Tuesday, March 31, 2020

A Personal and Partial Pandemic Update to Wrap Up This March In the Spring of Our COVID-19 Catastrophe -OR- 1st Month Down, 2 - 3 To Go

View of Lafayette Square from the intersection of Connecticut Ave and H Street NW on a gloomy day, Washington, D.C., 2:54 p.m., March 31, 2020

The spot photographed here actually marks the start (or end) of Connecticut Avenue -- at H Street by the northwest corner of Lafayette Square. Connecticut Avenue runs, with the initial, brief interruption of Farragut Square, all the way up to Aspen Hill, Md.

Lafayette Square on a gloomy gray, cool, early spring day, Washington, D.C., 2:59 p.m., March 31, 2020

As for the pictures in this entry, the bulk of them (it's obvious which ones) were taken by myself earlier today while walking to ... and several hours later, from ... my office down at L'Enfant Plaza. I've been walking either to or from or -- as I did today, to and from -- in the mid-afternoon and evening after teleworking in the morning from my apartment near Dupont Circle.

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Row houses at the corner of 21st and O Streets NW, Washington, D.C., 2:24 p.m., 
March 31, 2020

I took this picture because it features a Yoshino "Japanese" cherry tree -- with a few of its spring blossom petals remaining -- next to my favorite type of flowering cherry cultivar, the Kanzan (or "Kwanzan"), which, like clockwork every year, blossoms 10 to 14 days after the Yoshino blossoms.

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Yes, another image of the ornate corner house at N and 21st Streets NW, Washington, D.C., 2:26 p.m., 
March 31, 2020

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OK, I need to post a new entry.

For starters, I need and want to post an extensive update on the COVID-19 pandemic situation including both the national and global health emergency and the flash economic depression in which the country finds itself.

Looking south along 15th Street at Pennsylvania Ave NW, Washington, D.C., 3:04 p.m., March 31, 2020

Another view of three-quarters deserted downtown Washington, D.C., in the time of the Great Coronavirus Pandemic (and Economic Depression) of 2020.

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I would also like to discuss / opine on the politics, including Trump's pathologically depraved behaviors (making it all about ratings and settling endless scores, of course, which makes it problematic that reporters are even risking their health to go to the White House to listen to his solipsistic, sociopathic ramblings).

This image -- admittedly badly out-of-ratio -- from the University of Washington's Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) COVID-19 COVID-19 projection site available at: https://covid19.healthdata.org/

The above curve is based on a forecast of a peak daily fatality number of 2,600+ by mid-April (declining sharply thereafter) and a total number of fatalities of 94,000 by August. This has informed the current White House Coronavirus Task Force forecast of 100,000 to 240,000 fatalities. These numbers will change as in the days ahead.

COVID-19 daily new cases in the United States,
15 Feb - 31 March 2020

Updated 2:46 a.m. 4/1/2020

The number of fatalities on March 31st spiked to over 900 with 24,000+ new positive cases. This brings the total number of fatalities in the U.S. through March 31st to 4,000+ and number of cases to nearly 189,000. New York continues to have the lion's share (1,700 and 76,000, respectively), but this is expected to change as hot spots shift. Globally, the figures are 42,300 and 860,000 -- except nobody believes China's bogus low numbers.

COVID-19 statistics for top 15 U.S. States by reported cases for the 24 hours ending 00 UTC March 31, 2020

End of Update

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Yes, I was two weeks ago, briefly, against all the extreme social distancing -- and thought maybe Trump had a vaguely rational point -- but I understand that this was very misguided on my part. As for Trump, he can't help himself. He's just antisocial personality disordered or otherwise malignantly narcissistic.

The trouble, of course, is that it takes much too long to compose these entries, although this one turned into a sort of a hybrid personal and partial pandemic update.

Dr. Deborah Birx, Coronavirus Response Coordinator for the White House Coronavirus Task Force, at the March 31, 2020 daily briefing with the IHME chart.

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About the fact that I am still going into my regular workplace as part time in this period of extreme social distancing and mandatory teleworking for most white collar office jobs, my work situation is such that I can still go into my office.

