Saturday, October 31, 2009

It's The Mooooost Wonderful Time Of The Year!

True that Flower!

Today is my favorite holiday of the year! It's put your clock back an hour night. I love this! Thanksgiving? Nice. Christmas? Nice. Put the clock back night? Super-duper a la Peter T. Hooper nice!

Tonight we will gain an hour. I will go to sleep at midnight and before I wake up I'll have slept through a whole other midnight.  Yipee. It's magical. Magical and we-are-the-world-building. It's something we all do together. The people who don't like it (And to them I say, what in the Sam Hill??? Do you not love puppies too?) and people who do love it coming together to be the same time for another 6 months. It kind of warms your heart, doesn't it Flower? Mine too.

This holiday is all about that extra sleep for me. I feel those 60 minutes all day long like perfect strand of pearls around my neck. Maybe I'll vacuum today and actually move things to vacuum underneath? Sure. I have that free bonus hour coming up. I got the time. Rearrange the pots and pans cabinet so that it's easy to get the one I want? No way. Not if I had 8 extra hours. That is just too much damn work. Put away the dishes in the drain board? You betcha. I got that hour coming.

Plus no gifts to buy for this most perfect holiday my friend. Although if you did go that little blue box route I promise I'll love it. No cooking for hours to feed the whole family. Although... yeah I'm not promising that. I'm a little bit of a picky-pants eater and I probably don't want to hang out with your family. No offence.

It's an even happier than usual me today. This is my High Holy Day. My Mardi Gras. My Ever Loving Ground Hog Day.

Ready for bed,

Saturday, October 24, 2009

What the Frock?

Good Morning Flower!

I am so in love with my own mad skilz today. I have been basking in this love for the last 11+ hours and I don't know where it will end.

Last night I was watching Turner Classic Movies on my beloved TV. I was very eager to see the movie Dragonwyck . I had not seen in it in at least 21.6 years but I had retained fond memeories of that film. I remembered liking it a lot as a kid.

Dragonwick started out as a bestselling novel by popular novelist Anya Seton and became a hit movie in 1946 starring Gene Tierney, Walter Huston, Anne Revere and Spring Byington. It's a gothic story set in the beautiful Hudson Valley in the mid 1800's. A young farmer's daughter goes to live with a married wealthy cousin, a Patroon , on his estate as a companion to his young daughter. Jane Eyre anyone? The Jane Eyre-ness of it combines with Rebecca and you are very entertained.

Was it as good as I remembered? Yes. It's not perfect. There are a couple moments in the movie that are disjointed and one character in the movie disappears and you wonder why. However it is well made, the actors are all excellent, the music is lovely, the settings are make-you-wish-you-were-thers-able and it is very entertaining.

The real reason I'm telling you about Dragonwyck, Flower? The tie-in between the movie and my skills? While I was watching the movie what to my wandering eyes should appear? Gene wearing the same dress that  Joan Fontaine wore in  Jane Eyre .

Here is a playing way against type as a creepy housekeeper, Spring Byington on the left and Gene on the right:

Here is Joan Fontaine being as 'poor, plain and obscure' as she possibly can.  See??? There is no denying that dress!

I've watched that 1944 version of Jane Eyre many, many times so if I didn't recognize that dress it would have been shocking. Still I am beside myself that I actually noticed it. I was deee-lighted with me. I was also surprised that the dress was used again after having been used less than 2 years before, but mostly I was impressed with me and my skilz. Too bad no one will care. True. I told A. and she said, "That's great Happy. Now if you can also make your bed today I'll be super proud of you."

Too late. I'm proud of me already!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Paragraph 3 "Tainted Love" Is Piped In

Flower, my friend.

~~sigh~~ I love TV. I've spent enough time around snobby people in my life to feel like this is a confession. Too bad. TV is awesome. If someone with surgical powers asked me if I'd rather have both kidneys or TV, I would be minus one kidney. Hells bells, I'd give up a sibling before I gave up cable.

I do like some things more than others on TV but I will watch almost anything. I cannot watch golf or award shows though. Life is too short for that. I also like TV as background. TV while I knit, cook, maybe even blog. What's more stress relieving than "Top Cat" meandering around the room while you, a non-cook, have to make dinner for 10? I'm not going to get that kind of emotional help from the radio or a friend.

