Thursday, August 30, 2012

"F*ck Me, Ray Bradbury" by Rachel Bloom

I have a sad today: it's Thursday, but my usual Thursday indulgence in my pop cultural obsession Person of Interest has been preempted by the Republican National Convention. I'm not saying I don't care about politics; I do. However, the speeches given at both the Republican and the Democratic national conventions tend to be content-poor, essentially meaningless self-congratulatory blather having little to do with any actual political issues. If I'm going to watch nonsense on TV, I'd like to choose the nonsense, please. When I want glassy-eyed individuals chanting "Four legs good, two legs bad," I'll crack open Animal Farm.

Now watch this sexy literary nonsense.

I thank my Google+ friend Kimberly Chapman for introducing me to this literary-themed pop song. It's not quite as clever and fun as "Bitches in Bookshops," but then again, so little on YouTube is.



This isn't new (Bloom uploaded it in 2010) - obviously, Ray Bradbury was still alive when it was made. He passed away in June of this year. I just learned about this video yesterday, though. This Rachel Bloom (http://www.racheldoesstuff.com/) is a funny chick - and judging by her name, probably a Yiddish-American woman like my mom's mom.

If my name was Bloom, I'd tell people I was related to Isaac Nathan Bloom, even though he's a fictional character in From Here to Eternity. Dublin has its James Joyce Bloomsday, but Honolulu should have an Isaac Bloomsday, on which we get really drunk and make out with boys, but then do NOT feel guilty about it afterwards, 'cause it's not 1941 anymore and Bloom, you were born that way. James Joyce and James Jones sound pretty similar anyway, so why not?

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Watch This: Raintree County

First things first: I haven't seen the Season 5 finale of True Blood yet. Just the other day, I tweeted:



Yesterday I happened to stop by Dorothy Surrenders, and I got a little bit of a Season 5 spoiler: Pam and Tara kissed. Yes!

Speaking of kisses, the other night I dreamed Adrien Brody kissed me. I was sitting beside my father at the time, and it was more of a friendly/chaste kiss than anything lustful, but it was still pretty darn nice. So much nicer than the dream I had in which William Shatner kissed me. You know who I really wish Adrien Brody kissed, though? Nick Stahl.

http://pinterest.com/pin/46936021087438916/
Nick Stahl has a small role as Ed Bead in The Thin Red Line, and Brody plays Cpl. Jeffrey Fife. In James Jones' novel, Bead is a clerk who works under Fife, and the two have an arrangement to take care of each other sexually (even though they both swear up and down that they're not gay). When the 19-year-old Iowan Bead is shot in the side, Bead calls for Fife to come hold his hand. Fife momentarily worries about what the others will think, but instinctively puts his arms around Bead as Bead dies. You won't see any of that in the movie, but in the book, it's a very moving, poignant scene.

I shall return to reading The Thin Red Line after my Jeopardy! tryout, in mid-September.

Speaking of films based on literature, yesterday I watched Raintree County, the second movie Elizabeth Taylor and Montgomery Clift starred in together (after A Place in the Sun, before Suddenly Last Summer).



This one's literary backup is a lengthy 1948 novel by Ross Lockridge Jr. I can promise you now, I have no intention of reading the 1000+ page behemoth - I read Gone With the Wind several years ago, and though I quite liked it, I have no immediate need to read another sprawling Civil War epic. Lockridge, it should be noted, is another of my fellow Indiana-born authors; Meg Cabot was born in his hometown of Bloomington, Indiana. The fictional location, Raintree County, is in Indiana, and the raintree of the title is a mythical plant allegedly planted there by Johnny Appleseed.



The hero, John Shawnessy (Clift), is a dreamy, idealistic, romantic poet and, eventually, schoolteacher in the late 1850s/early 1860s. He and his youthful sweetheart Nell (Eva Marie Saint) are perfectly matched, but his head is turned by Southern belle Susanna (Taylor). As revealed in the trailer, she gets him to marry her by tricking him into thinking she's pregnant - but Susanna has serious mental health problems.

Actually, Susanna has a lot in common with Sawyer on Lost. Her mother, jealous of Susanna's Cuban-born nanny, jumped to the conclusion (perhaps correctly so) that Susanna's father and the nanny were having an affair, shot them both to death, then set the family mansion on fire to cover up the crime, killing herself in the process. Nine-year-old Susanna was rescued by one of the family's slaves. She still has the creepy-looking burnt doll that was saved from the fire along with her.

