WBEZ | Phyllis Diller http://www.wbez.org/tags/phyllis-diller Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Phyllis Diller: 'You CAN teach an old dog new tricks' http://www.wbez.org/blogs/onstagebackstage/2012-08/phyllis-diller-you-can-teach-old-dog-new-tricks-102048 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/2329493564_e8b5e17d64_z.jpg" style="height: 400px; width: 300px; float: right; " title="Phyllis Diller at the Flamingo in 1964. (Flickr/Dan Perry)" />Last week, comedian Phyllis Diller <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/21/arts/television/phyllis-diller-sassy-comedian-dies-at-95.html?pagewanted=all">died at the age of 95</a>. But &quot;[w]hat&#39;s the lesson&nbsp;of her life, for us?&quot; asks comedian Jeremy Owens. &quot;Phyllis Diller proves, at least for me, that you&nbsp;<em>can&nbsp;</em>teach an old dog new tricks. You can start a stand-up career when you&rsquo;re almost 40; you get to have your second act. If you&rsquo;re lucky and live to be 95 you might even get a third, fourth or fifth. So I ask you, what is it you really want to do? Why don&rsquo;t you go do it.&quot; Read an excerpt below or listen above:</p><p><em>&ldquo;Women want men, careers, money, children, friends, luxury, comfort, independence, freedom, respect, love, and a three-dollar pantyhose that won&#39;t run,&rdquo; at least according to Phyllis Diller. Long before Joan Rivers asked if we could talk and Chelsea Handler sexed it up like a frat boy, there was Phyllis. She created the mold for self-deprecating female comics and did it in an age where women were to be seen and not heard. She was the first woman to tell jokes like a man, did so to great acclaim and all while supporting her family.</em></p><p><em>Born Phyllis Driver on July 17, 1917 in Lima, Ohio, she became interested in classical music, writing and theatre at an early age.&nbsp; She briefly attended the Sherwood Conservatory of Music (aka Columbia College) in Chicago before transferring to Bluffton College. Her plans were to become a music teacher. Instead, she married Sherwood Diller and started a family.</em></p><p><em>She first found work writing a shopping column for a newspaper, then advertising copy. She moved on to writing and promotional jobs at radio stations, anything to make up for her husband&rsquo;s inability to hold down a job. &ldquo;I wanted him to get any job. He couldn&rsquo;t sell Windex to a Peeping Tom.&rdquo; Her knack for making people laugh at church, PTA and club functions prompted Diller, with her husband&rsquo;s nudging, to set her sights on a comedy career at the ripe old age of 37.</em></p><p><em>In an NPR interview to promote her autobiography, </em>Like a Lampshade in a Whorehouse, <em>Phyllis recounted her decision to become a comic. &ldquo;I didn&rsquo;t know how to start. I thought you have a show and you find out where to do it. I called the Red Cross and said, &lsquo;I have a show. Where do you want it?&rsquo; They said, &lsquo;The Presidio.&rsquo; That&rsquo;s an Army hospital. My first show was in a room with four beds. We did our dumb little show in that room. Three of the guys threw up and the other one re-enlisted. I&rsquo;ll never forget it. I sweat blood.&rdquo;</em></p><p><a href="http://thepapermacheteshow.com/" target="_blank">The Paper Machete</a>&nbsp;<em>is a weekly live magazine at the Horseshoe in North Center. It&#39;s always at 3 p.m., it&#39;s always on Saturday, and it&#39;s always free. Get all your</em>&nbsp;The Paper Machete Radio Magazine&nbsp;<em>needs filled&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wbez.org/tags/paper-machete" target="_blank">here</a>, or download the podcast from iTunes&nbsp;<a href="http://itunes.apple.com/podcast/the-paper-machete-radio-magazine/id450280345" target="_blank">here</a>.