So where is the criticism? You know there's going to be one, Flower.

Here it is. Why isn't the music staying in the background? You are watching a drama and at some special moment in comes music. Not only music but a song, a song sung. Sometimes the musical moment arrives during the build up, sometimes the climax, sometimes the denouement, but it's there. Dialog has ceased, a song begins and shots of doctors with their head in their hands or doctors next to a patient covered with tubes or doctors doing their work and looking at one another longingly. And. This devise isn't restricted to Dr Drama. No. Often times it's lawyers, parents, classmates or the guy who owns the pet shop who are having their important music moment.

Can I tell you honestly what I think of this? It's cheap. Write some dialog Scriptwriter that will express whatever poignant, sentimental, frustrating, loving emotion needed at that place in the plot. OK? And Director?? The same goes for you, Lazy. Stop using the indulgent overlay of overwrought pop noise to get your point across. It's been done to death. Drop the Drama 101 template and get an idea of your own.

Don't take my love away!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Victory Is Mine!


This is the day! I have scored a victory for all mankind. It's true. I found a sock previously thought to have been eaten by the washer. Before the adulation starts and product endorsements start to roll in let me tell you the whole fascinating story. Put your flashback shoes on... we're going in!

On a black day two years ago I lost a sock in the wash. It was a black sock. Winter weight. I liked that pair of socks. They were toasty. I had never lost a sock before. I just don't lose things. True. It doesn't happen. Maybe I took the loss harder than I should of for that reason, but I have to say the loss of that sock embittered me.

I kept the now pairless sock. It was a futile gesture to hope but I kept it anyway. I moved on, but I never forgot. Evey once in a while over the past two years I would come across the widow sock and sigh. Some times I would wonder if I should throw it away, but I never did. Thus the years whiled away.

Until!!! Yes until today! I found the missing sock. Oh happy day. That pair of socks is no longer lost to me. I was looking through dresser drawers for anything I hadn't worn lately and wasn't likely to wear to donate to charity. Well my goodness was rewarded. There underneath a gray turtleneck was...the sock! How I smiled. Delight washed over me like chocolate over the creamy mint of a York Peppermint Patty.

Have I solved the riddle of the missing sock? The sock that so many of us assume the washer ate? Am I the sock Darwin of my age? I'd like to think that all of the missing socks of the world are really just relaxing with a T-shirt or chilling with the bottoms of your flannel jammies। They aren't lost. They are vacationing.

Ready to have an elementary school names after me,


P.S. the photo is from The Morgue File and was taken by gregparis

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

The Children's Book

Hello Flower!

I have finally read "The Children's Book". I think I told you that my friend S sent it to me months ago. I had decided to save it. I wanted to look at it for a while, walk by it now and again and enjoy the delight in having it before I read it. Doesn't it have a gorgeous cover?

"The Children's Book" is a thick, meaty, treasure trove of a novel. Every turn of a page involves the reader in ideas, plot, emotions, knowledge and sparkling writing. In blurb vernacular it's brilliant, a page turner, un-put-down-able, stunning, complex and my favorite--multi-layered.

The book takes place in England between 1895 and 1919. It criss-crosses Europe following the family fortunes of the Wellwoods, the Cains and the Fludds and a host of vibrant subsidiary characters. Olive Wellwood is the center of this world. She is a writer of fairy tales for children. Olive was a kid from the wrong side of the tracks who after a marriage above her station restyled her herself into a flowing, forward thinking, magazine layout ready Mother of 6 whose Bohemian glamour oozes out seduction and a nurturing spirit. She rules her world without maintaining any intimacy with it. Every moment is literary fodder for Olive. She plumbs the lives of her children for her fairy stories.

Olive and the other adults talk the talk of the Fabians, judge their intellectual superiority by their superficial associations with anarchists and performers and abuse their children in the name of art and free thinking all the while living in servant filled luxury or having the spinster sister schooling the children or waiting for the vicar and charity of others to clothe and feed their families. These Edwardian parents have left their familial responsibilities to others as they prattel on about the changing the world in a ceaseless effort to insure their self importance.

