Quick Hits: November 10

  • The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame held their annual induction ceremony this past weekend. During Duran Duran’s acceptance speech, they read a letter from guitarist Andy Taylor, who left the band for good in 2006 but was expected to appear at the induction. In the letter, Taylor revealed he had been diagnosed with stage 4 metastatic prostate cancer back in 2018 and a recent setback left him unable to attend the ceremony. The ceremony – which also honored Pat Benatar, Eminem, Eurythmics, Dolly Parton, Lionel Richie, and Carly Simon – will stream on HBO Max on Saturday, November 19.
  • On November 10, 1940, Walt Disney began serving as a secret informant for the FBI. His job was to report on the activities of actors and other film artists suspected of political subversion (AKA “commies”). Disney held this role until his death in 1966, but his involvement with the FBI only became public knowledge due to a 1993 Freedom of Information Act request.
  • Sesame Street premiered on this day in 1969. A benchmark in children’s television programming, Sesame Street is both entertaining and educational. It also introduced the world to Jim Henson and the Muppets. It is estimated that as many as 90 million American adults watched Sesame Street as children.
Fun fact: James Earl Jones was the first celebrity to appear on Sesame Street
  • One of my favorite film composers, Ennio Morricone, was born on this day in 1928. Morricone composed the music for more than 400 films and television series and received six Oscar nominations for Best Original Score, finally winning his last time up to bat (for 2015’s The Hateful Eight). Among Morricone’s most iconic scores: The Mission, Days of Heaven, The Thing, Once Upon a Time in the West, Cinema Paradiso, The Untouchables, and The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. Morricone died in 2020 at the age of 91.
  • British lyricist Tim Rice was born on November 10, 1944. Best known for his collaborations with composer Andrew Lloyd Webber, Rice is responsible for some of Broadway’s most iconic shows (The Phantom of the Opera, Jesus Christ Superstar, and Evita, just to name a few). He has worked with Elton John multiple times, including “Legal Boys” from John’s 1982 album Jump Up!, the songs for 1994’s The Lion King (the pair won the Oscar for Best Original Song for “Can You Feel the Love Tonight” and were also nominated for “Circle of Life” and “Hakuna Matata”), and Broadway’s Aida. Rice also wrote the lyrics for “All Time High” by Rita Coolidge – the theme song for the thirteenth Bond film, Octopussy – AND Chess, the concept album-turned-musical written by ABBA’s Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus that spawned the unlikely hit single “One Night in Bangkok” in 1985. Happy birthday, Sir Tim!
  • Greg Lake would have turned 75 today. Co-founder of seminal prog-rock bands King Crimson and Emerson, Lake and Palmer, Lake also had a successful solo career and toured with such heavyweights as Ringo Starr and The Who. Lake learned to play guitar at the age of twelve and wrote “Lucky Man” – which would eventually become ELP’s first single in 1970 – that same year. Lake died of cancer in 2016.
  • “Uptown Funk” by Mark Ronson (featuring Bruno Mars) was released on this day in 2014. The single went to #1 in nineteen countries, including the U.S., where it spent fourteen weeks in the top spot. When I think of “Uptown Funk”, I think of this brilliantly edited video:
  • Amazon’s The English, starring Emily Blunt, debuts this Friday.
Badass Emily Blunt is my favorite Emily Blunt
  • Netflix has released the full trailer for Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery, and I am 100% here for this movie. Glass Onion will play in theaters for one week in November before hitting the streamer on December 23.
  • Season three of Amazon’s Jack Ryan will also arrive in time for Christmas (December 21).
  • Showtime’s George & Tammy, which explores the stormy marriage of two of country music’s all-time greats, George Jones and Tammy Wynette, will premiere on December 4. Starring the incomparable Michael Shannon and Jessica Chastain, George & Tammy will be directed by The Road and Lawless helmer John Hillcoat.

On a personal note, I apologize that it’s been so long since my last post. I’m still job hunting and it’s not going very well. It hasn’t left me much time for writing, and it’s been nearly impossible for me to concentrate. I’ve worked on a couple things but couldn’t create anything publish-worthy. But I missed writing, and I missed all of you! Thank you all for your support and patience while I work through my personal shit.

