Sybil's "31 Days of Halloween"… Breaking News!

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BREAKING NEWS from the CNN news desk!...

In the ongoing FBI investigation in the Kavanaugh hearings, new photographs have been uncovered which may be of interest to both the Republican and Democrat members of the committee. Photos of Brett Kavanaugh trick-or-treating door-to-door in his neighborhood have been released and leaked to the press.

Thee photos would be innocent enough except that they are of him at 22 years of age... and they were taken on Christmas Eve.... Details at 6. Exorcisms at 11.

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Sybil's "31 Days of Halloween"... Gwinnie, the "Bat Lady".

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Gwinnie Garamonde grew up in a nice neighborhood among very charming people with perfect little homes and yards. All their children were polite, their dinnertimes were punctual and pleasant, and their lives were uncomplicated and without complaint. How strange then, when little Gwinnie at age 8 took an umbrella, cut it free of its metal frame with a hunting knife she'd found down by the riverbank, and fashioned herself a pair of "wings... you know, like a bat!", she told the grown-ups at school. Of course, there was nothing particularly disturbing, dangerous, or illegal in what she was doing, although it was agreed on by all the adults present that a little girl with broken umbrella bat-wings was NOT especially "pleasant".

As she grew up, her family kept her from the public eye more and more. She was not what everyone in the neighborhood or indeed the entire town considered "nice", NOT because of her manners or conduct which were impeccable, but because genteel ladies weren't supposed to even talk about bats, dress like them, or aspire to be one! Gwinnie continued growing and creating ever larger sets of wings for herself, using more and more elaborate materials and designs. Her workmanship and finishing details were admired greatly by local seamstresses who would secretly hire her for fine detail work on wedding dresses and elegant bridal trousseaus. It all made her fairly wealthy, though still not accepted by "polite society"... Gwinnie often chuckled to think that so many of them would be shocked to know that their society weddings were dressed in so much of her beautiful work.

Things in nice neighborhoods among very charming people with perfect little homes and yards often continue on day to day, year to year with no complications. And Gwinnie's eccentric life fit right into the rhythm of their routine smoothly... if not embraced completely. Really, as the years went by, she would have been quite popular and welcomed into the bustle of the town especially by the young brides and appreciative families celebrating upcoming weddings, except... that she continued to eat bugs and small reptiles... usually at ice cream sociables and church picnics... WITH HER HANDS!

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Sybil's "31 DAYS OF HALLOWEEN!"... "You're on Miss Miller!"...


Ann Miller was thrilled to be asked for the MGM Halloween photo-shoot, and she didn't mind being asked to climb up on the pumpkin, and to even... um... "sit down on the stem for greater stability". It was when the photographer handed her a jar of Noxzema that she lost her temper....

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Sybil Bruncheon's "Whatz It?"...

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Which of the following statements is the correct one for the item in the photo?

a) A Roman hood ornament from a chariot used in the Thracian Triple Crown, circa 44 BC.

b) A fragment of an enormous wedding cake instantly fossilized when Mt. Vesuvius erupted and wiped out the high-society wedding of Ludmilla Drusilla Quinto to Horace Scrotus... in Pompeii, 79 AD.

c) A naughty urinal from the royal palace of Caligula on the island of Capri. The deranged emperor was known for his perverse sense of humor and for declaring himself a god... the God of Bathroom Fittings and Indoor Plumbing.

d) A plaster study for a construction worker's head done by the very young (and gay!) Michelangelo in his first art class (1486). It was this piece which got him declared a budding prodigy among the great artists in Europe, and many dates with various sailors down by the docks in Venice. He was twelve at the time.

e) The new scented candle from Glade Air Fresheners. It burns for 24 hours and contains notes of spruce, musk, cinnamon, gravy, and jock strap. It's named "Dinty Moore".

f) Donald Trump falling face first into freshly poured cement on 5th Avenue.

g) All of the above.

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Sybil Bruncheon's "Current Events QUIZ!"...

