How Barry Manilow Almost Made Me Take on an Ex-Nun

Portrait of Felix Nadar (1820-1910), Photographer and Aeronautical Scientist

From the Smithsonian, Portrait of Felix Nadar (1820-1910), Photographer and Aeronautical Scientist

I don’t know if it’s the cold, that Christmas approaches, or that my schedule has shifted again now that Molly’s into exam-mode, but I’ve been in a sentimental mood of late. I first noted it when I was walking Maya and the playlist brought up an unexpected song: Barry Manilow’s New York City Rhythm.

Most days that would have wrenched an epithet from these lips. I would have flung my gloves into the snow, fumbled for my iPhone and blasted some hip-hop as an antidote. The ToolMaster hates Barry Manilow’s music with a blind and abiding loathing; I guess I’ve absorbed some of his attitude.

He also hates hip-hop, but then, that’s another post.

Instead I listened and I tapped my toe and I may have altered my usual zesty walk to incorporate a bit of sway. By the time I’d reached home,  the mood had gelled. Translation? I’m craving things with patina, solidity and staying power.

Hence the photo to the left. Hence the fact that I’ve made more traditional O’Hara foods in the last month than in the preceding year. Hence the old movie marathon I began, including most of Steve Martin’s celluloid.

That would include Roxanne. I love that movie. It’s sweet, tender, silly. But that opinion put me on Alice Loweecey‘s perma-ignore list. She considers the play on which it’s based a seminal work of art, and the Steve Martin adaptation an abomination in the eyes of the Lord.

Peeps, although there can be no doubt of her mistaken opinion, I did not engage her in a smackdown. Two reasons:


1. I’m interviewing her here in January, and have a teensy hunch it might be bad to have a guest hating on me before she answers her questions.  (After is par for the course. That Timothy Power’s so not the way he presents in his interview.)

2. It’s just sensible to think twice before crossing an ex-nun. (Cross… Ex-nun…. Get it?) I grudgingly allow she’s more of an authority on abominations than I. πŸ˜‰

Anyway, I rented another golden oldie from the library and enjoyed it, though not enough to fork out the money.

Remember Danny Kaye in The Court Jester? No? The good stuff starts about minute 1:10. 

The only bad part about this entire week, besides Alice’s extreme mistakenness and social faux pas in contradicting her future host β€” never to be referred to again β€” is my realization I was born a generation too late. 

I could have written those lines. I really think so. Doesn’t that seem like my kind of silliness?

But imagine me trying to cram them into a contemporary romance.

Or put this dialogue in a tender farewell scene between a vampire and his lady love, right before she goes off to kick ass and save the world. 

See what I mean?

Anyway, do you feel a yearning for the days of yore? And if you do, what music or movies would you choose to revisit?

20 thoughts on “How Barry Manilow Almost Made Me Take on an Ex-Nun

  1. Wait, you consider movies made in the 80s oldies?? But you’re older than I am! Shouldn’t we be discussing Casablanca, North by Northwest, The African Queen? I’ll even go for some Marx brothers. :shakes head: Oldies. :scoff:

  2. Jess, are you implying I’m a golden-oldies lightweight? *cracks knuckles* Don’t forget another writer left me riled up. πŸ˜‰

    Yes, when I say “classic” I mean family classic. I happen to love me some Hitchcock, though. Rope, Rear Window. Also lighter fare, although I hesitate to mention Sound of Music, because Alice is a hater of that movie too. Can’t imagine why. πŸ˜‰

    (She’s going to kill me if/when she can actually comment.)
    (But then, that’s half the fun.)

  3. Okay, for the record, I love the movie Roxanne with Steve Martin. I also adore the movie Kiss of the Spider Woman although Manual Puig’s play of the same title is far more heart-wrenching than the movie. However, I can easily see the emotion each artist tried to convey with both the movie and the play.

    With that said, I love music from the 1940’s, especially during WWII. Love that whole time period, truth be told.

    And if you don’t stop calling movies from the ’80’s classics, I’m coming to Canada to rap you with my cane. πŸ˜‰

  4. Loved this –though I kept comparing Glynis Johns’ looks as the princess, here, to her looks as Mrs. Banks in “Mary Poppins.” Oooh, Mary Popppins…haven’t watched that for years. And I’m checking our library for “The Court Jester.” Thanks for the tip on the clip; it’s a pip.

    For us, this naturally nostalgic time of year is full of family movie rituals. Before Christmas, we must watch (in order of importance) “It’s a Wonderful Life,” “A Christmas Story,” “A Charlie Brown Christmas,” “How the Grinch Stole Christmas,” and, if time permits, the Mr. Magoo version of “A Christmas Carol.” Yeah, that’s pretty much my whole viewing schedule for December.

    Book nostalgia takes me to books I loved as a kid–particularly Elizabeth Enright’s books – “The Saturdays,” “The Four-Story Mistake,” “Gone-Away Lake.”

    Also–a couple years ago, we experienced Barry Manilow live. Our excuse: the tickets were free. But we actually enjoyed the show.

  5. Hilary, if you liked that one, then you’ll be over the moon for January. πŸ˜‰ I’m saving the puns up for then.

    Teresa, do you remember the ukelele song from The Jerk? I love that, and the soundtrack from South Pacific, too. Especially Wash That Man Right Outta My Hair (?sp)

    Try bashing me with your cane and I’ll bite back with my dentures. We Canadians don’t believe in pre-emption, but we will exhibit self-defense.

    MJ, we had such different reading tastes as a kid! I’m going to have to google the books you mentioned. My comfort reads from my youth: LM Montgomery – anything; Mary Stewart – her gothics.

