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What is it about nice people that attract total idiots?Nice people are martyrs. Idiots are evangelists.


Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Valley of the dolls

A few things on the agenda tonight.  First off, I was informed through the Pat Miller show of a website,, which collects alleged smears against the administration of Prez Obama so that they can "send you information" to fight said smears.  Now, you KNOW that this falls into the category "things you should never let Chris find out about".  Needless to say, I decided to join in order to stamp out the horrible disrespect that POTUS gets around here.  My first report to them went like this:

"My dog called President Obama a dick.  I scolded him but he said he heard it from a raccoon he treed a couple of days ago.  I cannot confirm that raccoons are against the President,however he is solidly supported by the neighborhood squirrels."

They even give you a button with which to send attachments.  Therefore I sent them a picture of Scrappy.


Next, The Great Postcard Campaign rolls on, and I got my card from "Average Girl" Tracy.  She said she looked for a card with a picture of bottle caps, but had to settle for a mural of the Native People of Chemainus, with whom I am unfamiliar and will have to look up.  It is a very cool mural, though, and will go well with the Southwestern landscape our fearless leader sent last month.


Now, on to the thing I wanted to bloviate about.  Did you, when you were real little, have certain topics come up among the adults around you, that colored your future perception of them?  I'm talking about things that made the "unapproved " or "nasty" list.  Things that gave you the creeps at a mention- like "cancer" or "poison".  Or rock bands that you weren't to listen to- like Black Sabbath, the Stones, or even (to a certain extent) Steppenwolf (doubtless due to the chorus of The Pusher on their first lp.)  Obviously these are the things on my list, things that still give me that vague sense of unease to this days (although it's hard to be intimidated by Sabbath now that every marching band in America play Iron Man or Paranoid).

One of those things on my list is a movie called Valley Of The Dolls.  You old timers (no hands, you know who you are) remember this flick.  It was the cutting edge of what was permissible back then, an R flick that my mom wouldn't let my sister go see.  Most of the hullaballoo was it's treatment of drug abuse, specifically "dolls" (barbituates, probably shortened from Barbie Dolls), along with the teenyest bit of nudity and sex.  By today's standards, it probably would be hard pressed to be called "quaint".  But for a preschooler who heard snatches of conversation, it contained within its forbidden boundaries a near-apocalyptic world of the illicit that was sure to corrupt anyone who watched.

It was only a few years ago I found the Dionne Warwick single of the theme song and burned it.
Gotta get off, gonna get

Have to get off from this ride
Gotta get hold, gonna get
Need to get hold of my pride
When did I get, where did I
How was I caught in this game
When will I know, where will I
How will I think of my name

When did I stop feeling sure, feeling safe
And start wondering why, wondering why
Is this a dream, am I here, where are you
What's in back of the sky, why do we cry

I looked up the plot on Wiki, and learned that it was the story of three women climbing the ladder to fame, or riding along, only to be brought down by the pressures, the temptations, and, oh yes, the dolls.

Yesterday, home with a messed up back, I got to watch the movie for the first time.  A quick set-up here: early last week, I had been musing to myself that, in a sort-of-bucket list way, I needed to see this film, once and for all.  And yesterday, I found it on the on-demand free movies- three days before it ended its run.  I knew I couldn't pass up those kind of omens.

What I saw was a fascinating movie, for all it lacked.  It focused on Ann (Barbara Perkins), a young small-town-going -to-the-big-city-heroine;  Neely (Patty Duke), a trying-to-be- rising star; and Jennifer (Sharon Tate), a dancer hitched by love to a singer named Tony who didn't know he was about to be felled by Huntington's Chorea.  Ann seemed to stumble into good fortune and her share of love and fame; Neely started out a sympathetic figure but slowly the true Neely came out- having worked hard for her fame, she was willing to take what she wanted and steamroll anyone who stood in her way, including her new husband Mel (Martin Milner, 1- Adam-12!).  Jennifer had fame forced on her when, to keep her husband in the asylum he had to be put in, she became a French art-film actress (and you know what that means).  You could tell there were things in the book that didn't make the cut; for example, you never do see how Jennifer actually meets up with the others, and other than Neely, you never see how it is that they all ended up using dolls.  For me, the movie had three great moments.  The first is when everyone first meets Tony and Jennifer, during his stage show at this club where he sings a haunting song called Live With Me to Jennifer.  The second comes when Neely is coming out of that same sanitarium Tony was in (trying to dry out) and tells the story of singing that song at a "dance night" and having Tony, in wheelchair, recover just long enough to do a duet with her; and third, when  Jennifer's suicide (OD on dolls after topping off a hateful mother and a vegetative husband with breast cancer) and Neely's stealing of her man (who was also Neely's agent for her "comeback") drove Ann to attempt suicide by dolls and drowning.  She realizes, once in the water, she hasn't taken enough dolls to accomplish her plan.  She comes back to her room, weighs her choices, and throws the pills against the wall and goes home.

