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Diva News

CherstanThankfully, Cher News is back. Here are some news stories Cher News is tracking:

You’ve seen celebrities doing the Ice bucket Challenge lately to raise money for ALS. Cher has agreed to do it, nominated by Stanley Tucci. More about celebrities doing the ice bucket challenge.

Cher talks about a risque new concert outfit and giving up meat. I second this suggestion being a vegetarian since 1991. I gave up meat in college due to factory farming videos I came across. Factory farms are now fighting to be able to stop anyone from seeing the horrors of factory farming. Corporations are strong-arming congress to let this happen. If you do it, why hide it?

For decades, doctors have been raising alarms about our meat consumption, statistics showing that culture's who eat more fish and veggies live longer, have less cancers and less heart disease. Plus, factory farms are hazardous to air quality. It was hard being a vegetarian in Missouri back in the 1990s. We had only one self-righteous vegetarian restaurant. These days, going veggie is easy. You have many brands of frozen veggie foods, including delish Amys brand, and many more veggie restaurants to choose from. When you come across a self-righteous one, like I did in Santa Fe two years ago, you can say: "Listen peeps, you're not the only veggie house in town! Stop giving me the martyr-tude."

Cher is still stumping for Billy, LA's abused elephant. She provides new ideas to save billy and zoo animals: holograms! This reminds me of Simpons's producer Sam Simon who is fatally ill and spending his fortune to save animals all over, most interestingly buying up horrid roadside zoos. Some news stories:

Cher talks about her new concert outfits. Also good news in there about a new DVD of the show! Apparently, she will film in Toronto. Yeah! I feel this is the only way I will see the new costumes. The new tour dates aren't anywhere near New Mexico (yet). :-)

Cher appears on Bravo's "Watch What Happens Live" as a mystery caller and a tour gross wrap up.

And thankfully Cher World is back too!

A story about how Cher initially hated the song "Turn Back Time"

ChercurleDoes Lady Gaga resemble a 1979 Cher on picture

Cher's new album is not dead; it's back on the charts due to another email reminder to fans who purchased concert tickets.

Broadway.com is appreciating Cher's video of West Side Story.  Why they love it:

"Um, because Cher singing every part in West Side Story is 12 minutes and 43 seconds of complete, unadulterated bliss, that’s why. Way back in 1978, Cher had a special on ABC that was called Cher…Special. (You know, obviously.) Anyway, it included this gem, and we have so many questions. How long did this take to film? Where did all those costumes and wigs come from? Isn’t Tony supposed to be in a gang, not trying out for Red Sox baseball?"

Behind the technical scenes on Cher's concert tour from Live Studio Design.

Cher did a recent interview with AARP Magazine.

 


Retro Stuff

Music

I recently when on a hunt for Cher mashups. Of course, all the new ones I found were using "Believe" (This is getting old.)

 Beyonce sing’s "Bang Bang" in her HBO trailer with Jay Z.

Video

Cher in a Tea with Mussolini-era interview

Cher and other 80s-celebrities singing "What a Wonderful World." This is from a star-studded special called "An Evening with Friends of the Environment. A Meryl Streep website has a great overview of who participated.

InterviweMagazines

Cher scholar Dishy sent me this link to that awesome interview with Cher in the early 80s with Any Warhol in Interview Magazine: http://www.interviewmagazine.com/music/new-again-cher. I had this cover framed an on my wall for many years.

Movies

Cher scholar Robrt Pela sent me some very kewl news about the movie Chastity. A friend of his was an extra in the brothel scene. His friend said that Cher was pregnant and cranky during filming, "and when he accidentally stepped on her foot, she was not nice about it. Sonny took him aside to talk to him about not stepping on Cher."

NicknolteBut that's not the bombshell news. Nick Nolte is also in the scene when the boys arrive at the cathouse. Nick Notle is the first to enter the scene. Watch the clip at timestamp 5:07.

Robrt informed me that Nick Nolte was involved in Phoenix theater back in the late 1960s, appearing in local plays.

As I was looking for pictures of the brothel scene online (didn't find any), I did find this description of the movie from a site called Cult Oddities: "The film rests squarely on Cher's shoulders, though she got a major boost from Sonny's dialogue, which was littered with unusual thoughts and pithy one-liners." 

 


Celebrity Deaths

JgSo James Garner dies. My husband woke me up one morning with the news. I've just started him watching old Rockford Files episodes. For years I've loved the 1970s-lingo-laden TV show. I even spoofed it on Ape Culture years ago in a mash up with Nancy Drew.

