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How to Hold a Cat

(YouTube link)

You may wonder how on earth there could be this much information on how to hold a cat, but Dr. Uri Burstyn, the Helpful Vancouver Vet, doesn't waste any time giving us solid information about cats and their reactions. He shows us his techniques for picking up a cat, restraining a cat, and dealing with a "shoulder cat," in case you have one of those. Squish. That. Cat. None of my cats, as needy as they are, like to be picked up. I attribute that to them being raise in a houseful of clumsy kids. -via reddit 


Bela Lugosi Meets a Brooklyn Gorilla: An All-Time Turkey

Neatorama presents a guest post from actor, comedian, and voiceover artist Eddie Deezen. Visit Eddie at his website or at Facebook.

Our story begins in November of 1950, when Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis were making one of their appearances on the popular weekly variety show The Colgate Comedy Hour. At the end of one of their comedy sketches on the show, a 16-year-old kid named Sammy Petrillo made an appearance as a baby Jerry Lewis, in a crib. Sammy was paid "around $600" for the gig -easy money- he had no lines. A few weeks later, Sammy made another guest appearance as a Jerry Lewis clone on Eddie Cantor's Colgate Comedy Hour turn (the show featured rotating guest hosts).

Actually, our story began 16 years earlier, when Sammy Petrillo was born in the Bronx, in 1934. Like Jerry Lewis, Sammy was born into a show business family. And also like Jerry, Sammy began performing at a very early age and would sometimes join his father onstage when he was performing in the Catskills.

Already bitten by the show biz bug, as a teenager, Sammy enrolled in the High School of Performing Arts in Manhattan. The turning point of Sammy Petrillo's life occurred one innocent day- when he was getting a haircut.

Sammy: “One day I went down to the Annex at the High School of Performing Arts. The Annex was a trade school and they had people who were learning how to cut hair. And so I got a freebie haircut and the guy cut my hair and he started to laugh. And I said, 'Whatta ya laughing at?' and he said, 'You look just like that Jerry Lewis!' And I said, 'Get outta here!' And everywhere I walked, people laughed and asked me if I was Jerry Lewis, it was unbelievable. And Jerry Lewis at the time, I guess, had made his second motion picture, My Friend Irma Goes West. I really didn't know that much about him. I kinda caught some glimpses of the movie and I saw he went, 'Ack! Ack! Ack!' And he talked kinda high... And I said, 'Gee, maybe I do resemble that guy and I can do that kind of a laugh, I could do that kind of a voice."

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Monkey Business: The Marx Brothers Laugh Fest

Neatorama presents a guest post from actor, comedian, and voiceover artist Eddie Deezen. Visit Eddie at his website or at Facebook.

The year was 1931 and the four Marx Brothers (Groucho, Harpo, Chico and Zeppo) had by now had three hit Broadway shows and two smash movies: The Cocoanuts (1929) and Animal Crackers (1930)- behind them. Both The Cocoanuts and Animal Crackers were simply filmed versions of their Broadway shows. Both films had been shot in nearby Astoria Studios in Long Island, New York.

The Marxes, now being official 24-karat movie stars, decided to pull up stakes and move to the only residence befitting motion picture celebrities- Hollywood. Their third film would be their first with an official Hollywood screenplay.

The working title of their tertiary film was Pineapples, but was soon changed to Monkey Business. Written by S.J. Perelman and Will B. Johnstone with a screenplay by Arthur Sheekman, Monkey Business was directed by Norman Z. McLeod

Monkey Business was to be the only Marx Brothers film in which none of the brothers have a character name. Because they played four stowaways on a passenger ship, they were simply referred to as "the stowaways." (in the film's end credits, they are credited by their names, i.e. Groucho, Harpo, Chico and Zeppo Marx.)

What little plot there is involves the boys stowing away on a ship, being pursued by the captain of the ship and his underlings, meeting rival gangsters on board and getting involved with them, leaving the ship and thwarting an attempted kidnapping of one of the gangster's daughters.

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"Can't Buy Me Love" by the Beatles

Neatorama presents a guest post from actor, comedian, and voiceover artist Eddie Deezen. Visit Eddie at his website or at Facebook.

