Last Sunday, Family Guy aired a Christmas episode called "Jesus, Mary and Joseph" about the story of Joseph and Mary (and Stewey as Jesus). Mr. Cher Scholar and I watched it and our favorite lines are:
Peter as Joseph to Lois as Mary:
Mary, tell me again how it is that God got you pregnant? Cos when you tell the story it sorta makes sense. But then when I tell the guys at work, they poke all kinds of holes in it.
There's a running Cher joke through the episode starting with when Joseph first asks Mary out on a date:
Peter as Joseph: Hey listen I just got tickets to see Cher in Bethlehem. Wanna go?
Lois as Mary: I guess. How close are the seats?
Peter as Joseph: Row LXVI.
Later when Joseph and Mary are trying to find a room at the inn, the character Mort plays the innkeeper and refuses them.
Mort: Sorry. We're all booked up. Cher is in town. You won't find a room in the city.
Joseph and Mary plead to no avail. Mary's water breaks and Mort gives them space in the inn's manger.
From a distance in the town you hear sounds of a crowd and Cher shouting.
Cher: Bethlehem! I have one question for you.
A dance beat starts.
Cher sings: Do you believe in life after love?
Peter as Joseph: Jah! See? I told you she'd open with that.
The joke being that Cher has been around so long....
Anyway, I wouldn't be a Cher scholar if I didn't point out that Cher never opens with that song. But that's the cross I bear.
Family Guy has done a smattering of Cher jokes over the years. Last year they did this Cher impersonator in a wheelchair joke.
Years before the show hit its stride, they did a scene where Meg pretends she's Cher singing to the troops, but with disastrous results.
In another episode a few years ago Peter writes "Retire Cher" from an airplane similar to the way the Wicked Witch of the West wrote "Surrender Dorothy."
Mr. Cher Scholar and I went to NYC to see The Book of Mormon. We both loved it so much we bought the book and CD. Another reason I wanted to get back to NYC was for the food.
Prawns with walnuts and a white-wine sauce. A-MA-ZING.
(Click photos to enlarge)
I also wanted some long-missed NYC street foods: bagels (scallion cream cheese on garlic bagel), a knish (from the truck behind me), and real pizza!
Cher Moments: Everywhere we saw these Moonstruck cafes, which I don't remember seeing when I lived there in the late 1990s. We also went to see the Katharine Hepburn costume exhibit outside the NY Public Library for the Performing Arts at Lincoln Center, so I took the fountain picture from the scene outside the opera in Moonstruck. Also a picture of Cyndi Lauper's new Broadway show.
Other cool finds: We stayed in a brownstone in Chelsea and our neighborhood CVS was a converted bank. I caught a leaf falling in Central Park.
Another reason I wanted to go to NYC around Thanksgiving was to see all the Christmas window displays. The most amazing included one in Chelsea/Greenwich Village that was inspired by pages of Marcel Proust's In Search of Lost Time which Mr. Cher Scholar and I are both reading right now. We also visited the Macy's on 34th Street. One window had an interactive computer display which John modeled for.
We also visited Yonkers and Sarah Lawrence where I used to live and where went to grad school. We visited our friends Ann and Michael up there. The lion is from the ruins of the Greystone Mansion on the aqueduct trail.
One of the highlights of the trip was meeting Cher scholar Dishy finally after all these years. He invited us over to his house to see his Cher Lair. Mr. Cher Scholar gallantly went with me and endured teasing over his mishearing of Cher lyrics, most notably his singing months ago, "The black lady laughed at me and lit the candles one by one" and that weekend's listening to Cher's new single and saying, "It's no Song for the People."
He is the most organized Cher collector I've met. He has his cassettes, 8-Tracks, 45s, books, albums, dolls and DVDs all contained in a very compact lair, easy to access if needed at any time.
He had to school me in what Reel-to-Reels are.
