Angels and demons

Oct. 25th, 2014 11:17 am
masqthephlsphr: (btvs)
[personal profile] masqthephlsphr
Not so sure about Constantine. Not big on TV shows too closely based around the Judeo-Christian mythos. Hence my giving up on Sleepy Hollow. They're just a little too close for comfort. And anyway, spoilers )

ETA: The 100, otoh, has managed to reinvent itself, and so gets a reprieve.
selenak: (Young Elizabeth by Misbegotten)
[personal profile] selenak
The latest entry in the Shardlake series, and one which could very well as a finale, were it not for the fact the ending makes me conclude Sansom will continue the series, which started with Dissolution.

Back then, the series hero, lawyer Matthew Shardlake, had been an eager Protestant and agent for Thomas Cromwell, and the time the novel was set were the months after Anne Boleyn's execution. The novel also was a pretty straightforward whodunit. By the time Lamentation comes along, we're in the last year of Henry VIII.'s life, Matthew Shardlake has been thoroughly disillusioned with both sides of the religious divide, the series gathered a vivid supporting part, and though there are two murders in Lamentation, their solution in both cases is just a minor subplot, while the main plot is more or less following the rules of the spy thriller. I.e. a McGuffin has been stolen, Shardlake must find out how, why, by whom, and who has it (and then either get it back of destroy it). Since the McGuffin in question is Catherine Parr's book Lamentation of a Sinner, the danger it poses is for the Queen to be seen as disloyal and heretic by her husband, Henry (who decides what's heretic and what's not in the new faith on a how-I-feel-at-the-moment basis), one of the not inconsiderable feats Sansom pulls off is to make this suspenseful even though readers with a cursory knowledge of the Tudor period know this is not how Catherine Parr will meet her maker, that on the contrary, she'll survive Henry.

Partly, he does it through the fact while Catherine is protected by history, Matthew Shardlake and his friends are not. The danger being involved with politics poses has been a constant theme through all the Shardlake novels, and he's had some close calls, but always was saved, as were his friends. This time, however, there really is a price paid for the fact Shardlake agrees to help the Queen, whom he's nursed a crush on for two novels now. Partly, it's because Sansom is a good writer, especially great in bringing home the paranoia rampant in Henry's England, where with the ever switching dominance between Traditionalists and Reformers you can find yourself denounced as a Papist or Heretic at any given moment. He also highlights aspects overlooked in much historical fiction set in the Tudor era - how Henry's French wars literally bankrupted the country, and the contrast between the increasing number of beggars in London and the growing palace of Whitehall is glaring. And he makes the catastrophes more than set pieces; living through the sinking of the Mary Rose in the last novel left Shardlake with an ongoing trauma. The burning of Anne Askew, which opens the novel, is reflected upon and remembered throughout.

But if you don't care about the characters, this doesn't matter, and Sansom has become good in making this reader care. (I say "has become" because in Dissolution, he wasn't quite there yet with part of them, and to me the first novel where he really hit his stride was Sovereign.) They also aren't subjected to unrelenting misery. The bullied servant girl Josephine is now happy and doing well, so are Jack Barak and Tamasin, and MYSTERY CHARACTER WHOSE EXISTENCE WOULD BE A SPOILER FOR THE NOVEL HEARTSTONE, whose further fate I was very curious about after that novel, is off stage due to being on the continent but still present in Shardlake's life and corresponding with him regularly. Shardlake's friend Guy (ex monk, doctor and apothocary), whom I missed in the last novel, is very present again in this book. Long time antagonists/villains from the entire series start to have fate catch up with them: Knealnap the sellout, Richard Rich (Shardlake's eternal arch nemesis), but most of all: the King himself.

