Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Can You Believe We Are Already One Twelfth Through 2018???????????????????????

                                   I always feel a little hopeful when saying goodbye to this first month, every year.  By now, my anxiety about getting my W2 has cleared up, and, with February being such a short, if dismal month, I know we are slowly heading into March, which is really when I begin to settle into the new year, as my SAD (Seasonal Affect Disorder) begins to clear up.

                                    But it was an interesting month--some nice gatherings with friends, seeing some Oscar contending films, and, of course, starting a new year of reading, as I set out to break the record I set last year, with 116 books read.

                                     Tomorrow, it will be February, the most romantic of months, what with Blythe Danner's birthday, and Valentine's Day, just within days of each other!

                                      See you, then, girls!  And congrats to all, on making it through January!!!!!!

"Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri" Offers A Glimmer Of Hope For American Filmmaking!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                                                       Awhile back on here, while referring to Robert Altman's 1975 classic, "Nashville," I mused that in the political climate of these times, that picture could not get made today.  And I stand by what I said.

                                      This remark passed through my mind, as I watched "Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri," a movie written and directed by famed Irish playwright Martin McDonagh, who is certainly not afraid to go to dark places.  In that the film examines mostly the worst, but some of the best, of American human nature, I was surprised a film company gave this movie the go ahead.  But it did, and so I commend the gesture.

                                      Frances McDormand, who gives an Oscar caliber performance, plays Mildred Hayes, a mother whose daughter, Angela, is found raped and murdered, seven months before the film starts.  Justice has not been served Mildred, or Angela, and with those three billboards, she intends to do something about it.  Mildred Hayes, believe me, is the direct opposite of Marge Gunderson in "Fargo."  And it is so brilliant of McDormand to enact both.

                                       The town she lives in is small, banal, and narrow minded.  There are some real assholes--like Sam Rockwell, as Officer Dixon, who, midway does a complete turn about that one just has to go with, or think back to McDonagh being a playwright, constructing character arcs, and playing around with moral ambiguity.  And point-counterpoint; the viewer, from the first shot, feels Mildred's pain, and McDormand makes it felt.  But when Dixon has his epiphany, he is the counterpart to Mildred--her pain is within (though she looks wrecked), but his is on display for all to see, via physical disfigurement.

                                        "Three Billboards Outside, Missouri," is not an altogether perfect film, but it has the guts to get polemic.  Which is why I find the attacks against it so intriguing--Sam Rockwell's character is attacked for being racist?  You think racism does not exist in these podunk towns??????????  And how about that line, "Well, if we can't kill blacks, we can always kill gays?"
Why isn't the LGBQT community getting up in arms about that? As for McDormand being a "Velma Vigilante," well, who can blame her?  I agree she goes too far with the police station thing, but this is a film where, sometimes you just have to go with the flow.  Dramatic inconsistencies mar the story, but does not rob it of its visceral impact, which is what the film is going for.

                                           Yes, I think McDonagh could have done a little more shading, and clarified some of those inconsistencies.  But this does not take away from a brilliant ensemble cast, featuring Woody Harelson and Peter Dinklage, a fine actor overall, whose attacks on his being cast here for his size is so ridiculous.  If anything, being in a realistic film gives him more of a chance, than in the fanciful "Game Of Thrones," where his size takes on a quality of fantasy.  It was brilliant of McDonagh to use him here, and I am sure Dinklage was thrilled with acting a realistic, straightforward role.                                                                                                                                                  

                                 Did the moral ambiguity of the ending bother me?  To a point, but it was realistic, and honest!


                                                This film needs to be seen, for its fine performances, and ideas that make one think.  It is sure to provoke discussions where everyone may not agree, but, then, how many films today get people talking?  Or even make them think?

                                                 As for me girls, save the for the police station, I was with Mildred all the way!

                                                 How I wanted justice for she and Angela!  But this is not TV!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Not Portnoy, But Jeffrey Eugenides!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                                             Thank God, darlings, because "Portnoy's Complaint--" to this day--remains one, big, elongated masturbatory wail.  Ho hum.

                                               The concept behind these 10 stories by Eugenides is that everyone in them has something to complain about.  I mean, who doesn't?

                                                One story, "The Oracular Vulva"--catchy title, huh?--explores some of the issues surrounding genes and gender identity that comprised his massive masterwork, "Middlesex."   Another explores a friendship between two lonely women who isolate themselves, caring for each other, like the American Indians in their favorite book.  And the title story reminded me of David Mamet's "Oleanna-- what was this professor guilty of, anyway?  And was he actually guilty?  In "Oleanna," the student deserved the belt in the mouth she got at the end.  Here, I was not sure who deserved what.

                                                These were the best of the ten stories, but all were immensely readable, thanks to Eugenides' writing skills, which I have followed over the years. And will continue to.

                                                  But while he seems able to move freely between the short story and novel forms, I prefer when he paints on the larger canvass.  Maybe that's just me, because it is what I am most accustomed to.

                                                   It does not mean that you should miss out on Eugenides story collection.

                                                    It just means to be thankful it is not another Roth rant!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Monday, January 29, 2018

A Poignant Tale of Love!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                                          I wasn't so sure about "Strange Weather In Tokyo," when I began it, though it had been highly recommended to me.  I guess I was not ready for an understated story, for this tale of a thirty-eight year old former student, who reunites, and falls in love with, a school teacher she had thirty years before, who is that many years older than she, sneaks up on the reader.

                                           At first, there is so much cat-and-mouse playing here, by both characters, the reader feels the story isn't going to go anywhere.  Soon, it does, and the prose style has the hypnotic pull of a dream. Like many films of serious Japanese cinema, there is something, in the writing style, that is wonderfully otherworldly, for what is, essentially, an ordinary story.