XOXO – Julie

Legend: Angela Lansbury

Dame Angela Lansbury has died at the age of 96. A five-time Tony winner, three-time Oscar nominee, and eighteen-time Emmy nominee, Lansbury was an icon of the stage and screen and one of the most beloved actors of all time.

Angela Brigid Lansbury was born on October 16, 1925, in Regent’s Park, London. Her father Edgar was a British politician and her mother, Moyna Macgill, was an Irish actress. Angela had an older half-sister, Isolde Denham, from her mom’s first marriage, and younger twin brothers named Bruce and Edgar. Lansbury knew she wanted to perform from a young age, studying piano before turning to acting at age fifteen. In 1940, with the onset of the Blitz, Macgill took her three youngest children to the US (Isolde was married by then, and Edgar Sr. passed away when Lansbury was nine). The family settled in New York, where Lansbury earned a scholarship from the American Theatre Wing and began studying at the Feagin School of Drama located at Carnegie Hall.

In 1942, the family moved to Los Angeles; one fateful night, at a party hosted by her mother, Lansbury met playwright John Van Druten, who had just co-written a screenplay for an upcoming motion picture, Gaslight. Lansbury, just seventeen years old at the time, secured a role in the film, and the rest, as they say, is history. Over the next eight decades, Lansbury starred in some of the most iconic films, television series, and theater productions of all time.

A brief marriage to Richard Cromwell imploded after less than a year (Cromwell was gay and hoped that the marriage would “turn” him heterosexual), though the two remained lifelong friends. In 1946, Lansbury met the love of her life, actor Peter Shaw; the two were married in 1949 and had two children, Anthony and Deirdre. Lansbury and Shaw remained married until his death in 2003; they have three grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.

By all accounts, Lansbury was kind and generous; in researching this piece, I’ve found no evidence to the contrary. During her time on Murder, She Wrote, Lansbury put pressure on casting to hire actors “of a certain age” who weren’t working enough to maintain their medical benefits through the Screen Actors Guild. She sponsored charities that worked to combat domestic abuse and provide support for people with substance abuse issues (her son Anthony is a substance abuse survivor). She supported LGBTQ+ rights and joined the fight against HIV/AIDS in the 1980s. She rescued her daughter from the Manson family.

Lansbury passed away in her sleep on October 11. Today would have been her 97th birthday. She left behind a lasting legacy, with more than 100 film and television credits in addition to her work on the stage. In honor of this absolute legend, here are fifteen of her most iconic performances.

  • Gaslight

Lansbury was just seventeen years old when she landed her first film, George Cukor’s masterpiece Gaslight. For her role as conniving cockney maid Nancy, Lansbury garnered a Best Supporting Actress nomination at the 17th Academy Awards.

  • National Velvet

Lansbury made her second film appearance in 1944’s National Velvet, portraying the older sister of Elizabeth Taylor’s titular character. Lansbury and Taylor remained lifelong friends.

  • The Picture of Dorian Gray

In 1945, Lansbury received her second consecutive Best Supporting Actress Oscar nod for her performance as the doomed tavern singer Sibyl Vane in The Picture of Dorian Gray.

Decades later, Lansbury recreated the scene on Murder, She Wrote
  • The Manchurian Candidate

Lansbury received her final Oscar nomination for 1962’s The Manchurian Candidate. For her role as Eleanor Iselin, a leading candidate for “Worst Mother Ever”, Lansbury won the Golden Globe and National Board of Review awards for Best Supporting Actress.

  • Mame

In the 1960s, with film roles fewer and farther between, Lansbury turned to the stage, with spectacular results. Her first starring role, as the titular character in Jerry Herman’s 1966 Mame, garnered Lansbury her first of five Tony Awards.

Fun fact: For the 1974 film adaptation, Lansbury lost the role of Mame to Lucille Ball. She was reportedly heartbroken, but she continued her successful stage career, earning three more Leading Actress in a Musical Tonys over the next thirteen years.

In 2022, Lansbury received a Lifetime Achievement Tony; she wasn’t on hand to accept the award but the tribute included this performance of “Mame” by the New York City Gay Men’s Chorus
  • Dear World

In 1969, Lansbury reunited with Jerry Herman for Dear World – and won her second Tony Award in the process.

