Saturday Morning Brain Drain [12/12/20]

A place to let it all out.

Image via Good Housekeeping

What I watched: White Christmas. This classic 1954 movie reminds of my father. He was born in 1918 and lived with us the last years of his life, until his death at age 94. We always watched it together. It stars Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, Rosemary Clooney, Vera-Ellen, and Dean Jagger, all big names at the time, and was filmed with then new Vista Vision wide screen 35 mm motion picture film. It is a sweet movie, made as a showcase for Irving Berlin songs.  

What I read: Ten Days with a Duke, book eleven in the Twelve Dukes of Christmas series by Erica Ridley. This recent book has family feuds, foppish heroes, and a famous horse breeding farm. The entire series is easy and delightful, a fluffy Regency romp in the snow-covered village of Cressmouth, England—the town where it is Christmas the entire year-round. I found the premise especially fun, because they used modern immersive experience marketing and high-end retail techniques to save the village. The last book in the series comes out next Friday, and the earlier books are now packaged in money saving sets.

What I listened to this week: Holiday Music, including a little Bing Crosby,

Some Sufjan Stevens (this is such a pretty song),

And another Sufjan Stevens.

So, darling, brilliant, lovely DeadSplinterites, what is up with you? Are you hanging in there? Did you do anything fun? What have you watched, read, or listened to? Please tell us about your world!

About Elliecoo 505 Articles
Four dogs, one partner. The dogs win.


  1. Watched:  Dances with Wolves.  Just last night in fact.  Costner gets a lot of shit for his epic-length films, but this one was always one of his best.
    Read:  Not a goddamned thing.
    Listened:  Mrs. Butcher and I were wrapping presents and signing cards to ship out this week, so I put on my classic Christmas songs list on Pandora.


    Although my favorite version of that song is this one:


    • Here’s a little piece of “Grinch” trivia. It was narrated by Boris Karloff but the song (“You’re a mean one, Mr. Grinch…”) was sung, uncredited, by the guy who voiced Tony the Tiger (“They’re Greee-aaa-t!”) The voice actor was very gracious about it but Dr. Seuss, Theodore Geisel, felt terrible about it.
      More trivia: Theodore Geisel was a very talented political cartoonist in the 1930s and the 40s. He was vociferously anti-Nazi, which was fine, but he also turned his attention to the Japanese. Also fine, but some of his cartoons about the “enemies among us” (those Americans of Japanese descent) make for uncomfortable reading today.

      • Seuss was amazing and also TERRIBLE.
        I adore his later work, and The Sneetches & Other Stories is one of my FAVORITE books to have in a classroom.
        But the Cat In The Hat is terrible & minstrel-y, there are OTHER things which were awful, and–as you said, the anti-Japanese sentiments (which he DID later apologize for, but which are ALL out there!) are horrible.
        Seuss is great, and has some really solid things which can be used to help teach equity, social skills, and language…
        But Geisel the human was.. frankly, pretty shitty, tbh.

    • Apparently I am going to have to pay to see the grinch. I refused to do so last year…we pay for britbox and prime, and it irks to buy one-time views. Grrrr.

  2. I watched “White Christmas” for the dozenth time last year and for the first time noticed the almost supernaturally small waists on the “sister act”, Rosemary Clooney and Vera-Ellen. I wonder how they achieved that. I suppose it could be somewhat of an optical illusion. Edith Head, the most genius costume designer of the 20th-century, might have made the Santa-ish red outfits with the white trim super voluminous and at the waist made them paper thin, but still…
    Of course, this is what we’re supposed to take away from “White Christmas.”

    • i dont think ive ever seent white christmas…..but it could well be one of those movies i grew up with but somehow the name never stuck with me
      my memory for movies is pretty iffy and im completely incapeable of correctly identifying an actor as hey..isnt he that guy from insert movie/series
      (farscy is always spectacularly wrong)
      come to think of it…theres 2 guys at work who look kinda similar (as in they are both old male and wear glasses and have a similar amount of beard) i still dont know which is which…whenever i need either of them i just walk up to one and hope i guessed right…and ive worked there for two years now
      i might just be really really bad at faces

    • Vera-Ellen was TINY. There were rumors of her anorexia on set but family accounts say she was just preternaturally thin and always dancing, which is how she stayed so trim. 

      Vera-Ellen was an extremely thin woman for much of her adult life. A Hollywood rumor that her neck was always covered during the filming of White Christmas because of wrinkling caused by supposed anorexia persists to this day. However, pictures and video taken at the same time show her neck appearing normal and undamaged.