                                           No histrionics, no "Fatal Attraction" or "Audition" tricks.  This novel hearkens back more to the Fifties film classic "Love Is A Many-Splendored Thing," and the poignancy of this novel's ending reminded me very much of that 1955 film.  I actually shed some tears, once I finished the book.

                                            I believe--but could be wrong about this--that "Strange Weather In Tokyo" is Hirami Kawakami's first novel, to be published in English, in America.  She has a strangely, poetic, and mystical style, and I would like to see where and how she takes this further.   I would love to see how she incorporates all this into a more traditional narrative.

                                               Nevertheless, darlings, something different, for those who desire class fare!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

When Gojira Visits Tokyo, He Likes To Go To The Ginza Section!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                            I just recently finished an interesting novel, which I will soon post about, called "Strange Weather In Tokyo," and I cannot believe there was not one mention of Gojira.  Imagine, he ends up, unlikely, in "Bored Of The Rings," but not this.

                           Gojira is just a big, lovable fun seeking reptile.  He stands for humanitarianism; all that monster stuff, he would be the first to tell you, was just to make money.

                             So, when Gojira does visit the city that made him famous, he likes to do so, in the evening, because sometimes daylight bothers his eyes.  He always heads for Ginza, the night club section, because he just wants to have fun, and dance the night away.

                                I hear he is really great, on the dance floor. What a pity Gojira was not at the Grammys.

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Imagine, In This Day And Age--A Fresh And Engaging Look At Adolescence!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                                          The environmental dynamics of adolescence has changed over time, yet somehow the emotional terrain, almost always difficult to navigate, remains the same.  Such is the case with Sam Graham-Felsen's first novel, "Green."  Like "The Book Of Lost Things," this book could function as both a Young Adult and Adult novel, and it would not hurt both groups to read each one.

                                           "Green" refers to David Greenfeld, the only white boy at Martin Luther King Middle School, in the Boston area.  His parents are socially conscious, over aged hippies, still trying to live the lifestyle of the Sixties, and imposing this on their child.  But, hey what generation of parents, at some time or another, does not impose that lifestyle on their offspring, with that offspring champing at the bit, upon adolescence?

                                                The novel covers vast emotional terrain--the strain on the Greenfelds, including David, of having a brother with special needs, David's resentment at being forced to attend a school he never really wanted to go, his friendship with a boy from the projects, Marlon Wellings, who has his own set of problems-- living with his grandmother, who is actually raising both he and his mother, her daughter, who is a crack addicted ho.'   Add to this competing for  Latin, the private school ticket to the Ivies that everyone wants to get them out of the situation they are presently in, and it all adds up to a pretty calibrated study of adolescence today.

                                                 Perhaps Graham-Felsen, as chief blogger for President Obama, has more insight to the Black community than might be expected.  I liked the novel being set in the Boston area, which made it less predictable for me, had it been set in New York City.  And the first time novelist is wonderfully capable at writing genuinely teen sounding dialogue, on both the Black and White sides.  That he does not resort to street slang and pretentious showing off how "ghetto" he is, is to his credit, regarding both is sensibilities and his skill as a writer.

                                                  I was waiting for the shoe to drop, and it does, in an unexpected way, and one I could relate to.  When I was David's age, my vision of the future was adulthood in a Jersey suburb, where my best friend, Doug, and I would live next door to each other, and raise our respective families as best friends.  Well, that did not happen.  In fact, as the year of Doug's passing nears, I am realizing how, even in high school, we were veering onto different paths.

                                                   David and Marlon start out on this wavelength, but it is clear, for many reasons, they will go their separate ways by the end of this novel.  Each will go on to make a life for themselves, which won't turn out to be the life either expected.

                                                    Which is what happens when one emerges out of adolescence.  Graham-Felsen gets so much right in this first novel, I cannot imagine what he will do next.

                                                       I am anxious to find out.

Even More Dangerous Than The Black Widow Spider, Is The Career Bitch!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                                Girls, I am telling you, if you work, you have met one.

                                 It has been awhile since an ID program riled me up so, but when I saw the "Your Worst Nightmare" episode about the 2012 murder, in Macon, GA, of 58-year-old Gail Spencer, and how Tracy Jones masterminded the whole thing, I knew I was seeing the ultimate in career bitchery.

                                  Most of these bitches, nasty as they may be,  are simply out for a better opportunity, a la Eve Harrington, or to eliminate employees who don't like them, and so they feel threatened by.  But Tracy did more than that.  She resorted to murder.

                                   Gail was the office manager in a busy Macon law firm.  Her employer, who seemed a bit shady himself, though had nothing to do with her death, hired an assistant to help with Gail's duties, which she herself said were getting a bit overwhelming.

                                    Tracy made a great impression as Miss Careerist, eager to take on the work.  But she started out in a strange way.  She began showing up late, turning in sloppy, incomplete assignments, and displayed such incompetence, Gail was going to speak to her boss about firing her. Only she caught Tracy playing up to him.  Were they having an affair?  Not yet,  but I think Tracy was going for it!

                                   It was all part of this bitch's insidious plan.  Because, suddenly, Tracy does an about face, becoming a model employee, very solicitous of Gail, taking over assignments maybe Gail wanted to do, claiming she had all this law experience, and only wanted to help Gail.