  • Bedknobs and Broomsticks

In 1971, Lansbury made one of her most beloved film appearances, as benevolent witch Eglantine Price in Disney’s Bedknobs and Broomsticks. For her performance, Lansbury was nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Actress in a Musical or Comedy.

  • Gypsy

In the mid-70s, Lansbury starred in both the West End and Broadway productions of a revival of Gypsy. For her role as Rose, the ultimate stage mother, Lansbury received her third Tony Award for Leading Actress in a Musical.

  • Death on the Nile

Lansbury received a BAFTA nod for Best Supporting Actress for her role as the constantly sauced romance novelist Salome Otterbourne in the 1978 adaptation of Agatha Christie’s Death on the Nile.

Fun fact: Lansbury and her Death on the Nile co-star Peter Ustinov were in-laws for a time (Ustinov was married for ten years to Lansbury’s half-sister Isolde Denham).

“This crocodile has lost its croc!” is just a magnificent line reading
  • Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street

In 1979, Lansbury earned her fourth Tony for Stephen Sondheim’s iconic Sweeney Todd. As gleefully malevolent baker Mrs. Lovett, Lansbury also received an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Individual Performance in a Variety or Music Program for the PBS Great Performances production that aired in 1985.

Earlier this week, Lansbury’s Sweeney Todd co-star Len Cariou reminisced about his beloved colleague and friend
  • Murder, She Wrote

In her late fifties, Lansbury became a bona fide television star with the premiere of Murder, She Wrote in 1984. For her iconic performance as mystery author/amateur sleuth Jessica Fletcher, Lansbury earned twelve consecutive Emmy nominations (one for each season the series aired).

Fun fact: Lansbury holds the record for the most Emmy nominations – eighteen – without a win.

  • Beauty and the Beast

In 1991, Lansbury was introduced to a new generation of fans when she provided the voice of Mrs. Potts in Disney’s iconic Beauty and the Beast.

  • Blithe Spirit (2009 Broadway, 2014 West End)

Lansbury won her final competitive Tony as well as her one and only Olivier Award for her performance as Madame Arcati in Noël Coward’s comic masterpiece Blithe Spirit.

Lansbury was 89 years old
  • Little Women

Lansbury made her final television appearance as Aunt March in 2017’s BBC production of Little Women.

  • Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery

Lansbury’s final film will be the eagerly-awaited Knives Out sequel, in which she plays herself. Obviously, she’s going to nail it.

Some other fun stuff:

Quick Hits: October 6-7

  • HBO has dropped the trailer for Mama’s Boy, based on Dustin Lance Black’s 2019 memoir. Black, who is gay and was raised in the Mormon church, won the Best Original Screenplay Oscar for 2008’s Milk and subsequently became an advocate for LGBTQ+ rights. This will be a must-see.
In case you don’t remember Black’s moving Oscar acceptance speech, here’s a reminder
  • The Jazz Singer was released on October 6, 1927, effectively ending the silent film era.
“You ain’t heard nothin’ yet!”
  • Spartacus, Stanley Kubrick’s fifth feature film, held its premiere at the DeMille Theatre in Manhattan on October 6, 1960. Starring Kirk Douglas in the title role, Spartacus was a critical success and a box office smash, earning $60 million (adjusted for inflation, that’s $600 million today). Spartacus received six nominations at the 33rd Academy Awards; it took home four Oscars (Best Supporting Actor for Peter Ustinov, Best Art Direction, Best Cinematography, and Best Costume Design). The film also won the Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture – Drama.
  • Barbra Streisand guest-starred on The Judy Garland Show on October 6, 1963. Streisand was just 21 years old at the time.
  • Midnight Express, directed by Alan Parker and written by Oliver Stone, held its US premiere on October 6, 1978. Brad Davis stars as Billy Hayes, an American student imprisoned by the Turkish government for attempting to smuggle hashish (the title, based on Hayes’s memoir of the same name, is a reference to his late-night prison escape attempt). At the 51st Academy Awards, Midnight Express garnered six nominations and won two awards: Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Original Score (Giorgio Moroder, in his first outing as a film composer, beat John Williams, Ennio Morricone, Dave Grusin, and Jerry Goldsmith).
  • John Mellencamp was born on October 7, 1951, in Seymour, Indiana. Mellencamp has sold more than 60 million albums worldwide and has twenty-two top 40 hits, including 1982’s “Jack and Diane”, which spent four weeks at #1 on the Billboard Hot 100. Mellencamp, who co-founded Farm Aid in 1985 with Willie Nelson and Neil Young, has been inducted into the Rock and Roll and Songwriters Halls of Fame.
  • The French Connection, starring Gene Hackman as NYPD detective Popeye Doyle, opened in the US on October 7, 1971. Directed by William Friedkin, The French Connection is best known for its infamous chase sequence, in which Doyle (driving a 1971 Pontiac LeMans) chases an elevated train through the streets of Bensonhurst, Brooklyn. The French Connection received eight nominations at the 44th Academy Awards, taking home Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Film Editing (it was also nominated for Best Supporting Actor for Roy Scheider, Best Cinematography, and Best Sound).