</em></p></p> Thu, 30 Aug 2012 08:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/onstagebackstage/2012-08/phyllis-diller-you-can-teach-old-dog-new-tricks-102048 Celebrity death: Assessing the legacy of Tony Scott, Helen Gurley Brown and Phyllis Diller http://www.wbez.org/blogs/alison-cuddy/2012-08/celebrity-death-assessing-legacy-tony-scott-helen-gurley-brown-and <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/photo_3.JPG" style="height: 374px; width: 620px;" title="(AP)" /></div><p><strong>The act&nbsp;</strong>The media reaction to the death of the film director and producer Tony Scott has been a bit puzzling. Some of it no doubt is because Scott apparently took his own life. Suicide is literally a tough act to follow - how do you respond to something that&#39;s both heartbreakingly definitive and maddeningly hard to define? It makes sense that family and friends would want to figure out how to contain a final act that really is a never-ending story.</p><p>By contrast the media feeds on an open-ended story. What better way to keep the 24-hour news cycle going (our modern version of eternity)? So <a href="http://www.businessinsider.com/oops-abc-news-3-big-reporting-errors-this-month-2012-8">ABC raced ahead with a possible motive</a>, reporting the director had inoperable brain cancer. Some suggested that&#39;s becoming a bit of a habit for the network. But <a href="https://www.google.com/search?q=cnn+jumps+the+gun+on+supreme+court&amp;sugexp=chrome,mod=1&amp;sourceid=chrome&amp;ie=UTF-8">CNN, Fox</a> and <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/23/business/media/tv-news-corrects-itself-just-not-on-the-air.html?pagewanted=all">NBC</a> have all been there too. And who among us (including yours truly) hasn&#39;t rushed to share the news of a celebrity death on a social media site? We might rue the results but we can certainly understand the impulse to share early, and often.</p><p>So into the abyss of meaning we boldly go, without doubt. It&#39;s where we land that&#39;s weird. Scott&#39;s death has been described as <a href="http://www.cnn.com/2012/08/21/showbiz/tony-scott-probe/index.html">&quot;high-adrenaline&quot; </a>or &quot;dramatic&quot; or one that &quot;suited his dramatic style.&quot; This article suggests<a href="http://movies.yahoo.com/blogs/movie-talk/bridge-tony-scott-leaped-off-used-film-172350088.html"> that the bridge</a> Scott plunged from is significant, because he&#39;d talked about using it in a movie. A <a href="http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/movies/moviesnow/la-et-mn-0821-scott-death-20120821,0,4205494,full.story">Los Angeles Times headline </a>blares &quot;Scott lived like his alpha-male action heroes.&quot; But the obit also belies that claim - what kind of action hero has time to sit down and write thank you notes, or act as a mentor?!&nbsp;</p><p><strong>I like action films - a lot.</strong>&nbsp; They&#39;re not easy to make well, the way Scott did, over and over again. I don&#39;t know much about him. He only did a handful of interviews, like&nbsp;<a href="http://moviecitynews.com/2012/08/dp30-director-tony-scott-unstoppable/">this extended </a>discussion of <em>Unstoppable </em>and <a href="http://www.ariel-leve.com/st_interviews/tonyscott.html">this richly detailed profile.</a>&nbsp;In both he comes across less a man of action and more someone who knew his limits but didn&#39;t deny his strengths. Scott says, citing his more critically lauded brother, Ridley Scott: &quot;Ridley makes films for posterity. I think my films are more rock &#39;n&#39; roll. I experiment more.&quot; Of course his experiments were conducted within the confines of&nbsp;mainstream, commercial media. Can someone so smitten with runaway trains and Val Kilmer really be an auteur?&nbsp;</p><p><strong>Tony Scott, Helen Gurley Brown, Phyllis Diller. </strong>I saw the&nbsp;same hesitant reactions when&nbsp;Helen Gurley Brown and Phyllis Diller died. Sure, each got their share of love.&nbsp;But critics also stumbled over the more troubling parts of their product. Why did Brown, who many claim as a feminist icon, promote content for women that was so &quot;slutty&quot; or trivial? Why&#39;d a comic genius like Diller dress up in fright wigs and party dresses, and traffic in female stereotypes?&nbsp;</p><p>It takes&nbsp;<a href="http://artsbeat.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/08/22/phyllis-diller-and-her-comic-craft/">Joan Rivers</a>&nbsp;to remind us that their successes are also&nbsp;<em>acts</em>,&nbsp;saying of Diller &quot;the only tragedy is that she was the last from an era that insisted a woman had to look funny in order to be funny.