Sunday, September 30, 2012

This is how I "Keep Calm and Carry On" with my book

"My book" is still Whistle - if you don't want spoilers, look away now.

My guess is that the guy on the left, because he has the cane, must be Landers. The guy in the middle is probably Mart Winch, and then the dark-haired guy looking off to the right is probably Johnny Strange (the third incarnation of the Texan Maylon Stark, the mess sergeant. In The Thin Red Line, his second incarnation was played by John C. Reilly). So the smaller figure standing on the right side of the second row is probably Prell. He's standing, so this might mean that by the end of the book, he can walk again. The woman is probably Carol in her Red Cross volunteer uniform.

Most girls who like books can identify with Belle in Beauty in the Beast. The cartoon is even used as a sample in "Bitches in Bookshops." (Interestingly enough, this Disney Princess quiz suggests I'm actually a Pocahontas - but that's not important right now.) People like me who maintain vast book-related pinboards on Pinterest are fond of this one:

Like everything in life, it has an associated "Keep Calm and Carry On"-style poster.

But I'm not exactly like most readers. I'm completely obsessed with finishing James Jones' wartime trilogy. With about 100 pages left to go, and having read of Bobby Prell's marriage to his pregnant 17-year-old conquest Della Mae, I needed to make a Keep Calm poster of my own.

Just to be clear: it's not that I want to be Della Mae. Della Mae is young and dumb and naive and kind of a prude. It's just that I want Bob Witt/Bobby Prell to be my fictional husband. I actually imagined that I'd be the older, more experienced one (see the Memorial Day post). Prell's about 24. I'd be about 27 and already divorced once when we got together. We'd have at least one kid, a boy, and then if anything happened to Witt/Prell I'd possibly get together with Fife/Landers.

...Although it's a little troubling that Landers is, about 100 pages away from the end, planning to go AWOL similar to the way Prewitt did in From Here to Eternity - except without the deadly knife fight. I think we know how that trajectory ends.

James Jones, why did you not leave me in charge of this book series when you were dying and I was just a few months old in 1977?!

And Terrence Malick, why did you not write a screenplay for Whistle back when you could've used the same actors from The Thin Red Line

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Coming Attractions: Books I'll Be Reading and Reviewing for Amazon Vine

Being selected for Amazon Vine seems like unbelievable good luck to me. They send me two lists a month, on the third and fourth Thursdays of the month. I get to pick two free things from each list in exchange for reviews. Win-win. Some of my previous Vine reviews have included:

Kiss, Crush, Collide by Christina Meredith
Juliet Immortal by Stacey Jay
Beauty Queens by Libba Bray
The Abused Werewolf Rescue Group by Catherine Jinks
Family by Micol Ostow
The Bowl of Light by Hank Wesselman

I don't always order books. In fact, next week I'll be testing out a 7-Eleven Slurpee maker. But I do read a lot of books from Vine. The ones I just finished are:

- An excellent beginners'/young adult biography of Charlotte, Emily and Anne. I find it very sad to know that Patrick Bronte outlived all five of his daughters and his son, and that between them, the three Bronte sisters who lived into adulthood - known to the Victorian book-buying public as Currer, Ellis and Acton Bell - produced only seven novels and one volume of poetry between them. Charlotte was the only one who lived long enough to marry.

This book will fascinate readers (the intended age range is 10-14) interested in how the human body works. It focuses mainly on the science, but also explores a little bit of the mythology that's historically been associated with blood. Most of the science will be familiar to the average adult, but I learned a few fascinating tidbits about the blood of some other species, such as the horseshoe crab. The book is designed to look as if the pages were splashed with blood, so if you're very squeamish, it might be a bit much to handle. Blood doesn't usually bother me, but a few of the more gruesome medical passages made me feel a little squeamish.

The ones I have slated to read are:

I've read about a third of this one so far. Mine doesn't have the pretty cover. It's an ARC with a plain chartreuse wrapper. ("Plain chartreuse" is kind of an oxymoron, though, isn't it?) Having come from an educational background in psychology, I've read The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat and An Anthropologist on Mars and count them both among my "permanent keeper" books. (Awakenings I like a little less, and although I read Musicophilia, I don't own a copy.) It's fascinating. I learned that the actor Silas Weir Mitchell, who plays Monroe on Grimm, is named for a 19th-century physician ancestor who experimented with mescaline and quantified his hallucinations.

I just finished the migraine chapter, which very much reminded me of a biography of Mary Todd Lincoln I read in college; her alleged "insanity" was very likely to have been a combination of PTSD and migraines.

Set in Key West, in the Hemingway residence that is now a famous tourist attraction, the one I visited in 2004.

I still don't think I care to read The Count of Monte Cristo, but that doesn't mean I'm not fascinated by the true story behind it.

The follow-up to Dead is a Battlefield. The only disappointing thing is that it's, by far, the skinniest volume in the series so far.