Pop Quiz Answers

  1. When Harry Met Sally… (“The Surrey with the Fringe on Top” from Oklahoma!)
  2. Chicago (“We Both Reached for the Gun”)
  3. Grease (“Summer Nights”)
  4. Top Gun (“You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin'” by The Righteous Brothers)
  5. My Best Friend’s Wedding (“I Say a Little Prayer” by Dionne Warwick)
  6. Mary Poppins (“Step in Time”)
  7. The Blues Brothers (“Think”)
  8. The Music Man (“76 Trombones”)
  9. Almost Famous (“Tiny Dancer” by Elton John)
  10. West Side Story (“America”)
  11. Mrs. Doubtfire (“Don’t Rain on My Parade” by Barbra Streisand)
  12. A Clockwork Orange (“Singin’ in the Rain” by Gene Kelly)
  13. Elf (“Baby It’s Cold Outside”)
  14. Cabaret (“Mein Herr”)
  15. Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (“Danke Schoen”, but I’d also accept “Twist and Shout”)
  16. Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy (“Afternoon Delight” by The Starland Vocal Band)
  17. The Sound of Music (“The Lonely Goatherd”)
  18. (500) Days of Summer (“Here Comes Your Man” by Pixies)
  19. Frozen (“Let It Go”)
  20. Singin’ in the Rain (“Good Morning”)
#2 “We Both Reached for the Gun” – Chicago
#3 “Summer Nights” – Grease
#4 “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin'” – Top Gun
#5 “I Say a Little Prayer” – My Best Friend’s Wedding
#7 “Think” – The Blues Brothers
#9 “Tiny Dancer” – Almost Famous
#10 “America” – West Side Story
#13 “Baby It’s Cold Outside” –Elf
#14 “Mein Herr” – Cabaret
#16 “Afternoon Delight” – Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy
#17 “The Lonely Goatherd” – The Sound of Music
#18 “Here Comes Your Man” – (500) Days of Summer
#19 “Let It Go” – Frozen
#20 “Good Morning” – Singin’ in the Rain

Project Golden Age, Vol. 1

I recently embarked on a new pop culture project: Project Golden Age. While my knowledge of Hollywood classics is better than average, there are entirely too many embarrassing gaps (particularly for a pop culture blogger). If it’s not a musical, an Alfred Hitchcock film, Disney animation, or something starring James Dean, there’s a decent chance I haven’t seen it. And with all the streaming options available to me, there’s no excuse (at least no GOOD excuse). I figured as long as I was going on this journey, I might as well share it with all of you! Here’s a peek at the films I’ve watched so far; this project will be ongoing, so look for additional volumes.

  • Gaslight (1944)

Directed by: George Cukor

Starring: Ingrid Bergman, Charles Boyer, Joseph Cotten, Angela Lansbury (in her film debut)

17th Academy Awards: Seven nominations – including Best Picture, Best Actor for Boyer, and Best Supporting Actress for Lansbury – and two wins, Best Actress for Bergman and Best Production Design

The verdict: Film noir perfection. Gorgeously shot. Fantastic performances. 10/10

Fun fact: In the mid-1960s, psychologists began using the film’s title as a verb (known as denominalizing), but the term “gaslighting” only came into common use in the last several years.

Gaslight is available for streaming on HBO Max.