Sansom kept Henry, as far as personal appearances go, off stage for most of the books, with the memorable exception of Sovereign where Matthew Shardlake meets him in person for the first time (and an awful experience it is, too). But every one of Shardlake's temporary patrons (Cromwell, Crammer, Catherine Parr) and foes (the Duke of Norfolk, Richard Rich) depends on Henry for power and survival. And Henry, of course, is the origin of all that paranoia, of the poverty. (And he's the one who also enabled reforms when it served his aims, the novels don't forget that, either.) So it's inevitable that in this novel, where things come full circle, Henry is an important factor. Still more often than not offstage. But much talked about. He's also an example of what I'd call the deep humanity of the Shardlake novels. The first time Matthew Shardlake spots him in this novel, a grotesque mass of fat and ulcers barely able to move without help, he's not only aware of Henry's physical decay but also of the fact the man must be in constant physical pain. Now Shardlake fears and at times hates the King (for both general and personal reasons), and the narrative agrees with him on Henry's culpability and monstrosity. But he also is able to see, and acknowledge, what that life in constant physical torment must mean for Henry (for any man, but especially one who once prided himself on his athleticism), and the courage those few public appearances must take where he's walking. Just as he sees what cancer does to a fictional minor foe of his, or how a very dislikable client has her own tragedy instead of being an inexplicable harridan. What I'm getting at: even the boo-hiss villains aren't caricatures. They're responsible for their crimes, and the narrative doesn't excuse them, but it also acknowledges their humanity.

(Well, other than Thomas Seymour, who so far is simply a boo-hiss idiot with good looks and cruel "jests", but hey, Shardlake is aware that the Queen loves him, and both he and his author think she could do so much better.)

There are a great many new characters introduced in this novel, both fictional and historical: most importantly a fellow lawyer whom Shardlake takes a liking to, Philip Coswelyn, another up and coming lawyer named William Cecil (the fact young Cecil plays a fairly prominent part in this book is one of the reasons why I don't think Sansom will end the series here), Mary Tudor (Shardlake met Elizabeth already in Heartstone and briefly meets her here again at her stepmother's) and her fool Jane, Shardlake's new pupil Nicholas (who gets a crash course in the art of detecting and surviving during the novel), William Paget, currently Henry's go to minister. But I never had the impression Sansom is overdoing it, I felt it was possible to keep a good overview.

Nitpicks: most of the novels have Shardlake simultanously solving a political case dumped on him by a powerful person and one that's due to a client he chooses to represent. Lamentation varies this in that he takes on the political case (which is the main one) due to his feelings for the Queen and tries to get rid of the client who ends up firing him first and then proceeding his life more miserable, but whose backstory mystery he eventually solves. The problem here is that her backstory mystery is glaringly obvious and consequently those passages drag a bit, though they do serve to introduce and then let Shardlake befriend the very likeable Philip Coswelyn.

Otoh: there is a great twist/ZOMG moment when Shardlake finds out who actually has the manuscript. Which I wouldn't want to spoil. It's a revelation in two steps - the first one makes you think, oh, that's lame, and then it turns out it isn't really SPOILER but SPOILER, which results in a fantastic scene. So what I'd call the spy novel plot does pay off.

Trivia: Sansom makes great use of some actually existing portraits from the era. Must reexamine the "Henry VIII. and his family" one with this in mind.

In conclusion: a good novel, but not one for readers unfamiliar with the (fictional) characters. As I said, it brings a lot of things full circle, and you need to have followed Shardlake & Co. until then.

Rather disappointing meal

Oct. 25th, 2014 05:39 pm
oursin: A globe artichoke (artichoke)
[personal profile] oursin

We thought we would go to one really upmarket eatery in Munich, and even having eliminated the ones that even by London standards were horrendously pricey, it still turned out to be Quite Expensive, especially given that the food was really Not All That.

It did do a lot of the fine dining ritual.

However, I didn't feel that winter vegetable salad, even with wee baby veggies, had anything much to say to the artichoke bottom in my starter.

I did feel that if you make a big deal about serving the salt-baked sea bass two different ways, they should be a bit more distinguishable, even contrasty, than than they were. (Plus, grouch, I think if you say, for 2, eurosxx, one does not anticipate that that is per person rather than for the dish.)

Were I to be feeling kind I might say they were deploying an extremely subtle palette of flavour. Or I might just say it was all rather on the bland side.

The bread was very good but I thought it rather odd to set butter-knives but then just supply a selection of olive oils and fancy salts for dipping.

In supposedly ruinously expensive London I have spent less for better nosh.

More Links Than A Bag Of Sausages

Oct. 25th, 2014 03:52 am
petzipellepingo: (more links by eyesthatslay)
[personal profile] petzipellepingo
The Other Half , Spike/Buffy by [personal profile] rebcake.

A Final Time for Everything , Not Like an Egyptian , Belles , Spike/Buffy by [personal profile] gillo.

Rising Seas , Three Hundred Sixty Five , Spike/Buffy by [profile] thisficklemob.

Pre-Loading , Pen Portrait , Mapwork , Words in the Heart , Spike/Buffy by [profile] brutti_ma_buoni.