&quot;&nbsp;Maybe we&#39;ve gotten so comfortable with celebrities and are so convinced that each of us is just a famous person waiting to happen, that we actually mistake the successful among us for their images. But Tony Scott isn&#39;t really an action figure. And even hip hop star Rick Ross, whose brand is built on just being himself,&nbsp;<a href="http://www.rollingstone.com/music/news/on-the-cover-rick-ross-gangster-of-love-20120815">tried to cover up his past as a corrections officer</a>.&nbsp;</p><p><strong>The price of success, the power of pop</strong>. There&#39;s something about sucess in popular culture that makes us a little nervous. Scott,&nbsp;Brown and Diller made stuff we actually like, and achieved the American dream on a global scale. Does their enormous popularity diminish their merits? Can&#39;t they have both?<strong>&nbsp;</strong>Because that&#39;s the nature of pop culture. Not one or the other, but all of the above: sexist and empowering, low and high brow, Phyllis Diller excelling at mother-in-law jokes <em>and</em>&nbsp;classical piano.&nbsp;One doesn&#39;t necessarily detract from the other, though it takes a bit of genius to figure out how to sell both.&nbsp;</p><p>We can try to airbrush away the contradictions in our celebrity culture and our pop products, but we can&#39;t easily escape them. And why should we? The coroner&#39;s report on Tony Scott&#39;s death is weeks away, and it may or may not answer questions around his death. As for his legacy? Next time you find yourself saying &quot;I feel the need...the need for speed&quot; or <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gSV35A1cQDM">pondering the real nature of a &quot;wingman&quot;</a> remember: a decent, smart and wickedly funny human being had the power to make you do that. And like it or not, ya gotta love it.</p></p> Wed, 22 Aug 2012 12:08:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/alison-cuddy/2012-08/celebrity-death-assessing-legacy-tony-scott-helen-gurley-brown-and Possible teacher strike casts shadow over approaching school year http://www.wbez.org/blogs/marcus-gilmer/2012-08/possible-teacher-strike-casts-shadow-over-approaching-school-year-101836 <p><p style="text-align: center; "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/AP_Photo_Sitthixay_Ditthavong.jpg" title="A student reflects the general mood between teachers and the city. (AP/Sitthixay Ditthavong)" /></p><div class="image-insert-image "><p><strong>Lead story:</strong> Even though school is in session for some Chicago Public Schools and a tentative deal between the city and the teachers union was reached earlier this summer, a strike still looms: Chicago Teachers Union members <a href="http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/breaking/chi-chicago-teachers-take-contract-case-to-schools-20120820,0,3561254.story">picketed six schools yesterday</a>&nbsp;and&nbsp;pickets <a href="http://action.aft.org/c/468/p/salsa/web/common/public/content?content_item_KEY=10295">will continue throughout the week</a>. The pickets came after a 30-day &quot;cooling off&quot; period, implemented after July&#39;s tentative agreement between the union and the city, <a href="http://www.wbez.org/district-union-prepare-possible-strike-101823">expired over the weekend</a>. A&nbsp;strike could be announced at a special delegate session on Wednesday (though the CTU doesn&#39;t need such a vote to declare a strike).&nbsp;Due to a ten-day lead time required between the announcement of the strike and the beginning of the strike, the CTU <a href="http://www.suntimes.com/news/14611166-418/cps-union-both-prepare-for-possibility-of-teachers-strike.html">would have to announce a strike</a>&nbsp;by Thursday if they wanted to start before school begins Tuesday, September 4&nbsp;for the remaining two-thirds of CPS students. It seems that despite the previous agreement and progress in contract talks, the CTU is fully preparing to strike; if it turns out to be a bluff, it&#39;s a fully-armed one at that.