In January of 1964, the Beatles were in Paris, staying at the five-star hotel, the famous Georges V. They were staying there during the 18 days of concerts they were giving at Paris' Olympia Theater. This was to be the last concert residency of the Beatles before they made their legendary first trip to America to appear on The Ed Sullivan Show in early February.

John and Paul had an upright piano sent up to their room for them compose new songs on. In these early days of Beatlemania, John and Paul still pretty much composed together. "Eyeball to eyeball, nose to nose"-type composing, as John would later call it.

But the new song the two composers came up with was not to be the usual Lennon-McCartney collaboration. This was no joint effort, this song was Paul's baby. It would also become one of the first McCartney "classics." It was to be very rare in the early canon of Beatle records, in that it is completely sung by just one person- none of the legendary "Beatle harmonies" or any background vocals whatsoever. No, this one was Paul's and Paul's alone.

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Charlie Chaplin's Modern Times

Neatorama presents a guest post from actor, comedian, and voiceover artist Eddie Deezen. Visit Eddie at his website or at Facebook.

The talkie revolution had been steadily rising in motion pictures since the late 1920's. Charlie Chaplin, the world's most famous and beloved movie figure, had resisted joining the growing revolution with his most recent film City Lights in 1931.

Chaplin's follow-up film, Modern Times, was originally planned and scheduled to be Chaplin's first full-length talkie. Charlie had written an entire sound script and it looked like Chaplin's world famous persona, "the little tramp," would finally be speaking in a movie, in this, Chaplin's 77th motion picture. But after giving the idea second thoughts, Chaplin shifted gears and decided to go back to the idea of a silent film. The little tramp, he reasoned, was a universal figure, and with the first words he spoke, he would lose much of his worldwide audience.

Production on Modern Times (the film's working title was The Masses) began on October 11, 1934. Modern Times would tell the story of Chaplin's tramp being caught up in the ever-growing industrial world and how he coped with it.

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Thelma and Louise: The First Female Buddy Picture

Neatorama presents a guest post from actor, comedian, and voiceover artist Eddie Deezen. Visit Eddie at his website or at Facebook.

Callie Khouri, a 30-year-old music-video line producer, was driving home to her apartment in Santa Monica on a spring day in Los Angeles in 1988. She didn't realize it at the time, but during this seemingly routine drive back to her home, Callie was about to experience an epiphany. The words came to her and hit her like a bolt from the blue: Two women go on a crime spree.

"That one sentence!" Callie recalled, "I felt the character arcs- I saw the whole movie."

Unlike so many others in Hollywood, Callie had never even tried to write a screenplay before, but thoughts and ideas kept flooding into her mind. "I saw, in a flash, where those two women started and where they ended up. Through a series of accidents, they would go from being invisible to being too big for their world to contain," she added.

Furiously inspired, Callie began writing, in longhand, and kept going, adding more whenever she had spare time, for the next six months. Like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle, more and more of the story came together for her. She would write whenever possible, at odd, free hours, then type out what she had written on her office computer.

The story gradually fleshed out- two women from Arkansas, one older than the other, one a waitress, one a housewife, both in mediocre relationships, one married, one not. The two women want to escape and go off to a borrowed fishing cabin, have some fun, a few laughs, and maybe find a little adventure and excitement to spice up their fairly tedious, drab lives. On the drive to the cabin they decide to stop off at a roadside cafe and have a drink or two.

But things go off the rails at the cafe, one of the women has a few drinks and a guy she had been innocently dancing with tries to rape her. In what would quickly become a nightmare scenario, her friend sees the attempt and fatally shoots the man. The planned fun but innocent weekend escalates into full scale getaway from increasing numbers of various and sundry lovers, strangers, police and G-men.

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An Acid Trip with Groucho Marx

Neatorama presents a guest post from actor, comedian, and voiceover artist Eddie Deezen. Visit Eddie at his website or at Facebook.

In 1968, Groucho Marx signed on for the final movie role in his legendary career. Groucho agreed to play a mobster called "God" in a terrible movie called Skidoo, directed by famed director Otto Preminger. The film starred Jackie Gleason and Carol Channing.