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Which of the following headlines, opening lines, and news sources goes with this photo?

a) The American President Addressed Foreign Dignitaries From The Great Poultry Producing Nations of the World. They cackled at his claim to have "the moistest and tenderest breasts of any president ever!". (from the Iowa G'Morning Standard)

b) CBS Headquarters Attacked By An Enraged Jim Gaffigan Who Claims to have lost his job on CBS' SUNDAY MORNING due to excessive corniness in his pun-riddled monologues. (NBC's TODAY Show with Hoda Howdie Ho)

c) The Lincoln Tunnel Suddenly became a giant sinkhole as Hurricane Jaime-Maria-Santa-Loquasta-Jesus-Bañana barreled into midtown NYC. 210 Dead. 4 injured. 17 late for work. (The Weather Channel with Jim Cantore... if we can find him a box of Kleenex)

d) In yet another sequel in the unending GODZILLA franchise, the iconic monster has returned from Malibu as a bleach blond and eaten Jane Russell on an ocean voyage. Still famished from the poor restaurant service and menu, he finishes off twenty-three shirtless hunks on the Olympic Mens' Interpretive Dance Team. Set in 1959, there's lots of perky musical song and dance numbers including "I'm A Seoul Survivor", "They Call Me MISTER Bigly", and "Orange You Glad To See Me?"... (Variety)

e) Delicious Low-Carb, Low-Fat, and Gluteus-Free, Free-Range foods that you can raise in your own garage or basement that will feed the family... or feed ON IT. It may take a village to raise a child, but it only takes ONE of these to eat one! Six scrumptio-licious pages with police photos of tonight's dinner! YUM! (Bon Appétit Magazine - the July issue)

f) I Am The Genetically Engineered Love-Child of Frank Perdue and Colonel Sanders (The National Enquirer)

g) Today in the news, Martha Stewart was returned to womens' prison for her unauthorized or acknowledged use of Parkay in a brownie recipe she plagiarized from Julia Child's best selling dessert book "These Are A Dead Women's Treats", published post mortem. (Food Network)

h) All of the above

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Sybil’s “My Merry Memoirs!”… Chapter 11; My “Vacation” Kitchen...

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Did I ever tell you about the short, ahem, “vacation” that I was invited to take from MGM after all the blacklisting controversy in 1951? I was understandably upset when Joe McCarthy, Roy Cohn, and J. Edgar Hoover closed in on me for my suspected connections to left-leaning actors and movie folks. Well, I got so upset (and outspoken!) about it all, that I had a bit of a… um… meltdown. It seems I went to the studio commissary and began throwing food at the nice ladies behind the serving counter… there was a rumor that I was particularly destructive with the wax beans and the succotash.

I was “detained” by some very sympathetic police officers, and later sentenced to a stay at the Hollywood Hills Home for Semi-Hysterical Creative Persons. The psychiatric staff there gave me my own bungalow on Carl Jung Lane with its own padded kitchen where I could relax and cook to my heart’s content. The only bad news was that all the knives and forks were plastic and the stove and oven were heated by extra-strong light bulbs… but after about three weeks, I had put on about 22 pounds and had completely ruined the figures of my fellow patients staying nearby… and our wardens. But that was okay. I was able to tailor their hospital uniforms in my padded sewing room!

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A New Sybil Bruncheon's "WHO'Z DAT?"... IRVING BACON (September 6, 1893 – February 5, 1965)...

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Darlings! Mummy has made a decision! After reading dozens of posts and having hundreds of conversations with well-meaning folks who just don't know about the great CHARACTER actors who gave films the depth and genius that surrounded and supported the so-called "stars", I am going to post a regular, special entry called SYBIL'S "WHO'Z DAT??"....there'll be photos and a mini-bio, and the next time you see one of those familiar, fabulous faces that you just "can't quite place".......well, maybe these posts will help. Some of these actors worked more, had longer and broader careers, and ended up happier, more loved, and even wealthier than the "stars" that the public "worships"......I think there may be a metaphor in that! What do you think?? Well, while you’re mulling that over, here’s a face that folks have seen a gazillion times on both the silver and the television screen... and sometimes his face was all that was needed to convey a fabulous character in some of the great films he appeared in; no spoken lines required!

He's Irving Bacon (September 6, 1893 – February 5, 1965). Born Irving von Peters in St. Joseph, Missouri, he was the son of Millar von Peters and Myrtle Vane, an actress. He moved to California at an early age and attended Santa Clara College in San Jose, California. An American character actor who eventually appeared in almost 500 films, he appeared on the regional stage for a number of years before getting into silent films. Irving first found work in comedy shorts at Keystone Studios usually playing older than he was and, for a time, was a utility player for Mack Sennett in such “slapsticks” as A FAVORITE FOOL (1915). He served in the U.S. Army Air Corps during World War I and rose to the rank of Sergeant First Class. After the war, he returned to Hollywood. Although no relation and often mistakenly thought to be his brother, he worked with director Lloyd Bacon, who cast him in silent funnies starting with GOOD MORNING, NURSE (1925), which was written by Frank Capra, HURRY, DOCTOR! (1925) and WIDE OPEN FACES (1926).

