Friday, August 18, 2017
Not since Ted Chapin's book about the 1971 musical, "Follies," entitled " 'Everything Was Possible, And Nothing Made Sense'," has a theater book absorbed me as much as "Then And Now," by the now late Barbara Cook.
Theater mavens, and Cook devotees, will gobble it up. At just 237 pages, a lot of life and experience is crammed into the text, much as if one were sitting down with her, and she was speaking directly.
I had no idea of the arduousness of her early life. A poverty ridden childhood in Atlanta, having to sleep with her mother in a bed till the age of twenty, and that mother, while loved and loving, being a constant source of ambivalence, is not the stuff of a typical Barbara Cook musical. It was not all birds and roses before coming to New York, and even afterward.
As I suspected, the weight issues I knew about, and alcoholism I had heard about, were gender related--both ran in the family. But she freely admits how she fell into both, and how she got out of them, and it was not easy. Is it, ever? Anyone in this situation should read this, for it may inspire. But even Cook says, the person has to want to do it.
The details of her shows are dazzling, especially the difficulties in learning "Glitter And Be Gay," hers still being the signature rendition. I had no Idea Irra Petina was such a pain, and I was not at all surprised about Elaine Stritch. Her speaking about "The Music Man" is special, and emotionally resonant, as is her account of "She Loves Me," and how the song "Ice Cream," not originally written, came to be.
I marvel at how full a life--both good and bad--was being lived during and between shows. And how she emerged from the shadows of semi-obscurity. And the people in her life, from husband David Le Grant, her son, Adam, and Arthur Hill? Arthur Hill, aka 'Owen Marshall'? Yes, darlings, that Arthur Hill!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
This is one of the most thrilling tales in show business, with a dramatic arc that a playwright could not imagine. It happened to Miss Cook, and she takes us along with her, giving a glimpse of what it was like.
Barbara Cook was just not, as I always called her, "the greatest of all Cunegondes."
She was a great human being, and her book will entertain theatrically and inspire others struggling with difficult times.
Don't miss it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Thursday, August 17, 2017
Can you believe it is Thursday already, girls? Time for Bitch Of The Week, and I have one of the sickest for you this time.
The saying goes you can't make this shit up, but, unfortunately, shit is involved in the story. I will try and go easy.
The winner of this week's Raving Queen Bitch Of The Week Award is Colorado resident, Mark Redwine.
Here is what happened. Mark and his ex-wife were involved in a bitter custody dispute, over Dylan, then 13. What is interesting is that he should want the kid, as he and the boy did not get along. Yet, Dylan was allowed to go visit his father, for Thanksgiving, back in 2012.
Dylan wanted to visit a friend of his, the day after arriving. The friend reported he not only did not show up, but Dylan was never seen again.
When the child's remains were found, throughout the Colorado mountains, sometime in 2013, Mark was looked at with suspicion.
That he murdered his own child is heinous enough. But his reason for doing is almost too sick for words, so brace yourselves, girls.
Dylan was murdered because he found compromising photos, showing his own father, dressed in women's clothes, and make-up, holding up a diaper to his face, and eating feces!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
The diaper and feces turned out to be his own! Dylan and Mark must have had some kind of confrontation, and he murdered the kid. What's more, his older brother, Cory, backed this up, saying he had seen the photos, too!
Mark Redwine is just too ugly to pass as a woman! He lived in Colorado, for God's sake, and he was allegedly (emphasis on that word!) straight, so what the hell did he know about fashion, or taste?
As for the rest of it, was he impersonating a nursing home resident? That is an insult to all who actually do reside in such places. Including my father, who, at 102, may have faulty memory lapses, but would never think of acting out in such a way!
Dylan would have been murdered, even if his father was not depicted eating his own excrement. But that pushes things a bit over the edge!
Not only is Mark Redwine sick, I don't even care why.
He is looking good for the Top Ten, at year's end!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
For me to dream, theatrically, at night, when asleep, is not unusual at all. Neither is the dream involving certain musicals, like "A Chorus Line." I have probably dreamt more about this show than any other.
The dreams usually involve seeing the show from an unusual perspective--like from the wings. Or being inside the heads of some of the actors, while they perform the role.
Of course, I did see the Legendary Original Cast, which is why they are pictured, and, of course, the performer in me wanted to do this show, but when I was young enough to, I hadn't the dance training, and, now that I am older and heavier, I still have no dance training, and have aged out of it. But, still, it preys on my mind.
This dream was so unusual because it was in color and so specific. There was a reality about it seeming more genuine than the other ACL dreams, and it was a bit of the actor's nightmare.
The way it went--I was in a production of "A Chorus Line," which was about to open, once again, at the Paper Mill Playhouse, in Millburn, New Jersey. The stage was set, and I recall staring at the white line, standing in place, and walking along it.
Out of the wings, a stage manager appeared, reminding to put my name on the sign-in sheet, so management would know I was here. I go to do so, and the first thing I notice is I am not listed, nor do I have any idea of what role I am playing.
My guess would be Mark, but there is no indication. Or one of the minor dancers, who, after they are eliminated, retreat backstage, or down below, to give strong vocal reinforcement to the bigger ensemble numbers, like 'Hello Twelve, Hello Thirteen,' or "What I Did For Love."
I am walking back and forth, behind the stage, when one of my costars, who, I can tell, by his height, demeanor, and hair style, is playing Gregg, comes along and tells me everything is in chaos. He is dressed in his costume for the Finale--but only about half of it. He says most of the costumes have not arrived, and that I am probably going to have to dance the show in my street clothes.