                                     One day, Tracy pops in to Gail's office, chatting her up, apologizing for her earlier bad behavior, saying now she wants to improve, thanks Gail for helping her, and can she take Gail out to lunch.  Gail, thinking Tracy will finally fit in, accepts, and the two girls drink and bond over their interests in decorating, and Christmas, even though that season was far away.  So, when Tracy asks Gail for her home address, so she could add Gail to her Christmas card list, I knew right then that something was up.

                                       You see, Tracy's career spinster act and look was just playing a part. In reality, she was one of those girls drawn to bad boys, and none was worse than her 18-year-old stud muffin Michael Brett Kelly.  What starts as a joke--getting rid of Gail, switching about $800K over to their accounts, so they, along with friend Keith Anthony Dozier, and Brett's half sister, Courtney Kelly--real blond tramp trash, darlings-- evolves into reality, as this dastardly group begin putting the plan into action, with bitch Tracy as the mastermind.

                                         One morning, before work, Gail hears a knock at her door.  It is Tracy, friendly acting, with a story about her car breaking down, she knew Gail lived nearby, and so could she use Gail's phone to call her boyfriend?  What, you don't have a cell phone, darling?  Anyway, Gail, who, at this point, feels she has nothing to  fear, lets Tracy in, goes back to getting dressed, while Tracy stalls in the kitchen, so Kelly and Dozier can sneak into the house, and hide.

                                          Tracy casually leaves the house, and goes to work, saying "See ya there!" to Gail.  While Gail is in the kitchen, Kelly and Dozier are seen sneaking through the house, like the witches in "Rosemary's Baby," until they ambush her, dressed in black and masks.

                                          They take her up to the bedroom, and she is terrified.  They finally tell her what they want--the code number for getting into the accounts at work, so they can transfer funds to their accounts.  Feeling her life will be spared, Gail gives the info up.  Keith, really just the look out, takes pity on Gail, whereupon he is directed to go downstairs where, this monster, Kelly, rapes Gail on her bed!  Eighteen years old, and raping a 58-year-old Granny!  Sick!  Bet he gets an erection in super-markets, when he sees Depends boxes!!!!!!!!!!!!  Keith comes back, freaks out at what Kelly has done.  Meanwhile, on the outside, Tracy and sister Courtney Kelly are working to embezzle and transfer the funds.  Keith is disgusted that Kelly has raped Gail, saying this was not part of the plan. But there is worse to come.  Because, Kelly has received a text from Tracy, saying she is afraid Gail will say something, so they need to get rid of her.  Kelly sends Keith out of the room, and then kills Gail, fighting and screaming to the last in a scene that has not upset me so much in quite a while.

                                         I wanted that bitch Tracy strung up like a witch.  Well, she, Kelly, and Dozier get Life Without Parole.  Sister Courtney gets life with a chance of parole.  I think that sentence should have gone to Dozier, because, even though he was at the house, he exhibited some remorse about what was going on, took pity on Gail, and tried to calm her.  The others did nothing, or cared, including tramp Courtney!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                                          Poor Gail!  All  because of some bad girl career bitch!  Well, I hope Tracy is tortured in prison, but good!  I hope her hair and eye brows are plucked out, and she is put in a cell with hay, like Colleen Dewhurst, as Avenging Angel, in "The Nun's Story!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

                                           Tracy Jones was no angel.  She was also the deadliest of career bitches!!!!!!!

                                             So, darlings, if you think you've got it bad, be thankful you do not work with a Tracy Jones.

                                              However, if your workplace nemesis suddenly changes her tune, be afraid!  Be VERY afraid!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Friday, January 26, 2018

Happy Birthday, Celia! Happy Birthday To You!

                                      Today, girls, is the birthday of the lovely and radiant Celia Keenan-Bolger, she who can raise the spirits or break your heart with a smile or turn of phrase; she is that gifted an actress.  I wish Celia all the best, and my suggestion is a day of pampering at Elizabeth Arden, a hair appointment at Sally Hershberger, and then shopping for a new designer gown, and shoes to go with it.

                                        I do not want to tell tales, but it is already on the Internet.  Today, if you do the math, Celia turns 40!!!!!!!!!  I mean, can you believe it!  The woman has no age, and could do anything from Juliet to Miranda in "The Tempest."

                                          Celia, I wish you all you want on your natal day, and await your next theatrical engagement!

                                            We love you, Celia!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

When Someone Is Needed To Play A Scumbag, Call This Guy!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                            The other night, I caught part of a re-broadcast of the 'SVU' series "Contra-Passo."  This is the one where a group of girls, at their twentieth year high school reunion, jointly discover they were sexually abused by an English teacher there, Jason Karr, played by Paul Fitzgerald.  The girls track him down, discover he has gone from academia to the corporate world, and is staying in the city, at a hotel.  Julie, one of the girls, sets up a meeting with him, at the bar.  They go to his room, where, once there, are confronted by the other girls.  What happens is never seen, but one of the girls, Evelyn, takes out a knife, and castrates him!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                              This, of course, is never shown.  And I completely get the girls' anger, and desire for revenge. I can see wishing castration on the guy, but doing something one does not know  how to do surgically, it is a wonder this guy did not bleed out and die.  In which case, homicide would be on the table.

                              A good smack across his face from each, pantsing him, maybe even tying him up would be sufficient.  But castration.

                               Nevertheless, the look of smug, male entitled arrogance, projected by Fitzgerald in his portrayal of Karr, made one glad the girls did it.  He really had no remorse for what he did, blaming it on being a young guy, his hormones--oh, come on!!!!!!!!!!--and all he cared about was his status.  I was glad when he was found guilty!

                               I kept noticing the actor, whom I found out was Paul Fitzgerald, and discovered he has played a similar role before.  No wonder he could facially project snideness so well.