As a character actor who appeared in literally hundreds of films, Irving Bacon could always be counted on for expressing bug-eyed bewilderment or cautious frustration in small-town settings with his revolving door of friendly, servile parts - mailmen, milkmen, clerks, chauffeurs, cab drivers, bartenders, soda jerks, carnival operators, handymen, and country doctors. Irving made an easy adjustment when sound entered the pictures with his gawky voice and after appearing in the Karl Dane and George K. Arthur two-reel comedy shorts such as KNIGHTS BEFORE CHRISTMAS (1930), began to show up in feature-length films. He played higher-ups on occasion, such as the Secretary of the Navy in MILLION DOLLAR LEGS (1932), a police inspector in HOUSE OF MYSTERY (1934), a mayor in ROOM FOR ONE MORE (1952), and a judge in AMBUSH AT CIMARRON PASS (1958), but those were exceptions to the rule. Blending in with the town crowd was what Irving was accustomed to and, over the years, he would be glimpsed in some of Hollywood's most beloved classics such as Capra's MR. DEEDS GOES TO TOWN (1936) with Gary Cooper, SAN FRANCISCO (1936) with Clark Gable and Spencer Tracy, YOU CAN'T TAKE IT WITH YOU (1938) with Jimmy Stewart and Lionel Barrymore, and Judy Garland’s A STAR IS BORN (1954). Trivia nuts will fondly recall his beleaguered postman Mr. Crumb in several of Columbia Pictures' BLONDIE film series that ran from 1938 to 1950. Bacon married Freda Lee Scofield and had two children: Robert (1922) and Barbara (1927). His wife died within a year or so after the birth of their second child. Over his long and amazingly prolific career, he worked in every genre; musicals, comedies, thrillers, romances, for the greatest directors; Hitchcock, Capra, John Ford, George Cukor, Victor Fleming, and appeared in iconic films; THE GRAPES OF WRATH (1940), MEET JOHN DOE (1941), and HOLIDAY INN (1942). He appeared in three Best Picture Academy Award winners: IT HAPPENED ONE NIGHT (1934), YOU CAN'T TAKE IT WITH YOU (1938) AND GONE WITH THE WIND (1939). Ward Bond, Eddy Chandler, and Wallis Clark also appeared in all three films.

Irving could also be spotted on popular '50s and '60s TV programs such as the Westerns LARAMIE (1959) and WAGON TRAIN (1957), and comedies DECEMBER BRIDE (1954) and THE REAL MCCOYS (1957). He can still be seen in a couple of old codger roles on I LOVE LUCY reruns (1951). One was as a marriage license proprietor and the other as Vivian Vance's doting dad from Albuquerque, to whom she paid a visit on her way to Hollywood with the Ricardos. Irving died on February 5, 1965, in Hollywood, having appeared in nearly 500 features. Interestingly, he was buried in the Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery for Veterans in San Diego. The inscription on his gravestone reads, SFC US ARMY AIR CORPS WORLD WAR I. He was 71 years old.

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Sybil Bruncheon's "Hysterical Healthful Histories"... Wauseon, Ohio.

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The Philbert Institute For Defused Alienation in Wauseon, Ohio.
With the close of the 19th century, social scientists, philosophical and political observers, anthropologists, and medical professionals discussed the new phenomenon of angst that seemed to be consuming people in all walks of life in industrializing America. As greater and greater numbers of citizens left farming in the rural countryside and built their lives and careers in overcrowded cities, there seemed to be a loss of basic family constructs and communal feelings between neighbors. Dr. Joshua Philbert was a scientist who, in addition to his extensive medical background, was immersed in research into nutritional and specialized exercise programs to improve mental and physical health. Philbert created his institute for patients (or "enrollees" as he preferred to address them) to find an all-consuming wellness and inner peace that would sustain them even after they had returned to their stressful lives. A two-week stay involved daily schedules of classes, exercises, spa treatments, lectures, crafting, movement seminars, gardening, physical exertion, and nudist culture. Sing-alongs, square dance, wicker-weaving, and watermelon war-games were all especially popular with the enrollees. Here we see a typical Watermelon War-Game in which the jolly participants are instructed to eat as much melon as possible and to spit the seeds at opposing "warriors" as quickly and violently as possible. All physical contact between aggressors must be done only through the seeds being spat and on no account should there be any touching or even cross-words.