Cryptic Thinking , Things Buried , Grave Thoughts , The Weary and the Wicked , Housed , Spike/Buffy by [personal profile] drizzlydaze.

Days That are to Come , Quietly , Spike/Buffy by [profile] foxstarreh.

Memories and Effulgent , Spike/Buffy by [personal profile] comlodge.

Heat Pack , Dispensation , Spike/Buffy by [personal profile] spuffy_luvr.

Pokerface , BtVS/Hunger Games crossover by [profile] kwritten.

EW re-watches Harsh Light of Day .

Tenplay talks to SMG. Interview links: The Project on 24 October (skip to 30:00), Sunrise (23 October), Kyle & Jackie O Show (23 October) & Rescu (22 October).
selenak: (Berowne by Cheesygirl)
[personal profile] selenak
While preparing another book review, I got sidetracked by musings which have nothing whatsoever to do with the novel in question or its plot, so they get their own entries. To wit: the differences in pop cuture memory/reputation/novelistic and tv use of two guys who were, at different times, Henry VIII.s brothers-in-law. In one corner we have Charles Brandon, later first Duke of Suffolk. Best remembered for marrying Henry's sister Mary (and getting away with it) after her brief stint as Queen of France, and for being the closest thing Henry had to a life long best buddy. Charles as far as I could see usually ends up as a romantic hero in Tudor era fiction.

In the other corner we have Thomas Seymour, brother of Jane (aka wife No.3 to Henry), married to Catherine Parr (Henry's widow, wife No.6 ), and probably best remembered for how he ended (messing with teenage Elizabeth, losing his head). While there have been attempts to turn Thomas Seymour into a romantic hero as well (Young Bess comes to mind, the film version of which starred Jean Simmons as Elizabeth, Deborah Kerr as Katherine Parr and Stewart Granger as Tom Seymour) by interpreting him as a man who can't help loving two women,these are rare, especially in recent years. His image both in biographies and pop culture these days is rather dark. At best, he's a a none too bright playboy who's just too sexy for his and everyone else's good (Susannah Dunn in both The Sixth Wife and The May Bride); at worst, he's an ambitious ruthless sexual abuser (with Elizabeth) and faithfless ambitious cad (with Katherine) who ruined Katherine Parr's well deserved happy ending against the odds, broke her heart and sent her to an early grave (Patricia Finney comes to mind).

Now here's what interests me: if you look at Charles Brandon's marital history, he comes across as easily one of the most ruthless go getters at Henry's court. There was:

1.) Anne Browne; Charles was engaged to her, which was binding, and it wasn't a platonic engagement, either, as it produced a daughter. However, she also had a very rich aunt. So.

2.) Margaret Neville. The aunt. Yes, one of those Nevilles, niece to the Kingmaker. Charles temporarily ditched Anne and married her. This did not make the Browne family happy, who went to court. Ultimately they won, the Neville marriage was dissolved, and Charles married Anne officially. They had another daughter, and then Anne died. Then there almost was:

3.) Elizabeth Grey, eight years old orphan and heiress of Lord Lisle. Also Charles' ward. (Buying wardships was immensely profitable in Tudor times and beyond.) (Keep the ward thing in mind, this isn't the last time this will happen.) Charles became engaged to her, at which point his good friend Henry VIII. transferred the title of Viscount Lisle to him. However, Elizabeth upon reaching the age where she could become legally married (which if I recall correctly in this era was 13) refused to marry Charles (good for her). (She later married Henry Courtenay.) Charles kept the title, though.

4.) And then there was Mary Tudor. Who got married by her brother to old Louis XII of France which she agreed to under the condition that she could pick her next husband by herself. At this point, she was already in love with Charles, who duly showed up as soon as Louis bit the dust. They had to pay fines to Henry (and Mary's entire dowery that she'd been given when marrying Louis), but otherwise, as mentioned, they got away with it. There were four children, two sons - who died young, more about one in a moment - and two daughters. Then Mary died. Which brings us to:

5.) Catherine Willoughby. This young girl would turn out to be one of the most colourful women of the Tudor era. Her mother had been Spanish, Maria de Salinas, Katherine of Aragon's best friend, but Catherine her daughter would turn into a fierce reformer who'd even go into exile when "Bloody" Mary Tudor came on the throne. But back to her youth. Catherine, a very rich heiress, was Charles' ward, grew up in his household with him and Mary as parent figures, and it was planned that she should marry his son Henry. Then, as soon as Charles was a widower again, either because young Henry was already sickly or simply because he wanted more direct access to the cash, Charles married Catherine himself. She was 13 or 14 (I've found both ages given), he was 49. The marriage seems to have been harmonious; at least, no scandal is known, and it resulted in two sons. (Catherine's previous intended having died in the first year of her marriage to his father, her oldest son was also called Henry.) Catherine survived Charles and would go on as the formidable Duchess of Suffolk.