John makes a valiant effort to make his marriage to Susanna work. When she runs off to the South with their young son during the early days of the Civil War, he decides to join the Union army effort in hopes of finding her. I said:



As a Union soldier, he probably fought against the ancestors of Kentucky-born Robert E. Lee Prewitt. Either way, he finds his son, is wounded, and eventually gets reunited with Susanna, now confined to a mental institution.

He takes her home and attempts to care for her back in Indiana, where after the war he resumes teaching and considers a career in politics. But Susanna escapes into the swamp, where she drowns, a probable suicide. John fears their son may have met the same sad fate, but he and Nell find the unfortunate little boy safe, though grieving his mother, in the swamp.



That's the end of the movie, but I hope that in the book John goes on to a happy second marriage with the still-unmarried Nell. Nell has never stopped loving John.

My favorite scene in the movie? The bathtub. John has agreed to run a foot race against Flash, a friendly rival. Flash has an unusually high tolerance for liquor, and the young, inexperienced John tries to match him drink-for-drink. John's friends then attempt to sober him up for the race by throwing him into a bathtub and throwing cold water on him - and prompting me to say:



Shirtless Montgomery Clift in From Here to Eternity (take a look here) was perfectly shaved/waxed and had flawless abs. In Raintree County (filmed four years later) he still has fantastic abs, but went with the more natural, unshaven look. Either way, this is a beautiful, beautiful man. I rank Monty's bathtub scene up there with Christian Bale's shower scene in American Psycho - not that we get to see much, but just in terms of how happy it makes me. 

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

The Weekly Dish With Bella & Nat: Fall Staple ~ Bootsession


As Bella and Natalie's theme today is "Fall Staples," I take this as permission to indulge my favorite fall obsession: the boot. 

Getting them in all three colors is mandatory.


Is anything cooler than a pair of steampunk boots?


I honestly don't get the whole Hunter boot/rubber boot phenomenon, but I'm a sucker for the tortoiseshell pattern.



Tights are another great thing about fall.


And hoodies.



Everybody loves a good hoodie.



Monday, August 27, 2012

Being Midwestern Rules! Pt. 2 ~ Indiana

On Mondays I hook up with Pinning! at A Night Owl Blog/Baxtron{Life}


On Wednesday, it's Oh, How Pinteresting! at The Vintage Apple. 



Being from the Midwestern United States is hella cool - I think I proved that with my Nebraska post. I'm not from Nebraska; I'm from Indiana. We've got some pretty cool people, too. If you lived through the '80s, you might think of him when you think of Indiana.

http://cheers.wikia.com/wiki/Woody_Boyd
No, this is not young Haymitch; it's the character Woody Boyd from Cheers. Woody Harrelson? Not actually from Indiana. Or even Midwestern - he's a native Texan.

But these people are actually from Indiana.

Probably the coolest, most sophisticated, urbane individual to come from the Hoosier state? Cole Porter. The moment you realize you're from Indiana and so is Cole Porter is a very good moment indeed.



James Dean was from Indiana. Here he's reading The Complete Poetical Writings by James Whitcomb Riley, a 19th century poet also from Indiana.





When I say I hope to die and ascend to bisexual heaven and sit at the right hand of James Dean, amen, you may think I'm being facetious. I'm not. (Religion - it's complicated.) This is Photoshopped, but still - James Dean kissing Marlon Brandon. 



Old Hollywood screwball comedy queen - and lost love of Clark Gable's life - Carole Lombard was from Fort Wayne, Indiana.



Fun Fort Wayne fact: its library system has the world's second-largest collection of genealogical records, after the Mormon collection in Salt Lake City, Utah. I visited FW's main downtown library once and had a bagel in its coffee shop.

Steve McQueen, so cool there's a Sheryl Crow song about him, was from Indianapolis. His grandson, Steven R. McQueen, plays Jeremy on The Vampire Diaries.



McQueen's hometown is also the hometown of Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. If you can find a greater 20th century American writer, read him or her.



Other writers from Indiana include Phillip Jose Farmer (who sometimes wrote as "Kilgore Trout," a fictional writer invented by Kurt Vonnegut), Meg Cabot (The Princess Diaries), and Theodore Drieser. Drieser wrote An American Tragedy, the basis for the movie A Place in the Sun.








Adam Lambert was born in Indianapolis. Probably the most well-known family to come out of Indiana, though? The Jacksons. Michael, Janet and their siblings were raised in Gary, a large city just to the east of Chicago.





See? Being Midwestern is awesome. 