Of course, I still have to read the original Jane Eyre first. Sadly, it's true: the only one of the Bronte sisters' seven novels that I've read is Wuthering Heights. (But I've read it three times, if that helps.)

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

While I'm reading 'Whistle,' I'm going to be a little bit obsessed with Adrien Brody, ok?

The Stella Artois commercial from the 2011 Superbowl - I don't even like American football, but I'm not going to forget that one easily. Liking Adrien Brody is problematic. It could be the first chapter of a book titled The Field Guide to Liking Boys Who Seem Completely Douchy. This doesn't help.

Dude, I told you the douchy facial hair was going to be a problem.

The thing is, thanks to Terence Malick's film, I'm imagining him as Geoffrey Fife, who in Whistle is called Marion Landers. (James Jones explained in his introduction to Whistle that he hadn't originally intended to kill Prewitt in From Here to Eternity. After he'd written Prewitt's death scene, he was forced to rename the character Bob Witt in The Thin Red Line, and then he had to change all the names. Milt Warden became Edward Welsh, Maylon Stark becomes Storm, etc.)

There's this Tumblr blog called Adrien Brody Confessions. This is one of my confessions.

It says, "I think he played Leonard Chess as an odious money-grubbing Jewish stereotype. Et tu, Brody? But I still love to see him kiss Beyonce." I've expressed the same sentiment before, right here on this blog. I believe I called Cadillac Records "written by Borat, directed by Louis Farrakhan."

This is my other confession - again, a sentiment you may have read here before.

It says, "I also think he should've had to make out with Nick Stahl in The Thin Red Line, 'cause in the book Fife and Bead are secretly lovers."

Geoffrey Fife a.k.a. Marion Landers certainly likes girls, too. A scene from Whistle:

"When the record player ran out of disks and shut itself off, she left it. But every time Landers tried to get his hand under her blouse onto her breasts or push his hand up along her stockings under her skirt, she pushed him away and fought him off hard. Once he managed to get two fingers far enough up her skirt to touch her panties and feel the cushion of her pubic hair beneath. But that was all.

"After two hours of this, sporting a powerful throbbing erection so swollen that it hurt him, wet in the crotch from all the unutilized lubrication fluid that was pouring out of him, Landers disentangled himself and got up and blew out his breath and looked at his watch. Had to be getting back to the hospital. Carol got up too, with a questioning look in her slightly unfocused eyes. But she made no protests. At the door as she let him out, she said in a soft voice, only, 'You're not very forceful.' Landers was across the porch and down the steps and halfway down the walk before he realized what she had said and what it meant. But when he turned back to look and debate going back, the lights went out as he watched."

Boys and girls, let us not play this game. It is a stupid game and someone is going to end up hurt. The way to get what you want is not to make the other person try to guess, but to use your words.

Carol and Landers only go out that one time, but then she starts seeing Mart Winch. Winch is married and has two young sons (something never mentioned in From Here to Eternity, that I can recall - I had the impression Milt Warden was single), but almost as soon as he lands in San Francisco - after he gets through a bad bout of malaria and dengue fever - he's screwing this awesome factory girl named Arlette. (I fucking love Arlette, a '40s feminist if there ever was one.) Winch flat-out tells Carol he's too old to play games with her. And also that he needs to teach her how to kiss, because she's too "mechanical."

Good for him. To me, Winch is a lot more sympathetic than Warden and Welsh were in the previous two books. Maybe it's because Winch, like James Jones himself, is suffering from congestive heart failure (which would kill the author shortly before he finished the novel), so it's clear that he represents the author in the way that Prewitt did in the first novel. I refuse to imagine Mart Winch as Sean Penn. Sean Penn is on my permanent shit list. You make my girl Madonna cry, you and I got a problem.

Adrien Brody, as far as I know, is not a bad guy - just kind of pretty and dumb the way you might expect a movie star to be. I love his pretty hazel eyes. So while I'm reading about the wartime convalescence of Marion Landers, I'm gonna be a little obsessed with Adrien Brody, ok?

This does not mean that I am not still completely in love with Prewitt/Witt/Prell. (About halfway through Whistle, Prell is out of traction, semi-mobile in a wheelchair, and trying to figure out how to get Della Mae, the girl who comes to read Treasure Island to him, to give him a blowjob.) Bob Witt is still my fictional boyfriend. I'm just saying that if anything should happen to Prell, Landers is my back-up fictional guy. 

Monday, September 24, 2012

Pinning/OHP! ~ Pulp Shakespeare and More

If it's Monday, it's...

But if it's Wednesday, then it's...

(And if it's Thursday, then I'm plotzing*, because it's not only Amazon Vine swag day, but also the library's used book sale AND the Person of Interest Season 2 premiere night! I almost plotzed just typing that!)

This is what I pinned this week. If I had this typewriter pillow, I bet I'd type in my sleep.