I was very impressed with his Uninhibited display in the bathroom. This inspires me to try such at display in the guest bathroom of Cher Scholar.
He also had some nice items from Sanctuary, decorative wall items and incense (smartly displayed as related to Dishys Harry Potter library).
And then Dishy had some beautiful posters and pictures. The most I can manage is protective poster covering from Michaels. Dishy really knows how to frame some Cher art including Dark Lady foregrounded with Half Breed through a door, a great Sonny, Cher butt and Farewell tour items.
Dishy has some magazine covers I had never seen too, including this kooky one from the mid-70s!
Dishy also made the Cher CD box below. I love the cool stuff Cher fans create.
But above all (and I'm not trying to be sentimental here), the best part of the afternoon was not the great abundance of Cher stuff, it was the Cher camaraderie. I really loved hanging out with Dishy because he's smart and fun.
He made us treats including and an awesome corn dip with chile peppers. Two Cher scholars Cher scholarin!
Dishy also took some smokin hot pics of Mr. and Mrs. Cher Scholar.
All in all, we had a fabulous time in NYC and can't wait to go back. Coming back, we experienced a string of sad news: we got sick, a friend of a friend...someone I knew better when I lived in NY, Nova Gutierrez, fell seriously ill (and our prayers are going out to her and her family), two of my co-workers at IAIA started experiencing some dire events in December, the Connecticut school shooting...all sad stuff that make me look back to our Thanksgiving trip with, well, thanks giving.
I'll leave it with a common sight of Cher Scholar in NYC:
Here is Mr. Cher Scholar finally getting frustrated enough to tie her shoes for her.
So for years I've been telling Mr. Cher Scholar that The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour was so popular in the early 1970s that it was able to pull in some pretty unbelievable guest stars.
The penultimate unbelievable guest star, in my humble opinion, was writer Truman Capote.
Thankfully, the Los Angeles Times recently posted their memory of the event in December, a happening which originally broadcast on October 3, 1973 on CBS along with the LA Times original interview with Capote by Cecil Smith on August 22, 1973:
Capote was called onstage to play the British admiral doing battle with the French. In his most piping screech, he yelled: “Where’s the mizzen mast?” To which a sailor shrugged: “I don’t know. How long has it been mizzen?”
I was curious as to what motivates a writer of the stature of Capote, certainly one of the most important literary figures of the century, to play the fool for the glory of toilet bowl and armpits and other objects sacred to television.
“I suppose I did it because I was asked.”
This certainly fits with Capote's image at the end of his career. Famous for writing In Cold Blood and Breakfast at Tiffany's (one of Cher's favorite films when she was younger), Capote had long stopped writing and had become a Hollywood wannabie, hob-knobbing with the star set. There have been a few films about his life but I really liked Capote (2005) starring Philip Seymour Hoffman.Here is more information about the episode:
The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour Season 4 Episode 4
Show 47 - Truman Capote, John Davidson
The Vamp segment looks back at the love affair between Lord Horatio Nelson (Capote) and his mistress Lady Hamilton (Cher). Cher also plays another vamp, Sadie Thompson, in a parody of spy movies, with Capote playing the evil Dr. Leadfinger and John Davidson as James Blond.
Sonny & Cher "Get Down" and "The Weight"
John Davidson "Behind Closed Doors"
So far this lovely bit of Sonny & Cher history has not shown up on the YouTubes, but here is a very funny roast of Capote by Rich Little.
In 2001, Cher independently released a record of music she either wrote herself or co-wrote while at a songwriter's retreat outside of Bordeaux, France, with the likes of Patty Smyth. She recorded the resulting songs with David Letterman's band and released the album on what was then Artists Direct under her Isis brand.
The name "not.com.mercial" was a play on the phenomenon of the Internet at that time and all things being ".com" which allowed Cher to release her music directly to her fans and the fact that Warner Bros., her label at the time, refused to release it with the critique that it was "not commercial enough." So I'm prejudiced apparently but I think Cher could spit on a street corner and that would be commercial enough.