Sunday, August 26, 2012

SOC Sunday - No Theme, Just a Free Write



Today's Stream of Consciousness Sunday is themeless, so free-write on any subject for five minutes (no editing) to link up with Jana's Thinking Place.

8:24 In preparation for my Jeopardy! tryout in early September, I read about American history last night. I think the Portuguese got into my dreams a little bit. The book I read confirmed what I already believed - that Portugal was the nation that actually instigated the slave trade, even though Spain and England quickly piled on.

8:26 My head is so filled with facts that I feel like my creativity been's pushed to the side lately. I did complete an essay yesterday.

Thanks to my studies, I can tell you that Michel de Montaigne is the individual who popularized the essay as an art form. There's a shout-out to de Montaigne in "Bitches in Bookshops."

8:28 My husband is making me laugh. I'm so grateful for him and his sense of humor. I was pretty sad yesterday, thanks to a combination of hormones and the ongoing drama with my brother.

8:29 Ugh - don't get me started on the drama with my brother. I will say this, though: according to the Geek Zodiac, my nieces are Spy and Ninja. These zodiac signs fit them perfectly.

I got Pirate - but I don't wanna be a pirate! I like the ocean and rum, but I detest thieves.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Pinky, Are You Pondering What I'm Pondering?

Are you pondering...

...that Sun Paik-Kwon is a witch? 



She's the Neville Longbottom of Lost. The show never really explained why Sun was so good with plants, but seriously, she could have taught herbology at Hogwarts.

A year or so ago, I read an article about TV characters who were never referred to as witches, but who nonetheless clearly demonstrated aspects of the craft. I wish I could find a link to that article for you, but despite my valiant efforts, I could not. I believe Wonder Woman and Radar from M*A*S*H were on the list.

...that Carly Rae Jepsen and Moby should collaborate on a song called "Call Me Ishmael Maybe?"



Hey, I just joined your crew,
And this is crazy,
But let's go whaling -
Call me Ishmael, maybe?

http://pinterest.com/pin/149674387585971779/
...that one of the next old-school movies I watch should be The Killers?



Baby is a bad boy with some retro sneakers
Let's go see The Killers and make out in the bleachers...

Do you think the band that Lady Gaga is singing in "Boys Boys Boys" about is named after this movie? Based on a short story by Ernest Hemingway, starring Ava Gardner and a beautiful young Burt Lancaster. What's not to like?

The next movie to arrive at my home via Netflix will be The Hunger Games. I'm so excited to finally see the movie. Are you pondering what I'm pondering?

...that Mrs. Slocombe from Are You Being Served? was changing her hair color every day before Effie Trinket made it cool?

http://pinterest.com/pin/46936021087521486/


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Monday, August 20, 2012

Pinning/Oh, How Pinteresting ~ Theme TK

On Mondays I hook up with Pinning! at A Night Owl Blog/Baxtron{Life}

On Wednesday, it's Oh, How Pinteresting! at The Vintage Apple. 

I've had the hardest time coming up with a theme for today's post! After several abortive attempts (I did one with magazine covers and one with comic book characters, but I wasn't happy with either one of them), I just have to come to the conclusion that today's post was meant to be random. 

I think studying geography, history and trivia for my upcoming Jeopardy! tryout has pushed the creativity out of my brain for the moment. 

I still haven't seen the Hunger Games movie, but it's at the top of my Netflix queue. 


Having just finished watching the entire series Lost, I can tell you that my fondest Catching Fire hope is still that Michael Emerson will play Beetee in the movie. I liked Ben Linus way more than I was supposed to, seeing as he was the villain. He can quote Steinbeck extensively (which is hot). 


My very first date when I was a young teen took me to the '90s movie version of Of Mice and Men, with Gary Sinise and John Malkovich in it. It's so not a romantic movie. 

Ben was wrong about one thing, though: Ernest Hemingway never fought in the Spanish Civil War. Hemingway drove an ambulance, exactly like Frederic in A Farewell to Arms. This is an upcoming edition that will showcase some of the many and various endings Hemingway wrote for it. 


...as portrayed in In Love and War. If you haven't seen it, do. Sandra Bullock and Chris O'Donnell - what's not to like? 


If you go to Hemingway's childhood home in Oak Park, Illinois, you'll see his first book, Cat, which he wrote and illustrated when he was four. If he had gone on to write children's bedtime stories:


Yoda's reading material is a little more instructive.


This makes me laugh, because I had a fit this morning over a sign that abbreviated et cetera as ect. Yikes - pet peeve alert. Isn't it common knowledge that et cetera is Latin for and others, and isn't the Latin word for and, et, pretty easy to remember?!? 