Meanwhile, Thomas Seymour, despite his image as Tudor playboy extraordinaire (he's usually written as the Don Juan in contrast to his brother Edward who gets written as a prig), actually seems to have had no scandals with women attached to his name until he hit the big time. He wasn't married until then, either, which is interesting, because as the late Queen Jane's brother, he certainly should have had plenty of opportunities for profitable matches. Mind you, not that he wasn't also a go getter. No matter how much or little in love with Katherine Parr he was, when Henry showed interest he was prudent (and survival-oriented) enough to step back. And when Henry died, he first tried to marry either of Henry's daughters, Mary or Elizabeth, before proposing to Katherine. (This princess marrying idea was immediately rejected by his brother Edward the Lord Protector, not surprisingly.) He even indulged in the lucrative ward trade, getting young Lady Jane Grey (Charles Brandon's granddaughter, btw) as his ward, with an eye of arranging a marriage to her cousin, his nephw Edward the boy king later on. And whatever went down between him and Elizabeth, he certainly, at the very least, risked her reputation by overly familiar horseplay (waking her up in bed by tickling her, cutting her dress to bits while his wife the queen was holding her) before his wife died when as her stepfather he should have guarded it, and his scheme to marry her when he was a widower behind the council's back could have easily resulted into her dying with him if Elizabeth hadn't shown her survival skills for the first time.

But my point is: anything Thomas Seymour did, Charles Brandon did as well. Charles simply did it more efficiently, and hence died in bed in full possession of all he gained, in an age where most people close to Henry VIII didn't, with Henry even insisting Charles should be buried at Windsor in St. George's chapel (so they'd be together after death). Meanwhile, the nicest thing anything could find to say about Thomas Seymour was Sir Nicholas Throckmorton who described him as "hardy, wise and liberal, fierce in courage, courtly in fashion, in personage stately, in voice magnificent, but somewhat empty of matter", though young Elizabeth's "today died a man of much wit and very little judgment" comment is better remembered. In other words, the guy lacked smarts, which certainly could be lethal in the Tudor age. But as to morals, I see no difference.

Here comes tr(o)ub(e)l(e)....

Oct. 24th, 2014 11:17 am
masqthephlsphr: (trubel)
[personal profile] masqthephlsphr
(1) Had my first PT session for my neck/shoulders this AM. I was at the therapist for about an hour and a half between early arrival, paperwork, interview with the therapist, and actual therapy. Therapist did heat therapy and a massage, which was great, but also pressure point testing to find tender spots ("Ouch, there's one!") and of course taught me some "exercises to do at home" which while good for the shoulders/neck, did not make my back happy.

(2) New Grimm season starts tonight! There is something not to be grim about.

(3) I wrote another short story, 2,974 words. Class busy-ness makes me insane, but... story!

Gidget goes Bavarian?

Oct. 24th, 2014 05:13 pm
oursin: Brush the Wandering Hedgehog by the fire (Default)
[personal profile] oursin

Much of today has been about (mostly) C19th-early C20th German art - Neue Pinokoteck, the Schack Collection, the Stuck House.

On an entirely different note, during our perambulations we crossed a bridge over a waterway which was (not sure of reason) producing a tract of wave-type manifestations, and people were surfing on it - at least, one guy in a wetsuit was shooting the curl until the eventual wipeout, and a young woman similarly clad was standing on the edge with her surfboard.

beer_good_foamy: (Questionable Content)
[personal profile] beer_good_foamy
Here's another fic I started a while back, and was inspired to finish by [livejournal.com profile] red_satin_doll's recent post on the HIMYM finale. Yes, I'm still bitter. But in the spirit of lemons into lemonade, if life gives you a crap series finale, write fic that takes it to its logical (if admittedly unsubtle and tasteless) conclusion.