    • Vera-Ellen was just incredibly thin. She was a dancer and swimmer all her life and it was rumored that she was anorexic, but a family member (niece? Can’t remember the article now…) has said that that’s just how she was built.
      I’m actually watching it right now. They just did the Minstrel Show number and watching them toss her around, doing cartwheels and flips… down those stairs… terrifying!

    • Edith was the costumer for that movie, so she knew ALLLLLLL the design tips & tricks.
      But 1. We OFTEN forget, that there WERE no spandex fibers in these garments back then–even the knit fabrics didn’t have much stretch! 
      so there would be LOTS of support from the fabrics themselves.
      Here’s a link with more on the costumes;
      2. The costumes for this were from an era when Girdles, AND Bullet Bras were both common *and* popular… that means that already-tiny actresses would appear even SMALLER, because they were being compressed basically as much as if wearing a corset, AND that tiny waist would also appear tinier, in relation to the padding in the boobage.
      3. Edith Head. 
      She knew how to emphasize certain features & basically “hide” others…. see that Bix link, and notice how she mentions Clooney’s hips… you don’t NOTICE them, Rosemary simply looks “curvy” with a tiny waist, because of how Edith styled her…. but Ellen’s legs (up to & past the hips!) are on near-constant display while Clooney’s *aren’t*–the asset shown for Rosemary was the boobage/her bust-al region😉
      And 4/lastly, garments back then–in ADDITION to the girdles worn underneath, and the non-stretchy fabrics, had MUCH more “foundation” built into them, than our current women’s garments do–Outside of high-end, high-cost women’s garments.
      Modern evening wear which is priced *under* about the $500-1k range will typically have the bare-minimum of foundation/support possible, to keep costs down.
      If  there is support/structure in them, it’s going to be made out of “power mesh” fabric, typically with *one* band of 1 1/2″ elastic at the bottom, and maybe 4-6 straps of 1/4″ flat spring-steel boning… but more often, the boning type used will be a flexible plastic/nylon type, more commonly known in the sewing world as “featherweight boning” (it may be multiple-pieces of nylon in the Channel, or one single wider piece).
      HIGH-END garments both ready-to-wear and Haute Couture, will have MUCH more support & foundation inside–much like the garments made in Head’s era did.
      They may look ethereal, flowers, and gauzy… but underneath that fabulous & flowy exterior, there’s often gonna be a damn-near corset, holding everything underneath *in place,* so that the outer parts CAN flow properly.
      A $1K to 10K+ dress will have a full “top of bust/underarms to waist/hips” corset/girdle inside it.
      That corset will typically have a built-in underwire bra, multiple straps of actual steel boning (at minimum, many rows, often spaced 2″ apart or less around her sides!) made from either 1/4″ or 1/2″ flattened springs, OR solid & flat “spring steel” which runs in widths from 1/4″ to 3/4″.
      Then there are ALL the hooks–running about 1/2″ apart, all the way up her side if the garment has an open back, or up her back, if the back is closed… 
      There will also be multiple layers & stretch-directions of varying fabrics & power meshes…
      And then there are the rows of 1 1/2 elastic. Often *at least* two, sometimes more, sewn over the fabrics & boning, or tacked to them in various spots, and then closing with hooks & snaps at that back/side closure…
      You get the wearer into the corset/girdle, get it closed up, then do up the elastic bands, THEN you close up the outer garment’s zipper & hooks…
      The corsetry you’ll find in those Donna Karan, Ralph Lauren, Badgley Mischka, Chanel, Dior, etc.  gowns & garments is pretty fascinating, from a design/ engineering standpoint…
      Once upon a time, MANY more women had access to that kind of under structure & support. But nowadays, it’s priced out of range for most of us, and, because it’s uncomfortable as hell to most folks, we just don’t SEE it on a mass scale anywhere, anymore😉

  3. I’ve been listening to some stoner rock recently, this band and video is a perfect escape & reminds me of why I stopped mountain biking things above my skill level.  Well, that and shitty medical insurance…

    I also watched a very funny local comedian that hit really close to home & also has the same thoughts as me on “Hawaiian pizza”.  If you are not up for the whole thing, at about 1:30 you will get the joke I’m talking about.

