Saturday, September 23, 2006

Exclusive Celebrity Interview: Petunia Pig

Petunia Pig turned 96 years old this week and we're lucky to have her with us for this exclusive Bloggy-Blog interview. I caught up with Petunia after spotting her in upper Manhattan shopping at Keihl's with friend, and likewise ancient veteran of the stage and screen, Kitty Carlisle. I tripped Ms. Pig on the escalator exit and pinned her to the floor where the following interview took place.

smouldering glamour: circa 1938

Bloggy-Blog: You started out in cartoons in 1937 in "Porky's Romance". Can you describe how this role came about?

Pig: I met Frank Tashlin, the director, at Schwab's Pharmacy on Sunset. They had a counter there with a soda fountain.

Bloggy-Blog: A soda fountain at a pharmacy?

Pig: Oh yes, but with a twist. In those days cocaine was very open and available. Schwab's had a guy there, the soda jerk, and he'd sprinkle cocaine into your root beer float or on your fudge sundae, whatever. It was a gimmick to keep the customers loyal. Consequently, Schwab's was a wildly popular scene. Very chic. The equivalent of Woody Harrelson's Oxygen Bar.

Bloggy-Blog: I believe Mr. Harrelson sold that a while ago.

Pig: Oh, did he? Anyway, Hollywood was full of stories of stars being discovered at Schwabs Pharmacy. People like Tallulah Bankhead, Alfalfa Schweitzer, Lassie, and lord knows... They were all plucked from Schwabs. So one day I'm in there when this oversized lug in a pinstripe suit sits next to me at the counter talking his head off. I thought maybe he was hawking insurance.

Bloggy-Blog: Tashlin?

Pig: Yeah. Or "Tish-Tash", as he was also known. He tells me he's a big-shot cartoon director at the Schlesinger studio and the whole nine yards. Meanwhile, he's sucking up this banana-whip cocaine cocktail and he gets this idea, see?... He says something like, "Hey doll-puss, what'ya say you come down to the Termite Terrace [the studio's nickname] for an audition? We need to cast a dame, a girlfriend part, to work with Porky in his new motion picture... and you're da' spittin' image. A real pip!" And so I went down to the casting office that afternoon.

Bloggy-Blog: So, just like that?

Pig: I was so naive. But sometimes you need a little of that to get places... fortunes have been made by way of blind naivete, ya know what I mean?

screen test excerpt

Bloggy-Blog: What kind of work had you doing before then?

Pig: A little of everything. I filled in various chorus girl jobs here and there. I was in a couple of Busby Berkley things, way, way in the background. At night I worked clubs like the Macambo where Jack Benny was a regular with his own booth. On odd days I'd waitress this little place down on the east end of Hollywood called "Laughing' Jack's Canteen". Lots of sailors and mugs there. 'Seemed like every night the boozing led to fist fights and stabbings. I was a Cigarette girl, hat check girl, coat check... random things to make rent.

Bloggy-Blog: I see. So now you successfully passed the audition. Then, the next day, you're supporting Porky Pig in "Porky's Romance", in 1937. People talked about you as an overnight sensation and, in fact, you were the real deal. What was it like going from a meager lifestyle to working with a big star like Porky Pig?

Pig: Well, it was exhilarating. You bet. I mean, they're all bastards in Hollywood but I was very excited to be there and smitten with Porky in the very early days. I had to demure from my crush and keep my composure as a professional. Particularly In "Porky's Romance", I played a woman who was more attentive to her Pekinese dog than to the romantic offerings and boxes of chocolates showered on her by Porky's character. ...a stark reversal of our so-called "real-lives" around the lot. Along those lines, I would later see what a real swine Porky could be.

Bloggy-Blog: That Pekinese dog was played by--

Pig: A fellow from the San Fernando valley, a bit player named Xavier Pierce . A year later, he was run over by a Red Car while crossing Selma. In his pockets, they found a collection of various silk panties, fishnet stockings and the like. Something was going on with "X" that they never quite figured out. It's always the quiet ones.