That said, you have my complete sympathy if you have a learning disability and/or if your life circumstances did not allow you to have the education you would have preferred - I do not in any way mean to mock or belittle people in these cases. I'm not trying to be a jerk. 



This always happens when I go to the movies.


The last few movies I've been to (Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter and Magic Mike, if I remember aright) have been proceeded by previews for the new (U.S.) Sherlock Holmes series, with Lucy Liu as Watson. I look forward fondly. I enjoyed Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, too. 


I so wanna read this - but it's unavailable in the U.S. 

I'll leave you with this thought: a history of mosquito-borne illnesses in American literature, parts 1 and 2. Part one: Henry James.


"Welcome to Europe, Americans. Quickly accede to European social mores or you'll contract a subtropical disease and DIE."

Part two: James Jones. 


"Welcome to Guadalcanal, Americans; you now have malaria. Shake it off; the medical aide tent is reserved for life-threatening gunshot wounds." 

Sunday, August 19, 2012

SOC Sunday: For in Dreams, We Enter a World That is Entirely Our Own



Yesterday I spent five or six hours playing with my brother's kids, my eight- and six-year-old nieces Eira and Lydia. Consequently, I just woke up from a dream in which Eira drew a picture of me. I thought she made the nose look a little funny, so I took a crayon and tried to make myself look a little more normal.

A nice, tame dream, featuring a person I actually know doing something that actually could happen. A little self-conscious, perhaps - but this is not a typical dream for me. I'm usually dreaming something like my  "Jesus fighting with Godzilla in downtown Tokyo" dream. It's usually bizarre, and often there's a famous person or two thrown in.

Is weird dreaming hereditary? My dad tells me about wacky dreams all the time. I'll meet him for Sunday breakfast in another hour, and I vividly remember a Sunday breakfast in July in which he entertained the family with his dream about going with his dad to some imaginary red light district of Green Bay, Wisconsin (where my grandparents lived for several years when I was a kid). Perhaps his most memorable dream-tale was the one in which Germans were forcing him to build a bridge made of Lego blocks over the river. (I say "the" river because my parents and I live on the same river that goes through their city and mine.)

Sometimes my dreams inspire a short story or a scene in one of my books - see, for example, Crazy Dream Inspiration.

This is what that other O'Riordan gal thinks about dreams.

Friday, August 17, 2012

The Tennessee Williams Play That Freaks Me Out

I haven't been reading for pleasure lately, stopping in the middles of The Amber Spyglass and The Thin Red Line to study up on the U.S. Constitution, presidents, Supreme Court justices, bodies of water, Canadian provinces et al. for my upcoming Jeopardy! try-out. I've also been dusting and reorganizing my bookshelves, and when I came across Who the Hell is Pansy O'Hara? The Fascinating Stories Behind 50 of the World's Best-Loved Books by Jenny Bond and Chris Sheedy, I couldn't resist flipping it open.



From Here to Eternity is on page 131. I'm pretty sure I read this section before, but I didn't mean as much to  me before I finished FHTE. I learned (or re-learned) that James Jones is like Robert E. Lee Prewitt in the following ways: Jones' father was an alcoholic, which was part of the reason Jones left the family home as a teen, and he was also a boxer in a unit renowned for its Golden Gloves participants. I also learned that the book FHTE beat out when it won the National Book Award was The Catcher in the Rye.

Catcher in the Rye is a favorite subject of the conspiracy theory bloggers, by the way. See this post at MK Culture, for example, or this post at Pseudo-Occult Media implicating the cartoon Family Guy (a cartoon I personally dislike, for the record). The Wikipedia entry on the book mentions that it's been linked to John Hinckley Jr.'s attempted assassination of Ronald Reagan, Mark David Chapman's shooting of John Lennon and Robert John Bardo's shooting of Rebecca Shaeffer.

Anyway, another book I came across was Famous American Plays of the 1940s, edited  by Henry Hewes, which was one of my school books from my freshman year of high school. The first play is Thornton Wilder's The Skin of Our Teeth, and it includes the cast of the first production (November 18, 1942). It included Tallulah Bankhead as Sabina (P.S. that was my maternal grandpa's mom's name) and Montgomery Clift (then aged 22) as young Henry.