View down Pennsylvania Ave NW of the U.S. Capitol from Freedom Plaza, Washington, D.C., 3:07 p.m.,
March 31, 2020

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I can do this because even though I'm a federal contractor, I'm not onsite with the federal client (which, like most agencies, is presently under strict teleworking requirements for both feds and contractors). Instead, my workplace is a tiny office -- typically, there are only three of us in there -- located in the 470/490 L'Enfant building. This is the building that houses the Hilton Hotel (which now appears closed) but in a suite of offices on the 490 side. Now it is true that 470/490 went on permanent weekend hours on Monday until this is over-- but I have a key card to get up to my office.

Passageway between courtyard between the Wm. J. Clinton Federal Building and the Ronald Reagan Building and Constitution Ave, Washington, D.C.,
3:11 p.m., March 31, 2020

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Anyway, I walked both to and from the office today -- a round trip of about 5 miles, I would estimate given the different routes I followed. Concerning walking, I've been trying to avoid the Metro as much as possible because it is just too weird and unpleasant in this time -- nearly deserted except for the usual riffraff, homeless, cracked out, and/or pot-addled, plus a number of people who have no choice but to commute to their non-teleworkable and essential jobs.

Washington Monument as seen from Constitution Ave NW, Washington, D.C., 3:13 p.m., March 31, 2020

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For that matter, it's the same situation at street level -- clearing out the city streets and sidewalks of most of its people just leaves the homelessly schizophrenically insane and random bums and shady characters -- but you're not trapped in an enclosed space.

U.S. DOE headquarters, Washington, D.C., 3:21 p.m.,
March 31, 2020

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So far during this societal shutdown period, when I take the Metro, it's just the Blue/Orange/Silver "crosstown" route between L'Enfant Plaza and Farragut West or Foggy Bottom. Certain stations -- such as Smithsonian and Federal Triangle -- are closed "until further notice," as are certain access points of stations that remain open, such as on the northbound side of Connecticut Avenue to Farragut North.

Grounds of USDA headquarters along the National Mall, Washington, D.C., 6:57 p.m., March 31, 2020

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Honestly, I do not like walking outside after dark -- even along Connecticut Avenue -- because the city is SO deserted, at last outside. To clarify, it's not that the city itself is deserted / abandoned.

Rather, I refer to this extraordinary situation in which only a tiny fraction of the usual people from the suburbs are coming into the city, there are virtually no tourists here (right through peak Yoshino cherry blossom season), and many people are staying inside for extended periods. You are technically supposed to be inside except for "essential" activities such as grocery shopping and, yes, exercise (walking and jogging).

Deserted 14th and 15th Streets as they traverse the National Mall, Washington, D.C., 6:59 p.m.,
March 31, 2020

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I should also mention that my lunch, such as it is, has been coming either from Subway shops -- of which there are numerous ones in downtown Washington to include at least four on a direct SE/NW route between my apartment and office including in L'Enfant Plaza.

I've given the person who makes my sandwiches a tip (amount ranging from $2 to $10, depending on the friendliness of the individual) since the whole situation is so awful, and I feel so badly for them.

Empty streets around the John Paul Jones Memorial, Washington, D.C., 7:06 p.m., March 31, 2020

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Anyway, on my route home, I walked down the Mall at misty, gloomy, cool, overcast gray dust to the Lincoln Memorial and thence up 23rd Street and over to the Foggy Bottom Whole Foods, where I went grocery shopping, and then home by 8:10 p.m.

The mostly empty Reflecting Pool with a bicyclist along the interior rainwater pond edge, Washington, D.C., 
7:13 p.m., March 31, 2020

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As I mentioned in a recent entry, the Reflecting Pool between the World War II Memorial and Lincoln Memorial has been drained of water for a while now (possibly since last summer) because there is yet another re-plumbing project underway.

Empty Reflecting Pool, 7:23 p.m., March 21, 2020

Recently, it was nearly empty (maybe because of dry weather), but we've had about 1.2 inches of rain in the past week, and on this evening, it was about 20 percent filled. The picture directly above shows the Reflecting Pool as it appeared 10 days earlier from the preceding one.