Now, I have so much to worry about. I know the songs, and the lines, but not the steps. I don't even where I am placed in the opening formation. What on earth do I do?
The scene freezes, with me staring into space, wondering.
What could it mean? What do you think?
Wednesday, August 16, 2017
Leave it to me, dears, to paraphrase Rhoda Penmark in "The Bad Seed."
I just want you to know there will be no Brat Packing on here for awhile. Having consumed Tama Janowitz, and slogged through Bret Easton Ellis--which took some doing--I will not be writing about that group for awhile. The next book posts seen on here will be varied and fun. Depending on how fast I read and post, I should return to the project, refreshed, as early as month's end, as late as early Fall.
But I will still be on here girls, posting my outrageous, yet cogent, observations, as they pop up in my mind!
See you soon!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
And because of that, this is the perfect place to end the Bret Easton Ellis portion of my Literary Brat Pack project. Thank God.
The sad thing is, the book starts out promisingly, but ends up being the usual mélange of Ellis garbage.
He starts out writing in beautifully constructed, perfectly lettered and capitalized, sentences, which makes this a bit more readable than other works. It is a sequel to "Less Than Zero," and, having read that earlier work recently, I suggest those interested read it first, to connect the dots thrown out in this book.
Though in the end, who cares?????????????????
Ellis has actually lowered his pretensions slightly. Whereas in "The Rules Of Attraction," he fancied himself Joyce or Proust, here he ratchets himself down to Henry James. Not that Henry James is not one of our great writers, but his prose style is a bit more mainstream than what Ellis established himself with, initially.
Oh, and with this last of Ellis, I don't have to listen about how "The Fountainhead" or "One Hundred Years Of Solitude" are such great works of literature, rather than stylistic representations of their specific times. Though I grant that both are better written and will endure longer than any of Ellis' work. I doubt if he has ever read them. Well, I have,
So, what goes on? The usual mélange about sex and drugging, only in Hollywood, because all these obnoxious L.A. characters have somehow managed to filter themselves into the film industry. Clay, Blair, and Trent are still around but I was more fascinated by Rain Turner,
Rip Millar, the astute drug dealer, and Kelly Montrose. The only familiar character of any interest is Julian. The monotony of sex and drugging, the obviousness of the title as a metaphor for the place where business meetings really take place, and deals are made with sex, would make "Valley Of The Dolls" seem like high art. Jacqueline Susann, were she alive today, would reject this crap outright.
But, then, three quarters of the way through, Ellis ceases the name and place dropping (Bret, darling, all of us Easterners know about the Chateau Marmont; get over it!), and, like a driver having taken a wrong turn on Mulholland Drive, the novel spirals into a murder mystery cum snuff film finale, where Clay is some kind of sadistic monster--or is he?--and he winds up with Blair, who is not what she was thought to be. A witch, maybe? A mastermind? Hint! Hint!
The sadism of the prolonged snuff sequence involving Rain Turner in a motel bedroom with Mexican flunkies from some drug cartel almost made me gag, and I had to put the book down. So too, with Ellis' torture sequence, depicting Clay with two pubescent youths, one male, the other female. I guess Ellis thought a bang-up "American Psycho" finish was needed, because the novel was going nowhere, before then. I did not particularly like where or how it ended up, but at least it went somewhere.
Which is damning with faint praise, when it comes to Bret Easton Ellis. He sort of gets the writing right, just at the near end of his career--may this book be his last!--then resorts to old and tired tricks. Is Clay Ellis' fantasy projection of himself???????????? Because if so, man, I don't want to go there.
To think the High Priestess of this group, Donna Tartt, endorsed this book. Well, maybe, having known Bret, she sees sides of him I don't. The New York Times did not endorse this book. Finally, Ellis is seen through and exposed for the phony he is.
And that takes care of the Ellis portion of my project. Except I have something final to say to Bret Easton Ellis.
Just three little words. The last one is "yourself." I am sure my readers can guess the other two.
"Oh, thanks for loading, swee...."--
Mother's opening line on Cascade commercial.
Girls, have you seen this latest commercial? The son is clearly clueless. Even I know dishes have to be rinsed, before going in the washer. How many times did I observe my mother doing so? You would think this young man would have noticed the same thing, over the years. Obviously, he has not.
He is too kitchen awkward to be gay, but, hons, if this guy is so messy, he is going to have problems finding a woman. He should be warned before it is too late, because if he does not get his act together, he is going to spiral downward into obesity, a man cave trailer littered with filth, where he does nothing but sit on a filthy couch in undies that should be burned, scarfing down Doritos.
Really. It all starts at home. Every time I see this ad, I cringe.
The dude needs help. Not just Cascade!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Yes, darlings, back in 1969, when this date fell on a weekend, Woodstock took place, and I thought it would be fun to kick off the day on here by honoring its anniversary,
Just two more years, and the half-century mark is reached. I simply cannot believe it.
How to celebrate the day? Well, if you want to get high, that is up to you. I am sticking with my coffee.
But I plan to listen to the artists who performed there, and some of their selections.
And I encourage everyone to go visit the site. Even without the crowds, it is a magical place, and, looking out, one can almost visualize the whole thing.
Here is the best of the best--Grace Slick, and The Jefferson Airplane, waking up the Sunday morning crowd, with "Volunteers." This actually took place on August 17, 1969.
