Category Archives: Out of the Past

“France is Bacon”

Someone on Quora, a site that I’ve lately come to love, asked about the meaning of the phrase “France is Bacon.”  It shows up, now and then, in the oddest places.

I knew the answer to this one, because I still remember the first time I read the origin story. It came in response to a Reddit Inquiry entitled “What word or phrase did you totally misunderstand as a child?”

Redditor Lard_Baron responded with this charming reminiscence:

After all this time, that story still makes me smile.

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MTV’s The Real World: San Francisco House Is on the Market

When I heard that the house that was the setting for The Real World: San Francisco was on the market, three things surprised me:

  1. It’s been 23 years since that third series of MTV’s Real World franchise was televised. Season Three was undoubtedly The Real World’s high point, focusing as it did on the tragic, charismatic Pedro Zamora, the 22-year-old AIDS educator who died a few hours after the last show of the series was televised. MTV gets a lot of well-deserved criticism for the coarsening and dumbing down of the culture, but there have been times when it redeemed itself, and this was one of them.
  2. I had no idea that The Real World is still on the air. I’m well out of the demo and haven’t watched MTV for years, so I was unaware that the network has been cranking out its saga of drunken bad behavior, narcissistic fame whoring, and pixelated nudity for 32 seasons. That means the children of the earlier cast members are now old enough to be on the show.
  3. The asking price for the RW house, at 953 Lombard Street on Russian Hill, is $5,800,000. It was originally listed at $7,999,995 in May, dropped to $6,999,000 this month, and dropped again a few days ago. If you’re interested, you can view the listing, with pictures, at realtor.com.

It’s Dorothy Parker’s Birthday

Dorothy Parker (22 August 1893 – 7 June 1967)

It’s been 124 years since the birth of Dorothy Parker. Poet, critic, short story writer, political activist, and one of the greatest wits of the 20th century.


I do not like my state of mind;
I’m bitter, querulous, unkind.
I hate my legs, I hate my hands,
I do not yearn for lovelier lands.
I dread the dawn’s recurrent light;
I hate to go to bed at night.
I snoot at simple, earnest folk.
I cannot take the gentlest joke.
I find no peace in paint or type.
My world is but a lot of tripe.
I’m disillusioned, empty-breasted.
For what I think, I’d be arrested.
I am not sick, I am not well.
My quondam dreams are shot to hell.
My soul is crushed, my spirit sore;
I do not like me any more.
I cavil, quarrel, grumble, grouse.
I ponder on the narrow house.
I shudder at the thought of men….
I’m due to fall in love again.

― Dorothy Parker

Hello Again Again

A film adaptation of Hello Again, Michael John LaChiusa’s 1994 musical, has begun showing up at festivals and limited screenings.

Here’s where things get delightfully complicated.

Hello Again was itself inspired by Arthur Schnitzler’s German-language play, Reigen. In ten scenes, ten pairs of characters are shown before and after having sex. The first scene is about a prostitute and a soldier, the second shows the soldier and a parlor maid, the third features the parlor maid and a young gentleman, and so on, as Schnitzler’s characters move up and down the social scale, ending with a scene between a Count and the prostitute from Scene One. Schnitzler wrote the play in 1897, but it was so controversial that it wasn’t performed publicly until more than 20 years later.

If the plot sounds familiar but you don’t recognize the name of the play, that’s because in 1950, Max Ophüls filmed a French-language version of Reigen under the title La Ronde, and that title is the one that stuck with English-speaking audiences. (And presumably with French-speaking audiences as well.)

Since then, there have been at least four feature films (with four different titles) based on Reigen, and dozens of TV show have stolen the plot and structure paid reverent homage to the play.

Hello Again adds a new twist, by setting each of the scenes in a different decade, with period-appropriate music for each scene.

Should be interesting. Great cast, and the trailer certainly seems intriguing.

L.A. 2017 — A Forecast about the Then-Distant Future, from 1971

In an age of online streaming and 1000-channel cable packages, even mediocre TV comedies can still attract an audience decades after their original broadcast. As you read this, someone, somewhere, is watching a 1953 episode of I Love Lucy. Probably quite a few people are, in fact. On the other hand, TV dramas more than few years old seem to have a very short shelf-life, unless they were created by someone named Roddenberry, Serling, or Hitchcock.

The Name of the Game was an innovative television series that ran from 1968-1971. It’s largely forgotten now, which is unfortunate. The show was centered on a Los Angeles magazine company called Howard Publications, and followed three of the people who worked there: Robert Stack, as the editor of Crime Magazine, Tony Franciosa, as the editor of People Magazine, and Gene Barry, who owned the company. The Name of the Game focused on a different lead actor each week, with continuity supplied by Susan St. James, who played an editorial assistant in all three story lines.

L.A. 2017 was a Gene Barry episode. While driving home from an environmental conference, his character is overcome by pollution and faints. When he’s revived, it’s 46 years later, and he’s in a very different Los Angeles.

The young director of this episode, btw, was 24-year-old Steven Spielberg.

Apologies for the video quality, which looks like a seventh generation copy of a videotape.
The Name of the Game has never been released on Blu-ray or DVD.


Spielberg may have gotten one or two minor details wrong, but his geriatric Rock ‘n Rollers are dead-on accurate.

Star Wars Meet(s) the Beatles

The iconic 60s rock album meets the iconic 70s movie, in the mash-up you never knew you needed.

The album, titled Princess Leia’s Stolen Death Star Plans, comes from Palette-Swap Ninja, which is a collaboration between keyboard player and digital drummer Jude Kelley and singer/guitarist Dan Amrich. They describe it as a “geek-culture parody project”.

They’re releasing it just in time to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the release of Star Wars, on 25 May 2017, and the 50th anniversary of the release of the Beatles’ album Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, on 1 June 2017.

Download the full album, free at Palette-Swap Ninja.