nursing a micro brew when Sonny breezes in and sees a spot next to Clay.  Claudia pours him a glass of Merlot.

Clay: How’s it goin’?

Sonny: Not bad.  Just came in from Idaho and it’s really dry.

Clay: Is it like California?  I hear that’s bad.

Sonny: Well, those Californians are just going to have to decide whether they want to take a shower and flush the toilet or eat.

Daphne chimes in:  Is that really the choice?  Flush or starve? Can’t the Ag business use less water?  I mean it’s not like they are a bunch of small family farms growing enough for themselves and the people in their towns.  Don’t they export most of the lettuce, tomatoes, pomegranates, almonds?

Sonny: Well, they are family farms, just really big ones.  And they have the long water rights.

Well, the discussion went on for a few minutes about who owns what and how water rights came to be through mining rights and taxpayers rights versus corporations rights and Beverly Hills farmers and manifest destiny and survival of the fittest before a truce was called and they went back to talking about the weather.

Clay:  Some trucker said his temperature reading went from 20 below to 60 below for a few miles past Reed Point.

Daphne: What shall I play on the Juke?  Lorde or Alan Jackson?

Clay: Whatever you want, Darlin’?

Daphne: Oh and I brought some pears if anybody wants some.

Sonny: I’ll take two.  I like to drizzle a little balsamic on them and sprinkle with a little  blue cheese.  Thanks!

I had fun last night.  Different people have different ways of having fun.  And most people have various ways of having fun.  But one of my favorite ways of having fun is a lively discussion of something or other.  In that respect, I should have been born French where I could go out to a cafe after work and philosophize with friends over a nice bottle of wine and some oysters and good bread.  We could talk about anything but the weather unless it was about how the weather might influence our moods or our art.  We could talk about who could call themselves writers and who couldn’t.  Or who was an artist?  Or was all life and thus all art futile? Continue reading

Gone to the Lake

Gone to the Lake