After he died, there were plenty of nice obits, I liked this one: The New York Times.

Turner Classic Movies and Robert Osbourne also did a nice tribute with a night of his movies. This year Mr. Cher Scholar and I have watched Support Your Local Sheriff, Malone, The Great Escape, and Victor/Victoria. The last movie was Mr. Cher Scholar's idea. He kept telling me how great the movie was and I had always heard it was some kind of great misfire.

It was shockingly good. I didn't love Julie Andrews in the lead role (as I don't get sex appeal from her) but I guess that was Blake Edwards' way of showing off his wife's miraculous singing octave range.

In any case, is it such a surprise I've become a huge James Garner fan? He's just another dark haired, high-cheek-boned, multi-category star who claims to be part Cherokee.

I'm glad I read his delightfully catty auto-biography before he died. Both one of the obits and Robert Osbourne described his genius as being his wide range of facial expressions, from bemused to perplexed to annoyed to outraged to flummoxed. He could perform without even speaking.

In Esquire Magazine in 1979, Robert Altman even said “I have long thought that Jim Garner was one of the best actors around…He’s often overlooked because he makes it look so easy.”

As a crusty, reluctant hero, writer Mary McNamara called him an

“Alpha-male of the sort that hadn’t existed before…After Garner, they could be funny, irritating, lazy, fearful, and complicated. Without James Garner there would be no Indiana Jones, no Starsky and Hutch, nor Gregory House, no Patrick Jane, certainly no Robert Downey Jr. as Sherlock Holmes….And he managed to do it without coming off as self-satisfied, which is simply miraculous.”

The later could also be said of Cher. And for all of his reluctant heroism, he was awarded a Purple Heart from his injuries in the Korean War.

Recently, we watched a good 1977 episode of Rockford Files called "Quickie Nirvana." One of the hipster characters in it had this to say to Rockford as he was trying to locate a man wearing a fur vest:

“Fur vests died out when Sonny Bono went network.”

"Went network." So 70s funny. 

CherrobinAnd then on the note of celebrity deaths, Robin Williams committed suicide. I wasn't a huge fan of the hyper-comedy improv of Robin Williams (post Mork) but many comedians were and it's been sad to hear their tributes. I did, however, enjoy the more low-key Williams in movies like Good Morning, Vietnam, The Fisher King, and Dead Poets' Society.

Cher's comments included:

Oh Robin. He was a sweet lovely man. He ran high voltage. Mind always going. It was who he was. I know well... Many times from high, there is only low. So sad. I was with him a little while ago - we pretended to see sharknados!

 "I have known him a long time. Saw him open for Martin Mull once pre-'Mork & Mindy'. 'Good Morning Vietnam', 'Awakenings', 'Mrs. Doubtfire', 'Good Will Hunting', 'Birdcage', 'Dead Poets Society', 'The World According To Garp' - my favorites. He couldn't feel our love for him."

"Many of us actors, singers, writers suffer from this gift/curse in disproportionate numbers. Some artists feel that this is the only way out. There was a book written about artists with manic depression, 'Touched By Fire'. I call it my gift/curse - it gives great but can take all."

"If he could see our reactions, he might have kept on trying? Maybe not forever, but feeling love gives you hope. Even so, nothing stops, too low. Artists (especially) are hard wired delicately. I liken it to a faulty emotional thermostat. You can set it, but it goes too high then too low. There is a great chasm between onstage, film, fame and life! One is such heightened reality and after heights there can be great depths."

Watch the scene Cher does with Robin Williams in Sharknado!

DrjIn the August 22/29 issue of Entertainment WeeklyAug 22/29 with Robin Williams on the cover, there is a two page spread of Dr. John (who is old but is not dead) appreciation that actually mentions Sonny & Cher:

“His debut, Gris-Gris, might never have existed without the generosity of the famed duo, who allowed the young sideman to borrow their unused hours in an LA studio for his own recordings."

Allegedly, we can see him in this video of Sonny in Cher recording in 1966. This video is a reality-tv as we can get!

 


Cher Bric-a-Brac: Carly Simon, Britney’s Bad Show, Moms in the Movies

BioOver the summer I read the Carly Simon biography that came out a few years ago, written by Stephen Davis who was famous for writing Hammer of the Gods in the 1980s about Led Zepplin.

Considering the couple Carly Simon and James Taylor and their love-song decade, the sad pining and avoidance the book describes between Carly Simon and James Taylor makes the story of Sonny & Cher seem quite functional in retrospect.