  • A Hard Day’s Night (1964)

Directed by: Richard Lester

Starring: The Beatles, Wilfred Brambell, Richard Vernon

37th Academy Awards: Two nominations (Best Original Screenplay and Best Original Score)

The verdict: The Fab Four, at the peak of Beatlemania, having a genuinely good time. Musical perfection. 10/10

Fun fact: A Hard Day’s Night, which basically invented the music video, is one of the most influential musical films of all time, inspiring everything from spy thrillers to The Monkees.

You can stream A Hard Day’s Night on HBO Max.

  • Sweet Smell of Success (1957)

Directed by: Alexander Mackendrick

Starring: Burt Lancaster, Tony Curtis, Susan Harrison, Martin Milner

11th BAFTAS: One nomination, Best Foreign Actor for Tony Curtis

The verdict: Well made but didn’t do much for me. I guess I’m just not into the whole anti-hero thing right now. 8/10

Fun fact: Sweet Smell of Success is filmmaker Barry Levinson’s favorite movie and it’s featured in two of Levinson’s own films: 1982’s Diner, in which a minor character only speaks in Sweet Smell quotes, and 1988’s Rain Man (the film can be seen playing on a television set).

You can watch Sweet Smell of Success for free on Tubi or Pluto.

  • The Thin Man (1934)

Directed by: W.S. Van Dyke

Starring: Myrna Loy, William Powell, Maureen O’Sullivan, Nat Pendleton

7th Academy Awards: Four nominations including Best Picture and Best Actor for Powell

The verdict: Fizzy chemistry between the leads. Endlessly quotable dialogue (Nora: I read where you were shot five times in the tabloids. Nick: It’s not true. He didn’t come anywhere near my tabloids). A mystery worthy of the hard-boiled source novel by Dashiell Hammett. An absolute delight from start to finish. 15/10

Fun fact: Asta, the Charles’s Wire Fox Terrier, is played by Skippy, who also had roles in The Awful Truth and Bringing Up Baby.

The Thin Man (along with its five sequels) is available for streaming on HBO Max.

The dialogue is <chef’s kiss> Nora: How many drinks have you had? Nick: This will make six martinis. Nora: [to the waiter] All right. Will you bring me five more martinis, Leo? Just line them right up here.
  • Royal Wedding (1951)

Directed by: Stanley Donen

Starring: Fred Astaire, Jane Powell, Peter Lawford, Sarah Churchill (daughter of Winston)

24th Academy Awards: One nomination, Best Original Song for “Too Late Now”

The verdict: Fluff, but entertaining fluff. Charming performances. Lawford was absurdly handsome. Fun song and dance sequences, especially “You’re All the World to Me” AKA the ceiling dance (the primary reason I chose this particular Fred Astaire movie). 8/10

Fun fact: The technology used to create Astaire’s iconic ceiling dance – essentially a set built into a giant rotating barrel – has remained relatively unchanged for seventy years. It was used in the music video for Lionel Richie’s 1986 jam “Dancing on the Ceiling” (which was directed by Royal Wedding helmer Stanley Donen) and more recently, for Billie Eilish’s 2019 SNL performance of “bad guy”.

You can stream Royal Wedding on Amazon Prime.

The OG ceiling dance
This cool video demonstrates how the rotating set works
According to director Stanley Donen, Lionel Richie picked up the ceiling dance moves faster than Fred Astaire did
Just because
  • Three Days of the Condor (1975)

Directed by: Sydney Pollack

Starring: Robert Redford, Faye Dunaway, Cliff Robertson, Max von Sydow

48th Academy Awards: One nomination, for Best Film Editing (it lost, correctly, to Jaws).

The verdict: Fine. Honestly, I’m a little underwhelmed. The cast is great, especially Redford (proving once again why he was THE movie star of the 1970s) and von Sydow as antagonist Joubert. I also loved the Dave Grusin score. But the romantic subplot feels forced and detracts from the film’s pacing. 7/10

Fun fact #1: In the Seinfeld episode “Junk Mail”, Newman’s speech to Kramer uses one of Joubert’s monologues almost verbatim.

Fun fact #2: In Out of Sight, Jack Foley (George Clooney) and Karen Sisco (Jennifer Lopez) discuss the film’s romantic subplot; it’s honestly sexier than any of Three Days of the Condor‘s scenes.