This is my fictional boyfriend Pvt. Bob Witt and a pal (Gooch, maybe? Not sure), being AWOL in the South Pacific, chillin' with some Melanesian folks. I watched The Thin Red Line last week, little realizing (at first) that I was far too hormonal to invest feelings in some fictional characters who were about to die. Now that I've read the novel, when Bead dies in Fife's arms, a little part of me dies, too.

I think the translation of that French quote is "A Polynesian garden, or any garden, is a marvelous thing." Je non comprends pas la francais.

OK, je comprends un peu la francais.

It's now officially autumn, which makes it boot season. Still hung up on Rockin' Mama's boot post from last week's hop, I pinned these mirror-heeled babies.

Pulp Shakespeare, with Queen Elizabeth I (possibly, or a similarly-attired Elizabethan courtier) in place of Uma Thurman. Please tell me you remember Pulp Fiction.

Speaking of pulp things, I think Harold Finch needs this (as a poster) for the Library.

October is coming, and with it, Halloween.

Alice in Wonderland cupcakes.

Finally, a little bibbity-bobbity-street art.

*For those of you who did not have the one Yiddish grandmother, "plotzing" means "exploding." My Yiddishkeit (Jewishness) pops up whenever it wants to. 

Sunday, September 23, 2012

SOC Sunday: I Chose Psychology

Today’s (optional) prompt: How did you settle on your major/career choice?

My college major was psychology. I picked that because of all the subjects I took as a sophomore, when I had to declare, it was the one with the most interesting textbooks. Even though I pretty much always knew I was going to be a writer, I chose not to major in English, because in the back of my mind I was thinking that no one makes a living as an English major. I was trying to be practical, but not so practical that I got stuck with something boring like accounting. 

I suck at numbers anyway - although I'm pretty fascinated with social science statistics, which turns real-world behavioral data into the kind of numbers that scientists use as evidence for their theories. Deep down, I've always been a bit of a scientist as well as a writer. 

To this day, one of my major pet peeves is still inaccurate portrayals of scientific data in the popular media. I blow a gasket when someone on the evening news says a study "proves" this or that. There is no "prove" in science. There is testing and evidence, testing and evidence. 

It turns out a psychology major is actually great preparation for writing novels. You have to be able to get inside your characters' heads and make them believable to the reader, so you have to know how human beings think and why they're motivated to do the things they do. Without realistic motivations, characters fall apart, and plots fall completely apart. 

Saturday, September 22, 2012

For Autumn 2012, Even More Books About Persephone

In 2011, I wrote THIS POST about books starring the ancient Greek goddess Persephone, goddess of the Underworld, as a character. Since then, a new crop of YA books has featured Persephone. (I haven't read any of these yet.) These include:

Abandon by Meg Cabot. Cabot, the Bloomington, IN-born author of The Princess Diaries brings us this tale of Pierce, a young woman who came back from the dead after an accident. Abandon is the first book in a trilogy; the second book is called Underworld.

Asphodel by Lauren Hammond is another first book in a trilogy; Hammond calls hers the Underworld Trilogy. This Persephone at first fears the Underworld and Hades, but then falls in love with the Underworld lord. Forcibly returned to the land of the living by Zeus, who has also destroyed the world's pomegranate trees, Persephone searches for a pomegranate seed that can reunite her with her beloved.

Persephone the Phony (Goddess Girls Series) by Joanne Holub and Susan Williams. The second book in this series (after Athena the Brain) aimed at readers aged 8-12, Persephone the Phony encourages its readers to be true to themselves. Persephone falls for "bad boy" Hades despite her friends' warnings that he's bad news and her mother's fears. Hades could be the best thing that ever happened to Persephone, though - he helps her find her voice.

The Goddess Test by Aimee Carter. There are at least four books in the Goddess Test series. After the original comes The Goddess Hunt (Book 1.5), Goddess Interrupted (2), The Goddess Legacy (2.5) and The Goddess Inheritance (3, due out in February 2013). This series focuses on Kate, a teen whose mother is dying. When Kate meets Henry, she thinks he's insane - Henry claims to be Hades. Then Henry brings a girl back from the dead, and Kate questions whether he might not be crazy after all.

Have you read any of these? Were they good?

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Coffee Talk Week 2: Answer. Post. Link Up.

I finally gave in and joined Tumblr. Do you Tumble? Join me there.

Natalie Blair's blog, simply called Natalie Blair, is one of my new fave stalking reading grounds. On some things, we're similar, and on other things we're really different. I like that. I don't mind that she doesn't like The Hunger Games. No one who has any kind of human empathy likes it when Rue dies. (My uncle and I were just talking about it at brunch on Sunday.) I get that.

You should read Natalie's post about why she got an Arabic tattoo. P.S. Anybody who would judge a person for having a tattoo in Arabic is kind of a shit.

1. What's your favorite kind of coffee?

I like a hot, flavored coffee, or a plain coffee with a French vanilla or hazelnut creamer. I'm not opposed to whipped cream.