Months later, when the album came out, and the weather was still warm enough to open the windows, one Sunday morning, at age 14, I turned my speakers to my bedroom windows, and the dial to full volume on my stereo, trying to duplicate this Woodstock experience. How quickly the phones in our house began ringing, calling my parents!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Tuesday, August 15, 2017
This question has been bothering me ever since his explosive so-called "manifesto" went viral. Within my memory, the last time there was a furor like this was April 23, 1972, when The New York Times Magazine published, by a young Joyce Maynard, an article that set many of my peer group's (myself included) teeth on edge, "An Eighteen-Year-Old Looks Back On Life." Even Maynard herself, admitted, once she was older, and wiser, that her piece had been misguided.
And that, I find, is the problem with James Damore. He is on to something, but is directing it, misguidedly, in the wrong direction.
Let me dismiss his pathetic generalizations about race and gender. I am a White male, who is more interested in people than things. Much as I wanted to excel in Math and Science, I had the interest, but not the aptitude. I had both, from kindergarten through college, when it came to literature, language, and writing. So, what does that make me?
Furthermore, some of the most brilliant math students I encountered during my school years, were female, not male.
Getting back to me, let me add, I am also gay. So, what does that mean to you, James? Guess I don't fit your criteria for normality, since I am not some techno dude, man! I could tell from the visual background in your interviews that you were straight; not so much because you had a bicycle casually leaning up against a wall, which was present, but because the abundance of space seen in the background, with nothing on the walls, indicates not only a lack of taste, but also the attitude that you are some cool dude, because you don't know how to decorate.
But, then, that is for women and fags, isn't it? And what about the minorities and other social affiliates you fail to address?
I am not out to bash James; I just want him to realize the error of his ways.
He is on to the fact that something is wrong, not only with Google, but with the American work place scene in general, and while he may not be able to see it, the reason is not so much sexist, as generational.
Speaking from my own personal experience now, I can honestly say that, when I started out in the workplace, things were better run, in a structural and organizational sense. And there was a greater emphasis on accountability. This was due to a strong ability in leadership, possessed by both women and men--and I worked under both. Now, as that generation has passed on, and Baby Boomers are the next ones on the way out, those succeeding us are deficient in ways not apparent before. This generational group, of which I am a member, grew up with TV being the newest technology, and while it fascinated me, in early childhood, it did not stop me from reading, playing with my friends, coloring, writing stories, playing board games, or doing whatever else interested me. What is more, all these activities were tactile.
The generations after mine, while more technological, I find to be less personable. With so much time spent on so-called Social Media, one might think the level of skilled socialization would be raised, but it isn't; rather, it has dropped. And that is because interacting on a computer cannot take the place totally of personal interaction, and those who believe that, and I think Damore is in this group, are making a tremendous mistake. What has resulted is a work culture unable to be challenged by others who, like me, think "outside the box." Corporatization has become worse than in the so-called conformist Fifties, where now one is not even allowed to voice a dissenting opinion, because upper execs, because of social deficiency,(or, along with it, leadership insecurity) not sexuality, do not want to have to deal with those who are outside their limited (by technology) social parameters.
Which is, essentially, why I retired from my job.
Getting back to James Damore, and his outcry about stereotypes, I wonder if he realizes how much of one he is? Or, like many so-called techno-geeks, how far does he, or they, fall on the Asperger spectrum? That is something which should be looked into, more than mere sexuality. Why, James, should a person be only defined by their sexuality? You hide behind the cloak of so-called "centerism," but just what the hell is that? It's a covert way of being rightist, by pretending to be liberal, which too many of the higher ups at work places are doing. James, you yourself are as guilty as they, here. But, because you are young, and your perspective inevitably limited, you cannot see it. At least you are not alone. There are far too many out there, like you.
As for those who are not, well, if working, they are regulated to support, rather than leadership, positions. How many gay men out there hold leadership positions--without having to remain in the closet? More than I would care to admit. Those who are out and proud, like yours truly, are marginalized and dismissed, especially by this now so-called core group of leaders.
James, you are on to something, you are just not seeing the larger picture. The blatant arrogance and sense of entitlement in your document indicates not only self-righteousness, but that something way beyond Google is bothering you, and you need to get in touch with that. But you and your peer group's lack of empathy--Asperger or otherwise--prevents you from getting at the real issues.
Technology has became a shield behind which these non-empathic types hide. In their world, they would see nothing wrong with human identity progressing to the level, or lack of it, depicted in the movie, "Her." If so, they should not be in leadership positions, because they are unsuited for those jobs. Allow them to do what they are actually skilled at, and allow the "people persons," if not to rule, then at least more value in how they are regarded. Again, I am speaking from experience.
The answer to the title question posed is that more of an emphasis needs to exist in workplaces on acceptance of differing personalities. That is, going beyond the attitude held by many (and I count myself guilty here) of the mentality that "This is my world. The rest of you just live in it."
A workplace should be a united community, yet that notion is slowly falling apart. The prevention of this should be the primary focus.
James' "manifesto" alerted us, like nothing before, that something is inherently wrong in the American workplace. His approach made him guilty of nothing but youthful misguidedness. If Google, or other workplaces really valued differing opinions, be it James or someone else, they would work with these individuals, rather than dismiss them. To those who see James as a victim, I quote from my favorite movie, "The Wizard Oz." The only thing he is a victim of is "disorganized thinking."