The war-games were also a sensible way to settle any bickering, arguments, petty quarrels, or personal jealousies among the enrollees and even the institute staff as well. Two unfortunate issues did come up though during the war-games; 1) The more aggressive the "battles" became, the more watermelon the participants would consume resulting in extraordinary amounts of water weight being put on during their stays. Guests also complained of severe stomach cramps, excessive urination, and unpredictably explosive diarrhea often in front of visitors and at mealtimes. …and 2) Some seeds ended up putting people's eyes out or even choking enrollees…. to death.

These tragic setbacks were not lost on John Harvey Kellogg over at his Battle Creek Health Sanitarium. His version of aggression therapy involved patients being costumed in gigantic elasticized one-piece pajamas gathered at the wrists, ankles and neck and filled with bales of milkweed fluff. They were then given huge pillows of the same stuff and instructed to hit each other as violently as they pleased and to yell hideous epithets while confined in padded cells. This exercise would go on for hours until finally, exhausted, they would be found asleep by the staff and dragged back to their separate cells. Kellogg of course charged a fraction of the same fees as Philbert did and the Philbert Institute soon went out of business….…. Later, Professor Philbert changed the spelling of his name to Filbert, moved to Monte Carlo, and made a fortune importing nuts... actual nuts.

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BREAKING NEWS!... from the CNN news desk: A funeral... and a "funeral"...

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September 1, 2018...
It was revealed today that while all of Washington and the nation have been focused on the funeral of Senator John McCain, president Trump had been feeling increasingly isolated and neglected. According to servants in the White House, Mr. Trump assembled his own funeral in the butler's pantry off the grand ballroom, complete with "guests" which he referred to as "foreign dignitaries, fancy people with big houses, and ...you know, other stuff."

One of the upstairs butlers reported that the president required each of the servants and kitchen staff to "speak" for a corresponding funeral guest, but that after four hours, Trump himself took on the task of eulogizing himself in a myriad of strange voices and indecipherable accents. At about 3am, the last of the staff quietly retired to bed after the president fell asleep in a pile of his "mourners'. They will be returned in the morning to the Smithsonian Museum's "Ventriloquism & Vaudeville Wing"... presumably by limousine.                   Details at 6. Edison cylinder recordings at 11.

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On the anniversary of Princess Diana's passing...

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               (This article was originally posted in my column in a Cherry Grove newspaper on September 1st, 2016)

Well, Grovites….this may seem like an …um…odd article for me to post when you’re so used to funny question and answer items, advice on mold and mosquitoes, harangues on litter, cigarette butts, and dogs off leashes, or even the perky little recipe and the amusing anecdote that goes with it…. But today, this particular morning, the day, and the week ahead is an anniversary that, although we’re Americans (and not British!), still resonates with so many people in a profound way…. Resonates perhaps even more because of how politics and public figures have evolved and morphed since that Summer evening exactly 20 years ago when Fire Island was full of vacationers and the news stunned and shocked the entire world that Diana Spencer, icon, heroine, and the focus of so much glamor and scandal had been killed in a car accident during the night.

              It is one of those momentous events that people of all ages “remember exactly where they were when they heard the news”, and, depending on your age (and awareness!) you have a few of them…or many. It is a sign that you’re getting older when you have a list of “moments in history”, each one particular and fraught, full of sights and sounds, specific “cast members”, even tastes and smells, everything around you at the moment you heard that John Kennedy, Robert Kennedy, or Martin Luther King had been assassinated, that Grace Kelly, Michael Jackson, or Prince had died, that the Challenger or the Columbia or John Kennedy, Jr. had crashed. Each of us has these moments and they weigh on each us differently depending on our backgrounds and personal histories. Some seem to be more universal than others. I’m not talking about 9/11 here for the obvious reason that so many of us in the New York City area observed directly the events of that day, and the days that followed, many of us literally right before our very eyes and touched perhaps through having neighbors, friends or family involved, surviving …or not. Diana’s death like the other losses and catastrophes I’ve suggested was a distant event for most of us. But even not knowing her personally, how many of us were touched by her surprising beauty and ready smile in the evening news, at Met balls with megastars, and at hospital appearances with AIDS patients and injured children. That funny phrase “unforgivably beautiful” was so apt for her, wasn’t it, because non-entertainment celebrities like politicians, scientists, philosophers, writers, and yes, even royals are rarely ever more than moderately attractive, but here was Diana Spencer, connected through her ancestry to Winston Churchill, Anne Boleyn, and Stuarts, Bourbons, Medicis, Hapsburgs, and Hanovers, and finally in line to be the Queen of England looking like a movie star!...actually lovelier than many movie stars, and touching, actually touching people with serious illnesses, giving hugs to people of all races and circumstances…and looking like that! Isn’t that what we all said when we’d see the evening news? In one shot she’d be in a glorious evening gown cut daringly off the shoulder and in jewels that dazzled, and in the next clip, she’d be walking through a minefield in shorts and a white cotton blouse conferring with United Nations experts and activists about humanitarian emergencies! Long before George Clooney became the handsome face of activist Hollywood, it was Diana who embodied the beautiful celebrity-as-warrior.