Three Days of the Condor is available for streaming on Amazon Prime.

Pop Quiz, Hot Shot!

This time around, we’re looking at movie scenes where a character is singing. From the photos, can you tell me the name of the movie as well as which song the characters are singing? Each song title and movie title are worth one point, for a total of 40 points. Come back in a few days for the answers!

Quick Hits: September 27-28

  • HBO has released the first trailer for The Last of Us, the long-awaited adaptation of the beloved video game (the third-best-selling PlayStation 3 game of all time). The Last of Us stars Pedro Pascal as Joel, a smuggler escorting 14-year-old Ellie (Bella Ramsey) across a post-apocalyptic America, and will premiere sometime in 2023.
  • True crime documentary Into the Deep will finally be available for streaming on Netflix this Friday. The film wowed audiences at the Sundance Film Festival in 2020, but the release was delayed when a handful of participants declined to give consent to appear in the film. The version that screened at Sundance currently holds a 100% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes; here’s hoping the edited version is just as good.
  • Louise Fletcher has died at the age of 88. Fletcher is best known for her portrayal of the tyrannical Nurse Ratched in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, for which she won an Oscar, a BAFTA, and a Golden Globe. Fletcher, who had just two credited film appearances to that point, only won the part after several other actors – including Anne Bancroft, Colleen Dewhurst, Angela Lansbury, Geraldine Page, and Ellen Burstyn – turned it down.
Fun fact: One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest is one of only three films to sweep the top five Oscar categories
  • Grammy winner Rihanna will headline the halftime show for Super Bowl LVII.
  • The Tonight Show, hosted by Steve Allen, premiered on September 27, 1954.
  • Shaun Cassidy, my first major celebrity crush, was born on September 27, 1958. In the late 1970s, Cassidy was both a television star – on ABC’s The Hardy Boys Mysteries – and a teen idol. Since the 1990s, Cassidy has worked as a writer and producer of television series like American Gothic and Invasion; he currently executive produces and writes for New Amsterdam.
Cassidy performed one of his biggest hits – a cover of Eric Carmen’s “That’s Rock ‘n’ Roll” – on The Hardy Boys
  • Metallica bassist Cliff Burton died on September 27, 1986, from injuries sustained when the band’s tour bus crashed near Dörarp, Sweden. Just twenty-four years old at the time of his death, Burton is widely considered one of the greatest bass players of all time (he placed ninth in a 2011 Rolling Stone readers poll.)
  • Lorde’s debut album, Pure Heroine, was released on September 27, 2013. Pure Heroine featured the smash hit “Royals”, which went to #1 in twelve countries, including the US, the UK, and Lorde’s native New Zealand. Lorde (born Ella Yelich-O’Connor), who was just seventeen years old at the time, received four Grammy nominations for Pure Heroine and won Song of the Year for “Royals” (though she inexplicably wasn’t nominated for Best New Artist).
“Royals” got most of the attention, but “Team” is my favorite track from Pure Heroine
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation debuted on September 28, 1987. The series ran for seven seasons and 177 episodes.
  • Ed Sullivan, the host of the longest-running variety series of all time, was born on September 28, 1901. For almost twenty-five years, Sullivan’s eponymous show aired live every Sunday night and featured entertainment acts of all kinds. The theater at CBS Studio 50, which housed the show from 1953 until its finale in 1971, was renamed The Ed Sullivan Theater in 1967. Since 1993, the theater – located at Broadway and 53rd in Midtown Manhattan – has been home to The Late Show, currently hosted by Stephen Colbert.

  • On September 28, 1968, The Beatles’ “Hey Jude” reached #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 – and stayed there for a then-record-tying nine weeks. Originally titled “Hey Jules”, the song was written for John Lennon’s son Julian; Lennon had left Julian’s mom Cynthia for Yoko Ono, and five-year-old Julian was taking it pretty hard. Songwriter Paul McCartney eventually changed the name from Jules to Jude, believing it sounded better (he was right). “Hey Jude” was the best-selling single of 1968 in the US, the UK, Australia, and Canada; it has sold more than eight million copies.