I feel sorry for present-day workers. If things continue as I describe, workers will lose their most valuable asset.
Their sense of self. Which must be kept, at all costs.
Monday, August 14, 2017
If I really had nothing to say, and/or did not care at all about my readers, I would just glibly write this post in a style parodying Ellis', and leave it at that.
It would be so easy. But I would not be doing my job with you, and, as anyone who knows me can tell, I have never been one to keep my mouth shut, in all senses of that phrase.
So, here we go--
The perfect awfulness of "The Rules Of Attraction" (which is that there are none!) can stand alongside "Less Than Zero," even though, surprisingly, in very minor ways, this "second novel" is just a wee bit better than the first, which is generally not the way with up-and-coming writers. Both are pieces of shit, but even I have to honestly admit "The Rules Of Attraction" is slightly better.
What makes it so, or, at least, relatively interesting, is that, while he still creates characters who do not do much, stuff happens--though not much--in this book, and he raises the bar on his level of pretension. The novel is structured to open and end with no punctuation or capitalization, like "Finnegan's Wake," and the prose style throughout is mostly Joycean, which demonstrates Ellis mistakenly equates himself with that Irishman's genius. Another is an entire page where the whole thing is in French. Now, Bret, you fancy yourself Proust, hmmmm? Don't kid yourself!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
For sheer gimmickry, nothing equals page 268, which is simply this--
". Can you imagine?????????????????
There is an abortion, a suicide, and character named Richard Jared, whose scene with his mother is the most refreshing thing in the book. Also of interest is, as one studies the Literary Brat Packers, how incestuous they sometimes are. Appearing throughout the book is a character of sexual indecisiveness named Sean Bateman, whose elder brother, Patrick, makes a minor appearance. Yes, dears, THAT Patrick Bateman. Camden College here stands in for Bennington, as it did, I believe in Jill Eisenstadt's "Far Rockaway," where mention is made of it. Clay from "Less Than Zero" makes a brief appearance here. Jill Eistenstadt seems to follow whatever Bret Easton Ellis does, as far as publishing goes. Now, pay attention. The most astute line in the novel is when a drug dealer says, to a character named Julian, who is being pimped out to pay off drug debts, "I did not make you a whore. You did that to yourself." The guy might as well be talking about Ellis himself.
Mention too is made of this "weird group of people studying Classics," which is a reference to Donna Tartt's "The Secret History," where the professor there is named Julian. Except Hampden College, there, stands in for Bennington. See? In the Brat Pack Universe, everything is connected.
Despite these glimmers of interest, which are few and far between, the writing style and lack of characterization, or the reader's caring about them herein, are consistent with "Less Than Zero." I actually had to force myself to stay awake reading this, ecause the monotony of tone and narration were truly sleep inducing.
And yet this was generally well received at the time. But not enough improvement for me to take Ellis seriously. At least here, he includes some gay characters and action, even while other straights express disdain for such. Talking out of both sides of the hat, Bret dear?
Let's face it, and here it comes. girls, Bret Easton Ellis is more a phony, and less a Brat Packer. In actuality--
He is a great, big fudge packer!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
And he piles it on!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Notice, darlings, I said "phrases," and not "phases."
The voice, and its phases, have received more tributes this past week, including yours truly, and I concur with them all. Others with better, more accomplished voices than I have written about her glorious sound, and brilliant technique, and, again, I concur.
But I would like to share some personal phrases that, for me, defined Barbara Cook's artistry. No one else could give the following the moving vibrancy that Barbara Cook did.
1. "Candide" (1956)--In "Make Our Garden Grow," when she first comes in, with, "I thought the world was sugar cake./Or so, our Master said. OH. MY. GOD!
2. "The Music Man" (1957)--It took me years to realize "Good Night, My Someone" was the same melody as "Seventy-Six Trombones," because Cook's voice just stopped my breath on, "Our star is shining its brightest light." Also "I wish they may, and I wish you might." Tears are streaming down my face, as I write this, I can hear her so clearly in my head.
3. "She Loves Me"--Just about every note or lyric of this show is breathtaking. But the height of Barbara Cook's Amalia comes early, in the song "No More Candy." Listen to how she sings the last line, "In a way, it's a little like the voice.....of....God." It just touches the heart.
4. "Show Boat" (1966)--With Barbara, the best revived Magnolia. The operatic romanticism of the piece is expressed impeccably when she sings, in "Make Believe," "The game of just supposing is the sweetest game I know. /Our dreams are more romantic than the world we see."
Anyone's rendering of this phrase pales beside hers.
5. "The Grass Harp" (1971)--Just about all of her opening number, "Dropsy Cure Weather, " but within that is a favorite set of brilliantly written lyrics that she lovingly caresses--"Pepper and Chow Chow Mustard./It's easy to get flustered." I melt!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
6. "Stars" (1977)--This is Janis Ian's song, recorded by Cook on her 1977 solo album, "As Of Today." Her voice and its arrangement make the whole thing a classic, but, when she gets to "But most have seen it all/ They live their lives in sad cafes and music halls," I have never heard a more plaintive explanation for the artist-audience relationship, something no one better than she knew. Beautiful, but heartbreaking.
7. " 'Follies In Concert'" (1985)--I was lucky enough to be there. What was and still is amazing, was, while her "Losing My Mind" was flawless, she nailed "In Buddy's Eyes" in a way I have never heard anyone; even, so help me, God, Dorothy Collins, do. When Barbara Cook sang "And all I ever dreamed I'd be....." to the end, it pierced one's very soul.