                                 In "Criminal Hatred," from 2013, which also featured a brilliant performance by the under used Jenny Bacon, Fitzgerald played a great big closet case, named Charles Murphy.  He is attacked by a serial predator, played by Max Carpenter, who has an interesting motive--he hates himself, not only because he is gay, but, because he cannot pass for straight, and so feels denied from a job market he feels qualified for, having to settle for marginal positions.  As I said about this episode, at the time, the problem here was casting Max Carpenter, who got the anger right, but did not project one bit of effeminacy enough to keep corporate America from tacitly, and politely, barring him from their doors.  As I said, at the time, I knew, from my own, earlier experiences, after college.

                                Fitzgerald projected the same sense of straight entitlement as he did in the castration episode.  His perpetrator goes nuts in the courtroom and is hauled away, but the way Fitzgerald played the role, I knew this character had not learned a thing.  He was going to go on being a great big closet case--because he can get away with it.

                                I am sure the next time the franchise needs someone of this type, they will automatically phone Fitzgerald, and he will deliver!  He is a good actor, right?  But, is he as phony as these characters he portrays?

                                  I wonder.  Fitzgerald, with his six foot plus frame, can easily pass for straight. He was some hot shot football player on some Virginia--his home state--high school team.  This certainly does not sound gay to me, and that is fine, but Fitzgerald, on YouTube, so look at it there, has this engaging video of him bouncing around in Brooklyn, where he lives--as do I--proclaiming to the world that he is bi-sexual.

                                   Really!  And this is supposed to be make me happy, how?

                                   This video is as insulting as the characters I have previously described.  In a manner of speaking, Fitzgerald is being those characters in real life.  Because, you don't have to agree with me, but I stand by what I say--gay is gay!  If you are a man, and can make it with a woman, or vice versa, then put up, shut up, and lead a straight life.  The reason gays, and I am speaking for  myself here, live the life we lead  is because, psychologically, physiologically, we cannot imagine any other.  Those who can are not truly gay--you are just straights trying to parrot us, and in so doing, because you all do a piss poor job of it, cause more problems and embarrassment to our community than if you had kept all this to yourself!

                                     Bisexuality is bullshit!  There is no such thing!

                                     Go ahead, say what you want!  It does not make Paul Fitzgerald any less of the good actor he is.

                                      But his professed hypocrisy makes him less the human being he should be!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Thursday, January 25, 2018

These Are Two Creepy Bitches, Darlings!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                                   I know some of you out there must be surprised I have yet to breathe a word about David and Louise Turpin of Perris, California.  They are the ones who raised thirteen children, ages two to twenty-nine, in a House of Horrors, filled with neglect, torture, tying to beds, malnutrition, living in filth--pick a form of abuse, and they did it.

                                    I cannot be sure about sexual abuse.  But, leaving that aside, and even if that is not so, these two are evil pieces of work, enough to be jointly named this week's winner of The Raving Queen Bitch Of The Week Award.

                                      Thank God for that girl who had the sense to escape out the window when she had the chance!  She is a true heroine!

                                       These two have been married for 33 years.  They had numerous renewal ceremonies, including one in Vegas, where Kent Ripley, the Elvis impersonator who ran the ceremony there, saved a video, showing just how creepy all were.

                                        Families and neighbors have all agreed their behavior was strange.

                                        Why did it take so long for them to be found out????????????????

                                         It's early in the year, and yet these bitches have already set a high standard for 2018.  They will be a tough act to follow!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                                          Dish out to them what they did to the kids!

                                          Make them live in their own filth!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                                          Slap them silly!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The Most Evil Stepmother Of Them All--The One In "Hansel And Gretel!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

                              Most people think of that candied gingerbread house, when musing on "Hansel And Gretel."  And, in some renderings of the story I have read, it is the father who takes the children into the woods, and abandons them.

                                Fairy tales prey upon our fears, and "Hansel And Gretel" dwells upon abandonment.

                                 True to the fairy tale tradition of the evil stepmother, and, as I consider the definitive rendering of the story the one I first read in "My Book House," whose illustrations I wish I could have found for you, I am going with the stepmother as the one who abandons them.

                                  At the start, though, I had to wonder about the children's father, or his relationship with his second wife.  He states outright that he does not want to abandon the children, because he loves them, but she works on him, till he prevails.  Probably just to shut her up.  Better he had belted her in the mouth, tossed her out of the door, and changed the locks on the doors and windows.

                                   But then, there would be no story.

                                   Now, there is obviously no love lost between this stepmom and the kids.  Because Hansel and Gretel overhear the plot, and know what they are in for, so they leave some pebbles behind along the way.  When they find their way back, the father is overjoyed, but the stepmother locks the door, so Hansel cannot get out, and pull another trick.  Finally, the kids are abandoned in the woods.  The father, obviously, shows some remorse, but he should not have been  such a fool.  What hell it must have been, living with this bitch, without his children.

                                   But, what goes around comes around.  The candied house sustains the kids, and builds up their energy.  The witch seems to have a yen for Hansel, wants to fatten him up, and eat him first.  She must hate men.   Hansel outwits her, since she cannot see--probably cataracts-- by using a stick as a finger.  But it is the resourceful Gretel, who really gets them out of it by tricking the witch to go into the oven, and pushes her in!  Good for you, Gretel!  Like the song in "Hello, Dolly!" says, "It Takes A Woman!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

                                   Now, I cannot remember if this happens in the Book House version, but in some rendering I read, the house is surrounded by a fence like grouping of gingerbread figures, all of whom, upon the witch's death, turn into normal children, who endured the fate that would have fallen to Hansel and Gretel.  I guess they went safely home, too,  Whether they were abandoned or not is up for interpretation.

