I’m not sure why but the hanging of Saddam has really bothered me. On a completely different note. I went online tonight and got three offers for dinner-movie-sex dates. Flattered as I am. Its a bit scary thinking about going out with anyone. I think because I haven’t been in such a long time. The focus has been elsewhere and for the most part still is. I’m not sure what scares me about it, maybe that I won’t be liked or that I’ll be boring and overly serious and quiet. Anyway, I also got an invitation to visit with someone I know and have cheesecake. He’s shown interest in me in the past and he is very cuddly so what’s the harm.
This is one of those off things that I read and found really interesting. I have no idea why.
Since bananas have no seeds, all banana crops are just clones of each other. In the 1950s, the world’s most popular banana, Gros Michel, was devastated by an unstoppable fungus. Now we eat bananas called Cavendish that aren’t as good but more resistant. A new strain of that fungus is now destroying the Cavendish. Soon no more bananas!
‘Wonderful Life’ actress keeps smiling despite her life’s tragedies
Monday, December 25, 2006
By MICHAEL HILL
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
SENECA FALLS, N.Y. — Zuzu has a cold again. She sniffles and sucks on a cold pill as she signs autographs for fans lined up to the door in a coffee shop.
Karolyn Grimes jokes that she left her coat open, like her character Zuzu Bailey in “It’s a Wonderful Life.” But a more likely culprit is the holiday crunch of appearances by the former child actress — from a Victorian festival in Puyallup to the Colorado Country Christmas Show and now to Seneca Falls, which claims to be the inspiration for director Frank Capra’s mythical Bedford Falls.
Around Christmas, this Finger Lakes village is gussied up like the snowy movie town with white lights and wreaths strung across the main street. And the 66-year-old Grimes has come for a weekend celebration.
Everyone who saw the movie remembers Zuzu. She gets to say, “Every time a bell rings, an angel gets his wings.” And the petals from Zuzu’s rose — stuffed into a pants pocket by Jimmy Stewart’s George Bailey as he comforts his sickly daughter — become a symbol of life.
Grimes laughs about the petals getting more screen time than she did. But she has parlayed her six minutes in the beloved 1946 film into a late-life career. After enduring heartaches that make George Bailey’s troubles look small, she has become a feel-good ambassador for the film and one of its last living links.
“I’m that little girl and I stand for something those people love,” she says. “… For some reason or other, that little girl embodies the image, or maybe the power to make them happy.”
People tell her as much all afternoon at the Zuzu Cafe, where she sits with a Sharpie at a table laid out with “Wonderful” stuff: DVDs, ceramic ornaments, memory books, her own “Zuzu Bailey’s It’s a Wonderful Life Cookbook” and scattered rose petals.
“Do you know what a thrill this is? ”
“This is my favorite movie!”
“Thank you for giving us so much joy!”
For each person, Grimes neatly signs her name with “Zuzu” in quotes and a little doodle of a bell. She usually adds a message like, “Enjoy life, it’s wonderful.”
Grimes lives near Seattle, but retains a Midwestern cheeriness. She holds her smile for hours and laughs as she pops up for snapshots. She has a gold “Z” pinned to her blue velveteen jacket.
She lost her nest egg in the 2001 economic downturn and relies on these appearances. As she signs, her husband sits beside her and asks, “Cash or credit card?” It’s a job, but she clearly loves being Zuzu. After signing autographs all afternoon, she bumps into a fan at a diner who talks on her cell phone to her father.
Grimes happily accepts the phone.
“Do you know who you’re talking to?” she says to the woman’s father. “You’re talking to Zuzu!”
Grimes already had worked with Bing Crosby, Fred Astaire and Fred MacMurray when she appeared in “It’s a Wonderful Life.” She grew up in Hollywood and was nudged into the business by her mother. Capra picked her to play Zuzu.
Grimes retains kid-centric memories of the movie: Capra kindly squatted to give her directions. “Mr. Stewart” held her in his arms, take after take, for the end scene and always put her down gently. She loved the Baileys’ big Christmas tree.
At the time though, even to a 5-year-old, “it was just another job.”
Grimes’ movie career waned as her mother became ill. She lost her at age 14. Her father died in a car accident a year later. A court shipped the teenage orphan to Osceola, Mo., to live in a “bad home” with an aunt and uncle.
Still, she liked meeting people outside hyper-competitive Hollywood. She went to college, married, raised kids, became a medical technologist. Zuzu was the past. Her box of clips and pics stayed in the basement until 1980, when a reporter came to her door in Stilwell, Kan., and asked her a question:
“Did you play that little girl in the movie, ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’?”
Now Grimes stands watching herself on a big-screen TV as a curly-haired pixie from 60 years ago. The little girl asks her dad to fix her flower, and he sneaks the wilted petals into his pocket.
“What do you think? Did I see it?” she asks the audience. Grimes is giving a crowd at the community center a tour of the movie with bits of trivia.
Zuzu’s name was inspired by an old brand of ginger snaps, she says. The snow coating Bedford Falls was made of soap flakes and chemicals; that’s why it looks sudsy sometimes. Reviewing the flower scene, she suggests Zuzu saw through her father’s heartfelt ruse and loves him all the more for it.
“I think what Frank Capra is trying to say is she knows her father isn’t perfect,” she said.