Title: Where's The Poop?
Author: Beer Good ([personal profile] beer_good_foamy)
Fandom: How I Met Your Mother, shortly post-series (original broadcast ending)
Characters: Ted, the Kids
Rating: PG13
Warnings: Toilet humour
Word count: ~500
Summary: Shortly after the series finale, Ted has to check into the hospital. And then Ted has to explain why he had to check into the hospital. Turns out it started way back in 2005...

Sometimes, you fall in love with someone or something and then you keep seeing it the way it was, no matter how much it's actually changed over the years. )
selenak: (Norma Bates by Ciaimpala)
[personal profile] selenak
Reccommended to me as the best current Hitchcock biography around. Not having read the others - though of course I knew about Donald Spoto's The Dark Side of Genius (i.e. Spoto is to Hitchcock fans what Albert Goldmann is to Lennon fans) via pop culture osmosis, Spoto having been the one to launch the Director-as-Actress-Abusing-Monster interpretation -, I couldn't say whether or not it is the best, but it's certainly solid, if noticable biased on the pro-Hitchcock side. Some of McGilligan's points against Spoto are well earned, for example, this one about young Hitchcock's school days:

One notorious transgression was the dangerous practical joke presented by Donald Spoto as a tone-setting anecdote of his biography The Dark Side of Genius. As Spoto told the anecdote, Hitchock and an accomplice grabbed a younger student named Robert Goold and hauled him off to the boiler room, immobilizing him for a "carefully planned psychological torture", ending when the two depantsed Goold and pinned a string of lit firecrackers to his underwear. Goold told this story to Spoto and others over the years. Unfortunately, his recollection couldn't possibly be true; admission records show Goold entered St. Ignatius a full term after Hitchcock departed. Confronted with the contradiction in 1998, Goold realized that he was "wrong in ascribing the incident to him (Hitchcock)".

Game, set and match for McGilligan. At other times, though, his defense of Hitchcock isn't nearly as well founded, as when the biography gets to the wretched chapter(s) of Hitchcock's relationship with Tippi Hedren. "What if he was only joking" doesn't quite cut it. (Cunningly, McGilligan quotes previous Hitchcock leading lady Joan Fontaine on that one: "'I was with Tippi Hedren once on a CBS show', recalled actress Joan Fontaine, who could boast of surviving a similarly complicated relationship with Hitchcock, 'when she said he had propositioned her. Well, what he did was to see her Achilles' heel, and, knowing that pretty young actresses wanted to feel that he was a dirty old man, he would play it up. 'Yes, I must get into your bloomers, young lady', he would puff and growl. I can just see him leering at them in jest, but they never realized he was teasing them.' With all due respect to Ms. Fontaine, she wasn't present during the shooting of Marnie, and whether or not Hitchcock was teasing when she knew him, implying that Hedren (or anyone else) should have just handled it with a wink and an "oh that Hitch!" attitude is just wrong.)

What makes McGilligan's biography a great source, though, is that defensiveness of Hitchcock aside, he's thorough, especially with the collaborative process that is moviemaking, and very time, place and period evocative. Because this biography doesn't rush to to get to the point where our hero makes it to Hollywood but goes into great detail about his English youth and silent movie days, I learned a great deal that was new to me. As for example: the first film Hitchcock directed - after working his way upwards from advertising to script lettering to editing and set decorating to assistant director - on his own, The Pleasure Garden, was actually made mostly in Germany, in Munich, 1925, for the Emelka (a production company which tried to be a South German alternative to the Berlin based UFA), with young (as in: early 20s) Hitch, his future wife and life long collaborator Alma Reville (who came along as editor and assistant director, exactly the same age as himself - she was born one day after him, but had started working for the movies at age 15, five years before Hitchcock did) and a handfull others the only Brits involved. McGilligan is great in pointing out how international the silient movie era truly was (and could be because the actors weren't limited to the languages they could speak). So the Hitchcock/Reville team could work with a mostly German crew, Alma could take the actresses to Paris to buy their frocks, and once photography at the Geiselgasteig in Munich was done, everyone was off by train to Genoa, Italy for the outdoor shootings. Bear in mind here this was a first time director and his motley crew with not a big budget, not the later Hitchcock who could command millions from the studio. It must have been an incredibly exciting time for everyone involved, and it was followed up with another German film, The Mountain Eagle/Der Bergadler, where they got snowed in while working on the script in Obergurgl, Tyrolia. (Nice skiing area, btw, I've been there.)