               Everything about her life became news….Tears, tiaras, tirades about Charles, foreign and exotic liaisons with billionaire boyfriends, frisking with socialites, dancing with Travolta, camping about with Elton John, it all was front page news!... and the resistance and resentment by the Windsors only fanned the flames. Queen Elizabeth, who had prided herself on her understated self-sacrifice and stoicism in the face of World War and terrible national deprivation, was suddenly being seen as a cross between Queen Victoria’s sourness and the out-of-touch exclusivity of Marie Antoinette. And never more so than when Diana died in a car accident and the nation and the world were plunged into a very public and convulsive grief. It seemed to take forever for the Queen and her husband to realize that the British expected and finally demanded that they act accordingly. It may have seemed like it took forever, but in fact the cascade of events over a few short days and the Queen’s capitulation were almost like an avalanche with the streets covered and clogged with flowers, the flying of the palace flag at half-mast, the royal family forced to return to Buckingham and walking, yes, walking up to the crowds, and the final televised address on the world’s television sets…. The Queen of England …Live.

                 I suppose many of you are wondering what this has to do with a lovely Summer wrapping up here on Fire Island…each of the seventeen towns on our strip of sand grabbing a last few weeks of sun and surf before the school year and the Fall closes in. Many of the folks reading this are too young to remember or care about Diana or the metaphors that surround the sudden end of a youth filled with excitement, dreams, and drama. She was miserable about so much and yet she also adored her children, she was fun and funny, witty and clever, and perhaps even manipulative too once she began “to learn how to play the game” of her fame. She lobbed her celebrity status back at her in-laws, at Charles and his Camilla, like a master on the tennis court of life, and then rushed the net for the “grand slam”…. And certainly in death, her ghost annihilated the competition for the final victory. Even today, 20 years later, whatever newly released gossip or criticism of her seems to rinse away, while her status as iconic beauty, loving mother, bon vivant, and humanitarian remains and even grows. How much more will she become in the next 20 years? Will Diana finally and ironically be responsible for Charles relinquishing his rights to the throne in favor of his infinitely more popular and Diana-like son William. Will we skip a Charles III and go directly from Elizabeth II to William V…? Who knows…. But inevitably, we’ll find out. Twenty years ago, Diana dashed into an idling car, hunted as always but dealing with the usual petty annoyances of celebrity, perhaps even chuckling as she outran the paparazzi on their Vespas, faster and faster that night, in the most beautiful city on Earth…and then…

                  To get back to why I wrote this article on the anniversary of Diana’s death, we see what the world of celebrity and politics, and celebrities IN politics has become. We see how reality television has evolved with candy-bar tasks for third-rate has-been tv stars morphing into Washington policy-making. The catch-all phrase “You’re Fired” has taken on a whole new meaning. There’s still resistance and resentment, tears, and tirades, though maybe not as many tiaras. But with all the national and international drama and dramatics, we still have our own precious moments out here on the Island; moments of peace, of the sound of the waves rolling on the sand at sunset, and the very sight of those sunsets over the bay. Each one different and perfect…(all sunsets are perfect, even the cloudier ones, and don’t let anyone tell you differently). Here, we have all the beauty and loveliness that the eye and the heart can hold. Making dinner tonight with the breeze on the back deck or coming through an open kitchen window, friends and family gathering nearby, the end of another unmemorable day here at the ocean. Maybe we should make every day memorable…as memorable as possible. To stay present to each moment, to be grateful for the good and the wonderful things in life, to say “thank you” silently and sincerely, and to remember that all of this that we see, and feel, and think will always be is borrowed…. really, only borrowed.

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