                                    But Hansel and Gretel were, and when they get home, their father is genuinely glad to see them!
                                      Now, you will notice, by this picture, that the bitch is gone!  He tells the children that the evil stepmother is dead.  I never gave it much thought; I was just glad she was gone, and that things came to a happy end!

                                        Yet, her unexplained disappearance is open to several interpretations.  One is that the witch and stepmother are one and the same; that when the witch is destroyed, and the gingerbread children are restored to life, the stepmother dies, too.  Though, how can they be one and the same, and in two places at once?  Even within the realm of fantasy, this strains credibility.

                                        I think the witch is the stepmother's counterpart.  Like in the movie of "The Wizard Of Oz," how everyone in Dorothy's fantasy has a counterpart to her reality.  Meanwhile, in reality, the guilt ridden father is inconsolable over the loss of his biological children, which he allowed this evil woman he married to goad him into, and so, fueled with rage, he does the same to her.  Like Elly Kedward, he takes her out into the freezing woods, ties her to a tree, lights a fire for her, then leaves her to die there.

                                        I call that justifiable homicide!

                                        Remember, in "All About Eve," when Margo (Bette Davis) says to Lloyd Richards (Hugh Marlowe), "ALL playwrights should be dead for three hundred years."

                                          Just change "playwrights" to evil stepmothers!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

A Very Near Miss--But Worth Reading!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                                             Having read both "Mr. Penumbra's 24 Hour Bookstore," and "Bored Of The Rings," before "The Book Of Lost Things," one might think this is going to be my Fantasy Year.  I don't think so, darlings; as I have stated, I am not a Tolkien groupie, and fantasy goes a long way with me.  I can enjoy it, but, with the exceptions of the Harry Potter and Lemony Snickett series, there is not much out there I can say I honestly savor.

                                             "The Book Of Lost Things" is an interesting amalgamation.  It starts out with a 12-year-old boy named David, whose mother dies, and is replaced by a woman I hated called Rose.  The hate came from a place I know--losing a mother--and the hate from knowing nothing Rose does  is going to appease this child.  And the father's behavior is highly questionable--Rose was a nurse at the hospital where David's terminally ill mother was dying!!!!!!!! So, when did she and Daddy first kick in?

                                              Because, less than six months after the mother's death, Rose and Daddy are married--and she is knocked up!  She gives birth to a child, a boy named Georgie, whom both seem to dote on more than David.

                                                These are the realistic aspects that back up the fantasy and adventure to follow.  Having moved, after marriage, into Rose's house, David discovers she has a sunken garden in the back yard, and one day descends into a hole within, not unlike Alice, and finds himself in some sort of world.  All I can say is that, with a series of quest adventures, aided by friends and enemies, and full of references to fairy tales, which are expanded upon in the book's 130 page academic survey, following the novel's end, David undergoes a metaphorical journey, transforming him from child to adult, once he emerges from the garden, enabling him to be more accepting of those around him.  Which he becomes, and is all the more loving for it.  If this sounds a bit like Dorothy from Oz, I am sure Connolly had her on his mind, while writing this.

                                                   The story is marvelous, the course explanation is too tedious, even for older children, who might read this.  I found it fascinating.  I liked Connolly enough as a writer to try some of his other books, which are not fantasy.

                                                     But, as a once in a while indulgence, it was more satisfying than "Mr. Penumbra's 23 Hour Bookstore."

When It Comes To Bitches, One Of The Worst Types Is--The Evil Stepmother!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                                        The next couple of posts will deal with this topic, but I just want to say that while the Wicked Queen from "Snow White," and the Stepmother--with a nod to resembling Jo Van Fleet--in "Cinderella," may be the Gold Standard, there are far more evil stepmoms out there than is realized.

                                           Like the one on ID's "Evil Stepmothers," who verbally abuses the kids by saying, "I'M YOUR NEW MOMMY!"  Nothing like establishing a climate of warmth!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                                           Someone who would make a perfect Evil Stepmother, had she not been an ugly Victorian spinster, was Jane Murdstone, in Charles Dickens' "David Copperfield."  Come to think of it, the way she took over running the house, treating David's biological mother, Clara, as little more than a servant--and her husband,  Edward Murdstone treated her worse--she was pretty much enacting the role of the Evil Stepmother.

                                            I was happy when Aunt Betsey Trotwood lets the Murdstones have it. And when the adult David confronts Murdstone with his cruel treatment.

                                             Sometimes, justice does prevail!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                                             But wait till you see whom I have chosen as the worst stepmother!  You might be a bit surprised!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Now, For Something A Little Lighter--The 2018 Oscar Nominations!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                                     With the Oscars broadcast being constantly updated, and the nominees announced earlier, and earlier, it won't be long before things are backed up into the preceding year. That is my first observation, because, I have to confess, I have not been the good little moviegoer of yore that I used to be, and need to catch up on things.  Like "Three Billboards, Outside Ebbing, Missouri."

                                      Of course, as always, what is overlooked is sometimes more interesting than what made the cut!

                                       I am telling you, the parrot in "I, Tonya!" deserves a nomination!  The way it stole the scene from Allison Janney, sitting on her shoulder, eyeing the oxygen tank, it was a hoot!  Depending on its gender, that bird should have received a Supporting Actor or Actress Nomination.

                                         If in the feminine category, it would have to compete with the two who are going to duke it out--Janney, and Laurie Metcalf.  I saw both those films--Lady Bird," and "I, Tonya," and both were superb.  Janney's rendering of American White Trash was both funny and sad, while Laurie expressed the embitterment of the entireity of today's working class.

