Utterly Beyond the Valley

Today I’d like to give thanks for possibly the greatest movie ever made. No, scratch that; you can’t call Beyond the Valley of the Dolls great, or good; neither can you accurately call it bad or terrible; it is simply… beyond. Bourgeois categories such as good or bad, comedy or drama, legitimate cinema or exploitation, simply do not apply to Russ Meyer’s 1970 masterpiece.

Almost 40 years later, it is difficult to conceive of the circumstances that could have led to the existence of this movie. The story goes something like this: In 1967 20th Century Fox adapted Jacqueline Susann’s showbiz melodrama Valley of the Dolls into a successful movie starring Patty Duke and the soon-to-be-late Sharon Tate. This predictably led to a decision, more financial than artistic, to make a sequel. However, the studio had trouble finding an acceptable screenplay; Susann did not want to write it and two versions by other writers were rejected. Desperate for some kind of new wrinkle, they finally decided to turn the project over to the notorious Russ Meyer, a former Playboy photographer who had made a number of odd but profitable low-budget films filled with big-breasted women.


Now It Can Be Told: The Truth About Obama and the Borg

I tried not to post this hot picture of Seven of Nine, but resistance is… well, you know.

An interesting, underreported sidenote to the recently concluded presidential election: The Borg made Barack Obama president.

Don’t believe me? Flash back to 2004, when Obama was running for the Senate against well-funded and well-connected Republican Jack Ryan. This was an uphill battle for Obama, though by June he had closed somewhat in the polls. Then a Deus ex Machina of sorts intervened: Illinois media dug up custody papers related to Ryan’s divorce from Jeri Ryan, best known for playing sexy cyborg Seven of Nine on Star Trek: Voyager. In these papers, Jeri Ryan alleged that Jack Ryan had taken her to kinky sex clubs and tried to persuade her to participate in public sex acts.

That was the end of Ryan’s candidacy, and Obama easily trounced emergency replacement candidate Alan Keyes. The rest is history. Am I saying that Obama is himself a Borg? Not necessarily, though certainly as Hillary Clinton and John McCain are the latest to learn when it comes to Barack Obama, resistance is futile.

Hi, Bob

The first thing I should say is that, as far as I know, Bob Newhart is still alive, thank goodness. Often the only time someone writes about an aging celebrity is when they die, so I hope you didn’t see Bob’s picture at the top of this entry and think the worst. It’s one of life’s cruelest ironies that we tend to celebrate someone’s life and work only when they’re dead and can’t enjoy it. So after watching an episode of Newhart this afternoon I wanted to take a minute to praise Bob.

This was an episode of the Vermont show, not the superior psychiatrist show, but contained a classic scene of vintage Newhartism. In this episode Bob takes over the book-themed talk show on the local TV station. For his first show, he books the author of a slim volume called The Complete History of the Universe, who no-shows and sends a replacement guest in his place. This guest, a retired military man who has written a book about a canoe trip up the Amazon, starts off well enough but soon produces what he claims to be a photograph of a herd of dinosaurs that he found on the banks of a tributary.


Morning in America

Our next president plays basketball and levitates.

One hates to echo the dreaded Ronald Reagan, but it really does feel like a new day has begun in this country. And not a moment too soon.

I think to be honest, the feeling for a lot of us watching the returns last night was less joy than simple relief. Two highly suspect elections and eight years of The Worst President Ever have beaten us down to such an extent that we’re not asking for much. Like, we may not be the brightest country on the block, but it’s possible to believe now that we’re not a nation of complete morons (at least not predominantly). It’s also a relief to know that the Republicans and their machine minions aren’t going to steal every election until the end of time.

It worries me a little that the expectations for President Obama have been raised impossibly high, but I for one am not asking for miracles. Some baseline, minimum level of competence and decency would be just fine. Even this, though, would be such an upgrade from what we’ve had that it makes me a little giddy. I saw Condoleezza Rice on TV this morning and she looked pretty giddy herself; makes you wonder what she’s been thinking all this time. Like maybe she’s tired of having to apologize for a cowboy clown who goes around starting wars for no reason and giving unwanted, inappropriate neckrubs to world leaders.

But this is no time to rehash the crimes and miseries of the recent past; today is a day to celebrate and imagine possibilities for the future. Give yourself permission to dream a little extra today; I think you’ve earned it.