    I haven’t had time to read much lately but hoping to read this soon…


  4. What I’ve been reading the last couple weeks:  “Helter Skelter”.  Actually starts out a little slow, becomes a page turner, then gets a little heavy and over-intellectualized at the end. This was the 25th anniversary edition, so it had an interesting “where are they now?” section at the end.  The whole story was even more bonkers and disturbing than what I thought I knew.  To cleanse my brain, I followed it with one of Westlake’s Dortmunder novels.  These are light, fun gang-who-couldn’t-shoot-straight caper books, full of dumb chuckles.
    Watched: I watched the Ravens running attack shred the Cowboys.  It wasn’t even fair.  Lamar was a little hopped up after missing a week on the COVID list, so he didn’t throw the ball well.  I watched the first episode of Hinterland, which is about a homicide detective in Wales.  It was quite good, but I didn’t get around to watching any more of it.
    Listened to: Black Veil Brides, “Re-Stitch These Wounds.”  They recently re-recorded their first album, which I admit I have never heard.  I am intrigued.  Sort of like Avenged Sevenfold, with more pop sensibility and way more interesting vocals.

    Demon Hunter, “True Defiance.”  They are an outwardly Christian band, which normall isn’t all that appealing to me, but  I’m a sucker for a heavy song with a great hook.

  5. I’m late today, catching up on the backlog of chores I didn’t do yesterday. 

    I haven’t read anything new, my daughter is on a Stephen King kick so we’re reading Mr. Mercedes together. I’ve read it before and really liked season 1 of the show on Peacock but I’m not paying to watch the other seasons. 

    I watched  Maniac on Netflix. There are a lot of bad reviews of this strange little show but I really liked it. Jonah Hill was very understated. Justin Theroux was weird as hell. 

    I’m listening to The Avalanches

    Frontier Psychiatrist 


    The Divine Chord


  6. It’s time for A Very Sunny Christmas. The Gang throws rocks at trains. Dee and Dennis plot revenge on Frank. Mac deals with a stolen robot. Frank crawls out of a couch. Charlie remembers Santas visiting his mom (special guest appearance by Christopher Lloyd). Claymation. Naked elfs. Mallomars. Everything you want in a Christmas special.
    For something more respectful, I can’t oversell Simple Gifts, a 1977 PBS special of animated shorts. (This playlist has a few dupes.)
    Some of them, like the story of the Christmas Truce of 1914 and the excerpt from Act One by Moss Hart are pretty breathtaking.

  7. You guys convinced me. I’m watching White Christmas right now. Did you know that Bing Crosby and the “old, retired general” are the same age? Both 51 when it was filmed.
    I never did like the modern number, “Choreography”, but I’m not a big Bob Fosse fan and never have been.  My favourite number in the movie is “Sisters”. What’s yours? Man, I miss dancing. When I was a kid, I did it all… ballet, tap, jazz, modern, and gymnastics. These days, I’m lucky if I can manage more than a shuffle-step (ha ha).
    Anyway, moving on… Reading! I haven’t been reading as much lately because I’ve been trying to finish Christmas presents and even I can’t manage to read AND crochet at the same time! I started The Burning Page by Genevieve Cogman, the 3rd book in the Invisible Library series, on Monday, and I’m still barely halfway through it. I love this series, though, and reccomend it highly!

    • One of my strange hobbies is charting disturbing Silver Screen age discrepancies. In “Funny Face” Audrey Hepburn, considered one of the most beautiful women in the world at the time, falls madly in love with photographer Fred Astaire. Fred Astaire was 40 years her senior. 
      It can go both ways. When Ava Gardner was entering her Norma Desmond phase she agreed to appear in “Earthquake.” She was supposed to be this incredibly hot, desirable man-trap. Well, at one point maybe…The guy they hired to play her father was either her age or one year younger or older. 

  8. I’m reading Knitting from the Top by Barbara G Walker and not really understanding the yoke instructions so fuck it I will increase the yoke of my sweater my way, if it fits, cool, if not, I’ll’ frog it.
    I am almost done with The Magic Mountain so I’m either reading Sleepwalkers or Charterhouse of Parma next.
    Listening to the voices in my head.
    One thing I watched that I do remember is Curious George and his perfect xmas, that was fun.

  9. oh…i completely forgot to brain drain…lol
    tho…i also dont have much to mention…im still reading world war z…its not a big book…kinda tells you how much reading ive been doing this week
    ive just started watching tokyo ghoul

    im only a couple episodes actually seems pretty promising and yet ive not picked it up again to watch more so far…not sure why..i dont think its the its probably the wierd head space im in at the moment…i’d just rather be dicking about on the interwebs and listening to musics than watch things at mo

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