I've been borrowing Montgomery Clift films from Netflix, and after reading Tennessee Williams' rather catty quote about Marilyn Monroe via D.R. Haney's Salon.com article on Marilyn's death anniversary, I somehow came to the conclusion that I should watch the Williams adaptation Suddenly Last Summer, which features Montgomery Clift. I was imagining it would be a family drama along the lines of Streetcar,  with Elizabeth Taylor doing a turn as a Blanche Dubois-esque Southern Belle, probably with some tragic result. I had no idea it would be so creepy and disturb me so much.

The screenplay, by the way, was written by the recently deceased Gore Vidal.



(Vidal is on the right, next to Tom Wolfe.)

At the beginning of the movie, Montgomery Clift's character, psychiatrist Dr. Cukrowitz (from the Polish word for sugar, cukro), is performing a lobotomy at a former school made into a mental health hospital; the building is literally falling apart. He's from Chicago, but recently moved his practice to this state-run hospital in New Orleans. Later that same day, he meets a potential benefactor in Mrs. Violet Venable (Katherine Hepburn). 

Mrs. Venable, who arrives to greet Dr. Cukrowitz via an elevator that makes her look like a goddess descending in an ancient Greek drama, is deeply in grief over the death of her son Sebastian. Sebastian (explicitly named for the saint who was martyred after being shot with arrows) supposedly died of a heart attack in Spain the previous summer, and his death was witnessed by his cousin, Catherine Holly (Taylor). Catherine suffered a mental break because of her cousin's death and is now confined to a Catholic mental health hospital.



Mrs. Venable, who is widowed, shows the doctor around Sebastian's jungle-like garden, where she feeds her Venus fly-trap. The garden contains a statue of the angel of death, which resembles the alleged "angel skeleton" on The Simpsons



Violet was unusually devoted to her son, even going to so far as to say the mother-son pair was regarded as a couple. Sebastian and Violet's relationship was overly entangled, if not outright incestuous.  

Mrs. Venable's deeply offended by the "babblings" of Catherine in her "madness," which impugns Sebastian's "moral character." Violet wants Catherine to have a lobotomy, supposedly for her own good. When we first meet Catherine, she has intentionally burned a nun's hand with a cigarette, and stands accused of molesting a 60-year-old male gardener and then claiming the man attempted to rape her. Is Catherine really mentally ill, or is she a sane woman who suffered a terrible trauma and is now chafing under the restraints of an overly restrictive hospital where she does not belong? 

At that first meeting between Catherine and Dr. Cukrowicz, she kisses him. He does nothing to discourage her, dismissing this inappropriate interaction as "a friendly kiss." They're going to have major transference issues. 

However, the much larger danger to Catherine is that Violet's money, power and influence will induce the state hospital (to which Catherine is moved; the nuns have a hard time controlling her) to perform a lobotomy on Catherine. Tennessee Williams had a sister on whom a lobotomy was performed, and he appears to have been deeply traumatized by his parents' decision to allow this. 

Dr. Cukrowicz is reluctant to perform the surgery, at least until he can get from Catherine the true story of how Sebastian died in Spain. When Catherine does finally tell the story at the film's climax, it is very disturbing. We can assume from Catherine's narrative that Sebastian has used her to attract attention, then propositioned the men who swarmed around her. Before Violet got "too old," this was Violet's function for Sebastian as well. There's a suggestion - although nothing this explicit could have been stated in a 1950s film - that Sebastian may have taken advantage of underage boys, who are so poor he can coerce them with money.

For whatever reason, the mob of boys and young men turns against Sebastian, chase him through the streets and kill him in a manner most gruesome - they tear him apart, and some of them eat bits of his flesh. Since his previous play was titled Orpheus Descending, it's not too far-fetched to imagine that Williams may have been thinking of classical Greek and Roman mythology, with its fiercely violent followers of Dionysus and Bacchus - a theme also used by Charlaine Harris. Barbara Walker's Woman's Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets will be happy to tell you that St. Sebastian is a mythological figure linked to the Gaulish version of the Annually Dying God, who is sacrificed each year. The website CatholicOnline says of St. Sebastian, "He is also commonly referred to as a homosexual icon, which remains an on-going controversial tie between  the gay community and the Roman Catholic Church." 



This is a much grislier fate than befalls the typical Tennessee Williams character; The New York Public Library Literature Companion says of the one-act play on which the film is based, "Even for Williams, the play is unusually bleak." Critics have suggested that according to the moral code of the 1950s, gay men were "monsters" who, like Frankenstein's monster, were to be dealt with by chasing them down with pitchforks and torches. If Mrs. Venable, in some aspects, represented Williams' mother, he may have identified with the refined, shy, sensitive poet Sebastian, and he may have felt he was being cruelly punished by society for being gay. Even if Williams identified with Sebastian, though, the film paints the character in a negative light. 