A Personal Update


My life is a struggle right now. Not in an “I’m riding the struggle bus today” way, but in an “I’m at the back of the struggle bus and it’s driving itself around in circles and I don’t know how to get off” way. I suffer from several mental health issues, including depression, anxiety, insomnia, trichotillomania, and – a recent revelation – disordered eating. Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, my long-term progress took a giant step backward. A change in meds helped, as did weekly virtual visits with a therapist. In January, I left my job of almost seven years to focus on myself for a while; my deal with my husband was five months and then I’d look for new work. It’s now been eight months and I am no closer to finding employment. The anxiety of job-hunting has now been added to all the regular anxiety, and it’s left me feeling pretty depleted. By the time I spend all morning applying for jobs, I’m so exhausted that I often take afternoon naps to recharge. That plus my everyday responsibilities – laundry, grocery shopping, dog walking – hasn’t left much time or energy for blogging.

I do write most days, for as long as I can, but it’s difficult to focus. I start pieces but can’t concentrate for long enough to complete anything. I have tons of new ideas, but nothing seems to gel. I smoke weed to relax, but if I have too much, writing goes out the window and I go back to my Criminal Minds binge (as is my custom lately, I started a post titled “Creepiest Criminal Minds Unsubs”, but I haven’t been able to finish it). Then, of course, I feel guilty because I haven’t given y’all new content. Planned posts for Labor Day, Roald Dahl Day, and Stephen King’s 75th birthday still sit in my drafts alongside Criminal Minds.

It wasn’t helping that it still felt very summery in southwestern Michigan. But a few days ago, a cold front came through – just in time for the first official day of fall. I happily put on a hoodie and ran around the yard with the dogs. I busted out the Founders KBS (if you know, you know). I watched When Harry Met Sally…, one of my autumnal film favorites. And I still don’t have a job, but I’m working on it. Obviously, that doesn’t help pay the bills, but hubby and I have cut some corners, and we’re managing. All I really want to do is write, and I’m still hopeful I can find a way to make some money at it. Only time will tell. In the meantime, I remain committed to offering y’all the best content I can, even if I’m unable to publish as often as I’d like. Thank you all for your continued support and encouragement, and please stay tuned.

– Julie

Pop Quiz Answers

  1. Friday Night Lights (featured image)
  2. North Dallas Forty
  3. School Ties
  4. The Replacements
  5. Varsity Blues
  6. Rudy
  7. Necessary Roughness
  8. Remember the Titans
  9. All the Right Moves
  10. Jerry Maguire
  11. The Best of Times
  12. The Waterboy
  13. Any Given Sunday
  14. We Are Marshall
  15. The Longest Yard
  16. Wildcats
  17. Invincible
  18. Brian’s Song
  19. The Blind Side
  20. Heaven Can Wait
  21. Lucas
  22. Leatherheads
  23. Quarterback Princess
  24. The Longest Yard
#3 School Ties
#6 Rudy
#10 Jerry Maguire
#14 We Are Marshall

#22 Leatherheads

Pop Quiz, Hot Shot!

My favorite season – football season – has arrived, which is the perfect excuse to play a football-themed pop quiz! All of these movies feature characters who are football players. I’ve given you one actor’s name and the movie’s release date, and you give me the title. Without googling, how many can you name?

  1. Billy Bob Thornton (2004)
  2. Nick Nolte (1979)
  3. Brendan Fraser (1992)
  4. Keanu Reeves (2000)
  5. James Van Der Beek (1999)
  6. Sean Astin (1993)
  7. Scott Bakula (1991)
  8. Denzel Washington (2000)
  9. Tom Cruise (1983)
  10. Cuba Gooding Jr. (1996)
  11. Robin Williams (1986)
  12. Adam Sandler (1998)
  13. Al Pacino (1999)
  14. Matthew McConaughey (2006)
  15. Burt Reynolds (1974)
  16. Goldie Hawn (1986)
  17. Mark Wahlberg (2006)
  18. James Caan (1971 made-for-television movie)
  19. Tim McGraw (2009)
  20. Warren Beatty (1978)
  21. Corey Haim (1986)
  22. John Krasinski (2008)
  23. Helen Hunt (1983 made-for-television movie)
  24. Chris Rock (2005)