It also featured an all-star (and eclectic) cast including Mickey Rooney, Burgess Meredith, Cesar Romero, Frank Gorshin, Peter Lawford, George Raft, and Frankie Avalon. The fact of Gorshin, Romero, and Meredith all appearing  would indicate some kind of Batman love by either the film's writer or someone behind the scenes. The three actors had famously played the three most popular guest villains on the show i.e. the Riddler, the Joker and the Penguin. That, plus the fact that Otto Preminger himself had played Mr. Freeze on the series, too.

With such an intriguing cast, all systems were go for the filming on location in San Francisco (Interestingly, John Wayne had donated the use of his personal yacht to be used as Groucho's yacht in the film.)

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Burt Reynolds: The First Nude Male Centerfold

Neatorama presents a guest post from actor, comedian, and voiceover artist Eddie Deezen. Visit Eddie at his website or at Facebook.

"You may or may not ever see a male nude centerfold in Cosmopolitan, but I hope you do." 

-Helen Gurley Brown to female
Cosmopolitan staffers, 1971.

In 1972, after a decade and a half in the business, Burt Reynolds was finally on the brink of stardom. Now 36, Burt had been an actor since the late 1950's.

His first movie was Angel Baby in 1961. Since then, he had appeared in several mediocre to bad films (usually typecast as a Native American) and had either starred or had recurring roles in three TV series- Gunsmoke, Dan August and Hawk. Burt claims he was "the first actor in history to be in a cancelled TV series on each of the three networks" (CBS, ABC and NBC).

But the sweet smell of success seemed to finally be wafting Burt's way. He had just wrapped on the film version of James Dickey's powerful novel Deliverance. Burt was heavily counting on this major release (co-starring Academy Award nominee Jon Voight) to finally put him over into "grade A" films and roles. He knew he had done his finest acting to date in Deliverance.

Burt Reynolds was also by this time gaining a reputation as "a personality." He enjoyed making the rounds of the TV talk shows, especially The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson.

Unlike many good-looking actors, Burt displayed a quick wit and a very keen sense of humor. Because he was so naturally funny and quick on his feet, Burt became the first non-comedian Johnny Carson ever asked to host The Tonight Show in his absence.

One night early in 1972, after he had finished filming Deliverance and was awaiting its release, he was hosting The Tonight Show. Appearing with him on the show was Helen Gurley Brown, editor of the popular women's magazine Cosmopolitan and author of the best-selling book Sex and the Single Girl. On the show, he and Helen started bantering back and forth.

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Airplane! The Funniest Movie Ever

Neatorama presents a guest post from actor, comedian, and voiceover artist Eddie Deezen. Visit Eddie at his website or at Facebook.

In the early 1970s, the Zucker brothers, David and Jerry, and their creative partner Jim Abrahams, were performing in a comedy and improv theater group called Kentucky Fried Theater. During nights while the three slept, they had a habit of taping the television shows that ran into the early hours of the morning. They used this procedure to try and find TV commercials which they could satirize in their comedy routines. One night, completely by accident, they happened to record an obscure 1957 movie called Zero Hour!

Zero Hour! was an oh-so-serious drama starring Dana Andrews, Linda Darnell and Sterling Hayden. The plot of Zero Hour! involved a commercial plane flight, during which the pilots and some of the passengers get food poisoning, which causes one of the passengers, an ex-World War II fighter pilot, to try and land the airplane in a heavy fog. The Zuckers and Abrahams watched the film and found its extreme seriousness highly amusing. It contained lines like: "We have to find someone who can not only fly the plane, but who didn't have fish for dinner."

The trio of young writers eagerly wrote a satirical script, mainly using things from Zero Hour! and adding several satirical commercials. They called this original script The Late Show. This script was later changed and the idea of the satirical commercials was eventually dropped from it. The basic premise of satirizing Zero Hour! remained, but instead of the commercial satirization, the boys threw in scores of crazy puns, bizarre sight gags, wild slapstick and hilarious dialogue.

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Queen of the Extras: The Bess Flowers Story

Neatorama presents a guest post from actor, comedian, and voiceover artist Eddie Deezen. Visit Eddie at his website or at Facebook.

Bess Flowers was born in Sherman, Texas, on November 23, 1898. While growing up, her father was extremely strict. When Bess dated boys, her father would always bawl them out, much to Bess's consternation. She finally grew tired of her dad's boorish behavior, and "borrowing" the extra money her mother kept stashed in the family sugar bowl, she decided to leave home and head for New York. "I was going to New York because I wanted to be an actress," she was to recall.