I am also partial to her rendering of Judy Collins' song, "My Father."
I stand by what I say. Agree or not, the voice was phenomenal. Listen to these selections, and discover for yourselves. And if any of you out there have other favorites, let me know.
Here is how Broadway looked, as the lights dimmed for this beloved artist.
And now, throughout Eternity, Barbara Cook and Wally Harper are the hottest evening ticket, in Heaven!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Girls, I am telling you, the Summer has been shit, artistically, when it comes to cinema. So much so, it got me to thinking about better Summer films. Which brought me back to 1969's "Last Summer."
When this came out, I thought the girl in the poster was Catherine Burns. It actually looks like Barbara Hershey. These two, plus Richard Thomas and Bruce Davison, all up-and comers, at the time, comprised the cast.
My gall was raised, at the time, when across all the posters was spread this quote from Judith Crist--" 'Last Summer' is a remarkable film."
I am not sure I would call it a masterwork, though it has great depth and substance. But in an age where "Annabelle: Creation" is the weekend's top grosser, maybe it is time to release a film like "Last Summer." Or the Film Forum to have a retrospective screening.
The film is deceptively simple--Three teens--Sandy (Hershey), Dan (Davison) and Peter (Thomas) are wealthy kids vacationing on or around the Fire Island area, thanks to their wealthy parents. Into this clique's path comes Rhoda (Catherine Burns) who is their social equal, but economically only. She craves their acceptance, but pays a traumatic price for her vulnerability, when she is, brutally, gang raped by the other three.
What is ironic is while those playing what today would be called the bullying trio went on to further successes, it was Catherine Burns' performance that blew everyone away--and still does. She got an Oscar nomination for this film (well deserved) and then--obscurity. After practically being hailed as the greatest thing since Julie Harris in "Member Of The Wedding?"
Another case in point--Rhoda has a striking monologue in the film, about her mother's death. I could relate to it. Yet no young actor or actress would even think of auditioning with this, let alone know about it. And it is perfect.
This was the last good film Frank and Eleanor Perry made, before their careers crashed and burned with their even contemplating a remake of "A Star Is Born." And look how that turned out. And "le plus ca change...." yet another redo, with Lady Gaga(!!!!!!!!!!!) is being contemplated.
"Last Summer" is a film about teen bullying, before it became an established term. It is filled with typical Perry overt foreshadowing-- Sandy killing the gull foreshadows Rhoda's gang rape, and both acts are cruel and disturbing, the way they are staged, which may be the reason why this film does not get shown too often. It can be hard to watch.
Rhoda's vulnerability, inevitably makes her an easy target. So does her speaking the truth, because teens don't care. More of us out there than not can closely identify with Rhoda--this is pretty much how I viewed my adolescence, though if any of my peers had done this to me, there would have been consequences. I would have fought back.
More people should see "Last Summer," and more showings of this film should be screened. Especially in this artistically abysmal season.
Summer does not have to mean junk, as this film demonstrates.
Saturday, August 12, 2017
The title of the new "Annabelle" movie is confusing, as I have seen it referred to as "Annabelle: Creation," but also "Annabelle 2." I have to go with what is one the final film's credits, and that is "Annabelle:Creation." So, that is the title.
This was a hard post to write, because I had to do a lot of back research on "The Conjuring" and the first "Annabelle" film to get at what is going on here. I suggest anyone who plans on seeing this do the same. The films, together, move backwards in time, making this franchise the "Merrily We Roll Along" of horror.
Who knew that this would turn out to be the Summer Of Girls School Movies? After the true horror of Sofia Coppola's "The Beguiled," not only did it surprise me that girls school dramatics, complete with a nun, are resorted to here, but, so help me, "Annabelle:Creation" is not only better than Coppola's remake, it is a movie that actually got under my skin.
The film is structured in layers, beginning with a very realistic opening. Sam Mullins (Anthony LaPaglia) and his wife, Esther (Miranda Ott) have a good life, and a cute young daughter. Mullins is a toy maker, starting his own company, his specialty being dolls. He finishes Doll No.1--and we all know who that is, don't we? They go to church, chat with a congregant. On the way home, the car breaks down, a part rolls out onto the street. The daughter goes to grab it--and is hit by a car. The reality of this sequence unfolding is brutal.
Next, we have two sisters, Janice and Linda, traveling on a bus full of orphans, headed by Sister Charlotte (of the Central Casting Far Too Pretty School Of Nuns), and a half a dozen orphans--some post pubescent Mean Girls, others too young yet. Janice (played in a remarkable performance by an actress named Talitha Bateman) is the most dramatically interesting, because she is given a crutch and leg brace to work with--a challenge for any actor. This is because, the story, set in the early 50's (the Mullins' daughter dies 12 years before, in the 40's), has Janice having survived the consequences of a polio outbreak in the area where the convent was. Now, the Mullins, in some sort of penitential offering, are taking the girls in. They have a lot to be penitential for. Mr. Mullin is emotionally broken by the death of his daughter, walking about catatonically, while Esther, his wife, is confined to her bed, hidden away by curtains and a half mask, like a latter day Miss Havisham. The girls have no idea what they are in for.