The film about a suicidal, small-town moneylender was a bit of a dud after its December 1946 release. “Wonderful Life” got a second life in the mid-’70s when a lapsed copyright allowed television stations to show the movie for free. The movie gathered iconic status through constant showings.
After the reporter’s story, Grimes did local Zuzu events in the ’80s and branched out by the ’90s.
This was a difficult stretch personally; she knows angels don’t always save people. Her 18-year-old son killed himself in 1989 and her second husband died of cancer in 1994 (her first husband was killed in a hunting accident). She kept on.
“You have a choice,” she says. “You can drown in your sorrows, be the grumpy old Mr. Potter and be hurt and be in pain … but I think you need to put that behind you because, my gosh, life is a wonderful gift.”
Grimes, one of about seven surviving actors from the movie, says she has had troubled souls approach her sobbing at her appearances. She inspires smiles when she passes out a rose petal.
“I really feel like Zuzu is kind of a mission maybe, I don’t know,” Grimes says. “I think that there is a higher power at work and that I had to go through a lot of adverse situations in my life to understand other people’s pain.”
If it sounds like a corny sentiment out of a Capra movie, consider that after a day of “It’s a Wonderful Life” autographs and interviews she becomes excited — really excited — by a small cutout of a bell stuck to a linoleum floor by her chair.
It has meaning, she explains as she walks out to the snowy sidewalks of Seneca Falls, past the decorated windows, the old-fashioned streetlights and the wreaths hanging overhead.
“I really feel at home here,” she says.
People here argue about the Bedford Falls connection, though it’s a circumstantial case. Both places have a “Falls” suffix, and characters in the film mention nearby cities like Rochester and Elmira. Both places have classic American main streets, and the bridge here resembles the one where George Bailey pondered his mortality.
Capra, whose movie village was a set built near Los Angeles, left no evidence to rule out other candidates, such as Bedford, N.Y.
And yet the director could have passed through Seneca Falls while visiting an aunt in nearby Auburn. Retired local barber Tommy Bellissima even claims he cut Capra’s hair before the movie came out. Bellissima recalls a friendly guy whose name stuck in his head: capra means goat in Italian.
“Sometimes Christmas is what you believe,” says county tourism director Maureen Koch at the Zuzu Cafe, “and don’t make me prove it.”
© 1998-2006 Seattle Post-Intelligencer
FBI documents from 1947 show that government officials once believed the Christmas movie classic “It’s a Wonderful Life” was Communist propaganda. About the FBI memo titled “COMMUNIST INFILTRATION OF THE MOTION PICTURE INDUSTRY,” Blogger Will Chen writes,
I love It’s a Wonderful Life because it teaches us that family, friendship, and virtue are the true definitions of wealth.
In 1947, however, the FBI considered this anti-consumerist message as subversive Communist propaganda (read original FBI memo).
According to Professor John Noakes of Franklin and Marshall College, the FBI thought Life smeared American values such as wealth and free enterprise while glorifying anti-American values such as the triumph of the common man.
Link. 1947 was the same year in which the House Unamerican Activities Committee (HUAC) began investigating suspected Communist influence in Hollywood. This led to the blacklisting of many directors, writers, and other talent. More background on that: Link.
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The last couple of days have been odd. I’m relieved and very happy about the new job and yet I’ve been having nightmares most every night since last week. These leave me feeling not so good when I wake up. I’m sure they are just my minds way of coping with the transitions and changes going on in my life. Mike and I decorated the house this past weekend. The tree is up dressed with lights and ready for ornaments. I rearranged the livingroom and my bedroom with his help. I think things look really good, very wam and homey. The other day I went out with B and a couple of other people. I got to meet B’s wife, shes incredible anyway, somewere along the way I lost my napsack which has my franklin covey day planner in it and a bunch of other things. I called both bars we had gone to and B checked his car all to no avail. I’m hoping that I left it at his cube which is the only other place I haven’t checked yet. I’ll try the bar one more time tonight in case someone didn’t look so well.
So yesterday was my last REAL day of work and it was mostly filled with getting “the new guy” up to speed on my projects and what’s where. “the new guy” has worked in the position as a temporary worker before so he knows everyone. I went out with some friends after work it was a good time. One of the friends that I went out with shared they are expecting. I”m so excited for them. It was such a release yesterday and last night. I was joking with Mike after getting back about some of the people that have given me shit and made life as difficult for me as they could while I was there. I got a case of the giggles and was hurting so much from laughing. It was a good thing. It feels like a release from prision, not that I know what thats like but. Anyway I’m happy about work finally.
I’m very happy to say that I was offered the job that I’ve been interviewing for today. I’ll be moving over sometime in the next two weeks. This makes me so happy. I’m sad that I won’t get to continue working with my coworkers, many of who have become friends as well as coworkers. The money is the least of the motivations for this job although the raise which is sizable certainly doesn’t make me sad. I’m nervous about doing a good job however, to be honest I really shouldn’t be. I think its more that I’m used to doing what I do with whom I do it. I’ll finally never have to deal with the more unpleasant elements of my current job again. I’m going to make every effort to do the absolute best I can with this opportunity. It will be interesting to see if they give it to VH. The day we are having our annual Christmas party also happens to be same day as my last day. It is a good way to transition with a celebration. I’m really really happy.