But at the train station, Bess spotted a poster with oranges on it, advertising another destination. "What the devil," she impulsively decided, "I'll go to California and get into pictures." Little did she know that not only would she "get into pictures," she would become the most prolific actress (or actor, for that matter) in the history of motion pictures.

Bess actually could never remember the name of the first movie she appeared in, but she did recall it was at Metro in 1922. "I got a job the first day I went on an interview," she remembered. In 1923, Bess made her first known and documented movie appearance, as an un-credited extra in the silent film Hollywood. She appeared in two more films in 1923, then took the next two years off (for whatever unknown reason) before beginning her amazing career as an extra in earnest.



For the next 38 years, beginning in 1926, Bess Flowers was to be an "uncredited extra" in over 350 feature films, not counting many comedy shorts. She is generally accepted by most sources as the performer who appeared in the most movies.

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Steven Spielberg's Schindler's List

Neatorama presents a guest post from actor, comedian, and voiceover artist Eddie Deezen. Visit Eddie at his website or at Facebook.

"It'll make a helluva story. Is it true?" 

-Steven Spielberg after reading Schindler's Ark

The film Schindler's List was based on a 1982 "nonfiction novel" written by Thomas Keneally called Schindler's Ark, about Oskar Schindler, a Nazi industrialist who spent his accumulated fortune to save his Jewish workers from the Shoah.

Steven Spielberg, who was eventually to direct the film, explained: "I was drawn to it because of the paradoxical nature of the character. It wasn't about a Jew saving Jews, or a neutral person from Sweden or Switzerland saving Jews. It was about a Nazi saving Jews. What would drive a man like this to suddenly take everything he had earned and put it all in the service of saving these lives?"

Spielberg did not commit to directing the film in 1982, but showed enough interest for Universal Studios to buy the book's rights. In 1983, Poldek Pfefferberg, one of the hundreds of "Schindlerjuden" ("Schindler's Jews," or Jews who were saved by Oskar Schindler) met with Spielberg and asked him about the film. "Please," asked Pfefferberg, "When are you starting?"

"Ten years from now," Spielberg replied. At the age of 36, Spielberg did not think he was mature enough to take on a film about the Holocaust.

Spielberg was motivated by several factors to get started on filming Schindler's List a decade later. Among these were the rise of antisemitism in Europe at the time. Also, Holocaust "deniers" (those who claimed the Holocaust never took place) were being given time on the news and in the press.

Other world events played a part in Spielberg's decision. Spielberg: "There was CNN reporting every day on the equivalent to the Nazi death camps in Bosnia, the atrocities against the Muslims- and then the horrible word(s) 'ethnic cleansing,' cousin to the 'Final Solution.' I thought: my God this is happening again." Another contributing factor for Spielberg was the studio executives, who asked him why he didn't just make a donation of some form, instead of wasting everyone's time and money on a "depressing film."

While working on the movie Hook (1991), Spielberg picked up the Schindler's List script ("I hadn't read it for a year") and was leafing through it. "And I suddenly turned to Kate, who was half asleep, and I said, 'I'm doing Schindler's List as my next film.'"

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Do Mice Really Love Cheese?

Neatorama presents a guest post from actor, comedian, and voiceover artist Eddie Deezen. Visit Eddie at his website or at Facebook.

All of us were raised in a generation of cat-and-mouse cartoons. Natural enemies, I guess cats and mice make a great adversarial team, being much more common animated foes than, say, dogs and cats. These classic cartoons have given forth many mouse stereotypes.

First off, cats don't chase mice using brooms to swat them, with both characters running upright on their hind legs. And in spite of these oft-seen stereotypes, most of us still know and realize that most mice do not wear white gloves, or vests, or bow ties. And most mice do not sleep in made-up little matchbooks or hibernate in holes in the wall with perfect semi-circular entrances.

But we've also all seen the cute cartoons of mice chewing away on a big, delicious hunk of cheese. Somehow this one seems to persist, and is still widely believed.

In 2006, Dr. David Holmes, an animal behaviorist in Britain's Manchester Metropolitan University, shocked the world when he announced: "No, mice really don't like cheese."

