Archive for September 2014
It’s an interesting thing, because when I told people I was playing James Dean in a movie, they would just tell me something about James Dean. And most of the time they would be wrong. Because he’s such a myth!
James Dean is best known for the things he never was.
He was not a juvenile delinquent. He didn’t run with gangs, carry a switchblade, use drugs, or do any of the things associated with him. He was a bookish young man who played basketball. He was not named James Byron Dean for Lord Byron, but for his father’s best friend.
He was not gay – he was bisexual.
He was dyslexic, shy and sad. He had been molested as a boy by a local Wesleyan youth minister.
He did not die speeding in a race car – James Dean was driving the speed limit, obeying all traffic laws, when another driver made an illegal turn in front of him. Had the local officials not covered for a local boy, the other driver would have been cited for vehicular manslaughter.
He was 24 years old. He had intended to leave his estate to the uncle and aunt who raised him, but he left his will unsigned at home. He thought he would have time. The father who didn’t raise him inherited his estate.
This is the amazing Avi Kaplan singing “All About the Bass” (I love Naomi’s visual skepticism, looking at Avi — but rest assured, Avi was chubby when he was younger).
I’d also like to thank Kevin O for being the lone member of Pentatonix to Tweet this link. Avi has Tweeted everyone‘s solos and duos to date.
Shamus Bead and the Cure for What Kills You
Shamus Bead and Jeptha Lawton, chief investigators for the Royal Epidemiological Society, are investigating a potential epidemic in Spitalfields.. Local doctors believe the illnesses to be unrelated episodes of madness, but Bead recognizes one ailment that is neurological in nature. The only question is whether the epidemic is viral, bacterial, or the more complex result of Victorian London’s ongoing industrial pollution problem. The investigation turns in an unexpected direction as Shamus must prove that any substance powerful enough to improve health is also potent enough to kill someone. And Shamus and Jeptha’s relationship grows deeper and even more complex.
“I’ve never understood the whole fan thing,” said an acquaintance of mine who worked in television. “I mean, I’m just not a fan, I guess.”
I kind of smiled and didn’t bother to point out to her that she was working for the producer of the show she had loved as a child. She was living fandom, even though she dressed it up in money and disdainfully embraced it as “art” and “a job.” Because, of course, doing something for the sheer love of it is such a bourgeois, common thing. Not what REAL artists do. They only work for cash? When did that happen?
Of course, all such people are doing is hiding their love behind a facade because they don’t have the guts to be honest with the world. Yes, I’m a fan. I fangirl about lots of things. What is an admirer, after all? Someone who is interested in something you’re interested in. What is a fan? Someone who is interested in something you’re not interested in. Unless, of course, you embrace fandom and understand it.
Possibly one of the first recorded fanboy capers was the John Adams and Thomas Jefferson run on William Shakespeare’s house (obviously a lot easier to do at that time). They actually peeled off a piece of wood from Shakespeare’s chair. I just love that image of founding fathers as Shakespeare fanboys. Obviously, we wouldn’t do that sort of thing these days, given the chair’s importance, but the story endears me to them both in a way no dry writing ever could. It gives me an insight to their friendship, too, which survived the years almost as ruggedly as Shakespeare’s chair.
There is a wonderful video of my favorite group, Pentatonix, meeting an actress from “Game of Thrones.” She’s outside the stage door, saying, “OMG! I’m going to meet them!” PTX, being GoT fans, were inside squealing, “OMG! We’re going to meet HER?”
Creative Fandom, which tends to be the province of women, is always looked down on, because it’s driven by love and myth and a higher calling. I suppose if we could find a way to make it financially productive, it would suddenly become worthwhile to someone.
Until then, it keeps on paying dividends to the heart and soul.
My grandmother’s younger sister was named Retha Bell, quickly joined by another sister named Letha Nell. Letha Nell was a fairly cool lady who met both James Dean and Elvis Presley. Retha Bell was — not. I always believed that somehow their names got switched after their births.
Aunt Retha only showed up when relatives were dying. Seriously. It’s the only time we saw her. She would arrive with a black fog of dour seriousness, the sheer phantom of death from Tennessee. She thereby earned the nickname Aunt Reaper. She came by it honestly, since she was by profession a hospice nurse. She usually lived with her patients until they passed, at which point they would leave behind their undying gratitude and often many lovely parting gifts. In other words, she would have been suspect #1 on Forensic Files.
I’m reasonably certain she intended to mean well, but she had all the bedside manner and warm, nurturing personality of Norma Desmond on Qualudes. This was complicated by her Bible-sucking Christian fundamentalist ferocity of the first order. She believed that everyone but her close, personal friends were surely bound for hell. This especially included any younger family members, most notably my mother, who drank to abandon (not that this was unusual in our very Scots-Irish family) but, most horribly in the eyes of Almighty God, bleached her hair.
Despite taking full credit for my mother’s supposed deathbed conversion to Jesus, she spent Mom’s funeral laughing like a Nashville hyena at the rear of the chapel. By that point, Reaper’s husband, who had spent most of his miserable life hitting on his wife’s younger family members, including my mother, had gone to join the Choir Repugnant. Their only son, Jimmy, ended his life as a celebrated entrant in the World’s Dumbest Criminals, as a would-be bank robber who asked his very elderly uncle to give him a ride to the bank — the bank he promptly held up. Jimmy ran out with an exploding packet of money. Sprayed with bright orange paint, he tried to get into his uncle’s car. Uncle Winburne locked the car doors. No one blamed Uncle Winburne. Nobody ever really blamed Jimmy either, given who had raised him.
