By Allen David
THURSDAY, AUGUST 16
FRIDAY, AUGUST 17
The Moreno Valley Lodge of the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks reminds everybody that its charity golf tournament is only a week away—Friday, Aug. 24—at the General Old Golf Course at March Air Reserve Base. In the process, the Lodge members also remind everybody that the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks—what we used to just call the Elks Club, which is now wearing a website logo that reads “Elks USA”—still exists.
SATURDAY, AUGUST 18
Remember the Olympic Games? Yeah, they were cool.
SUNDAY, AUGUST 19
Although tight economic conditions are forcing many cities across the country to make deep cuts in services—including law enforcement—that at least suggest a citizenry left vulnerable, some residents of Hemet are planning to plug the hole in the police force with Little Tao Dragons and Red Tigers. Those two martial arts studios are providing free community workshops to support the efforts of the community to stop crime. Little Tao Dragon Martial & Healing Arts will hold a session from 10 a.m. to noon. The Red Tiger Kung Fu School will conduct a workshop from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. The efforts are laudable, but some of us long ago tapped into a crime-fighting strategy that is fool-proof. In other words, we will spend Saturday in front of the TV watching Home Alone.
MONDAY, AUGUST 20
Phyllis Diller dies in Los Angeles this morning at 95, and the iconic comedian’s longtime manager does some good looking out for her all the way to the end. “She died peacefully in her sleep with a smile on her face,” Milton Suchin tells the Associated Press. Although Diller’s signature characteristics were a wild scrawl—her fright-wig hair, air-horn cackle and uncouth references to her husband, children and housekeeping practices—beneath the loud surface she was a poignant pioneer, and there was a lot to learn from her long career. For one thing, Diller was nearly 40 when she went into stand-up comedy. For another, it was the 1950s, when female comics were much rarer than today. Most importantly, Diller’s success was based on being herself—she was a housewife with five kids when she went into show business—and by portraying that often-repressive role as an over-the-top clown she achieved a wry commentary on its often-ridiculous values. Housework? “I bury a lot of my ironing in the back yard,” Diller confessed, although without much guilt. She referred to a husband named “Fang” and a wardrobe from “Omar of Omaha.” That laugh? “It’s my real laugh,” Diller acknowledged. “It’s in the family. When I was a kid my father called me the laughing hyena.” Diller worked to create her frazzled look, which was another commentary on the mid-century housewife—typically presented by actresses like Barbara “Leave it to Beaver” Billingsley and Jane “Father Knows Best” Wyatt, who floated around their homes in smart suits and pearl necklaces. “Think what I’ll save in not having my face lifted,” Diller observed. When she turned 90 in July 2007, Diller fractured a bone in her back and was forced to cancel a planned birthday appearance on The Tonight Show. But it didn’t stop her from wisecracking: “I still take the pill ’cause I don’t want any more grandchildren.” Phyllis Diller created a genre that was later mined by the likes of Joan Rivers and Roseanne Barr, although neither of them was able to do it with Diller’s sincerity and class, which she maintained until the end. “The older I get,” Diller said in 1961, “the funnier I get.”
TUESDAY, AUGUST 21
Rickie Lee Fowler, the convicted Old Fire arsonist . . . and woman-and-her-dog meat-cleverer . . . and ex-girlfriend stalker and rapist . . . and prison cellmate sodomizer, has another of the days in court that have constituted so much of his life. On this occasion, he shows up without a shirt and addresses the judge with a complaint about the people he lives with behind his current set of bars: “They’re teasing me and being mean to me!” Apparently, fellow inmates read about District Attorney Robert Bulloch’s summary of Fowler’s resumé of incomprehensibly cruel behavior during the opening statement at Monday’s sentencing phase of the trial that found Fowler guilty of setting the 91,000-acre blaze that destroyed 1,000 homes in San Bernardino and the San Bernardino Mountains. Fowler says that during Tuesday’s bus ride from jail to court other inmates were teasing and spitting on him. That is mean—but probably nothing like what the jurors are going to do.