Good afternoon, faithful readers. We’re hard at work getting the first draft of Winter’s Thaw ready to go on to its next steps in our journey. In the meantime, there are a few things I’d like to share with you.


via NY Post

The news these days is by turns infuriating, disheartening and downright scary. Sometimes all at once. Like when a mom in New York attending the U.S. Open Tennis Tournament sat down to enjoy a snack with her two children. This woman dared to dip her chicken fingers into her Coca-Cola before eating them. Of course, the internet turned the whole thing into an actionable offense. Some Twitter users went so far as to call for the woman to be put in jail, although I’m not sure for what. Do they think she should be charged with Crimes Against Fast Food Food? Unfit parenting for teaching her children unusual condiment habits? More than likely, it was for offending said Tweeters own delicate sensibilities.



Then, of course, we have the weird and creepy. Over 7,000 “items” were stolen last month from the Philadelphia Insectarium and Butterfly Pavillion. *Warning: If you have a fear of spiders, do not click the link.* What possible use could the thieves have for all those bugs? Did they intend to hold them for ransom? The monetary value of their haul was estimated to be over $40,000. How did anyone arrive at that figure? Did the thieves think they could sell to a private collector? These are burning questions to which I would like answers.

The museum’s owner, John Cambridge, was bereft. “Our insurance doesn’t cover this.” I should think not. How much does it cost to insure a big hairy spider’s eight legs? Footie ace Cristiano Rinaldo’s two are insured for $144 million and Mariah Carey’s pins for $1 billion (I KNOW!) What’s the monthly premium on $1 billion?

But, even with everything else that’s going on in the world, time and death wait for no man (or woman.) In the past couple of weeks, we’ve been left reeling from the news of the passing of several prominent and indelible public figures. We went from the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin, to a distinguished statesman and national hero, John McCain, to actor and entertainer extraordinaire, Burt Reynolds.

Reynolds, Burt - Schauspieler, USA/ i.d. Film 'Ein ausgekochtes Schlitzohr'

via Getty Images

It may have been because I was still staggering from the one-two punch of the deaths of Aretha and McCain, but this week’s news that Burt Reynolds had died, at the age of 82, hit me hard. To be honest, I thought he was a lot older than that, so frail has he looked in recent photographs. We always saw him leaning heavily on a silver-tipped cane, his face looking small and gaunt under his cosmetically darkened eyebrows. And yet, right up until the heart attack that killed him, he was still working. He had five movies released in 2017 – though most of them were “straight to video” (or is it digital, now?) He was preparing to shoot scenes for Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. When I heard Burt Reynolds was going to appear in Tarantino’s ode to the end of the Golden Age of Hollywood, the late 70s – early 80s, I remember thinking, “now that is an inspired bit of casting, and I can’t wait to find out what QT has in mind.”

Burt Reynolds owned the movies in the 1970s and into the early 80s. His reign started in 1972 with Deliverance. It ended around 1984 with Cannonball Run II and City Heat. (He was the number one box office star from 1978 to 1982.) It’s true that for every hit like Smokey and the Bandit there was a clinker like At Long Last Love. (By the way, if you have not seen this movie, do it. It’s so bad it’s brilliant. Who doesn’t want to see Burt Reynolds dance and sing Cole Porter tunes?) But he managed to move effortlessly between action and comedy and mixed the two like no one else.



He was known as much for his film work, as for his love affairs with Dinah Shore and Sally Field, as well as the nasty divorce from Loni Anderson that nearly bankrupted him. But Reynolds’ effect on pop culture in the pre-TMZ era can’t be overstated. By now you’ve probably seen the infamous centerfold* he did for Cosmopolitan. He did it more for a lark than to make a statement and he came to regret the choice. Seems tame now, but back then it was a genuine scandal.

Burt Reynolds and his films were ever-present parts of my childhood when I spent a lot of time at the movies. A twelve-year-old probably should not have been allowed to see The Man Who Loved Cat Dancing, (but how many times can one sit through the Poseidon Adventure?) I did and developed a wee crush on its male lead. To this day, if I go to his IMDB page and read the titles of the films he made during the 70s and early 80s, I can tell you when, where and with whom, I first saw them.

As Vanity Fair’s Rebecca Keegan stated so eloquently, Burt Reynolds was the “twinkly-eyed, mustachioed, charisma-soaked man’s man actor of my youth…” I couldn’t say it any better, and luckily, I’ll always have that. Cannonball Run and a bucket of popcorn, anyone?

That laugh! It was more like a giggle. How did anyone keep a straight face?

And how was your week? Do you have any bizarre tidbits of news or a favorite Burt Reynolds film memory to share?



*I’ve forgotten the circumstances, but someone gave my mother a print on metal – sort of a modern daguerreotype – of the photo in question. A very odd thing to have in one’s home.