Rest in Power, Allee Willis — Queen of Kitsch

Allee Willis with psychedelic Fluffernutters

It's never fun to report that someone in our tribe has passed. That's especially true when that person is also someone you know and love.

Allee Willis, Happy Mutant Extraordinaire, died just after 6 p.m. on December 24 of cardiac arrest. She was 72.

My friend Heather was in tears when she phoned me to tell me the news. It was 10:15 p.m. on Christmas Eve. She had just read about Allee's sudden and unexpected death in Variety. We were both shocked and deeply saddened. We pondered together on the call, "How is it possible that she's gone?"

I first met Allee back in the February of 2011. Friends of mine here in Alameda, Jessica and Mel, introduced me to her. "You HAVE to meet her!" they insisted. At that time, a TV show called Clean House was filming the decluttering and redecorating of their home. Their excess stuff was soon to be sold in a televised public sale. Since they are well known for their massive collection of pop culture kitsch and, being the Queen of Kitsch, Allee was compelled to drive up for the sale. And because their house was out of commission for the show's filming, I offered up mine to host a party in Allee's honor, not entirely sure what I was getting myself into or, honestly, grasping the full understanding of who she was. But I was game. I invited a group of local friends, all self-proclaimed kitsch lovers. Read the rest

I chatted with Danny Elfman about his new MasterClass, and his ventriloquist dummy "Buddy"

You may remember I recently blogged about Danny Elfman's new "music for film" MasterClass (which launched on Halloween, naturally). A day or so after it posted I got an email from someone on his team asking if I wanted to interview him. My response, "Uh, who could say no to that...?!" I soon found myself Skyping with the founder of Oingo Boingo, the father of the Simpsons' theme, and one of the most prolific film composers of all time — Happy Mutant extraordinaire, Mr. Danny Elfman.

Here's what we chatted about:

Rusty: Hi there, Danny. I'm thrilled to speak with you today.

Danny: Hello, thank you.

Rusty: I wanted to share a couple of things we have in common real quick before we get into it. One... we're both redheads.

Danny: I was just going to say that. That's got to be the first thing.

Rusty: Right? Well, it's obvious. Two... we both collect strange and unusual objects.

Danny: Ooh...

Rusty: Just saw an article about your strange and unusual collection and they shared a picture of you with your creepy ventriloquist dummy.

Danny: Buddy!

Rusty: Yeah, Buddy! Well, I wanted to tell you, you must know Archie McPhee...

Danny: Yeah.

Rusty: So, a couple of years ago, they made my likeness into a product. I'm a creepy ventriloquist dummy toy, a finger puppet.

Danny: Really...?!

Rusty: Yes.

Danny: Wow... Oh my god, that's so cool. What an honor. You should be honored.

Rusty: Oh I am.

Danny: Wow. Well, you have to go look at my nine episodes of "Danny and Buddy." Read the rest