I was about eight or nine years old when one night I was watching the CBS Friday night movie. I don't remember what movie it was, I don't even remember the plot. But there was one thing about the movie that piqued my interest: the main actress was a woman so stunningly beautiful that I went to Dad and asked him if he could tell me who she was. So Daddy followed me into the living room, took a look at the TV and smiled. "Oh, that's Elizabeth Taylor," he said.
Not too long afterward my parents took my brother and me to a special showing of National Velvet at one of the local theaters. Elizabeth Taylor was much younger in that film, but she was still gorgeous and the movie was wonderful.
In the years that passed between then and now Miss Taylor devoted more time to causes dear to her than to making films, but I have remained a fan. And today came the sad news that she has passed away. Now while I won't spend time recounting Elizabeth Taylor's life, romances/marriages or even the fascinating collection of loyal friendships she made with the some of the crème de la crème of the entertainment world, for those interested or curious, here is a good bio page about her at the Biography website http://www.biography.com/articles/Dame-Elizabeth-Taylor-37991
I will end this post by saying that Miss Taylor was what I'd call an example of a Hollywood now sadly extinct. She had her share of frailties and flaws, but did not flaunt them in the public's face as seems the tendency among too many modern self-absorbed celebrities. An articulate, talented, very feminine and truly caring individual, Elizabeth Taylor and her contemporaries knew how to be at once passionate and discreet, and let their very elusiveness capture and hold the public's fascination. I miss those qualities in today's celebrities and I will miss Elizabeth Taylor.
A still from my favorite Elizabeth Taylor movie: Cleopatra
Announced yesterday: A sanitized edition of the Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens) classic, Huckleberry Finn, will soon be released and made available for the reading public. This edition boasts a change of vernacular that will eliminate the words "Nigger" and "Injun" from the text and replace them with the politically-correct terms "slave" and "Indian". The announcement has fired up a controversy that has spread as far as Facebook and the CBS public forum. Some readers are angry, believing this is more than mere censorship, contending that Twain's aim to demonstrate the stupidity of racial bigotry cannot be fully appreciated if the racial slurs are white-washed.
Publisher NewSouth adamantly defends the upcoming release, claiming, "At NewSouth, we saw the value in an edition that would help the works find new readers. If the publication sparks good debate about how language impacts learning or about the nature of censorship or the way in which racial slurs exercise their baneful influence, then our mission in publishing this new edition of Twain’s works will be more emphatically fulfilled."
The controversy has brought a lot of attention to Auburn University professor, Allan Gribben, who has endorsed this cleaned up edition and even wrote the introduction. Gribben asserts that it has been the N and I words of the original work that are responsible for decreased reader interest in Huckleberry Finn over the last few years. Having read Huck Finn and most of Twain's work, I have to argue this simply ain't so, Mr. Professor. What I see is a growing population that is being raised from the cradle on venues of entertainment that utterly fail to challenge the imagination. From video games to Jersey Shore to the internet's popular Mafia Wars, ours has become a culture of the fast-fix in entertainment and our need has reached addictive proportions. Even when it comes to simply lit, how many supposed Harry Potter fans actually have read the novels as opposed to just waiting to see the newest installment of the story in the theater or better yet, on Blue Ray? The present generation is used to having instant gratification without having to leave one's intellectual comfort zone; reading and digesting what an author is really saying is regarded as an unnecessary burden. It is a condition lucrative to those profiting off of intellectually-depressed art, and one that makes bringing in the social sensitivity issue a convincing marketing tool.
The good professor surely knows the truth and more so NewSouth, which is in the business to make money; they have to possess some awareness of consumer trends. And so, too, must they be aware that the sensitive audience they claim to be trying to reach is the same audience which is confronted every single day with enough ugly slurs on Twitter alone to fill a novel. All noble-sounding claims aside, censoring the language in a work of fiction isn't going to change the internet and it won't right wrongs committed in real life by real individuals.
So why exactly would anyone want to publish a white-washed politically correct version of any piece of literature? Perhaps its just fashionable, perhaps this is a case of white guilt going on here. While I understand some may find the language in Huck Finn difficult to interpret by today's young children, it shouldn't be left to a publisher to decide the depth, or lack, of a child's capacity to comprehend literary context. Likewise, responsible educators help nurture comprehension instead of stifling it, and contrary to certain academic philosophies, values should always be left to the parent to instill. My father encouraged me to read Mark Twain's books, and he also helped me understand Twain's satirical look at the bigoted and callous aspects of the society he wrote about.