Katherine Hepburn's character, Mrs. Venable, is truly a villain, willing to destroy her young niece in defense of her dead son's reputation and to avoid facing the truth. 

Sebastian is disturbing. Mrs. Venable is disturbing. The relationship between Dr. Cukrowitz and Catherine - following the tried-and-true Hollywood trope that the hero must always get the girl at the end of the picture - is also disturbing. Dear Gore Vidal in gay heaven, this is such an inappropriate story onto which to tack a love story.  Yes, Elizabeth Taylor and Montgomery Clift were BFFs, but turning Catherine - who told the doctor about an experience of being sexually assaulted before she told him about her traumatic experience of witnessing Sebastian's death, and had also recently attempted suicide - into a romantic heroine is just bizarre.  She's far too vulnerable to be able to have an equal relationship (other than a professional relationship, that is) with her doctor, and he has totally forgotten his Hippocratic oath.



I'm not the only one disturbed by this fascinating, well-acted but problematic and strange melodrama. For further reading:

Monday, August 13, 2012

On Mondays We Wear Pink

On Mondays I hook up with Pinning! at A Night Owl Blog/Baxtron{Life}

On Wednesday, it's Oh, How Pinteresting! at The Vintage Apple. 
This week's theme is the color pink. Enjoy!

Continuing with last week's Marilyn Monroe theme, here she is in pink. 


Pink is a staple of the burlesque wardrobe, and it makes for an eye-catching book cover. 


This is not the late Dr. Sally Ride.


Christian Bale looks pretty in pink.


I like to call this pin "Nicki Minaj does surprisingly well in Professor McGonagall's Transfigurations class."


Before Nicki Minaj and her Barbies, there was Jem and The Holograms. You may remember this cartoon if you were an '80s kid. 


If I had an iPhone, this would be its case. 


In the olden days, this would have been my typewriter.


This should be my bathtub.


This should be the cup I drink tea from when I reread Hooker Please ~ Prostitutes in Literature


It should go with this neon pink place setting.


'Nuff said.


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Sunday, August 12, 2012

SOC Sunday~Beginnings: The Beginning of Tit Elingtin and Me

It's Stream of Consciousness Sunday, and I'm hooking up with Jana's Thinking Place for a 5-minute free write on the topic of beginnings.

Since I recently celebrated my 10th wedding anniversary with my hubby, co-author and editor Tit Elingtin, I'll share the story of how we met and got engaged. We met on February 27th, 2000, when I was working as the hostess in a restaurant. He came in on a Sunday to sit at the bar, drink a beer and read his mail - he lived in a nearby town, but still received mail at a P.O. box in my city. He came up to the hostess stand, flipped over one of the restaurant's business cards and said, "You're a cute one. Write your phone number down for me." So I did. He left, then came back in and asked me how old I was. I guess I looked younger when I was 22.

We went on our first date that same night, to the movies. There, we had our first kiss.

I told him not to ask me to marry him until we'd been together at least a year - he waited almost that long. One night I went to the bathroom, and when I came out, he was kneeling on the kitchen floor, and he proposed. He happened to be in his underwear at the time - he's one of those guys who'll take off his clothes and sit around in his underwear to watch TV at the end of the day. He had a cubic zirconia ring - he took my brother to the mall to help him pick it out - way too big for my finger. I have tiny hands.

I said yes, and the next week we went shopping for my "real" engagement ring. It's a half carat diamond. We got married on July 13, 2002.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Several Hours I Spent Reading Conspiracy Theory Blogs

Once upon a time, I used to host a link on this blog to Nibiru Planet X, a conspiracy theory blog. Its author, Ray Austin, contacted me and asked me if I wanted to host a link on my blog in exchange for a link on Nibiru. I put up his link, but I don't think he ever put up mine. But anyway...

Nibiru Planet X maintains a post about Illuminati symbolism in Kanye West's "Heartless" video.

Creative Commons
What caught my eye about the post mentioned in the link was that it was about Lady Gaga. I'm a fan. Why, only yesterday I was moved to express my support for Mother Monster on Mandy Nicole's blog Pretty Little Endeavors, when Mandy expressed the opinion that she much preferred Madonna to Gaga. But anyway...

