May 20, 2005

I went to the library during lunch.

Yes, it’s true. I do occasionally read things. (Not a lot, though, because thinking hurts my head.) Anyway, I looked around a bit and was about to get on the escalator when I decided to go look in the bookstore. Despite the fact that it never ceases to depress me terribly.

If there was ever a reason that I cannot bring myself to try to submit a manuscript to a publishing house, this is it. I’ve always figured, given the huge number of vapid celebritomes and insipid “Bouillon for the Psyche” books out there that you can just about get anything printed nowadays, including something by some goober like me. But to what end? I looked at the rows of forlorn books, some even By Noted Authors, all for a buck apiece. Come on…a buck!? That’s almost like leaving a dime for a tip. Sure, that may be all the service is worth, but why rub it in like that? I figure I’d be happier just giving this silly mess away, rather than see it neatly bound and languishing on a shelf trying to convince some drunk sailor to part with some loose change.

Anyway, nothing worth spending a dollar on. Walked on around to the record albums. Yet more dreckliness. Normal stacks of obscure classical vinyl music (you know, for the type of people who used go to the library to check out record albums so they could get some free culturing up), some Lawrence Welk, earnest flower-child era folk albums, a few jazz albums from back when jazz meant guys with Brylcreemed hair, a smoke, and a pair of incredibly voluptuous women full of lust and tranquilizers, languorously slathered onto the piano.

And then.

Oh. My.

You know, when you’re growing up, you hear asides and funny bits from the television, not really understanding or knowing why they’re supposed to be funny, but they are anyway. Especially like when, say, Bugs Bunny is imitating Liberace, and he purrs, “I wish my brother George was here to see this.” You know it’s funny, because he imitating Liberace, who was “funny” and he really did say stuff like that, and it was funny, because it was said funny and--so, where was I going with this?

Oh, yes--from Contessa Records, CON-15033,

Dine & Dance with
and his orchestra

Oh, I know I should have a digital camera with me at all times, but there is always the miracle of the Internets. I did a moment’s work, and came up with this jewel.

Not the same album--this one’s from the Beverly Hilton (not Paris and Nikki’s mom--at least not that I can tell) but the cover photograph is the exact same--George, looking kinda like his more famous sibling, sawing on a fiddle, leering at the camera, whilst a couple dance in the background. He--distracted by something over beyond GLiberace; she--imploring him to turn back and feel the warm embrace of a woman. Tension! Angst! THE “GEORGE LIBERACE MAMBO”!

Incredible. I had to buy it. Because now all those years of watching Bugs Bunny and Liberace make sense. (Not really.)

It’s also kinda nice, because it has a K-Mart sticker on it, and it was on "special sale" at some wayback time in the past for 2 for $1.00. So, it’s kinda like the stock on this rare jewel is rising. It’s doubled in value! Or something.

What more finds? More classical albums, then some stuff from the mid-‘80s when everyone wanted to be mulletted Hall and Oates clones. No offense to the Portland Brothers, who have dropped into a terrible obscurity from which even Google cannot rescue them.


And there it was:

Music from the Original Sound Track
Composed and Conducted by Piero Piccioni
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer presents A CARLO PONTI PRODUCTION
“More than a miracle”

Or, as we say in Italian, C'era una volta...

Ahhh, Sophia. On the album she is rendered in all of her mod bosomy 1967 glory in a color pencil drawing. Again, through the miracle of the personal computer and the WWW, we can see a copy of the artwork.

You’re welcome.

You will note the dark and brooding Omar Sharif (or Al Pacino--hard to tell from the picture) in the background as he looks over her shoulder, examining something on the ground about three feet in front of Sophia. Here’s an alternative poster for the French version, in which poor clueless Omar again looks at something less impressive than the obvious attractions.

Anywho, the blurb on the back album cover tells you everything you need to know about what was so dreadfully awry about the late 1960s:

Prince Ramon (Omar Sharif) is everything a prince should be, but, to the displeasure of his mother (Dolores Del Rio) he is more interested in horses than in marrying a princess. One day he encounters a monk (Leslie French) with the power to fly. The monk presents Ramon with some magic flour which, when baked into seven dumplings and eaten, will enable the prince to choose a wife. His first opportunity to put this magic to work comes in the person of a beautiful peasant girl named Isabella (Sophia Loren), but she bakes only six dumplings. After a series of adventures, matters come to a head and seven princesses have made the semi-finals as Ramon’s bride elect. But when Ramon learns that Isabella is now working in his castle as a dishwasher he decides on a dishwashing contest. To everyone’s amazement, Isabella loses to the Princess of Altimura, but the flying monk finds out the dishes have been tampered with, and a joyous banquet is prepared to celebrate the betrothal of Ramon and Isabella.

Oh, the heck with writing a darned book--I’m gonna be a SCREENWRITER!

But, in fairness, it does have Sophia Loren in it, which is one of the things that is very right about the late 1960s. I had to buy that one, too--it had been marked down in some discount bin to 77 cents. So, its value is rising just like George’s!

And then I bought lunch and came back here.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at May 20, 2005 03:47 PM

Is it just my long-remembered twelve-year-old fantasies, or does Sophia look exactly like the Partridge-Family-era Susan Dey?

Posted by: Tom Jackson at May 20, 2005 07:35 PM

Somewhat, although in '67, Dey was only 15, and as far as I recall, she never became quite so voluminously filled out as Sophia.

Posted by: Terry Oglesby at May 23, 2005 08:58 AM