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Western edge of the Reflecting Pool, Washington, D.C.,
7:17 p.m., March 31, 2020

This is the "deep end" of the Reflecting Pool in which the bottom slopes down from about 18 to 24 inches in the rest of it to about three to four feet. This part had stagnant water and bottom litter in it -- but with the new rainwater, it seemed cleaner, although with a fringing patina of yellow tree pollen.

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It was still possible to walk in / along the bottom of it. Given that the bottom was cleaned -- none of the dried dirty sediment, goose or duck shit, or likely thousands of dollars in grit-covered coins -- and it was just rainwater, the shallow lengthwise pond down the middle was surprisingly clean.

American Pharmacists Association headquarters, Washington, D.C., 7:23 p.m., March 31, 2020

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OK, that pretty much brings me to where I am right now: Home watching my nighttime-to-really-late-night comfort TV on MeTV, Antenna TV, and Cozi TV.

About that night hours comfort TV, there's nothing like viewing, or at least having on in the background, Green Acres, Hogan's Heroes, The Carol Burnett Show, Perry Mason, and The Twilight Zone to take one's mind briefly off of a pandemic. Ditto Murphy Brown, Designing Women, and The Nanny.

I should note that Antenna TV adjusted its weeknight schedule. Thus, while Becker is still on, Dear John and Wings no longer are ... BOO!

Regarding Wings, actor David Schramm just passed away on Saturday at age 73. The cause of death was a heart attack.


As Schramm's Wikipedia article states: "He was best known for playing the role of Roy Biggins, the portly, curmudgeonly rival airline owner in the TV series Wings." Or as his Washington Post obit describes him, "the blustery, unscrupulous owner" of the fictitious airline Aeromass.

This Wikipedia article on Wings (not the same as the one linked above) gives a nice overview of Roy Biggins.


Another great show is Alice. I had forgotten how good it was -- at least in its first few seasons with the original waitress trio of Alice, Flo, and Vera, along with Mel and Tommy.

The show in its early days was darkly funny, a bit gritty, and attention-holding. Alice's life as a young widow and single mother who ends up working in Mel's Diner in Phoenix is a difficult one. It's a shame about Philip McKeon passing away earlier this year. Only Linda Lavin, age, and Polly Holliday, age, are still with us.

Oh, needless to say, the commercials are all unwatchable and thank God for mute.

Turning to the weather ...

The weather today was actually kind of ideal for me: Overcast with puffy (not featureless), somber gray-white clouds, with highs in the 53°F to 56°F range. This included 56°F at KDCA, 55°F at KDMH, 54°F at KBWI and KIAD, and 53°F at KNAK. By evening, temps were around 50°F and there was a chilly, damp east / northeasterly flow and drizzle that morphed into rain showers. 

It was a great day to wear darker clothes and a hoodie.

Sterling (LWX) NWS radar in standard base reflectivity looped 10:22 p.m. - 11:04 p.m., March 31, 2020

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We're actually getting some rain tonight -- which is good because we have both a monthly and year-to-date deficit and a pattern for the next two weeks that isn't really favorable for much significant weather (thus continuing the pattern of, well, the past six months).

Tonight's rain is associated with a quickly intensifying coastal low -- presently near Wilmington, N.C. -- but forecasted to move rapidly off the Outer Banks and out to sea, even skipping the usual New England rendezvous. As the system is just grazing us, rain fall totals are likely to be only around 0.1 inch whereas 1.0 to 1.5 inches would really be ideal.

NWS/WPC/NDFD U.S. surface weather map forecast looped 06Z 01 April to 12Z 03 April 2020 showing fronts, precipitation type, and likelihood

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OK, I'm signing off for now. I still need to cook dinner -- the usual, I guess, of pork chops from, according to the package, a humanly raised pig and steamed broccoli. My next planned entry will be late Thursday.

--Regulus

Sunday, March 29, 2020

Strolling Among Half-Toppled, Still Fully Ornate Gravestones for Long-Dead People: A Visit to Washington, D.C.'s Holy Rood Cemetery On a Spring Day in 2020 -OR- Walking Distance Only

Gravestones at Holy Rood Cemetery, Washington, D.C., 4:42 p.m. March 29, 2020

Yes, that's the Washington Monument visible about 2.7 miles away (as the crow flies).