McGilligan is very good throughout the biography in pointing out the importance of Alma's input, whether or not she was officially co-scriptwriting. (She stopped being credited after Capricorn, the failure of which gave her a crisis of confidence, but still mapped out, storyboarded and co-edited the later Hitchcock movies. McGilligan gives us some great examples of how that shared brainstorming of the Hitchcocks worked, because there were peope present to witness it for To Catch a Thief and the original plan for Frenzy, which wasn't the scenario Hitchcock filmed years later.) Which is why the ending for both of them is so heartbreaking to read - Alma suffered a series of strokes culminating in one when they were both 78 which crippled her, took away both her physical ability to move (and unlike her husband, she'd always kept fit) and some of her mind. He'd lost touch with the audience by then and only kidded himself, plotting movies that would never get made anymore, and Freeman with whom he plotted such a never-made-movie once observed them together when he and Hitchcock moved their plotting sessions from the studio to the director's home at Bellagio Road: 'He was showing off for her,' David Freeman recalled. 'Strutting his stuff. He was saying, 'Look, I can still do it. There's a future. There's going to be another movie. It's worth it to go on.'

But there never was, he drank more and more while sliding into senility, she was able to understand the world around her less and less, and then he died, with her surviving him for two more years and not knowing even that he was gone (according to their daughter, Alma would tell visitors "Hitch is at the studio. Don't worry, he'll be home soon".) I must admit that even bearing in mind how flawed Hitchcock was as a person, this made me maudlin and misty-eyed when I had finished the book.

With the decades that Hitchcock's career lasted, there is of course a very huge supporting cast in the book. McGilligan, on a mission to be anti-Spoto, points out that for every Vera Miles and Tippi Hedren, who got bullied and had to deal with a creepily possessive and vengeful director, there were Ingrid Bergmann (who adored him, stayed friends through the decades and was one of the last people to see him before he died), Grace Kelly (mutual adoration society) and Janet Leigh (found his pranks funny and remained fond of him post movie as well). (Also Anny Ondra, who was one of the first Hitchcock blondes and another case of "wow, it was a small movie world" for me because I know her name in completely a different context - she was an Austrian-Czech actress who later married Max Schmeling (he of the Louis/Schmeling boxing match); they were one of the few celebrity couples who never divorced and are in fact buried next to each other. Hitchcock was so fond of her that when the studio decided their next movie would be a sound one, which would have ordinarily cancelled her out because of her accent when speaking English, he insisted on Joan Barry dubbing her instead so he could keep Ondra as the star). Which is worth bearing in mind, but what McGilligan seems to ignore is that kindness to one person doesn't excuse or cancel out cruelty to another. Hitchcock's relationships with his male actors is also interesting to read about. He got along best with those playing villains (Peter Lorre, Claude Rains, and, against type, Joseph Cotten in Shadow of a Doubt) and classified a great deal of those playing heroes in his movies as "too weak" , with the notable exceptions of Cary Grant and James Stewart (not that he was best buddies with either, but he respected them); McGilligan points out, accurately, that Hitchcock got darker performances out of both Grant and Stewart than their usual screen persona allowed in other films. The famous "actors are cattle" quotation is duly examined (it's one of those quotes that everyone is sure the celebrity in question has said but nobody can trace down to a first use and source) and given context; what I hadn't known is that it was already (in)famous in Hitchcock's lfe time so he himself was asked whether or not he had said it, and believed it. With the result of Hitchcock writing an article - in 1940! - titled "Actors aren't really cattle": Silliest of all Hollywood arguments is between the school that claims to believe the actor is completely a puppet, putting into a role only the director's genius (I am, God forgive me, charged with belonging to that school) and the equally asinine school of 'natural acting' in which the player is supposed to wander through the scenes at will, a self-propelling, floating, free-wheeling, embodied inspiration.

(Three guesses as to what Hitchcock's reaction was once method acting got popular.)