                                          The parrot should be in there, somewhere, but even in the other category--Christopher Plummer?  How does one compete with that?  And listen, all you bitches who are ragging on him--stop it!  He stepped in for Kevin Spacey, whose footage made him look grotesque and pasty.  Plummer not only pinch hitted, he did a better job than Spacey, being the right age, and, face it, girls, a better actor!  Spacey's loss is this film's gain; why the producers did not just go with Plummer in the first place is beyond me.

                                          MERYL.  When Oscar comes calling, that Divine name is always heard.  I kinda feel sorry for MERYL.  Not because she isn't the most brilliant actress on the planet, which she is; not because no one, including she, really expected a nomination for "The Post," but, because, I am sure, the minute MERYL heard she was nominated she said, "Oh, shit!  Now, I have to go out, and find another gown!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"  We love you, MERYL!  No matter what you wear!

                                           I was appalled by the lack of nominations--none!!!!!!!!!--for Todd  Haynes' wonderful, visually stunning, "Wonderstuck."  With a luminous performance by Millicent Simmons as the young Rose, and Julianne Moore as the elder.  Simmons should have been in the running, or else dig out those juvenile Oscars again, and, with Hayley Mills on the continent, let her present, as the award's last winner, the present day award, to Simmons, whose performance was remarkable for a child.  I was with her every step of the way.

                                            Thankfully, "Wonder Wheel," got nothing, though I would not have minded if Juno Temple got nominated; she brought  something alive and fresh to a film as rotted as three day old fish!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                                              My David keeps bugging me about "The Shape Of Water," and I keep saying, "When do you want to go?"  Still have not seen it.   As for "Call Me By Your Name," I have not seen it, but I did read the book, and I don't see what all these queens are slathering over.  It is as insulting to gays as a film could be, and is not the groundbreaker "Brokeback Mountain" was.  Give me Ethel Merman, in "Call Me, Madam," instead!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                                             Gone are the days when the Oscar nominations were exciting.  Sadly, gone are the days when there seemed to be movies made to get excited over!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                                              But, you know I will be watching, dolls!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

For Part Two Of "IT," Some Requirements Are Needed, This Time Aound, For The Spider To Be Genuinely Terrifying!!!!!!!!!!

                                 After last summer's buildup, with part one, of "IT," audiences are looking forward to part two, especially the climactic scene with the spider.  But bringing out of retirement the 1958 paper mache cheapie from "Queen Of Outer Space," was not the answer.  It destroyed the entire climax of the 1990 television movie!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                                 No, this time around, the spider, has to be incredibly gigantic and menacing.  Like the great giant spiders of yore--the one in "Tarantula!," in 1955, and "Earth Vs, The Spider," in 1958!  When the latter digs to the crazy rock beat in the museum, and actually menaces a baby--a baby!!!!!!!!!--in its playpen, that is real terror!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                                  But something extra should be added, to insure genuine terror from the forthcoming "IT" spider--the face of Barbara Steele as Asa, from 1960's "Black Sunday."

                                   Rights might be paid, but by simply superimposing this face over that of the actual spider, audiences will get more fright for their dollar than they could have ever imagined!!!!!!!!!!!

                                      Hey, I think we are onto some sort of theme, girls--bugs and bitches!

                                       Wait!  They are both the same!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                                        Aren't they!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

It's Not A Bit Too Early, To Start Thinking About That Date To The Prom, Girls!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                                      I am sure that everyone who has been through the dating scene, realized that when that bitch, Chris Hargensen, in "Carrie," hooked up with Billy Nolan for the prom, it was really two skank losers who thought they were so special.  And look how that turned out.  Once again, girls, that bad boy thing just does not work!

                                       So, as far as I am concerned, cuddling up with The Monster That Challenged The World is not a bad alternative.  He looks pretty affectionate, and seems genuinely interested in the one he is cuddling, even if she is a bit wary about those pincers!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                                         I think he is kinda cute.  Give him a chance.  He starred in the titular movie of 1957, and I thought was pretty harmless, as far as monsters go.  The scene where he crawls along the deck of the ship has to be seen to be believed.  He was just out for a walk on the deck.  Not unlike Gladys Cooper in "Now, Voyager."

                                         This guy, hons, is not nearly as lethal as Gladys.

                                          So, come prom time, if you are still having dating problems, think about this guy!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                                           I promise, he won't bug the living hell out of you!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Girls, I Simply Cannot Believe It!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                                         The follower indicator now reads 67, so that means a new reader has found their way here, and so I bid that reader welcome.  Actually, the arrival comes at a prescient time; I had been musing, for days, over maybe suffering from writer's block, and now, this morning, I find myself with several things I have to get out of my system.  Including Bitch Of The Week, which is today!

                                         So, welcome, darling, to The Raving Queen, and all you see on here.  I hope you find it enjoyable and informative.  As always, it goes great with coffee.

                                          Time to let go of that writer's block. But not before welcoming our newest reader with the blog's unofficial theme song!

                                           Feel free to drop in, and comment on here, anytime!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Monday, January 22, 2018

If Only I Could Read One Charles Dickens Novel, In Serialized Form!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                              I was in London, twelve years ago, this month, and when I saw the locked cabinets of Dickens' novels, in serialized, magazine form, I wanted to get in there, and go through and read each and every one!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                             At this point, I would have to pick.  By now, I have just about read all the novels, and while "David Copperfield" and "Great Expectations" will always be my favorites, I suppose the one I should read serialized is the only one I have not yet read--"A Tale Of Two Cities."