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On this Sunday, I took a lengthy walk -- in all six to seven miles, I guess -- on a route that took me across Georgetown to the university, thence up 35th Street to Wisconsin Avenue, and then back through Georgetown, past my apartment and over to Fred & Doug's place for our Sunday night dinner party soiree with them, myself, and Aydin, and then back home.

Yes, we're still doing the dinner parties during this COVID-19 pandemic. I think that's OK.


Anyway, as part of my walk, I climbed up the steep, kinda muddy hillside -- well, it's really more of an embankment -- from Wisconsin Avenue into Holy Rood Cemetery, a place I've visited a number of times over the years on such walks.

About the cemetery, here is a summation from its Wikipedia page:


Holy Rood Cemetery is located at 2126 Wisconsin Avenue NW at the southern end of the Glover Park neighborhood of Washington, D.C. It stands at one of the highest elevations in Washington, D.C. and has memorable views. Holy Rood Cemetery contains approximately 7,000 graves, including as many as 1,000 free and enslaved African Americans, and may be the best-documented slave burial ground in the District of Columbia. At the western edge of the cemetery is the grave of Joseph Nevitt, a veteran of the American Revolution.


Burials stopped there for good about 35 years ago, but most of the dead were buried in the 19th and early 20th Centuries. Indeed, my odd motivation for going there was to find a particular tall gravestone where multiple young members of a family are buried -- the deaths all having occurred in 1918 or 1919, and which I surmise was due to the Spanish Influenza pandemic.

Given what's going on now, finding that gravestone somehow seemed an appropriate thing to do.

In the end, though, I couldn't find it -- and it's possible that I saw it in another cemetery.

An ornate obelisk gravestone for a man named Michael O'Donoghue in Holy Rood Cemetery, Washington, D.C., 4:40 p.m. March 29, 2020

The grave indicates that Mr. O'Donoghue died on July 23, 1900 and that he was 36 years old.

Here is a closer, cropped view of the same picture -- and as you can see, his Washington Monument-like gravestone has had an unobstructed view of the actual Washington Monument for nearly 120 years.

Unfortunately, high clouds were dimming the Sun at that point, so the whiteness of both of these monuments is dulled out.

The cemetery is in bad shape with the ground having shifted all kinds of ways and more than a few of the ornate gravestones toppled over. Indeed, it almost appears as though the "hill" on which the cemetery is located isn't even a natural hill -- but some sort of fill, which would be so wrong.

The above-linked Wikipedia article further states (and the pictures below are from that article):

The cemetery is owned by Georgetown Uni-versity. In the 1980s, the university explored the possibility of dis-interring the bodies buried there so that the land could be put to other uses, but was blocked by a legal action brought by the remaining holders of burial rights. The cemetery reflects years of disuse and neglect.

Many of the tombstones are toppled, damaged or overgrown, and grass grows up through large cracks in the asphalt walkway leading through it.

In 2018, Georgetown University and the Holy Trinity Catholic Church announced plans to restore the historic cemetery.

The cemetery, which has been closed to new burials since 1985, is constructing a columbarium to hold cremated remains. The columbarium, which will hold the remains of parishioners, Uni-versity alumni, faculty and staff, those who have ancestors inter-red at Holy Rood, will open in late 2019.


There is a good deal of construction work taking place at the north end of the cemetery but clearly the 2019 opening date wasn't met.

According to this info on the Holy Trinity Catholic Church website:

Holy Trinity and George-town University have announced a plan to restore Holy Rood Cemetery on Wisconsin Ave, including repairs to existing infrastructure, enhancements to land-scaping, and improve-ments to the cemetery entrance. The plan will also allow Holy Trinity to build a columbarium at the cemetery.

Above: Picture by Alex Tucker, Nov 2018, cropped

What the hell is a columbarium? Sounds like a periodic chart element -- you know, the sort way at the bottom of it.

Transitioning topics, as I wrote this while watching one of my favorite three episodes of the original Twilight Zone series: "Walking Distance." It is the fifth episode of the first season.