2. What is your dream laptop/computer? What are you using right now?

I still miss the mini-HP that my hubby tried to fix and ended up destroying. It was tiny. I could take it everywhere. Now I'm using a bigger HP laptop, a Pavilion g6. Not so easily portable.

3. Have you ever regretted a blog post?

Yeah - No More Content Warning. I thought I could get rid of my content warning, but apparently Google won't let me. I'm too dirty for my own good.

4. What is your favorite book?

That is not a fair question to ask a certified book nerd.

I'm a little obsessed with James Jones right now, but could I possibly pick a favorite between From Here to Eternity, The Thin Red Line and Whistle? No - I love them all. You can't break up a trilogy.

(A related obsession - Montgomery Clift.)

Seriously, I have a new favorite all the time, but if I were stranded on a desert island, I really hope I'd have Wuthering Heights. The Scarlet Letter is another one of my all-time favorites, and so is Fahrenheit 451.

5. What's in your bag?

Ugh, my bag. I'm a backpack-purse girl, 'cause my mini-HP used to fit in one. One day hubby and I were at the mall, and for some reason we went into Zumiez. I think we are the oldest people who have ever been in a Zumiez. (I'm a wannabe surfer, not a wannabe snowboarder/skater, anyway.) That's where I saw this rainbow-striped backpack purse I thought was really cool (I might have been a little drunk - we might have just come from Granite City). So I got it, but it turns out to be way bigger than I actually want or need.

So I'm not loving my current bag.

It's mostly full of empty space, but also a butterfly change purse, some i.d. and my debit card, $13 cash (not much of a cash person), my writer business cards, cherry Chapstick, sugar cookie lip gloss, a lipstick (but it's not really any good to me until I get a lip liner that matches - it's a lavender-ish neutral), pens and a list of books to look out for at next week's library used book sale.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Oh How Pinteresting! What I Pinned This Week

If it's Wednesday, it's time to link up with:

The week after my Jeopardy! tryout, here's what caught my eye. First, this great old green glass doorknob.

This Julien Fournie dress; the model is basically wearing The Matrix.

This Milo Manara "Red Riding Hood" pin-up.

Sam Claflin, as he might look when he plays Finnick Odair in Catching Fire.

This cutie pie, all curled up and snuggly.

This book I still have from when I was a kid.

If you're a Person of Interest fan (a.k.a. an Irrelevant), you know what to do.

Finally, a variation on a theme from a few days ago.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The Weekly Dish ~ All Things Disney

This week's Weekly Dish with Bella and Nat theme is "Disney." (See also: "Five Disney Dudes I'd Most Like to See Lewd."

Like Natalie, I like Alice in Wonderland best of all the Disney cartoons.

The Princess and the Frog is pretty good, too.

Ariel is certainly one of the least feminist of the Disney heroines.

Sometimes, it seems, it's more fun to be one of the bad girls.

You really don't want to mess with the good girls, either.

Of course, just about every readergirl identifies with Belle in Beauty and the Beast.

For some reason, Disney characters seem to lend themselves easily to "bitch" memes.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Blue Monday: Under the Sea

If it's Monday, it's time for...

If you love to read about the ocean or fantasy stories about mermaids, you may want to investigate the Under the Sea Giveaway Blog Hop, going on through Sept. 20th and hosted by I Am A Reader, Not A Writer.

Inspired by some of the gorgeous sea-themed book covers I came across while exploring the hop (any of which you might win if you participate), I present my favorite underwater-inspired pins. If you're anything of a reader of YA books, you'll recognize that once one or two bestsellers in the genre start a theme (red dresses, white dresses, the lip close-up, hand-holding or, in this case, mermaids), it spreads like, wild water. See, for example, Jillian Audrey's analysis.

You can see my previous underwater-themed Blue Monday post HERE.

The deep sea blue of this cover and the little bit of golden highlights in the cover model's hair could have been  the inspiration behind this little gem.

I've been wanting to read Forgive My Fins by Tera Lynn Childs for years now, but I never have. A touch of blue on the lips, shades of blue on the eyes...

...could have inspired this look...

...or this.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

'From Here to Eternity' Backstory + My 'Killers' Video

So I'm reading Montgomery Clift by Patricia Bosworth. Beautiful man, very talented in short bursts. Really insecure. Lots of addictions, way too much alcohol. Oddly close relationships with his twin sister and "Irish twin" brother. A Freudian wet dream, really. He had a weird thing about lying and crawling on floors, as if he preferred not to stand up (which you see Perce doing in The Misfits, and it works wonderfully for that character).

My favorite parts of this book are the parts with James Jones, regarding the filming of From Here to Eternity in 1953. (I've finished reading The Thin Red Line and started Whistle. I'm only on page 26 and already about to cry because Bobby Prell - the third avatar of Robert E. Lee Prewitt - is so gravely wounded.)