There are leagues of characters here whose lives are constantly intersecting and changing the landscape. As the children mature secret paternity's, horrors and how the world really works are reveled to them. They flee from the jails of their parents into the horror beyond measure of WWI. Although "The Children's Book" is a dark story overall, there is a feeling at the close of the novel when some of the surviving characters are mourning all that has been lost that here now is a substantial and committed group ready to try and remake their futures.

Throughout the book Byatt has wedged in as much historical information as the story will hold. There is an explanation of everything from the founding of the Victoria and Albert Museum to the preenings of the British and German monarchies to how to get a medical degree in 1904. This isn't the usual historical fiction nod to the price of nails in 1675 or a description of the style of dress in 1851 in order to quickly set time and place. The knowledge that Byatt spreads forth from beginning to end in this novel establishes the mindsets of the characters, the social background of their choices and the realities of the plot line. It is all completely integrated into the story and it is as much responsible for the success of the novel as the fictional attributes are.

"The Children's Book" is an outstanding novel of ideas and people. I honestly adored each and every page of it. This is a book that all aspiring writers should read so that they will know what they are aspiring to create. When I finished reading this book I was full.

Sated and Happy

I Couldn't Be More Proud!

Flower, the time has come!

The votes are counted and the announcement has been made. ~~~drum roll~~~~ The winner of this years Man Booker Prize, a great humanitarian and one heck of a great gal~~~ta da~~ Hilary Mantel!!!!

I could not be more pleased. I have deep unrequited love for Hilary. She is a brilliant writer, "Wolf Hall" could not be a better book and I discovered her. Well, I like to think I discovered her. I started reading her when "Flood" (still one of my favorite novels) came out in 1989 and I was able to hand sell tons of it in my bookstore. This of course lead to bringing in her backlist and much excitement whenever a new novel of her's appeared. I am sure that her publisher had no other stores that were ordering and reordering her books in carton quantities.

The lovely thing about prizes is that they bring new readers to authors all across the globe. They have a much further reach than my Recommends Cards ever will. Not that Hilary's only audience has been in my small universe. No, she has been a big seller in England for years. Now England and I can sit back, relax and watch readers flock to my girl Hilary. And her U.S. publisher, who has never promoted her, will congratulate themselves on having been behind her for years.

I had the good luck, great pleasure and honor to meet Hilary Mantel 4 years ago. She was speaking in London and a dear friend of mine, S, who lives over there sent me a plane ticket to come hear her. Her talk was as wonderful as her writings. After the lecture was over S took me to a wine and cheese chat to actually meet Hilary! I was so deliriously happy and so nervous. It was an unforgettable moment for me. She talked to me me while I babbled for about 5 minutes. What a treasured memory. Thanks again S!

You will not be disappointed no matter what book you pick to try first. All of her novels, historical and contemporary, deal with the isolation of the individual in some way. Hilary writes with an eye for detail and a compassion for her characters that sets her apart from other contemporary novelists. She has the amazing ability to let you discover for yourself the inner lives of her characters.

My favorites in no particular order:

Flood. A mysterious stranger brings odd choices to a Irish Catholic neighborhood. There is a scene in there where the spinster housekeeper is making wedding bands for her self out of snack food wrappers that has never left me.

A Place of Greater Safety. The best novel EVER about the French Revolution. It follows Danton, Robespierre, Desmoulins and their families from childhood through the early days of the revolution

An Experiment in Love. Hilary takes the hairy old plot of Sally, Irene and Mary and makes a terrific novel out of it. It's women's lives thwarted, successful, happy and unhappy in 1970's and 80's London.

Giving Up The Ghost. A fascinating and angering memoir of her early years. You aren't going to read trauma after trauma but rather a study of a dreams verses reality that is very moving.

Beyond Black. Popular medium Alison Hart travels from show to show with her dead friends always on the verge of somehow becoming one of them. The stealthy creepiness of Alison's life and life experiences are written about with a subtlety that will not cease to impress you.

Wolf Hall. Man Booker Winner!!!