September 25, 2010

Retro Photo: Old, family album snapshots

By far, the most valuable material things in my world are photographs. Sure, I love my old toys and games a lot, too, but nothing is as priceless or irreplaceable as an old family photograph! That's why I'm so pleased to have borrowed a few of my family's old albums from my mom; I can scan and make copies for my own collection. Plus, now I can share some of my personal favorites with you. So if it sounds like fun, just grab a seat next to me and we'll get started...

This is my mom and dad on New Years Eve, 1969,
"sealing the deal" in a Las Vegas wedding chapel.
They made quite the handsome couple, if you ask me!

Here are the stylish newlyweds, again! Look how
very dashing my dad appears in his suit, smoking
a pipe. And check out my mom's HAIR! Wow!
Actually, it's interesting to note that my mom
was about 5 or 6 months pregnant with me in this
photo because if I didn't know better, I'd swear she
was carrying ME under that HELMET of hers!

Not sure WHAT I DID to deserve THIS... But at
least I look happy. And I should, just look at the
bottle of port they threw in there with me!
Here, I'm about 1-year-old and happy as a clam.
A drunken clam.

Did I ever mention that my grandparents were robots?

"Now, what??"
Here, I'm about 2 or 3 and quite
obviously less than impressed.


Sheesh! You'd think that riding HUGE turtles
and carousel horses would make all the little
boys smile, but NOOOO, not this kid...

Viva, Las Vegas!
I think my mom looks WAY cool, here. She's totally
rockin' that retro look and vibe... only it WASN'T
retro back THEN! It was the real deal.

"Allo. Parlez-vous francais?"
This shot cracks me up every time I see it!
And it makes me think of Pepe Le Pew,
if he were a little boy and NOT a skunk.

Well, I hope all of that didn't bore you too much, folks. In fact, thanks for indulging me! Until the next 'Retro Photo' session, remember... Today's snapshot could be tomorrow's priceless treasure.

~ All photos property of Anthony See ~

September 12, 2010

Movie Moments: 'Bigger Than Life'

I don't usually buy a movie sight unseen. In fact, I'm pretty sure this is the very first one. Back when VHS tapes were so common, and therefore so relatively inexpensive, my mom used to buy movies left and right that she'd never even seen because to her it made more sense than going through the "trouble" of renting them. Forget that it wound up costing her much more in the long run. Much more. Not to mention the fact that most of those movies were never even liberated from their original shrink wrap! Oooh, I could go on... But what was my point to all of that? I know! It was because of my mother's whole weird, illogical movie collecting obsession that I swore to myself I'd never buy a movie I hadn't already seen and felt I had to own. Well, I stuck to that until just recently. After all, rules were made to be broken... Right?

Enter 'Bigger Than Life'. I can't really remember how it came across my radar, but once I heard about it, I just knew I would dig it. It was released in 1956, it's full of melodrama, and it was filmed in dynamic CinemaScope. Those few details alone pretty much sold it, but it was this plot summary that really drove it home for me:

"When a friendly, successful suburban teacher and father (James Mason, in one of his most indelible roles) is prescribed cortisone for a painful, possibly fatal affliction, he grows dangerously addicted to the experimental drug, resulting in his transformation into a psychotic and ultimately violent household despot. This Eisenhower-era throat-grabber, shot in expressive CinemaScope, is an excoriating take on the nuclear family. That it came in the day of 'Father Knows Best' makes it all the more shocking and wildly entertaining."

Now, how could I have possibly passed that up?? Once I knew that I wasn't getting it for my birthday (it was on my wish list), I ran out and got it for myself. And let me tell you, it did not disappoint. Well, actually, I did expect James Mason's character to be a bit more violent, but I think that's only because times are so much different now and I've become just as conditioned (or jaded) as the next person by today's high level of violence in almost every form of entertainment. Still, even with little to no physical violence, this flick gets pretty intense anyway! Most of the intense drama happens because of the psychotic mood swings of Mason's character and the resulting chaos. And what's not enthralling about watching a squeaky-clean, upstanding citizen (who's also a father and a school teacher) become an entirely drug-addicted psycho monster?? It's good, wholesome Family Film Festival fare, I tell you! No, not really...

Here we see Ed Avery (James Mason) at work,
grasping at the back of his neck in severe pain.
It's one of the first early signs we see that Ed is
going to need some serious medical attention,
and that something awful is about to start...