Jones, Clift and Frank Sinatra got along really well. Bosworth quotes an unnamed press agent as having said, "Jones looked like a nightclub bouncer with his thick neck and broken face. And there's this edgy cocky little wop Sinatra always spoilin' for a fight, and then Monty who managed to radiate class and high standards even when he was pissing in the gutter." Sorry for the ethnic insult, but that's the exact quote.

Jones was quoted as saying, "He'd come crawling down the fire escape, agile as a monkey, and then swing into my room. He'd be brandishing a bottle of Scotch and a pot of espresso. First time I ever tasted that kinda coffee. I hated it, but I drank it 'cause Monty did...He was an odd man, but I felt a strange rapport with him while we were making the movie."

Bosworth writes, "Driving out of Los Angeles Jones talked sotto voce to Jeanne [Green; she and her husband Fred were Clift's close friends] about Monty, saying he found him strange and asking if he was a homosexual. Jeanne said, 'I got very prim and said I had no idea. With that Jones suddenly confided, "I would have had an affair with him but he never asked me." ' "

Given that many James Jones characters are sexual opportunists willing to make love to whoever happens to be at hand, it's not too surprising that James was, most likely, bisexual. Just one more reason for me to feel affinity for the late author.

I don't share his dislike of espresso, though.

Clift was not fond of Burt Lancaster, and called him a bad actor behind his back. (Jim Caviezel and Sean Penn, playing essentially the same characters in The Thin Red Line, did not get along particularly well either. Must be a Prewitt-Warden/Witt-Welsh thing.) He was upset that Lancaster got first billing. He didn't get along with Marlon Brando, either, and he thought James Dean was just "weird." Of course, Dean was a very conscious imitator of both Clift and Brando.

The role of Adam in East of Eden (the "good" brother, not the one James Dean played) is one that Clift turned down. He was also offered a part in a production of Fahrenheit 451; he could have made a really great Montag. (When I first read 451 in middle school, I imagined that Montag was really old - I was surprised when I re-reread it earlier this year that Montag was 30- younger than I am now!)

Incidentally, I made this one-minute video with Ava Gardner stills from The Killers today.

Ava Gardner was married to Frank Sinatra during the filming of From Here to Eternity. Bosworth wrote,   "[Sinatra] seemed obsessed with [Gardner] - she had left him, unable to cope with his rages and his entourage, which followed him everywhere.

"Once during the course of the filming he became so depressed by her rejection he threatened suicide. Monty talked him out of it."

I do not think it would be an ethnic insult - or a stretch - to say that Frank Sinatra was kind of a drama queen. A straight guy drama queen.  At least the way Patricia Bosworth tells it.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Coffee Talk (5 Questions From Natalie Blair) - Summer-to-Fall Transitions

1. It's finally (unofficially) fall! What are you looking forward to this year? 

a) Person of Interest season premiere, followed by the premiere-premiere of Elementary (the new Sherlock Holmes show with Lucy Liu as Watson)

b) My nieces' Halloween costumes - Eira says she's going to be a devil this year; not sure what Lydia's going to be

c) Breaking Dawn Pt. 2

d) Taking my mom out for steaks on her birthday (November 25)

2. What fall item is in your closet that you can't wait to pull out?

My unattractive-but-warm Granite City hoodie.

3. Since Halloween is the first holiday to celebrate, we all get treated with a horror movie marathon all month long ... what is your favorite scary movie to watch?

I don't really have a favorite - anything with vampires and/or witches. (Except Dark Shadows - ew.) For the past few years, I've watched Stigmata on Halloween. It's not really a Halloween movie, but it has some definite supernatural elements.

4. What is your favorite fall treat?

Pumpkin spice coffee.

5. Now that summer is finally over, what will you miss most about it?

The sun already being up when I wake up. I'm not a morning person, and it's that much harder to get up when it's pitch-black in the morning. 

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

More Bad Lit Puns Via Pinterest, and also, The Tumblie Thing I Wish I'd Written

The Bad Lit Puns

So there's this North Carolina girl named Jane Garrity on Pinterest, and she has this board called Nerdy Things. I had to follow it 'cause, you know, I'm a nerdy thing. There, I found these terribly nerdy pins.

When the pigs try to get at you...

(But remember, if you party with Jay Gatsby and you see George Wilson coming, duck.)

He's beautiful in his way, 'cause fin de siecle poet-playwrights make no mistakes. You're on the right track, Oscar - you were born this way.

This one isn't from Jane, but it's a multilingual pun, and that's even better than a single-language pun.

See, 'cause "leer" means "to read" in Spanish.

This Brilliant Tumblie Thing

You know what I wish I'd written? "POI Characters Compared to Greek Gods and Goddesses" by Liz, of the Tumblr blog [more adventurous]. You may notice that, in addition to being Irrelevant, Liz is also kinda obsessed with Jeremy Renner.