The relationship between Janice and Linda got to me, because its emotionality reminded me so much of that "Cold Episode" which upsets me, dreadfully, "A Dollar And A Dream." The way this film plays havoc with the life of crippled Janice had me on edge, wanting to charge the production company with child exploitation. However much of the physical work Miss Bateman does, the emotional is all hers, and she is the one here going for the Pamelyn Ferdin role in this piece. She, and audiences, are rewarded in the second half, when Janice (or is she?) does a complete personality turn. The audience and the actress have a really fun time!
All the older girls, like Grace Fulton, as Carol, are trying to channel Darleen Carr. They are still better than Coppola's girls. As for Annabelle, the doll, well, she moves, flies, leers, and creaks in a rocking chair--all enough to get the audience screaming. The grimace on this doll's face is so frightening alone, I would never have it in my house.
I cannot call the exact point, but it was something Janice did, where I realized where the film was going--and it does. There is nothing wrong with plot predictability here, but what is most surprising about this film is how the actors play it straight--not one inch of parody-- and how skillfully the camerawork and designers create an atmosphere of dread--the kind that can make even a child's nursery chilling. And the arid, California landscape, recalls the more lurid portions of John Steinbeck's "East Of Eden."
And that is another thing. The writing crams so much film reference into this film, aficionados can play a game while going along. Besides "Cold Case," "The Beguiled," and "East Of Eden," I spotted "Heavenly Creatures," "The Exorcist" (of course!) "The Ring," "The Other," and "The Good Son" (all because of the well sequences; at one point, I was expecting to see a cameo by Daveigh Chase!!!!!!!!!!), even "The Night Of The Iguana." And there may be more; if you spot any, let me know.
Oh, yes, Dickens, and "The Night Of The Hunter," the last by way of how creepily ambivalent LaPaglia plays his role.
But, girls, I am telling you, it is the cameo appearance by the Mysterious Black Nun that nearly steals the show! She turns up in a photo, and in some surprise shocks in the film, one at the very end, which requires audiences to stay past the credits.
I hope more gets done with this nun character, and I have every reason to expect it will. Because, I am telling you, from "The Sound Of Music," to "Dialogue Of The Carmelites," nuns sell tickets!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
That is hardly a surprise to me. The biggest surprise of all is that "Annabelle:Creation" may turn out to have been the best new movie I have seen this Summer. It actually is not half bad. I urge you to go.
And I want Miss Bateman 's career managed carefully. She shows every indication of being the Pamelyn Ferdin of her generation!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Moving along with my Brat Pack Project, I have arrived at the point of Bret Easton Ellis. So, help me, God. Let's get started.
I suppose if someone has to be blamed, it is Joe McGinniss. Yes, the non-fiction author of "The Selling Of The President, 1968," and the true crime works "Fatal Vision," "Blind Faith," and "Cruel Doubt." You see, he was teaching Creative Writing at Bennington, during those all-import years of 1982 to 1985, when these writers were discovered.
The first thing I want to know is--what is a renowned non-fiction writer doing, working with a bunch of fiction writers? I understand a job is a job, but, really, if his field is non-fiction what the hell does he know about fiction? Not much, if he was blown away by "Less Than Zero." But I am getting ahead of myself.
I am going to predict that the problem with many of these writers is that many of their works are interchangeable. Several weeks ago, I did a post on "Far Rockaway," by Jill Eisenstadt, who also came out of this "Bennington Writers Factory." "Less Than Zero" is simply the West Coast version of "Far Rockaway." Both really have no stories--just a bunch of slackers drugging, screwing and drinking--and the characters names don't matter because they might as well be the same, or not named at all, because they are all doing the same thing. Eisenstadt's prose is at least tolerable, because it somewhat straightforward, and she gets the distinctly lower middle class atmosphere of Queens right, but Ellis is different, in that he projects his pretensions onto the printed page. He writes in this monotone style that has no feeling or empathy. His short sentence structure reminded me of the early Joyce Maynard. At least Joyce was trying to say something, and not just showing off. More than any novel I have read, "Less Than Zero" has the feel of having come from a 'Writing Factory," because it has. It is Bret Easton Ellis saying, "Look how cool and nasty I can be,"
"Look how homophobic I can be, because I know if I admit I am in any way gay, I will never get published." The sad thing is, McGinniss endorsed this crap, and so did others. What does that say about them?
Eisenstadt's book, as I said, conveyed a mood and atmosphere that got the geographics in her novel so right. Ellis does not have even the minimal technique of Eisenstadt, relying on the cheapness of name and place dropping to achieve less than perfect results.
Get over yourself, Bret! Oh, and that name, Bret Easton Ellis? Did your retro-parents really have the foresight to grant you a semi-butch name, or did you manufacture it yourself, because, I am telling you, "Less Than Zero" surely would not have been published under a name, like, say, Charles Nelson Reilly??????????????????????
It really comes back to Joe McGinnis. Had he not been teaching then, any manuscript of these writers--especially Ellis--would never have seen the inside of a galley room.
Do you think Joan Didion (to whom some idiot critics compared Ellis to!) would have tolerated this nonsense??????? Like Pauline Kael did with a film critic student, Joan would have tossed this at Bret, saying, "It's shit, honey! Do it again!"
Alas, I have committed myself (for which I may eventually be committed!) to this project, and so have two more Ellis works to get through. So help me. And no way am I re-reading "American Psycho!" Enough, already!