The tracks were recorded between Love Hurts in 1991 and It's a Man's World in 1996 and the music serves as a bridge, sound wise, between the bombastic late 80s material and the mellow late 90s material. Cher tackles beefy themes such as her feelings about the Catholic Church of her childhood (in the controversial "Sisters of Mercy"), American military veterans (in the tight "Fit to Fly"), a kind of restlessness which might explain her need to buy new houses every two years ("Runnin"), the problem of homelessness ("Our Lady of San Francisco" which contains the unfortunate Bob Dole line that everyone gave her shit about), showbiz advise to Chaz's old girlfriend ("Disaster Cake"), general heartache ("Still") a song that would have broken up the monotony on any shlock-rock 80s album ("With or Without You"), and finally, a cynical song about Kurt Cobain ("The Fall"). It's good Cher-speak for unbelievers.
You can buy a t-shirt too.
I've been missing posting little tidbits of Cher news this whole holiday season! For Thanksgiving, Mr. Cher Scholar and I went to New York City to see The Book of Mormon. When we were sitting in the jam-packed La Guardia airport waiting to fly back to Santa Fe, we both started to feel feverish.
Five weeks later and I'm still not over it. It has morphed from a cold to a flu to a cold again. Although dramatic goings-on at work, spending too much time out in the cold weather, and Christmas shopping and shipping duties didn't help for a speedy recovery, I had no energy left to do much Cher scholarin. Here is a flashback over the end of November and December in Cher Land.
Cher calls for a boycott of Walmart due to their guns sales and the tragic Connecticut shooting of school children. I have already been avoiding Walmart for 10 years due to my mother's boycott of Walmart due to their screwing over workers, small businesses and local economies all while their heirs hoard a huge chunk of American wealth. I think Forbes Magazine said it best: "Six Waltons Have More Wealth Than the Bottom 30% of Americans."
Cher does not appear on the X-Factor finale as reported but goes to Russia instead for a private concert. Stories from Cher World and Cher News:
And Cher in Russia doing Russian things:
Performing and receiving a crown. That must have been her fee.
Looking like a stern Russian femme fetale (what a role that would be!) while getting in a limo:
(Click all photos to enlarge)
Cher this month also reported being hot for the character who plays Golem in The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit: Andy Serkus. Here is a picture of him shirtless.
Cher just released a Christmas Tweet: "Have the best Christmas ever! I know Christmas sucks sometimes - try to do something you like! Watch a movie you like, have a piece of pie, ice cream, pop corn, buttermilk, biscuits or something you love!"
Cher also posted pics of her house decorated for a Christmas party.
Due to our illnesses, Mr. Cher Scholar and I cancelled our Christmas party and I didn't put up any decorations, which are very similar to Cher's minus the lighting, ceilings, floors, silverware and ginormous trees. Between our lack of festivity, the Connecticut shooting and the sad-sack stories of my co-workers, this made for the most depressing Christmas I've had in years.
I had not read Cher's tweet by yesterday but I inadvertently did something I don't usually do just to cheer myself up: I ate a cheese ball.
Merry Christmas everybody.
I hope the good spirit of cheese balls lives in you this week.
I still have high hopes for the new Cher album, which is now rumoured to drop in late March. We shall see. I guess this might also mean the new Cher biography, Strong Enough (not being strong enough itself to avoid being strung along all year by recurringly-delayed album release dates), will be published next year as well.
And...I'm also hopeful the album is being described by Cher as "eclectic."
Reviews of the first single aren't terrible. They just aren't great.
Cher scholar Dishy forwarded to me the Entertainment Weekly review:
“Cher’s voice still has enough seismic boom to knock out a power grid, but the new dance-the-heartache-away jam from Our Lady of Perpetual Comeback suffers from a tinny club beat and lame lyrics about ‘dancing so low in the dark on the club floor’—both of which already sound more dated than anything in her 1998 Auto-Tune anthem ‘Believe.’” C+
At least EW likes her voice these days.