The IMDb plot is as follows:

The busy and stressed VP of an ad agency, Martin Sloan, stops his car at a gas station. When asked the attendant tells him it will take about an hour to change the oil and perform a lube job. In the meantime Martin realizes he is 1.5 miles away from Homewood, the hometown he left 25 years ago and decides to walk there. Soon he finds that he has returned to the past; where he finds his 11 year old self and his parents.

Sloan takes a journey actual or maybe just in his mind -- remember that this is The Twilight Zone -- back in time to his carefree childhood and tries to talk to his childhood self and his parents, except as a 36-year old man (yes, I see the connection to the 36 year old man's grave mentioned above).

Gig Young as Martin Sloan showing up at the door of his parents, played by Frank Overton and Irene Tedrow, 25 years in the past

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Needless to say, that doesn't go so well -- his mom ends up smacking him when he starts recounting all these things that a stranger at her door shouldn't know, yet in some way, they can see the resemblance to their young son -- but the dialogue he has with his father (played by actor Frank Overton) is profound.

Frank Overton and Gig Young in "Walking Distance,"
The Twilight Zone

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A very young Ron Howard is in it -- see image directly above -- and if I'm doing my math correctly, he was 5 years old.

As for Gig Young, the actor who played Martin Sloan, his real name was Byron Elsworth Barr and he was born on Nov 4, 1913, coincidentally my paternal grandmother's fifth birthday.


Born in St. Cloud, Minn., Young spent part of his youth here in Washington, D.C. -- even attending back in the late 1920s what was McKinley Technical High School, itself replaced with McKinley Technology High School and in a different location -- and part of it in Waynesville, N.C.

Gig Young had a horrible personal life that ended in what appears to have been a murder-suicide with his fifth wife. He died at age 64 in Oct 1978.

His third wife was actress Elizabeth Montgomery of Bewitched fame, but they had no children. He had one daughter by his fourth wife.

Gid Young's chronic alcoholism ruined his acting career -- even his role as the heard-but-never seen Charlie in Charlie's Angels. That role went, of course, to John Forsythe.

OK, that's all for now. I suspect there will be a lot of very bad and dramatic news about the COVID-19 pandemic this week. I'll just leave it at that right now and watch my late night old TV shows here in my little apartment.

--Regulus

Saturday, March 28, 2020

Saturday Evening Post for March 28th, 2020: "A Broad, a Dame, and a Gal" - Some Thoughts On and Pics Of Angie Dickinson ... Plus ... O.K., OK


This entry is meant to be a badly needed break from all terrible and traumatic things COVID-19 pandemic, novel coronavirus, and SARS-CoV-2 (formal name of 2019-nCoV). In that spirit, I offer this posting on a most remarkable American actress of the 20th Century, Miss Angie Dickinson.

By way of contextual explanation, on Thursday night ...

... while doing my more-or-less weekly laundry tonight in the downstairs laundry room, I thought of a funny line from The Golden Girls to text Gary. (As background, we text GG lines to each other at least once a day.) The line that popped into my head (for whatever reason) was from the episode "Mr. Terrific" in which actor Bob Dishy (still alive at 86) plays a children's television show host, Mr. Terrific, who is dating Rose.

At one point, he is showing cards featuring pictures of objects that are supposed to be hot -- but that he apparently doesn't know what they are of ahead of time:

[Stove picture] "A stove is hot ..." [Cup of coffee picture] "Coffee is hot ..." [Random Angie Dickinson picture] "Angie Dickinson is hot ... Oh, very funny, Mr. Producer ..."


That line got me to looking up about Angie Dickinson, and I was happy to discover that she is still alive at age 88 and seems to be doing well, living alone but seemingly happy in her Beverly Hills hilltop mansion. I mention the happy part because she lost her daughter to suicide back in 2007. That was her only child -- by her ex-husband, Burt Bacharach, who is also still going at 91.


Anyway, I found a wonderful interview of Dickinson by Mo Rocca from Feb 2019 on CBS Sunday Morning. The interview originally on Feb 24, 2019. There is an article that accompanies it that is here (link embedded): Frank talk with Angie Dickinson.


The article contains an embedded video of the interview. While I can't embed that one, I was able to find a YouTube version of it. The video is a bit over 9 minutes long. There is some extra bit featured in another video embedded in the article -- namely, where she talks about why she views having been in Police Woman as a mistake, but why she did it.