Bloggy-Blog: Speaking of gender ambiguities, wasn't it Hedda Hopper who wrote, "Petunia looks like Porky's double, only in a woman's dress, heels and 'come-hither' lashes"?

"oh Poooorky?"

Pig: Yes. But I didn't care. Let me tell you about the "dreaded" Hedda Hopper. She was a hack with a deadline and a column to fill --a parasitical, battle-axe with a sick talent for proffering reams of yellow journalism. The problem was that she did wield a heavy-handed influence around town. Jack Warner, in particular was scared to death of her. Of course, Jack carried himself with his blustery exterior but he'd completely buckle to whatever was brought to bear by Hopper, the Catholics and the Hayes Commission and all that. Actually though, there was nothing hugely offensive in her review of "Porky's Romance".

Bloggy-Blog: You don't think her statement was - -

Pig: Sure, I was a large burley woman with a 5 o'clock shadow. But I was voluptuous like Mae West. As a dancer I knew how to carry myself gracefully, while dressing complimentary with the Art Decco sensibilities of the day. Hollywood Stars weren't so much the pretty runway models, like you have now, you understand? We were larger-than-life characters. Consider Cagney, Eddie Robinson, Petey Lorre, Popeye and those type of guys. All short, stocky and, one could say "ugly" but with top billing!

Bloggy-Blog: It seems that even Porky would never stand a chance in today's world of fashion over talent.

Pig: Exactly. But remember, it was good to have a gimmick back then too. There's always been a great deal of showmanship in this business, talent or not. I used heavy Max Factor rouge in perfectly delineated circles, which was my own trademark. I was lucky to be blessed with a natural skin radiance that lit up on the silver screen. So I wasn't threatened by catty remarks coming from Hollywood gossip rags. I was happy during that period. I'd hitched my wagon to this anthropomorphic stuttering pig juggernaut. Cartoons were a staple in movie houses all across the country! And, of course, I was finally making some pretty decent bread. I don't mind admitting that I bought plenty of hats and chewing gum. It was good.

Bloggy-Blog: And yet, from there the trajectory of your career was rather rocky. What happened?

[to be continued]

Friday, September 22, 2006

William F Buckley Week (Yes it's been that slow)

There's really no need to watch the following video past the profile shot of Buckley's independently moving hair. Priceless. SCTV, by the way, was arguably the best show in the universe.

As a bonus, here's Buckley and Chomsky kicking it around in the late 60s. Just for fun and irritation purposes.


Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Nothing, sorry

There are chain saws roaring on either side of my apartment this morning. It's got me on edge. I understand that people do feel very threatened by the overgrowth of residential oak branches and palm fronds. After all, you can't let those trees get the upper limb. We must hack at them and trim them back! It's the only language they understand. Give a tree an inch and it'll be a bastard on your back for life.

I know for a fact that the crew operating the chain saws get a macho kick from the sound they make. They're just a bit too enthused to rev the gas motors in salivating anticipation of the actual cutting. It's the old primordial snarl of territorial rights. Yes, they want to taunt the tree before doing their merciless act of mechanical chewing and spitting up chunks of debris.

So, I guess there's nothing I can do about this noise situation... or is there? I mean, what can I do? I feel like John Henry vs. the legendary "Inky-Poo". It would be' like arguing with an automatic weapon. But I'm determined not to be out-whined by a machine -not as long as I've got breath and a Blog. At least for my peace of mind, I need to go out there and actually see if he city didn't, in fact, hire a bunch of guys just to dramatically interrupt my normal sleep pattern. ...I'm gonna go out and have a look.

OK, I'm back. Aside from the chiding I took for wearing my blue velvet pajamas with the cute drop drawer hatch, they admitted that there was no purpose to infernal chain saw racket beyond the sheer sadistic pleasure of annoying me. What a relief! For a moment there I though I was paranoid.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

The Mother of all Posts

In yet another rant designed to alienate every last person I know, I just have to ask: How did sports reporting slither its way into becoming a legit part of newscasting ?