Reading literary nastiness can be immensely pleasurable,
darlings, but this is not it. Skip Ellis, and read "Answered Prayers," by Truman Capote, or the writings of Dorothy Parker, or Shirley Jackson!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Now, THEY are the real thing!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Everyone, I would like to welcome Leslie Jude to The Raving Queen. She is the 60th follower, which is a milestone for all here, I can assure you.
As I say to all newcomers, this blog goes especially well with coffee in the morning. I hope you find the contents on here interesting Leslie, and feel free to comment anytime.
Greetings and Salutations!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Friday, August 11, 2017
Poor Jamoneisha Merritt. She was not murdered, like Rita Baxter, but she very well could have been.
This innocent 11-year-old girl, from the Bronx, went to a sleepover, with other girls, at the home of whom she thought was her best friend. The event took place on Sunday, and during the party, an argument broke out between Jamoneisha and her friend, whose last name is Panton, and is twelve years old. Jamoneisha was told something was going to be done to her, once she was asleep. I believe most there thought this was just two girls bitching, and in another time, it would have been only that. But these days, a houseful of pubescent girls can be toxic, and all bets are off.
Which turned out to be true. Because, once Jamoneisha fell asleep, this girl heated a pot full of water--the size used to cook a package of spaghetti with--to the boiling point, then, snuck up on Jamoneisha, and poured the water all over her face.
To say it awakened her is an understatement. It could have killed her, and it is a miracle it didn't. This girl is no better than that Ariel Shuman!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
The incident supposedly happened around 3am. Why the police did not arrive at the host house, at 1064 Findlay Avenue, in the Bronx, until 4:40am, and the child's mother was not notified until 5:30am is beyond me. Nevertheless, Jamoneisha lasted, and was taken to Harlem Hospital, where she was stabilized. And seems to be recovering, thank God!
The perp's mother, Shernett Panton, shrugs it off as a prank gone wrong. Yeah, right, lady! You got something to say? Say it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Ebony Merritt, the victim's mother blames it on a Social Media fad called the Hot Water Challenge, similar to the Cold Water one, which is supposed to raise money to fight ALS.
I don't think so. Charity was not on the perp's mind, here. I think the whole blame should be placed on those two evil bitches, that girl and her mother, Shernett Panton. Convict both, throw away the key, and smack them across the face!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Or how would you like to have boiling water thrown at you???????????????
My best Get Well wishes for Jamoneisha , from The Raving Queen, and all my readers!
And don't worry girls, there will be some fun posts coming up soon! I am seeing the new "Annabelle" movie, in a few hours, and just wait till you read what I do to Bret Easton Ellis!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Honestly, I could not let this day go by, without commemorating the tragic suicide of Daniel Fitzpatrick, a year ago today, irrevocably associated with near where I live, being he was a student at Holy Angels Academy, in Bay Ridge. That is just blocks from my apartment.
My thoughts and prayers go out to his family on this day, as I am sure do those of all my readers. Daniel was guilty of nothing, save being himself, and for that he was bullied relentlessly, till he was so overwhelmed, he could see only one solution.
The system failed him. And, in the year following, has anything truly been done? Not from what I can see. Hell, when folks tied blue ribbons to lamp posts and such, in his honor last year, others came and ripped them down!
I'd like to rip those who did! It only shows there is still much to learn, and that other, unfortunate children are not getting the help they need, begging the question which one will be the next tragedy to take place?
As Victor Hugo wrote, in "Les Miserables," "Fortunately, God knows where to look for a soul." He found Daniel, who I believe now is happy in Heaven, where he was not on Earth. Blessings to him!
And when will schools stop this enforced mass conformity?????????????
Several nights ago, I had an extremely disturbing dream. I was menaced by a quartet of sexually predatory teenagers. They were out to kill me, for something they said I did. Like mouthing off to one of them.
None of them looked like these pics. Well, maybe one. There was this blond boy, dressed in black, no hoodie, and he was like a non-entity. But menacing. The two girls were dressed like sluts from another era--mine. You know, cheap make-up, overly teased hair, skirts as high as they could go, and the sheerest of stockings. And red high heels. Real cheap!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! The other boy was bulky, had bushy dark hair, a beard, and wore a red, plaid flannel shirt, and jeans!
It began with me in the front room of my childhood home, looking out onto the street. Suddenly, as if out of the swirling mists, they formed, and mouthed to me, in a way that I could understand, "We are going to get you, for what you did."
In the dream, I have no idea what I did. I had never seen these four before, nor would I ever associate with them. But I can still recall the palpable fear and dread I felt, and not knowing what to do, or where to go.
The next scene, I was in this fictional bar, along the right side of Route 27, not far from my Jersey home. There was never a bar there, but in my dream there was. I was hysterically trying to convey to people what was going on, but either no one believed me, or I was too hysterical to be understood. One patron understood enough to lend me his cell phone, as I had none, so I could call 911. I did, and they said police would be right there.
But they never arrived. In the next scene, I was running in these woods, and I could see them following close behind me, yelling that when they got me, they were going to tear me apart, and I was going to feel every bit of it.
I found myself running up to the bar. To my right, I saw the dark, bushy haired, bearded guy, asleep outdoors, on a lawn chair. I knew they were still out to get me, so I went inside.
There, no one noticed me, and I felt myself hopelessly trapped. I knew I had to stay in the bar. But I would have to step out some time, and once I did, that would be it.
So I remained.