(You might also notice that I still haven't learned to stop stalking the shizz outta Tumblr, and especially The Dork Mistress. Seriously, I may have to break down and join just so I can tell the Tumblies how much I appreciate their stuff.)

I could have thought of this; I compared Twilight characters to classical Greek mythological archetypes. (I couldn't find the full article online anymore - it appears to have been published at a website that was subsequently deleted.) But I didn't think of this. Liz did. And it's awesome.

I don't want to steal Liz's thunder, so I'll just share this: Joss Carter is Athena, John Reese is Ares, and the machine is Zeus.

Roman statue of Ares, circa 320 BCE. Public domain image

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

That Time I Tried Out For Jeopardy!

Yesterday was my second in-person audition for the U.S. game show Jeopardy! I'd tried out before in 2004. To accomplish this, Tit Elingtin and I had to travel the short distance to Chicago, which we did by commuter train. I brought the New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy to read on the train (and was, therefore, stuck carrying this rather ponderous volume the rest of the trip).
We stayed at the same hotel where the tryouts took place, the Sheraton Hotel and Towers. It was ridiculously expensive and not even the nicest hotel we've ever stayed in. (Nicer that the Congress Plaza, though, and the Congress Plaza's pretty nice, with that fantastic view of Grant Park.) Most of Sunday night was devoted to studying, but we did some exploring, too. We went to a mall and ate at Coast Burger, then had a beer at a bar called Canteen (which used to be Grami). The bartender bought us each a shot of Jameson, so obviously, he is my new best friend. But that's all - one shot and one beer. Then, right back to studying.
Public domain
The next morning, after a cup of coffee that I still contend was brewed the night before and a breakfast at Subway - falafel. Whoever thought of selling falafel at Subway is a genius! It goes great with flatbread - I headed down to the morning audition. I passed the online test to get there, but they retested us in person. I can't tell you anything about any of the questions, but then I got to play the mock game with two other players. It's fun, but harder than it looks on TV. I think the interview went well. I hope I'll be getting my call to come out to LA soon. 

Then the pressure was off, and we could go play. We hopped on the subway and went to Wicker Park. This is the first time in many visits to Chicago that I've ever been to the Wicker Park neighborhood. I was intent on visiting Quimby's, the bookstore famed for its graphic novels, comics and zines. The problem was, there were TOO many comics and zines. I ended up not buying anything because I was so overwhelmed by all the choices. Sorry, Quimby's. Wicker Park wasn't a total waste of time, though: we ate at the Thai/Japanese restaurant next to the bookstore. I had the Chicago maki, and it was pretty good, even though the spicy mayo was a little too spicy for my personal taste. (Just a little too spicy, not a lot.) Tit had steamed chicken dumplings and miso soup - the best miso soup I ever tasted. 

When we got off the subway, it was time to make arrangements to get back on the commuter train out of town. We did have time for one more Michigan Avenue stop, though - the Fine Arts Building. We had a beer at The Artists' Restaurant, then went up the second floor in what, I'm sure, is the oldest elevator I've ever ridden. It even had an attendant. 
A Russian blue cat. Photo by Kabir Bakie, 2005. Creative Commons license. 
On the second floor is Selected Works, a used book store run by Keith Peterson and his bookstore cat. Keith is an author; his book is called, appropriately enough, The Body in the Bookstore Sink. I don't know if the big, blue bookstore cat (likely a Russian blue) had ever written a novel. 

My fascinating find at Selected Works was Ernest Hemingway and the Movies by Frank M. Lawrence. I couldn't resist it because it has a side-by-side comparison of Hemingway's short story "The Killers," the 1946 film and the 1963 remake (with Lee Marvin and Angie Dickinson in place of Burt Lancaster and Ava Gardner). 
Because, you know, I can't just watch a movie based on a book. I have to get obsessive and read more about it. If Keith had any nonfiction books on the subject of James Jones, I would have had to buy those, too. 

We took the time to look at and appreciate the turn-of-the-19th-century building - its murals on the highest floor, its terrazzo floors, its iron and brass railings. It used to be the showroom in which the Studebakers sold horse-drawn carriages before they took to making cars. Then we had to get back on the train. 

Freed from having to study for my audition, I was able to return to Patricia Bosworth's biography of Montgomery Clift on the train. It's a fascinating and disturbing read. Bosworth mentions (and, I think, kind of glosses over) Monty's arrest in New Orleans for allegedly soliciting "a young boy" for sex. Apparently, charges were never filed, so there's no evidence to say what, if anything, ever happened. In colloquial use, "a young boy" could mean anything from a very small child to a 17-year-old - and, depending on the state law of Louisiana at that time, a teenager might have been above the legal age of consent. Keep in mind, too, that it wasn't uncommon in the pre-GLBTQ civil rights days for police to arrest men just for being seen in public picking up other men, so it may have been a completely false charge initiated by a cop who just didn't like the way Monty walked or something. 
Public domain
On the other hand, people saw the 29-year-old Monty kissing Elizabeth Taylor when she was 17, and Judy Balaban (her father was the head of Paramount) said she dated Monty when she was 16 and he was in his 30s. Balaban never explicitly says that their relationship was sexual, but she does imply it, saying that one weekend, given the choice of whether to share a bed or stay in separate rooms, they choose to stay in the same bed. Again, 16 may have been legal at that time and place, but by modern standards we'd almost certainly consider that emotionally unhealthy behavior - and potentially abusive, because of the huge difference in experience between them. 