My friend Christopher (if not a Cher fan, someone I would describe as "Cher positive") had this to say:
I've listened to it three times now. It's okay--not terrible, but it's a little bit repetitive, and there's nothing new or exciting about the music--it sounds like mid 90s house music, especially the thump-thump at the beginning.
I think what I like best about it is the gusto of her singing. She sounds committed.
Cher scholar Dishy recently alerted me to the site Diva Incarnate which has some very well-written reviews of Cher performances on older albums AND some rare little publicity shots. I love the way the writer categorizes her oeuvre: "a mix of poppers o'clock dance tracks, soft-core cougar rock and sleepy torch ballads."
For the page on Bonnie Jo Mason (1964):"Forty-five years later the track still sounds fresh and remarkably intense...deliberately borrowing ideas from The Beatles' 'She Loves You.'"
For the page on Stars (1975):
- The site calls the album a "torch song bender" and a masterpiece, one very special album and "her real Oscar winning performance, a souring artistic triumph of alarming beauty, disarming characterization and profound dignity...Cher puts one on a gripping journey...the album displays a poignant maturity she is rarely given credit for. This album is her real autograph."
- "Bell Bottom Blues" is "a gorgeous battle against downtrodden, drunken piano-laden sadness. Cher sings with rare grit and passion that someone like Pink would saw her dick off for...[it's sung] like a shooting star with an exhaust pipe."
- "Love Enough" is "a thing of whimsical beauty...so swoonsome and cradles your heart with horrific tenderness."
- "These Days" [has] "a wilting orchestra that folds over like lace curtains inside her gypsy caravan...Cher's voice glides like flowing ribbon."
- "Just This One Time" has "a choir that threatens to steal Cher's thunder before the dark lady brings out her rare and privileged falsetto. Cher's mountain climb of a vocal is jaw-dropping."
- "Stars" is "a gorgeous finale, sung with private grace...desolated loneliness."
For the I'd Rather Believe in You (1976) page:
- "Cher's voice is a throaty elixir of hot lead and ash."
- "The title track is the album's real winner: sad and joyful in equal measure, the gorgeous piano rouses Cher's authentic 'yeah oh yeah.'"
- "A fine record but not an exceptional one...the vivid emotion conveyed on Stars is sorely longed for."
- "Cher is a cement-cracking architect of her own material, despite hardly ever writing any of it; she wastes no time with uncertainty, and her 'deadpan' portrayal is what makes her so real." [Check out Cher Zine 2 for complete explication of Cher's deadpan strategy from variety TV to film to music.]
- "A Woman's Story" is "a slow burning candle, a languid brewing stew, and the results are dense and hotter than a Turkish bath....the seething and cutaneously operatic backing vocals blister with burning inferno whilst Cher flatly grimaces 'hell no.'"
- "Baby I Love You" is "crestfallen and dewy, oozing into hibernating meditation. Cher draws out new-found tenderness to the lyric, usually full of so much joy."
- "A Love Like Ours" has "over-yelping and [is] slightly out of key as she belts 'knock knock knocking every day.'"
- "These lingering recordings...pack more heat than all of her oil-gargling cougar schlock-rock from the mid-80s to early 90s."
For the Black Rose (1980) Page:
- This album served "as basic training and skid-marks the debut of the leotard."
- On "Never Should've Started" her "chainsaw vocals rip the material to shreds...with a witch-crackling hostility... and ballsy performance."
- "Julie" is "heavy chugging."
- "88 Degrees" is "more 'tart with a heart' rhetoric but they are tying themselves in knots with this train wreck."
- In "You Know It" it is "always great to hear Cher sing alongside a man, usually emasculating them."