The movie ends with her guy coming back to small town USA to finally propose to her (now that he was done with Neely treating him like crap).  But Ann tells him no, and walks off down a winter trail, breathing deep the clean air of freedom for the first time since she left home.

Gotta get off, gonna get

Off of this merry-go-round
Gotta get off, gonna get
Need to get on where I'm bound
When did I get, where did I
Why am I lost as a lamb
When will I know, where will I
How will I learn who I am?

So it wasn't all it was billed as, and it was more in some respects.  But the thing here, for me, is that this feels like some kind of full-circle to me; like by watching this movie I have started the countdown on some mysterious clock set long ago.  It makes me sad and apprehensive in ways I cannot hope to explain.  You would think I'd have a happy, pulled the fangs out of the dragon's mouth feeling.  And in a way I do.  But in another way I feel like .... God, how to put it... like I've put myself onto the road to some darker fate.  If you'll endulge me my love of Norse mythology, it feels like someone just put the sprig of mistletoe into the hands of blind Hodur.

And there is the whole Sharon Tate thing here, too.  Here's that song, with a tribute montage to her.


  1. I have no idea where to start or what to say the report you sent to AttackWatch sound like a solid report as those raccoons really like to spread gosip.....

    I want a postcard I like postcard how do I get a postcard..........

    Never seen the movie Valley of the Dolls have heard of it but never seen it.......

  2. Haven't seen the movie but I think I might have to chase it up. I have heard it is a classic.

    So jealous of you guys who have already got your postcard. Still waiting for mine . And I get to send out next months. Hmm, wonder if I can find something bottle cap related.

  3. One reeason I like your posts is that you blokes (USA) are both like us but different if you know what I mean. Very educational , keep it up. And not done in five minutes, where do you find the time. (How many a week?)

  4. CWM:
    I was going to post at ATTACK-WATCH (as to what Billy Clinton said about Obama a few years back), but, I figure it's just one MORE way to keep track of potential pot-stirrers...

    I like to stir my OWN pot in my OWN "house", as it

    And how many FORMER presidents had such a thing as this???

    As to Valley of the Dools...My father read the novel and then saw the movie - liked the book better,
    I saw the movie a long time ago (not in the theater) and it was OK for it's time.
    I kinda equate it as a forerunner of Sex in the City, but with less laughs and more dope.
    In some ways, it was akin to a precursor of the counter-culture in the '80s professional fields.
    (the Studio 54 crowd comes to mind)

    Perhaps it was a more prophetic film than we realize...

    Good call.

    Stay safe up there.
    (and beware the men in black watching Scrappy

  5. Hey Chris,

    Maybe you can answer a question that Bob G. won't address on his blog. He judges his neighbors about not going to work, but I cannot find any reference to what he does for a living. He's talked about his wife working for the schools but nothing on how he contributes. Any ideas?

  6. Wow, a LOT of comments! Let me take them in order.
    Joanne, Here's where you go to find all the postcard info: Just check it out and climb aboard!
    Also, the raccoon thing will be carried on in a few moments...

    Mynx, good luck, there weren't any in western Canada, apparently...

    Ken, I schedule around Laurie playing Farmarama. It ain't easy.

    Bob, there were so many prophetic moments in that movie, including Sharon Tate's character saying, "The only thing I'm good at is taking off my clothes..." I've probably watched it three times in my head the last few days.

    And anon? glad to see you finally took me up on my invitation. To answer your questions I suggest you look up the terms "retirement", "pension" and "paid his dues". A friend of mine the other day I overheard telling a story in which he instructed a friend of his, "We work. That's what adults do." Most of the people in Bob's neighborhood replace the terms I've put in quotations with "I'm tired", "welfare", "play around", and "avoid work, that's what I do."
    I know Bob would spotlight any neighbor who worked to improve their life, their community, or even their home- but that's a groundhog that's seen its shadow.