    Timothy, “Fanilow”? *dies* Too funny!

  6. I loved The Jerk! What a cool movie. Poor Steve Martin. *sigh* I love him so much; I’ll forgive him for that dreadful Pennies from Heaven fiasco. Ugh. πŸ˜‰

    As to Dueling Dentures . . . you’re on just so long as we get a meet-up. πŸ˜‰

  7. I love Roxanne and Steve Martin, too! I also think he’s a pretty good writer to boot.

    I always feel nostalgic around the holidays — I think seeing my kids grow another year older triggers something in me.

    Even though these movies are in no way “cliassics” or very old, I was talking to my oldest about the “brat pack” coming-of-age movies (Breakfast Club, Pretty in Pink, St. Elmo’s Fire, Less Than Zero) and how I never tired of watching them…Why didn’t I, come to think of it???

  8. 80’s? I’m so there. I totally rewatched Jewel of the Nile last night. (The 2nd time since it appeared on the free movies section last week.) I love the off-pace OTT ‘historical romance – I-have-consumption-weak-don’t-wait-for-me-cough’ thing she has going on at the beginning. (Which cracks me up, because minus the consumption, it’s not so different from how it ends πŸ˜€

    Sadly, the one thing it’s missing is an ex-nun πŸ˜‰

  9. T, oh no, I think you caught me in another (unwitting) mistake. I haven’t seen Pennies from Heaven. That bad, huh? I would love a meet-up!

    Amanda, have you read his fiction? The movie Shop Girl really intrigued me about his writing itself. Just last night I put a sample chapter on my e-reader, in fact. Re your movies: do you suppose it’s that we’ve been imprinted? Whatever movies played at a certain place in our lives are the ones we return to? Or in your case, might it be the theme? Interesting…

    Rebecca, that’s a movie I need to rewatch! I haven’t seen it since the year it came out. Still remember the looooong slide down the hillside. Hee. But no ex-nuns, huh? Too bad. πŸ˜‰

  10. Yes, I read Shop Girl (never saw the movie), and really liked his writing style. I think you have something with the movies imprinting from certain times of our lives. The ones I listed were the movies I watched with my first real boyfriend (now husband) when we were but angst-filled teens/young adults ourselves.

  11. Though I have to say, Amanda and Jan, that when we watched “The Breakfast Club” with DS, he proclaimed it one of the best movies ever.

    In showing classics to the kids, we did notice the huge difference in pacing between then and now. “Casablanca” starts REALLY slow; our kids kept asking, “Is THAT the bad guy? Is THAT?”

  12. It takes a brave woman to try to elevate Steve Martin over Edmond Rostand. Are you prepared for a duel with a woman who can still WHAP a ruler on a desk a millimeter from a dozing student’s knuckles? *evil grin*

  13. Really, MJ? That Dave is full of surprises. πŸ™‚ LOL on the Casablanca comment. We saw bits of it in a class Alicia Rasley taught our local RWA and I have to say that without her commentary I’d probably side with the kids. And yet I love that movie.

    @Alice: Ah, there’s the trigger-hair-tempered woman I know and love. πŸ˜‰ I’m looking forward to January, even if I have to bring in a few reinforcements to keep you in line.
    (Good thing you live several thousand miles away.)

    1. Jan – did the “d” confuse you? Dear Son is the one who called Breakfast Club great. Dave agrees it’s a classic, but his #1 movie of all time is “It’s a Wonderful Life.” Followed by “Robocop.”

      Jess, our dinner table discussion tonight was: Can a movie made in the 80s be considered a classic? Overwhelming response: Yes. Breakfast Club, Raiders of the Lost Ark, E.T., Animal House…well, not so sure how well Animal House holds up. Anyhow, a fun topic.

      Jan, my eye was just caught by motion above…love your animated censer!

  14. Thought it was bad when I was the only man who liked Manilow…now I’m the only person? At least the Toolmaster and I agree on hip-hop.
    While I dabble in the here and now, I’m constantly yearning for the days of yore. 70s soft rock and 80s pop and R&B are staples on my listening devices. I also love music from the 40s and 50s. As the holidays approach, White Christmas is a must-see movie and Seasons Greetings from Perry Como is the album of choice, followed closely by Johnny Mathis and Jerry Vale.
    I wouldn’t call it a classic, but an 80s movie I like to watch is Real Genius, starring Val Kilmer. Not as well-known as the brat-pack movies, but it’s fun. If I want to go way back to my childhood, then I get out my new DVDs of the original Bob Newhart Show.

  15. *giggles* I LIKED Roxanne, though I am jumping on the Brat Pack band wagon for defining 80s ‘classics’–Oh… and Big Chill. And Ferris Bueller. And possibly Fast Times at Ridgemont High *shifty* Beetlejuice!

    As for Barry Manilow… you know… much as I mock him, he deinitely evokes my childhood, and there are moods I really enjoy that. Though I prefer Neil Diamond or Simon and Garfunkle if that is what I’m going for.

  16. Jim, oh, I love Bob Newhart, although most of the lines I recall are from his second series. “When she slid across the Naugahyde seat it was like the Call of the Wild.” *snork*

    If it makes you feel better, I once adored Barry Manilow. I probably OD’d on him. I won’t tell you the joke The ToolMaster says about Perry Como, though, or I’ll interrupt your sense of male bonding. πŸ˜‰

    Hart, ooh, I like Neil Diamond! (Longfellow’s Serenade is one of my favorites.) Because of Glee he seems to be back in vogue, too.

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