- After "Fast Company" "someone give her a made-up phone number already! Doo-wop backing vocals hurry her out the door. Lord knows who with."
For the I Paralyze (1982) page:
- "Cher Paralyzes Her Chart Positions"
- "It was the first of 4 schlock rock affairs and by far the best...her next three albums would rely heavily on their boxer-in-the-ring style singles."
- "It has been argued that her voice was simply too big for the lead single, the 60s girlband pastiche "Rudy."
- On "Games" she "sings so deep it's hard not to wonder if she's deep-throating the microphone."
- "I Paralyze" is "pure Elvis...so visceral it's a wonder her vocal chords aren't sharp enough to shred timber."
- "When Cher quips 'you're as real as a dollar bill' her innate pronunciation manages to make the couplet rhyme."
- "Book of Love" is "worth a million bad album tracks for the throwaway lyric 'hey-ho' inadvertently being one of the familiar quirks used to impersonate her.
For Believe (1999):
- "The exotica heavy-breathing of "The Power"...its bridge is gorgeous, one of parental disdain and caution."
- "The female Elvis sound sensual on the sturdy hell-no anthem "Strong Enough" but this is throwaway stuff."
- "The sumptuous fast-lane craziness [and] mesmerizing poetry of "Taxi Taxi" and the sensual aroma of "Love is in the Groove" [has] pulsating elegance....[both] are floating and sublime and I just love their dreamy lyrics."
- "The euro-pop of "All or Nothing" is incredibly cheesy (and wonderfully so) but she injects so much euphoria into it, as do those tremoring guitars."
- "Takin Back My Heart" is "weak (Diane Warren has a lot to answer for)."
For Living Proof (2001):
- "The Music's No Good Without You" is "a monotune affair with expressive verses and an emotional soliloquy she wrote herself. I wasn't completely sold. That is, until I saw her music video, which was a tribute to Gandalf from The Lord of the Rings and I felt better."
- "The unyielding pathos of "You Take it All"...is mesmerizing and emotional to say the least (the middle eight is heroic)."
- "When the Money's Gone" is "basllsy kitchen-sink Hi-NRG....[and] just daft fun."
- "Real Love" sounds "like a robot with bulimia."
- "This will hopefully be the last dance album from Cher of this kind; the album proves there was little for her left to do in this genre...What the album does have is coherent and plaintive elegance."
I loved reading these takes on some of Cher's great albums and definitely think 'tart with a heart' is a very common Cher meme we could really explore further.
There was news last week that both Cher's mom and cat were under the weather. For Cher's mother, Cher News reported that Georgia was recovering from a bout with pneumonia. Pneumonia can be very scary. Even scarier for Cher, apparently Georgia wants to start tweeting. Recently Cher tweeted that her mom was "Much better. I'm going to her house, and let her tweet, but I will be on iPad. I can't trust her, in one minute, she'll be showing naked baby pictures."
That's funny. But things sounded more critical with Cher's beloved cat, Mr. Big.
ContactMusic reported that Cher tweeted:
"Mr. Big is sick in hosp (hospital). My friend Kat is with him, she's top heart Dr (doctor). I was crying... The weird thing is I never think about him sick! He was almost dead when we found him in Detroit, but after that he has never been sick."
Cher posted a number of pictures of Mr. Big and later admitted the cat was starting to show signs of improvement: "Mr Big in his little oxygen tent, getting his Iv of meds (medication) wrapped in blanket, but he's still eating! Nurses love him... Kat, his heart Dr. says he will be well enough 2 (to) have echocardiogram (a heart scan) tomorrow. Says he's feeling better after meds (sic) & oxygen! Better is good!..
"I'm great in an emergency, but I cry when it's over & everything is fine!"
I hope Georgia and Mr. Big get well soon. Then if Cher won't let Georgia put naked baby-Cher pictures on Twitter, we can get Mr. Big up and tweeting instead. Imagine the tweets that little guy could send us.