</p><p><strong>Also: </strong>The media and the public brought hellfire and fury <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/marcus-gilmer/2012-08/rep-todd-akins-ridiculous-legitimate-rape-comments-101812">down</a> on Missouri Rep. Todd Akin, the GOP&rsquo;s senate candidate in that state. It&rsquo;s no surprise that by the afternoon Akin <a href="http://www.latimes.com/news/politics/la-pn-missouri-rep-todd-akin-says-he-misspoke-on-rape-and-pregnancy-20120819,0,512566.story">tried to backpedal</a> so fast you thought he had a flux capacitor. But his <a href="https://i.chzbgr.com/completestore/12/8/20/-UT3h4yQXE-a04_J2C0png2.jpg">dumbassery</a> damage was done: Even members of his own party are&nbsp;<a href="http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/Latest-News-Wires/2012/0820/Republicans-urge-Akin-to-leave-Senate-race">calling on him to drop out</a> of the race. RNC Chair Reince Priebus even said that Akin had best stay away from next week&rsquo;s convention in Tampa. A&nbsp;<a href="http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2012/08/21/159501649/as-deadline-to-drop-out-nears-rep-akins-best-defender-is-his-opponent">deadline today</a> that would make a candidate switch easier is at 6 p.m.; still, Akin is&nbsp;<a href="http://www.politicususa.com/fox-news-freaks-todd-akins-refusal-quit-mo-senate-race.html">refusing to drop out</a>,&nbsp;ensuring that his campaign will likely go down in flames.&nbsp;</p><p>Look, I know politics is an insane business, but when even members of the Tea Party are embarrassed and <a href="http://politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com/2012/08/20/tea-party-express-calls-on-akin-to-step-down/">want you to drop out</a>, you done goofed up, son. Lest I leave this conversation without eviscerating Akin some more, I&rsquo;d be remiss not to point out <em>The Onion</em> <a href="http://www.theonion.com/articles/i-misspokewhat-i-meant-to-say-is-i-am-dumb-as-dog,29256/?ref=auto">doing what they do</a> oh so brilliantly.</p><p><strong>And then: </strong>It&rsquo;s been a year of crazy weather already so of course <a href="http://www.chicagotribune.com/videogallery/71893874/Weather/Interview-with-waterspouts-storm-chaser">we saw a bunch of</a>&nbsp;<a href="http://www.srh.noaa.gov/mfl/?n=waterspouts">waterspouts</a>&nbsp;over Lake Michigan yesterday. The city was never really in danger of tornados and waterspouts aren&rsquo;t uncommon (besides being pretty weak to begin with) so it looked more apocalyptic than it really was. The Spielberg version of <em>War Of The Worlds</em> was on TV this weekend and lightning triggered the alien attacks on our world then so if these waterspouts result in some kind of extra-terrestrial war, well, I warned you.&nbsp; &nbsp;</p><p><strong>RIP: </strong>Comedienne and actress <a href="http://www.avclub.com/articles/rip-phyllis-diller,84044/">Phyllis Diller</a>&nbsp;died Monday at the age of 95. As usual, <em>The A.V. Club</em> <a href="http://www.avclub.com/articles/rip-phyllis-diller,84044/">memorializes her</a> better than I ever could. And <a href="http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/movies/moviesnow/la-et-mn-0821-scott-death-20120821,0,5115040.story">memorials</a> for director Tony Scott continue to <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/21/movies/tony-scott-made-movies-as-a-maximalist.html">roll in</a> as the shock of his apparent suicide sinks in.</p><p><strong>Elsewhere: </strong>Rosie O&rsquo;Donnell is <a href="http://marquee.blogs.cnn.com/2012/08/20/rosie-odonnell-happy-to-be-alive-after-heart-attack/">recovering from a heart attack</a> &hellip; Remember years ago when Augusta National faced some heat over no female members? Well, that&rsquo;s no longer a problem as the club <a href="http://espn.go.com/golf/story/_/id/8284599/augusta-national-admits-condoleezza-rice-darla-moore-first-two-female-members">has now admitted two</a>, including Condoleezza Rice &hellip; Our own DeRo writes about&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2012-08/what-words-mean-101817">the impact of lyrics</a> in the wake of the Pussy Riot travesty &hellip; The RNC convention stage <a href="http://www.wtsp.com/news/topstories/article/269178/250/RNC-stage-is-unveiled">was unveiled</a> and it gives the Olympic Opening Ceremonies a run for its money &hellip; Speaking of the Olympics, the British Royal corgis are <a href="http://gawker.com/5936165/royal-corgis-bloody-up-princess-beatrices-beloved-terrier">taking their Olympic blues out</a> on other dogs &hellip; Our cool interactive graph shows you <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/10-years-cta-red-line-use-shows-increased-ridership-not-all-stations-101804">ridership numbers for the Red Line over the past ten years</a>, just in time for the <a href="http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2012-06-05/news/ct-met-emanuel-red-line-20120606_1_red-line-stations-garfield-station-cermak-chinatown">big South Side shut down</a>&nbsp;of 2013!&nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp;</p><p><strong>Looking ahead: </strong><em>The</em> <em>Sun-Times</em> <a href="http://www.suntimes.com/14622305-761/will-chicago-areas-men-only-country-clubs-follow-augustas-lead.html">wonders</a> if area men-only clubs will soon follow Augusta National&rsquo;s lead &hellip; If things didn&rsquo;t look bleak before for Groupon, they do now,&nbsp;<a href="http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10000872396390443989204577599273177326912.html">as investors bail</a>&nbsp;on the company &hellip; Edwards County is <a href="http://www.myfoxchicago.com/story/19325546/-exclusive">shunning the state&rsquo;s concealed weapon ban</a> &hellip; Beware <a href="http://www.sfgate.com/news/article/Tainted-cantaloupe-sickens-17-in-Illinois-3801575.php">tainted cantaloupes</a> &hellip; The city is finally, slowly <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-dips-toe-%E2%80%98bus-rapid-transit%E2%80%99-101834">moving towards bus rapid transit</a> &hellip; <em>Chicago Magazine</em> <a href="http://www.chicagomag.com/Chicago-Magazine/September-2012/The-Unsolved-Murder-of-Maywood-Police-Officer-Tom-Wood/">revisits the unsolved murder</a> of a suburban police officer &hellip; The violent weekend <a href="http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/ct-met-august-chicago-homicide-20120821,0,4821017.story">tied this year&#39;s record for killings in a single day</a>&nbsp;on Saturday and pushed this month&#39;s murder count past last August&#39;s tally already ... Chicago Media Baron&trade; Robert Feder <a href="http://timeoutchicago.com/arts-culture/chicago-media-blog/15616221/cbs-2-celebrates-bill-walter-with-cupcakes-and-no-comment">has a great write-up</a> about the triumphs and struggles of CBS 2&rsquo;s mega-pairing of Kurtis &amp; Jacobson, two years later.&nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp;</p><p><strong>Sports: </strong>Great, Stan Van Gundy runs his mouth and <a href="http://espn.go.com/blog/chicago/bulls/post/_/id/9743/stan-van-will-rose-be-next-star-to-bolt">probably triggers</a> the Great Derrick Rose Panic &hellip; Ozzie <a href="http://chicago.cbslocal.com/2012/08/20/source-ozzie-marlins-to-visit-u-s-cellular-field-next-season/">could be returning to the South Side</a> via interleague play next year &hellip; <a href="http://chicagosidesports.com/can-horse-racing-catch-up/">A great feature</a> for local horse racing fans &hellip; The Chris Rusin Era <a href="http://chicago.cubs.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20120820&amp;content_id=37034740&amp;notebook_id=37034742&amp;vkey=notebook_chc&amp;c_id=chc">begins</a>, Cubs fans! We have hope! Again! &hellip; There are some pro teams in the area that win titles: the Chicago Bandits <a href="http://www.dailyherald.com/article/20120820/sports/708209640/">begin their title defense</a> when the National Pro Fastpitch softball tournament starts on Thursday in Rosemont &hellip; <em>Deadspin&rsquo;s</em> annual NFL preview with a, well, different perspective, <a href="http://deadspin.com/5935713/why-your-team-sucks-2012-chicago-bears">tackled the Bears yesterday</a>.&nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p><strong>Finally: </strong>I am blessed with a younger sibling (hi, <a href="http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8438/7828686280_6cf78c2b72_o.jpg">Cynthia</a>!) and back in the day, we tortured each other. Which makes me love this prank that much more.</p></div><p style="text-align: center; "><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/c-DTQPBUJJ4" width="560"></iframe></p></p> Tue, 21 Aug 2012 09:09:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/marcus-gilmer/2012-08/possible-teacher-strike-casts-shadow-over-approaching-school-year-101836