Wow, what a life. Sinatra. John Wayne. Bitch-slapped in a movie by Ronald Reagan (!). Police Woman.


As the YouTube page summary states:

Angie Dickinson's film and TV career has been a half-century-long master class in the art of seduction. Mo Rocca talked with the star of the '70s hit Police Woman, and such films as Rio Bravo and Dressed to Kill about becoming an inspiration for aspiring policewomen, her relationships with such stars as Frank Sinatra and Burt Bacharach, and the #MeToo movement.

About the #MeToo movement, she said flatly, "I hate it." And she explains why.


I love when Mo Rocca asks her -- "Do you consider yourself more of a broad, a dame, or a gal??" She replies: "Oh, all of the above."

This follows a clip from the 1967 movie Point Blank in which she physically beats on Lee Marvin.


Interestingly, Dishy in real life is married to Judy Graubart, an actress and comedian best known for being on the 1970s PBS children's show The Electric Company.


Of note, are two additional reference to Angie Dickinson on The Golden Girls. The first is in the hysterically funny episode "Grab That Dough" when they go onto a TV game show in Hollywood (having flown to L.A. from Miami).

Everything going wrong, their luggage lost, flight hopelessly delayed, they check into their hotel at 3:30 a.m., only to find out from the prim hotel reception, Nancy (played by actress Lucy Lee Flippin, pictured left) that because they're so late, their rooms were given away.

What's more, because of some event, there are no other hotel rooms.

Blanche: "Nancy, honey, now I generally don't like to THROW my name around, but you really leave me no choice. It so happens that I'm Miss Angie Dickinson. And now, if you don't mind, I'd like a two rooms."

Nancy: "You don't look like Angie Dickinson to me."

Blanche: "I know. I have altered my appearance for a very important movie role."

At which point Dorothy sarcastically deadpans: "Yes, it's a movie about a woman who EATS her way out from behind the Iron Curtain ..."

On the Iron Curtain reference, keep in mind that this episode is from 1988. Anyway, Nancy then offers to let them sleep in the lobby for $75 -- given to her -- and she won't call the police and have them arrested for loitering.

Blanche declares: "$75?? That's a lot of money!"

Nancy retorts: "I know, ma'am. That's why I want it!"

The second episode reference is "Dorothy's New Friend," which, incidentally, immediately precedes "Grab That Dough."

In it, Blanche and Rose take an understandable disliking to Dorothy's haughty, obnoxious author friend with the very author-like name of Barbara Thorndyke -- played by actress Bonnie Bartlett, now 90, and approaching her 69th anniversary with her husband and fellow St. Elsewhere co-star, William Daniels, now 92.

Dorothy: Look, why don't you just admit that this is all because you don't like Barbara Thorndyke.

Blanche: Alright, I don't like Barbara Thorndyke. I think she's a phony.

Dorothy: OH! This from a woman who tells her dates that she was Angie Dickinson's body double in Dressed To Kill.

Blanche: That's just a little white lie.

Dorothy: Oh, yeah? Then why is it on your job resume?!

Angie Dickinson and Mo Rocca looking at the view from Dickinson's Beverly Hills hilltop mansion at sunset.

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OK, let me just say that I'm home in my little apartment watching the Saturday night MeTV lineup -- although I skipped the Svengoolie-hosted monster movie Village of the Damned since it was just too disturbing given everything going on now, and instead tuned into a few episodes of the Murphy Brown marathon on Antenna TV.

The Star Trek: TOS episode was "Spectre of the Gun" and features the Enterprise meeting the unwelcoming Melkotians -- specifically, the silly looking one shown at left -- who send Capt. Kirk, Mr. Spock, Dr. McCoy, and Mr. Chekov into a not-really-real (do ya think??) recreation of the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral.

Of note, "O.K." here stands for Old Kindersley, and it was a feed and livery stables, i..e., corral, place in Tombstone, Ariz., at the time of the legendary shootout event in October 1881.

OK -- as in okay, not Old Kindersley -- I'm also  going to try to post a Jukebox Saturday Night edition as well (probably a few hours after midnight, but with a timestamp of Saturday).

--Regulus