This isn't to say I haven't read a book that offends me. I have encountered books that certainly have offended; books that left me indignant, sometimes even ethically wounded, and which I will probably never read again. But I would rather be left an offended reader than to see a single passage from any of these books slaughtered at the hands of a censor. Let me disagree, let me be angry, but don't for a moment pat me on the head and just assume I don't have the ability to read something offensive and understand the author's literary objective by it's inclusion. When you take away a reader's right to be offended you are being offensive; when you take away their right to hold their own opinion about the content, you are attempting to enslave them to your mindset. When you treat readers as children who need a hand to guide them through literature then you deprive them of intellectual independence and the responsibility of making their own ethical decisions.
In his brilliant and insightful Fahrenheit 451 Ray Bradbury addressed a fictional future where books are illegal. Those who burn confiscated illegal material exonerate the ban by saying it promotes happiness and overall social justice. In one passage Captain Beatty defends this view to protagonist Guy Montag, “Bigger the population, the more minorities. Don’t step on the toes of the dog lovers, the cat lovers, doctors, lawyers, merchants, chiefs, Mormons, Baptists, Unitarians, second-generation Chinese, Swedes, Italians, Germans, Texans, Brooklynites, Irishmen, people from Oregon or Mexico. The people in this book, this play, this TV serial are not meant to represent any actual painters, cartographers, mechanics anywhere. The bigger your market, Montag, the less you handle controversy, remember that!… Authors, full of evil thoughts, lock up your typewriters. They did.”
Captain Beatty is a fictional character. Unfortunately, the kind of world he advocates sounds a lot like the kind of place NewSouth would fit into all too comfortably.
Wishing everyone a very happy & prosperous year in 2011!
Its my birthday! As a lot of folks I will inevitably think about the things I wish I didn't have to contend with in life -aging, money worries, poor vision, ect.. But more so than this I like to thank the good Gods for the many wonderful blessings that have been given me. Here are the things I'm most grateful for in life -in no particular order except the last one because its #1.
The abiding love and guidance of the Gods
The opportunity to be a published author
The determination to defy the odds of physical and medical challenges
The raw bitchy willpower to cope with adversity
The scent of babies, the sound of laughter, the feel of kitten fur against my face and the way the sun glints across my husband's bare shoulders
Music. (Sometimes I truly think the gods speak to all of us through music, and if we're perceptive we can understand the messages they've imparted in music)
The ability to run, to touch, to see, to taste, to hear and speak.
Chocolate, lobster, Chinese cuisine, Boone's Farm, the voice of Loreena Mckennitt, the comedy of Dana Carvey, Vincent Price movies, Coca Cola and cigarettes.
I am so very blessed. Thank the Gods and thank all my loved ones for making life such a very rewarding experience!
My husband & kids!
Wishing everyone a bright & very magical Yuletide season!
It's almost Samhain -or Halloween to the non-pagans- and as usual the family and I stay tuned to the idiot box every weekend night like we don't any other time of the year to drink our fill of horror movies. Some we catch on the regular boob tube networks, others we rent on video. (Once in a blue moon hubby and I get to venture out and catch a new movie at the theater sans kids, but this is so rare an occasion I've almost forgotten the smell of theater popcorn). But there are some "traditional" scary flicks that I just adore watching especially during this season. In no particular order (yes, I am that lazy) here's the list:
Any "Predator" movie
There's just something about a tall, straight-shouldered long-legged guy in uniform with Rastafarian dreadlocks, isn't there? Until he takes off the helmet and tries kissing you with that big gaping spider mouth. Anyway I find Predator(s) absolutely fascinating, and I'm sure his Mom thinks he's beautiful.
Bram Stoker's Dracula (2002)
This movie also happens to be simply one of my FAVE movies of all time. Romantic, erotically stimulating and visually dripping in gothic lush how can any woman NOT love this movie? And its the only film version of Dracula I've ever seen that incorporates all the characters from Stoker's original novel. And any film makers who can make an amorously gorgeous film out of such a stale book has my applause!
The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari
Ok, this is a Silent movie -which means there is no audible dialog. A tale about the consequences of prying into the business of your seemingly friendly doctor-slash-sorcerer with a bent for addictive drugs and deviant collections. With its grotesque scenery, great dramatics and overall freaky plot it makes for a memorable film like no other you've probably seen..or ever will again. And after seeing it you may think twice before looking through your neighbor's medicine cabinet when nature calls.