True, Carly Simon seems a tad bonkers with her long list of of lifetime neurosis and insecurities but Taylor comes over like a self-concerned, (albeit depressed), ass in his own right. As a result, this is one of those biographies I wish I had never read. I came out of it thinking much less of both of them and somewhat better about the acknowledged dysfunctions of Sonny & Cher who, although they had their bouts of not speaking to each other and trash-talking, never devolved into the kind of pathetic heartache and shunning Carly and James still seem to be indulging in. Sonny & Cher could have dissolved into much more extended legal battles that they did, similar to what professional partners Porter Waggoner and Dolly Parton went through, or the old-age bickering and breakup of Captain and Tennille. Sonny & Cher did seem melodramatically dysfunctional back in the mid-1970s, but doesn't time always do a number on the smug?

HotcakesThere was, however, some Cherness in this book. Carly Simon was pregnant she made Hotcakes album (see cover) and I've always liked it. There's "Mockingbird" and "Forever My Love," (I really love this song, but  Sonny & Cher never went that far), and the Simon-classic "Haven’t Got Time" for the Pain." Her album label Elektra had just merged with David Geffen’s Asylum label:

“Hotcakes quickly sold nine hundred thousand copies, but it was hard to get attention amid all the hoopla for Carly’s label mates. David Geffen had assured Carly that she was going to have a solo release and it would be promoted individually, but it didn’t happen. (Geffen said later that he’d been distracted in this period by his torrid romance with Cher.)"

Darn that Cher!

TorchThe book also gives us a great definition of the torch song tradition, an explanation that sheds some light as to why Cher's fans love her torch songs so much:

"Torch songs were an enduring artistic legacy of the Roaring Twenties. 'Carrying a torch' for a lost lover was a “modernist” female thing, a romantic agony personified by singers such as Libby Holman (1904-1971) who famously married the heir to a Carolina tobacco fortune and then accidentally shot him to death as he was trying to break into his own house when he’d been locked out. Torch songs were retro-noir, semidesperate expressions of female disappointment and lust.”

The book also reminds us that Norman Seeff, who took the amazing shots of Cher for I'd Rather Believe in You, also took the amazing shots of Simon for her Playing Possum album.

Pp1 Pp2 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In detailing the production of her My Romance album:“Carly…gave the tapes to the legendary Marty Paich, who wrote the orchestrations.”

I did not know he was legendary.

The book also defined Film Noir as characterized by suspense leading to violence, shadowy, tense, forboding, populated by jaded femme fatales. Cher's dalliance with the ideas and characterizations of film noir happened mostly in skits from her television shows, consistently playing femme fetales who persevered which, I think, contributed in large part to her icon image today.

Like Cher, Carly Simon was also rejected from residence in Manhattan's Dakota building.

The book did peak my interest in Carly's early work with her sister, Lucy in The Simon Sisters back in the 1960s. Daughters of one of the co-founders of the corporate publishing house Simon & Schuester, these were privileged kids. And it shows. Their folk music is pleasant but lacks the street-saviness of their compadres.

For instance, they made a French version of "Blowin in the Wind," called "Encoute Dans le Vent" and it is actually a good version but you know they didn't learn French on the street. Their big hit was "Winkin Blinkin and Nod."

My friend Christopher sent me the LA Times review of the Britney Spears  "Piece of Me" show in Las Vegas:

“Whatever the scale of the number, the singer’s presence felt so diminished, her dancing a tentative shadow of what it used to be, her vocals apparently lip-synched for the majority of the show – as if to make the production’s title seem a taunt...[The show] neither revisits her old mode effectively nor presents a compelling new approach…Instead of looking forward, Spears (and her handlers) are playing a dangerously cynical short game, exploiting the interest her name still inspires without regard for how the act’s shoddiness may limit her options. Spear’s turn at the table needn’t be over, yet she’s cashing in all her chips.”

Contrast this to the reviews of Cher’s shows (From her Heart of Stone reinvention to the current show), how important a "compelling new approach" seems to be and how eternally authentic and human she seems to come across. She stands out even among young pop divas, maybe because even her foibles seem more authentic than theirs, less like publicity stunts or their staid and overly-produced attempts at life as performance art.

In doing research for my novel about New Mexico, I've been reading many New Mexico art books and art magazines. Santa Fe has a family of Sarkisian artists.

IncarnationIn a magazine, I also found a very funny pop surrealism spoof of Lady Gaga's meat dress done by artist Mark Ryden (see right).