I ended up spending a great deal of time reading over MK Culture. Its main premise seems to be that much of pop culture is directly related to, and influenced by, something called Project MKUltra, which a Wikipedia entry defines as "a covert, illegal human research program into behavior modification run by the Central Intelligence Agency's (CIA) Office of Scientific Intelligence. The program began in the early 1950s, was officially sanctioned in 1953, was reduced in scope in 1964, further curtailed in 1967 and finally halted in 1973." Yeshua contends, however, that it still goes on, and that young pop stars all show signs of having been indoctrinated into a specific mind control program.

Creative Commons
Yeshua has a large number of posts related to Lady Gaga, dating back to 2009. One titled "Just Dance" also makes reference to Madonna, Beyonce, Rihanna, Ciara, Britney Spears, and Janet Jackson, among other pop cultural phenomena. Across several blog posts, Yeshua contends that the on-stage or on-record alternate personalities represented by pop stars (Beyonce's Sasha Fierce, Janet Jackson's Damita Jo, Madonna's Dita) actually represent alternate personalities caused by intentional personality-splitting through ritualistic abuse.

Public domain
It was an odd thing to read - and, like a supermarket tabloid, it was far too odd, disturbing and intriguing to stop reading. Here are a few highlights of the blog, in chronological order:

Creative Commons
I notice a lot of these female pop stars are people whose names are already listed in my tags, women I've already blogged about. What does this say about me? 

Branching off from Yeshua's blog, I read this intriguing post about the symbolism in The Prestige (the movie that caused me to fall in love with Christian Bale). Then I explored the blog Invoking Mother Spirit (now defunct). Some interesting stuff there, too, such as: Whitney Houston, Michael Jackson, and Amy Winehouse all died on the eve of major awards shows. To my chagrin, it didn't actually have much to do with mother spirit. I love my goddess symbolism, not because I belong to the Illuminati (or want to) but because I'm a witch. That's my spirituality. 

I'm not saying I agree or disagree with any of the theories presented in the posts I read. They were just something that caught my interest today.

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Tuesday, August 7, 2012

I Don't Think I'm In Kansas Anymore, and Back to the Thin Red Line

I'm back from my long weekend in Manhattan - not the fun Manhattan, but the one in Kansas - where my nephew got married. When leaving Kansas, I felt obliged to say, "I don't think we're in Kansas anymore." While we never got around to visiting the Wizard of Oz museum in nearby Wamego, I chose to associate Kansas with the L. Frank Baum classic. The other literary work I associate with Kansas is In Cold Blood by Truman Capote, which is rather less pleasant.

We did drive through Mark Twain's hometown of Hannibal, Missouri, but we didn't stop there.

The paperback I carried with me on my trip of Patricia Bosworth's biography of Montgomery Clift, a cheap paperback I purchased from Better World Books. Look how neatly its yellow edges match my manicure (and the dress I wore to the wedding reception.)


In Aggieville (the quaint shopping and pub-crawling neighborhood in the vicinity of Kansas State University), I visited The Dusty Bookshelf. There I bought my great-niece a Mickey Mouse coloring book and a picture book based on the Disney version of Peter Pan. For myself, I purchased The Vampire Diaries: The Return: Midnight.

But now that I'm back in the Great Lakes region, I'm back to reading the books I left behind, including The Thin Red Line. I'm about halfway through The Thin Red Line, the second book in James Jones' trilogy. Since I kind of cheated, in that I watched the movie before I read the book, and I've now read and watched From Here to Eternity, I feel somewhat prepared to compare the characters of Robert E. Lee Prewitt and his counterpart in the second book, Bob Witt.

You know what might be even more fun, though? Comparing the actors who portrayed Prewitt and Witt, respectively Montgomery Clift and Jim Caviezel. They have stuff in common, other than playing essentially the same character in adaptations of James Jones novels. (In fact, I now know that some of Witt's monologue in the Thin Red Line movie comes from the book version of From Here to Eternity, further fusing two fictional characters who are already essentially the same. Not exactly the same, though: Prew is 22 years old in 1941, while Witt is 21 in 1943, to name just one example of how their biographies differ. Obviously, Prewitt is dead at the end of FHTE - he never makes it to Guadalcanal.)

They both modeled during their early acting careers, for example. Clift modeled for Arrow shirts and Steinway pianos, among other gigs. Caviezel modeled clothes for The Gap. This is not a great picture, but you get the idea.

http://jimcaviezelfan.tumblr.com/post/47796028083/this-photo-was-on-buildings-buses-and
Clift appeared in a Gap khakis ad posthumously, via a still from his film I Confess.

(P.S. The nephew who got married? Also a former model, and so is his brother.)