The Lost Boys
In a time before the Undead were glittery and Anne Rice gave up writing about Lestat to become a Bill Clinton cheerleader, Keifer Sutherland and friends gave teens a glimpse into an underground vampire world the likes of which no other film has ever delivered. Romantic, humorous and punkishly delicious - The Lost Boys will leave you saying I'm loving it.. and without fries or milkshake.
Elvira - Mistress of the Dark
Campy humor at its best with the sexy horror hostess. On her way to Vegas for a one-woman show Elvira makes a stop in Falwell, where she is to claim an inheritance from her late Aunt. But things turn ugly when Elvira's evil Uncle Vincent wants the inheritance for himself. Along with a buff and befuddled theater owner named Bob and a town full of hormone-anxious teens Elvira gives tit-for-tat to Vincent and the town's puritanical hypocrites.
The Shining (Stanley Kubrick, director)
You can't very well celebrate the holidays without watching at least one movie inspired by a Stephen King story. Of all the King film adaptations Stanley Kubrick's The Shining starring Jack Nicholson definitely tops my list for chill factor. Sorry Mr. King, I know you were disappointed with this version...but then again, you disappointed me with The TommyKnockers, and you don't hear me complaining.
Another film that also happens to be one of my favorite movies of all times. Directed by Roman Polanski and starring Mia Farrow (along with some other big name stars at the time), this adaptation of Ira Levin's book by the same title proves that just once in awhile a big-budget horror movie can be as good -maybe even better- than the professional critic raves. And though I have started boycotting newer Polanski films I watched Rosemary's Baby for the first time many years ago and it still find it creepy; almost as creepy as the deviant director himself.
The Hellraiser films
I don't know if its Clive Barker's dark and disturbing imagery that oozes throughout the storylines or just Doug Bradley's alluringly articulate and decadently deviant Pinhead that makes me adore these movies.
Ok, considering that Barker didn't direct all these films, and Hellraiser 3 was pretty darned stupid AND by the time Hellraiser 6 rolled 'round the character of Kirsty had grown too mean to cheer any more it must be Pinhead that keeps me coming back. Yeah, its Pinhead. Definitely.
Any old horror movies starring one or more of these genteel, handsome guys - Christopher Lee, Vincent Price and Peter Cushing. Talk about your classic old men, sigh. Heck, if any of them had done a commercial for hemorrhoid cream I'd have to look it up and download it. Yep, love 'em. And btw, Christopher Lee is still alive and his career very active.
Frankenstein (starring Boris Karloff as Dr. Frankenstein's creature)
Ok, this Universal Studios classic lacks the sensuality that underscored Kenneth Branagh's more true-to-storyline adaptation of the novel by Mary Shelley. But when you think about it, reading Shelley's novel is about as sensual an experience as getting a paper cut. And in this one we have Karloff, who stole the show and won audience hearts with his sympathetic portrayal. Let's see Robert De Niro do that without uttering a single intelligible word. And while this adaptation has been done to death and then some, it is Karloff's creature most people think of when they hear the word Frankenstein.
And from my Worst of the Worst files -
An acronym for Cannabalistic Humonoid Underground Dweller, this film is the pits. It is so bad the plot is hardly worth going into, but yes, it does have one. In the short & sweet: a spree of strange murders leads to an investigation pointing to a bunch of deformed culprits who live in the sewers of NYC. With truly horrific dialog and special effects so cheesy they're hilarious, C.H.U.D. rates with me as one of the worst films ever made. There are a few worse so-called horror movies around, like the Rob Zombie films which I refuse to to watch these days. But by comparison to these C.H.U.D. seems quite wholesome and touching..and touching NOT in that play-with-your-sister sicko kind of way. C.H.U.D. - the perfect movie to watch with friends who can stomach gallons of visual gore and still scarf down a bucket of popcorn, pack of Junior Mints and a large syrupy soda.
Here is a recent photo of our three cats snapped by my youngest daughter. On the pumpkin sits the kitten, Bandit; the black one lying on the porch rail is Midnight; and on the car is Bootsie, Midnight's little brother (he's over a year now and heavier than Midnight, lol) They've both accepted little Bandit and treat him as family now; taking turns washing and playing with him. All in all, they're very well behaved boy kitties, though Midnight is at that age he can turn aggressive on Bootsie (whom I think he sees a a rival now). But I loved this picture as it's so seasonally perfect :) And with the weather so crisp and chilly Samhain definitely feels close by.