Anyway, as I said, that was the only time we ever saw her — when someone was dying.
My final run-in with Aunt Reaper was when my much beloved grandmother, somehow impossibly Aunt Reaper’s sister, collapsed during one of her sister’s visits. My grandmother was diagnosed at once with a stroke and heart failure, probably brought about by undiagnosed bowel cancer. Nanny was always a multi-tasker. She got stuff done at once. I had already talked to my grandmother’s doctor. He had assured me that my grandmother was going to live for at least a few more years. I did not have to be told this. Nanny was made out of Arkansas titanium. Nothing would take her down easily.
Anyway, my husband and I drove two hours at top speed to reach her side, at which point we found Aunt Reaper beginning her death vigil. Retha first howled at us that she had been “doing 24 hour live-in nurse duty” for 12 whole hours. Then she got hold of my grandfather’s shoulders and screamed at him that he had to get right with Jesus because his wife of fifty-plus years was dying. Poppy had already lost his only child just a few years before that. I watched as my grandfather was crying — sobbing — hard.
No one — no one — made my grandparents cry. I had watched my mother do it far too many times. I swore, when she died, no one would ever do it again.
At the sight of my beloved grandfather’s tears, I picked up Aunt Reaper’s gnarly old curler case and, winding up with a pitch, flung it full-force into the front yard.
I called my Great Aunt Nadine (my favorite in my grandmother’s family) and told her what had happened. She drove over to collect her sister while she intoned, “Come along, Retha, you know you had it coming.”
My husband and I cared for my grandparents to the end. I never did see Reaper again. I think she knew better than to try me.
Aunt Reaper finally joined her husband in the Choir Repugnant at the great old age of 85. She had to be taken to a nursing home — a nice one, I owed enough concern to her to check. All of her immediate family were dead. The rest weren’t speaking to her. I imagine it would be pretty much the same way if there’s an afterlife.
If you like my writing, or just feel sorry for me, you can find my novels on my Amazon page.
Whenever I have posted a “woo woo” link — and I do on occasion — I do so out of respect for my blog, Facebook and other friends. For the record, here is my essential default belief system:
We seem to live a short life on a pointless planet without a purpose. We seem to die once and stay that way. That is the understanding I embrace, however …
I have seen interesting things that make me wonder. I DO consider other possibilities. I think there is an argument for some elements of the paranormal. I have friends involved in EVP (hello, Margaret). I’m skeptical of it, but I find it interesting. In essence, I enjoy thinking — I don’t want to keep my brain in a box of ANY kind simply because someone else will be offended by my thinking outside of it. That is the case whether my friends are fundamentalist religious people or absolute atheists. So when I post something, please don’t feel you need to post all the arguing evidence — I KNOW that evidence. I’ve just found a way to hold both possibilities in my mind at the same time. That is the definition, after all, of intelligence.
I do not think the evidence is there for any one answer. I just don’t. I know all the same stuff most of you do (not as much as some, more than others), but I’m still mystified. Now, either I’m an idiot and you’re much smarter than I am, having figured it all out to a certainty, or neither one of us know anything to a certainty. If you’re trying to persuade others of your belief system and quash all debate, then the person with whom you have a problem regarding their beliefs isn’t me — it is yourself.
I WILL say and ponder things, but please don’t insult my intelligence by assuming I’m espousing beliefs. I am constitutionally incapable of beliefs. If the Andy Kaufman theorizing doesn’t prove that, nothing will. If your beliefs are so fragile (no matter if they are religious or non-religious or otherwise) that someone simply suggesting an alternate perspective is a problem, I don’t know what to say to you.
Occam’s Razor is where we begin to seek answers — it is the most likely answer. It’s not a commandment to end all thinking there.
If you’re reading my blog, or my Facebook, and you think I need to be told contrary evidence to some belief system, we’re clearly on different wavelengths anyway. I know, and I respect the intelligence of my friends to know. If you allow yourself to be led into a tar pit of belief, that is the beginning of ignorance, and you do so at your own peril.
I don’t want our children taught fairy tales — or the hasty supposition of those who would tell us what is good for us to know.
The next time someone quotes “Good fences make good neighbors” from “Mending Wall” please note that Robert Frost also says:
Something there is that doesn’t love a wall.
And goes on to say:
- Spring is the mischief in me, and I wonder
- If I could put a notion in his head:
- “Why do they make good neighbors? Isn’t it
- Where there are cows? But here there are no cows.
- Before I built a wall I’d ask to know
- What I was walling in or walling out,
- And to whom I was like to give offense.
- Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,
- That wants it down.” I could say “Elves” to him,
- But it’s not elves exactly, and I’d rather
- He said it for himself. I see him there
- Bringing a stone grasped firmly by the top
- In each hand, like an old-stone savage armed.
- He moves in darkness as it seems to me,
- Not of woods only and the shade of trees.
- He will not go behind his father’s saying,
- And he likes having thought of it so well
He says again, “Good fences make good neighbors.”
THAT is the point of the poem. Good fences DO NOT make good neighbors.
Thank you, Peevish Mel