They were both called upon to learn the trumpet, or at least to look as if they knew what they were doing with one. Clift's scene is the emotional climax of the From Here to Eternity movie: Prew's brokenhearted rendition of TAPS in Maggio's honor.



Caviezel's scene is in the romantic drama Angel Eyes. The music is forcing his character to remember a past he'd done his best to try to forget.



The other things they have in common? A perpetual tan. Intense eyes. Long, dark eyelashes that women envy; prettiness that at times verges on androgyny, but also the ability to rock a sexy beard. They're both part Irish, too.



I warn you not to stare too long, or you may end up pregnant.



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Monday, August 6, 2012

Marilyn Reading

Don't forget to comment on the Ravaged post (through Monday, Aug. 6) for a chance to win my newest release!

On Mondays I hook up with Pinning! at A Night Owl Blog/Baxtron{Life}


On Wednesday, it's Oh, How Pinteresting! at The Vintage Apple. 


August 5, 2012 was the 50th anniversary of the death of Marilyn Monroe. I'm not a gigantic Marilyn Monroe fan, although I do admire her work. I will always stop flipping channels when I happen upon Some Like it Hot. (It doesn't hurt that Tony Curtis is a gorgeous Hebrew hottie.) 


I'm no fan of Joyce Carol Oates, but I have read bits and pieces of 
Blonde, as I wrote about in "The Good Parts." 



*By the way, my dad still has that biography of Marilyn in his bedroom (I stumbled upon the book when he went to Florida and left me the keys to his Ford Ranger - it was in the drawer with the truck keys). I called it "trashy," but I think I was unfairly dismissive of it. *

This is that book, Goddess by Anthony Summers, being held with affection by Megan Fox, star of Jennifer's Body. Fox has a Marilyn tattoo on her left arm. 

Marilyn herself loved to read. This is the image I have pinned to my Hotties Read board. 



But Pinterest abounds with photos of the oft-photographed actress with her beautiful nose in  a good book. Here she is tackling James Joyce. 




Here she is reading Walt Whitman's Leaves of Grass.




She read standing. She read sitting. She read lying down. (Notice her book is called How to Improve Your Thinking Ability.)




She read on park benches.




She read on the floor.




She even read to children.




She was photographed reading so often, you could make a collage.



...and of Marilyn's The Misfits co-stars, the very dapper Clark Gable could, on occasion, be caught reading...




Here they are together on a movie tie-in edition of Arthur Miller's book.




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Saturday, August 4, 2012

Why Reading the Classics is Still Important for Youth Today (Guest Post)

There is a shared culture when it comes to growing up in America, there is no doubt about that. Our country is a country that has a respect and fondness for the past, even as we keep moving forward and doing things that in the past were unthinkable. 

One of those shared cultural experiences happens in elementary school, in which most kids throughout the country are taught to read the same books. Everyone knows who Dr. Seuss is, who Rudyard Kipling is, who Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn are and who Shel Silverstein is. These are all things we become accustomed to as children, and it gives us a shared language. The process continues throughout the rest of schooling as well, as we all get older we begin reading Shakespeare, George Orwell, Frederick Douglass, Kurt Vonnegut, Oscar Wilde, John Steinbeck and dozens of others.


These books, as well as many others that are both newer and older, are considered the classics. They are considered the books that every person should read because it will shape how they look at the world, and how they act and think within that world. But, an unfortunate thing occurs when we get out of school, we stop reading. There are tons of classics out there, but we read only a few in school, and then stop doing it altogether. It is a shame because there is a lot more we can share with each other through our experiences with these classics. Learning does not stop with school, it should continue throughout life, and so should reading the classics. There are more classics out there than you can imagine, and you can spend a lifetime reading them, without reading them all. Here are some reasons why you should read the classics:

Cherish the mind
With the decrease in reading there has been a huge increase in health club memberships. In some way, this is a roundabout argument, in which humans have begun to be more obsessed with their bodies than they are with their minds. After all, when you walk down the street or step into a bar, a potential mate can not see your mind, but they can see your muscles. The mind is the key to living a long, fulfilled life, not the body. That is not to say that you should neglect the body, but rather that you should not do so in sacrifice of cultivating your mind. That is why you should read the classics.

You get a better vocabulary
In today’s text crazy world, in which vocabulary has been slaughtered at the altar, reading the classics can curb those tendencies toward monotony and the destruction of language.


About the Guest Author: William is a freelance writer for numerous publications, both online and in print, in article form and in blog form. He writes on numerous subjects, including pop culture, history and even car insurance. 


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