Voluminous as it is, the book still leaves open questions, but I think in a fair way, i.e. the author acknowledges they are there but doesn't pretend to have the answers. Alma's whole pov on her marriage, for starters. She only gave a very few interviews in her life, and those almost exclusively dealing with her husband's films. Now, Hitchcock through the decades kept telling all and sunder that not only was their pre-marital relationship chaste (during their first German film, he didn't even know what menustration was until an actress told him she couldn't do a scene in the water because it was her time of the month - apparantly they didn't teach female biology at St. Ignatius) but that once their daughter Pat was born so was their post marital relationship due to him being impotent. ("Hitch without the cock" was a favourite pun.) (Most people McGilligan quotes seem to agree he got his jollies the voyeuristic and gossiping way instead, with the occasional tongue kiss launched at an embarrassed actress thrown in.) But, as McGilligan writes, If Hitchcock was sexually impotent, what about Alma? He could make wisecracks about his impotence, his lack of sexual activity, but what how did Alma feel? He could flirt with or try to kiss an actress, but what about Alma? Wasn't she a perfectly normal woman with a sexual appetite that wasn't satisfied?. In lack of any statement from Alma, McGilligan can only offer her co-writer Whitfield Cook's account who says they had an almost-affair, with their one and only attempt at making love interrupted, true movie style fashion, by a phone call from her husband. As to what she thought about her husband's relationships with actresses, full stop: no quotes exist, and thus McGilligan leaves it at "we don't know".

Other observations: actresses aside, McGilligan's partisanship is also noticable in any Hitch versus writers dispute. Hitchcock filmed a great many books but usually considered them just a springboard on which he build his movie, and the biography gives you the impression that the first thing he and Alma did was to take a few ideas from the book in question and then rewrite the story an dcharacterisations entirely. And McGilligan, being a fan of the end result, always considers whoever objected to this - be it David O. Selznick re: Rebecca where his memos frequently had the refrain of "go back to the book!" , John Steinbeck who wrote an unpublished novella that was to be the basis for Lifeboat (bye, bye, novella) or Raymond Chandler (who was supposed to adopt Patricia Highsmith's Strangers in a Train with Hitchcock; he and Hitchcock ended up developing such an hate/hate relationship that his treatments literally landed in the dustbin while Hitchcock went back to Alma, Joan Harrison and some more of his regular staff writers for the script) as in the wrong and not thinking cinematically enough. In this reader, this evoked a "Yes, but" reaction. I mean, I can see McGilligan's point - a book is not a movie, etc. But speaking as someone who often experienced a favourite book turned into a non favourite movie (not by Hitchcock, though), a little more empathy for the writerly side of things wouldn't have gone amiss!

Lastly, first a quote that amuses me and might you: Cary Grant didn't requite Hitchcock to pick out his wardrobe. Cary Grant gave grooming tips, and Hitchcock usually told him just to "dress like Cary Grant'.

And a favourite bit of trivia: Hitchcock loved the US, loved living there. But he also stood by his inner Englishman: Years later in Hollywood, when the slate board reading 24-1 went up, Hitchcock would murmur, "Hampstead Heath to Victoria", that being the route of the 24 bus in those days.

And with a whistle of "in spite of all temptations, to belong to other nations", I conclude this review.

Dear Yulegoat Letter

Oct. 23rd, 2014 08:07 pm
fresne: Circe (Default)
[personal profile] fresne
Dear Yulegoat:

Thank you for doing this. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. I've treasured what I've gotten each year. I look forward to what you craft.

My kinks is language. I love words. I love stories about writing.

In a choice between a story of sex, I prefer sensuality to sexuality if that makes any sense.

If there could be some women being strong powerful figures in their own destiny, that would be awesome.

Squiks: Please no embarrassment.

Read more... )

The interplanetary Bechdel Test

Oct. 23rd, 2014 02:55 pm
masqthephlsphr: (drula)
[personal profile] masqthephlsphr
"Can't an astronaut wreak a little havoc without there being an alien involved?"

Still reading Fluency by Jennifer Foehner Wells, which got 4.3 out of 5 stars on Amazon with 1,115 raters. Honestly, I am not sure how it got that rating. The story was pretty good up to the point where spoilery for Wells, AC Clarke, J.S.A. Corey )

But honestly, I am searching for something that just doesn't get written very often: space exploration in which humans are venturing out and the plot is classic "man-vs-nature" (I'd even settle for classic "man-vs-man" human political stuff re: outerspace), rather than OMG!Aliens.

Not that I have anything against stories with aliens, but there is a perception out there in sci-fi land that Aliens is why people want to read about space. Which isn't always the case. Sometimes, stories about space are the story of us. Human beings.

I have the Edge of Infinity anthology in my queue. It's supposed to be about colonizing our solar system. I am also searching for similar short stories in SFF periodicals. I am hoping they're not all "our solar system, plus (butofcourse) aliens."