So again, I think Bosworth is glossing over some of the more problematic facts, but I also have to consider the context, the fact that this happened 50+ years ago and the fact that it may be too paternalistic of me to suggest that 16- and 17-year-old young women shouldn't claim the right to make their own sexual decisions. See also "Reviving the Runaways: Who Should Rule When Law, Psychology and Teenage Hormones Collide?" 

The not-problematic part I learned was that Monty and James Jones met at a party, at which Jones personally hand-picked Monty to play Prewitt in From Here to Eternity. Monty studied Jones' mannerisms, and Jones was found of telling people that Monty's performance as Prewitt was, in a sense, an impression of Jones himself. 

Today I received a royalty check for a reprint of an article I'd forgotten I'd even submitted to a small regional magazine. I used it to purchase the Season One boxed set of Person of Interest. Triumph! Every time I get a double-digit royalty check, I feel like I'm Ernest Hemingway. 

Sunday, September 9, 2012

SOC Sunday: Fill in the Blanks About Me

This week's prompt for the 5-minute free write is "I am..." (fill in the blank). I'm kinda cheating and using Jana's structure, filling in my own answers.

I am Erin.
I’m a wife, a daughter, a sister, an aunt and a great-aunt.
I’m naturally quite anxious, but thanks to my PMS meds, it’s pretty hard to get me upset these days.
I’m just like my mother, but nothing at all like my brother.
I’m a cat person. My cat’s name is James, and I sing to him. 
I hate running. I walk instead.
I take a while to get to know, but once I get to know you, I’ve very loyal.
I need my thinking time. I need to just stare off into space and imagine sometimes.
I’m a writer, a reader and a big ol’ book nerd. 

Friday, September 7, 2012

Watch This: The Heiress (Washington Square)

Since I'm not back to reading for fun yet, my latest media conquest is The Heiress, the Oscar-winning 1949 film starring Olivia de Havilland and my dead boyfriend Montgomery Clift. (You know the story: The Thin Red Line triggers my "love American literature" reflex, I read-then-watch From Here to Eternity, Prew looks incredibly hot and tragic = obsessed.) The original source material for the story is Henry James' novel Washington Square.

I didn't read it; the Henry James novel (novella, really) I read in 11th grade was Daisy Miller. Daisy travels to Europe, goes out without a chaperone as a young European lady would have, gets bitten by a mosquito and dies of a subtropical fever - her punishment for not conforming to European social mores.

Olivia de Havilland stars as Catherine Sloper, a woman who lives with her aging father, who is a doctor, and her father's widowed sister. You may remember de Havilland as Melanie in Gone With the Wind.
She's really a strikingly beautiful woman, so the costuming and makeup in The Heiress have to downplay her looks, since Catherine is supposed to be rather plain and unexceptional. And yes, she is still alive - she turned 96 in July.

Catherine, the heiress, is courted by a genteel-but-penniless-but-incredibly-attractive suitor, Morris Townsend. Unable to win her father's support, Morris abandons Catherine when she offers to give up her fortune to be with him. After this heartbreaking experience, Catherine becomes wiser and stronger; when Morris comes back, she agrees to marry him, then leaves him bolted outside the door of her Washington Square home.

Said gorgeous young gold digger is played by Montgomery Clift.

His smile - I die. Catherine has so much more restraint than I do - I would've been out of my corset faster than Morris could say, "Catherine, will you marry me?" Yeah, I would've made a lousy Victorian. (Technically, although the book was published in the 1880s - the Victorian era - the setting was in the 1840s.) If I were a Henry James heroine, James would've given me a horrible subtropical disease and killed me.

I wonder if the Slopers are the ancestors of the New York society girl who gave Robert E. Lee Prewitt gonorrhea, the "personal reason" for which he can't get promoted at Arlington National Cemetery and must transfer to Hawaii. (She didn't do it on purpose.)

A more modern film version of Washington Square, named after the book, came out in 1997 and starred Jennifer Jason Leigh as Catherine and Ben Chaplin as Morris. The English actor Ben Chaplin played John Bell in The Thin Red Line in 1998.

When I think of Washington Square, the place, I think of the Joan Baez song "Diamonds and Rust," which at one time I was able to play on my guitar. Some of the lyrics are:

"Now I see you standing with brown leaves falling all around and snow in your hair
Now you're smiling out the window of that crummy hotel over Washington Square
Our breath comes out in white clouds, mingles and hangs in the air
Speaking strictly for me, we both could have died then and there."