What do you think, darlings? I cannot make heads or tails of this. There was also a counter balance of darkness and light, My childhood home was lit the way I always remember, but outside it was dark. As it was, outside the bar, though the building's neon lit up the area almost as bright as daybreak. The woods were dark, the teens were chasing me, but I recall seeing the light of car light beams, too. The bar's interior, was, well, like, most bar interiors.
Only by writing about this have I been able to shake this off!
I will remember to be more aware of my surroundings, when out and about!!!!!!!!
One night last week I had this dream about appearing on stage, with Tallulah Bankhead, in Thornton Wilder's "The Skin Of Our Teeth,"
Don't ask me why. The only thought I have given to Tallulah, lately, is David's having recorded "Die! Die! My Darling!," which I am sure all on here know and love, and how we have to watch it when there is a spare moment. It is such fun. And Yootha Joyce almost steals the show as a housekeeper who would make Mrs. Danvers seem placid, by comparison!
Plus, I don't even like this play. As can be seen from the photo, it is pretty surreal. Not like "Our Town," or even "The Matchmaker," which is how I think of Wilder.
Yet, Tallulah and I were out there on stage, in it. She, of course, played her signature role of Sabrina. I cannot recall what I played, though one of these other two might be fine for me.
But, in the scene, we were having a heated exchange of dialogue on stage.
It figures! Tallulah and I???????????? Can you imagine what it would be like?????????? Two divas facing off!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
What a challenge for both Tallulah and I!!!!!!!!!!! Our dressing rooms would have to be at opposite ends of the theater! And pity the poor stage manager!
Only in my dreams, girls!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Thursday, August 10, 2017
Being The Raving Queen is not the easy thing some of you may think. I never know how the day is going to go, from one moment, to the next.
Yesterday, while at this computer, I got a phone call from one of my beloved former colleagues, at work. She informed me that that evening, a group of people, from our workplace, and elsewhere, were going to gather on the second floor of Sardi's in memory of Barbara Cook, then, at the appropriate time, walk out to Shubert Alley, along West 45tth Street, and watch the Broadway lights dim in her honor. As they should.
David and I arrived early, Someone at Sardi's must be reading this blog, because we were seated in a banquette where I could survey everything, and everyone.
I saw many familiar looking, show biz types--some probably support staff, one guy who looked like a stand in for Nathan Lane, but was probably an agent or casting director. Seated at his table was a young girl, who, I swear, looked just like Quinn Shephard, who played Emma, the second mean girl, on 'SVU's' episode, "Lost Traveler." The woman next to us was a delight; a Swiss émigré, with a luscious accent, who, in look and manner, came off like an upbeat version of Joan Didion. That is, if such a thing can be imagined.
Around 7:30, we moved out onto the street, and the view was just perfect. The big surprise, which I did not know. was that, at the moment, Barbara Cook's picture would be projected onto the upper marquees, which are now like movie screens.
It was a beautiful, moving moment. I had never seen the lights dim live, so that I was seeing it because of someone I truly admired had a special meaning. As well as the visit to Sardi's. Our waiter, Mike, did a superb job, and the staff was so friendly.
The food was not bad, either. I had tomatoes and mozzarella for an appetizer, and a skewered chicken breast, with grilled veggies and rice for main course, capped off by rice pudding and coffee, for desert. David had their famous cannelloni appetizer, the salmon main course, crème brulee, and coffee.
I may go to Sardi's again; The Raving Queen approves. I need to hang out with Liza!!!!!!!!!!!
But how I wish I could hear, live, again, the late, but forever great, Barbara Cook.
To my colleague, Louise, she will live on in our memories and in countless peoples' music collections!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Once again, girls, it shames me that his happened in my birth state of New Jersey. It seemed more suited for New Mexico or Florida.
Debra Wisler, of Millville, in Millville Township, is the winner of this week's Raving Queen Bitch Of The Week Award. She is said to be 39, but you have got to be kidding! And that hair! Can't she use shampoo, and a comb?
She had a little boy, a special needs child. aged 10. The boy's name is not known. There was a program for special needs kids, seventy miles away from their home, at Joint Base McGure-Dix, in Lakehurst. Unfortunately, the McGuire part of that has nothing to do with Dorothy!!!!!!!!!!!! Who would have been appalled by what happened.
Debra came to the base with the boy, complete with a packed suitcase. For reasons not known, it was determined he was ineligible for the program, so you know what this bitch did??????????????
She abandoned him. That's right; like the evil parents in "Hansel And Gretel," she left him in the woods!
The child was actually found by a driver riding past the area he had been left in. The boy was taken to the military base, given food and water, and checked out for signs of health and/or injury. He had enough presence of mind to explain his mother walked him into the woods with the suitcase, and left him there. And he was able to name her.
Can you imagine? The child fell asleep, and when he woke, he was hungry...and alone. Eventually, he was found.
Now, according to the Legend Of The Blair Witch, when the children of Burkitsville (then named Blair), Maryland, accused Elly Kedward of luring them to her with witchcraft, back in 1785, the villagers took it upon themselves to condemn her to death, tying her to a wooden cart, and leaving her alone in the woods, during one of the harshest of winters.
The same should be accorded Debra. You bitch, doing that to a special needs kid. Imagine the fear and fright he went through. See how you like it!
The only happy ending to this story, is he might not be with Debra any longer. The local Division of Child Protection And Permanency were able to find a temporary home for this boy. May he never return to Debra again!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I love it! This kid may have been Special Needs, but he was able to tell the truth about his bitch mom!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!