Here's Ed as a patient in the hospital. Looking on
quite concerned, is his wife Lou (Barbara Rush),
son Richie (Christopher Olsen), and Ed's two
attending doctors.

Now, this was a cinematic moment!
After returning home from the hospital, Ed (Mason)

expects to continue being pampered like he was by
the nurses. After about the umpteenth special
request he asks of his wife Lou (Rush), she just loses
it and she's the one who flies into a rage,
slamming the medicine chest so hard it shatters!
Needless to say, Lou's actions leave Ed a bit stunned,
and he takes a moment here to "reflect".

Did I mention mood swings?
Fortunately, the movie isn't just an intense downer.

It also has happier moments, like the one we see
above, when Ed happens to be experiencing an
upswing sort of mood. I love this scene because it's
so iconic, you know?

This is another great, happy scene. At least, it
is at first. See, Ed is treating Lou to a shopping
spree and it's all very exciting until... Lou thinks
about what it's all going to cost and that they really
can't afford it. The cinematography here is
just awesome!

I will not spoil the end for you, but I will tell
you that's a Bible and a huge pair of scissors
Ed is holding...

If you like drama and movies set in the 1950s, I'm almost positive that you'd enjoy this gem! Also, if you do decide to search it out, make sure and pick up the Criterion Collection version as it's absolutely pristine looking due to a high-definition digital transfer restoration. Plus, the DVD has all kinds of Special Edition extras!

Until next time, movie buffs, I hope all of your moments are happy ones!

~ All photos via Google Images ~

September 4, 2010

My BIG 40th BIRTHDAY circus celebration!

August 22nd, 2010 is a date that won't soon be forgotten (not by me, anyway). My dear mother-in-law, aunt-in-law (?), and husband all threw a fantastic circus-themed 40th birthday party for me that just about blew my socks off! They thought of everything, and they did it all perfectly. The food, the decorations, the cake, the music (circus band, natch)... It was all totally wonderful! Even the pinata (yes, I had a pinata for my adult 40th b-day party) was incredibly circus-y.

An intimate gathering of 15, everyone was either close family or friends. A good, fun time was had by all, and people kept saying how impressed they were by everything.

I was told this is the latest and greatest
pinata available on the market, today... Well,
of course. Would I rate anything less??

Here's a good shot of some fun party favors: Barnum's
Animal Crackers, various noisemakers, and peanuts
(masquerading as popcorn).

This was my wonderful birthday cake! It not only
looked festive, it was delicious, too!

"Smile, you're on Candid Camera!"
This is my good friend, Matt, amused by something, as
other party guests march into the kitchen to get their
fair share of lunch.

Being that I was the piggy, err, I mean guest of honor,
I was given the first spot in line for grub. And, boy, was
it good grub! Barbara and Wanda really know how
to prepare a tasty spread!

Okay... How cute is this??

Many colorful circus posters, like
this one, were hung up as decorations

My bff, Lisa, and me.
F.Y.I. - In case you happen to be
familiar with the blog, Atomic Tea
Party, you might find it interesting
to know this is the same Lisa who
hosts that wonderfully kitsch soiree.

Me, my mom, and my husband... ready to eat!

Gift time!
I absolutely dug all of my gifts, but
some did stand out from the rest. Like
this one, for example. It's a vintage,
Fisher-Price cow named, "Bossy Bell",
and both her tail wags and bell rings
when you roll/pull her across the floor.

Meanwhile, back in the kitchen...
It looks like Wanda and Barbara are finally getting
to fill up a few plates of their own. Thank goodness!
I'd swear I didn't see either one of them sitting down
during the party, they were so busy being such
excellent hosts.

Pinata time!
Here, my mother-in-law, Barbara, is blindfolding me
so I can take the first few "whacks!"

"Alright... Now, what?"
I swear, I wasn't really that clueless.
But it sure looks like I was, huh?

Many tried before him, but only he knew the sweet
taste of victory! Yep, that's my husband bangin' the
bejesus (and all the goodies) out of my beautiful birthday
pinata... Oh, well. Someone had to do it!

The birthday photo gallery could go on, and on, and on... but I think I've tortured you long enough, now. Thanks, if you managed to stick it out this far! Also, "Thank you, again!" to Mom, Aunt Wanda, and Tommy for all of your hard work and dedication which made the difference between a regular old party and a fantastically fabulous 40th! I love you all!

~ Birthday Clown via Google Images. All photos property of Anthony See. ~
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