Touristic with culture, food etc

Oct. 23rd, 2014 08:52 pm
oursin: Brush the Wandering Hedgehog by the fire (Default)
[personal profile] oursin

Hotel is quite good, but the WiFi is a bit flakey, and why do hotels have, in their breakfast buffet, really tasteless mixed fruit salad, &/or unripe 'fresh' fruit?

It's all pretty much about the Art: why Munich now was pretty much because Bellotto exhibition at the Alte Pinkotek, as partner is v keen on Bellotto, the nephew of Canaletto, and confusingly also sometimes known by that name in Northern Europe where he spent most of his career as a court painter. Will concede that he is rather less the churning out of upmarket versions of picture postcard Venice and includes recognisable human figures going about their business in his landscapes, views of palaces,etc.

Swathes of the Alte Pinkotek are closed for renovation but there are still some v nice C15th-C17th Netherlands, German and Italian works on display.

The cafe there does really amazingly great patisserie though actual lunch selections a bit thin.

Today we did the Residenz of the former Electors/Kings of Bavaria - not the most OTT stuff perhaps which prob remains in Mad King Ludwig II's castles - so not really in the same class as the collections of Augustus the Strong in Dresden - but still Lots of Things, does anyone need quite so many silver dinner services?

Lunch today at the Cafe Bistro Dallmayr - there is also a restaurant but even by London fine dining standards its prices were eye-bleeding. Very good. Also, there is large porcelain parrot.

The Good Wife 4.05

Oct. 23rd, 2014 03:35 pm
selenak: (Alicia and Diane - Winterfish)
[personal profile] selenak
Due to having been on the road, I only got to watch this one now.

Well now... )

More Links Than A Bag Of Sausages

Oct. 23rd, 2014 03:49 am
petzipellepingo: (more links by eyesthatslay)
[personal profile] petzipellepingo
Ashes in the Dust , Spike/Buffy by [personal profile] gillo.

Reliable As and Monster , Spike/Buffy by [personal profile] spuffy_luvr.

Lie , Spike/Buffy by [profile] foxstarreh.

Barbeque in October, Spike/Xander by [personal profile] forsaken2003.

[profile] kikimay comments on the latest issue of Season Ten .

More news from the Sunnydale Press.

YouTube promo for AB's new web series.

(no subject)

Oct. 23rd, 2014 09:32 am
oursin: Brush the Wandering Hedgehog by the fire (Default)
[personal profile] oursin
Happy birthday, [personal profile] chalcedony_cat, [personal profile] diony, and [personal profile] em_h!
masqthephlsphr: (nt)
[personal profile] masqthephlsphr
The season finale of Manhattan got me thinking about the end game of their project. I went looking for a film I remember from years ago--a dramatized version of the events of Hiroshima from the POV of both survivors and the Enola Gay crew--but found only a BBC historical documentary on same. I watched it, and it really hit deep, no pun intended. Truly, just horrifying. For some reason, after I got done watching that, I was still on a WWII history kick re: US vs Japan, and started watching Tora, Tora, Tora. Pretty even-handed, so far, for an American film made only twenty-nine years after the events (Japanese nationals may disagree; just my observation).

What's next? Maybe something on Manzanar, or one of those Japanese prisoner-of-war camp films? Eesh. Perhaps those will get me over this weird tangent. War is all fear, blame-shifting, and lashing out; death and tears.

Mittwoch reading post

Oct. 22nd, 2014 06:12 pm
oursin: Photograph of small impressionistic metal figurine seated reading a book (Reader)
[personal profile] oursin

What I read

Finished Spirits Abroad which was lovely - short story collections can sometimes be a mixed bag but I thought this maintained a consistent standard of excellence.

Finally achieved the new Jane Haddam, Fighting Chance, and wow, that started in a desperate place and finished in a really grim twist.

Agatha Christie, Partners in Crime(1929), in which, in service to a longer plot arc, Tommy and Tuppence pretend to be running a private detective agency, leading them into solving various mysteries in the style of noted fictional hawkshaws of the day, not all of whom are noted by posterity. This rather undermines the joke.

Mary Cadogan, Mary Carries On: Reflections on some favourite girls' stories (2008) - bits and pieces, essays that didn't really add much to her existing ouevre.

Also, knocked off some Sekkrit Projekt reading.

Plus, while traveling, various short pieces on the Kobo.

On the go

Started a re-read of EM Delafield's Gay Life (1933), which is an exemplar of just how uncosy, how very not gentle-humour, EMD can be.

Up next

Dunno. Have some SP reading with me plus masses on Kobo.

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shadowkat

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