                                Remember when it was called "Sale Of Two Titties" in "Up The Down Staircase?"  In this deplorable age of "Fifty Shades Of Grey, I am genuinely surprised no hack has run with this title.  After all, zombies have been added to Jane Austen, and "Jane Eyre" has been turned into a slasher thriller!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                                Is nothing sacred?  Why should such artistic desecration be tolerated??????????

                                 Why not go back, and be allowed to read Dickens, in his purest form?????????

                                  And then, meet at Brown's for tea, girls!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Do I Actually Have To Go All The Way To England To Get This????????????????

                                       Of course, when I was a child, I had the Milton Bradley game, "Chutes And Ladders."  It failed to thrill me, compared to "Candy Land," which had the most colorful game board that I recall to this very day.  And it was not till I reached adulthood, that I discovered 'Chutes' originated in England, under the name "Snakes And Ladders."

                                       Look at the design of the game board.  Doesn't that look more fun???????????

                                        Of course, it does!  So, when I went hunting for the Lenormand cards, before purchasing them online, I thought I would look for "Snakes And Ladders."  I actually found an edition at the Union Square Barnes and Noble, but it was cheap jack, not the original British version, with some sort of game on the other side of the board, relating it to technology!  Huh?  At $16.95, I was not about to fall for this bogus crap!!!!!!

                                         So, I will put the question out there--apart from a trip to England, does anyone know where I can get an edition of this game?  Even if Milton Bradley has one with "Snakes And Ladders" on the other side of 'Chutes,' I would go for that.  Any info?  Please let me know!

                                         A trip to England would be lovely at this time, but why should I go now, when Hayley Mills herself is now on this side of the continent?   I know some out there may be shocked I have  not seen her in the play "Party Face," yet, but I promise you, I will.  And there will be a full report for all Hayley Mills fans!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                                         But you have to admit--"Snakes And Ladders" sounds more fun than 'Chutes."

                                         An early example of America dumbing down!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

A Fabulous Book, Girls--But Difficult To Write About!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                                     I had never heard of Christopher Yates, before, but when I saw the attention his latest novel was getting in The New York Times, I said, "Hmmmmmmmmm.....and picked up a copy!

                                      I was enthralled, and now looking forward to not only his next book, but reading his earlier one, "Black Chalk."

                                      The plot is deceptively simple.  Back in August of 1982, something went down between two  pubescent boys and a young teen aged girl.  The incident, where she was pelted with bullets from a BB gun, cost her an eye.

                                        About a quarter century later, these three, now adults, meet up in...where else?....Manhattan.  They all grew up in upstate New York.  And it turned out there was much more to what happened than what I have just recorded.

                                         What makes it difficult to write about this book is that I figured out where it was going about halfway through--and it turned out I was right.  Many issues are explored in this wonderfully written and absorbing novel, which even has a touch of Lillian Hellman's "The Children's Hour" to it.  Proof positive that her play still has relevance and deserves a full scale revival today.

                                            I doubt if Mr. Yates realized he was incorporating a bit of Hellman into the work.  Ever since "Gone Girl," everyone is trying to write the next definitive thriller.  Good as Paula Hawkins' "The Girl On The Train Was," I stayed away from her second novel, "Into The Water," because the word on the street was so bad.

                                            Not so with Christopher Yates.  I so loved his second novel, I have got to read his first.  He writes a compelling narrative with characters who range from touching to despicable, knowing how to blend both.

                                             Even if you figure it out like I do, girls, it is a wild ride of a read!

                                             Highly recommended, dolls!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

We Have A New Reader, Girls!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                                 I see my follower indicator is at 66, which means a new reader has found their way here.  As The Raving Queen, I welcome you, reader, but must confess you arrive at an unusual time.

                                 I feel like I am in the middle of a writing block.  They happen intermittently.  Yesterday, I was so desperate, I considered pulling my copy of "Franny And Zooey" off the bookshelf, and reading it.  But what good would that do anybody?  And why would I want to read Salinger now?

                                  I know topics come--they always do--and I have some for today, but, not having any recent theatrical or film experiences has cramped my style.  And, in the dead of Winter, all my animal friends are still inside.

                                   But, stick around, because one never knows what will pop up on here.  Not even I!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                                    So, welcome, new reader, to this blog.  Goes great with coffee, darling!

                                    And, now here is the unofficial theme song!

                                   Feel free to drop in anytime, and comment.  All are answered!


Saturday, January 20, 2018

The First Important Celebrity Death Of 2018--Oscar Winner Dorothy Malone!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                               As good a filmmaker as Douglas Sirk was, the best thing about his 1956 film, "Written On The Wind," was Dorothy Malone's over the top portrayal of heiress Marylee Hadley.  I shall never forget the scene--which I wish I could show--of her, dressed in toreador pants, dancing on record covers to bongo music, in her bedroom.  From that moment, Dorothy enlivened the film every time she appeared in it.

                              What I did not know, was she planned it that way.  Prior to this film, she had a steady, but staid, career as good girl, brunette types.   She fired the agent that kept offering her these roles, dyed her hair blonde, and decided to go after the roles of shady women with a past.

                                 Her gamble paid off.  Dorothy Malone won the Academy Award as Best Supporting Actress Of 1956, for her performance in "Written On The Wind."  What's more, she beat out two of her strongest competitors for the prize, Eileen Heckart and Patty McCormack, for their work in the shocker classic, "The Bad Seed."

                                  With those blonde, sultry looks, she was a shoo-in for the role of Constance Mackenzie, when ABC decided to make a televised soap opera series out of "Peyton Place."