I wonder.

I just can't see any justifiable reason why my daily viewing of brutality, murder and mayhem must give way to an interval of sports banter! It's as though you're not a normal member of society if you just don't give a crap about it.

There's typically some bumbling, but lovable, oaf by the name of "Buddy" anchoring the sports segment (I'm merely deflecting my jealousy here because he's the same "jock" who always got the chicks in high school --which, for me, was a morbidly depressing tip-off at how unjust the universe was, and is). Somehow, by his very presence, the sports reporter inspires all the other anchors to relax from the shackles of feigned serious expressions. They spot the Dodger pin on the lapel and become completely docile, receptive to any suggestion. Yet, eventually, the news team must collect itself and press on with the hard-boiled stories of brutality, murder and mayhem. Now away from the camera, the sports anchor is unplugged by a technician and, with great solemnity, wheeled back to his chamber of suspended animation.

With all the preceding in mind, I'm encouraging my fellow Blogger-thusiasts to vote Yes on Prop. 132, which shalll relegate all sports broadcasting to its appropriate time slot (around 3 am), never to be integrated into news programming again. Sponsored, of course, by the clean wholesome fun people here at BloggyBlog. "We Love Shaved Pits!"

Meanwhile, here ya go: Tampa Bay 4 vs. N.Y. Yankees 6

[Afterthought: I will give Vin Scully credit as a baseball announcer, as I recall his nasally voice wafting out of AM transistor radios during summer days of yore. Its effect on me was, no less, narcotic-like: "Don Drysdale on the mound...." Ahhhh, yes. Lemonaide, dichondra grass and Scully. Otherwise, I have some kind of genetic deficit when it comes to being a sports spectator. Me Not Caring: 6 vs. The World Not Caring That I Don't Care: 10.]

Thursday, September 07, 2006


And here's a LINK to some interesting animation. Apologies in advance if this is something that's been traded around the web by hipsters last year. There's some good stuff here that points in the opposite direction of computer 3D gloss, which only enhances its return-to-form charm.


Wednesday, September 06, 2006

The Smell of Blogging

If you'll pardon my boast, pushing certain buttons here on the "blog-o-sphere" to gain readership, influence, and complete subjugation of the masses has become like child's play. Oh, and by the way... I hope you don't mind that, since its inception, Bloggy-Blog has been a front for certain, shall we say, "human experiments".

It's no big deal but many of the preceding posts have contained doses of plutonium and assorted isotope rays. Some of you have fared better than others; some don't write in anymore, but hey... I've earned enough pocket change from the US military for my daily 10-cent pony ride in front of Lucky's Supermart. That means an awful lot to me. And although some maneuvering intellectuals out there cry "victim", you have no idea how much this data is mobilizing Congress to finance some very accommodating fallout bunkers complete with Starbucks and FREE Internet.

In terms of having a wildly successful blog like this one, with or without covert human experimentation, you have to understand the whole endeavor in terms of its cultural ties to the long-forgotten office mimeograph machine. If you worked in one of the big aerospace outfits during the Cold War days of Southern California (and suffered male-pattern baldness), there would always be some clown using the mimeograph machine to pass around one-liners and off-color jokes to the work force. This self-appointed crank was serving a vital communal role, in terms of providing a needed stress relief valve to his colleagues. After all, they had weapons to build under deadline and they were also concerned with plutonium and human experiments. But now the community has gone global and so goes the reach of such utilitarian idiocy.

So as long as you've got an eye for the REAL relevant pastimes in the work-a-day world, i.e.: Peeing Calvin bumper stickers, daydreaming about "boobies", chewing on pen caps, you've got the right stuff. That's exactly the aesthetic you aim for because most people are dropping in while chained to a desk.

In summary: good blogs are essentially electronic joke mimeographs to distract from the impending terror of our eventual conversion into skeletons. But what I miss the most, and what computers don't supply, is the comforting smell of a fresh mimeograph.

I need hugs.

Protesting the Infinite Paradox with Calvin