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

OHP! My Favorite Quotes on Labor Day vacation this week, but will return to its regularly scheduled programming next Monday. In the meantime, let's link up with The Vintage Apple for Oh, How Pinteresting!

Have I ever mentioned that if I had to stranded on a desert island with just one book, I would want that book to be Wuthering Heights?

This is such great advice.

My fellow Hoosier learned this sentiment from his father and uncle. A wise family, those Vonneguts.

Another wise one is that Lemony Snicket.

Sorry, hubby, but this is so true. I would marry the shizz outta Bob Witt, Matthew Clairmont, vampire Bill Compton, Finnick Odair...

Nobody ever suspects the butterfly.

Thank Goddess.

I leave you with the words of John Waters. This is just one of the many reasons why I adore him.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

POI Season One release, Happy B-Day Beyonce, and the best videos you can't see on YouTube

Guess what today is? Yep, the day the Person of Interest season 1 DVD set comes out. BUT I won't be getting it today. Next week, hopefully.

Now we just have to make it 23 more days for the Season 2 premiere. I'll no longer have to sit around thinking, "Oh my god, what is that bitch Root doing to Finch right now?!" I know what I'd be doing to Finch, but that's a whole other story.

Today is also Beyonce's birthday. Happy 31st, Beyonce Giselle Knowles Carter. These are some of my favorite Beyonce videos, all in one convenient playlist.

It's a crime against art that the official music video of "Ring the Alarm" is not posted on YouTube. The other awesome official video you won't see on YouTube, also a crime against art, is "Buddy X" by Neneh Cherry, which she wrote about Lenny Kravitz long before he was our beloved Cinna.

Taraji P. Henson may or may not be a fan of Beyonce; I don't know. What we do know is that she's a fan of Lady Gaga, and a little starstruck by her.

That explains this.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

SOC Sunday: Wouldn't It Be Awesome If...

Today's Stream of Consciousness (SOC) Sunday theme is, "Wouldn't it be awesome if..."

...we could get paid to clean the house, take naps and read our favorite books?

...especially to read our favorite books?

...True Blood season was longer than 12 weeks a year? Jeopardy! audition was already over so I could go back to reading for fun instead of memorizing the U.S. presidents in order?

...the dishes would wash themselves and put themselves away? made us lose weight?

...Batman was real?

...all of the boots I pinned on Pinterest would get in my closet? were free? Notre Dame's football team was in Dublin yesterday (defeating Navy 50-10 in their season opener), and oh, how I wish I were there with them. Not because I love football so much (it's one of my least favorite sports, actually), but because I want to go to Dublin.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

These Classic Books - Love Them or Hate Them?

I stumbled upon a book-related blog hop yesterday...

...and naturally, I have opinions about books. Two of the bloggers read classics. Abbey at Finding My Forever read The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald.

I like this book, but it's not one of my all-time favorites. What's your opinion of Gatsby - love it or hate it?

Will you see the new movie, with Leo DiCaprio, when it comes out? I'm sure I will, eventually. I love Leo, but it's going to be awfully hard for him to out-Gatsby Robert Redford.

Belle at The Life and Times of Belle tackled Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell.

GWTW is an intimidatingly large book, which I'm sure turns some people off from reading it. It's also problematic because of the characters' racism, which is nauseating (but true to the time period in which the story takes place). Still, I contend this book is very definitely worth reading. It's a great story. Love it or hate it?

You should also, definitely, watch the movie, even though (like From Here to Eternity) it leaves out quite a bit of plot and characters. If you've only ever seen the movie, you don't know that Charles and Scarlett had a son.

Clark Gable aside: I happened to watch Public Enemies yesterday (because Christian Bale), and this time I noted a) that I don't like it when Christian Bale shoots Channing Tatum - I don't care if he is Pretty Boy Floyd; b) Emilie de Ravin of Lost and Remember Me has a small role; and c) the movie which John Dillinger is leaving when killed is Manhattan Melodrama, starring Clark Gable and Myrna Loy. You'll get to see a few moments of it - along with Johnny Depp reacting to the gangster story - as you watch Public Enemies.

I'm pro-Gatsby and pro-GWTW, but I can't quite decide whether or not to like the music of Azealia Banks. "Liquorice" gets stuck in my head, but I'm not sure whether to applaud the bold sexuality in it or frown on the artist for (in this song) aspiring to be nothing more than a male fantasy - or both.

On the one hand, the word-picture she's painting is like that of the women Amy Winehouse mocks in "Fuck Me Pumps." On the other hand, who am I to judge? as argued by Salt N Pepa in "None of Your Business." Adults are free to make their own sexual choices among other consenting adults.

Plus, you can dance to "Liquorice." Azealia Banks - love her music or hate her music?