                                    Alas, yesterday, in her hometown of Dallas, Malone, at 93 (!!!! Good for you, Dorothy!) died, of natural causes.
                            I mean, just look at that dress hair, and car!  You know who played Dorothy's romantic rival in this?  Lauren Bacall!  That's right; a pretty tough gal, herself!  But Dorothy walked all over her!  The only time I have ever seen Lauren mousy on film!
                                 And, of course, the film's final moment is priceless!  Marylee ends up inheriting the family oil business!!!!!!!!!!!!

                                 Way to go, Dorothy!

                                  Your vim and verve will be missed, darling!

                                   Rest In Peace, Dorothy!

                                   And mark my words--in your honor, dozens of queens today are going to get out their vinyl record jackets, and dance on them.  Only, no toreador pants!  That would not be a thing of beauty, I can tell you!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

A Flawed Film Turns Out To Be A Brilliant Homage To "The Wizard Of Oz!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

                               When I first saw "The Wizard Of Oz," at the tender age of 5--I was instantly drawn to two things--the gloominess and spectacle of the Witch's castle, and, the cyclone that propels Dorothy to Oz.  In fact, I became fascinated with everything concerning tornadoes; so much so I thought I might grow up to be one of those who study this phenomenon of nature.

                                 The Oz fantasy lasted quite awhile.  The summer before I went into second grade, so I was about seven, our area--Central Jersey-- was told there would be a tornado coming at 8PM on that one Summer eve.  I was so excited!  I ran upstairs, re-arranged my room, so that my bed was nearest the window.  I was so literal; if I was going to Oz, I had to be struck by a window, just like Dorothy in the movie, and, believe me, the windows we had, even in the Summer, were strong enough to do the job.

                                  There was no tornado, much to my disappointment.  I could not imagine one, because we lived in an area that was not flat, like the Midwest, where they prevailed.

                                   Instead, it rained like a monsoon, for a good, say, fifteen minutes.  Then, miraculously, the sky cleared, the sun came out, and then God and nature, as a nod to my Oz fantasy, provided the loveliest rainbow I have seen to date.  And it was my first.

                                   What it took to jolt me out of this fervid fantasy was the opening sequence of the 1996 film, "Twister."  This was a film about those who chased tornadoes, and starred Helen Hunt, Bill Paxton, Lois Smith, Philip Seymour Hoffman, and Anthony Rapp!  Can you believe this cast today?????????????

                                    This was back in the day when Helen Hunt still looked good, and had a career. I still insist, if she had not been the daughter of casting director Gordon Hunt, she would never have gotten beyond community theater. If that.

                                      I will try to provide the opening sequence--part of which is above--but, in case I don't, here is an account of what is seen, and why it is so frightening.

                                       The Warner Bros. logo and titles are done in ominous darkness, and whirling sounds, with objects mysteriously flitting across the screen, not unlike the start of Hitchcock's "The Birds."  The camera pans down on an Oklahoma farm.  It is nighttime, and a lightning storm is brewing.  The camera pans through the distinctly middle class house--Aunt Em and Uncle Henry, circa 1996.  There is a close-up of a TV set, with a newscaster announcing the approach of a tornado  through the area.  There is a shot of a little girl, asleep, who awakens, fascinated by what is going on  around her--the darkness, the sounds.  This is Jo Thornton, who will grow up to be the character of Dr. Jo Harding, played by Helen Hunt. The Thorntons, brilliantly played by Richard Lineback and Rusty Schwimmer, rush into the child's tornado lit bedroom, in full terror mode, shouting about getting into the storm cellar, which seems so far to get to.  But there is someone who is forgotten, who does make it to the cellar in time.  This is a cairn terrier named Toby, who is bears a strong resemblance to Toto.  This is the first homage to "The Wizard Of Oz."

                                      The shot of them running into the cellar from the house is impressive and frightening, and is when my whole Oz fantasy came to a complete halt.  What did I know; I had no idea tornadoes could arrive in the dead of night, which only adds to the terror, because all that can be seen is whirling black darkness.  I watched this shot again, recently, and it still scared the bejesus out of me.

                                       Now, with everyone in the storm cellar, the Thorntons are safe, right?  Wrong!  The lock begins loosening on the door, and Mr. Thornton goes to bolt it.  Only the winds outside---the storm is now at its height--cannot move.  He cannot bolt it back into place, so he tries to hold it down.  But he cannot match the tornado's strength, and, in the film's most frightening moment,  he screams in agony, "I can't hold it anymore!"  Whereupon the door is ripped off, with him attached to it, propelled into space, only to end up dead, who knows where.  Amazingly, Jo and her mother and Toby are not  propelled, but remain there, screaming but safe.

                                       What an opening for a film!  The other tornado shots, while impressive, do not have the emotional impact of this one.  It explains why Jo grows up to become a tornado chaser.

                                          As to the 'Oz' references, well, there is Toby,
a flying cow, a shot of Hunt and Bill Paxton running beside a picket fence that echoes Dorothy trying to get home to the farm house, and to the storm cellar.  There is also a sequence where a flying house lands directly in front of a driving car, stopping it in its tracks.
                                    Doesn't this resemble "The Wizard Of Oz?"

                                     But nothing--Nothing--not even the presence of Lois Smith--equals the impact of the film's opening scene.  If tornadoes interest you overall, then watch the entire film.  If you want to see an example of quality filmmaking, watch the opening scene.

                                    Here is as much of the opening scene as I could find!  Watch it, and learn, darlings!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                                     Until I saw this scene, I wanted to see and experience a tornado for myself.

                                     Now, I hope I never do!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!