Turner Classic Movies was also promoting a new book called Mom in the Movies, I don't know if any of Cher's moms are in there but Cher has played a special kind of flawed mom in two of her movies. In Mask she's a good mom but on drugs. In Mermaids she's quirky and self-involved, with a subtext of unavailability. She's mostly played single characters in Chastity, 5 & Dime (couldn't have kids), Silkwood, Suspect (works too hard), Moonstruck (probably over the hill), Tea with Mussolini, Stuck on You (we only see her at work), Burlesque (we only see her at work). Maybe we could say she was mom to the little dog Scoongie in Good Times.

Also of note, my boss at ICANN sent me this clip over the summer: a man doing 29 celebity imprssions in 1 song, including Cher.

 


My Summer Vacation

ZakiWow! I believe this is the longest period I've gone between I Found Some Blog stories. It's truly been a crazy summer. I took Mr. Cher Scholar to Truth or Consequences for a hot springs soak for his birthday in early June. Then my mother-in-law and sister-in-law came to visit from Kansas. Then two of our friends came to visit from Los Angeles. Then I went on a poetry field-trip with a group of women from The Georgia O'Keeffe Museum (talk about some heavy fans, women who love Georgia O'Keeffe!). Then Mr. Cher Scholar and our two fur-kids went camping. Then I went on an 11-day family reunion at Bandon-by-the-Sea in Oregon. Then I came home and had a colonoscopy. Then I had to spend a week or two catching up on my other projects and thinking about my upcoming job transition and Mr. Cher Scholar's upcoming job transition, as he just found a new job. I'd be more exhausted but I've been working out still (since my Cher Scholar post on working-out) and I've found a few new interesting gurus.

By the way, when I was on my way to Oregon and in a motel, I saw a crazy infomercial for a new skin care line Periccone MD that promotes some pseudo-scientific substance Cold Plasma Sub-D. Preposterousness! But you know I'm itching to try it.

Bands2When I was in LA, I taped some fitness programs off of FitTV (a channel I don't get here). I finally watched them this summer and my favorite program was Australian Violet Zaki's kickboxing work out with "cardio blasts" and weights (pictured above).

I've also been enjoying Amy Bento's 10 Minute Solution series with bands. Like the other 10 Minute Solution programs, it's super fast and furious, made, I'm convinced, for type A women: "I need to see results in 10 minutes, people!"

My husband also bought me three yoga DVDs from Desiree Rumbaugh, but her programs are too slow and I don't feel advanced enough to do the neck and shoulder poses. 

Here are some pics from the summer:  

PoetsPoets contemplating the White Place in the Chama Valley of New Mexico.

We wrote Japanese forms called Haibuns.

 

  

 

CookingMr. Cher Scholar really stepped up the cooking on our camping trip to the Manzano Mountains over the 4th of July. He made brie fondue, chocolate fondue, grilled shrimp, fancy tacos, and home-made egg McMuffins.

  

 

Pooches2 Pooches1 

 

 

 

 

 

One of my favorite things about camping is to see too exhausted dogs snoring away in the tent every night.

OpenbathroomWe camped near Mountainair, New Mexico, where we found this hilarious ruin of a motel with an old bathroom exposed to the highway.

So inviting: a John with a view.  

 

 

 

 

OrgeoncoastThe Oregon coast where my mom grew up:  foggy, windy, rocky, full of a kind of dreary romance. A nice change from the burning hot summer I've been having in Albuquerque.

 

 

 

 

 

CabinThis is where my parents first lived when they were married in 1958, a little motel in Port Orford, Oregon.

 

 

 

 

SealsSeals swimming in the port of Bandon.

 

  

 

 

 

BirdMy best bird pic, from a beautiful boat trip up the Rogue River near Gold Beach, Oregon.

 

 

 

 

StewartOn the way back from Oregon, I drove my parents back to Reno, Nevada. We went to visit the Stewart Indian School, where my father lived when he was in High School. He's standing in the courtyard, in front of his old bedroom.

 

 

MTdeskWe also visited Virgina City, Nevada, where I paid five dollars to take a picture of Mark Twain's desk.

 

 

 

 

RenoMy Aunt Jane upgraded me to stay with her in the Star Suite at Harrahs in Reno. Instead of gambling, I stayed up in the suite all night, enjoying a luxury bath, taking pictures out the window (see left), and reading the biography of Carly Simon. I was in bed when I read the real lyrics to her ex-husband's classic suicide song, "Fire and Rain" -- "Suzanne the plans they made put an end to you." 

I could never figure out that line, even when Cher sings it. "Soose and the plans they made put an end to you???"

The song is about his friend Suzanne. It all makes sense now.