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12 Fast Facts About Catch Me If You Can

When Steven Spielberg directs Tom Hanks pursuing a con man played by Leonardo DiCaprio in a movie based on a true story, it's going to be a hit. And the 2002 movie Catch Me If You Can was surprisingly funny, besides. The story behind the making of the movie was pretty amazing, too.

1. IT TOOK 22 YEARS FOR THE BOOK TO BE TURNED INTO A MOVIE.

The real Frank Abagnale Jr. published his memoir (co-written by Stan Redding) in 1980, and sold the film rights the same year. (It was Johnny Carson who encouraged him to write a book, by the way.) A decade later, producer Michel Shane optioned the book again, then sold the rights in 1997 to another producer, Paramount's Barry Kemp, who hired Jeff Nathanson to write the script. Finally, in 2001, Kemp, Shane, and Shane's partner Anthony Romano accepted "executive producer" credits so that DreamWorks could bring in its own producer/director: Steven Spielberg. The film was released on Christmas Day 2002.

7. THEY SHOT IN MORE THAN 140 LOCATIONS IN JUST 52 DAYS.

That's an average of almost three locations a day, many of them in and around Los Angeles, but quite a few in New York City and Montreal. And as anyone who's worked on a film set can tell you, even a move of a few blocks is a massive undertaking. Spielberg and his crew worked fast.

Read more about the production of Catch Me If You Can at Mental Floss.


Band on the Run: Paul McCartney's Landmark Album

Neatorama presents a guest post from actor, comedian, and voiceover artist Eddie Deezen. Visit Eddie at his website or at Facebook.

"Screw you. I'll make an album you'll wish you'd been on."

-Paul McCartney

It was 1973 and Paul McCartney had by now been a solo artist (ex-Beatle) for four full years. He had released four albums since the Fab Four's split, two solo and two with his band Wings. His four albums McCartney, Ram, Wild Life and Red Rose Speedway had each sold well, even reaching high spots on the Billboard charts, but had mainly been considered disappointing, from a critical viewpoint, at least.

In a fairly general consensus, since leaving the Beatles, Paul had "lost it;" he didn't have that sharp edge he had when he was writing songs with John Lennon. Not to mention in the eyes of the three people whose opinions Paul considered most important.

About Paul's first solo album McCartney, George Harrison opined: Paul has "isolated" himself, so that "The only person he's got to tell him if a song is good or bad is (his wife) Linda." John called Ram, Paul's follow-up album, "Paul's granny music," and describing it as "awful." Even the mild-mannered Ringo chimed in on Ram: "I don't think there's a tune on it."

But the worst of all was John's vicious 1971 song "How Do You Sleep?" a merciless attack on his ex-writing partner, motivated by a few subtle jibes Paul had put in on a few of his songs. Describing Paul's post-Beatles output as "Muzak in my ears" and saying "Those freaks was right when they said you was dead," "A pretty face may last a year or two," and "The only thing you done was 'Yesterday,'" John proceeded to tear Paul apart, in a song.

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30 Cold, Hard Facts About Die Hard

The 1988 movie Die Hard broke new ground in many ways. We had heartwarming Christmas family movies, and we had Christmas horror films, but this was a Christmas action blockbuster. It put comedic actor Bruce Willis into a heroic role we weren't used to at the time. And it introduced us to Alan Rickman as the attractive yet terrifying villain Hans Gruber. Die Hard holds up well 29 years later. And it has a long and really interesting backstory.

1. IT’S GOT A LITERARY BACKGROUND.

Think some action-loving Hollywood scribe came up with the concept for Die Hard? Think again. The movie is based on Roderick Thorp’s 1979 crime novel Nothing Lasts Forever, which is a sequel to his 1966 novel, The Detective. In 2013, Thorp’s long out-of-print book was resurrected to coincide with the film’s 25th anniversary.

2. IT WAS INSPIRED BY THE TOWERING INFERNO.

The idea for Nothing Lasts Forever was inspired John Guillermin’s 1974 disaster flick The Towering Inferno. After seeing the film, Thorp had a dream about a man being chased through a skyscraper by a group of men with guns. He eventually turned that snippet of an idea into a sequel to The Detective.

The extensive trivia list goes on to follow the casting, production, and pivotal moments of the film. Read the story of Die Hard at Mental Floss.


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